Battle of the Cleansing Oils: Tatcha vs One Love Organics and Shu Uemura vs Shiseido

My first foray into the world of cleansing oils started with Japanese cult favorites, Shu Uemura and DHC.

My Shu Uemura experience was positive and I’ll review it below, but I wasn’t sold on the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. This version not only looked like an oil (yellow in color), it also had an unpleasant smell and oily, thick texture. This oil has gotten rave reviews so apologies to the DHC lovers.

I love the idea of a cleansing oil because of the ease of use.

A cleansing oil when formulated correctly, goes on dry skin smoothly, melts all makeup off, emulsifies into a milky liquid upon contact with water and washes off without a trace of residue.

This, my friends, is the magic of cleansing oil. It is NOT smothering your face with pore-clogging oil causing breakouts. Cleansing oil goes on and it goes off taking all makeup with it.

Note: Some people have reported a sensitivity to cleansing oils with mineral oil in them. I have super sensitive skin, but haven’t had an issue with mineral oil. The Elizabeth Dehn One Love Organics Cleansing oil and the Tatcha Camellia cleansing reviewed below are mineral-oil free.

Here is a review of four cleansing oils that I’ve tried recently:

4 tested cleansing oils from L to R - Elizabeth Dehn One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil, Shu Uemura Premium A/I Cleansing Oil, Shisheido Perfect Oil and Tatcha Cleansing Oil

Cleansing oils from L to R – Elizabeth Dehn One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil, Shu Uemura Premium A/I Cleansing Oil, Shiseido Perfect Oil and Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil

Mineral-Oil Free Cleansing Oils

1. Elizabeth Dehn One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Di-ppg-2myreth-10 adipate, Polyglycerol-3 beeswax, Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) seed oil* (and) lecithin* (and) Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil* (and) Papain*, Carica papaya (papaya) seed oil, Tocopherol (natural non-gmo vitamin e), Proprietary natural & organic fragrance

Price: $38.00/4 fl oz – $9.50/fl oz

Cleansing Power: Decent, but it has the weakest cleansing strength out of the 4. It doesn’t remove heavy foundation or eye makeup so that’s a no-no for me.

Scent: Amazing. Pina Colada!

Texture: Thickest texture out of the 4. I prefer a thinner texture, but not watery.

Overall: I’d give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I LOVE this for light makeup days and it has the cleanest ingredient list out of the four above.

2. Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil (The WINNER!)

Ingredients: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Polyglyceryl-10 Dioleate, Polyglyceryl-2 Sesquicaprylate, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Glyceryl Behenate/eicosadioate, Water, Algae Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Alcohol, Fragrance (Natural), Phenoxyethanol.

Price: $48/5.1 fl oz – $9.41/fl oz

Cleansing Power: Gets everything off if you massage the oil well.

Scent: Pleasant, clean scent.

Texture: Thin, but not watery. Perfect IMO

Overall: I’d give this a 4 1/2 stars out of 5. It would be perfect if the ingredient list was a little cleaner (looking at you phenoxyethanol!) Absolutely will repurchase.

Regular Cleansing Oils (Contain Mineral Oil)

3. Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/I

Ingredients: Paraffinum Liquidum / Mineral oil zea mays / Corn Germ oil carthamus tinctorius / Safflower seed oil peg-20 glyceryl triisostearate ethylhexyl stearate simmondsia chinensis / Jojoba seed oil persea gratissima / Avocado oil dicaprylyl carbonate ethyl oleate c12-15 alkyl benzoate isopropyl myristate isopropyl lauroyl sarcosinate isostearic acid arginine stearyl glycyrrhetinate tocopherol capryloyl glycine sea water sorbitan trioleate polysorbate 85 glycerin capryl glycol / caprylyl glycol linalool parfum / fragrance

Price: $36/5 .1 fl oz – $9.41/fl oz

Cleansing Power: Gets everything off.

Scent: Neutral/No Scent

Texture: Happy medium

Overall: 4 stars for the cleansing power. Ingredient list is NOT clean.

4. Shiseido Perfect Oil (found on Amazon)

Ingredients: Isostearic Acid, Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Water, Peg-10 Isostearate, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Peg-12 Diisostearate, Peg-8 Diisostearate, Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Tocopherol, Fragrance.

Price: $12/5.1 fl oz – $2.35/fl oz

Cleansing Power: Gets all makeup off.

Scent: Neutral/No Scent

Texture: On the watery side, but still works well

Overall: 3 stars. This is a bargain compared to the other oils, but the ingredient list leaves much to be desired. It hasn’t, however, caused any breakouts.

I may not try anything new in the near future because I am happy to repurchase the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil for now.

FYI, Tatcha will be having their 20% Friends and Family Sale online at www.tatcha.com from November 28th – December 8th. I’d recommend trying out the Ritual Discovery Kit for $59 if you want to try out a 2-week sample kit containing their cleansers (powder and oil), brightening serum, and moisturizer.

 

SALE! Pollen and Wax sale June 11 – June 15th

My inbox exploded in little hearts today when I clicked on the Pollen & Wax newsletter. Bee will be moving to a new studio and there is an ongoing sale (June 11 – June 15th)! Items are moving fast and my fingers went in hyper drive.

Some items are already discounted and Bee also included a coupon code for an additional 10% off the entire order: YAYSUMMER0614

Pollen and Wax Sale Picks

Pollen and Wax Sale Picks

Yes, yes, I know. I splurged last month on Pollen & Wax. But, there’s always new stuff that I haven’t tried, namely the above!

My typically dry and hyper pigmented skin has been acting up with the advent of warm weather here in SoCal and I’ve been fighting an oily t-zone and occasional acne.

I’ve tried (and loved!) the Apollo Cleansing Milk and I’m on to the Peridot Cleasing Oil, Sumi-e Detox Clay and the Magnus Blemish Serum.

I’m so excited to share this bit of news and I hope more people will get to know and try Pollen & Wax!

 

 

 

Review HG Toner: Orion Facial Tonic from Pollen & Wax

Pollen & Wax is an artisan hand-crafted skin care line that I first read about on Seed to Serum. I’ve read nothing, but rave reviews and I had to try it out for myself.

I have been on the lookout for a good toner and decided to try the Orion Facial Tonic from Pollen & Wax. This tonic was recommended for congested, combination, stressed and confused skin types. Haha, that isn’t your typical skin description, but I felt it described my wacky time of the month skin to the t.

I was sold on the scrumptious description about the Vitamin C and antioxidant content as well as the brightening and clarifying effects.

Orion Facial Toner is packed to the rafters with an energizing blend of herbs and essentials. Licorice, sea kelp and white tea brighten and even skin tone. Hibiscus and rose hip deliver a hefty dose of vitamin C, a powerhouse that supports collagen production, fights sun damage and aids in brightening and clarifying. 

Ginseng, a stress-busting adaptogen and rose, beauty’s most treasured ally, soothe and heal. MSM, an organic sulfur, brightens skin, battles inflammation and works in synchronicity with the rest of Orion’s gorgeous herbals, helping them penetrate deeper into the skin.

The high content of adaptogens and antioxidants in Orion make it specially suited for any skin type, in particular for combination, congested, confused, troubled or stressed complexions. pH-balanced to support the skin’s naturally acidic protective mantle to aid in healing and repel infection and inflammation.

Orion Facial Tonic & Apollo Cleansing Milk Duo

Orion Facial Tonic & Apollo Cleansing Milk Duo

Ingredients:

Extracts of: Kelp (ascophyllum nodosum), Licorice Root (glycyrrhiza glabra)*, Red Korean Ginseng (panax Ginseng)*, White Peony Tea (camellia sinensis)*, Rosehip (rosa rubiginosa)*, Hibiscus (hibiscus sabdariffa)*, Rose Petals (rosa damascena)*, Aloe (aloe barbadensis)*, Vegetable Glycerin, Apple Cider Vinegar*, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Potassium Sorbate, MSM, Essential oils of: Elemi (canarium luzonicum)*, Lavender (lavandula angustifolia)*, Lemongrass (cymbopogon flexuosus).*

*certified organic

By now, you may have noticed my obsession for kelp in the form of a seaweed mask here and toner here. I’ve found that products with seaweed somehow work well for me and I usually experience visible effects on my skin after use.

Scent

I’m not great at identifying scents, but this scent is pleasant to me. Rest assured that it doesn’t smell anything like kelp which is the first ingredient on the list.

Price

A 1 oz  bottle cost $15.60 and lasted approximately 3 weeks. I’ve since purchased the 4 oz bottle for $33.40. The larger size is clearly the better deal, but I’m a sucker for sampling items first before purchasing full sized items.

Packaging

It comes in an amber glass bottle with an atomizer.  The nozzle spray is somewhat powerful and I’ve found that 2 – 3 sprays on the face and decollete  is plenty.

Rating

I would rate it a solid 5 stars out of 5. This is a Holy Grail toner for me and the results speak for themselves. The 1 oz bottle came in handy while I was away on a long work trip. This has been the first time I’ve gone on a work trip and come back with my skin in better condition than before I left. I typically come back from a trip having to recover from the consequences of late nights, stress, dry airplane and hotel air, and general skin moodiness.

When I returned from this trip, I was surprised to notice that under my usual lighting conditions at home, my skin actually looker better. My pores appeared smaller, the acne breakout that I was recovering from had left minimal acne scars, and my skin tone appeared brighter.

After I finished my 1 oz bottle, I immediately got the larger 4 oz bottle. A couple of spritzes before my face oil day and night and my skin is a happy camper!

Pollen & Wax goodies

Pollen & Wax goodies

More on Pollen & Wax in the future! I will be reviewing the Apollo Cleansing Milk as well as the Provence Complexion Clay and the Sinatra Blue Face Serum. Ok I lie. I want to try everything. Can you hear my wallet sighing?

Travel Skincare Part II

Hi all,

Here I am, on the road again! In my previous travel skincare post, I wrote about the top 8 products that I bring along with me that help me survive the flight.

I’m typically gone for only a few days at a time so I try to travel light. However, this time, I’ll be away for more than a week so I’ve included some masks, hair products as well as some miscellany that will keep me looking decent while I travel.

Here are the 16 skincare/haircare items that I brought with me this time. (Note: I do not use all of them together on a single day!)

Travel Skincare

Travel Skincare

From the top row left to right:

1. Pai Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream – I first tried out this Pai eye cream in December of 2013 and I have to say I love the packaging and the mild scent. A pet peeve of mine is sticking fingers repeatedly in a jar of cream so the easy pump that this comes with is a blessing. It has a light rose water scent and a little goes a long way with this cream. I think it works well in terms of moisturizing power although I can’t really speak about it’s wrinkle fighting capabilities yet since I’m still in my 20’s.

2. Yuli Cellular Lip Conditioner – This light liquid is dispensed from a roller ball applicator and I’m glad to say that after twice a day use for the last 2 months, this has kept my lips plump and moist. I have chronically dry lips so this is layered under a regular wax type lip balm.

3. Yuli Liquid Courage – This is a an antioxidant serum in an oil base featuring Vitamin C, E and Ferrulic Acid. Does this sound familiar to folks who swear by Skinceutical CE Ferrulic? I used CE Ferrulic religiously in 2013 underneath my sunscreen and I was thrilled to find a natural replacement. The look and feel of this serum is slightly different from CE Ferrulic. It imparts a glow to the face which looks really nice when layered under BB cream or sunscreen. CE Ferrulic is typically used in the AM, but Yuli Liquid Courage can be used AM and PM.

4. Alterna Bamboo Smooth Anti Frizz Shampoo – This features organic bamboo extract and organic kendi oil. Part of a travel kit I bought.

5. Derm Organics Leave-In treatment Argan Oil – I’d prefer to use pure argan oil as a heat protectant, but I’m on a skincare/beauty ban now so I’d like to finish up what I have before I splurge on Kahina Argan Oil which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. This leave-in treatment helps protect my hair while styling.

6. Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme (previously reviewed here)

7. Odacite Divine Rose and Neroli Toning Mist – I got this as a sample and the interesting thing about the Odacite brand is the ‘Freshiency’ Concept where skincare is made in small batches so each ingredient retains its freshness and efficiency. These products are kept refrigerated. This is the first sample I’ve tried from Odacite and since it’s a small bottle, I can’t really say if I like it enough to purchase a full sized item. I’ve only started using toners recently and the one that still captures my heart is the Shamanuti Seaweed Toner I discovered on a trip to a natural skincare store called Follain in Boston.

8. Benedetta Seaweed Mask – I discovered this brand in their kiosk in Santa Monica and I have yet to try it on myself. I’m intrigued by the simplicity of its ingredients: Organic Spirulina, Seaweed, and Biodynamic Lavender Hydrosol

9. Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil – Tatcha is a San Francisco based brand that I discovered in 2013. I took the plunge with their sampler set and I’ve also tried and loved their Mist and Aburatorigami blotting papers. Everything about this brand from the packaging to formulation exudes understated elegance. Their cleansing oil is light, mildly scented, but strong enough to remove makeup. I’m a big fan of the 2 step cleanse, first with a cleansing oil to remove makeup followed by a gentle cleanser to remove any residue.

10. Pollen & Wax Apollo Cleansing Milk – I’m currently testing out the cleanser and toner from a new brand I discovered named “Pollen & Wax“. I’ll blog more about this brand later and about the “typology” skincare philosophy.

11. Pollen & Wax Orion Facial Tonic

12. Rahua Shampoo and Conditioner – I received both the regular shampoo/conditioner sample combo as well as the Voluminous shampoo/conditioner sample. I think I prefer the regular shampoo/conditioner which left my dry hair bouncy and shiny after the wash. This brand is extremely pricey. Think $2 per hair wash. It definitely makes me think twice about buying a bottle.

13. Good Cera by Holika Holika Super Cream  sample – I got this during my trip to Seoul early this year. It was a one sample use and I liked it. The “cera” part stands for ceramides and I believe the creaminess comes from the shea butter content.

14. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask – This is a BHA mask which contains French clay and pomegranate enzymes. I was pleasantly surprised! This helped reduced some red post acne scarring that I had and gave me a glow that lasted till the next day

15. Tatcha Aburatorigami Blotting Papers – A god-send. Enough said. I use these daily and bought a stash that came in really handy during my sister’s wedding last year when temperatures hit 90 degrees in the day.

16. Darling Sheet Mask by Etude House – Something else that I picked up in Korea. It contains snail extract.. Hmm, I’m not sure how I feel about that,  but I do love the convenience of these Asian sheet masks.

Till next time!

 

The Triple Threat Facial

I pounced on the opportunity I had this weekend to experiment with the idea of the “Triple Threat Facial”, something I read about on Vivianna’s lovely blog at Vivianna Does Makeup. Credit goes to Caroline Hirons, a popular British beauty extraordinaire.

The idea behind this Triple Threat Facial – aptly named by Vivianna is the successive layering of three face masks:

Face Mask #1: Clarifying mask that draws out the grime and dirt from the pores.

Face Mask #2: Exfoliating mask that smooths away dead skin cells aka the radiance booster. This mask usually contains fruit acids such as glycolic or lactic acid.

Face Mask #3: Hydrating mask.

Here were my 3 masks/weapons (!) of choice:

Triple Threat Facial

Triple Threat Facial

Facial Mask #1: Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask - This deep cleansing clay mask draws out impurities from my pores. I slather on the mask and leave it on for 20 minutes before wiping off with a warm muslin cloth.

Ingredients: Aqua (Hungarian Thermal Water), Kaolin, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silt (Hungarian Mud), Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Olivate, Zinc Oxide, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitan Olivate, Mannitol, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Saccharomyces (Hungarian Thermal Water) Ferment Extract, Tocopherol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum (Fragrance), Yeast Extract, Phospholipids, Linalool, Limonene, Citronellol, Geraniol.

Facial Mask #2: Omorovicza Copper Peel - This 2 step lactic acid peel leaves my skin smooth as a baby’s bottom and brighter. I gently massage the light blue paste over my skin to exfoliate followed by the clear gel. They both combine into a milky white mixture. I set the timer for 2 minutes and wipe it off with a warm cloth.

Ingredients: 

ACTIVATOR: Aqua (Hungarian Thermal Water), Lactic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Saccharomyces (Hungarian Thermal Water) Ferment Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris/Lupinus Albus Protein Ferment, Pectin. 

PASTE: Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Stearyl Heptanoate, Squalane, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Cetearyl Alcohol, Copper Gluconate, Camphor, Salvia Officinale (Sage) Oil, Tocopherol, Mannitol, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Citronellol, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium), Flower Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Yeast Extract.

Facial Mask #3: Active Manuka Honey - I first read about the use of manuka honey as a cleanser or facial mask from Victoria, the co founder of La Bella Figura. I apply a tablespoon over my face and resist the urge to lick. Seriously. It smells great and it soothes my skin. Manuka honey contains an extra dose of antibacterial properties measured by the UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. I’ll write more of this in a separate post.

Anyway, while I’m doing all this masking… I make sure I have a good book in hand and the hours fly by.

The end result – bright, smooth, happy hydrated skin.

Happy masking everyone!

P.S: A word of caution, if you haven’t tried the Omorovicza masks before on their own, please do so first. There will be tingling and sensitivity so try them out separately on their own before combining them. I have super sensitive skin and had no issues with either mask.

Adding a BHA to my skincare routine – Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid

This is my first time trying anything from Paula’s Choice. I do read her Beautypedia Reviews from time to time, but always take it with a pinch of salt.

I was hesitant to review this purchase at first because I spent the first few months in 2014 educating myself about clean skincare and transitioning away from skincare with unnecessary and harmful chemicals.

However, here I am in March of 2014 reviewing the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid although it contains some questionable chemicals.

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid

I’ve been battling clogged pores and breakouts recently and read about the effectiveness of salicylic or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids) on acne prone skin. Upon some research, I discovered PC.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid contains 2% salicylic acid which is anti inflammatory and antibacterial.

Here are the claims:

  • Creates radiant, even-toned skin
  • Reduces redness & builds collagen
  • Unclogs and diminishes enlarged pores

Ingredients: Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA.

The questionable ingredients are in bold. These ingredients act as solvents, humectants, and penetration enhancers.

Now I WISH a clean skincare company can come out with a clean version of a Beta Hydroxy Product, but until I find such a product, I’ll stick with PC for now.

Application: I’ve been using this for the last 2 weeks approximately 3x a week and I only apply it only on my problem areas namely my T-zone, chin and any pesky spots. This is a clear liquid and I’ve found it easy enough to pour a small amount on my fingertips and apply it on the desired areas.

Results: My typically sensitive skin has reacted surprisingly well to this product. I started experiencing a little bit of flaking when I applied it day and night and I backed off on the use. I believe that persistent use has resulted in the reduction of blackheads, clearer pores on my nose and cheeks and most importantly, reduces my breakout severity and post breakout hyperpigmentation.

Price: I bought it on sale (20% off all exfoliants on paulaschoice.com) for $18 for a 4 fl oz bottle which will likely last me more than 6 months.

Score: I’d give this a 4/5 for effectiveness and a 2/5 for ingredients. I will continue to use this until I find a cleaner alternative.

Skincare Tips – Airplane Travel

I flew approximately 120k miles last year and while that’s far from the type of mileage road warriors chalk up, it’s enough to get me really acquainted with my skincare needs to tide me through a long haul flight.

My top 8 products for airplane travel

My top 8 products for airplane travel

Here are my pet peeves with flying and dry cabin air:

  • Flaking skin
  • Dry hands
  • Chapped lips
  • Sore feet

Flaking Skin

I almost never wear foundation on the plane especially not on overnight flights. I make sure I board the plane with freshly cleansed skin, toner, followed by a layering of face oil and moisturizer on top.

Here’s what I’ve used on my last long haul flight:

Cleanse (1. Pai Camellia and Rose Cleanser) -> Toner (2. Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist)-> Face Oil (3. Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil) -> Moisturizer (4. Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme) -> Physical Sunscreen (5. Burnout SPF 30+ Kids Physical Sunscreen)

I skip the physical sunscreen if it is a night flight. I also mist periodically with the Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist when no one’s looking at the risk of looking like a diva (!)

Dry Hands

In two words, Moo Goo. I slather my hands and feet in Moo Goo moisturizer, strangely named “6. Skin Milk Udder Cream“. I swear it’s not what you think it is. It’s creamy, and provides long lasting moisture. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn’t come in a travel sized container and I’m too lazy to transfer it to a smaller container so I end up slathering it before the flight and relying on any good old hand cream I can find. More on this brand soon. The brand has slowly won me over with its natural ingredients as well as the fact that it just plain works!

Lips

For chapped lips, I’ve found that good old lip balm is insufficient. What I do before every flight is to make sure I exfoliate my lips well before applying lip care products. No sense in applying lip balm to flaky lips. I’ve recently discovered 7. Yuli Cellular Lip Conditioner. It’s a clear botanical serum housed in a pinky sized roller ball. I apply this over my lips and let it absorb for minutes before applying my lip balm on top of it. I’ve tried it on its own and I’ve found that while the lip conditioner moisturizes my lips, the lip balm is essential in forming a layer of protection between my lips and the absurdly dry cabin air. I’m currently using 8. Stewart and Claire lipbalm in Mint that I picked up at Follain.

Sore Feet

This might be unique to me alone, but hours of pounding the pavement while travelling always leaves me with aching soles. If I’m flying on an Asian airline, they almost always hand out slippers to wear on the plane. Otherwise, I have to pad about in my socks and nothing is scarier to me than using the bathroom with just the socks to protect my bare feet. When I’m flying, I always bring with me a pair of clean fluffy socks to change into.

Although I still don’t love flying, I’ve found that the above items make flying a more pleasant experience and I’ve been able to get off a 6 hour flight from the East Coast to the West Coast and head straight to work without scaring small children and animals with my bedraggled self.

Happy travels everyone!

 

Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme Neroli & Orange gets a thumbs-up!

What’s in my beauty cabinet?

Christmas has come and gone, but I still feel like a child with all the excitement involved with the unwrapping of my skincare goodies. I overindulged this year, bad for the wallet, but hopefully good for the skin. There is a huge backlog of reviews and only so much face I can test it out on.

Here’s a peek into what I’ve been using consistently in the 2 months:

Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme Neroli & Orange

Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme Neroli & Orange

This was my first foray into the world of Tammy Fender skincare products. Despite my initial hesitation with the purchase due to the somewhat hefty price tag and the fact that the product came in a jar and I’m against icky fingers and re-dipping, I took the plunge because of the enthusiastic recommendation from Tara from Follain.

I have dry skin which tends to flake if I don’t apply moisturizer day and night. I can even layer an oil under a moisturizer and still not look like a disco ball. My skin is a sponge. Unfortunately, my skin is also very sensitive. My skin is highly prone to hyperpigmentation both from the sun and also post inflammatory pigmentation (PIH). When it is irritated, my skin reacts with peeling, redness, rawness and breakouts.

Here are my thoughts after 2 months of testing:

Ingredients:

Aqueous Extracts Of Lavender (Lavendula Angustifloria),*Hibiscus Sabdariffa, FoTi (Polygonum Multiflorum), Algae (Laminaria Digitata), Grape (Vitis Vinefira) Seed Extract, *Avocado (Persea gratissima) Oil, *Rose (Rosa Canina) Hip Seed Oil, Ben Alkpoly Glucoside (and) Polyglyceryl (Plant Souce), *Grape (Vitis Vinifera) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, Shea Butter, *Orange Peel Wax Complex, *Sunflower Seed Seed Oil, Carrot Sativa Seed Extract, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Essential Oils of Neroli Bigarde, Sweet Orange, Dehydroacetic Acid and Benzyl Alcohol (Natural Preservative System), Oleoresin (Rosemary)
*Certified Organic

Texture and color

The moisturizer is a tan cream type moisturizer with a light consistency. A little goes a long way with this moisturizer. Despite the presence of oils, I did not find this moisturizer to be pore clogging.

Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme texture and color

Scent

This one is a tough one.  Subtle it is not. Pleasant? I like it, but I also think it’s a little strong and for that reason, may offend those who prefer unscented products. The Tammy Fender Antioxidant Crème Neroli & Orange is aptly named. The Neroli and Sweet Orange essential oil in this product takes some getting used to especially for those new to essential oils in their skin care products. I have gotten used to the scent and in fact, love applying it before bedtime.

Price

A 1.9 oz jar cost $95 and lasted me approximately 2 months.

Moisturizing *power* (for lack of a better word)

This is where the TF moisturizer does a fantastic job.  It’s not too heavy that my skin can’t breathe and it doesn’t clog my pores. It’s not too skimpy that I end up with dry flaking skin. In fact, I think it’s just right and depending on how much is applied, I think everyone can find a happy medium with this product. I tend to be more generous at night because I wake up with plump moisturized skin. I think it would do well on long distance flights as well. I’ve used it by itself, combined right after the light misting of a toner, and also layered on top of a face oil and they all work well together.

Does it play nice with makeup?

I am seriously torn here. I’ve read reviews of others saying it plays nicely with makeup, but unfortunately for me, it didn’t work well with the two products I used it with.

I prefer to use this moisturizer at night for two reasons – scent and interaction with my makeup. I have to use it sparingly in the day due to the scent.  The other factor is that this moisturizer has unpredictable effects when layered with foundation and tinted moisturizer. When I tried it with my SUQQU Frame fix cream foundation (Japanese brand), I found that the two products HATE one another. Words cannot describe the disaster that ensued. The foundation went on cakey and clumpy when applied on top of the Tammy Fender moisturizer. The combination of the two enhanced every single pore that I had and I looked like a hot mess. *This is not an exaggeration. When I’ve used this foundation with other moisturizers, I have not had that problem. I believe the oils in the TF moisturizer created a barrier on my skin that the foundation just could not penetrate. When I used it with my other go to, the Jan Marini Physical Protectant – aka a tinted sunscreen, the two got along better. However, there is a slight tendency for the product, and I’m not sure if it’s the Jan Marini Physical Protectant of the Tammy Fender Moisturizer, to lightly ball up upon application with my fingers. TMI I know.

To cut a long story short, I prefer to either use a very light hand with this moisturizer in the day or slather it on at night and wake up with plump moisturized skin.

Packaging

It comes in a 1.9 oz 100% recyclable amber glass jar. Yes, it does look apothecary cool and there are many benefits to glass packaging, but I am not a fan of the need to dip my fingers in my moisturizer. Tammy Fender products are meant to be used within 8 – 12 weeks of opening.

To bypass my own weird preference, I swiped a small plastic spatula that came with the Laneige Water Sleeping Pack Mask I bought a while ago.

See below. Problem solved.

Jar and Spatula

Jar and Spatula

 

I do wish the TF product came with its own spatula.

Rating

I would rate it a solid 4 and a half stars out of 5. This is a great overall moisturizer and the results speak for themselves. My skin is left well-moisturized without being greasy and the texture of my skin has improved. For me, the hunt continues since I am a skincare junkie, but I would gladly repurchase this moisturizer. Tammy Fender’s Spontaneous Recovery Creme and Intensive Repair Balm are on my wishlist!

 

Rediscovering Natural Skin Care at Follain in Boston

I felt like a kid in a candy store during my trip to Follain.

Follain is an absolutely adorable store located in South End, Boston that sells natural and organic skincare. I was blown away by how thoughtful this space was. Instead of rows upon rows of products, the products sold at Follain are curated by the owner of the store, skincare enthusiast and entrepreneur, Tara Foley. I had the pleasure of meeting her and asking her more about the store and its goodies:

Camera-happy-me coercing the ladies into a photo:

Tara Foley @ Follain

Tara Foley (on the right) and her lovely assistant @ Follain

Did I mention they both have amazing skin? Dies.

I digress.

Follain is divided into 3 separate sections. Face care, body care, and natural makeup.

Face section at Follain

Face section at Follain

As I wandered around the store ooh-ing, aah-ing and sampling, I discovered some new brands I’d never heard about (hides in shame): Tammy Fender, Dr. Alkaitis, and Shamanuti (a holler to locally sourced skin care).

Body care section at Follain

The yummy soaps and lotions @ Follain

The store also carries a decent range of natural makeup by Jane Iredale, RMS Beauty and Ilia Beauty.

Aside from being introduced to new skin care brands and getting product recommendations from her, she also changed my mind about toner.

Tara is a huge proponent of using toner. Unfortunately, when I think of toner, my teenage skin nightmares come to mind – alcohol-based stuff that left my skin red and stinging.

And then I tried Shamanuti seaweed toner which is not seaweed-y smelling despite the name. In fact, it smells nice and fresh. Tara recommended a couple of spritzes to my face right after washing quickly followed by moisturizer over the still dewy skin. I tried that at home that night. Man… I am sold. For life.

Shamanuti Seaweed Toner

Shamanuti Seaweed Toner

We’ve had a cold spell hit Boston and last night my apartment was as dry as a desert with the heater cranked up. Me? I was happy as a clam. Love the Shamanuti seaweed toner and I can’t wait to try out my other new purchase, the Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme Neroli and Orange:

 

Tammy Fender Moisturizer

Tammy Fender Antioxidant – Neroli & Orange

2014 new year’s resolution. Revamp skincare routine. Can you hear my pocket sighing?

 

IPL photofacial review: Before and After Pictures

I took the plunge! I’d spent the last year researching how to tackle hyper pigmentation. During this journey of trial and error, I discovered one of my holy grail products which I continue to repurchase, Skinceuticals Phyto+. My skin was brighter and more even toned, but I still had stubborn dark spots that wouldn’t go away.

I was looking seriously into IPL/photo rejuvenation treatments, but I kept coming across mixed reviews. There are many sad stories online about people getting burned by inexperienced technicians at unlicensed medical spas and most importantly, IPL being too aggressive for ethnic skin.

Therefore, I researched carefully for a provider who was not only experienced in IPL, but also in Asian skin.

As they say, the rest is history. The type of laser that was used on me was a Fotofacial RF which combines intense pulsed light and radio frequency to target dark spots, reduce redness and broken capillaries, and improve skin texture.

Here is my experience:

Two weeks prior to the procedure

I avoided the sun religiously at least a month before getting IPL. Sunscreen was also my best friend. IPL should never be performed on skin that has gotten a lot of sun exposure recently because the lightwaves that target the melanin (dark spots) could end up burning your skin. The damage will most likely be painful and possibly permanent.

Please also do not use any retinol and acidic (glycolic etc) products before and after IPL because these increase skin sensitivity.

Immediately before the procedure

I was asked a lot of questions about any medication I was taking, recent sun exposure, and skin care roducts which reassured me that I was in safe hands.

A topical numbing cream was applied to my entire face 20 minutes before the procedure and washed off right before we started. I’ve read that some places don’t provide numbing cream and I was very thankful that my provider did. If you have a high pain tolerance, the zaps from the IPL may not bother you, but I’m pretty wimpy and definitely appreciated the numbing cream.

During the procedure

We started out with a few test zaps for comfort. I could feel a little buzz and zap each time the IPL laser was activated, but the pain was manageable thanks to the numbing cream. My provider methodically went over my entire face and she said that this was necessary to create an even texture. Some med spas only zap your spots, but this does not provide the best results. I don’t recall how long she took to go over my entire face, but I was probably in and out in under an hour.

After the procedure

Scary picture coming up! Some offices like to claim that the IPL is a lunch time procedure. I was advised that I would look spotty for up to a week since the spots wouldn’t darken first before crusting up and actually falling off the skin. They call this the coffee crumb scabs and are a tell tale sign of a successful IPL procedure.

I’m glad I decided to err on the side of caution and have my first IPL session done after work on a Friday so I had the weekend to recuperate.

Here’s my post IPL face in all its spotty glory:

Day 1 Post IPL

Day 1 Post IPL

No amount of concealer was going to hide the dark spots sufficiently, but I survived the weekend in hermit mode.

On days 4 – 7, I started noticing the dark spots crust up and fall off as I was washing my face. Do not attempt to peel these off forcefully or you will likely leave a mark.

By the end of the week, my skin was visibly clearer though not perfect, and I was quite happy with the results of my photofacial treatments:

Here’s a pre photofacial shot:

Pre IPL

Pre IPL

Results after my first session:

Post 1st IPL session

Post 1st IPL session

I followed up with a 2nd session four months later:

Post 2nd IPL

Post 2nd IPL

I didn’t see any significant changes after my 3rd IPL session and I was also a little spotty after a breakout:

Post 3rd IPL

Post 3rd IPL

Anyway, here are a few links I found helpful during my research:

About the Fotofacial RF

A helpful guide on photofacials in general

Feel free to message me if you have any questions!

I am continuing to use Skinceutical Phyto+ and sunscreen to keep my skin clear.

Caveat: I am not recommending this as the best option out there for hyper pigmentation. There are risks to all procedures, and you need to feel comfortable with the provider you are choosing.  I felt comfortable that my provider would be able to provide safe and effective treatment.

Cheers!