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Tuesday, January 27

A Beginners Guide to Skincare

Recently, a couple of my friends have asked for my advice concerning their skin. I usually ask what the problem is and what products they are using, but the usual answer these days seems to be “Just face wipes”, to which I respond with silent shock before crying “That’s it?!” Let’s face it, some people have immaculate skin and do absolutely nothing for it. For the not so fortunate, we have to work hard to keep our skin looking good. However, I think those bad habits will eventually bite you in the arse (probably in the form of fine lines and dull looking skin).  So for my friends, and anyone else who wants to start looking after their skin before dealing with irreversible damage, I thought I would post this beginners guide to building a basic skincare routine.

Your skin picks up a lot of dirt and grime throughout the day (including makeup), so it's probably a good idea to wash it every morning and night. Unfortunately water doesn't cut it, like dirty dishes, our skin needs something a little more concentrated to help clear out our pores. And as for packaged face wipes, I would recommend leaving those for traveling or days you have no access to clean water. They contain heaps of alcohol that strip the natural oils and PH levels of your skin. Instead I would opt for a micellar water (Bioderma, Garnier, La Roche Possay). With a few wipes it will remove 98% of your makeup and it’s much gentler on your skin.

Twice a week, usually after you cleanse, you can exfoliate. This removes all the dead skin cells that have built up over the last few days, it encourages cell turnover and also brightens dull, and sluggish looking skin. Some exfoliators have beads or grains that loosen the dead skin, and because they can be quite harsh on the skin should only be used twice a week at most.

Tone (Optional)
Straight after cleansing you can use a toner. A toner removes all the leftover dirt, makeup, and any residue left after cleansing. Personally I don't like toners, particularly western ones. Like face wipes, they contain a lot of alcohol that strip your skin. In Asia, they have 'essences', which are used the same way as toners, but usually work to put back the moisture that was lost after cleansing. Interesting, hey? Regardless of skin type, I recommend something with more moisturising properties, or a toner without alcohol at least. 

A treatment product, which comes in multiple forms like a serum, concentrate, or oil, targets a very specific concern in a way the products above cannot. Whether its acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, or dehydration, there’s something for everything. I personally think rose-hip oil is a great treatment to start off with, it's one of those all-rounder products that treats acne, sun damage, it has anti-aging properties, and it's organic!

The fourth and final step in any routine is to moisturise. Not only does it restore moisture to your skin, keeping it soft, smooth, and young looking, it also acts as a barrier to protect skin from daily grime and pollution.

Masks (Optional)
Masks aren't always necessary, but sometimes they’re just nice to use. They usually take a bit of time to dry or penetrate the skin (10-30 minutes, sometimes overnight) and can be really good for winding down in the evening. Like serums, there are many different products for different problems. If you have blackheads or suffer from breakouts, clay masks are great at drawing out impurities. For those with dry, dehydrated skin there are sleeping packs that you can apply over your moisturiser and leave overnight. For everything else there’s cloth masks, not the most glamorous looking, but damn does your skin feel good afterwards.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to tell someone what to use and what would work well for their skin, so finding the right products take time and money, so it’s always important to do a bit of research before forking out all of your hard-earned money.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, January 15

Naruko Tea Tree Purifying Clay Mask & Cleanser

naruko oil out tea tree clay mask and cleanser
Naruko Oil Out Tea Tree Purifying Clay Mask & Cleanser in 1

Not so long ago I reviewed and raved about the Aesop Parsley Seed masque being my favourite clay mask ever. Well, it was, until I discovered this 3 in 1 mask, cleanser, and exfoliator from Naruko. Sorry Aesop, but you've already been replaced. What can I say?  The Tea Tree Purifying Clay Mask is a three in one product, you can use it as a mask, a cleanser, an exfoliator and is designed for those with oily/combination, problematic, blackhead-ridden skin (yay, that's me!). 

You can use this as an everyday cleanser (where you can leave it for a few minutes before washing off), but I only used this as a mask twice a week. I layer a heap of this stuff onto my face, concentrating most of the product around my t-zone where most of my blackheads are, then leave it to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Because it's quite thick, it can take some time to rinse off, but the little granules speed up the process by helping break-up the clay. The grains double as an exfoliant as well, but don't feel harsh on this skin (unless you're rough, of course). Then comes my favourite part, the cooling sensation, which leaves your skin feeling cool and fresh.

The results are staggering each and every time I use this mask. There is a huge difference in the blackheads around my nose, cheeks, and foreheads. This mask visibly diminishes the appearance of pores and blackheads, and with frequent use, helps keep the acne and those occasional clusters of breakouts at bay. The scent is strong, but heavenly: a mix of tea tree and mint, a huge welcome after a hard day at work.

I like this mask so much I've already ordered my second tube through for $10.50 AUD. Cheap-as-chips compared to the hefty price tag of my former-beloved Aesop mask.  They also have a peeling gel, and an anti-acne SPF50+++ sunscreen I would love to try. While the tea tree range is almost exclusive for those with oily, combination skin, Naruko also offer repairing, moisturising and whitening ranges, all at incredibly affordable prices.

Saturday, January 10

Iope Essential Skin Boosting Serum Review

essential skin boosting serum
Iope Essential Skin Boosting Serum, 40ml

Late last year I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Iope Super Box from for a very reasonable price. Out of all the products I received, I wasn't overly excited about this serum, and wrote it off as moisturising product my skin didn't need. But even oily skin can become dehydrated. I still experience dry and flaky patches of skin around my cheeks and nose, which become blatantly obvious when I wear makeup. All you want to do is just peel it off, but that just makes it worse. When it finally dawned on me that maybe I did need some moisturising products in my skincare, I decided to give this product a go. This serum claims to boost hydration and prevent dehydration. It also works to maintain the right balance on your skin by strengthening its natural healing power and "moisture lock-in capability".

Ingredients: Water, alcohol, butylene glycol, cyclopentasiloxane, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, PPG-17, cyclohexasiloxane, dimethicone, nacinamide, squalane, lactobacillus (soybean) ferment extract, dimethiconol, phenoxyethanol, tromethamine, acrylates (c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, carbomer, fragrance, ethylhexylyglycerin, monascus (rice) ferment, saccharomyces, barley seed ferment filtrate, disodium EDTA, alpha-clucan oligosaccharide, witch hazel, soybean.

serum swatches: light and watery texture
This serum has a light, watery texture that absorbs into the skin fast, without leaving any trace or icky film on the skin. My skin feels plump and soft after I use this, but what I really love is that it's not too moisturising that I can't use my serums afterwards. It has a light, floral scent on par with the rest of Iope and Laneige products, and doesn't irritate my skin (or my senses!) The pump is absolutely fantastic as well, it dispenses the perfect amount of product, and although it does come in a frosted bottle, it's possible to see how much is left with proper lighting.

Results weren't immediate, but after a week of regular use I noticed a huge difference in the dry patches around my cheeks. They had basically disappeared. When I wear foundations and BB creams now, I hardly notice any flakiness or scaliness anymore, nothing huge I feel obliged to tear away from my face anyway. It also hasn't caused any congestion or breakouts, and although my skin is still oily, I have been breaking out a lot less lately, and I think it's because I've finally lost my battle with sebum-controlling and oil stripping products and moved on to more moisturising products that actually keep my skin balanced and healthy.