Friday, 25 July 2014

Alpha-H Instant Facial review

If you're like me, when someone mentions "Alpha-H", you immediately think "Liquid Gold". Liquid Gold has been such an iconic product in my mind (despite never having tried it) that I was surprised to discover that Alpha-H actually has other products. A lot of other products, in fact!

One of the newest is Alpha-H Instant Facial, which I've been using as my sole AHA product here on my Europe trip. It's a glycolic acid based product, but unlike any other AHA I've tried so far, this comes in a handy 100 mL spray bottle so I took it in my carry-on luggage.

Ingredients list: Aqua, Hamamelis virginiana water, glycerin, glycolic acid, plankton extract, Chamomilla recutita extract, Thymus vulgaris leaf extract, potassium hydroxide, polysorbate 20, peg-7 glyceryl cocoate, ammonium glycyrrhizate, Arnica montana flower extract, phenoxyethanol, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Cucumis sativus extract, propylene glycol, caprylyl glycol, Cupressus sempervirens seed extract, Polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, Arnica montana flower extract, Hordeum vulgare root extract, citric acid
The main ingredients in this product are witch hazel water, glycerin and glycolic acid (an AHA). There are a bunch of other skin-friendly botanicals in there too, such as chamomile, thyme, arnica and cypress extracts.

It claims to minimise the appearance of pores and wrinkles, and mattify the T-zone, while firming and smoothing the skin. On my skin, it does live up to its claim... except for the mattifying part! Nothing mattifies my T-zone. I'm guessing the glycerin works to plump up the skin while the witch hazel water temporarily tightens the skin, giving the "instant facial" effect. It's a little stingy on the skin, probably due to the low pH (~3), which is necessary for the glycolic acid to get into the skin.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Skincare Regimen (in excessive detail)

A few people have asked me about my regular skincare routine, which I described briefly in my interview with Beautiful With Brains - here it is in more detail.

I generally use the same steps, but I often substitute in different products. It gets pretty complex, but I hope it makes sense! I've included a summary chart at the bottom, because what regimen is complete without a chart?


I prefer to go to sleep with clean hair and skin (saves changing my pillowcase and sheets quite so much, plus reduces the chances of dirt rubbing into my face all night) so I shower in the evening. My evening routine is a lot more complex than my daytime routine, which also fits in with my night-owl habits.

1. Remove Make-Up (time: 15-30 seconds)

The first step in my routine is removing my make-up. I only really wear stubborn make-up around my eyes, so I use a two-phase cleanser (the ones with a line in the middle that look like oil floating on water) with a cotton pad before stepping into the shower. I'm currently using Models Prefer EYE remove, but my favourite so far is Garnier 2-in-1 Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover.

2. Cleanse (time: 2-5 minutes)

I cleanse my face every evening. It doesn't take very long, depending on the stubbornness of my make-up. I do it just before and during my shower.

[Optional: Oil cleanse - If I'm wearing heavy make-up, or if my skin is feeling dry, I cleanse with oil as well before showering, either a cleansing oil (e.g. Face of Australia Cleansing Oil, or just plain plant oil like jojoba or sunflower).]

Gentle facial cleanser - It's winter in Australia so I've been using gentle, low-foaming cleansers that remove my (generally lightweight) make-up without leaving my skin tight. My current cleansers are Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser and Nivea Pure Effect Thermo Daily Warming Cleanser, but the exact products change a lot. I clean my face in the shower.

3. Wash-Off Treatment (time: 2-30 minutes)

This happens occasionally. I try to treat my face once a week but I often run out of time. There are two types of special treatment I tend to use at this stage of my regimen:

Mask - Depending on how my skin has been behaving, I use either an oil-sucking mask (e.g. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay + apple cider vinegar) or a hydrating mask (e.g. Uriage AquaPrécis Masque Express). I try to use a mask once a week but I often forget or don't have time.

Physical exfoliant - I'm a big fan of peeling gels at the moment, and since I'm trying to avoid microbeads, peeling gels have pretty much become the only type of physical exfoliant I use, though in the past I've been fond of cleansing brushes. Depending on the weather and my skin, I physically exfoliate 1-3 times a week. I'm using The Face Shop White Jewel Peeling at the moment.

I then dry my face by pressing a fluffy cotton bath towel onto it, then it's off to my bedside table, where we move onto the...

4. Leave-On Treatment (time: 2 minutes)

These are the concentrated products I apply to my cleansed face, so they will have the maximum impact. I only use scientifically supported ingredients, with an emphasis on prevention of breakouts and lightening hyperpigmentation, with anti-ageing as a secondary concern (though I'm sure that will change as I get older!). Whichever one I use depends on how my skin has been behaving, and if I haven't used a particular treatment for a while.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Face of Australia Dark Side collection - swatches and review 2

Here's the second half of the Dark Side collection from Face of Australia, including Mystique, Magneto, Darth Vader and Voldemort. See my earlier post for swatches of the rest of the FOA Dark Side collection: Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula and Wicked Witch of the West. 

Mystique is a gorgeously intense teal, which is opaque in 2 coats. I haven't worn this enough to see if it's a stainer, but it's very similar in colour to Orly's Teal Unreal.

Magneto is a cool duochrome polish that's steely blue or purple depending on the angle.  It's a bit sheer on its own, but over a darker colour the duochrome really pops. I'm wearing 2 coats over Jafar in this swatch.

The collection also includes two glitters in clear bases. They dry bumpy, so if you hate rough glitter make sure you have glitter food on hand. I applied both of these by dabbing so the coverage would be even.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Face of Australia Dark Side collection - swatches and review 1

Face of Australia recently released the limited edition Dark Side collection, which contains richly coloured shades perfect for winter, named after famous villains: the Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, Mystique, Voldemort, Darth Vader and Magneto. Like the vast majority of polishes on the market, they are 3-free. I have the first set of swatches to show you today.

Jafar is a rich, almost-black maroon colour, with a jelly finish that's still opaque. It's the sheerest polish in the collection, but still only requires 3 coats. I love jelly finishes for cremes, so this scores high with me!

Wicked Witch of the West is a forest green. It's very opaque and needs only 2 thin coats.

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