Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Eminence Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster-Serum

Eminence is an organic skin care brand from Hungary. The difference between Eminence and other green/natural brands is that Eminence uses organic fresh fruit pulps and plants, not just plant extracts. I remember reading somewhere that there is no scientific evidence that fruit pulps are better than fruit extracts, but I decided to get this serum to try, because it was more affordable than a similar serum from Suki (which I will be reviewing in another post). Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster-Serum claims to purify, clear and help prevent future breakouts.

This is a peach/orange coloured serum with a runny, spreadable texture. It's US$56 for 30ml but I purchased this at a 20% discount during a Dermstore sale. It comes in a functional amber glass dropper bottle. It's easy to get just the right amount - I use 5 drops for my entire face. After use, I can feel that my face is being exfoliated - my pores are smaller and skin is smoother. When I apply toner using a cotton pad, I can see more dead skin on the cotton pad, because salicylic acid (from willow bark) helps loosen and exfoliate dead skin.
It definitely works to prevent future breakouts, by keeping my pores clear. (It doesn't actually help heal existing breakouts though - for that I need stronger spot treatments that contain any of the following active ingredients - tea tree oil, sulphur or AHA/BHA.) The instructions say that you can use it 4 to 5 times a day, but that's too much for me! My skin starts getting sensitive if I use salicylic acid twice daily, so I usually use this serum at night, after toner and acne spot treatments, and before facial oil or moisturizer. I prefer not to use this in the day, because it is a little sticky and gives my oily skin a bit of a sheen.

Would I repurchase? This is much cheaper than comparable alternatives like Suki Spa's Bio-Active Purifying Face Serum (US$82.95 for 15ml), but similarly effective. So yes, I would repurchase - but only during Dermstore's 20% sales because I'm a savvy consumer. ;) One thing to note - shelf life or use-by date weren't stated on the product.

Ingredients: Salix Alba (Willow Bark) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Tea, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Panthenol, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Leaf Extract, Cyclodextrin, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Lactic Acid, Vegetable Squalane, Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Sodium Salicylate, Pimpinella Anisum (Anise) Oil

• Willow Bark: calms skin
• Horsetail: softens skin, tones and promotes elasticity
• Walnut Leaf: provides gentle exfoliation
• Anise: antioxidant rich
• Tea Tree Oil: essential oil
• Biocomplex™: an antioxidant booster of Vitamins A, Ester C, E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid; to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the appearance of skin

Rating: 9/10 (-1 for a slight sticky texture)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Cle de Peau Concealer

Finally some make-up! Well, base make-up but make-up nonetheless. I've been blogging so much about skincare these days. Anyway, I'll be reviewing Cle de Peau's famous stick concealer. It comes in 4 shades - Ivory, Beige, Ochre and Honey (in order of light to dark). I have 2 shades - Ochre and Ivory. Ivory is the yellow-based fairest shade. Beige is pink-based fair-medium. Ochre is yellow-based medium. Honey is a yellow-orangey medium-dark. 
L - R: Cle de Peau concealer in Ochre and Ivory
The tubes above are fully extended. I have used Ochre daily for about 6 months and you can see there's still a lot left! (Use-by period is 24 months, so one concealer stick will last you 2 years, so even though it's pretty dear at US$70, cost per use is only about US$0.10 per day!) Ivory is brand new. I have MAC NC25-30 skintone but I have really dark circles around my eyes and I use Ochre to conceal them. Ochre was too dark to conceal blemishes on the other parts of my face (which is pretty fair) so I tried using Ivory but it's a tad too light. :( Beige is too pink-based for my yellow-based Asian skintone. I wish Cle de Peau would come up with more colours!
L - R: Cle de Peau concealer in Ochre and Ivory
L - R: Cle de Peau concealer in Ochre and Ivory
I swatched these on my inner forearm which is lighter than my face, which is why Ochre looks so dark. Well, what do I love about this concealer? It's really easy to use - just swipe and tap onto skin. Coverage is excellent and lasts well. It doesn't crease on my undereyes, unlike some cream-type concealers. It is a very functional concealer - semi-matte finish. No bells and whistles, no luminizing/brightening properties - it just conceals and lasts for a day on me and looks natural. So natural, in fact, that nobody can tell I've got make-up on. (Because these days, I usually use just concealer, sunscreen and loose powder.) Is this a good thing? I'm undecided. 

I do wish they made more shades though! Ochre is good for my undereyes but somehow I feel that while it does its job well - it is a rather expensive concealer so I would expect more things -  subtle luminescence? Make me look more bright-eyed and awake? I wish Cle de Peau would make a yellow-toned shade that is in between Ivory and Ochre. That would be absolutely perfect!

I'm sure some people would say it's not moisturizing enough for the undereye - but see, I believe this is supposed to be a multi-purpose, convenient, swipe-and-go concealer stick that you can use all over your face, not just your undereyes. It's tiny and portable and covers in a jiffy. Maybe one day I will outgrow it but currently this concealer fits my needs (swipe-and-go!) so I do think I will repurchase it.

Rating: 9/10 (-1 due to limited shade issues)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: 100% Pure Acai Berry Antioxidant Eye Cream

The main difference between this eye cream and the 100% Pure Coffee Bean Eye Cream (previously reviewed) is that the coffee bean one has a base of rose hip oil, while this one has a base of acai berry oil. I feel that this is less greasy/oily than the Coffee Bean one, probably because rose hip oil is a heavier oil than acai berry oil. Also, the Coffee Bean one contains coffee cherry extract (caffeine) that is supposed to help depuff and make you look more awake.
From this swatch you can tell that the Acai Berry Eye Cream has a more fluid texture that the Coffee Bean Eye Cream (which is thicker and creamier). 

I have to say - I like the Acai Berry Antioxidant Eye Cream better than the Coffee Bean Eye Cream. It is light, is absorbed easily and moisturizes well. It has a light berry scent. If you have oily skin and you live in a hot and humid climate - this eye cream will suit you better. Unlike the Coffee Bean Eye Cream, the Acai Berry one doesn't come in a smaller tube - it only comes in the 30ml pump tube with a shelf life of 6 months. Still, it isn't too pricy at US$28 and it will definitely last me for 6 months. 
Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Organic Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Rose Hydrosol)*, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit Oil, Extracts of: Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit, Euphorbia Cerifera Cera (Candelilla), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf, Thymus Vulgaris Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldendeal) and Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E) * Certified Organic

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Thayer's Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

While Simple Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner used to be my go-to toner, I've recently discovered a cleaner alternative that is also affordable - Thayer's Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner! I purchased it for S$15.90 for 355ml at NaturaWorks. This works out to S$0.044 per ml for Thayer's as compared to S$0.035 per ml for Simple. It is really affordable in the US (US$8 on Drugstore.com) but it costs a bit more in Singapore. After using it for more than a month, I conclude that I like Thayer's more than Simple!

The witch hazel really freshens up my skin. It really helps to smooth my skin and makes my pores look smaller. It also helps remove any remaining dead skin cells - I can see it on the cotton pad after I wipe my face. I also mix it with tea tree oil to make a blemish treatment base. Basically I do all the same things with this as Simple Toner - and I find Thayer's more effective on my oily skin. The aloe vera base also makes it soothing - it helps calm down angry blemishes. I have also used Thayer's on wounds and itchy mosquito bites - it cools and takes away the sting. Looking at the ingredients below, it's all natural.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose), Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (made from Certified Organic Witch Hazel), Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract. 

Now for the (slightly) bad - I've read reviews where people love the rosewater scent, but I didn't really enjoy it that much. However, after a month of use, I've gotten used to it and it doesn't really bother me. I think it's just me; I've never really liked the scent of rosewater. Other than this rosewater toner, Thayer's also produces an unscented version (no rosewater), a lavender one (with lavender water in place of rosewater) and a cucumber one (with cucumber fruit extract in place of rosewater). I'm definitely getting them to try soon!

In conclusion - this is an affordable, natural toner that really helps to prep and freshen, and is best for normal to oily skin types. This, and the Simple Toner, are the only 2 toners right now that I would repurchase over and over again. But right now, in my bid to overhaul my beauty routine with cleaner and greener products - Thayer's is my preference.  

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Simple Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner

I have mentioned and referenced this toner in many of my posts. It's the affordable and basic toner that I go back to using all the time, that balances out my skin in all kinds of trouble - whether it's too dry, too oily, sensitive, breaking out, this toner helps to soothe and calm my skin down. I purchase my Simple Toner at Beaute Spring for S$7, for a 200ml bottle. 200ml lasts me slightly over a month - I tone twice a day, and also use it to mix with tea tree oil as a blemish treatment base. 

I use salicylic acid/glycolic acid treatments on my face, which help exfoliate skin. After washing, I always go over my face with toner on a cotton pad and as it helps remove the dead skin cells surfaced by the treatments. Not every toner does this well - Simple Toner is one of those toners where I can really see the 'dirt' and dead skin cells on the cotton pad (probably due to the allantoin), showing that it really does help remove any remaining traces of dirt or dead skin cells from my face. 

Simple Toner is light and fragrance free and suitable for all skintypes. It is very, very gentle. Let me do a breakdown of some of the good ingredients:

- Sorbitol: Humectant
- Sodium PCA: Humectant and part of our skin's natural moisturizing factor. I love this ingredient. 
- Allantoin: Anti-inflammatory, soothing. It promotes cell replication, helps the outer layer of dead skin cells to loosen and shed, and hence increases the smoothness of skin. I love this ingredient too!
- Hamamelis Virginiana Distillate, Chamomilla Recutita Extract: Witch hazel and chamomile calms and soothes skin. 

The rest of the ingredients are filler - surfactants, preservatives and humectants that are present in smaller amounts and shouldn't affect the product so much. Most have low hazard scores on the EWG Skin Deep Database. However, on the Paula's Choice website, it states "formaldehyde-releasing preservative 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol makes it not so good for sensitive skin."

Ingredients: Aqua, Sorbitol, Sodium PCA, Allantoin, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Methylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Panthenol, Hamamelis Virginiana Distillate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Chamomilla Recutita Extract, Pantolactone, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben

In conclusion - this is a basic toner that never fails me, which I have repurchased countless times. I know I can count on it to balance out my skin when it goes wonky from trying out different products. Plus, it's affordable! Even if I stop using it sometimes when I'm trying other toners, I know for sure I will repurchase it. If you're only just starting to look after your skin and are on a budget, look no further - this is the toner for you. 

Rating: 10/10

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: The Skin Pharmacy Natural Alcohol-Free Toner and Natural Deep Cleansing Mild Facial Wash

The Skin Pharmacy is a Singaporean brand that focuses on natural ingredients. I'd always wanted to try their products, so when there was a special promotion last year to purchase the Natural Deep Cleansing Mild Facial Wash and Natural Alcohol-Free Toner as a set for S$20, I purchased 2 sets immediately!

Natural Deep Cleansing Mild Facial Wash
The facial wash is a clear, very viscous, unscented gel that foams easily. The foam is very gentle on my skin - the main foaming agent is decyl glucoside which is a mild cleanser. The ingredients consist of mild foaming agents, moisturizing agents (glycerin, sodium PCA, sodium lactate), as well as amino acids that help to repair the skin. It's a nice, basic cleanser to have - very gentle on skin, lasts a long time (you only need a little bit because it foams very well) and leaves my skin soft and never stripped. 

However - the original price is S$29.90 for 150ml on the Skin Pharmacy website which I feel is pretty steep. If you're looking for a comparative, gentle cleanser for sensitive skin that is more affordable, I would recommend Eucerin Dermatoclean Refreshing Cleansing Gel, which I reviewed here previously. 

Natural Deep Cleansing Mild Facial Wash ingredients: aqua, decyl glucoside, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, naturally derived PEG-80 sorbitan laurate, glycerin, organic propanediol, naturally derived PEG-150 pentaerthrityl tetrastearate, lysine, arginine, threonine, proline, sodium PCA, sodium lactate, aspartic acid, PCA, glycine, grape fruit seed extract, citric acid

Rating: 9/10 (-1 because I think it's a little pricey - but the toner is even pricier)

Natural Alcohol-Free Toner
The toner is a clear liquid - it mainly consists of witch hazel, glycerin and aloe vera extract, as well as sodium PCA (moisture) and amino acids. It helps freshen, soften and prep my skin for subsequent skincare. I do like the feel of this toner more than my usual Simple Toner, because this toner feels a little bit more astringent and freshening on my skin. (I think the combination of witch hazel, glycerin and aloe vera used by Skin Pharmacy feels a little bit nicer than the combination of sorbitol and witch hazel used by Simple.) 

The toner comes in a tiny bottle - 115ml. I use toner very generously so that bottle didn't last me long. The original price is S$29.90 for 115ml which is really pricey in my opinion! If you're looking for a similar, no-frills gentle toner for sensitive skin that is more affordable, I would recommend Simple Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner which I mentioned in my 2014 skincare regime. And if you like witch hazel and aloe vera... I have a review for Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel coming up soon (more affordable)!

Natural Alcohol-Free Toner ingredients: aqua, witch hazel, glycerin, aloe vera extract, sodium PCA, lysine, arginine, threonine, proline, sodium lactate, aspartic acid, PCA, glycine, grape fruit seed extract

Rating: 9/10 (-1 because I think it's kinda pricey)


Would I repurchase? I might repurchase the facial cleanser (but I would probably opt for Eucerin Dermatoclean since it's more affordable). The toner is nice but way too pricey for me because I use toner very generously. Unless there's another promotion... I probably wouldn't repurchase. But they're really very good formulations that I believe would be very good for all skintypes - just that I'm a bit of a tightwad and the other drugstore "dupes" are good enough for me. I have a few of the acne-care products from The Skin Pharmacy on my wishlist though - I'll want to try them out in the near future!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bioderma Sebium H2O vs Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio H2O

I previously reviewed Bioderma Sensibio here. During my last trip to Hong Kong, I found Bioderma Sebium H2O at SASA and it was really cheap - HKD128 for a 500ml bottle (which translates to about US$17), so I decided to try it, because it's supposed to be for oily skin, while Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio is for sensitive skin, and I wanted to see the difference. 

My conclusion? Stick with Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio. Bioderma Sebium H2O is fragranced and it stings worse than Bioderma Crealine when it gets into my eyes. In my previous Bioderma Sensibio review, I mentioned that it stings slightly when it gets into my eyes, but Bioderma Sebium stings even worse. They both remove light make-up (excludes waterproof mascara) equally well. 
Bioderma Sebium H2O ingredients: water (aqua), peg-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, sodium citrate , zinc gluconate, copper sulfate, ginkgo biloba extract, mannitol, xylitol, rhamnose, fructooligosaccharides, propylene glycol, citric acid, disodium edta, cetrimonium bromide, fragrance (parfum).

Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio ingredients: water (aqua), peg-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, propylene glycol, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, mannitol, xylitol, rhamnose, fructooligosaccharides, disodium edta, cetrimonium bromide.

Comparing the ingredients, Crealine/Sensibio is unfragranced, has less ingredients and contains cucumber extract for soothing skin. Sebium H2O is fragranced and contains the following additional ingredients which I googled as follows:

- Sodium citrate: Used as a preservative, to control pH
- Zinc gluconate: Anti-inflammatory for acne
- Copper sulfate: According to Paula's Choice, "Effective for topical wound healing, but there is no research showing it has any impact when used in skin-care products." I suppose this also gives Sebium H2O its blue hue.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory for acne

Personally, I would stick with Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio as it feels gentler on my skin (and my eyes). I always follow up with a regular facial cleanser and my acne treatment (tea tree oil) so I don't think the other ingredients really make much of a difference for me. 

Rating: 7/10

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