Friday, 20 June 2014

Review : DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Thinking back, DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil and I were doomed from the start. I ordered a bottle online which cracked during transit and leaked everywhere. Excellent. (I was sent a replacement pronto though) Little hiccup aside, I was quite looking forward to trying a Japanese oil cleanser. (Japanese!!) Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils have held the number one spot in Asia for fifty years, with one sold every seven seconds, and the Deep Cleansing Oil isn’t far behind with one bottle sold every 10 seconds worldwide. Pretty impressive eh? And whereas Shu Uemura cleansers are mineral oil based, DHC uses olive oil. And DHC is so much more affordable.

The ingredients are short and simple:
Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil - hydrating, rich in anti-oxidants (and non-fragrant)
Caprylic/capric triglyceride - moisturises and repairs the skin
Sorbeth-30 tetraoleate - a surfactant
Pentylene glycol - a solvent (removes excess sebum)
Phenoxyethanol - a preservative
Tocopherol - Vitamin E
Stearyl glycyrrhetinate - an anti-irritant
Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil - fragrant plant extract

I’ve only used one oil cleanser before and that’s Origins Clean Energy (reviewed here) and I thought it’d be handy to compare the two:
  • Ingredients:  The top ingredient in both is olive oil. Clean Energy is a blend of oils, whereas Deep Cleaning Oil (DCO) is mainly olive oil and a surfactant for cleansing power.
  • Fragrance: DCO is almost fragrant free (rosemary is at the bottom of the list so it'd be a small amount), whereas Clean Energy has loads of it in the form of fragrant essential oils - sweet orange, lemon, bergamot …
  • Smell: I don’t recall Origins having any particular smell, but DCO has a distinctive plasticy smell… It’s a bit strange but not vomit inducing. 
  • Packaging: DCO comes in a pump bottle. Thumps up for being hygienic and easy to use. Clean Energy also comes in a bottle but with the pump sold separately. On the plus side, that means you could change the cap and pack it in a suitcase (assuming you were willing to risk an oil spillage). DHC’s bottle isn’t sealable, and it didn’t survive transit in a courier service so I don’t even wanna imagine how it’d fare in a luggage hold.
  • Price: DCO is £21.50/200ml, Clean Energy is £21/200ml plus £2 for the pump.
  • How long does it last? A 200ml bottle of Clean Energy lasts about four months so I'd assume DCO goes for the same.

You use the Deep Cleansing Oil as you would any other oil cleanser: a couple of pumps into dry hands, massage, add water to emulsify and rinse off with a flannel. As part of the ‘cleansing process’, follow up with a second cleanser. It removes make-up etc. thoroughly and leaves the skin feeling nice and soft - no problems here. The reason I stopped using it is because it might have caused/exacerbated a Vesuvius of a breakout. (Read that lovely post here) The spots calmed down after I stopped using it so I thought ‘hey, must be the olive oil’. I recently tried a new cleansing butter and just a few days later I felt little nasties brewing under the surface of my skin. After the waxes and synthetics, there is was again: olive fruit oil. I thought it MUST be the olive oil … ‘Cept that little theory is defeated by Clean Energy - which contains olive oil :/ Very strange indeed.

So now I’m on the lookout for a reasonably priced cleanser free of olive oil and synthetics ... any suggestions?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Re-thinking my Skincare Routine / Indeed Labs Hydraluron: is it worth the hype?

Anyone who follows/worships the world of Asian skincare will surely have heard of Hada Labo’s Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. With one sold every four seconds in Japan, promises of soft bouncy skin, endless praise blahblahblah who wouldn't want a bottle for themselves? I certainly do, but you can't buy it in the UK :( So when I first heard about the launch of Hydraluron I jumped at the opportunity to buy a similar product. The key ingredient is Sodium Hyaluronate so it should be a great product - in theory. I'm down to my last tube after using it for about two years (thank you, 3-for-2 at Boots for the never-ending supply) and I'm only now questioning whether it actually does anything. When in doubt, ask the Internet. A Google search for “hydraluron does it work” brings up pages and pages of reviews, praises and ballads upon Hydraluron:
  • Plumps the skin
  • Skin appears more glowy
  • Restores dull and dry skin
  • Fewer breakouts
  • Helped scars heal and fade more quickly
I’m not sure how this landed in cult status territory because I don't think it's anywhere near as good as it's cracked up to be! Or have I simply been using it for too long to remember any difference? Because of that, I decided to do a little experiment. Rather than stop using Hydraluron altogether to see if I would notice a difference, I thought I'd test it against other serums by using Hydraluron on one half of my face and a different serum on the other.

vs Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Longevity Concentrate
My sample of Orchide Imperiale lasted 11 days and by the end of it I thought my complexion looked better on the Guerlain side. My skin felt smoother and I was convinced that my cheeks felt fuller, more plump and boingy. I briefly thought of buying this til I found it costs £300. Yah.

vs Guerlain Super-Aqua Serum Light
This sample lasted six days. After much pinching and squashing of cheeks, I had to conclude that there was no difference between using the two. The side with Hydraluron felt smoother after application, but I think this is just a temporary thing to do with the formula.

vs Guerlain Abeille Royale Serum Jeunesse
More from Guerlain! This sample lasted four days and again, both sides felt the same by the end.

vs Astalift Jelly Aquarysta Rejuvenating Concentrate
I have a full 15ml pot of this but only used it for one day :( By the time I came home in the evening, I had two spots on my forehead, and I could feel two more lurking below the surface - all on the Astalift side. Do not megusta.

vs Melvita Eau Extraordinaire Fleurs d'Oranger - Hydration (Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water - Hydration)
This sample lasted five days. I could have got more out of it had I not spilled half on my dressing table. The "eau" part of it is no joke. This 'extraordinary water' (that name wtf) felt a little dry when first applied, but this went away when followed with moisturiser etc.

vs Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster
I used this for two weeks to see if not using a hydrating serum would make a difference.

Drum roll: after one month plus of using Hydraluron on only one side .. there was no difference. My skin wasn’t any drier, no less “plump” or spot-prone (ignoring the Astalift jelly), hyperpigmentation still there, face still intact ... So what DOES it do - if anything?

The Claims:
  1.  Reinforces skin's natural short and long term moisturisation
  2.  Increases hydration from below the surface

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. Humectants retain moisture => immediate difference in skin hydration. Ok. I'm less sure of the 'long-term' benefit though. Since I don’t have a chemistry degree I relied on snippets from articles and journals floating around the internet (heck at least I admit my ignorance) to erm, ‘establish’ that hyaluronic acid molecules are too big to penetrate the skin’s deeper layers. Hyaluronic acid provides effective surface hydration and supports the skin’s protective barrier but topical application won’t boost our ‘natural’ store of hyaluronic acid or send wrinkles to Neverland. It can help prevent the appearance of fine lines etc. by keeping the skin hydrated.

  3.  Plumps up skin tissue to restore elasticity and firmness 

Theres a little graph printed on the packaging about an in-vivo clinical trial conducted over eight weeks that showed an increase of skin elasticity by 27% and decreases surface roughness by 10%. In-vivo testing is great - it means tests on people, not in test tubes. You know how many participants that study had? TWELVE. Taking the concept of a 'trial' literally.

How can you ‘plump up’ the skin without dermal fillers? I'm going to guess that this relates to dehydration. (Not 'dry skin' a la Helena Rubenstein) There's a simple way of testing dehydration by pinching (facial) cheeks. Normal skin will quickly 'bounce' back. Skin with low turgor goes back to normal more slowly, which can be a sign of dehydration. For the sake of your health you'll need to increase water intake. For your skin, a humectant like HA will help skin retain moisture.

All in all, this is definitely not one of my skincare saviours. I'm not really convinced it does anything! I do want to use some kind of hyaluronic acid serum and I have my eye on Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel but it's a bit too expensive :/

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Dealing with Spots & Acne

Spots & acne: the story of my life eh. I suffer from hormonal breakouts (self-diagnosis), not the more serious 'acne' of Roaccutane adverts. Adequate sleep, Oil of Evening Primrose supplements, simple dietary changes and a decent skincare routine have helped keep my face free of breakouts. Over on the sidebar is a link to my regime: a run-down of the twelve different products I use daily and was confident that they worked. ‘WAS’ confident. That sentiment has changed (I think I cursed myself by claiming spot-free skin for four months) because in the fifth month of May my skin was the worst I'd ever seen it. Red, inflammed and sore-looking - the sorta thing you can't even conceal with five pounds of make-up. But enough of that ~ I thought I'd share what I did to get it back to normal :)

What Changed?
This is obvious but easy to overlook when you're too frustrated about the little volcanoes erupting all over your face. Be honest: did you go on a near suicidal Haribo binge? Stress? Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune hit you in the knee? New products? In my case I think stress + new make-up was the cause. Theres not much you can do about stress, but exercise and sleep helps. (I did little of either.) I stopped using my new foundation but that didn’t solve the problem. So I swapped my usual moisturisers for DHC’s CoEnzyme Q10 Cream, thinking it might be a good idea to avoid shea butter but that didn’t help either. It just got worse, and come end of May, it was so bad that I went to my GP for a prescription for Benzoyl Peroxide and changed a few of my skincare products.
Nothing 'unnecessary' (masks, different serums), no potentially irritating products, no aggressive products (like acid exfoliants) and nothing containing alcohol (particularly important if you're using Benzoyl Peroxide creams). I switched my cleansing oil for a gentle micellaire water and rosehip oil for ylang ylang. I know fragrant essential oils are potentially irritating and all that jazz but my Decleor routine worked wonders for me a few years back so I’m happy to use it again.

New Routine:

So in the morning I used Bioderma > Toner > Eye creams > Ylang Ylang oil > Hydraluron > Moisturiser > Suncream. In the evening: Bioderma > Neroli cleanser > Toner > Eye creams > Moisturiser on non spot infested areas.

Within days the redness had noticeably subsided - probably because I stopped using cleansing oils. I’d been using DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil since the beginning of May, which coincided with the time I broke out like crazy. It didn’t even occur to me that a fruit I eat so happily could wreak havoc on my skin -.-'

My prescription for Duac (containing 5% Benzoyl Peroxide / 1% Clindamycin) came though a few days later and after four days of use the spots have completely cleared and my skin has smoothed out. Super effective stuff - but not without its side-effects!* If you've been struggling with spots, consult your GP instead of faffing with remedies that don’t work. I’ve tried them all, believe me!

Theres no reason to change your skincare products if they’re well formulated. (Unless they're whats breaking you out.) Try making a few small (and inexpensive) changes when your routine doesn’t cut it anymore. My Elemis creams cost me £200 - there is no frickin way I’m going to stop using them before they run out!

If you're struggling with spots/acne, you're probably struggling with hyperpigmentation too. GET A SUNCREAM!! I’ve looked up dozens of them and of the ones I’ve tried myself I’d recommend Skinceuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defence SPF 50. The white cast settles quickly, theres no greasy or heavy feeling so it’s suitable for all skin types and make-up applies ok afterwards. It also comes in a tinted version (Mineral Radiance UV Defence SPF 50) but I haven’t tried it. Skinceuticals is sold in these places. I went to John Bell & Croyden on Wigmore Street, which is also where I discovered Bioderma - right next to the Skinceuticals section :p

Products not to bother with:
  • Quick fixes. Maybe these work for people who get the odd spot. I haven’t found them to be at all useful when you have a persistent problem. You need a good routine to keep spots under control.
  • Tea Tree Oil is an effective disinfectant but undiluted tea tree oil can cause skin irritation so it should be bought diluted. It’s frequently sold in 1% concentrations - which is not high enough to be of benefit. Plus it stings like hell. 
  • Sudocrem. What post on acne would be complete without a mention of Sudocrem? Don’t buy a cream designed for baby butts. Do buy something designed for adults + your face.
A Heavenly light shines upon them
  • Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions.  Maybe it's because of the brand's 'professional clinical' image, I find a lot of people recommend Clinique. I used the entire range (Cleansing Foam, Cleansing Bar, Clarifying Lotion, Moisturiser and Cleansing Mask) and it didn’t make a difference. And the Lotion gave me a chemical burn. I don’t bother with products specifically targeted for spots/acne anymore because too many like to equate the drying effect of alcohol to treating your skin. Take the Origins Super Spot Remover. So it’s going to ‘remove’ a spot like Febreeze lifts a stain is it? *Eyeroll* On the other hand, the alcohol content would probably work to remove fabric stains so maybe it’s a double entendre.

Any other suggestions for dealing with outbreaks?

Bisous! Celine

*Some warnings & side-effects of Benzoyl Peroxide:
Increased sensitivity to sunlight - hence why you must use a sun-cream
Redness and dryness of the skin - have you seen this post?
Can bleach fabric and hair. I sometimes get it in my eyebrows and they haven’t gone white like Bak Mei