Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review : The Body Shop Seaweed Clay Mask

I wanted to hate this product. I really did. After opening the tub and smoothing the clay over my face, I was struck by the overwhelming smell of … sewage. Foul.

I left it on for around 10 minutes during which the mask hardens - to the point where your face might crack with the slightest facial expression. The mask's colour slowly changes from dark green to a lighter and trendier minty green, which is quite cool but doesn't change the fact that you look and smell like you've been wading through a smelly canal.

I washed it off using a face cloth, which was stained brown in the process ... (Could the clay be some form of recycled poo) Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I love using masks, but this - no. It stinks and I needed two flannels rinse it off.

And with that said, I'm almost disinclined to admit that I was quite impressed with the results. I had a sore, red bump (one of those spots that doesn’t quite know when/how it wants to maim your face) on my forehead and after applying the mask, it had completely gone down! O.O I've never had a such an obvious immediate result  after just one application!

It’s not all raptures and spangles though. The downside is that my skin felt a little dry and tight afterwards. Nothing that a nice hydrating mask and moisturiser can't sort out, but enough to limit use to once per week.

If you're quite chillax about what goes on your face, embracing mineral oil, parabens, home made lemon peels and the like then you go ahead and use it.  It costs £12/100ml and £6 for members of the Shop's loyalty scheme (here). But we should really care a bit more about what goes on our face. I have to be honest and admit (*inhale*) that I didn't read the label before purchasing. (*shriek*) (But only because the shop staff cast me an evil glare when I tried to peel the label off!)

Here is the full ingredients list (which is published online!! woopwoop!!)
Kaolin, Aqua, Heilmoor Clay, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Bentonite, Talc, Lithothamnium calcarum, Maris Limus Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Polysorbate 20, Myristamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Bisabolol, Parfum, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Zinc PCA, Linalool, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Denatonium Benzoate, Tocopherol, CI 77289, CI 42090.

When I read labels, I'm on the lookout for two things: mineral oil and alcohol.

Mineral oil is cheap crap that sits on your skin doing nottin. Alcohol can dry and irritate the skin, but is sometimes necessary, e.g. in suncreams to stabilise the product, and as a preservative - but only as one of the last ingredients. Where is alcohol on this list? TOP FIVE INGREDIENT FML. Why are so many products marketed towards acne/blemish prone skin or "clarifying" and "oil-minimising" solutions packed FULL of alcohol?! Like I'm really helping my skin by striping the mantle away and opening the gateway for yet more bacteria to breed there. No thank you.
Basically, while you might feel an immediate short-term improvement, you're exacerbating the problem in the long-term and damaging your skin's protective layers. The 'improvement' was probably the effect of alcohol burning skin alive and sending all bacteria to oblivion.

Will I use it again? Unlikely. Would I recommend it? No. You'll have dryness and premature ageing to deal with on top of spots and acne. And it smells rank.

Friday, 21 February 2014

On Trial : Clinique Superdefence SPF 20 Age Defence Eye Cream

Behold! A suncream for the eye area. It’s from Clinique, a brand that I vowed to never buy from again, thanks to a poor experience with their Anti-Blemish range and a toner that burnt my skin. (*hiss*)

You’re probably thinking err, girl do you live under a rock? All brands make eye creams, most have SPF yo. Thats true, but so far none have what I’m looking for - a physical suncream (one with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide). All the brands I’ve looked at (like Origins, Kiehls, Estee Lauder, Shiseido, Skinceuticals, Dermalogica, Philosophy, Ole Henriksen, Dior blahblah and even other Clinique products) make eyecreams with chemical filters, which I’m trying to avoid.

I came across Clinique's Superdefense SPF 20 Age Defense Eye Cream by chance on House of Fraser’s website and had something of a Hallelujah moment when I saw it described as an 'all physical sunscreen'. Woo wooo! I bought it earlier in the week and will test it out for a week or so before reviewing it in full.

These are my first thoughts:
  • It's SO EXPENSIVE!! It’s £30 for the tube, which doesn’t seem too bad by itself, but at £30/15ml that makes it £2 per ml!
  • The ingredients. No list of ingredients online (*glare*), so I looked to Beautypedia. The thing is that the UK product seems to be slightly different from its US counterpart, which is described as “broad spectrum”. Are they one and the same? I certainly hope so and I’m waiting for a response from Clinique to confirm :/

Update 29.May.14
As mentioned in a later post (somewhere), I ended up returning this because I didn't think it contained Zinc Oxide and because of the broad spectrum difference. I've had a response from Clinique, who very kindly provided a full ingredients list:

Water/Aqua [] Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate [] Titanium Dioxide [] c12-15 Alkyl Benzoate [] Butylene Glycol [] Cetyl Clcohol [] Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) [] Dimethicone [] Laureth-4 [] Cetyl Esters [] PEG-100 Stearate [] Polyethylene [] Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract [] Sea Whip Extract [] Padina Pavonica Thallus Extract [] Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract [] Algae Extract [] Lecithin [] Micrococcus Lysate [] Caffeine [] Astrocaryum Mmurumuru Seed Butter [] Isohexadecane [] Tocopheryl Acetate [] Trehalose [] Glycerin [] Isostearic Acid [] Caprylyl Glycol [] Polyhydroxystearic Acid [] Polysorbate 80 [] Phytosphingosine [] Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate [] Sodium RNA [] Lauric Acid [] Linoleic Acid [] Sodium Hyaluronate [] Hhydrogenated Lecithin [] Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Maleate [] Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) [] Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer [] Hexylene Glycol [] Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid [] Tromethamine [] Alumina [] Disodium EDTA [] Phenoxyethanol [] Mica [] Iron Oxides (ci 77491, ci 77492, ci 77499) [] Zinc Oxide (ci 77947 nano) [ILN 40151]

And look, there's Zinc Oxide waiting at the end of the list! I checked this list against the ingredients list on Beautypedia, and they are in fact the same. However, Clinique do not claim that this product (the one sold in the EU) is broad spectrum, unlike the product sold in the US. So they may well be the same product, but end up being classed differently because of different regulatory systems. C'est un mystere.

Friday, 14 February 2014

DHC : Deep Cleansing Oil, CoQ10 Lotion & Q10 Moisturising Cream

DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil, which I've wanted to try for a while now is "on sale" for £18.00 (saving you £3.50) There are a few other discounted products on DHC's website, including the CoQ10 Lotion (reduced from £29.50 to £22.00) and Q10 Cream (reduced from £39.00 to 29.00) which look good for dry skin. I didn't really need to, but I've bought the lotion and moisturiser too ... because my toner is half-empty and ... Who am I kidding. I don't need excuses for my obsession!

If you spend over £50, you'll receive £10 off your order and new customers get a 10% discount ^-^
The sale ends on the 28th February, so hurry!
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Update: check out my review of the cleansing oil here

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Where to buy Asian Skincare & Cosmetics

My skincare routine happens to be similar to the so-called Asian skincare routine, which involves layering 10-15 different products. If you're feeling like a fancy Francaise, you could also call it the Millefeuille method. Yet I don't own a single product from Asia - except for Shu Uemura eyelash curlers. And unless you count Chanel make-up which is made in Japan.. I wish I did, since Asian brands are/supposed to be so much more advanced and awesome through-and-through, but I live in London and the selection is pretty limited:

These brands are found in most department stores:
Shu Uemura                    

Outside of Selfridges you'll find:
Anna Sui - exclusive collection on ASOS                  
Dr Jart - available at Boots
Erborian - Space.NK and Selfridges                          
Wei - available at Space.NK
Yu-Be - Space.NK, Cultbeauty and Boots

And theres always Biore nose strips, right? But what Hada Labo, Fairy Drops, Etude House and the like? To the unfamiliar: those aren't varieties of cupcakes, they are indeed actual brand names. These brands aren’t available in the UK, so what buying online through the official websites?
CandyDoll - no option to order through website
CANMAKE - more like CAN NOT order through website
Etude House - have an official eBay shop, "etudehouse-korea"
Fairy Drops - no option to order through website
Hada Labo - ships to the US
Holika Holika - ships worldwide
JUJU Cosmetics - not available online
Laneige - not available online
Majolica Majorca - not available online
MISSHA - quite a few shipping destinations, including the US, Canada, Australia and NZ. But not the UK!!
Naruko - (cf. Naruto). Has sites for customers in China, HK, Singapore and Malaysia and the US. No international shipping option.
Skin Food - 988 stores worldwide. 7 in the USA and 1 in Canada. 0 in the UK. Boo.
Sulwhasoo - sold in Bergdorf Goodman. US peeps can order online.
The Face Shop - stores in the US and Canada. Cannot order online.
Toly Moly - no option to order online

Another fail. Next stop: Sasa.com
Going by the selection alone, this might be the best place to buy Asian brands online. There are LOADS to choose from - including all of the brands I mentioned above, except Canmake. The downside is that their prices seem a little inflated. I myself have yet to order from Sasa. Theres only one thing I really, REALLY want from all of those brands and thats HadaLabo's Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. It's perpetually priced at US$3.20 on Sasa and perpetually out of stock. o.O I could wait for that Lotion to be restocked and reap the benefits of awesome Japanese skincare ... or I could make do with what I DO have access to. So I did a bit of research and found the UK isn't completely behind:

Instead of Hada Labo's Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion ... try Indeed Labs Hydraluron or Apivita's Hydrating Natural Serum
Instead of Snail Street Snail Cream ... try Dr Organic's Snail Gel
Instead of Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils ... try Origins Clean Energy or DHC Cleansing Oil which are cheaper
Instead of Japanese seaweed creams ... try Elemis' Marine Cream, which contains seaweedy goodness
Instead of Bee Venom creams (Korea) ... try Rodial's Bee Venom range (or not, it's pretty expensive) or the Manuka Doctor Bee Venom range
Instead of Snake Venom creams (cause them bumblebees don't pack enough punch) ... try Rodial's Snake Venom range

I'm totally generalising there with "Japanese seaweed creams", but it's such a popular ingredient it's not worth singling out one brand >.< Other than Elemis' Marine Cream (which is SUPERB), I haven't tried those products, so I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Especially that pot o' snail slime...) Feel free to shamelessly promote your own blog reviews ;)