TONERS : THE TRUTH ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF TONING YOUR SKIN

There are few things I get more questions about than toners. People – that is : consumers as well as beauticians – ask me a lot about the usefulness of toners. Do we really need them ? Or can we just pas by them ?

What should toners do ? Well, actually, let’s start with WHAT TONERS ARE NOT :

  • They are NOT meant to remove last traces of make-up : if there are traces, you should either change your cleanser or the way you cleanse your skin. Read my blog posts about this, if you’re interrested. (Cleansing Part 1 & Cleansing Part 2).
  • They are NOT meant to “rebalance” skin’s pH value. Even if they might mildly correct pH values after cleansing, if you need to “rebalance”, it would mean you used a very agressive type of – soapy – cleanser. I assume you don’t …..
  • They are NOT means to “freshen” your skin: cold water out of your tap will do this. A lot cheaper too !
  • They do NOT close your pores; pores cannot be “opened” or “closed” like some window blinds…..

However, toners play an important role as YOUR FIRST STEP in your actual skin-caring routine, as you will not take them of your skin. A good toner, for that reason :

  • Supplies your skin with moisture.
  • Has skin soothing ingredients that help skin building up its acid mantle.
  • Could contain some bonus ACTIVE ingredients like vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals etc.

The first point being the most important one. Toners should be your FIRST STEP OF MOISTURE.Korean brands are strong at “layering” products and this is just what I mean. By using a good, hydrating toner, your skin will receive a first layer of moisture that will help other precious (moisturizing) ingredients penetrate your skin. A well hydrated skin looks younger and softer. Plus, good hydration can help your skin build up more (better) collagen and elastin, which will help REDUCE WRINKLES and preventing SKIN SAGGING.

So, who was talking about skipping a toner ?

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Remember, however, that not all toners are equal. I will be discussing a few nice ones in the coming months. Old-fashioned, alcohol-loaden toners are certainly “out”. Moisturizing, softening toners are actually “in”. This doens’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on a toner.It will mostly depend on your budget and personal preference. There are good toners to be found in all price categories.

 To be continued ……

VITAMINS FOR YOUR SKIN: PREVENT SKIN AGEING WITH ANTI-OXIDANTS

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the term “Anti-Oxidants” before.

It is in fact being used to indicate a group of subsbtances that are meant to protect our body – meaning OUR SKIN also – from harmfull,  external influences. You could say: defend it against all kinds of agressors. Think of pollution, smog cigarette(smoke), radiation from sun, but also from computer screens and mobile phones. In this context, the term “free radicals”is also being used. Free radical formation is the result of our body being agressed.

Anti-Oxidants are meant to defend our body (and skin) against free radicals. Like soldiers defending a fortress. (nice comparison, don’t you think so?).

In modern times, our body is continuously exposed to factors, it has to defend itself against. When we speak of “healthy nutrition”, we mean : keeping our body healthy, by eating the right food. Eating the right food means keeping your body strong, which leads to a better level of protection. You agree with me?

The word “Anti-Oxidants” should make you think of certain vitamins, like vitamin A, C, E and B3. Green Tea, Coffee, Chocolate and (red) Wine also have substances, that help protect our cells against the enemy.

When your body does not have a sufficient quantity of Anti-Oxidants, skin cell damage will inevitably occur. This goes for YOUR SKIN ALSO!

A well protected skin, however, stays YOUNGER FOR LONGER !

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The good news is, that your skin cells can absorb Anti-Oxidants, and therefore can be protected by cosmetic products too.Using a cream with vitamins or green tea extract does make sense!

The right dosage and proportion of the different substances is very important. Some vitamins need to be present in very small quantities and other can only function when combined. Vitamin E, for example, will support vitamin C. A good quality product will generally have one or more Anti-Oxidants. You can find products with vitamins or plant-based Anti-Oxidants in all price ranges.

In order, to help ypu picking your products, here’s a short list of ingredients to look out for. Their names on the Ingredients list will be like this:

  • Vitamin A; Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin A Acetate, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate*
  • Vitamin C; Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Vitamin E; Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Tocotrienol
  • Vitamin B3; Nicotamine, Niacinamide

Many plant-extracts contain Anti-Oxidants too. Many have vitamins in their natural form. Examples :

  • Green Tea: Camellia Chinensis
  • Coffee: Coffea Arabica
  • Black Tea (fermented): Kombuschka
  • Grapefruit: Citrus Grandis
  • Grape: Vitis Vinifera
  • Rosemary: Rosmarinus

These are just a few examples. The list is endless. Every year, some “new” plant extracts are introduced tot he cosmetics market.

*Hydroxypinolactone Retinoate is a rather new, promising form of Vitamin A. I will discuss it in my article “Retinol and Retinoids”.

ACNE & ADULT ACNE

According to Dr. Nicolas Perricone, dermatologist, there are 7 different stages of acne that can be distinguished. Stage one being the beginning, stage 7 being the worst state of acne.

  • Retention Hyperkeratosis. In a healthy skin, dead skin cells are shedded in a natural, ongoing manner. This also goes for the skin cells INSIDE the pores. In the case of retention hyperkeratosis, the dead skin cells inside the pores do not exfoliate in that natural manner and cling together with the sebum (natural skin oils). As a result of this, pores get clogged. The condition is triggered by several factors, one of them being genetics. In order to normalise this process, vitamin A derivatives like Tretinoin or Retinol can be applied to the skin. Retinol normalises the way skin cells behave inside our pores. Salicylic and glycolic acid can help prevent new pores from getting clogged, as these ingredients will further help exfoliation (elimination of dead skin cells).
  • Bacterial accumulation and multiplication inside the follicle. The acne bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, starts multiplying inside the clogged pores. Infection is around the corner. Antibiotics are used (as well orally as topically) by dermatologists, but there is a risk of developping resistant strains. Benzoyl peroxide kills the acne bacteria by releasing oxygen into the skin. This also means that free radicals are being formed, leading to possible cell damage and premature ageing. Benzoyl peroxide can also be very harsh to the skin and is not tolerated very well by sensitive skin types. Light Therapy with a wavelength of 410-420 Nanometer is very effective. Combined with the stage 1 treatments good results can be achieved.
  • Microcomedones/comedones formation. Meaning whiteheads and blackheads. Treatment should now be focused on anti-bacterial and light therapy.

4/5  Papule and pustule formation.Also called “stage 2 acne” by dermatologists. These are the well-known red, irritated and inflamed pustules that are so typical for people with acne. Treatment as in stage 3.

6/7 Nodules and cyst formation. This is a severe form of acne. Not every patient/acne sufferer gets to this stage. I did myself, unfortunately, mainly due to bad treatment in those days. Treatment now consists of Roaccutane (Isotretinoïn) orally. A course of about 3 to 4 months is generally effective at clearing the acne. Roaccutane has some serious side effects, like :

  • Bad vision at night
  • Hair loss (at high dosages)
  • Dryness of lips, nose, eyes
  • Increased triglyceride levels (this has to do with liver functions)
  • Severe birth defects in pregnant women

I personally did a course of 3 months of this medicine. It saved my skin and got me back on my feet after years of being depressed because of my severe acne. I only suffered dryness and had some increased triglycerides levels by the end of the course. This gets back to normal once you stop taking the medicine.I an soooo happy I did this !

What I also discovered during this stage, is how important GOOD, NON-AGRESSIVE skin care can be. It makes the whole difference, during and after the acne.

SKIN CARE REGIMEN FOR ACNE:

DAYCARE :

  • Start the day with a GENTLE, non-drying cleanser. Avoid foams if you can. A cream or milk will be just as affective, believe me ! Céravé Hydrating Cleanser, Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser, Klapp Bèta-Glucan Cleansing Milk, Clinique Take the Day Off are excellent.
  • Use a SPOT treatment ON your pimples. Try a solution with BHA/Salicylic acid. It will help reduce inflammation and “dry out” your spots (no, I know, you can’t litterally dry them out, but some of you NEED to hear it this way J)
  • Use an oil-controlling/mattifying product if you need to. A light moisturizer can be great too. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients like Centella, Green Tea and Chamomile. Silver is great too.
  • Use suscreen (oil free) SPF 30 at least or a make-up with SPF. Avoid stick/compact make-up, as these often have waxes which could clog your pores.

NIGHTCARE :

  • Doublecleanse (see my articles about cleansing). Your first cleans eremoves make up and SPF. The second one cleanses your skin.
  • Spot treatment
  • Use a Retinoid:vitamin A derivative like Retinol. Many brands have good retinols and they all have different percentages. If you want a stronger one choose Paula’s Choice or Neostrata. If you want to start milder look for Klapp Micro Retinol Soft Cream or Mad Hippie serum.
  • Moisturize:with a light moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid based product are great. A gel like l’Occitanes Aqua Réotier or Leegeehaam Serum is wonderfull at this stage.

SOME INGREDIENTS TO AVOID:

  • Mineral oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Isopropyl myristate & palmitate
  • Lanolin
  • Myristyl myristate
  • Propylene glycol (some persons, not all)
  • Sodiul lauryl & laureth sulphate.

Remeber that not everyone has the same reaction to cosmetic ingredients and some of the above mentionned will be perfectly ok for some.

Be consistent in what you do and seek for medical/dermatological advise if your acne doesn’t get better or gets worse.

WHAT ACTIVE INGREDIENTS DO WE REALLY WANT IN OUR SERUMS?

When we’re talking “serums”, we’re talking CONCENTRATES. When we’re saying concentrates, we’re going to spend some money. Because we expect THE BEST  from a serum. So if we’re going to spend some of our good money, WHAT INGREDIENTS should we actually watch out for ?

Here’s my personal list of FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS:

NUMBER ONE:will always be my number one, and it should be yours also. HYALURONIC ACID. Moist  elastin fibers – think FIRMNESS – need to function well. Hyaluronic acid (or “sodium hyaluronate”) will fix the moisture in your skin. There where it’s needed most.

NUMBER TWO:ANTI-OXIDANTSto protect our skin cells from environmental damage and help our skin do it’s (hard) job better. Think plant extracts like CAFFEIN or WHITE TEA ; many plant extracts will work as anti-oxidants. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is great also.

NUMBER THREE:RETINOL, the most active vitamin A for our skin. Proven to REDUCE WRINKLES  and hyperpigmentation (sun spots). Reduces acne, IMPROVES PORE SIZE. Does it all and that’s why we should all love this wonderful vitamin.

NUMBER FOUR:could easily be on place number three also ! Vitamin C BOOSTS COLLAGEN, improves SKIN BRIGHTNESSand evens out sun spots. Is a great anti-oxidant (cell protector) too ! Works well in combination with Retinol and vitamin E, which is another powerfull anti-oxidant.

NUMBER FIVE: STEMM CELLS EXTRACTS:nothing to do with human stem cells ! Just interrresting new active ingredients that are in fact “pluripotent plant extracts” that hold many secrets. Plant extracts like these have anti-oxidants, minerals and proteins that could all benefit our skin. The fact that they are harvested from young, undefined cells, makes them even more interresting !

NUMBER SIX: PEPTIDES.Although I have personally never been so enthusiast about peptides, they deserve a role in my list. Peptides are small proteins that can stimulate our skins’ collagen production. So do vitamin A and C, but peptides use another pathway. Many people swear by petides in their products, so I decided to mention them here too.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER is, however, that you will need to pay a bit more for a GOOD serum. See it as an INVESTMENT in your skin. If you use a damn good serum, you can get away with a cheaper moisturizer. Keep in mind that some products, sold at exhorbitant prices are not necesarilly better than the ones in the “mid section”.You can find excellent products costing from 30 to 120 Euros. Above this, you’re paying for the marketing.

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FAVORITES AT THIS MOMENT :

  • Leegeehaam (yes, I know: it’s Korean, no idea how to pronouce this) Hyal B5 serum
  • iUnik Bèta-Glucan Power Moisture Serum
  • Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule
  • Estee Lauder Night Repair
  • Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum
  • Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum
  • Helena Rubinstein Force-C serum
  • Louis Widmer Pigmacare
  • Health Cosmeticals Repacell Serum
  • Clinical Care Surgery Restore 50+ (also from Health Cosmeticals)

SUN SPOTS & OTHER PIGMENT RELATED PROBLEMS

Sooner or later you’ll get them. Well, most of us will ….. SUN SPOTS, AGE SPOTS, call them whatever you like, they are almost a guarantee!

Genetic factors, hormonal changes (women), years of (unprotected/insufficiently protected) sun exposure. All these things, dear ladies & gentlemen, have to do with LIGHT; SUNLIGHTto be more precise, although you do not need to actually SEE the sun for the light to be there.

UV light is present all year round, in our climates from February until October.Afther this – at least in the Northern Hemisphere – the strength of the sun will become much less.

Many of us refer to “sun spots” when we are speaking about hyperpigmented areas/spots. They ALLWAYS have to do with (sun)light. Ever noticed one on your bum ? Well, if you’re a naturist, I’ll take that back J

Ok, enough of that now, you all get what I’m saying here. Now the question is, once sun spots have become A FACT, what can we do about them ?

In an interresting interview I had with Dr. Françoise Guiot, dermatologist (Dutch version also), she explained a lot about the treatment of sun spots. Here are both her and my recommendations when it comes to treating them.

INITIALLY, decide whether you want to try yourself first and then go to see a dermatologist in case you’re not successfull, or go and see the dermatologist right away. Some products/treatments that you could try yourself are :

  • Vitamin C serums,like Helena Rubinstein Force C serum , Vichy Vitamin C serum, Flavo-C serum, Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum. Vitamin C has the ability to “lighten” hyperpigmented spots, so you might be successfull trying this.
  • Products based on the ingredient “Hexylresorcinol”like Louis Widmer Pigmacare or Eucerin.
  • Use fruit Acids (AHA’s) to exfoliate (peel) your skin effectively.You can use Lotion P50 by Biologique Recherche (as a toner) or try an AHA cream like Klapp ASA Care Cream and Vyon AHA Cream. By peeling off the superficial layers, the overpigmented areas will slough off in a more rapid manner.
  • If you want it a little stronger, get a prescription for a Hydroquinone cream,like Louis Widmer Pigmanorm. This one is easy to get in Belgium and Luxembourg, but harder to find in the Netherlands. Highly effective, but with some side effects, so bes ure to read the instructions well before you use !

In case you want to consult your dermatologist, he/she will often treat you with laser/IPL or chemical peels to get rid of the pigment problems right away. You might need several treatments and HOME CARE is VERY IMPORTANT, meaning the use of a preventive serum (like the ones mentionned above) and diligent use of a sun block !

I always lean towards using a serum when it comes to sun spots, because the active ingredients in a serum will mostly tend to be more concentrated than in a cream. (Except for AHA’s ; I prefer them as a toner or a cream).

Hyperpigmented spots always tend to COME BACK and this is why home care is so important. SPF will prevent further damage, but some active ingredients will make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a bright, even complexion.

OPEN PORES – FINE PORES – THE SECRET BEHIND PORE SIZE

One of the questions I get the most, is about pore size. Many of us are involved in a daily struggle – or should I say war – against open pores. Pores should be fine, almost invisble, ideally, don’t you think so ? That is what fashion magazines want us to think. And some beauty brands. Couldn’t this ideal be a little bit unrealistic ?

Your pores are, in fact, the “chimneys” of your skin.They eliminate sweat, excess oil and toxins from our organism. They have, in this context, a regulating function. In many cases, this function can be disturbed. By internal as well as by external influences.

Inside our body, HORMONES play an important role. Not only for you ladies, but men’s skin is also affected by hormones. Especially during (and long after, if you’re unlucky), puberty. Hormones cause our sebaceous (oil) glands to go wild and pores can not get up to the same speed as the oil production. Resulting in oily skin and …….. You’re right : OPEN PORES.

The same thing can happen during adulthood, especially in women, after or during menopause. The body changes and so does skin. Skin laxity comes around the corner and this is the result of changes in our dermis, where collagen (skin firmness)  and elastin (elasticity)  production take place. Laxity of the skin also means LAXITY OF PORES, so same thing again….

Now WHAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM & WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT ?

Apart from these internal influences, many external influences, can cause open pores or make them worse. Skincare – GOOD skin care I mean – can prevent this, or at least IMPROVE this condition.

A few rules for BETTER PORE SIZE :

  • Keep your skin CLEAN.Wash your face. Not too much, not to often, not with A WHIPE OR MICELLAR WATER! If you did so in the past, think you’ve just been moving the dirt around ! Pollution like exhaust fumes, diesel particles, smoke, free radicals, sweat, make-up/SPF all “cling” to your skin. Whiping them with a cotton pad or whipe won’t be very effective, will it now ? So be nice to your pores and get yourself a decent cleanser (read my other post on skin cleansing).
  • Get your comedones removed (in case you have them).By A PROFESSIONAL please.
  • Exfoliate your skin regularly.Not by “scrubbing” like a mad man/women, but by using AHA’s/BHA’s, meaning FRUIT ACIDS or your skin. You can apply them as a lotion, after cleansing, or as a night cream (several nights a week). This will REALLY HELP ! Neostrata makes some excellent AHA creams.
  • Use a CLAY MASK once or twice a week.Don’t let it dry too much, so make sure it remains moist (add some water) and remove after 10 min. Max.
  • Start using Retinol (Vitamin A) on your skin.It is a PROVEN ingredient for pore size (and many other things, like wrinkles). I’m not saying prescription Retinol (too strong), but the real one.
  • Stop using creams that are TOO RICH for your skin type.This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT CAUSES of LARGE PORE SIZE in women over 40 ! HYDRATE, don’t SUFFOCATE your skin. Use a light night cream, instead of a greasy (oldfashioned) one.
  • Consider using a special facial “dry” oil, with pore-size improving ingredients (like Clarins Huile Lotus).
  • Last but not least :use good moisturizing serums, based on HYALURONIC ACID, that will “plump” your skin and by doing this, reduce pore size. They will also provide great moisture and help regulate your skin back to normal.

By following this advice, you should see a clear improvement of pore size over time. If your condition doesn’t improve, seek help from a dermatologist/AESTHETICIAN specialised in cosmetic issues and go for a series of peels/laser treatments. But always take good care of your skin and follow the instructions above. Your skin will thank you for it !

COMBINATION SKIN BLUES

Your forehead is shining like a mirror? Your nose is oily thirty minutes after cleansing your face? Your cheeks, however, feel rather tight? Recognise this?

Chances are, you have what is called a “COMBINATION SKIN”.Combination skins are skins that have oily as well as dry parts. This can be extreme, like in my example above, especially during certain seasons.

Now what exactly is a combination skin? A combination skin is generally a skin with an oilier T-ZONE (forehead, nose, chin : like a “T”) and dryer cheeks. This condition is not temporarly, but ongoing and people with combination skin can sometimes have EXTREME differences between different parts of their face, especially during seasonal changes or extreme temperatures (summer – winter).

Often, choosing the right skincare will be horribly difficult, because in fact, you have TWO SKIN TYPES instead of one, and who wants to buy two cleansers, two toners, two creams etc.?

However, with some good understanding of your own skin, things don’t have to be so complicated.

Generally, combination skins ask for BALANCE, which can be achieved by picking up the right, gentle and non-agressive products, that your skin really needs.

As you will know from my previous articles, no skin type benefits from harsh cleansing products.You can not “degrease” oily skin, but you can try to clean your face well and gently. So choose a mild cream or milk-type cleanser, and an alcohol-free, hydrating toner.

For the oilier zone (T-zone) an occasional CLAY MASK (white clay) will be good, to deep-clean the pores. Apply twice a week during a few minutes and rinse off, using a washcloth.

Serum-wise, there’s really no difference with other skin types: spend your money on a good serum with ANTIOXIDANTS, RETINOL (vitamin A) and HYALURONIC ACID. Or buy two and use them alternatively.

Creams can be more difficult to choose, but I’d say ; go for LIGHT HYDRATION in summer and something more NOURISHING for your cheeks during the winter. During summer, a good serum & sunblock might be all you need. Or you can use a cream for you cheeks and eye contour only.

FRUIT ACIDS can be beneficial for both dryer and oilier parts of your skin, but in general I think you will want to use them on the oilier zones on a daily basis. Acid toners are excellent, but so are AHA creams.

As I have a real combination skin myself, here are a few of my favorite products:

Cleansing:Clarins Lait N/O Skin, Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser, Clinique Facial Soap Extra Mild, l’Occitane Shea Cleansing Milk.

Toning:Clarins Lotion Iris , Klapp Bèta-Glucan Toner, Lancôme Tonique Douceur, Darphin Intral Toner.

Fruit Acids/AHA’s:Lotion P50 Biologique Recherche (strong, not for sensitive skin !), Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Toner, Klapp ASA Care Cream.

Serums:Leegeehaam Hyal B5 Serum, Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum, Hydraluron Serum, Biotherm Detox serum,  Night Repair by Estee Lauder or Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule by Missha.

Creams:this is a bit more complicated, because season, lifestyle and stress will determine how dry or oily your skin is. Generally speaking, my idea is to go “light” again, or , in this case, use 2 creams, especially in the winter. A lighter one on the T-Zone and a more emollient one for the cheeks. Nice ones: Estee Lauder Daywear Normal/Combination & Nightwear, Cattier emulsion & cream (dry skin). Chanel Hydra Beauty Series.

A particularly lovely type of product to use when you need moisture with no oil, are the “ESSENCES”. We don’t really know these in Europe, but Korean women (and men) swear bij them. An essence is something between a gel-like serum and a moisturizing toner. Kind of a “gel-toner” if you like. Rich in moisture, but without any oily feeling. Lovely, lush. Good ones : Missha Time Revolution Essence, Klairs Unscented Toner, Cosrx Hyaluronic  Hydro Power Essence. Time to do an article on Korean skincare, anyway….

You can use these essences as an extra step, or when you want to avoid a cream on oilier zones. Or to supply your cheeks & eye contour with extra moist when it’s needed. You can also use it instead of a toner, but I would personally never save on moisture care products for my skin.

Where to buy?

Korean Skincare : Little Wonderland (Webshop)

Mad Hippie : Natuurlijk Zuiver (Webshop)

Cattier : Natuurlijk Zuiver (Webshop) or DI (Belgium)

Darphin : some perfumeries and Depositaries

L’Occitane : have their own shops

Klapp: Depositaries (Beauticians’ brand)

Other Brands : Perfumeries and Department stores

GET RID OF DEHYDRATION LINES: LEEGEEHAAM HYAL B5 AMPOULE

If, let’s say, a couple of years ago, anyone would have told me I’d be praising Korean skin care products, I would simply have said that person’s mad …..

How things can change …Korean skin care has become one of the hottest topics on many blogs, in press reviews and even luxury womens’ magazines.

Fact is, that the Koreans have a different approach to skin care. Now that I’m speaking about it, this might be a good topic for another blog. For now, I ‘ll just stick to this product, the LEEGEEHAAM (how on earth are we supposed to pronounce this ?)  HYAL B5 AMPOULE.

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Ampoules, in Korean, are serums, not little one ml bottles for single application, like we have them. Korean women (and men !) are very beauty-conscious and like A LOT of product. So, when they make a CONCENTRATE, a few little bottles in a box won’t do. They’ll want at least a 50 ml, like this packaging has.

The Hyal B5 Ampoule/Serum is probably the BEST HYALURONIC SERUM I have ever laid my hands on. Lovely, lush, instant results. Deeply moisturizing, soooo addictive.

A similar product would be the Louis Widmer Extrait Liposomal serum (reviewed), which is great too, but not half as moisturizing as this one is.

Remember how I – and that’s not me only – stress out how important HYDRATING your skin is? Well, this a perfect way to do it: just a few drops of this and you’re good for the day/night.Just some cream/SPF on top and that’s it. If you’re dry/dehydrated and never found what you were looking for, this little miracle might just be it.

Skintype:all, even very oily.

How to use:after toning, before a cream. If you’re a serum junkie and like to “layer” several serums, this is your first one.

Strong points:everything, non sticky, great price !

Weak points:couldn’t think of anything

Available through:My Little Wonderland (Webshop specialised in Korean skin care products)

www.littlewonderland.nl

TIRED SKIN

You’re tiredYou look tired. Your skin look tired. You name it, you’ve got it! Or rather: you’ve lost it …

Lack of colour, freshness, vitality. Dullness, dry patches, oilyness you never had before, all signs your skin has gotten out of balance. In order to get your skin back in order, there are a few – quite logical – steps you can take.By this, I don’t mean a miracle cure; there is no such thing as a miracle cure. Just as miracle products simply do not exist.

–   Obviously, if you don’t get enough sleep, your face will show it. So try to get back to a healthy sleeping pattern if you know you’ve lost some hours of sleep in the past few weeks. In order to get our organism (and thus our skin) to recuperate and regenerate well, specialists recommend 6 to 9 hours of sleep.

–   Vitamin intake is very important. No use spending money on regenerating skincare products, if your nutrition is lacking vitamins, minerals and proteins. Check your diet, or consider consulting a specialist. In some cases, supplement scan help improving your skin, with some quite dramatic results! Important vitamins/minerals to consider: vitamin C (for collagen build-up), vitamin D (especially when you are indoors a lot and use sunblock when you go outside), Omega 3 fish oils (fatty acids help regulate oil production, nourish and hydrate our skin), magnesium (will help with our stress!). B-vitamins like B12 (often associated with B3 and B6) are also helpfull (and for this reason, often present in “hair-nails-skin” specialty supplements).

–  Exfoliate your skin on a regular basis. Peeling creams, buffing creams, as long as the particles are very fine, are good. Creams with AHA/BHA Acids do a great job too. Use them for 3 to 4 nights a week. Exfoliating toners are TOP. They are used on a daily basis and allow everything you put on your skin afterwards, to sink in better. Clarins Doux Exfoliant is my personal favorite (see article), but also the “cult” Lotion P50 from Biologique Recherche is loved by many skin care addicts all over the world. Be sure, however, to make a choice: it’s either a peeling cream with particles, a peeling AHA/BHA night cream or a peeling toner.

–  Apply a vitamin-loaded serum every morning and night. I recently discovered the Mad Hippie versions and they are great! Vitamin A and C serum can be used alternatively and will really “boost” your skin.

–  Even if you never took time to lay down/walk around for a few minutes with a mask on your face, consider it now. Facial masks can be just the thing you need to “push” your skin back into its usual self. White clay (kaolin) is a great ingredient and does’t dry out your skin. Plant-based masks with herbal  extracts like clary sage, rosemary and (a little) peppermint are excellent skin revitalisers.

Good luck looking fabulous again! (well, we can try it at least, can’t we ?)

ALCOHOL IN MY SKIN CARE PRODUCTS: FACTS AND FICTION

Alcohol in skincare products has been a point of discussion for as far as I can remember. One says: no way! The other will say: no problem …

Now what to believe?

The word alcohol refers to a group of substances, that can have various effects on our skin. Not just on skin, by the way!The glass of wine, Prosecco or Limoncello you have, might also have a certain effect on you: but this is more related to quantity, isn’t it J?

Where skin care is concerned, there are two groups of alcohols: de “good ones” and the “bad ones”.Does this mean, that not every alcohol is bad for your skin? Indeed, that’s exactly what it means!

Bad alcohols have a “low molecular weight” (this is chemistry),good alcohols have a “high molecular weight”. De bad ones DRY OUT YOUR SKIN, while the good ones HYDRATE. It’s as simple as that.

The bad guys are: Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol), SD Alcohol, Alcohol denat. (sometimes just “alcohol”), Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol), and Benzyl Alcohol. They dry out your skin, because they dissolve all the lipids (oils), that are naturally present on (in) your skin. Theoretically, this would mean they also disrupt your skin balance. Taking away all the lipids means you also take away all the MOISTURE, which is not ok, of course.

Amongst the good guys are Cetearyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol and Cetyl Alcohol; these are MILD for your skin and even help lock in MOISTURE !

The very gentle Butylene Glycol and Pentylene Glycol also belong tot his group of ingredients and also have MOISTURE BINDING properties.

Does this mean, that all products with a “bad alcohol” are completely useless? No, absolutely not!One has to consider their dosage in the product. This is difficult to check for us, as the exact percentages aren’t mentionned on the ingredients list. However, the higher the ingredient is on the list, the higher its percentage will be.

To give you an example:Isopropyl Alcohol as the second or third ingredient, is quite different from being somewhere half way or towards the end of the list. In that case, the amount is probably neglectable and will have no negative impact on your skin.

The TYPE OF PRODUCT also determines, whether “good” or “bad” alcohols are used. A tonic designed for oily skin, will be more likely to have some “bad” alcohol than, let’s say, a product for dry skin types. Anyway, a tonic will be more likely to have some alcohol, because of the “refreshing” effect it has on skin.

Now you will wnat to know how to pick your products! This is how I CHOOSE MY PERSONAL SKINCARE and WHAT CRITERIA I USE:

  • When a SERUM or a CREAM, has a “bad” alcoholwithin the first 5 ingredients on the list, it’s in no way an option for me. There are enough other products on the market, that don’t have this problem, so I’ll go for an alternative. “Good alcohols”, however, are very welcome !
  • In case of a toner, I will look at its purpose, skin feel and smell. Meaning : in case of an exfoliating (peeling) toner, I might forgive the presence of alcohol. Especially, if the bad one is compensated by some “good ones” or by Glycerin and Butylele/Pentylene Glycol.
  • If, however, I can clearly feel or SMELL the alcohol (like with rubbing alcohol), I’ll discard the product.
  • What is “too much” in one brand, can be perfectly ok for me in another brand !

I hope that, after reading this article,  you’ll be able to see more clear and select your skin care products with some extra expertise. Enjoy your shopping!