Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The pHs of some AHA products

I have a little collection of AHA products now, and since I also have a bunch of pH strips lying around at home, I thought it'd be a good idea to test all the pHs out, since they're pretty important when it comes to choosing an AHA, and companies rarely state what they are.

If you can't remember, this post explains why the pH of AHA products is important.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner (reviewed previously) - pH 3-4. I'm kicking myself for not writing down the percentage of glycolic acid in the product when I asked a Neutrogena rep, but I remember it being effective.

Dr Lewinn's Purifying Toner - pH ~4.This has an unknown concentration of glycolic acid, but it's listed below phenoxyethanol and sorbic acid, two preservatives that are generally used at very low percentages (<3%), so I would assume it's not a great product if you're looking for an AHA exfoliant.

Paula's Choice 8% AHA Gel - pH 3-4, 8% glycolic acid.

Alpha-H Instant Facial (reviewed previously) - pH ~3, 10% glycolic acid (based on this tweet)

Neostrata Gel Plus (reviewed previously) - pH ~4, 15% glycolic acid. Because the % is so high, it can get away with a slightly higher pH and still be effective.

John Plunkett Glyco Peel - pH 3-4, 25% glycolic acid. The most concentrated glycolic acid in my stash. With the low pH and high %, it's not a product for the uninitiated!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fact-check Feature: Why you should protect yourself from UVA

Sun protection is getting more complex. One of the hot areas of sun protection research these days is in UVA - what is it and why should you be worried?

What is UVA?

As you no doubt know, the sun emits UV radiation, along with heat and visible light. UV can be divided into 3 types, according to their energy, which is inversely proportional to wavelength (in other words, short wavelength = more energy):

UVC (wavelengths 100-280 nm) - This is the most harmful, but also the least penetrating. It's almost completely blocked by the atmosphere and the ozone layer, so we don't need to worry too much about it.

UVB (wavelength 280-315 nm) - This is the one that you've probably heard about the most. About 90% of UVB from the sun is absorbed by the ozone layer, which means for Australians it's a bigger issue since we're near the ozone hole and we have excellent sunny weather. It causes sunburns and skin cancer, but is mostly blocked by glass. It's also the type of UV light that's involved in the production of vitamin D in the skin. UVB is strongest in summer, and in the middle of the day.

UVA (wavelength 315-400 nm) - UVA penetrates the atmosphere better (it's ~95% of UV radiation reaching Earth), and it also penetrates deeper into your skin than UVB. It forms highly reactive free radicals in the skin, which randomly react with whatever's around (your DNA, for example), causing wrinkles and old-looking skin, as well as deadly melanomas. It’s the type of UV light that’s used in tanning beds and black lights. Like UVB, UVA levels vary depending on the time of day and the season, though it varies a lot less, so it's important to think about UVA protection at off-peak times as well.

The reason UVA is less famous than UVB is that the dangers of UVA weren't known until recently. The effects of UVA are also less immediate and build up over time, which makes them more dangerous. UVA's penetrative power is also scary - it can penetrate through glass, like the glass in your car's side windows, which is why there are lots of asymmetric skin cancer and wrinkle patterns emerging, such as on this veteran truck driver.

New England Journal of Medicine

Even if you never go to the beach or lie in the sun, you'll still be affected - it's been estimated that 80% of UVA damage comes from everyday exposure, during activities like walking, driving and even sitting near windows.

Sunscreens and UVB

Sunscreens are almost always labelled with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor). This was introduced during the 1970s, before all the UVA-is-dangerous research, when it was assumed that UVB was the only type of UV to be concerned about.

SPF only tells you how much UVB protection a sunscreen gives you, and no information about UVA. Specifically, the SPF tells you how much longer it takes for your skin to burn under UVB radiation with the sunscreen, compared to without. For example, if your unprotected skin burns in 10 minutes on a particular day, an SPF 30 sunscreen (applied correctly, and assuming it's photostable) would protect you from burning until after 300 minutes. SPF numbers are determined by testing each sunscreen in a laboratory - sunscreens containing the same amounts of the same active ingredients don't necessarily have the same SPF value.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Catrice Ombre Top Coat: swatches and review

When I spotted Catrice Ombre Top Coat, I knew I had to have it. I love ombre nails, and this top coat promises that you can easily turn all your pale creme polishes into ombre manicures with just the one bottle - none of the frankening and desperate scrambling through your Helmer to find the perfect polishes to get a consistent gradient. SOLD. 

The polish itself is a thin, runny maroon colour, the consistency of a brand new base coat, which is both good and bad. Good, because it's thin enough for you to build up a lot of layers without a super thick layer of polish, and dries reasonably quickly. Bad, because it makes it streaky as hell. The colour tends to run to the sides of the nail, and you can't get away with one coat if you're a perfectionist.

The 1, 2, 3 coats thing is also bald-faced lie - I ended up using 7-9 coats on my darkest nails in the manis below.

The other catch is that the colour has a definite reddish/purple tint, which means it really doesn't work for all the colours it claims. Anything in the red/purple region is fine, but the further you go, the dodgier it looks.

With OPI Do You Lilac It - it gave the best results out of the ones I tried. If you look closely you can see the streakiness, though it's not obvious in person. I used 2, 5 and 9 coats to get this look.

With Mckfresh First Light - not too bad, but it turns it red. The bare polish looks really out of place here. I used 2, 5 and 8 coats for this.

With Essie Absolutely Shore - here's where it gets really dodgy. The contrasting green really shows up the streakiness, and the purple tone just doesn't work. This was 2, 4 and 7 coats.

I think this idea is genius, but it falls short of my expectations though I'm not sure exactly how to improve it. A purely grey polish? A second ombre top coat for blues and greens? A less runny consistency? A stronger tint? I hope someone takes this idea and improves it!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Low-Key Lip Products: Hurraw! and Luk Beautifood reviews

I didn't take any fun lipsticks with me to Europe because my boyfriend stupidly refuses to kiss me on the lips if I'm wearing colour - even if I'm wearing a lip stain, he wipes his lips for a full five seconds afterwards. So instead, I've been using lip balms and tinted lip colour for this trip.

In my last iHerb haul, I picked up a couple of Hurraw! lip balms on the recommendation of some of you on my lip care post (thank you!). I grabbed the Blue Chamomile Vanilla Moon Balm and the Coconut lip balm.

The ingredients are pretty similar. The main difference is that the moon balm has a hefty dollop of avocado oil added to it:

Blue Chamomile Vanilla Moon Balm: Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, Euphorbia cerifera wax, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, Rosa rubiginosa (rose hip) seed oil, Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, Tocopherols, Vanilla planifolia bean, Myroxylon balsamum oil, Matricaria recutita flower extract.

Coconut Lip Balm: Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, Euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, organic flavour, Tocopherols (vitamin E)

Both balms are really lovely and moisturising, though Moon Balm has slightly better staying power - it's as good as my favourite Nivea balms, which is high praise from me! They both glide on smoothly and smell delicious. My favourite thing about them though, is their oval shape - I've always suffered silently through the annoyance of my lip balms rolling off the bedside table into random nooks and crannies, but these don't budge. I'm a convert! It'll be hard not to add one to every iHerb purchase I make from now on - there's one with SPF, and tinted balms, and even an Earl Grey scent (you can use the code NUD131 for $10 off your first order).

The other lip product I've been road testing lately is Luk Beautifood Lip Nourish*. Luk Beautifood is an interesting brand that makes make-up from really unusual food ingredients, like a concealer with blush or dark chocolate mascara. Lip Nourishes are sheer lipsticks made from natural ingredients - kind of like a tinted lip balm in an elegant slim tube. They come rolled up in a cheerful, handy microfibre cloth. 

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