Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Travel Beauty Hacks (with obligatory travel photos)

My boyfriend loves the outdoors, and while I try to get along with nature, it tries its darnedest to destroy me with pollen and massive welts from mosquitoes. Last time he dragged me camping in Australia (the North Coast, a beautiful place where there's beach and bush), I had a limited amount I could take with me but there was running water.

This time, we took a decked-out van to the North-East of Italy so he could do some base jumping. The van is actually surprisingly luxurious (double bed! refrigerated ice box! tons of storage space! a 10 L tank of water!), but the biggest issue was the lack of running water. I packed my camping essentials, but worked out a few new travel tricks:

Micellar water is a really convenient cleanser for travelling. I have oily skin and normally tend to wear make-up (with waterproof eyeliner) so normally micellar water doesn't feel effective enough for me, but since I didn't wear heavy make-up while camping I gave my new sample of La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution a workout. Despite using sunscreen on my face every day - no breakouts! So I'm assuming it worked. I'm going to have to give my micellar waters at home another go.

You can use cream cleanser for a more thorough clean, without a sink. On a few of the grubbier days the micellar water didn't feel like enough, so I rubbed Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser* all over my damp face, then wiped it off with a wet tissue. Success!

Translucent powder makes a great dry shampoo. Dry shampoo tends to make my hair feel weird and limp, so instead I've been rubbing translucent powder into my hair and brushing it out. I've been using the very budget friendly Essence Fix & Matte Translucent Loose Powder. Unfortunately it does tend to make my hair a bit grey for about an hour afterwards.

There are 4 sides to your pillowcase. Top, bottom, inside top, inside bottom. Rotate if you're a side sleeper to avoid cheek breakouts!

Wipes make a reasonable shower. In the words of Dr Rick Dagless, they're good for a quick rinse around the key areas. If you get the ones intended for the toilet, they might also be strategically fragranced with a deodorising scent. I managed with two proper showers in 10 days, which is a record since I usually can't stand going 36 hours without a shower! I've been using Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Reader question: How should I use toner?

A reader emailed me this question:

I have been finding conflicting information even among reputable sources on whether toners serve any purpose or what they're supposed to be used for. I like using a gentle toner for my oily skin, but what I'm wondering is whether it's alright to apply with a spray bottle instead of a cotton pad. Would spraying instead of wiping it on defeat the purpose?

This is actually a pretty interesting question!

Back in the bad old days of skincare, cleansers were formulated at a high pH. We now know that skin functions best at a bit below pH 5 (slightly acidic) - a cleanser with a high pH would throw your skin off-balance, leading to issues like irritation, dryness, chapping and breakouts. To fix this issue, toners were introduced to adjust the skin's pH back to its happy place.

However, research happened, and now most cleansers on the market these days are actually on the acidic side of the spectrum. So technically, a toner isn't necessary. But it can be a handy in-between step! How you should apply your toner really depends on what you're using it for.

Cleaning off the last traces of make-up, dirt or cleanser - Cotton pads are the way to go, so you'll actually get the unwanted stuff off your face and onto the pad.

Adding active ingredients e.g. salicylic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C - Both spray or cotton pads will work well, as will dabbing it on with your fingers.

Balancing pH - If you have a cleanser with a high pH and you don't want to let go of it for whatever reason (though you totally should!), wiping or spraying will work. 

Closing your pores - Pores don't actually open and close significantly - if you use an astringent, the skin around the pore will temporarily squeeze the pore shut, either through irritation or drying out the skin, both of which aren't great for your skin long-term, and your pores will come back in a matter of minutes anyway. But if you really really want to do this, again, either way will work.

Additionally, cotton pads will tend to absorb more product though, so dabbing or spraying are thriftier options, and they're more environmentally friendly as well!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Sunscreen Showdown: Kosmea Moisturising Lotion and Dermalogica Ultracalming Super Sensitive Shield

As you may have guessed from the excessive sunscreen hauling, I've dedicated myself to finding a sunscreen that's well formulated enough for me to want to use it daily. Wearing a good sunscreen is probably the #1 thing you can do for your skin - it slows down ageing, evens out skin tone, fades scars and of course, prevents skin cancer.

There are two types of sunscreen ingredient: chemical and physical. Both are chemicals (of course), so it's a little confusing. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV light and turn it into heat, kind of like how black clothes absorb visible light and heat up faster than white clothes. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect UV light. There are lots of different chemical sunscreen ingredients, but only two commonly used physical sunscreen ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (though the particles of these come in different sizes). A sunscreen can include either type or both. Very few sunscreens only contain a single sun protection ingredient.

I'm going to be reviewing a whole heap of sunscreens - if you have any suggestions for products to try please let me know!

For reference, my skin is combination normal/oily.

Kosmea Moisturising Lotion SPF30+

Sunscreen ingredients: Zinc Oxide (20%)

Other ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Isoamyl Laurate, Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Sorbitan Stearate, Sucrose Cocoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Phenethyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Seed Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499.

RRP: $47.95 for 50 mL

I really liked this sunscreen. It's surprisingly light in texture, applies like a moisturiser and sinks in beautifully - no awkward pilling, no weird white cast  (it comes as a beige cream which helps). It's reasonably mattifying too, and it only contains a single physical sunscreen ingredient (zinc oxide) which means it's a good bet for sensitive skin. It may be a bit drying for people with dry skin, but it worked very well for me, although it did end up feeling a bit mask-like and unbreathable after it sank in. There are also some antioxidant ingredients in there which might help limit any sun damage you end up getting, but it's got me sold already.

What I liked: Texture, application - pretty much everything!

What I didn't like: Lack of a UVA rating (though it should be OK due to the high amount of zinc oxide), heaviness after a while

Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield SPF30

Sunscreen ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (7.0%), Zinc Oxide (9.0%)

Other ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dicaprylyl Ether, Butylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl-3 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Dimethicone, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat), Kernel Extract, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Oxothiazolidine, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Lens Esculenta, (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Lavandula Spica (Lavender) Flower Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil Sodium DNA, Tocopherol , Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Carbomer, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Bisabolol, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Fruit Extract, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Triethoxysilylethyl Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Hexyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Glycerin, Cyclomethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium, Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

RRP: $62 for 50 mL

The sunscreen itself is pretty nice. It's a little on the greasy/sticky side and has a slight white cast, but it's easily fixed with a little powder and blotting paper. It's pleasantly lavender scented and only has physical sunscreen ingredients, meaning it's a good option for anyone sensitive to chemical sunscreens.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Twinsie nails with Cats N Nails - floral stamping with detailing

It feels like I posted this one on Instagram years ago - it's only been half a year! These are twinsie nails with Natalia (@cats_n_nails) who came up with the idea of floral stamping with some detailing.

I used ulta3 Sour Grape for the base, then stamped with a Bundle Monster plate on top. I added the little embellishments with a small nail art brush.

I left my cuticle remover at home for this trip, so the skin around my nails is looking decidedly raggedy. On the bright side, it means I'll have a great before-and-after to post about when I get home!

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