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Goldfaden MD is one of those skincare brands that seems to perfectly blend both science and nature together in its formulations. It is the first dermatologist-developed, naturally inspired skincare brand on the market, co-founded by Dr Gary Goldfaden himself, a dermatologist for over 40 years. The brand tries to build the gap between natural luxury and physical strength/dermatologist formulated skincare, merging tried and tested actives with more gentle formulations based on 'cleaner' and 'greener' skincare. The Goldfaden MD range prides itself on creating superior formulations featuring naturally derived ingredients with effective delivery systems. Most formulations have been inspired by Dr Goldfaden's in-office experiences and patients needs and wants. "We couple scientific, results-driven products with globally-sourced natural ingredients, bridging the “natural” and “physician” product categories at the prestige level in a way no other brand has" says Lisa Goldfaden, Co-Founder of the brand. 

I love the Goldfaden MD's philosophy of nature and science working synergistically together to create a product that is gentle, 'clean' and easy to incorporate into an everyday routine. It is rare to see a skincare brand that merges both nature and science and do it well. As you may know, I have been testing the Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir on and off now for the past 9 or so months, reaching out for it on a regular basis in the mornings. This serum, whilst loaded with tried and true antioxidants and vitamins has been so gentle on my skin. I find that I can use this on days where my skin feels quite sensitised, without any irritation. However, what I have enjoyed most about Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir is the how it has left my skin feeling healthy, balanced and radiant - it really feels like this serum has given it all the vitamins the skin needs to protect itself and have it working at an optimum. 

***Please note that this product was kindly gifted to me with no expectation of a review. However, I have been so impressed with this that I had to share my love for it via a review. Please note that all my opinions are my own and honest opinions. 

What Is It?

Goldfaden MD’s Brightening Elixir is essentially a thin serum that has been meticulously formulated with active ingredients to create a more gentle and clean alternative to your typical brightening/antioxdant serum. 

What Does it Do?

The Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir is a skin-refining treatment helps to enhance firmness, diminish dark spots, protect the skin from environmental stressors and improve skin’s overall tone so that the skin is left looking fresh and radiant. This serum is perfect for those who are concerned with skin issues such as dullness and lost elasticity. It contains some specially chosen actives such as addition of Vitamin C, B3 (niacinamide), B5 (pantothenic acid) and E to help create a brighter, healthier complexion. 

Ingredients:

Purified Water (Aqua), Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, TEA, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA, Niacinimide, Phenoxyethanol. 

My Thoughts:

The Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir is one of those 'all in one' products - helping to hydrate, brighten and protect the skin. It is also one of those products that seem to blend both science and nature together so effortlessly and perfectly, taking the very best out of both worlds. What I love about the formulation of the Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir is its simplicity, gentleness and efficacy on the skin. I personally have really enjoyed using the Brightening Elixir as I have found it hydrating enough to be used on its own. The real magic of this serum happens over time though and I have noticed that my complexion looks healthier, radiant and appears somewhat brighter when used consistently. 

There is no doubt that looking at the Goldfaden MD's ingredient listing that the formulation is simple, with only 12 ingredients - an impressive feat for a serum which is often much more complex. However, when delved in further it is obvious that each and every ingredient serves a purpose in its formulation, with a fantastic blend of great actives. The first active ingredient is L-Ascorbic Acid, one of the best forms of Vitamin C on the market. As many know, Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient in the world of skincare. It works as a potent antioxidant that can be used topically to treat and protect the skin from environmental stressors and it can also be used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation by brightening the complexion. The Brightening Elixir contains 9% L-Ascorbic Acid, which is gentle enough for most skin types. Ferulic Acid is another key active ingredient (3% concentration) in the Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir. Ferulic Acid is another powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the skin and is often found naturally in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet corn, and ricebran. Niacinamide is another key active ingredient found in the Brightening Elixir (2% concentration). This essential nutrient has been proven to help with skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, texture, and uneven skin tone. Finally, Goldefaden MD's Brightening Elixir also contains Tocopherol, otherwise known as Vitamin E at a concentration of 2%. This essential vitamin is a naturally occurring antioxidant which helps to protect the skin but also assists in hydration. Along with a few other fantatsic ingredients, it is obvious that this serum aims to not only protect the skin with its plethora of proven antioxidants, but also to help hydrate, brighten and assist in overall skin health. I love the simplicity of the ingredients listing - clearly each and every ingredient serves a purpose in keeping the complexion healthy and radiant. Its simplicity also makes it fantastic for those who may have quite sensitive skin, as its short ingrdients listing makes it so easy to navigate and understand. 

Simple, short and fantastic ingredients aside, does Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir perform? In a nutshell, yes it does, keeping in mind some of the claims of this product is hard to measure (I can't measure antioxidant activity). I found that each and every time I used this serum, my skin felt hydrated and I did not need to layer an additional hydrating serum underneath. I felt that the Brightening Elixir performed reasonably well when it came to hydrating the skin, as the serum gave that instant plumping effect. Other improvements that I noticed instantly was the evening out and general calming of the skin when this serum/elixir was applied. The cooling, watery gel consistency felt fantastic upon touch and immediately had a soothing effect. I found that it helped to calm and even out any redness after the serum had sunk into the complexion.  

In terms of brightening the actual complexion, I found that overtime the Brightening Elixir helped a little in this area. Whilst it didn't brighten the complexion as quickly as some other formulations I have used in the past, I did notice darker 'spots' in the skin were improving around the 4-6 week mark. It is important to note that Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir is also aimed at more sensitive skin types and those who might not be as tolerant to more 'active' formulations. So whilst it did take a little while for me to see results in terms of brightening dark spots and pigmentation, I can understand the reasons why this may be due to active ingredient concentrations. The aim of the Brightening Elixir after all, is to maximise the effects of actives whilst also minimising any risk of irritation. It is for this reason, I appreciated this formulation when my skin was feeling a little more sensitised than normal. However, those who may be used to stronger active ingredient concentrations, may not see much of an improvement in brightening as the percentages in this are much lower than what some may be used to. 

What I loved most about Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir however was the glow and the overall effect it gave to my complexion, its hard to explain, but my skin just looked and felt healthier and more radiant. The well rounded approach to the formulation and ingredients definitely had an effect to my skin's overall health. I also found that when I reached for the Brightening Elixir often, my complexion didn't break out as much and overall it was more balanced. Due to the plethora of antioxidant and nutrients in the formula, I found that my skin felt more nourished, stronger and resilient - like it was performing at its most optimal. I felt that my complexion had improved immensely in its overall tone and texture and my skin was no longer looking dull or tired - instead it looked and felt rejuvenated and fresh. My skin was obviously happy with me using this and when I did, my skin felt and looked, radiant, healthy and like it was working at its optimal. 

When it comes to texture and scent, Goldfaden MD get it so incredibly right with the Brightening Elixir. When pumped from its plastic airless bottle, a slightly viscous clear liquid is dispensed. The texture of this serum is slightly thicker than water and when applied on to the skin, it feels immediately cooling but it also sinks into the complexion with ease. After about 30 seconds, the serum feels weightless on the skin and is ready for another oil/serum or moisturiser to be applied over the top. Its weightless feel makes it perfect for those who like the feeling of nothing on the skin or in summer when it starts to heat up. It also works well layered underneath other products. As the liquid that comes out when dispensing the Brightening Elixir is quite thin, I find that a little goes quite a long way with this. Whilst I have had this for some time now, it's still not finished (I am not complaining) and the USD$80 for 30ml seems quite well worth it. In terms of scent, those who do not like fragrance or are sensitive to fragrances/essential oils will thoroughly be appreciative of Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir as there is no scent whatsoever. The brand is really keeping true to their philosophy of trying to keep formulations as non-irritating as possible. 

Overall, I think the Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir is a fantastic product for those who are just starting out with actives as I think the serum is a great introduction to ingredients such as Vitamin C, Ferulic Acid and Niacinamide. It is also a product I highly recommend to those who have slightly sensitive skin types to look into. The formulation of the Brightening Elixir is quite simple and meant to be gentle; yet still have some of those actives and powerful antioxidants to help protect the skin. I also think its a fantastic serum for those who want to invest in one good serum that addresses a few common skin concerns as well as protect and hydrate the skin. In summary, I absolutely love the way that the Brightening Elixir gives me both immediate results as well as long-term results. However, I am so impressed with the way it was helped to boost my skin's overall health and also how it loaded with antioxidants help to protect my skin. For me, the Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir is almost like an all in one serum that addresses a few main skin concerns but does it so incredibly well in both its cosmetic elegance, formulation and efficacy. 

Repurchase YAY or NAY

Whilst the Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir was kindly gifted to me, I would definitely repurchase this later down the track. As I mentioned earlier, my skin is so balanced and looks and feels so healthy when I use this. For me, it is a great product to use when my skin is feeling a little sensitised and a fantastic product to pull out of the stash when my skin needs a little bit of maintenance. The texture, feel, immediate and overall long-term results that I get from using Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir makes this an absolute joy to use. I love the proven science behind the range and the dedication to merging science with nature. 

Goldfaden MD's Brightening Elixir comes in a 30ml airless pump and can be purchased from the Goldfaden MD website for USD$80, Cultbeauty for GBP£72 and Mecca Cosmetica for AUD$116. 

 

 

 

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We all know too well about the drama and social media WTF that is DECEIM's The Ordinary. Many have loved the products but are so very deterred over the antics of the founder, leading to many thinking - what are the alternatives? In this day and age and considering how competitive the beauty market is currently, many will be pleased to know that there are some fantastic alternatives out there. Whilst these substitutes might not be at the groundbreaking prices The Ordinary is priced at, they are definitely options for those who are looking for more budget friendly alternatives to replace the products they may have used previously. These brands are in no way exorbitantly priced and for what they do, I believe that they may do the task at hand quite well. 

Do not get me wrong, what The Ordinary did was in fact quite extraordinary. For me, I found that it encouraged those who might not necessarily be interested in skincare to become interested in what they were applying on their skin. I think it encouraged many more individuals to be more clued in to active ingredients and what these ingredients did for their skin (even if the names of the products were a little confusing). As you may have known from my own personal experiences with The Ordinary products, I thought they were rather meh. I didn't love them and I found that I enjoyed other products in both texture, feel and efficacy so much more. 

In this blog post, I hope to offer some alternatives brands to look into for those who may wish to jump ship from The Ordinary or want to step up from what they are currently using in the range. Please note, these are just suggestions and whilst these brands may not offer the extensive line up that The Ordinary has, they do provide some great alternatives. 

Ausceuticals

Image Source: @ausceuticals Instagram

Aussie brand Ausceuticals is a husband and wife team consisting of an aesthetic physician and a natural skincare formulator. The brand aims to be different by being as transparent as possible and having each and every product loaded with active ingredients. Formulation is also key for Ausceuticals, aiming to create and formulate skincare products with a minimal amount of fillers. Each and every ingredient serves a purpose in each of the brand's formulations and there is no trace of silicones or denatured alcohol in their product range.

A refreshing outlook on the industry, the founders believe in keeping the costs to the consumer at a minimum. There is no gimmicky marketing, miracle ingredients from the Amazon and no middleman. Each and every product promises to give the consumer "the highest beneficial concentrations of active ingredients and the best available raw ingredients, at an affordable price point". This can be seen throughout their formulas, offering serums which contain 10% Vitamin C, 20% Vitamin C, Retinol, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid. The brand also offers pure plant oils such as Prickly Pear and Marula oils for those who truly want something natural. 

Having used some of the products myself (I really enjoyed their Niacinamide Serum, which contains 10% concentration), Ausceuticals is that perfect, effective and affordable in between. It's not the cheapest product on the market nor is it ridiculously priced. For the high quality of the formulation, concentration of active ingredients, great feel and texture of the product and of course it's effectiveness, Ausceuticals is definitely a brand to consider when looking for active serums. 

Ausceuticals pricing averages at around AUD$39 for a 30ml serum can be purchased directly from the Ausceuticals website or via The Beauty Edit Store

CosRx

Image Source: @cosrx Instagram

When it comes to affordable K-Beauty, CosRx is definitely one of the first brands that come to mind. The brand is not only affordable, but there is a significant amount of science that does back up a lot of their products. The company prides itself in creating effective products that uses minimum ingredients to treat certain skin concerns. What I love about CosRx is that its a little bit of east meets west in terms of their approach to skincare. For me, the brand itself is relatively easy to navigate in terms of finding products for certain skin concerns and using tried and true key ingredients that many of us will be familiar with such as acids, honey and hyaluronic acid to target these concerns. However, CosRx is also not afraid to incorporate truly 'Korean' ingredients into their range either using snail mucin or yeast ferment in their formulations. 

What makes CosRx such a fantastic alternative is that their products are simple, easy to understand and it is just so easy to build a routine with their current offering, without being too complicated. A fantastic, yet effective routine based on a cleanser, toner, treatment and moisturiser can be obtained with ease using solely the CosRx line. In terms of key active ingredients, CosRx is also a little ahead of the curve, with recent launches taking advantage of Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) which are said to be less irritating than that of traditional BHAs and AHAs. 

For someone who is really starting to understand key ingredients and wanting to build their skincare routine, CosRx is a fantastic starting point and is now quite easy to find. The range can be found at Style Korean, Beautytap and SokoGlam (home of the infamous 20.5% Vitamin C Serum). 

Bravura London

Image Source: Bravura London

If you are an acid junkie, then look no further than Bravura London. This brand features a plethora of different variations of acid peels and at a fraction of the cost of the traditional ones you may see in a department store or boutique. Ranging from Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic acids, Bravura London has an acid for almost anyone.

Whilst for some, the percentages aren't quite high enough,  Bravura London will keep most of those who have only been introduced to the wonder of the acids - satisfied. Concentration of acids range from 2% to 10% in the Bravura London portfolio and with pricing starting at GBP£9.59, there is no doubt that Bravura London is highly affordable option for many. However, acids aren't the only thing that Bravura London offer - cleaners, creams and serums are also available on the website and again, at just the fraction of the cost of a typical product in a department store. 

To be honest, I haven't tried the other skincare offerings but I can attest to how much my skin enjoyed the Salicylic Acid 2% peel (before I spilt it all over my bathroom vanity...oops!). I felt that the this really worked well to get deep into the skin to help decongest and help 'fight' off spots that came my way. 

Bravura London is UK based and can be purchased directly from their website

Timeless Skincare

Image Source: Timeless Skincare

Don't be deterred by the simplicity of Timeless Skincare's packaging - according to social media - this brand is the bees knees when it comes to its 20% Vitamin C E Ferulic Acid Serum. It's even been compared to the iconic Skinceuticals version! However, this is not the only product in the brand's offering as Timeless Skincare prides itself in specialising in skin care products that have a focus in the areas of anti-aging, treating scars and aiding those with acne prone skin. With focused serums such as Matrixyl 3000 SerumVitamin B5Matrixyl S6 and Coenzyme Q10, there is no doubt there is a cosmeceutical/science focus with the Timeless Skincare lineup. 

I haven't tried this brand myself, but reading some of the reviews, this brand overall has some fantastic feedback and clearly offers some fantastic alternatives. The prices of the products are still accessible to everyone (maybe not as low as The Ordinary) but it still offers some great well priced choices and alternatives for those seeking it. 

Timeless Skincare formulations start at USD$8.95 but average at around USD$24.95 for a serum. The products can be purchased directly from their website

Beauty Pie

Image Source: @beautypie Instagram

Beauty Pie was slated as a beauty industry disruptor by the press and various media outlets since its inception since early 2017. Beauty Pie offers and promises its customer's luxury grade products for a fraction of the cost - think USD$2.50 lipstick.  The catch? Members will need to pay a monthly membership fee starting at USD$10 a month for access to these prices, a relatively small price to pay for such amazing prices from everything to mascara, lipstick and of course, my personal favourite - skincare. 

Beauty Pie claims to purchase products directly from luxury-beauty factories and sell them at their manufacturing cost and is based on the idea of cost transparency. Each product on the website will have a breakdown of how much was spent on product and packaging, warehousing, safety and testing etc. 

When it comes to skincare, the Beauty Pie offering seems quite impressive, offering a range of beautiful sounding products and textures. Perhaps one of the most interesting is their Super Retinol range which contains a 1-3% encapsulated retinol complex, which aims to work on the skin in a much gentler manner. This technology reminds me very much of luxury label,Verso skincare and how it works - but just a fraction of the cost. The Super Retinol Serum is priced at only USD$11.09! Apart from a focus on retinol, the Beauty Pie skincare offering draws inspiration from trending Asian beauty as well as plant technology with their Japanfusion and Plantastic lines. 

Again, I haven't personally tried any of the Beauty Pie skincare range, but I have used their lipstick. If their $2.50 lipstick impressed me as much as it did, then I am excited to see how their skincare range performs - especially ay such an accessible price point. Beauty Pie is available both in the USA and UK via their respective websites. 

Have you tried any of these skincare brands before? What were your thoughts on the range? Do you have any other suggestions? I would love to hear more - so please leave your comments and suggestions below!

 

 

 

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orchids&peonies by Orchids&peonies - 3w ago

It's been a while since I have done an empties post! With work being quite busy and the move early this month, its been a little hard to take the time to write all about the things I have used up over the past few months. Having looked at my empties - serums seem to have a heavy focus, especially of the hydrating variety! However, there are a few other skincare bits and pieces as well as new holy grail product in the mix.

I have said it a few times in the past, but I really do enjoy both reading other's empties posts and writing my own as it allows myself to know what products myself and others have really enjoyed using, or products that are on regular rotation in daily routines. This particular version of empties contains products that I really have made the effort to use consistently.  Some of these I have written about before in other blog posts and others are products where a review is pending! Overall, I have really enjoyed many of these products and it's probably why they have all been used up! Read on to find out more about my March/April empties.

Please note, anything marked with a * has been kindly gifted to me by the brand without the expection of a review or write up. Products with a ^ have been given to me by my place of work for my own personal use and general well being (my eczema was getting a little crazy). I have simply included these products in this post because...well...its empty and as always, all opinions are my own honest opinions. 

Eau Thermale Avene XeraCalm A.D Balm^

If you suffer from eczema, I highly recommend that you look into the Eau Thermale Avene XeraCalm range. In terms of maintaining and relieving the itch, this cream is like a gift from the gods. It's so damned good in every way possible, from its effectiveness to just how it feels on the skin. In the past, I have tried a range of different products, ranging from creams, balms to oils and everything from medicated to all natural. I have found that there have been a handful of products that have been great at keeping the discomforting itch at bay but quite often these products were quite heavy in texture, extremely expensive or very hard to get. Nothing ever seemed to be that 'perfect' product and to be honest I never expected to find it as eczema, as with all conditions are personal and vary from person to person. 

I was recently introduced to Avene's XeraCalm A.D Balm at work and to perfectly honest, I was completely sceptical of the product when I was first encouraged to use it. Surely nothing could be that good when it came to soothing and helping to calm the eczema itch. Well, those thoughts were debunked quickly as I started to notice a difference in my skin within a few days of using the XeraCalm Balm. My skin no longer looked dry or flaky; in fact,  it looked less irritated, the redness was reduced and my skin was well on its way to looking 'normal' again. Not only was my skin healing but when using the balm, I found that my skin definitely felt less itchy and uncomfortable. Whenever I had a flare up, the balm seemed to soothe the area and I didn't feel the need to scratch. 

However, the biggest selling point for me was the texture. Never had I used a cream that not only helped to relieve and calm my itch but also didn't make my skin feel heavy, oily or greasy. The Avene XeraCalm A.D Balm was that perfect in between for me,  it is heavy enough to nourish and strengthen my damaged skin barrier but it is light enough to comfortably apply to my skin on those warmer days. Even though it is called a 'balm', I found that this was a slightly heavier cream that feels rich upon application but sinks into the skin and replenishes and nourishes the areas that need it most. 

I think this cream/balm is an absolute godsend and I don't think I ever want to be without it. It is an absolute holy grail for me when it comes to maintaining my eczema and my skin has never been better. The Avene XeraCalm A.D Balm comes in a 200ml size can be purchased from Avene USA, Boots UK and Priceline and Chemist Warehouse Stores in Australia. 

Jane Scrivner Skincare Bioluronic Buzz 2000 Smoothing Hyaluronic Hydrator*

The Jane Scrivner Bioluronic Buzz 2000 is a hydrating serum that is absolutely jam-packed with hyaluronic acid - 2000mg in every 135g bottle to be exact. I absolutely love using this in the evening, as the hydration it provides is so long-lasting. It can withstand environmental factors such as constant airconditioning and heating - things that can easily suck out the moisture in the skin. When using this in the evening, I felt that the plumping and lifting effect from the burst of hydration lasts well into the morning, leaving me with a lift in the complexion when I wake up. In terms of texture and consistency,  this serum doesn't sink into the skin as easily as some of the other serums/gels I have used in the past and it leaves a little bit of a 'film' after application. However, once layered with another oil or cream over the top this 'film' disappears immediately and what I see is an instant plumping, lifting and hydrating effect on the skin. It's ingredients are the following:

Aqua (Water), Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Propanediol**, Salix Alba Bark, Aloe Barbendensis Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate, Boswellia Carteri Extract, Phytic Acid***, Benzyl Alcohol****, Spilanthes Acmella (buzz button) Flower Extract.

* from coconut **from corn sugar ***plant origin ****naturally occurring in essential oils

What makes this serum even more enjoyable is perhaps the larger than average sized pump bottle that this comes in.  One pump dispenses a large amount of serum which is a perfect amount for the face, neck and décolletage, making it a great product for those who are very heavy handed with their hydrating serums (that is me!) and like to use it everywhere else. There is no doubt that for the amount that you get, this hydrating gel/serum is well worth the money. It is a fantastic hydration and a product I thoroughly enjoy using due to its capacity to not only inject some moisture into my skin but also keep it there when I need it most. 

The Jane Scrivner Bioluronic Buzz 2000 can be purchased directly from Jane Scrivner Skincare online for £59 for a 135g pump bottle. 

DrGL Skin Repair

I have spoken about how much I adore this little serum and how I am adamant it is made from unicorn tears as it works to heal my skin lit no other. PIH marks are gone, as this little beauty helps to heal those dreaded pigmentation spots caused by pimples (and in my case picking).  Using plant stem cell technology, the liquid gold in this little green bottle works to repair and heal the skin in a record amount of time.  I find that my PIH and scarring disappear so much faster when using this and I don't think I could ever be without this. Ever. My skin just loves this that much and I love the rapid results that I get from using this. 

I usually use this to spot treat on any blemishes or on areas that I have been naughty and 'picked' at. When applied on a fresh blemish, I find that it overnight, it has already started to heal and diminish, redness is absolutely reduced. However, the real magic with this happens with areas that I have attacked or are in the healing phase. Within a week of constant use, the area in which I have spot treated has healed significantly. Depending on the scarring, I find that within 2-3 weeks the area of pigmentation has almost disappeared or has lightened significantly. Usually, around the 5-6 week mark, traces of PIH have completely disappeared and the area of skin looks like nothing had ever erupted. The sheer efficacy and speed in which my skin heals with this little bottle of magic astounds me and is the reason why I will continually purchase this again. 

DrGL's Skin Repair can be purchased directly from the DrGL website for SGP$118 for 10ml. 

Mabel + Meg Lumilixir*

The Lumilixir Serum by Mabel and Meg Mabel one of those hydrating serums with a little extra oomph. With active ingdrients such as hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C, this serum does not only work to hydrate the skin, keeping is plump and taut, it also works to give the skin a brightening and glowing effect over time. I find that this truly an amazing serum underneath makeup, as it hydrates and plumps out the complexion with minimal pilling. Skin looks healthy, hydrating and glowing when using this underneath a moisturiser. The thin, viscous texture of this serum, sinks beautifully into the complexion, both working to smooth and plump. It is one of the best hydrating serums I have ever used when wanting to use underneath makeup. 

What I love about this hydrating serum is that it plays nicely with other products - working well with other skincare products as well as makeup. There is never any pilling when I have used this and I find that it absorbs so well into the skin that it feels like nothing once it has dried down.

Mabel + Meg's Lumilixir Serum can be purchased from Mabel + Meg directly and comes in both a 20ml and 30ml size at GBP £29 and GBP £39 respectively. 

LILFOX Miami Amazon After Dark Melty Jungle Cleansing Balm*

I absolutely love a good cleansing balm and I find that the green beauty brands are excellent at creating luxurious delights which evoke all the senses. The LILFOX Miami Amazing After Dark Balm is no exception - this cleansing balm is luxurious in feel, with the balm melting into a beautiful oil once warmed into the skin. I find that it melts off makeup and leaves a really hydrated, fresh and clean complexion after washing off. This beautiful pinky/purple hues balm works wonders to both nourish the skin as well as cleansing it thoroughly to remove the day's makeup and buildup with its beautiful and exotic mix of oils and butters. Its ingredients are the following: 

A.murumuru (Murumuru) Butter**, H.annuus (Sunflower) Oil*, P.edulis (Maracuja) Oil* + C.oleifera (Camilla) Oil* (Infused With H.sabdariffa (Hibiscus)*, R.spp (Rosehip)*, S.alba (WhiteWillowBark*), O.oleifera (Babassua) Butter*, Ceterayl olivate + Sorbitan olivate (Olive wax), M.indica (Mango) Butter*, T.grandiflorum (Cupacua) Butter**, R.comunnis (Castor) Oil*, Lecithin (Sunflower/Non-gmo), Hydroxystearyl Alcohol + Hydroxystearyl Glucoside (Derived from Castor Oil and Sugar), Coco Glucoside (Coconut-Based), T.ferdinandiana (Kaduku Plum) Extract , S.alba (White Willow Bark) Extract*, V.amazonica (Amazonian Lily) Extract, N.sativa (Black Cumin) Oil*, R.officinalis (Rosemary) Antioxidant Extract, Proprietary Essential Oil Blend Including: Rose Geranium, Rosemary,  Bergamot*, Ylang Ylang*
*Certified Organic **Wildcrafted

The scent of the Amazon After Dark is truly stunning (as with all Alexis' concoctions) - it is a unique, sensual and slightly sexy floral scent that is truly indulgent. It is one of those balms where it becomes an absolute treat to use after a tough day at work or if you need a little TLC, making it the perfect start to a skincare ritual. You find yourself looking forward to using it once you have it due to its sensory experience. In terms of washing this off, this does become a milk once water is applied to the balm but I find that I do need a cloth to wash this off fully. This is to be expected with cleansing balms that are packed with nourishing oils and butters.

Overall, I loved the scent of the Amazon Balm and the way it left my skin feeling afterwards. This is definitely a cleansing balm which I will consider repurchasing later on down the track. The Amazon After Dark Melty Jungle Cleansing Balm can be purchased directly from the LILFOX Miami website for USD$68 for a jar of 50ml. 

5YINA Autumn Grace Hydrolat

As far as hydrolats and natural face mists/toners go - 5YINA possibly make some of the best out there in terms of unique scent. I have had the pleasure to try 3/4 hydrolats in the 5YINA range and each and every one of them has been an absolute delight to use. The Autumn Hydrolat has been a permanent fixture in my travels, handbag and at work over the past few months. This beautiful mist has kept my skin feeling cool, fresh, calm and rejuvenated whilst on the go and its scent is just intoxicating. I love to use this to set makeup, to refresh the skin (office aircon anyone?) and to help calm my skin in the heat. What I think makes this particular hydrolat/mist so special is the unique blend of ingredients, making it so much more complex and intricate than most of the other mists I have seen on the market. The Grace Autumn Hydrolat takes advantages of soothing and healing ingredients such as rosehip, calendula and chamomile whilst adding elements of Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs such as  Chrysanthemum, Reishi and Oolong tea. Its full ingredients are as follows:

Rosa Ssp (Rosehip) Distillate*, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Distillate*, Verbascum densiflorum (Mullein) Distillate*, Matricaria chamomilla (Chamomile) Distillate*, Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Vegetable Glycerin, Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola), Morus alba (Mulberry) Leaf, Chrysanthemum morifolium (Chrysanthemum) Flowers, Schisandra chinensis (Schisandra) Berries, Camellia sinensis (Oolong Tea), Lycium barbarum (Goji) Berries, Ganoderma lucidum (Red Reishi), Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate (Radish Root) Extract, Salix nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Osmanthus fragrans, Squalane (Olive), Silver Citrate, Citric Acid, Michelia champaca (Champaca) CO2 Extract.

*Organic
+ Wild-crafted

The 5YINA Grace Autumn Hydrolat has been an absolute joy to use on a daily basis over the past few months and I would definitely repurchase this and any of the other 5YINA Hydrolats out there. My skin loves the fresh and revitalising feel that these mists give and I always get a compliment when using this on a flight. These are a must-have for any frequent traveller!

The 5YINA Grace Autumn Hydrolat can be purchased from the 5YINA online store for USD$45 for the perfect 50ml travel size. 

The Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum 200

This little travel size of Evolve Beauty's Hyaluronic Serum has been most handy when I was travelling at the end of last year/beginning of this year. This hydrating serum reminds me a little of Jordan Samuel Skin's Hydrate in terms of texture and consistency. The Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum boasts 200mg hyaluronic acid per full-size 30ml bottle and prides itself on being 99% natural in the way of ingredients. 

I found that it worked quite well to hydrate and plump the skin when applied and the results definitely would last throughout the day. I found that it sat relatively okay with most makeup, with some pilling occurring in a few instances. This serum is another perfect hydrating serum for those who are really into their green beauty. The formulation of this will make most green beauty advocates happy and better still, this does what it is supposed to do - hydrate the complexion. Its ingredient is the following:

Aqua (Water), Rosa Damascena (Rose) Water*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract*, Glycerin, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Dehydroacetate.
*ingredients from organic farming

I did enjoy using this serum but I think I already have cumulated a number of favourites and unfortunately I did not love this enough or found it special enough for me to repurchase again. There are other serums that I think I enjoy using more and whilst this is effective, it just didn't wow me. The 30ml bottle of the Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum can be purchased directly from the Evolve Beauty website for £30.00. 

Have you had any recent empties? What did enjoy using the most? I would love to find out more in the comments section below!

 

 

 

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Sorry everyone for taking forever to update the blog! Its been a hectic past few weeks with things happening at work, moving apartments, Easter Long Weekend and just general 'adulting'. I find that when I did have the time to blog, all I really wanted to do was just curl up and sleep or watch reruns of Dawson's Creek (yes, I discovered Dawson's Creek!). In a nutshell, blogging was the last thing on my mind, however, after nearly a whole month of absence - I have missed it! 

One thing that I have learned whilst juggling a few different projects is just how much I enjoy a good masking session and how it really does help me to unwind and relax. I love the fact that masking can come in a variety of forms that cover various people and lifestyles. The choices are endless with everything from slow and easy powdered masks to masks that can be applied on the go. I enjoy all different types of masks but a favourite go-to of mine is the sheet mask. I truly believe that nothing beats a good sheet mask in terms of giving the skin that beautiful dewy glow and they work so well both during the day to enhance the complexion for makeup or in the evening as a means to relax and watch a movie. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to try out Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask which is based on the infamous Lancôme Advanced Génifique Serum - a cult favourite from the brand. Each mask contains an impressive 30ml of serum and uses a hydrogel base for a perfect fit and optimum penetration it the skin. The Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask was definitely quite the luxurious mask, but in a day and age where sheet masks are so readily available and affordable, was it worth the splurge? 

**Please note - this mask was kindly gifted to me in return for an image on social media, with no expectation of a review. I had so many requests and questions on this that I decided to share my thoughts on this mask via a more in-depth review. All opinions are my own honest opinions. 

What Is It?

The Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is a sheet mask made from hydrogel and fits on the face like a second skin. 

What Does It Do? 

Formulated with probiotic extracts, the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask contains the equivalent of what is found in the 30ml bottle of the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Serum which will work to give the skin an instant glow and leave the skin looking plump, smooth and refined. This sheet mask will also work to give the complexion an overall youthful well rested appearance (because I know I need it!). 

Ingredients:

Water, Glycerin, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sucrose, Lactobacillus Ferment, Tocopherol, Sodium Benzoate, Madecassoside, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Succinate, Phenoxyethanol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Adenosine, Faex Extract / Yeast Extract, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Arginine Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyacrylate-13, Allantoin, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Limonene, Pentylene Glycol, Linalool, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum / Carob Gum, Carrageenan, Sorbitan Isostearate, Disodium Edta, Potassium Chloride, Citronellol, Potassium Hydroxide, Methionine, Potassium Sorbate, Glycine, Fragrance.

My Thoughts: 

There is no doubt that the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask leaves the skin feeling hydrated, plump, dewy and radiant. It truly is a beautiful mask where the mask itself not only feels amazing on the skin but fits like a second skin. Like with most sheet masks, the results from the Hydrogel Melting Mask is instant, making it a fantastic pick me up when the skin needs to look it's very best ASAP. Unlike a lot of the sheet masks available on the market, Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is priced well above its typical Korean skincare counterparts at USD$15 or AUD$29 for one single sheet, putting it right up there as a luxurious purchase. Is it worth it? There is no simple answer to this one, it is a bit of yes and a bit of no. 

As many of you may know, sheet masks come in all different varieties and can be made with all sort of different materials. The Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is made from a lightweight hydrogel mesh which is supposed to melt into a fluid once it reaches room temperature on to the skin. Once it reaches this temperature, the mask releases its unique blend of ingredients (think fermented extracts such as Bifidus extract) which ultimately will contribute to the skin's healthy and radiant glow. Based on Lancome's best selling Advanced Génifique serum, the mask contains the same quantity of Bifidus extract as one full 30ml bottle of serum. I personally loved the hydrogel on the skin, it was comfortable on the face and it acted almost like second skin. The mask itself was so cooling, soothing and relaxing as soon as it was applied making it a real treat to use on a hot and humid evening due to its hydrogel material. When removed, the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask does leave some 'serum residue' behind which I massage into the skin and leave for another 10-15 minutes before applying my moisturiser. The final result? A radiant and luminous complexion.

For me, the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask does absolutely perform. It gives the skin that lit from within glow and a complexion that is as plump as a peach. The instant hydration, calming and cooling effect that this mask gives the skin is truly amazing and it would create the perfect canvas for makeup before a big event as it helps to plump up the complexion and even out skin tone. When removed from the face, this mask gave me a beautiful radiant glow. Within the 20 minutes of applying this mask and removing it, my tired looking complexion looked brighter, happier and healthier making the Hydrogel Mask an instant one-step lift to the skin. I found the results of this mask did last for a few days.  I found that my make up did seem to sit better over the course of the few days as my skin was so soft smooth and felt so even in both texture and appearance. Whilst I only had one of these masks to use, the first impressions that this mask gave me was an impressive one.

However, my only gripe with the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is possibly its price. Those who have used sheet masks often will also note that many other sheet masks can also give a similar plumping effect to the skin and are also made of the same hydrogel/bio-cellulose material. For me, a sheet mask made of hydrogel is nothing revolutionary and can be found in the world of K-Beauty at a fraction of the cost. Brands such as Leaders Insolution, JayJun and Innisfree have similar masks available in their lines. These masks also do give the skin a beautiful luminous glow and will also work to give a dry, dull and dehydrated skin that instant kiss of life - just at a lower price point. This is probably the biggest downside to Lancôme's  Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask for me. Whilst yes, this does contain 30ml of Lancôme's infamous Advanced Génifique Serum in each mask pack, I do personally find it a little hard to part with AUD$29/USD$15 for one single sheet mask, it makes it quite hard to use on a regular basis. This, for me, would go under luxurious purchases only and would be something that I would save for the most special of occasions. I would recommend this mask for all brides to be and special events as it does give the complexion an amazing boost. 

Overall, I did enjoy the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask very much. I loved the instant radiance and hydration boost it gave to my skin and loved the fact that this effect lasted for a few days. For me, this mask is beautiful in the materials used and the results that it gives. The only downside that would prevent me from purchasing this as often as I would like is the price point. There is no doubt that this is a luxurious purchase and is a mask that I would not use on a regular basis, especially with so many other competitors out there on the international market. However what Lancôme offers with their Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is guaranteed results and effectiveness. With a K-Beauty market that is often so overwhelming to the average consumer, the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is indeed convenience and the guarantee of that perfect lit from within glow. 

Repurchase YAY or NAY?

Despite its price, I would purchase the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask again as I do have a few weddings coming up over the course of the year. It is a product I would absolutely purchase as a gift to a bride in the lead up to her special day. Its luxurious pricing makes it a special occasion mask, and whilst for me, the pricing isn't worth it for regular use, it is a mask that is well worth it for big and special events. 

You can purchase the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask as a single sheet for USD$15/GBP£16.50/AUD$29 from Lancôme or as a pack of 4 for USD$55/GBP£59/AUD$110 from Lancôme. 

Have you used much skincare form Lancôme before? What have you used and what were your thoughts? I would love to hear in the comments section below. 

 

 

 

 

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I think it is pretty safe to say that many of us understand the importance of cleansing the skin and how integral it is to keeping skin healthy. Choosing the right cleanser, as I have learnt is much more than 'just cleaning' the skin, cleansers play an important role in keeping the skin balanced and healthy. I have learnt that ingredients and strenuous formulation play a key role in creating a fantastic cleanser and that all cleansers are not made equal. Some cleansers can be harsher than others, thus damaging the skin's structure and causing damage such as redness, dryness, breakouts and inflammation on a deeper, cellular level. Since understanding this, I have become much more careful of the cleansers that I use in my routines. 

I recently became quite interested in the Dr Barbara Sturm skincare line due to Barbara herself and her impressive medical background (she is a highly successful orthopaedic surgeon). What interested me most in Dr Sturm's line is perhaps her philosophy in skincare and the goals of healthy skin. Dr Sturm's skincare line has a huge focus in anti-inflammation in the skin. In an interview with Instyle magazine, Dr Sturm says "From my scientific work I knew that inflammation was responsible for most skin conditions - from ageing to wrinkles, enlarged pores, eczema, acne, uneven pigmentation, etc. That's why one of the three pillars of my skin care line is anti-inflammation". Dr Sturm's other two pillars of her skincare philosophy are telomerase activation (an enzyme which has an effect on skin ageing) and hydration. Using her understanding of skin on a molecular level, Dr Sturm has been able to harness the most advanced ingredient science and using her signature ingredient Purslane (a potent natural anti-ageing herb) to create a minimal skincare line that focuses on optimal skin health. Her line is simple and uncomplicated, yet it is packed with ingredients that have a real focus on the anti-inflammation of the skin's cells, thus delivering not only clear and balanced skin but also healthy skin cells.

This approach to skincare was quite unique and so interesting for me that I went out and purchased the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser (the first of a few Dr Barbara Sturm products I have purchased). Using what I knew about cleansers, I wanted to see how the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser performed and I have to say, I am quite impressed with the results. 

What Is It?

Quite simply the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser is foaming cleanser that when dispensed comes out as a light, airy mousse. 

What Does It Do?

The Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser aims to give the skin a gentle yet deep cleanse without causing damage or stripping the skin of its natural oils. 

Ingredients: 

Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Urea, Lactobacillus/Portulaca, Leracea Ferment Extract, Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Salicylic Acid, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Tocopherol, Pantolactone, Sodium Benzoate

My Thoughts:

I have a love/hate relationship with foaming cleansers, as it actually quite hard to find one doesn't leave the skin feeling squeaky clean. I find that it is far too easy to find a cleanser that is just too harsh on the skin due to its formulation and high pH levels. In saying that, the foaming cleansers that I have found work for my skin, I absolutely love and the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser is one of these. 

Over the past few years, I have started to learn the importance of pH and appreciated the expertise in formulating skincare products. For those that aren't aware, the pH in a cleanser can be quite an important factor, as cleansers with a high pH can actually do more harm than good, essentially stripping away the natural oils of the skin, affecting the skin's acid mantle and overall ruining the skin's natural pH balance. Upsetting this balance can cause issues such as breakouts, redness, dry skin and even accelerated ageing. Having a pH balanced cleanser helps to keep the skin healthy, clear and protected, working with the skin to cleanse (to read more in-depth about pH, cleansers and the skin, I suggest reading this). When doing a pH test on the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser, I found that in my 5 tests I measured a pH of 5.3 to 5.5 - a gold standard level in cleansers. This is most likely one of the factors in why this cleanser felt so calming and gentle on the skin, helping to feel more balanced on my complexion rather than tight and squeaky clean. 

With any Dr Barbara Sturm product, there is a lot science behind her formulations and her simple yet effective ingredients list is a real testament to that. Aloe Vera is a renowned ingredient for helping to calm the skin and reduce redness. Studies have shown that aloe vera has promising results with reducing inflammation of the skin as well as helping with wound repair. Panthenol is a form of Vitamin B that helps to attract and hold moisture into the skin, working well to keep the skin feeling and looking hydrated and also makes up some of the first ingredients in this cleanser, Urea is another ingredient that is featured in the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser and is an organic compound that works as a humectant for the skin. It works as an active natural moisturising factor which helps to keep the skin hydrated and protected. Purslane Extract, Dr Sturm's signature ingredient, of course, makes an appearance in this cleanser. This extract helps to boost the skin's health and prevent inflammation and to slow down the signs of ageing as it is very rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E, as well as glutathione, an immune-system booster. Purslane extract also can help to treat skin allergies, reducing inflammatory responses such as acne and can also help to improve conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and skin pruritus

What I have really enjoyed about Dr Barbara Sturm's Cleanser is that when dispensed, the cleanser itself comes out as a beautiful, light, airy foam (comparable to the froth on your latte or cappuccino). This makes it quick, easy and enjoyable to use on the skin as no lathering is required - you can literally dispense into the palm of the hands and begin cleansing the skin straight away. It's this ease of use that makes the Barbara Sturm Cleanser a favourite to use in the morning (who doesn't value those extra few moments of sleep) and also as an easy second cleanse in the evening. When applied, this cleanser feels like a cloud on the skin, its soft and light mousse texture makes it very comfortable and enjoyable to massage into the complexion. This can apply to the skin dry or applied with the skin damp, depending on your own preference. For myself, I like to apply this on dry in the morning and damp in the evening as a second cleanse. 

In terms of performance, I found that the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser does not disappoint. For a foaming cleanser, it leaves the skin feeling clean, refreshed and comfortable. I get no feeling of tightness and instead skin looks and feels balanced. I find that this does give a deeper cleanse than most of the foaming cleansers I have used, making it great for those who have slightly more oily complexions or when skin is feeling more decongested. My skin is visibly clearer and also much more calm in areas which may have any redness or inflammation (angry spots anyone?). In terms of makeup removal, this performs surprisingly well. I did not expect the Dr Barbara Sturm to be able to remove my makeup the way it did. When using this as an experimental first cleanse, I found that this cleanser actually does remove most of my foundation, bronzer etc and the only residue that really remained was my eye makeup. Having said that, I still prefer to use this as a second cleanse but do enjoy using this on little to no makeup days as it will remove impurities. 

When it comes to packaging, the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser cannot be faulted. This cleanser comes in an airtight bottle with a pump mechanism. To dispense the cleanser, all that is required is a few shakes and pump to reveal the beautiful airy foam. The mechanism is not only hygienic, it also makes it so easy to travel with and to use. It is completely fuss-free and perfect for someone who is on the run or just likes things to be kept simple yet effective. In terms of scent, the whole entire Dr Barbara Sturm line is fragrance-free, the Cleanser included. For those with quite sensitive skins or those who are sensitive to scent, the Barbara Sturm Cleanser is something to look into and definitely consider. The cost of the Barbara Sturm Cleanser definitely puts it in the more luxurious price range, however, I find that a little goes a long way with this and that the 150ml cleanser does last some time. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed using the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser due to its gentle, purifying capabilities that help to keep my skin feeling calm and balanced. It is a fantastic foaming cleanser and is definitely one of the better ones I have come across due to the fact it does cleanse the skin quite thoroughly without stripping the skin of its natural oils. 

Repurchase YAY or NAY:

I would definitely repurchase the Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser again. It really has been a fantastic morning and second cleanser and I absolutely enjoy using this - not only for how it leaves my skin looking and feeling but also just because it's so easy. It really is a testament to Dr Sturm's skincare philosophy - scientifically backed products that are simple and easy to use. This cleanser is exactly that. 

The Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser comes in a 150ml foaming pump dispenser can be purchased from Beautylish for USD$70, Cultbeauty for GBP£40 and Mecca Cosmetica for AUD$81. 

Have you tried anything from the Dr Barbara Sturm line? What did try and what were your thoughts? I would love to hear in the comments section below. 

 

 

 

 

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orchids&peonies by Orchids&peonies - 2M ago

I love blogging and the skincare community. Blogging and Instagram in particular, has been such a great medium for me to get to know like-minded people (whether it be in skincare or just general life) but also a means for me to be able to learn, expand my knowledge and of course be recommended all sorts of different types of products and brands. It is through social media and blogging that I have been introduced to, purchased and experienced products such as Pixi Glow Tonic, Jordan Samuel Skin's serums, sheet masks and the world of facial oils. There is a never-ending list of products that I wish to purchase and try and my skincare stash has most definitely taken over my bathroom vanity. It is also through social media and blogging that I have learned to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the 'hydrating serum'. Since Caroline Hiron's introduced me to my very first one (Indeed Lab's Hydraluron), I don't think I have ever looked back as hydrating serums have become a staple in my daily skincare routine. I am rarely without one.  

What are hydrating serums exactly? Well, in a nutshell, it is a skincare product designed to give the skin a boost of hydration. Hydration serums normally contain ingredients such a hyaluronic acid - an impressive molecule that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water and humectants which help to seal and lock in water, keeping the skin looking hydrating, healthy, lifted and plump. I have used a variety of different hydrating serums and here are 7 of my favourites. 

***Please note that anything marked with a * has been kindly gifted to me without any expectation of a review or mention. I have added them to this list as I do think they are quite fantastic and all opinions of these serums are my own. 

Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate

This serum needs no introduction from me. I rave about it all the time (like this bog post here) and it frequents my empties on a regular basis. There is no doubt in the world that I love this serum and it is one of my favourites, ever. Jordan Samuel Skin's Hydrate Facial Serum contains all sort of goodness for the skin in the form of humectants, peptides and botanical extracts to give the complexion a hydration boost as well as helping it look healthy, plump and dewy.

Out of the hyaluronic acid serums that I have ever used, Jordan Samuel's Hydrate is my pick in terms of pricing and effectiveness. This lightweight formulation has been repurchased time and time again since I first discovered it last year. Hydrate has a beautiful serum consistency that is just a little thicker than water, however once applied to the skin sinks into the skin effortlessly. My skin absolutely loves this, soaking up every drop of this formulation like a sponge. I find that it has an immediate plumping and hydrating effect on the skin that lasts the entire day. Skin looks juicy, fresh and plump - the exact results you would expect from a hydrating serum. The only downside to this is that sometimes this formulation doesn't play well with makeup causing my foundation or primer to pill but I have noticed it happening to only to some foundation formulations and primers. 

Overall, I really can't fault Jordan Samuel Skin's Hydrate Facial Serum - my skin loves this and I honestly don't think I could be without it. The texture is fantastic on the skin, its formulation is simple yet so very effective and my skin just drinks this serum up, leaving my skin looking plump, hydrated and refreshed throughout the day and night.

Hydrate can be purchased directly from Jordan Samuel Skin's website. It retails for USD$29 for 30ml or USD$72 for 120ml. 

Indeed Lab's Hydraluron

I have very fond memories of Indeed Lab's Hydraluron - it was one of the first Caroline Hiron's recommended products I ever purchased and one that I have repurchased over and over again. It is the serum that made me want to learn more about HOW my skincare works due to its efficacy on my skin and one that I still recommend to friends and family when they are first starting with building their skincare routine. The simple reason why? This stuff just works. 

Hydraluron is one of those products where it just gives the skin an instant plumping effect and hydration boost, though, I find that the effects don't last as long as some other serums. However, it does a fantastic job of immediate hydration which is why I have continued to purchase this. I find that Hydraluron is a great budget buy, especially when on sale or on a deal and I find that it is much more effective than other 'budget' brands out there. The instant plumping effect it gives to my skin is immediate and I notice a dewier, juicier and glowing complexion because of it. It does feel a little 'tacky' on the skin once applied but this soon disappears once another serum or moisturiser is applied on top. For me, it's a fantastic product to introduce to someone who is just getting into skincare and ingredients as the effects are instant, it is great for layering and it is a relatively simple product to introduce to any routine. 

Indeed Lab's Hydraluron can be purchased from Indeed Labs for USD$24.95, Boots for £24.99 and Priceline for AUD$34.95 for a 30ml tube. 

Jane Scrivner Skincare Bioluronic Buzz 2000 Smoothing Hyaluronic Hydrator*

If I had to pick my favourite hyaluronic acid to use in the evening, Jane Scrivner may take the cake. As it suggests, Bioluronic Buzz is packed full of hyaluronic acid - 2000mg in every 135g bottle to be exact. On top of the hyaluronic acid, this serum/gel also contains Buzz Button (Spilanthes Acmella) Extract, Aloe Vera and White Willow (a natural form of Salicylic Acid) for added benefit. The Buzz Button extract is a little bit like nature's botox and helps to keep the muscles relaxed, thus looking more plump and firm and the white willow extract is a natural astringent helping to gently exfoliate the skin, keeping it smooth and clear. It isn't as watery as some hydrating serums as the consistency of Bioluronic Buzz is very much like a gel. 

What makes this serum a favourite in the evening for me is that fact I find that the hydration that Jane Scrivner's Hyaluronic Serum is one that is long-lasting. It can withstand environmental factors such as constant airconditioning and heating - things that can easily suck out the moisture in the skin. When using this in the evening, I feel that the plumping and lifting effect from the burst of hydration lasts well into the morning, leaving me with a lift in the complexion when I wake up. I find that this serum doesn't sink into the skin as easily as some of the other serums/gels I have used in the past and it leaves a little bit of a 'film' after application. However, once another serum/oil/moisturiser is layered on top, this 'film' disappears immediately and what I see is an instant plumping, lifting and hydrating effect on the skin.

What makes this serum even more enjoyable is perhaps the larger than average sized pump bottle that this comes in. One pump dispenses a large amount of serum which is a perfect amount for the face, neck and décolletage, making it a great product for those who are very heavy handed with their hydrating serums (that is me!) and like to use it everywhere else. It is a fantastic hydration and a product I thoroughly enjoy using due to its capacity to not only inject some moisture into my skin but also keep it there when I need it most. 

A 135ml bottle of Bioluronic Buzz 2000 can be purchased directly from the Jane Scrivner website for £59

Mabel and Meg Lumilixir Serum*

The Lumilixir Serum by Mabel and Meg Mabel is supposed to be the ultimate hydrator for the skin, powered with actives such as pure Vitamin C and of course, Hyaluronic Acid to help target dull and dehydrated skin, restoring youthful elasticity whilst also plumping out fine lines and wrinkles. This serum works to not only hydrate the skin, but also helps to brighten the complexion due to its inclusion of Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate). 

I personally find that this is an amazing serum underneath makeup, as it not only hydrates and plumps out the complexion but also gives the skin a beautiful glow and brightening effect over time. When using this serum, I find that it sinks in beautifully in the skin and works to smooth the complexion beautifully, making it a great base for the rest of a skincare routine and of course makeup. I also find that when using this serum under various different moisturiser, primers and foundations that this has not pilled or flaked off. It works wonders with other products as well. 

It isn't the cheapest hydrating serum, nor is it the most expensive on this list. However, I find what sets this particular serum apart from the rest is just how well it works with other products and the fact that it did indeed help to brighten my complexion. I find that instantly this lifts and gives the skin beautiful, plump and dewy glow, thus making it a great addition to an evening out or when the skin needs a little bit of TLC. 

Mabel + Meg's Lumilixir Serum can be purchased from Mabel + Meg directly and comes in both a 20ml and 30ml size at GBP £29 and GBP £39 respectively. 

African Botanics Rose Essence*

If you are a lover of green beauty and luxury, then the African Botanics Rose Essence is the perfect hydrating serum/toner/essence in one. The Rose Treatment Essence has a really unique airy gel texture that magically transforms into a lightweight liquid once applied on to the skin. It is very reminiscent of a Korean Essence. This intensely concentrated formula helps to detoxify cells and restore moisture levels while brightening, refining, hydrating and rebalancing skin's pH levels. Like any African Botanics formulation, this essence fuses both science and nature, using a powerful combination of bioactive medicinal plants, botanical emollients, peptides, humectants, Vitamin B and collagen boosters to help prepare and deliver nutrients deep into the skin. Its signature ingredient, pure Rose Flower Water and CO2 extract of Rosa Centifolia is used to help retain moisture, even out skin tone and reducing redness and inflammation.

In terms of texture and overall feeling on the skin, the African Botanics Rose Essence is my absolute favourite - for such a natural formulation, this is so cosmetically elegant. The Rose Essence is incredibly lightweight and sinks into the skin effortlessly, feeling almost weightless. Whilst it absorbs so easily in the skin, the Rose Essence does not lack in effectiveness as I find it gives my complexion immediate and lasting moisture and hydration. Its unique gel to liquid formula makes it so enjoyable to use, especially on hot and humid days. This product is meant to be an all in one product - being a toner, essence and hydrating serum in one, making it perfect for those who wish to streamline their routine.  

The Rose Essence also is wonderful to apply underneath makeup due to its weightless texture and does not flake or pill underneath other serums, primers or foundations, making it a great product to use in a morning routine. I find that when my skin is looking a little red, the Rose Essence helps to even out the skin tone and calm down the redness - most likely due some of its botanical extracts. This beautiful formulation is not the cheapest of forms hydration and is definitely a luxury purchase. However, if you love green beauty and/or luxury then this is a product to consider as its all in one approach, elegant texture and delicate scent is what sets this serum/essence/toner from the rest.

The African Botanics Rose Essence can be purchased directly from the African Botanics website, retailing at USD$160 for 50ml. 

Aurae Skin Beauty Boost Hyaluronic Serum*

Aurae Skin is a relatively new Australian brand, developed by Laura, a banker and qualified Beauty and Dermal Therapist who found her passion for ingredients and formulating. Aurae Skin is a brand believes in a balanced approach between cosmeceutical grade ingredients enriched with botanical actives and nourishing oils. The Beauty Boost Hyaluronic Serum from Aurae Skin has become a serum which I have enjoyed using on my skin due to its lightweight texture and the instant lift it gives my skin. The lightweight feel of this is reminiscent of the African Botanics Rose Serum, just at a much lower price point - making it a perfect alternative to those green beauty lovers.

I find that that Aurae Skin's Beauty Boost is a treat to use due to its scent and lightweight, almost water like texture once applied. As the name suggests, it gives the skin an instant boost in hydration, lightly plumping the skin and helping to prepare the skin for the next steps. I find that this product works best straight after cleansing, as its lightweight feel makes it feel like an essence/serum in one. The ingredients of Beauty Boost makes it a hydrating serum with a little more oomph as it contains Vitamin C (in the form of Ascorbyl Palmitate), marine collagen, white tea, Kakadu plum and Aloe Vera to help protect, brighten and soothe the skin both instantly and over time. This serum interacts well with other skincare products and hasn't pilled underneath foundation or serums. 

The Aurae Skin Beauty Boost Hyaluronic Serum can be purchased from Aurae Skin's website for AUD$59 for 50ml.  

Pyunkangyul Moisture Serum

The Pyunkang-yul Moisture Serum is a beautiful product for those who love Korean Beauty or are looking for a great, cost-effective hydrating serum. The brand Pyunkang-yul was developed by the renowned Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic in South Korea and uses hanbang -  Korean traditional herbal medicine. Each and every product contains a high amount of traditional herb extracts and contains little fillers and fragrances to minimise irritation to the skin to help promote a healthy oil and moisture balance in the skin.

There is no doubt that the Pyunkang-yul Moisture Serum is a well-priced serum, retailing for around USD$27 for 100ml of product and its results are also just as impressive. I find that whilst this does not have the same plumping effects as some of the other serums mentioned, it does help to keep the skin instantly hydrated and balance the skin over time. This serum is one of those serums you start to notice the effects on the skin over time. For me, I found that my skin was not only more hydrated - it was also softer, bouncier and more even in tone. Overall, my skin looked healthier and my complexion most definitely felt more balanced. In terms of how the Pyunkang-yul Moisture Serum performs underneath makeup and other skincare, this serum is fantastic as it does not pill. I find that this milky serum works so well mixed with other products and sinks into the skin beautifully. What I also love about the Pyunkang-yul Moisture Serum is its simple formulation and heavy focus on traditional Korean herbs. I love the fact that it contains no fragrance, making it great for those who have sensitised skin. It is a truly enjoyable serum to use and I love the unique philosophy and backing behind the brand. 

There are various places to purchase the Pyunkang-yul Moisture Serum (and other great K-beauty products). My favourite place to find this beauty is at OhLollyBeauty for USD$27 for 100ml. 

What some of your favourite hydrating serums? Have you tried any on this list? I would love to hear what you think in the comments section below. 

 

 

 

 

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orchids&peonies by Orchids&peonies - 3M ago

Where has 2018 gone??? I swear it seems like only yesterday that we welcomed in a fresh new year. Now, here we are, in the middle of February and I realise just how late I am with my empties for January. My January empties is probably one of my most impressive yet as I have used up a whole bunch of full-size products - not only in skincare but in body care and makeup too! Read on to see what I have used up in the last month!

***Please note that anything with a * has been kindly gifted to me without the expectation of a review. The reason as to why I am writing about these products, quite simply comes to the fact I have used it all up!

Skin Better Science Rejuvenate Smoothing Daily Treatment Cream*

Skin Better Science is a cosmeceutical brand that prides itself on its use of actives. Sometimes cosmeceutical products can be a little much for the skin as they can contain more active ingredients that the skin might not be used to. The Skin Better Science Rejuvenate Smoothing Daily Treatment Cream is a great introduction to those who are looking in to getting started with a more active skincare routine, or simply just want a moisturiser with a little more oomph. The Daily Treatment Cream contains high tech, patented peptide technology that helps the skin appear more radiant, plump and hydrated whilst also creating a lightweight and moisturising barrier for the skin. For me, the Skin Better Science Daily Treatment Cream is definitely one of the best moisturisers I have used for various reasons.

The texture of the Daily Treatment Cream is light and it sinks into the skin beautifully keeping the skin nourished, plump and soft. I found that it really did work well to smooth out the skin's surface and whilst it does contain silicones in its formulation, it doesn't have that tacky silicone feel. It feels very natural on the skin and not at all congesting. Due to its smoothing capabilities, I also found that this works incredibly well underneath makeup. Once applied, I discovered that that makeup and primers just glide effortlessly over this moisturiser. I have never experienced piling when using this and it really gives the skin a great base due to its smoothing and radiance properties. For those curious, its ingredinets are the following: 

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Isododecane, Dimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, PEG-16 Macadamia Glycerides, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminobutyroyl Hydroxythreonine, Tetradecyl Aminobutyroylvalylaminobutyric Urea Trifluoroacetate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyisobutene, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,  Glyceryl Stearate, Alcohol Denat., Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Sorbitan Oleate, Ceteth-20, Steareth-20, PEG-75 Stearate, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Chloride, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Other than its formulation and how it interacts with other products, I also absolutely LOVED the packaging of this moisturiser. Not only does it look elegant (rose gold and navy is a winning combination), the airless packaging pump itself is easy to use and hygienic. Simply twist to 'open' and pump to dispense product, this is a gold standard for me in terms of how a skincare product should be packaged. Finally, the performance of the Skin Better Science Daily Treatment Cream is everything I would want in a moisturiser and more. I feel that this not only locks in the rest of my skincare routine, it is gentle enough to be used every day and night and the formulation is simple enough to be able to mix with other actives. However, don't be fooled in its simplicity, the addition of peptides help to maintain and enhance skin hydration, firmness and plumpness, giving it enough oomph to be in a class of its own. 

The Skin Better Science Daily Treatment Cream is a cosmeceutical product and is only available at selected retailers. It's RRP is USD$120 for 30ml. 

Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate

I probably go through one of these every 6-8 weeks and I continuously purchase this product. It's truly a testament to how much I adore Jordan Samuel Skin's Hydrate and I simply can't live without it. If you haven't tried it, I recommend that you do give the range a good chance. It hasn't disappointed me yet.  For a more in-depth review, have a read here

Hydrate can be purchased directly from Jordan Samuel Skin's website. It retails for USD$29 for 30ml or USD$72 for 120ml. 

hop & cotton The Foam Party*

I love oil cleansers but I also have learned that I enjoy foaming cleansers just as much, especially ones that do not dry out the skin. When Ee Ting from hop & cotton formulated a cleanser for me, a version of The Foam Party - I was not disappointed. This cleanser was formulated especially for me and took into account things such as how much it foamed, textures, scents and of course performance. My customised formula was the following:

Aqua (water), sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, glycerin, propanediol, stearic acid, cocoamidopropyl betaine, sucrose cocoate, methylpropanediol, betaine, polyquaternium-7, PEG 150 pentaerythrityl tetrastearate, polyacrylate crosspolymer-6, caprylyl glycol, sodium phytate, lactic acid, phenylpropanol

What I adore about this cleanser is the fact that it removes excess oil gently from my complexion without stripping it. After I have rinsed this off with water, my skin feels incredibly clean, balanced and soft. It is a really gentle formulation that just foams ever so slightly and has no scent whatsoever; making it perfect to use at any time, even when my skin is feeling super sensitive. In terms of makeup removal, I wouldn't recommend using The Foam Party on its own as it is most definitely a morning cleanser or a second cleanse.

The beautiful pale pink plastic packaging makes this look gorgeous on any vanity and the added benefit of a hygienic pump dispenser makes the hop & cotton Foam Party Cleanser the perfect travel companion. I absolutely love how this cleanser leaves my skin feeling after cleansing that I have already (and will continue to) repurchase.  

To have your own foaming cleanser formulated for you, go to the hop & cotton website and fill out your skin quiz, prices for this beauty start at AUD$58.

hop & cotton Brilliant Cream*

This is another hop & cotton formulation which was concocted especially for me according to the skin quiz that I submitted to Ee Ting and the hop & cotton team. I thoroughly enjoyed using the cream as it felt light, fast absorbing and extremely hydrating with each and every use. I also loved the fact that this gave my skin a brighter, glowing complexion due to its careful formulation. The Brilliant Cream isn't like any ordinary moisturiser - it is meant to be an all in one product. Acting as a serum, mask, eye serum and moisturiser in one, the hop & cotton Brilliant Cream is meant to help simplify a skincare routine and each formulation is customised for its intended user. My specific formulation contains a blend of concentrated vitamins and antioxidants to help promote an even skin tone, working to brighten the skin and reduce the occurrence of blemishes and prevent signs of ageing. My customised formulation was as follows: 

Aqua (water), propanediol, niacinamide, coco-caprylate, ethyl ascorbic acid, c13-15 alkane, glycerin, methylpropanediol, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, betaine, tocopherol acetate, sodium acrylates copolymer, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, lecithin, allantoin, arginine, tocopherol, bisabolol, caprylyl glycol, sodium phytate, phenylpropanol

In the time that I have had the Brilliant Cream, I have used it both day and night, over time I found that I actually enjoyed using this in the evening more as I can really see and feel the results in my skin. When using this in the evening, I find that when I wake up my skin looks visibly brighter, even, plump and hydrated - a great way to start the day I think! On days where I do have blemishes, I find that this moisturiser helps to also soothe and calm down and angry looking inflammation and I find that this moisturiser allows the skin to breathe and not feel congested. When using this I always do try to keep it simple (the brand's philosophy is that less is more), and I find that using the moisturiser on its own is more than enough! It's a great product to invest in for those who are looking to really simplify their skincare routine and are far too lazy to apply layers of serums, masks etc. Overall, I really enjoyed using this - it is perfect for lazy days or when you need to travel light. 

To have your own special moisturiser formulated for you, go to the hop & cotton website and fill out your skin quiz and the hop & cotton team will formulate a bespoke creation for you. 

Dr Levy Switzerland 3 Deep Cell Renewal Micro-Resurfacing Cleanser*

This cleanser is a fantastic cleanser to use once or twice a week for slightly deeper clean due to the fact that this formulation contains all sorts of acids that assist with exfoliating the skin. I really enjoy the thorough and deep clean that this cleanser gives the skin, and the beautiful glow afterwards is an absolute bonus. For a more in-depth read on this cleanser, read about it here.  

Purchase the Dr Levy 3 Deep Cell Renewal Micro-Resurfacing Cleanser from Cultbeauty for £39.00 for 150ml. 

h is for love Kinu Glowing Skin Balm*

My skin just GLOWS with this. Literally. This made the rounds during the festive season due to its delectable scent, skin nourishing abilities and of course that beautiful glow that this gives off. Kinu (which means silk in Japanese) is a luxurious, golden body balm that is made from gorgeous ingredients such as jojoba, coconut, rosehip and Kalahari seeds oils and contains a mica that gives it a beautiful luminous glow on the skin. The beautiful feel of the ingredients that Bee, founder of h is for love has concocted and put together is such a delight and I am SO glad I have been introduced to the brand via the Boxwalla Beauty Boxes. 

When applied, this gorgeous whipped Kinu balm melts into the skin and absorbs effortlessly, I find that my legs and arms are so nourished, smooth and glowing. Due to the light reflecting mica, it almost works like a 'foundation' for the body as the light reflects off the skin, making the skin look flawless. I absolutely loved applying this on my legs when wearing a shorter dress/skirt and heels as it was incredibly flattering. Oh, and did I mention how delicious this smells? The scent of this is light and is reminiscent of honey and citrus. It's not overbearing but it is so enjoyable to inhale. Out of all the body balms I have used, Kinu by far has been my favourite. In terms of finish, its scent, how it nourishes the skin to how it effortlessly absorbs makes it such a winner. I am so sad that I won't be able to repurchase this as Kinu was a Boxwalla x h is for love exclusive from October's Boxwalla edit from last year. It is truly such a beautiful product and is yet an another amazing discovery from Boxwalla.

For more exclusive treats from green beauty brands, subscribe to the Boxwalla bi monthly beauty subscription here. Each and every box is of fantastic value (the upcoming edition is defibately worth checking out!) and prices start at USD$49.95. 

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer

Hourglass rarely disappoints and whilst I liked this bronzer, I feel that I loved NARS Laguna more. That's not to say I didn't enjoy using this though. I felt that the colour of this bronzer sometimes looked a little muddy on me instead of giving my skin a sun-kissed glow. I had to be a little bit more careful when applying this and to not be too heavy handed with my brush. It could quite simply come down to this particular not colour not suiting my skin tone and the way I have applied this. The powder itself is beautiful in texture as it is so finely milled. The bronze mixed with the ambient lighting powders does give a bit more of glow without being a disco ball. I will be trying this again but in a different colour, this time round as I did enjoy the texture of this powder and I absolutely love the Hourglass quality. 

This beautiful rose gold compact can be purchased directly from Hourglass for USD$50, Space NK for £45 or Mecca Cosmetica for AUD$72 for the 11g compact. 

What products have you used this month? Do you have any favourites? Let me know in the comments section below. 

 

 

 

 

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As many of you know, I do enjoy using green beauty products, not because they are necessarily 'green' but because they work so well for my skin. However, my love for skincare has never just stopped at green beauty - I have embraced everything from Korean Skincare products, cosmeceuticals as well as those products you would find at your local drugstore. At the end of the day, I like products that quite simply work for my skin, doesn't cause my skin to freak out and are an absolute joy to use in both texture and scent. Over the past 18 months of blogging, I have come to realise that the products that seem to work best for me are a fusion of science and natural ingredients and there are a few brands that I find that do this quite well.  African Botanics is one of those skincare brands where almost everything I have tried, I have absolutely loved and there are a few products in the range which I will happily say are my holy grails and I could never live without. As much as I hate to admit it - their most recent release, the Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream has actually made it to that list. The reason why I hate admitting it? The cost of this cream is sure to raise some eyebrows for some, as it does retail for USD$350, putting it right up there with La Mer's famed Creme de La Mer, however unlike La Mer, I find that the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is worth every single penny. 

*** Please note that this item was kindly gifted to me by African Botanics with no expectation of a review of any kind. However, I am a huge fan of the brand and I have been asked alot about this product that I felt there was a need to share my thoughts on how much I do love it. 

What Is It? 

The African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is a night cream that takes advantages of exotic night blooms, indigenous African Desert and Bush Plants™ and potent concentrations of highly advanced marine biotechnology which helps to protect, soothe and heal the skin. Basically, it is a night cream on natural ingredients steroids. 

What Does It Do?

This is a multi-correcting face cream that is said to stimulate cell renewal and works to plump, nourish and protect the skin. The cream works to help restores the skin’s density and bounce whilst improving texture and luminosity. The African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream works to deeply hydrate the skin and also helps to infuse the skin with moisture. The cream also claims to help the skin fight the signs of ageing skin with its use of powerful antioxidants. On top of all of this, the Intense Recovery Cream also helps to soothe and calm the skin, whilst also speeding up the recovery of the damaged cells. 

Ingredients:

Jasmine Flower Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Trichilia Emetica (Cape Mahogany) Butter*, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Soybean Fiber, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Millet, Hydrolyzed Pea, Verbena officinalis (Vervain) Extract, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract, Jasmine Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Oil, Tocopherol, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis (Microalgae) Extract, Resveratrol, Green Coffee Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Oxido Reductases, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Myrothamus Flabellifolius (Resurrection) Plant, Panthenol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter*, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab)*, Citrillus Lanatus (Kalahari Melon)* Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil, Cyclopia Genistoides (Honeybush) Leaf Extract, Bulbinella Nutens Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Vegetable Glycerin, Schinziophyton Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Copper Gluconate, Niacinamide, Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile), Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Oil, Caffein, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Saccharide Isomerate, Pearl Powder, Arnica Cordifolia Extract, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) Extract, Calendula, Diamond microspheres, Citrus Bergamia Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol. *Wild-Harvested. 

My Thoughts

In three words - I. LOVE. THIS. If you are on the market for a luxe, high-end night cream then the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is a product that you must try. This cream is absolutely beautiful in scent, texture and of course how it performs. I absolutely love having this in my skincare arsenal as it manages to keep my skin calm, protects my skin, helps it to heal and gives me a nourished and healthy complexion in the morning. This works not only as a great everyday evening cream but also works wonders as an SOS treatment for the skin. Its performance has amazed me, and due to its price point, I really didn't want to love it...but like any forbidden love story, I fell head over heels for this. 

The Intense Recovery Cream is an incredibly luxe night cream that seems to be jam-packed full of exotic sounding butters, oils and plant extracts. With a list that is clearly heavy in botanicals as well as some active ingredients, it's hard to go through every single ingredient in detail. Packed full of antioxidants such as Resveratrol, CoQ10, Oxidoreductase, Vitamin C, Green Coffee, Caffein and Niacinamide, the Fleurs d'Afriques helps to protect the skin from environmental stressors. As a coffee lover, I love the use of coffee in both the Green Coffee Extract and Caffein which is said  to have potent antioxidant properties as it helps protect cells against the UV radiation and slows down the process of photoaging of the skin. Caffeine’s other impressive properties is that it works to enhance other antioxidant ingredients such as green tea, white tea and resveratrol, providing a boost to those ingredients which neutralise free radicals and help to improve the texture of the skin. The formula also takes advantage of blue marine microalgae - rich in antioxidants and nutrients which also work to help protect the skin from free radical damage as well as help to renew and repair skin tissue. Plant peptides are also featured in the formulation and are derived from native African plant species, these plant peptides are naturally derived and are said to help protect the skin from oxidative stress, boost collagen synthesis, reinforce the density of the skin and improving the skin's texture. 

Like with any other African Botanics skincare product, a nod to the amazing botanicals that are native to Africa is essential. The Intense Recovery Cream is absolutely jam-packed with exotic ingredients such as Kigelia Africana, Bulbinella, Resurrection plant, HoneyBush and Green Rooibos tea which come from the African Desert. These ingredients are renowned for their medicinal and reparative benefits and have been used by African tribes for years to help soothe inflamed, dry, irritated skin, relieving itchiness and work as an antimicrobial. Along with these soothing benefits, ingredients such as South African Aloe Ferox (otherwise known as Cape Aloe) and Bulbine Frutescens helps to hydrate the skin, enhancing its firmness and aiding in the skin looking plump. Aloe Ferox belongs to the Aloe family and works well as a skin moisturiser and humectant, helping the skin to maintain and preserve moisture. Studies have also shown that Aloe Ferox also aids in skin repair, helping to facilitate wound repair and inhibiting bacteria growth in the wounded skin. For extra nourishment for the skin, the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream takes advantage of butters such as Cape Mahogany Butter and various types of mango seed butter, as well as their signature wild harvested Marula oil. Each of these butters and oils are rich in essential fatty acids to help nourish and protect the skin's barrier. 

Even though the ingredient listing looks to be quite impressive, does it perform? Well, for me, the magic of this little black jar really is in the way it works on my skin. This cream is just amazing in the way it helps to soothe, nourish, hydrate and reset the complexion. On bad skin days/weeks, I love to use this cream in the evening to help heal and repair the skin. This cream helps to not only seal in any serums/oils applied underneath, it also works its magic to calm any angry, itchy areas of skin. Its clever use of oils and butters, mixed with its complex use of plant peptides and extracts help to hydrate, nourish and replenish the complexion with nutrients minus the feeling of heaviness or tackiness on the skin. I find that when I use this in the evening on angry skin days, my complexion looks visibly calmer, revitalised and overall much healthier the next morning. On those days where my skin is quite normal and I still reach out to use this (I love it and I want to use this all the time), my complexion looks brighter, refreshed and even in tone. I have been using the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream a few days a week over the past few months now, and I have to say that in this time period I feel that my skin's texture has improved quite remarkably, it's healing faster, I'm getting fewer breakouts and overall my skin looks much healthier and clearer. My face is also less irritated and when I do get a spot, this helps to calm the area down, by the next morning, the redness in the area has generally subsided.

Whilst I have also been using other products consistently, I can't help but wonder if the Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream has anything to do with my happier looking complexion as most of the other products I have been using are to target issues such as PIH. Whilst the improvement in my skin may not be single-handedly attributed to the Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream on its own, I feel that it has played a part in the positive change I am seeing in my skin. For me, the improvements I can see in my complexion are both instant (instant calmness and skin looking revitalised) also can be seen over a period of time (improved skin texture and health). For me, these results are what I would normally expect from a serum, so to potentially see this in a moisturiser is so promising and is one of the reasons why I do love using this night cream on a regular basis and is the reason why I reach for it so often.  I am so impressed with its overall performance. The difference I have seen in my skin is quite remarkable and its scent and texture just add to the luxurious experience that the Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream creates. 

Aside from the performance of the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream, it also gets its texture so incredibly right. Whilst the cream looks and feels quite rich initially, once applied on the face, this velvety smooth cream melts and sinks into the skin like butter, leaving no heaviness or tackiness. It settles beautifully and effortlessly into the complexion and immediately leaves the skin feeling softer and smoother on application. As the Intense Recovery Cream is a little thicker and sinks so easily into the skin, I find that it does not spread as easily over the complexion as other moisturisers I have used, and it is best patted into the skin (like you would with a serum). Alternatively, if you are a lover of oils, this can also be mixed in with a little oil to give it that little bit more slip. Applied, either way, the Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream melts into the complexion so smoothly, immediately hydrating and nourishing the skin. 

In terms of scent, the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream smells like an exquisite night garden. It smells absolutely heavenly with notes of jasmine. Its a truly stunning and inviting scent that adds to the indulgence that is the Intense Recovery Cream. As one of the night creams' first ingredients is Jasmine Flower water, the scent of this cream is the real deal and it does very much evoke a sense of walking through a garden filled with jasmine flowers at dusk. The scent of this cream further adds to the experience and ritual of a blissful skincare routine as the aroma is so delicate and calming to the senses, that it feels so decadent. Those who do not like essentials oils or heavy scents may have to reconsider the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream though, as the scent might be too strong. I personally love beautiful scents in my skincare, especially light florals and therefore I have no qualms with the aroma of this gorgeous night cream. 

Even though I absolutely love and adore the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream, the price tag of this, definitely puts it in the luxury category as it does retail for an eye-watering USD$350 or GBP£300. This is no doubt a definite splurge purchase as it puts it right up there with La Mer's Creme de la Mer. Unlike La Mer, I do believe that this has a much more sophisticated formulation, as it does contain very little fillers and more rare and unique ingredients that have been sustainably harvested. There is no doubt that its price point will put many off, but do keep in mind that its formulation is packed full of plant extracts, botanicals, wild harvested oils and butters that are so unique to Africa. Due to its texture and potency, only a little is needed so this jar does last. I am only at the halfway mark and I have been using this for a good 3-4 months now. It is clear that a little does go a very long way. The only other qualm is the packaging, I don't personally love jar packaging as I find it can get quite unhygienic (no fingers in jars for me!) and inconvenient. Despite its price and packaging though, the African Botanics Fleur d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is a product that I do highly recommend for those who are looking splurge on an indulgent cream for the evening. In all honesty, if I were to give up blogging and use just one night cream for the rest of my life, this cream would be it as its formulation and how it works for my skin is unlike any other night cream I have ever used. This is hand down a holy grail find for me. 

Repurchase YAY or NAY?

I wish I didn't have such expensive taste, but the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is undoubtedly a YAY for me. Hands. Down. YAY. I don't think I have used another evening cream like this that has kept my skin looking so healthy, calm, revitalised and renewed. I absolutely adore using this cream, not only for its performance but also for its luxurious, rich texture that absorbs into the skin so effortlessly and its beautifully intoxicating scent. Whilst this cream is expensive, its impressive ingredient listing and the fact so little goes such a long way makes it worth it for those who wish to be indulgent and splurge. There is no doubt that the African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream is a truly decadent yet high performing night cream that will continue to appear in my routines. It really is a holy grail find and something that I will absolutely repurchase again. 

The African Botanics Fleurs d'Afriques Intense Recovery Cream comes in a luxe, glass 60ml black jar and can be purchased from the African Botanics website for USD$350 or from Cult Beauty^ for £300. 

Have you used anything from the African Botanics range? What was it and what did you think of it? I would love to hear you comments in the section below. 

 

 

 

 

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If there has been one thing that I have enjoyed receiving in the mail over the short period of time that I have been blogging, it is beauty subscription boxes. They really are like a little treat in the mail. I find that beauty boxes are not just all about whats inside the box - its also the experience when it comes to receiving the box, opening the box and having the opportunity to discover what has been carefully curated inside. It is that element of surprise that makes beauty subscription boxes exciting and so much fun to receive. You never know what you will get and it is very much like receiving a birthday or Christmas present. The biggest difference is that you have the potential to receive one every month! 

Late last year, I had the opportunity to receive a box from MINTD Box - a truly luxurious beauty subscription service that has been carefully curated by Cheryl Botchway and her team. Each box edition has a theme that suits the month (ie. the current January box is all about recharging for the New Year) and contains a minimum of 4-5 full size and deluxe sized luxury beauty products from across the globe housed in a beautiful white box. The experience from unboxing to unwrapping and the joy of each product discovery makes MINTD Box an opulent affair and a most enjoyable one too. I received the December edit, aptly named 'Enchanted' and with an edit like this, I was completely blown away.  

***Please note*** This box and its products were kindly gifted to me in exchange for a review by MINTD Box. I knew I was going to love this edit and the brands and products featured, which is why I kindly accepted. I love a lot of the brands featured in their December edit and it truly was such a fantastic experience. Whilst I have been gifted this item, please note that all my opinion are of my own and are my honest opinions. 

Beauty is in the small details and when unboxing December's Enchanted Box, I was so impressed with the small, yet luxurious details of how this box was presented. Housed in a minimal white hard box with a fine rose gold embossing, it was quite exciting to lift up the magnetic closure of this edit. What was revealed was a beautifully and carefully wrapped tissue with the MINTD Box seal concealing all the beautiful products that would be featured in this edit. The first thing that hits me is, of course, the scent. Whatever was inside the box smelt absolutely beautiful, which further heightened the experience for me. When I finally tore through the delicate white tissue, what was revealed was enchanting treasures from brands such as Votary London, De Mamiel, African Botanics, Oribe and Skin Laundry. 

I love receiving beauty boxes and for me, I find that beauty boxes are a great way to discover new brands and products. Whilst with the MINTD Box already contained brands that I knew of prior to receiving this edit, they were (as I am sure many of you already know) brands that I absolutely love. Some products I had tried before and others, whilst I was familiar with the brand; were quite new to me. 

I was completely blown away when I saw that there was a full size (30ml) Votary London Jasmine and Calendula Facial Oil in the MINTD's December Edit - for me, this was definitely a highlight. I have long had a fascination with Votary London as I have enjoyed using their cleansing oil and it was amazing to have the opportunity to try something else in their range. Whilst I haven't used the  Rose Maroc and Sandalwood Facial Oil as much to comment on efficacy, the scent, feel and texture is what I would expect from the brand. This is oil is nourishing but doesn't leave a greasy feeling on the skin as it sinks in effortlessly and the scent is wonderous.  The Votary London Jasmine and Calendula Facial Oil is a luxurious product and is an amazing addition to the Enchanted Box as it is valued at GPB£65. When you think about it, it is almost the price of the box itself! 

Whilst, most of the brands were brands that I knew of and have tried before, one brand that I was not well acquainted with in the December edit was Skin Laundry. Skin Laundry was an exciting discovery for me as I have seen this brand make its rounds on Instagram but have never really taken the plunge to go out and purchase any products from the range. The number of times I have added its cleansers and serums to my cart on Cultbeauty may be surprising to some! The Renewing Eye Cream featured in the December edition of MINTD Box was indeed the perfect introduction to the brand. When I have used this, I immediately notice that the puffiness around my eyes is diminished and that it helps to immediately plump around the eye area. Its a great first impression from the brand itself and will perhaps take that plunge and purchase some products from the line later on down the track. The Skin Laundry Renewing Eye Cream is valued at GPB£25 and is another full sized product (15ml). 

De Mamiel is another luxury green beauty brand that makes an appearance in MINTD's December Edit and whilst I am normally accustomed to the skincare items from De Mamiel range, it was nice to be introduced to other products in the line. De Mamiel is a brand that is famed for the scents of each and every product, its founder Annee De Mamiel is, after all, a qualified aromatherapist. The Altitude Oil was a pleasant surprise in this edition. It is not necessarily a skincare product, but it has clearly been product curated for its aromatherapy benefits, considering the time of year (holidays and travel!). This inhalation oil was created by Annee to help keep a clear head and energise the mind when travelling, thus its name, Altitude Oil. Whilst I don't normally use aromatherapy in my everyday life, I took this with me in the few times I have travelled over the Christmas and New Years break to try. On the 6 hour flight, this scent was a welcome addition to the stuffy plane air - in short, it smelt absolutely wonderful. Not overpowering or overbearing, just light and enough to relax and calm the senses. Even the flight attendant commented on it beautiful and delicate scent. The Altitude Oil was a welcome surprise and product that I would never normally purchase. The De Mamiel Altitude Oil featured was a full sized product and is valued at GPB£28 for 10ml.

Recently, I was introduced to the Oribe haircare range by the lovely @skinmusings and since discovering this brand, it has replaced all my haircare products as I have loved it that much. It was so exciting to receive some of the beauty products from the Oribe range in MINTD box's December edition as it was a range that I was curious to know more about. The Oribe Balmessence Lip Treatment is possibly one of the most expensive dedicated lip balms (valued at GPB£27) I have ever used, however, I find that this is much more than just a lip balm. The Balmessence lip treatment works so well as a lip primer and smoother as it helps to keep my matte lipstick all in one place, as well as working to keep my lips soft and nourished. As a primer, it almost works as well as my beloved MAC Prep and Prime Lip, however, unlike the MAC primer, this lip balm keeps my lips nourished on those extra dry lip days. Again, the Oribe Balmessence Lip Treatment is another full-sized addition to MINTD's December curation and retails for GPB£27. 

African Botanics is a brand that I don't need an introduction to as its a brand that I am well and truly hooked on and love. I honestly don't think they could put a foot wrong in their skincare creations. The Enchanted December Edit features a deluxe travel size version of the African Botanics Mineral Cleansing Mask - a fantastic mud/clay mask that helps to purify and give the skin a deeper clean. I have used this quite a bit over the past year and it is truly an amazing mask to help clear and decongest the skin. It gives the complexion a beautiful, radiant glow and pulls out impurities in the skin. I find that unlike a lot of clay masks out there, this doesn't dry out the complexion due to its use of botanical oils. It gives the skin a healthy radiance whilst also respecting the skin's natural oils. The African Botanics Mineral Cleansing Mask is a fantastic mask and I was so pleased to get a cute little travel size (15ml) as I know these come in handy when travelling. 

For GPB£70 (converted it is USD$100 and AUD$125) per box, the MINTD Beauty Boxes are in no way cheap and are considered as an indulgent treat. However, they are filled with some of the most beautiful, high quality and incredibly luxe products on the market. Each product has clearly been curated with much thought and care by the MINTD Box team to give a unique, extravagant experience. You can really tell that the team behind MINTD really do believe in presenting with their customers some of the best luxury beauty products available in their edits. Brands such as Votary London, African Botanics and De Mamiel are often found in niche boutiques or high-end department stores and to have them in their December shows the quality and pride behind their boxes.  

Overall, I find that the MINTD Beauty Boxes to be a fantastic treat for yourself or a loved one. The boxes are a truly indulgent, allowing the receiver to try products that they would not normally have the opportunity to experience. As mentioned, the boxes are a little more expensive than other beauty boxes out there, however, the brands featured in each edit are truly high end, niche luxury brands. There is no denying that there is value for money in each edition, as the total value of each box is generally more than double of what is paid. I personally loved the December Enchanted Edition and it looks like January's Recharge themed edition is also filled with some amazing goodies from Sunday Riley, Anne Semonin and Rodial Skincare. These boxes are just such a great way to indulge, escape and enjoy some of the finer things in life.

The value of the December box itself is over £170 (converted it is approx. USD$245 and AUD$300) which is a huge saving. At GPB£70 I do find that these boxes are well worth it for those who love luxury beauty products and want to indulge. They also make the most amazing gift for a mother, sister or best friend. This particular edit was filled with high-end luxury products from brands that I personally love but with the added bonus of trying products, I wouldn't normally go out of my way to try. Without question, I loved the curation of both products and brands from December's Enchanted Edition as it truly was an indulgent, luxurious and beautiful experience to have. 

You can subscribe to MINTD Box on a monthly or bi-monthly basis for GPB£70 per box at MINTD Box directly. Those who are new members also have the opportunity receive complimentary shipping their very first box. 

Have you tried MINTD Box? What were your thoughts? What is your favourite beauty subscription box out there at the moment? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. 

 

 

 

 

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The future of beauty seems to be in product customisation as more consumers are now leaving behind the age-old idea of one size fits all in the beauty industry. As Ee Ting Ng, founder and formulator in chief of bespoke skincare brand hop & cotton agrees, "It’s fantastic that people are recognising that their skin needs are unique and that they no longer have to settle for ‘one-size-fit-all’ products". Thanks to the internet, consumers are smarter than ever. They have access to information about almost every product available on the market – all that is required is a Google search. In the ever so saturated beauty industry; consumers, more than ever, are demanding more from beauty companies. With increased competition, there is more demand for innovation - something different, a product that sets itself apart from all the others. What better way to set a product apart from the rest when it is tailor-made? A product that is unique as the of individual it was created for and targets specific concerns and needs for that person.  Thanks to advancements in technology, bespoke and customisation are no longer just reserved for suits and gowns – its skin deep in our beauty products too. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Ee Ting to find out a little bit more about tailor-made beauty and the process of creating a bespoke custom skincare product.

***Please note - Whilst I have been gifted items from hop & cotton, it in no way effects the way this post was written. I genuinely found the topic to be an interesting one and Ee Ting was the perfect candidate to ask all the questions I had about the subject. Thank you Ee Ting (and Clarence) for the time you spent answering my millions of questions on bespoke skincare and the industry!

There is no without a doubt that the ever competitive beauty industry has seen a shift in the past decade. With new breakthroughs in technology rising at a rapid pace, the way we use and consume beauty is so different to what it was 10-15 years ago. According to an article posted on Allure, Sephora's senior vice president of merchandising, Atremis Patrick claims that the beauty consumer of today is more educated and engaged than ever before. He goes on to say that "She is selective and more important, she is informed and intrigued by beauty offerings. She has a strong knowledge of ingredient and formula benefits, so she is seeking personalised products that meet her distinct needs."  Consumers are not only educated and more clued in than ever when it comes to beauty products, they also wish to be part of the creative process.

Ee Ting also agrees with these sentiments, saying “consumers are gradually realizing the importance of looking after themselves (including their skin) and becoming more conscious of reality versus marketing hype”. She believes that in a market where there are more choices than ever before, customers have the luxury of being particular with their beauty and skincare products. She has noticed that those unwilling to compromise are turning to customisation to get exactly what they want, being one of these consumers herself. Having spent years trialling different skincare products, Ee Ting just couldn’t find anything that suited her extremely sensitive skin and its needs. Using her background in science and understanding of ingredients, Ee Ting started to create her own formulations. It was only then that she was able to finally find a product that suited her fussy skin type. This ultimately lead to the creation of hop & cotton, bringing customised skincare to the everyday consumer “I didn’t have the intention to start hop & cotton when I first got into formulation” she explains. For Ee Ting,  creating her own product was a last resort for her problem skin after struggling for 10 years. “Customisation allows me to combine ingredients into formulations that are right for every individual customer. It was the only way I got results for myself and for many others”.

The process of creating bespoke beauty products always starts with the solid understanding of a client's needs and wants. Many tailored beauty brands often give customers a skin quiz whereby questions on their skin type, product preferences and what they like to use are asked. “Their skin type, conditions, concerns and product preferences will guide us in our selection of ingredients to use” Ee Ting explains. For hop & cotton,  it is from there that the magic starts to happen, where the team of cosmetic chemists will start looking at the individual skin needs of the consumer and create a product that not only targets their concerns but also suits their preference in terms of texture or even product type. The beauty of bespoke tailor-made beauty products, especially those of the skincare variety is that anything is possible – all that is required is an idea and skincare concern to target.

The hop & cotton process.
Image Courtesy of hop & cotton

However, creating tailor-made products for consumers is not at all as simple as it may sound. At times, a lack of understanding or education from the customer can create some small hiccups in the formulation process. “Sometimes what the customer wants is not what is good for them. For example, they could be blemish-prone but want a really thick heavy moisturiser; or suffer from dermatitis but request for fragrance in their products” Ee Ting reveals. To overcome this, she likes to go through with her clients in detail in what they are getting. In this consultation, Ee Ting tries to find out exactly what it is that this clients requires. She also will explain to the customer, her reasons of why she wouldn’t recommend certain ingredients or textures before she begins the manufacturing process. Being a bespoke beauty company, personalisation in both product and service is important and making sure the customer is educated is a real passion for Ee Ting herself (check out her amazing posts on skin here). “It is also important for the people customising your products to not blindly fulfil every request but know what’s best for you when you don’t!” she states.

Technology has been a huge factor in making bespoke beauty products accessible to the wider consumer market at affordable prices. However, creating a sound business model based on this customisation, is still what makes this technology so very new to the general consumer. As Ee Ting explains, “the biggest hurdle for customisation has been (and still is) the high cost that comes from both product development”. In creating a bespoke beauty product such as a foundation or moisturiser, there is no mass production. It is one formulation dedicated to the single individual it was designed for. Product design is just as unique as the person itself and if done correctly, no two people will have the same product – it is a premium in which the consumer pays for. Whilst the rapid innovations in technology has allowed the programs and devices that aid in the manufacturing process to run more efficiently, many small bespoke start ups spend much of their resources on the part that cannot be automated – the formulation side of things. Ee Ting explains that the integral part of creating a bespoke formulation ‘relies on the knowledge, experience and creativity of the cosmetic chemists’.

When asked about ingredients that she herself, enjoys working with, Ee Ting gushes over humectants,“I love humectants as they are the only type of ingredients that are capable of directly increasing our skin’s water content”. She believes that they are largely underrated as they don’t have much of a ‘story’ but in saying that, Ee Ting believes that hydration can make the biggest difference to the skin. “I (also) am obsessed with functional materials such as thickeners, gelling agents and emulsifiers”, she claims. For her, they can make or break a product by directly contributing to its feel, consistency and texture – a sentiment that I myself, completely agree with. For Ee Ting, “formulating high-performance products with excellent application experience is very important to me”. 

The Smooth Operator face exfoliator - love this ingenious packaging!

There is no doubt that customised skincare products are not cheap, as the final product is not mass produced and relies heavily on the expertise of its formulators and cosmetics chemists. For a custom made hop & cotton moisturiser, a 40ml bottle start at AUD$168 and whilst it is a serum and moisturiser in one, it is understandable that not everyone can go rushing to purchase a custom made beauty routine a sentiment that Ee Ting herself agrees, “usually, the larger the extent of customisation, the higher the cost. Although completely customised products can be pricey, you don’t actually need many products in your routine as each customised product can replace multiple steps in your routine if it fulfils those same functions”. For those who are just starting out on bespoke skincare or have a budget to stick to, Ee Ting expresses the importance of function and not the type of product. She believes that sometimes the type of product will reflect its function, like a cleanser or an exfoliator. However, there are products that she believes can have ‘overlapping’ functions, these include things such as serums, essences, masks and moisturisers.  Believing in a less is more philosophy, Ee Ting says “You don’t actually need all of these products. In fact the less number of products you use, the less you subject yourself to irritation and congestion”. Her biggest tips? Streamline what you wish to have customised into products that can do the following 3 functions well: gentle but thorough cleansing, non-abrasive exfoliation and finally hydration. Whilst these may seem quite basic, she believes that you will be surprised how much difference products tailored exactly to your skin can make.

When looking into customised products, Ee Ting also advises that “not all customised products are made equal as ‘customisation’ is not a defined term in the industry. Different companies customise to different extents, so it’s good to be aware of what level of customisation you are getting”. Customising could mean a variety of things, it could be quite simply adding ingredients of choice such as a fragrance, extracts, active ingredients (ie. Vitamin C) to a selection of ready-made bases of creams, serums or oils. It could be picking from a large range of products to form a ‘customised routine’ or it could be a complete customisation that starts from product formulation through to manufacture.

Interested in creating your own bespoke beauty product or routine? Definitely have a look at hop & cotton as Ee Ting and her team of experts will be able to assist and guide you along your own bespoke skincare journey. Its a genuinely fun process and prices range for AUD$58 for the Foam Party Cleanser to AUD$208 for a more complex moisturiser. Alternatively, the get the whole routine (3 steps!) for AUD$283!

 

 

 

 

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