Sunblock Collection Overview

Just in time for summer I want to briefly review my current sunblock collection- likes and dislikes. I never go outside without sunblock and I am very picky when it comes to sun protection for the face. My sunblock needs to have good ingredients, be non-irritating to my skin, not look oily, and last but not least, it needs to be non-stinky (most sunblock smells make me dizzy).

  1. Innisfree Triple Care, SPF 50+ (around $11 for 50ml on eBay)

One of the newer members of my sunblock family, and one that is here to stay. The texture is not too thick, it is easy to apply. It does have a noticeable white cast, which fades a little, but I don’t think this would be a good option for people with darker skin color. This sunscreen doesn’t have that yucky physical sunblock smell, not much of it anyway, but it has added fragrance. I don’t find it unpleasant, but it may be a problem for some. The sunscreen has a nice semi-matte finish, definitely not oily. I find it works well under makeup and can also be applied on top if needed. I’d also suggest a good moisturizing serum underneath for those with dry skin.

Ingredients:

Water, cyclopentasiloxane, zinc oxide, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, PEG-10 dimethicone, dicaprylyl carbonate, titanium dioxide, isodecyl neopentanoate, niacinamide, disteardimonium hectorite, green tea extract, mica, dimethicone, magnesium sulfate, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, methicone, phenoxyethanol, aluminum hydroxide, glyceryl caprylate, fragrance, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, stearic acid, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, tocopheryl acetate, caprylyl glycol, adenosine, yellow iron oxide, triethoxycaprylylsilane, biosaccharide gum-1, sunflower seed oil, camellia sinensis leaf extract, orchid extract, orange peel extract, Opuntia coccinellifera fruit extract, Saccharomyces ferment filtrate.

2. SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50 ($34 for 30 ml)

This is the most expensive sunblock I currently own. This is a tinted product suitable for light skin and it doesn’t smell like anything, which is a bonus. It has a nice matte/natural finish and slight blurring effect. However, I found the texture kind of weird, very silicon-y and slippery to the extent when it literally slides and rolls off the skin, so sometimes I end up with little “peels” on my face. I always feel like due to this texture, I end up with not enough sun protection on my face, and it is important to apply enough product for it to work.

No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t able to make it work with any of my makeup. Reapplying is out of question too. Thankfully my skin is good enough to not wear foundation most of the days, so I manage to make this sunscreen work, but will not repurchase once I finish the tube, which won’t take long, as the tube is only 30 ml.

Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 4%, Dimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Talc, Dicaprylyl Ether, Triethylhexanoin, Isohexadecane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer,Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Aluminum Stearate, Peg-8 Laurate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Silica Silylate, 2-Oleamido-1,3-Octadecanediol,Alumina, Aluminum Hydroxide, Iron Oxides, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid

3. Babyganics Mineral-based sunscreen spray SPF 50 (around $11 for 177ml)

Pretty nice sunscreen, I don’t like it much for my face, feels a bit too heavy, but it is good for the body. It smells like sunblock, but it is not too overwhelming. It is a liquid product that comes in a spray bottle, which is a horrible way to apply sunscreen in my opinion, so I just spray it on my palms and apply to my skin. It spreads easily and has a nice semi-matte finish. It contains no PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances or nano-particles.

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide (11.2%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5.0%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, VP/hexadecene copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Hexaglyceryl Polyricinoleate, Polysorbate 80, Phenethyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Citric Acid, Squalane, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Lecithin*, Polysorbate 60, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil*, Sorbitan Isostearate *Certified Organic Ingredient

4. Kiss My Face Face Factor SPF 30 (around $9 for 60ml)

My all-time favorite. Comfortable, non-irritating, moisturizing, doesn’t create too much of a white-cast on the face compared to similar products. Works great under makeup, doesn’t cause any breakouts or clogged pores. Not stinky! It has a bit of a “moist” finish at first, but everything fully absorbs into my skin, or can be powdered lightly. I went through several tubes of this sunblock already, it is my skin saver. The only minus- it is SPF 30, which is just not always enough for New York spring and summer. Great ingredients too.

Active Ingredients – Purpose:Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 3%, Zinc Oxide 3% – Sunscreen.Inactive Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Acrylates Copolymer, Polysorbate-20, Stearyl Alcohol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Oil) Seed Oil, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetyl Alcohol, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, a-Lipoic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin-C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin-E), Sodium Hydroxide, Linoleic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

5. PreVentin-AT Intensive Retinol Day Treatment SPF 30 (CVS’s StriVectin “dupe”) 50ml

Picked this up on some huge sale at CVS as it had a pretty interesting ingredient list. Sadly, this didn’t work out for me, mainly because it stings a bit upon application and I can’t tolerate the smell, which is that dreadful physical sunblock smell mixed with very strong perfume. It is a thick yellow-toned cream, which I found a bit difficult to spread, and had similar issues as with SkinCeuticals, where sometimes it kind of rolls off the skin, perhaps with my skincare products. Would not repurchase this.

Ingredients:

ACRYLAMIDE/SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYLTAURATE COPOLYMER, ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, Water, Avobenzone 3.00%, Bakuchiol, behenyl alcohol, bisabolol, butylene glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, carbomer, cetearyl alcohol, CHLORPHENESIN, citric acid, Dimethicone, DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER, DIMETHYL ISOSORBIDE, disodium edta, ethyhexyl methocycrylene, Ethylhexlyglycerin, Fragrance, Glycerin, glyceryl stearate, hydroxypinacolone retinoate, isohexadecane, isostearyl neopentanoate, myristoyl nanapeptide-3, NEOPENTYL GLYCOL, DIHEPTANOATE, Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 5.00%, octocrylene 2.70%, Oxybenzone 4.00%, PALMITOYL OLIGOPEPTIDE, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, PENTYLENE GLYCOL, Phenoxyethanol, POLYMETHYL METHACRYLATE, polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, POTASSIUM SORBATE, PPG-2 ISOCETETH-20 ACETATE, RETINOL, Retinyl Palmitate, SODIUM ASCORBATE, sodium hyaluronate, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, SODIUM LACTATE, SORBITAN OLEATE, tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate, xanthan gum

 

 

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L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow- No-go

Happened to test this one foundation, and felt like I needed to tell the world not to buy this. Of course, we all have different skin, skincare, preferences in texture and coverage, but certain things are universally bad.

The first thing I noticed when I squeezed this out of the tube was the strong alcohol smell. I turned to the tube to look at the ingredients, and they only list octinoxate 3.2% in an easily visible place, to see the full list you have to actually peel off 2 sheets to see what is in the foundation, and the print is very light too. Anyway, alcohol denat. is listed as number 3, but since you can really smell it, there is quite a lot of it. This is a very drying ingredient, which can do a lot of damage to the skin., especially in the long run.

I went ahead and tested the foundation anyway. It applied more or less evenly, the color matched me well, and the finish looked fairly nice, although it was obvious I had foundation on my face. After just a couple of hours I noticed that the foundation started breaking up on my skin, and I developed lots of small bumps (see the pictures), and my face felt super uncomfortable. I actually washed this thing off while at work. Haven’t done that in a long time!

I do have sensitive skin, and very picky about what foundation looks like on my face and whether I can feel it on my skin. Very few foundations/tinted moisturizers/BB creams make it into my makeup bag, because I only want the absolute best in terms of ingredients, finish and wearability.

Now it is possible that this foundation started to break up because didn’t play nice with some of my skincare, might look pretty on some. But I think nobody should use this product because it contains a lot of alcohol. L’Oreal should know better than to create formulas like that.

Vitamin C in Skincare Routine

There has already been a lot said about vitamin C and it’s anti-aging skin benefits, so I won’t go into detail here, and will just add a couple of informative links at the end of this post. Briefly, vitamin C can make skin more firm, even, and glowy, especially at higher concentrations. There might be quite a few challenges with finding a product that works- formulated right and is stable, using it at the right time and with the right products, as it needs certain PH to work; and with using it right so that it doesn’t cause irritation.

As someone with sensitive skin, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with vitamin C because it causes a lot of irritation. Sadly, there hasn’t been much information online on how to prevent the irritation. Perhaps, most people don’t have that issues, so this post will be for those who do. Currently I’m using The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23%+ HA Spheres 2% , and finally figured out a way to use it in my routine to get the benefits and avoid burning and redness.

IMG_7353

(no foundation, just concealer under eyes)

First of all, I suggest adding vitamin C to skincare routing gradually and paying attention to how your skin feels. Actually, always pay attention to how your skin feels on a given day and adjust what you put on it accordingly. I’ll be talking about L-ascorbic acid here- LAA, since it is one of the most effective and affordable forms. LAA is very unstable, it needs Ph of 3.5 or lower to work, oxidizes when exposed to light or heat (can send one to Oompa Loompa land very fast), so don’t just go applying it whenever wherever.

I’m using LAA every other night- the nights that I’m not using tretinoin. I start off with cleansing my face thoroughly. Face wash of choice is usually something very mild and simple like Purpose- gets the makeup off, and doesn’t dry me out. Then I follow with spraying my face with a gentle toner like MAC Fix + or Lumene and letting it absorb, which is a few minutes. After that I apply a little bit of my LAA avoiding the eye area and find something else to do for the next 20-30 minutes. And then I follow with my BHA (either Paula’s Choice 2% gel or my new COSRX Blackhead Liquid Power). If my skin if feeling extra dry or a bit too sensitive I like to use snail mucus serum. On some nights I use Alpha-Lipoic acid instead of BHA. I’ll write more on that product in another post.

Ever since I switched to this more thoughtful routine the burning and irritation from LAA has stopped, and I am finally seeing skin that is firmer, more supple, glowy, and even.

A little warning. If you are just starting to use The Ordinary’s LAA, or any other LAA are afraid that the product is too harsh for you, you could dilute it with another product, but if you do so, make sure to check PH and ingredients. For example, LAA will not work with niacinamide.

Some useful sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11207686

Fantastic blogpost on LAA, BHA and AHA http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2015/01/skincare-discovery-putting-your.html

http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/anti-aging/_/how-does-vitamin-c-help-skin

YSL Touche Eclat. Is it worth the hype?

YSL Touche Eclat is one of those cult products that is frequently considered a must-have.  In fact, Telegraph.co.uk claims, one is sold every 10 seconds. Recently I got my hands on a generously sized sample, that allowed me to test it a few times and see if it is worth the hype. The luminizing pen claims to “erase signs of fatigue and brighten the completion”. “8 hours of beauty sleep in a click”. Sounds promising, especially when it is 7am, and you are getting ready for work wondering if there have been any pandas among your distant relatives.

I had my sample in color 1- for fair to light complexions with pink undertones. We have a match. The luminizer/concealer is light creamy consistency, slightly peachy color to  cancel out the dark circles and imperfections, applies fairly nicely. The coverage, however, is very light. It does cover dark circles a bit, but not well enough.

Before (no makeup):

After YSL Touche Eclat:

As you can see, the undereye area looks a bit better and brighter, but far from 8 hours of sleep kind of look in my book.

img_7052

YSL Touche Eclat + eye makeup. Dark circles are even more visible with the rest of my makeup. Also, the product started creasing after just a couple of hours.

My conclusion is, YSL Touche Eclat is not worth the hype and the hefty $42+ tax for 0.1 oz/ 2.5 ml. Yes, it was a revolutionary product for it’s time, when there weren’t so many concealers, and particularly highlighters, but nowadays you can get something much better and cheaper. Even Maybelline’s dark circle eraser outperforms this, because it actually covers and brightens. Or my all-time favorite MAC Pro-Longwear concealer, with is pure magic. Touche Eclat really needs a concealer under it to work, which creates an extra step in routine (who has time for this?) and extra expense. I tested Touche Eclat as a highlighter for high points of my face too, and, yes, it brightens and is a good quality product, but again, it isn’t that impressive, there are hundreds of highlighters that are was good or better for much less than $42.

Easy, Fast, Non-Damaging Removal of Soak off Gel Polish

There are lots of tutorials on how to remove SOGs out there, but many are too much effort, too drying for skin and nails, or simply too stinky! Here is how I remove SOG. I am going to skip cuticle removal part here, as it it better to do that separately anyway- you don’t want any acetone near freshly removed cuticles.

You will need very simple and inexpensive items, that generally can be found in any home, and if not, in the nearest drugstore. They are: aluminum foil- 10 pieces big enough to wrap top of your finger, petroleum jelly, acetone (plain nail polish remover will not be effective enough), cuticle pusher- plastic great for pushing away the polish, metal for removing leftover chunks, nail files, 10 small lint-free material pieces size should be just enough to cover your nail when you fold the tissue- I had a dried out wet wipe that I cut up, and liked how it worked.

Aluminum foil, petroleum jelly, acetone, cuticle pusher, nail files, small lint-free material pieces or something similar.

1. Shape your nails with polish on. This way you can see the shape and the length better, and thus have nails look better with your next choice of color. I do not pay attention to the free edge of the nail, and make nails on index finger, middle finger and ring finger the same length, and then little finger nail is shorter, and the thumb is however it looks right. Also, I make sure nails on both hands are the same length.

2. File off the surface of your manicure, this will help acetone to penetrate the gel and break it up for easy removal. Should look something like that- no shine.

3. Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the cuticles and skin around the nail.

4. Take one of the small pieces of material, fold it, soak in acetone, and apply directly to the nail- no use in having acetone anywhere else but on the gel itself. Here I want to say that I have tried Gelish’s gel remover, and in comparison I like acetone much better, as it seems to remove SOGs better, and unlike Gelish’s remover, doesn’t make my nails curl painfully during removal, so I suspect, acetone might be less drying.

5. Carefully wrap the finger with foil making sure the material stays in place:

6. Keep all this on for about 10 minutes, you can press on your nails a bit every now and then to help acetone work. You can do 2 hands at the same time to speed up the process, I prefer to do one hand at a time, because it is a bit challenging to do all the applying and wrapping with foiled fingers.

7. After you wait for 10 minutes you can start removing the foil by twisting it gently and pulling it off the finger, you will get the result similar to what’s on the picture below. This is Sensationail gel, and it is not the easiest to remove. Some SOGs like IBD, Ez-Flow just lift right off completely, this one is kind of crumbly, but removal method still works well.

8. You can remove the stubborn pieces of gel by gently scraping them off with a cuticle pusher. I do not like orangewood pushers, as they don’t do a good enough job and the flat surface is too small, which makes it too easy to damage your nail. I use a small plastic scraper to remove big chunks, and a metal cuticle pusher to remover stubborn leftovers. Be sure to be careful and gentle not to damage your nails!

9. Here are my nails right after gel removal- I have not applied any lotions or treatments yet, but you can see that the skin and nails are not dried out, and look absolutely normal thanks to Petroleum Jelly. The chunks on nails and skin are just gel chunks.

And just like that I remove my SOG manicure completely painlessly and on a budget! Hope this was helpful!

Sensationail Pink Chiffon

Sensationail Pink Chiffon, 2 layers, Daylight

I got this SOG as part of their Starter Kit. I do like the color- it is great for natural-looking french, and base/top is very glossy, but it is not my favorite gel polish. I feel like it is very prone to lifting off and peeling, and it is quite annoying given I am very careful about applying polish to perfectly dry, degreased nail, and not getting any polish on cuticles. Another thing I don’t like is application. Sensationail has base and top as a 2 in 1 product, and it is very thin, so you have to be very careful when applying not to get any on cuticles.

The color is nice if you like semi-sheer light polishes, but it is not easy to apply, it is a bit streaky, so it does take time to even out the coverage. On the pictures I have 2 layers, and I like that look. 3 Layers is similar, nail’s free end is still visible. If you want a full coverage, you’d need at least 4 layers.

Sensationail Pink Chiffon. 2 layers, daylight

 

Sensationail Pink Chiffon, 2 layers

EzFlow TruGel in Patina. Many Pictures!

I have been incredibly busy with a bunch of things at work and outside work, so never even got to share some new swatches! You are about to see one of my most recent buys- EzFlow’s TruGel in Patina. I really like EzFlow’s soak-off gel polishes for a number of reasons- they are super affordable (you can get a bottle for 7-8$ on Amazon), they are great quality, easy to apply, last really well through any troubles you might face.

EzFlow in Patina is a very beautiful color, pictures don’t do it justice. It is a very deep, almost black, mauve/brownish color, the color of dried blood, with golden and subtly multi toned shimmer. The brush is great and easy to use, 2 coats give a full, even coverage, as can be seen in pictures.

For this manicure I’ve used Gelish primer, Gelish base, EzFlow TruGel in Patina, Gelish top coat, and Sensationail LED lamp. Curing time 30 sec for base and top coat, and 1 minute for color polish. I suspect, all those brands might cure faster, but it is easier to do it this way with Sensationail LED lamp’s timer.

Photo taken with flash to show the shimmer better:

EzFlow TruGel Patina under flash

In daylight.

EzFlow TruGel Patina in daylight

daylight

And one photo in artificial light. Trying to show the gorgeous shimmer that you can see under bright light or sunlight, but it is not nearly as impressive as in real life.

Patina in artificial light

Stay tuned to see more great swatches. I plan the next one to be IBD’s Peridot- a rare one!