Monday, 29 August 2011

Product Review: Redken Extreme Conditioner

This is the counterpart to the Extreme shampoo, but it really is somewhat different from many of the conditioners that Redken carries. For one thing, there's no all. Which is extremely surprising. Instead it's replaced by a high concentration of glycerin which makes hair really easy to detangle in the shower, but unfortunately rinses off rather than continuously conditioning like silicone. They hype the amount of protein in here, but really it's at the end of the ingredient list, which should tell you everything. Most people will still find that their hair feels and looks really repaired, the behentrimonium chloride and cetearyl alcohol provide that, but they provide very little protection against future damage unless the user never heat styles or colors their hair, which is off course, exceedingly rare. This is why the lack of silicones might be detrimental to the health of hair, there are very few people who never heat style.

For those who love to co-wash, don't like using silicones, don't heat style and don't color, well here's your holy grail conditioner. In fact it has the versatility of also being a great leave in (high glycerin content conditioners really help a lot of hair types if they're used as leave ins). The particular reason it would also function well as a co-wash is partially the lack of silicones but also the high concentration of cetearyl alcohol, which functions well as an emollient. The more pertinent function in this case would be the emulsifying function, which means it's a surface active agent which means it helps rinse dirt off the hair shaft. It's the second ingredient on the list which means you can count on hair that feel really clean.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Product Review: Redken Extreme Shampoo

Here is a lovely example where the marketing lingo surrounding products can prevent you from getting the best possible product: this shampoo, even though it's marketed as an ultra gentle anti-drying shampoo for super damaged hair, is actually harsher and more drying than the color protection shampoo in the same line. So even those who don't color, would likely experience better results with the Color Extend product. Ironic isn't it? The product's ingredients are almost identical (usually the case), but using it completely shows the difference in concentration. Both are relatively sudsy, rinse nice and clean, and don't leave the hair feeling like straw post-use. However, the straw feeling is more present with the use of the Extreme shampoo, along with slightly more suds. Which is all the explanation required, really.

I personally like the scent of this one a little bit better, it's a bit of a warmer, more dessert like smell. But both are fairly light considering they're hair products and neither lingers on the hair, so it hardly matters in the long run. However there are a lot of people for whom the pleasurable experience of washing their hair absolutely must be capped off with a scent they like, which is why 99.9% of hair products on the market are scented. If you are one of those, and if you like products with light, somewhat floral, somewhat citrusy, somewhat vanilla like, you will most likely love this.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Product Review: Ouidad Botanical Boost Moisture Spray

This is probably one of the lightest leave in conditioning spray on the planet, fantastic for those with the very finest hair types that can't get away with using and rinse off conditioners. So why would I, with thick, curly, impossible to weigh down hair use this? Oh, dear grasshopper, so many products are so much more multi-functional than you think. I initially bought it to use as a cutting lotion for when I thin my hair (yes, I have thinning shears and I regularly thin out the bulk, otherwise I would look like a yeti) for which it worked fantastically well. Just plain water can't do it for tangles like these, so in order for me to be able to get a fine-toothed comb across my entire head, on top of providing glide for the thinning shears is a great thing. 

On a whim, on a desparate day, I also took its indication for curly hair seriously (any hair type can use almost any product, buying curl specific products limits you so immensely when you could potentially find the most effective product of your life in a line for color treated hair or fine hair, or whatnot) and boy was I glad I did that. This is now my favorite second day refreshing spray. I wash my hair once or twice a week, so by day 2 or 3, it can look extremely rumpled, rough and frizzy. Adding this helps slightly re-wet it, returning some of the bouncy curl formation, while negating some frizz. After spritzing in generous amounts, I add some coconut or palm oils to the dryest parts, silicone-based leave in serums throughout and I'm out, looking like I've just washed my hair. The reason I like this better as a second day spray than anything I've used before, is the ultra fresh, mildly floral-watery scent. It literally makes me smell like I've washed my hair in a mountain spring. Nothing better than extra water, moisture and a freshly laundered smell.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Product Review: Redken Color Extend Conditioner

It's good that they have liters available of this stuff, because I could definitely see myself using it as a daily co-wash (you know, when I win the lottery). For those with curls looking to co-wash, this is a great option due to a moderate amount of silicones, a high amount and variety of emulsifiers (which usually aid in better rinsing) and a fabulous detangling ability. For those who hate any film left on the hair, well sorry but this ain't it. It definitely adds a soft, substantive conditioned feel to hair (ends in particular) which increases touchability and shine. In terms of its color protecting abilities, well silicones are the best color preservers and they are here but in lower concentrations than in most products. Depending on what the rest of the routine is like (color would still be well preserved if you were using a high-cone styling routine) this would still be ok. It's real value is in detangling and defrizzing hair.

Girls with fine hair might like it, due to the moderate silicone content and higher quat conditioning agent concentration. However, there's still a heavy amount of thickening ingredients in here, which don't thicken hair but they do thicken the product's viscosity, which depending on how fine the hair is and how much of it is used, might be problematic to some. If you do have fine hair and are considering using this, I have the same reccomendation as I do with trying any conditioners: put the most near the ends, negligible amounts near the roots and start with less, so you can build to more if necessary. This particular product really works well with the start with less philosophy, even a small amounts slips through hair incredibly well. This can help you preserve volume and precious dollar bills (Redken might not be the most expensive salon brand, but if you're using a lot, it can still feel that way to the pocket book). As for the scent? Same as the accompanying shampoo, much more appealing than most Redken products, due to the semi fruity light floral feel.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Product Review: Redken Color Extend Shampoo

Redken frequently reformulates their products while neglecting to sufficiently inform their retail outlets, but that's ok because its one of my favorite product lines and I stay on top of things for you all. You're welcome. 
This shampoo has been recently reformulated, along with the accompanying conditioner which I'm reviewing tomorow. The foam is a dense, thick and creamy feeling, it rinses incredibly easily and the integrity of fairly healthy hair seems the same. The smell is a slightly perceptible citrus/floral, which I personally enjoy in hair products, and so do a lot of women. If you've been deterred by the scent of other Redken products due to their slightly chemical smell, this one is very very different from the rest, so don't let it stop you from potentially trying a fantastic product.

I did slightly cover some of the controvery regarding sulfates, surfactants and color protecting shampoos in the ingredients. An in depth explanation would take 5 hours to write and just as much to read so I will spare you the extensive scientific information. All I will say is this: Color deposited into hair, must get past the cuticle layer to be called permanent or semi-permanent. The cuticle must be lifted, and therefore hair incurs some degree of damage. The way that shampoo works, is also by providing a somewhat basic environment and lifting the cuticle layer, in addition to de-fatting the hair shaft. If it foams, it's lifting the cuticle layer. The more it foams, the more its lifting. And color fade occurs when cuticle layers are lifted. This is why judicious conditioning, avoidance of over-shampooing and gentle treatment of ends is important for maintaining color integrity. This particular shampoo is far gentler than the majority of high foam shampoos, therefore a decent option for keeping color. The ideal situation would be washing only with conditioner, but the vast majority of people are incredibly uncomfortable with that. Therefore, this option is on the table.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Product Review: Orofluido Beauty Elixir Hair Oil

How many of these hair oil products will I review? Until I try them all I guess. So let's compare this one to Moroccan Oil, which is the best known product of this variety. The texture is a bit thicker and heavier than MO, which for those of us who need maximum conditioning is a good thing. This is due to the higher molecular weight of the silicones used in the product. The smell is a warm sandalwood-vanilla type thing, which is right up my alley personally, so I love using it. The packaging is a glass bottle which doesn't have a pump like MO (annoying), but it is approx. 5-10 dollars less than MO depending where you buy, on top of including three sample/travel size vials in the package (which is infinitely helpful to carry in the purse). So my vote is with Orofluido, but those that can't handle anything heavier than MO probably shouldn't bother. 

As most girls with curly, damaged, fried, thick or dry hair know, our hair absolutely loves moisture. Those who don't fall for the "natural beauty" hype also realize that there are very few things which can trap moisture in the hair shaft and prevent the entrance of atmospheric moisture (ie humidity/frizz) like silicones. Although I would love to spend an hour writing a long entry debunking all the silicone myths out there, that's a task for another day and another time. I will say though, that nothing prevent split ends, heat damage and mechanical/friction damage like a good coating of silicones. There's a reason they revolutionized the haircare industry when they first started being used.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Product Review: J Beverly Hills Mousse up Volumizing Mousse

For all those who require volume, light hold and lots of conditioning in a mousse, this one is absolutely worth a try. J Beverly Hills is a fairly new brand, created by a stylist from LA (aren't they all......) and talks up a lot of the paraben-free, ultra natural marketing angle (don't they all....) but they do have some uniquely formulated products. This particular mousse has a dense, creamy foam, which spreads easily. The smell is a lovely, light citrus scent and it the texture is conditioning and flakeless. It's absolutely NOT a thick, hard 80's style strong hold mousse- this is the type of mousse that creates a soft, bouncy and touchable style. I found it defined and defrizzed my curls beautifully and I had tons of volume and bounce. For people looking to achieve the hot roller, bouncy Victoria's secret hair, this would also be fabulous for that.

I do have a slight caveat, the product does go a long way but it is incredibly hard to get out of the package. You have to use all the force of your thumbs to pump the dispenser, turn the product upside down, shake incredibly vigorously.....they couldn't have used a standard dispenser? The price is fairly reasonable when you do consider the small amount of product you need, so I don't feel bad paying for it, but when you consider the fact that packaging is usually the biggest contributor to the cost of a product, it really is frustrating to buy high end products with substandard packaging.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Product Review: Redken Smooth Down Detangling Cream

This is my personal favorite leave in conditioner....and Redken is in the process of discontinuing it. Trust when I say I was crushed when I found out. Off course I've been buying tubes wherever I could find it in local stores, but the shelves are drying up. My hair is so thick and curly that it soaks up and adores almost anything heavily conditioning and moisturizing. And this stuff is absolutely heavy, by anyone's standards. Girls who are constantly combatting limpness should stay far away; some who are concerned but also have dry damaged hair can get away with using it by concentrating it toward ends or cocktailing with lighter products. I find nothing leaves my curls as touchable, frizz free and shiny when I airdry than this product.

Most women have about a medium thickness, some wave and some color in their hair. This would definitely help alleviate heat and color abused ends if used on heat days off. There is a high concentration of amodimethicone which would provide some heat protection, but I wouldn't reccomend it as a heat styling product above the multitude of products available which used higher concentrations of silicone. Its best use is as a leave in on low maintenance days when hair needs some extra rehabilitation. Those with thick frizzy hair that are constantly battling size would likely find themselves just as in love as I am, so I reccomend trying it (while you can). Those who have fine hair in plentiful amounts and still battle flyaways more than truly coarse frizz, would likely find this too heavy on its own. The texture is a thick, almost balm like cream and the smell is typical Redken: light, slightly chemical and generally dissipates quickly. The tube packaging is fantastic (no digging hands into unsanitary pots, you can squeeze out the last drops...which is particularly poignant now that its making its exit)  and there's a lot of product in the tube: 8.5oz, which is particularly fantastic when considering how very little product is necessary to achieve the smooth results it can provide. Farewell dear friend....

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Product Review: Victoria's Secret Beach Sexy Custom Tan Adjustable Self Tan Lotion

This self tanner is customizeable in the fact that it has dual chamber packaging, one chamber is the dark formula and the other is the light. The dark formula has a huge concentration of DHA and the light has barely any. The ratio that's dispensed through the pump is determined by which setting you turn it to and there are around 10 settings, so you really are presented with a lot of choice. The formulas on the two sides are 99% identical except for the amount of DHA, so much so that I felt the redundancy while breaking down the ingredients (I usually find this incredibly thrilling, being the nerd that I am). Both of the formulas are fabulous for hydrating dry skin (glycerin, fatty alcohols and mineral oil all in high concentrations result in long lasting deep moisture for dry skin) and both of the formulas are highly fragranced and are likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin. All of these things are evident from perusing the ingredient list, but what wasn't evident was the ultra orange color.

Goes to show you never can know. Most of the time, with most types of products, an in depth knowledge of ingredients and formulations helps me know what's worth buying and what's not. But self tanners are always partially a shot in the dark, because the quality of the DHA cannot be determined from the list, yet it has a huge impact on the performance of the product. The orange color that old fashioned self tanners had (and that some like this one, still do) was the result of a sloppy refining process. Eventually, more effective refining processes were introduced and beauty companies started releasing self tanners that created increasingly realistic tans. Some self tanners (most L'oreal ones I've tried, the one from PurMinerals, almost all St. Tropez, almost all Mystic Tan) look so similar to a real tan, that no one can tell it's not real unless you screw up the  application. I'm sad to report this particular product gives one of the most orange colors I've ever tried, which is only somewhat noticeable when applied on the lighter or medium settings, but is incredibly evident the second you turn the setting to high. It's what makes this self tanner a no-go, despite the fabulous moisture blend.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Product Review: MAC Viva Glam Gaga II Amplified creme lipstick

It seems like every single girl has a signature lipstick/gloss shade, that she's always trying to find the right version of. Amiright? There are many that love pinks, many that love muted brown tones, many that love plums, many that love reds. There are those that are ballsy enough to constantly sport really shocking fuchsia and orange shades (bless you all, I love seeing you on my morning commute). I am firmly in the nude lipstick camp, having always been a fan of dramatic eyes and that campy porn star lip look. Because my skin color varies so wildly, depending on which self tanner and how often I use them, I've amassed an incredible collection of nude lipsticks. 

Today I welcome into my rotation, the fabulous Gaga II color. Although Myth is my slightly peachy standby for whenever I'm sporting some paleness, I love Gaga II whenever I get my tan on. Though the shade can look slightly gray on me if I experiment with a self tanner that goes at all orange (so word to the wise, girls with a lot of yellow warmth in your skin, may not look that great) I tend to top everything with slightly pigmented lip glosses so as long as I inject a little bit of pinkness in that way, it looks great. Those with olive or very cool medium, cafe au lait skin tones, would look fantastic with just this. The finish is off course a creamy semi-matte, it feels great on the lips, but those are well known and well understood facts about many lipsticks anyway.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Product Review: Moroccan Oil Intense hydrating mask

For anyone that has been waiting for a new post from me, I apologize for the hiatus. Recent computer troubles curtailed my posting entirely and I've been sad in keeping so many products in the backlog.

Things are back on track again though, so I'm happy to share another review with the world. There is a difference between the intense hydrating mask and the restorative hydrating mask, but I have yet to try the second so here's a review of the first. If you're comparing them side by side in the store and forget which is which, remember that the brown lid one is the more commonly available, popular and the one I'm reviewing. The other one will have an orange lid. 

This has officially become my favorite low-cone mask, for days when I want to alternate. Though I'm always the first to sing the praises of silicones, they can build up and not allow more moisture into the hair unless they're alternated or clarified. Because my thick, coarse, curly hair could not handle a clarifying shampoo without turning into an afro, I prefer to alternate products. There are very few low silicone conditioning products on the market that can detangle hair as bushy as mine without a lot of grunt work, but this one can. Suffice it to say, I'm not fond of the price, but I do find I need less of it to comb through the hair than of most products, so a jar does last me longer. This would work well on anyone that suffers from dry/damaged/curly/colored/chemically treated/heat abused hair, but if you have a fear of weighing the hair down, apply this only to the midshaft and ends. An additional tip for all my fellow curlies: I am a 3b/3c mix but anyone up from a 3a can use this as a leave in also. The high concentration of glycerin mixed with the high concentration of argan oil makes it great to use on humid days, while the addition of cetearyl alcohol enhances comb slip. Try it that way and see what you think.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Product Review: Banana Boat Kids Tear Free SPF 50 sunscreen lotion

 I love the finish this sunscreen leaves on the skin! The most common complaints people tend to have about sunscreens are that sunscreen smell, the sticky feel and the white cast. Well in this case the smell is the same (I have trained myself to learn to love it and equate it with safety and smooth skin!)  but the sticky afterfeel and the white cast are gone within a minute. It has all the things I love seeing in a sunscreen, a mix of chemical and physical UV blockers (best of both worlds), convenient bulk size packaging and a moisturizing formula. 

One caveat I do have is that it isn't particularly easy to spread on dry skin (if you're oily, you have found a possibility) but I usually use it with an AHA or a self tanning lotion anyway, so it's still ok. In addition, I actually wish there was more of a white cast, which is caused by the physical blockers I love so much. This only has a bit, which is great for those that hate that finish and not so good for those of us who are willing to sacrifice a little aesthetic appeal for protection performance. But aside from that, the absolute greatest thing is that it absorbs into skin very quickly, leaving instead of that sticky feel, a smooth silky, freshly lotioned feel.

If you have normal to oily skin, no sensitivity issues with chemical sunscreens, and need heavy, beach like protection with an appealing feel on skin, this just might be one of the best options at the drugstore.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Product Review: Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Revealing Mask

 Before I go any further, I want to address this product's lightening/brightening claims. This does exfoliate and it does contain antioxidants with some hyperpigmentation controlling effects. If used dilligently with sunscreen, it probably can make a difference. For someone with mild hyperpigmentation such as mine (I only have a few freckles, which don't really even bother me, I just like the product) this could eventually help clear them away depending on the severity. For anyone with a more pronounced problem, I reccomend looking into products with hydroquinone (whether you can get it OTC in the states, or by prescription here north of the parallel) because you are far more likely to notice quicker and more pronounced results. It's simply a better way to spend your valuable time and money. I can understand the hesitation to go the hydroquinone route, due to all the bad press it gets, and that's your prerogative again, in which case I reccomend looking into other laser treatment and or chemical peels. 

On a personal note, I used to suffer from extreme cystic acne and also used to tan heavily in tanning beds, so at one point my face was so littered with acne scars that I had to use concealers like Dermablend to cover them up. That is part of what led me to go for a series of chemical peels and Fraxel treatments when I was 20. It is still one of the best decisions I've ever made, almost all my scars and fine lines are gone and I've maintained my results with religious sun avoidance, sunscreen application and at home exfoliating products such as this one. In the next while, I'm likely to get my back done too, because that's where my scarring is the worst. If you have thought about seeing a dermatologist and getting these treatments done, I will say this: the money I spent and the pain I endured is nothing compared to the joy of no longer being dependent on layers of heavy makeup to feel beautiful. I can now get away with just tinted moisturizer and a little bit of concealer.

Anyway, let's discuss the product. This is a creamy, semi-oily (so don't try it if you still suffer from breakouts) moisturizing mask with some exfoliating properties. It comes in a tube which dispenses the product onto a brush which you use to apply it. I prefer to leave it on all night when I do use it, so I can get the full benefit of the moisture and exfoliation, so it absolutely can be used as a night cream (though I find it's texture not so great for daytime). It starts balling up with dead skin cells almost as soon as it dries, so I find that I definitely notice a good amount of exfoliation, though it certainly isn't as effective as some more powerful products. The unfortunate thing is that it isn't a straight Glycolic, Lactic or Salicylic product, rather a mix of practically every AHA on the books, in small concentrations. There's citric, lactic, glycolic, tartaric and malic acids, all in concentrations of less than 1%. What this tells me is that they're there for fluff and advertising rather than function. Which made me wonder what it was that provided the noticeable exfoliating effect I observed. Read on for one of the most mysterious ingredient breakdowns I've ever done....

Friday, 1 July 2011

Product Review: Jack Black Natural Mint SPF 25 Lip Balm

If it hasn't already become patently obvious, I'm a big fan of SPF lip products, but only if they contain UVA protection (which most don't). This one fortunately does, in the form of Avobenzone. What seems like a fairly innocuous men's grooming product can also easily be used by women (but what a great gift for any man you adore), especially if the woman likes a minty smell and feel rather than the hyper girlie aesthetics of most women's products. What's stopping us? Exactly. 

It's other fabulous redeeming feature is the great moisture it provides, it has a high concentration of Shea Butter, which is fabulous for dry lips because it provides lipids to the top layer of skin and seals them in, so it works beautifully as a long lasting lip balm. I love thepackaging too, a nice squeeze tube from which you can take a little product and apply. No muss, no fuss. The problem is the high concentration of mint extract (called Aroma) on the ingredient list, which feels lovely, cooling and plumps the lips, but is unfortunately also a source of irritation. The irritation is what causes blood vessels to carry blood to the area and create that plump look, which I admit I like, but long term exposure to irritation on skin is also one of the primary causes of aging, which will result in thin, wrinkly lips later. Now mind you I'm not a smoker and am obviously a heavy user of sunscreen around the area, so I really don't worry about the irritation much. In comparison to the damage that those activities, and simple aging related degradation can do, irritation is not that big of a deal. However, it is truly unnecessary, so though I enjoy using this product, it wouldn't be my first choice above others which are kinder to the skin. For those who really don't mind aging a little bit prematurely (I admire you, just so you know) and do enjoy a minty feel and smell, well this would be a fabulous knockout choice.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Product Review: Lorac Tantalizer Body Bronzing Makeup

This review is going to be fawning over Tantalizer like 13 year old girls fawn over Justin Bieber, so bear with me please. I've been using Tantalizer for years now and I have my best friend to thank for introducing me to it. Though I loved the idea of a body bronzer (more tan AND coverage of flaws, sign me up) I had negative initial experiences with products like Nars Body Glow and the Scott Barnes one that he apparently uses on J-Lo (in general I tend to obsessively try to look like that woman, so it's easy to sell me something if I believe I will achieve her look). Basically all the body bronzers I had tried before tantalizer were basically body lotion with color, and wound up transfering to all my clothes, leading my perfect applications to look streaky and my clothes to look muddy.

One particular day, my best friend had insisted on going out and I tried to back out due to not being tan enough (I had been testing a gradual self tan product). Mind you in my books, it really is a valid excuse not to leave the house if I'm looking too pale, such is the extent of my tanorexia. She didn't let me off that easy though, she gave me some of her tantalizer and I lamented that those products always sweat off. There it was, though I was skeptical at first, I perused the ingredients list and saw that the top few ingredients were of the blend and evaporate rather than the emollient type, so I decided to try. Let me tell you, after an entire night of dancing and sweating, my tan was still perfect. This stuff is nearly waterproof, although stepping in the shower, yes, does remove it. The texture is super thin, silky and blendable, and within a few minutes of application it's dry and you're ready to be dressed. There is a strong scent of vanilla (and it does slightly sting the skin on my legs if I've just shaved, but that's worth it) which is generally a well liked scent, but there are a lot of girls that aren't fans so by all means consider that prior to purchasing.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Product Review: Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Treatment

Well, the day had to come: After years of thoroughly understanding cosmetic ingredients and avoiding wasting money, I found myself duped by a product's marketing. A recent post on another Canadian beauty blog prompted me to respond with my personal experience using this product, which got me thinking if I should post something more detailed on here. To clarify, I barely ever read cosmetic claims or reviews anymore, because I've amassed and memorized so much knowledge about the multitude of ingredients usually found in products that I can usually deduce how a product will perform just by skimming over the ingredient list (the amount of money, time, frustration and skin irritation this has saved me, I could never quantify).

So I guess I thought myself invincible, that no cosmetic company trickery could possibly get past my razor sharp "BS detection skillz". But my how the mighty fall.....

On a recent expedition to stock up on products, I took a quick look at the Live Clean Argain Oil treatment, which billed itself as a silicone free and lower priced version of Moroccan Oil. After a momentary perusal of the top few ingredients and mild shock at how low the price was (approx. 12~ CDN), in my basket it went. Should have known it was too good to be true.... Pure Argan Oil is incredibly expensive, and had Live Clean actually included the amount that it seems like they included, they would likely barely profit on each unit sold. One thing that is absolutely unheard of in the cosmetics industry is low returns on ingredient costs. They will find a way to do it cheap and sell it for more if their life depends on it.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Product Review: Lubriderm Advanced Moisture Therapy Body Lotion with AHA

I know I've mentioned this before, but my skin leaves me no choice: it demands attention on a daily basis. Not only am I an absolutely undeniable self tanner addict, but my skin also hyper-reproduces itself, so I start to get a new layer within days. If only, if only that was as great as it sounds, but the process of getting the new layer is troublesome to say the least. My skin sticks to itself very well too, which was the impetus for a lifelong addiction to exfoliation on top of self tanner, hair products, get the point. On the portions which rub together while I exist, such as inner elbow and knees, cleavage, armpits and inner thighs, the skin simply sloughs itself off and shows nice new skin every few days. The rest, if God forbid a nuclear holocaust occured and I neglected to exfoliate, would feel like dry-patchy-are-you-1/4lizard skin (and during my acne prone days, all that unexfoliated and exfoliated skin would be breaking out. head. to. toe.). 

Needless to say, my skin is demanding finicky and picky (did I mention how sensitive it was too? Quite!). Raise your hands, how many people can say they've been using AHA's since the age of 12?...I thought so. Early on I learned that you can get great AHA products from the drugstore if you know how to a) troll makeup alley for hours upon hours looking for reviews or b) read ingredient lists.

So even though I have a never ending obsession with body scrubs and loofahs (one of the only ways to get instant results in skin care, and for the impatient, a miracle), I've also gona through my fair share of AHA body lotions. Which brings me to the subject of this particular post. My all time favorite (so far) cheapie AHA body lotion. There are things I tend to adore in body lotions: Pump packaging, bulk sizes available, high glycerin content, a light film left on the skin, fragrance free or low fragrance.....this Lubriderm one has all of those plus an effective Alpha Hydroxy content and pH.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Product Review: MAC Suntints SPF 20 Liquid Lip Balm in Pink Tinge

Isn't it almost a job prerequisite for a beauty blogger to be obsessed with MAC? Yes, yes, I fit that stereotype too. I don't quite worship at the altar like many, but if its any indicator of how much I spend there, I finished makeup school exclusively in order to be able to get the 40% discount at the Pro Stores.....

Nevermind my personal spendiness issues, I'm here to tell you about the Suntints. As many other reviewers have noted, these lip balms are extremely sticky (stickier and thicker than lipglasses, so that's really saying something) and contain almost no pigment. I mean barely anything. They do however provide three benefits which in my mind outshine all of that:
  1. An SPF of 20, with UVA protection. I have searched high and low and have only found a handful of lip products with adequate UVA protection and believe me it's important. If you worry about thinning of lips, vertical lines, freckles, overall pigment darkening (or God forbid, skin cancer on one of the most sun sensitive spots on the body) and you aren't applying and constantly reapplying UVB and UVA protective products on a constant basis, you are shortchanging yourself. Those pesky UVA rays cause the majority of the trouble and as we all know, prevention is always better than correction.
  2. A long lasting formulation: The ingredient breakdown will contain more details on the specific agents which create the semi-waterproof almost shellac-like texture of these balms. So not only does the product stay on the lips even after ingestion of some food/drink, but that means that your sunscreen isn't rubbing away either. In addition, it means that less moisture evaporates from the lip and for those of us with insane lip balm addictions, well we all know what that means.
  3. High wattage shine: I am a lover of pigment, so I prefer to put on traditional cream lipsticks and then top them with this for that "porn-pout" look, which some of us against all sanity continue to love. I find it also helps lock in lipstick color, so there's less reapplication of that too.
If it isn't abundantly obvious by now, I will be buying more. To be incredibly honest, I'll probably just buy the other shades for fun, but my natural lip color is so intensely pigmented that the three colors show absolutely no difference. If you have the same issue, don't worry about choosing a shade, they're all ok.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Product Review: Victoria's Secret Instant Self Tan Lotion

Full disclosure: I am an absolute self tanner junkie. I mean obscenelyjunkie. The more tan I am, the better I feel about myself and though I've completely boycotted tanning beds and the sun for 3 years, my tanorexia has still proven incurable. Now there are a lot of girls that like to add a little color, and have a few tubes of things in their bathroom. My impetus for shilling for the Victoria's Secret Instant Self Tan Lotion with tint is that I like many practicing tanorexics would give almost anything to get that VS Angel Glow. So even though I try to resist marketing, I was weak in the knees for the idea of using the products they use.

I run a constant rotation of about 5-10 different products at a time, often buying two tubes of my favorites when they're on sale. My skin exfoliates itself at an extremely rapid rate, to all those who constantly scrub and AHA in order to increase their skin cell turnover, that might seem like an epic miracle to be faced with, but to someone who insists on being tan at all times, it's an epic hassle. I usually get a new layer every 4-5 days, instead of the 28 day average. Therefore my tan doesn't gradually fade into oblivion, it comes off in rough, thick patches that make it look like I have vitiligo, so I am constantly obsessing about my skin. See self tanner reacts with proteins present in our skin to change the color of the upper layers only, leading to it fading as soon as new skin comes in. Most people see a tan fade within a week to two weeks, that's how long it takes to see a visible new layer of skin reaching the top. If I don't exfoliate and reapply my self tanner every single day, I start to get the patches by the next morning and within days they're obscenely noticeable.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Product Review: Moroccan Oil, Original oil treatment

I tried Moroccan Oil years ago, when the buzz initially began, because I'm usually the first to get on any hair smoothing bandwagon. Over the years as all the beauty bloggers and youtube gurus began to get more popular and become more of a "thing", so did many of the brands that relied on them for supposed grassroots marketing. What seemed like a beautiful thing: a beauty addicted girl sharing her likes, dislikes and tips with the world, in order to help everyone else choose more wisely - quickly became no different from getting beauty tips from Vogue.

I've toyed with the idea of starting a blog which centred on product reviews not sponsored by anyone, but figured the market was overcrowded and I wouldn't want to get drowned in a sea of voices. But the idea wouldn't leave my head so here I am. I'm going to review one of the products that almost every single beauty blog has reviewed, but I'll do it my way: sharing my knowledge of the science behind the product formulations and how they interact with our hair and skin.

1. Cyclomethicone - clear odorless silicone, it serves as a carrier for other oils onto surfaces and quickly evaporates after application. This is part of why a lot of people report that Moroccan oil feels light. There's an incredibly high concentration of cyclomethicone, so the initial heaviness evaporates while a lot of the moisture stays.
2. Dimethicone - this is the one that actually stays on the hair, due to a much lower volatility than cyclomethicone. the reason dimethicone has revolutionized haircare (and skincare) is that it provides a smooth, glossy coating which helps temporarily mask raised cuticles and split ends, while preventing moisture from inside the strand from evaporating while simultaneously preventing gaseous atmospheric moisture (humidity) from entering the hair shaft; the anti-frizz properties are incredible and due to the smoothing of the cuticle layer, hair is also easier to comb, leading to less mechanical damage and split ends. most miraculously, and for reasons not fully understood yet, dimethicone speeds drying time of hair, which means less heat damage while it also insulates the inner cortex from overheating. this is why its found in almost every hair product on the market, including moroccan oil, the incredible effectiveness.