ABOUT KOREAN PRODUCTS & KOREAN PRODUCT REVIEWS

Philippe Cats

Hi you guys, here’s some “in between” news for you. Just to make sure certain things that I plan to do on my blog are known.

I (we, being me and my website constructor :-)) are planning to do a series on Korean skincare. I discovered Korean skincare about 4 years ago and must admit I was pretty sceptical at the beginning. In the meantime, my scepsis has changed into enthusiasm and I actually love using & testing Korean skincare brands.

The Korean approach is quite different from our current way of treating our skin. They have more steps (I hear you thinking : “ oh sh..”), but these steps go SO FAST one after another that this shouldn’t be a problem to anyone.

Their products are often much LIGHTER and more HYDRATING in every step of their system, plus they ALWAYS DOUBLE CLEANSE which I find absolutely great…

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BIOTHERM WONDER MUD

Skin Best

Oxygenating Resurfacing Mask With Algae Extract

Ingredients :Aqua, Kaolin, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Isononyl Isonanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Prunus Armeniaca Seed Powder, Phenoxyethanol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Capryloyl Glycine, Stearyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Stearic Acid, Tocopherol, Palmitic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Limonene, Vitreoscilla Ferment, Linalool, Geraniol, Myrisitic Acid, Moroccan Lava Clay, Citric Acid, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Potassium Sorbate, Parfum (+/- CI 77891 Mica, CI 77491, CI 77510).

Bioterm Wonder Mud is a clay mask, to put it simple. A green type af clay, to be more precise. And this has some “scrubbing” particles, quite large ones, in  fact.

Looking at the ingredients list, we find Kaolin (White Clay) to be the principal active and a little (tiny little) bit of Moroccan Lava Clay. I suppose this gives it its very distinct (but nice) smell.

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Clay masks definitely are “back”.To call this one a wonder product, is an overstatement. A huge overstatement, if you ask me. Wonder Mud is just a good clay mask.There are many good clay masks on the market, and you don’t need to pay Biotherm’s price to get a decent one.

The results are ok, at least if you DON’T FOLLOW Biotherm’s advise to “scrub” with the product, as its particles are much too harsh. (Unless you have an elephants’ skin). If you use it as a “normal” clay mask, and leave it to dry for about 10 minutes or so, it’s perfectly ok.

But definitely NOT a wonder, pardon me, Biotherm. You make lovely products, I love your Detox, Red Algae (will be reviewed later) and your Sun products, but this one I’ll skip for the price.

Skin type: all, but I’d say rather oily skins will love this.

Positive points: nice clay mask, gives a very refreshed feeling.

Negative points: quite expensive “wonder” product being a quite ordinary clay mask.

www.biotherm.com

FRAGANCE IN COSMETICS

One of the most discussed subject in cosmetics, is undoubtedly “fragrance”. No other subject in cosmetics has been more discussed, argued about and researched.

In order to give you – my readers – some clarity on this subject, here’s my personal opinion.

In order to discuss this topic, it is important first to define, what fragrance exactly is. In cosmetics, fragrance is a substance, or a mixture of substances, meant to perfume the product OR to mask unpleasant odors from (active) ingredients.

So, this means a fragrance can be used for marketing purposes, but also to make a product acceptable for its consumers. Because, what you should know, is that many cosmetic ingredients do NOT have a nice smell. This goes for NATURAL es well as SYNTHETIC ingredients.

This also means that “NATURAL” as well as “CLASSIC” cosmetic brands, use fragrance in their products in order to make them pleasantly smelling to their public. 

Fragrance can also be used to “neutralize” odors. A product that “has no smell” could very well be fragranced !

Fragrance can be both natural (ex : essential oils) or synthetic, and can also be a mixture of both.

Now let’s come tot he crucial point : is fragrance BAD FOR SKIN ?

In my opinion (shared by many skincare experts, I’ll just cite Caroline Hirons), the answer is : NO, unless you have an ALLERGY to the product. 

I personally DO NOT believe that fragrances can lead to skindamage (like Beautypedia tells us) or are harmfull in any way. It is only bad for you if YOU are allergic to ONE (or more) fragrance ingredients.

The EU has made up a list of 26 fragrance ingredients, that are considered to be more “suspected” when it comes to the frequence of allergic reactions. Again, this means :  only for those who are allergic to the said substance. 

A few examples, like they are mentionned on the INCI (Ingredients) list :

  • Amyl cinnamal
  • Eugenol
  • Coumarin
  • Alpha isomethyl ionone
  • Hydroxycitronellol
  • Linalool
  • And more …..

The ONLY WAY to know what you are allergic to(be it a fragrance or some other type of ingredient), is to have it TESTED & CONFIRMED by a DERMATOLOGIST. Since we live in an era of “contains no parabens, synthetic fragrance and blabla blabla”, it has become very “fashionable” to have some self-invented allergies (or “highly sensitive” skin).

The funny thing is, that most of the “suspected” allergens are from NATURAL sources, being the essential oils. Meaning that natural-led products are more likely to give you allergies than the synthetic ones. Surprising, isn’t it?

CONCLUSION :

In my personal opinion, fragrance should not be a problem when used in acceptable dosage in skincare products.If you are, however, allergic to a certain fragrance ingredient (or group of ingredients), you will have this black on white from your doctor and you can read ingredient lists in order to select your cosmetic products.

Although a nice fragrance in a product has nothing to do with its purpose (namely : skin care), it can add an extra dimension to the product. What would a luxury cream be without a nice smell !!

Fragrance is absolutely not a necessity(unless the product would smell bad because of certain ingredients), and if you want to avoid, there are plenty of unfragranced products on the market.

Remember also that fragrance is not the only culprit when it comes to allergies and that cosmetics are often made of complex formulas in order to meet our skincare needs.

THE BOTTOM LINE : LET’S ENJOY OUR FRAGRANCED PRODUCTS  ! 

LOTION P50 BIOLOGIQUE RECHERCHE

Exfoliating & purifying lotion for face.

Ingredients :Water (Aqua), Gluconolactone, Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Citric Acid, Ethoxydiglycol, Magnesium Chloride, Malic Acid, Vinegar (Acetum), Phytic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Cochlearia Armoracia (Horseraddish) Root Extract, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Rumex Acetosa Leaf Extract, Myrtus Communis Extract, Commyphora Myrrha Resin Extract, Allium Cepa (Onion) Bulb Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf Oil, Sulfur, Sorbitol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.

I believe no other cosmetic product has been more “hyped”, “blogged” or discussed on beauty platforms. Why is that ? No idea. Because for me, nothing about this lactic acid-based, facial toner is so very special ….

So, where did the hype come from ? Probably (I can only guess), it was because lotion P50 is one of the first AHA TONERS ON THE MARKET. Plus, the original (1970) formula had  Phenol, a VERY STRONG acid, that surely can be “skin changing” as I’ve read in some comments.

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I can’t speak about this version, as the product I could eventually lay my hands on, is the “European version” without this famous phenol. So that leaves us with a still pretty potent, exfoliating (=peeling) skin toner, that will help improve skin texture & clarity and will also help clear up acne. Its active ingredients are lactic acid, which is said to be more gentle than, for example, glycolic acid, used in many anti-ageing preparations nowadays. Plus some other (very good) acids and  vinegar (the product smells of it too), I suppose to help keep the pH value low enough, so the acids will work.

So far for the ingredients. I personally DO NOT LIKE this product so much at all !It stings and burns, leaves your skin quite red at times. And yes, I know, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but I can’t notice any “improvement” using this nasty smelling product.

So, no, I’m not a fan.I’m sure some of you love this product and you have every reason to do so. The ingredients are good, very active and WILL help your skin cell turnover and prevent the clogging of pores. Fact is, that some damn good lotions are available on the market nowadays. Think Paul’s Choice AHA/BHA products and (my favorite) Mandelic Acid Prep by Wishtrend (Korean).Not to forget the Clarins (glycolic acid based) Doux Exfoliant. And many, many others….

Positive points :good active ingredients, a myriad of acids, niacinamide (Vit. B3) that helps fighting hyperpigmentation.

Negative Points: agressive product, didn’t work for me. Better options on the market nowadays.

Conlusion: not for me. Good if you’re specifically looking for a lactic acid based exfoliator. Not for sensitive/reactive skin types.

www.biologiquerecherche.com

WHAT VITAMIN C CAN DO FOR YOUR SKIN

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”could be true for your skin too. Not that it means putting apple juice on your skin, but speaking in term of vitamins ; your skin needs them too.

After Retinol (Vitamin A), vitamin C is likely the most important vitaminwhen it comes to skincare. Recently, newer – more stable forms – of vitamin C have been found for use in cosmetics, which means that we nowadays have the possibility to supply a good portion of vitamin C to our skin topically.(Meaning by putting skin care on our faces).

Surely, your daily intake by mouth is very important too. It is, in fact, the basis for all. Did you know, that our organism needs vitamin C in order to produce COLLAGEN, our skin-buiding fibers, that decline over the years ? A good dosage of vitamin C could actually keep them fit & healthy! Fruit, vegetables, consumed either raw, lightly cooked (cooking “kills” part of the vitamin C), in a smoothie or simply, in a nice, fresh made soup, will keep your vitamin levels up.

On our skin, we could very well do with an extra supply, as our skin gets served LAST when it comes to nutrients absorbed through our digestive system.

Vitamin C can be applied as either a serum or a cream and I would advise you to look out for a serum, because the vitamin C will generally be MORE CONCENTRATED in a serum. Furthermore, it needs to be absorbed DEEP into your skin, and that is exactly what serums are meant to do.

You can use vitamin C either during the day, or at night. You can even MIX UP SEVERAL SERUMS TO GET ALL THE BENEFICIAL INGREDIENTS from several serums, in case you’re a real “beauty freak” like me.

Not only does vitamin C have COLLAGEN BUILDING properties, it will also help keeping SUN SPOTS & AGE SPOTS at bay (aren’t these two things the same ?). That’s why vitamin C is also considered to be a SKIN BRIGHTENER.

Good forms of vitamin C are :

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Ascorbyl Glucoside

And Ascorbic Acid being the pure, unaltered vitamin C, that is, however, quite unstable in many cosmetic formulations, because it is very sensitive to air (oxygen) and light. That’s why it is sometimes presented as a powder, ready-to-mix with a liquid, before application on the skin (Clinique Fresh-Pressed).

My favorites of the moment :

  • Clinique Fresh-Pressed
  • Mad Hippie vitamin C serum
  • Nazan Tastan vitamin C serum
  • Helena Rubinstein Force C serum

So have your apple, but don’t forget your skin : it will thank your for it !

DO WE REALLY NEED TO STICK TO ONE BRAND FOR OUR SKINCARE ?

Or shouldn’t we ? That’s a question that always comes back again. You might be a Lauder devotee, or fully in love with Clarins. Both things, I could imagine, by the way… But is there a real need to stick to just one brand ?

The anwer is : NO , you don’t need to !Although many cosmetic brands offer a full spectrum of skincare products from which to choose, there is no rule that tells you you MUST, by all means, stick to just their products. It might, in fact be that your best skincare routine, can be found in three or even more brands.

As a professional blogger, I try a lot of products. I love a lot of different brands. I discover new, lovely and actually WORKING products almost every week. So it is very difficult to say that one brand “has it all”. I can actually use about up to six OR EVEN SEVEN products in one routine (when I’m really in the mood), all of them coming from a different brand.

For example, I love Clarins cleansers and toners. Just believe they do a great job in this area of skincare. But my Retinol serum will come from a brand like Indeed Labs or Nazan Tastan. For a repair serum, I ‘ll go to Estee Lauder for their famous Night Repair Skin Recovery Complex, or I ‘ll go for its (much less expensive) dupe from Missha, a Korean brand that happens to be equally great. And my favourite eye creams (when I use one) are from Chanel.

The choice of a day cream / night cream is very personal too. Are you looking for a high-end product or just for something nice and hydrating ? Every brand has its own specificities and therefore also its specialty products. The trick is to find the right ones for you. The ones that work best for YOUR SKIN.

As long as you do your routine right, meaning :

  • Mild cleanser (best non foaming) first
  • Acid toner, if you like
  • Moisturizing toner or essence is a MUST
  • Serum (spend some money here)
  • Eye cream
  • Moisturizer
  • SPF during day.

Your moisturizer can be skipped if your skin is oily during daytime. A cream with AHA’s or fruit acids is great overnight. So is a Retinol serum. Plenty of options here ….. Most important ; ENJOY !

CLARINS LOTION TONIQUE IRIS

Iris Tonic Lotion

Without alcohol

With Iris

Combination or oily skin

Ingredients :Aqua/Water/Eau, Propandediol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Oleth-20, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Parfum/Fragrance, Sodium Citrate, Panthenol, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Which Hazel) Water, Psilium Guaiava Fruit Extract, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Benzyl Salicilate, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Glucose, Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Crataegus Monogyma Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Zinc Sulfate, Sorbic Acid, CI 19140 Yellow 5, CI 42090 Blue 1, Silica.

I wrote a post about what a good facial toner should do for your skin. A good facial toner, adapted to your skin’s needs, is always important.Like I wrote in my post, one of the most important things about a toner is HYDRATION.

Hydrating this toner surely is. Plus, it has some nice plant extracts, like which hazel and iris, to help oily/combination skins to become more balanced. Both ingredients will have a positive effect on pore size, while other ingredients, like glycerin, take care of hydration.

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This is a nice toner for any skinthat is in need of light hydration and needs to do something about oilyness or pore size, without using an alcohol-based toner. Alcohol won’t do your skin much good anyay, and especially if you’re oily, it could even make matters worse.

Clarins also makes a “Chamomile” version for dry skin types, which will be reviewed later.

I have both versions and use them off-and-on depending on my (combination) skin’s needs.

Texture :watery

Skin types :all, especially oily/combination (but there’s no harm done if you like this one and have dry skin !)

Strong points :plant based active ingredients

Negative points : couldn’t think of one.

www.clarins.com

CLARINS DAILY ENERGIZER WAKE-UP BOOSTER

With redcurrant,  green coffee & white tea extracts.

“ A deliciously refreshing “skin drink” lotion based on plant extracts specifically choosen to revive skin vitality.Apply every morning before your regular skin care to ensure a bright, healthy-looking complexion. “

  • Tones surface skin (green coffee)
  • Refines & tightens skin texture (redcurrant)
  • Revives complexion radiance

Ingredients :Aqua/Water/Eau, Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Ribes Rubrum (Currant) Fruit Extract, Threalose, Butylene Glycol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Parfum (Fragrance), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Benzophenone-4, Tromethamine, Coffea Robusta Seed Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, EDTA, Butylphenyl Methylproprional, Linalool, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Hydroxycitronellal, Alpha-Isomethylionone, CI 15985 Yellow 6, CI 14700 Red 4.

How shall I put this ?Clarins makes wonderfull products. You’ve read about my love for the brand in previous posts. They can’t really do wrong as far as I’m concerned. Just love them. But did they need another lotion/toner ? Well, actually, the ones we had before (and still have) are quite satisfactory… So what about this one, do you NEED it? Honestly : no you don’t. BUT, however, if you want to give your skin a real BOOST of ANTIOXIDANTS & HYDRATING ingredients in the morning, this product does it all.

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The marketing claims are correct, it DOES REVIVE your complexion on “dull days”. I’ve been using it on-and-off for a couple of months and just love it. Will buy another bottle when this one’s empty. For sure !

Conclusion :Clarins devotees go and get it (but I suppose you already did). If you’re not, try it anyway J

Skin types :all

Strong points :lots of active ingredients

Weak points :alcohol is the second ingredient, but you won’t feel it, so I suppose it’s only a few percent. It’s beautifully compensated by many hydrating substances, anyway.

www.clarins.com

L’OCCITANE LAIT RICHE CORPS – RICH BODY LOTION

15% Shea Butter

Nourishes

Gives comfort to dry skins

Hydrates up to 48 Hours after application

Ingredients:Aqua (Water), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Helianthus Anuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Coco Caprylate/Caprate, Olus Oil/Vegetable Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Cetyl Palmitate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Lineseed) Seed Extract, Mel Extract/Honey Extract, Althea Officinalis Root Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Fruit Extract, Jojoba Esters, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Stearyl Glutamate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Alcohol, Urea, Chlorphenesin, Parfum/Fragrance, Coumarin, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Geraniol.

L’Occitane Lait Riche Corps is indeed a very rich, yet not–greasy-at-all body lotion. It leaves absolutely no sticky or greasy residue on your skin and feels absolutely velvety. In my opinion it will, however,  easily nourish even most dry & sensitive skins, without feeling “heavy” at all.

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Shea Butter is one of l’Occitane’s key ingredients in this series and is a NATURAL plant-derived oil (butter), rich in Omega Fatty Acids and natural CERAMIDES. Ceramides act like “moisture lockers” in the upper layers of our skin, helping skin to restore its natural moisture balance.

I truly love this product.It is probably the best body lotion I have used so far and I have a pretty dry and uncomfortable skin on my body.I also HATE heavy body lotions that leave you feeling “dirty” right after your shower ! This one is absolutely fine. The smell is quite distinctive, a bit strong upon application, but fades away after about 30 minutes or so. I don’t think this will be a problem for anyone.

Highly recommended, but with a slightly higher pricetag than some other body products I have  reviewed on my blog so far.

Texture: rich, velvety

Positive points: hydrates wonderfully, truly “repairs” dry skin.

Negative points: price tag, for some, fragrance.

www.loccitane.com

ACNE

Acne is a skin disease. It’s not a “temporary skin condition”. Although many of us suffer from acne tos ome extent during puberty, in some cases, acne can occur at an adult age. Genetic predisposition plays an important role.

According tot he American dermatologist Nicolas Perricone, 7 stages of acne can be distinguished.

  • “Retention hyperkeratosis”. In a healthy skin, dead skin cells on the inside of our pores, are shed in a natural and continuous manner. In this first stage of acne, this no longer happens in a normal way. Dead skin cells and sebum (the natural grease our skin produces) cling together. As a result of this, pores get clogged and can eventually enlarge.
  • Bacteria start to grow inside the pore and its follicle (this is the hairshaft).Acne bacteria grow “anaerobically”, meaning they like places without oxygen.Skin condition deteriorates and the first lesions start to appear. Acne is a fact.
  • Comedones & blackheads start to appear.
  • Red, inflamed spots, the acne spreads.
  • Worsening of the condition: more spots, more redness.
  • Formation of cysts: this stage + 7 is called “acne conglobata” and is the worst case scenario. Large areas of heavily inflamed, large pimples.

In the first stages of acne (stage 1 to 4), good skincare can do a lot. It’s very important for young people to start taking care of their skin in an early stage. For stages 6 & 7, dermatologists’ treatments are a necessity.Treatment with antibiotics or Roaccutane/Accutane might be the only solution left.

Antibiotics kill the acne bacteria, but have the disandvantage of creating resistant strains. Roaccutane (Accutane in the US) is a very potent form of Vitamin A (iso-tretinoin) and clears up severe acne in a couple of months.

I personally suffered from acne from my 14th until my 23th. It was severe, and I tried everything I could to get rid of it. It took me years to go to a dermatologist. I wish I had done so before. Roaccutane was the ultimate solution for me. It helped, thank god it did. But it left my skin dry and parchy. Years of diligent skin care gave me back a “normal” skin. Nowadays, however,  I still suffer from acne scars and hyperpigmentation due to the many inflamations I had.

The worst thing you can do is “self-medicate”! Please don’t try to “dry out” your acne with desinfection alcohol, like I did.Don’t use soap or drying face washes either. It will only make matters worse, believe me.

What you can do, in order to improve your skin condition :

  • Use a mild, non-foaming cleanser twice a day. “Non-foaming” is important, because your sebeceous glands are already “overexcited”. Calm them down by using a very mild cleanser. Cleansing oil or milk is perfect. The body Shop makes a great cleansing oil with Chamomile and Clarins has a cleansing milk designed for oilier skin types. Cerave Cleansing Cream is rather a gel, so if you prefer a gel, this one will suit you. Clinique Facial Soap Extra Mild isn’t a soap, but a gelly milk and is great too.
  • If you use a toner (which I recommend), make it a hydrating one. Toners with glycerin, propanediol and hyaluronic acid are all very good. Not too much alcohol please ! Clarins, Exuviance, Lancôme and many Koreans (Leegeehaam, Klairs, Missha) are fab.
  • Use a AHA/BHA product. Fruit acids are GREAT for acne & oily skin. BHA’s can even penetrate inside your pores to help “clean them out”. Salicylic acid is great, glycolic, citric & lactic will be very helpful too. Use your product in the form of a gel, lotion or (very light) cream. Specialists in this section are brands like Paula’s Choice and Exuviance. Neostrata is available by dermatologists’ prescription (NL/BE).
  • Eventually use a product with Retinol (Vitamin A).Retinol is known to “improve” the pore lining, thus making your skin more healthy. It will also have a preventative effect on scarring and hyperpigmentation. Neostrata, Indeed Labs, Nazan Tastan and Mad Hippie all make excellent Retinol products.
  • Use a spot-on treatment on inflamed areas.On the pimples itself, that is. Do NOT use them all over your face !
  • Make-up is ok. Don’t let yourself be influenced by people saying it will “suffocate” your skin !Modern make-up does NOT do that. The only thing I would advice you is not to choose a stick or compact cream foundation as these are often based on heavier oils and waxes.

And don’t be as stupid as I was trying to “pop” spots. You can only do that when there is a BIG WHTE head on top of the pimple. And press gently, with CLEAN fingers. Don’t continue to press if it doesn’t “pop”. Just wait another day. (I know this isn’t easy, I’ve been there).

Last but not least : seek professional advise if your acne condition gets worse.