Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

tata-harper-resurfacing-mask Here’s the thing; natural is not always best. You should know this by now, but some brands (ahem Tata Harper) enjoy creating loyal followers by scaring them into believing everything except their brand will kill you. ‘Non-toxic’ they say, ‘no chemicals’. The problem is that toxicity is dosage-based; ingest one Aspirin and you will be fine, ingest a handful and you will end up somewhere unfortunate. Much the same goes for skincare ingredients; many are dangerous at high concentrations, so companies use them at low concentrations where they are perfectly safe on human skin. Oh and chemical-free? A living organism, like a blueberry, has hundreds of chemicals inside of it; smothering it on your face actually introduces far more chemicals to your skin than a synthetic-based product which isolates specific chemicals which have a benefit to the skin. I truly hope that the more natural-inclined brands will stop scaring the public into buying their products, and instead would build their brand on fact.

Marketing aside: Tata Harper. Most of their products I cannot use because I am rather sensitive to essential oils, but the masks are brilliant. On a slow day I like to apply Purifying Mask first to draw out excess oil and remove any pollution particulates, then follow with Resurfacing Mask to gently exfoliate. I have an upcoming post on the Purifying Mask, but I thought I would start with my favourite of the two.

Purpose

Minimize pores and give skin a good glow.

What’s so special about it?

83% organic, no essential oils except for Tata’s natural aroma, a soothing base of aloe instead of water, and a nice blend of hydrating and exfoliating ingredients to keep skin in balance.

How does it work?

Willow bark extract and meadowsweet act as BHAs, pomegranate enzymes smooth away rough texture, a base of aloe soothes and hydrates, pink clay minimizes the appearance of pores, beet extract improves the tone of skin, and lactobacillus ferment is a probiotic that theoretically balances skin.

How often would I use it?

I use it weekly, left on for fifteen minutes, after Tata Harper Purifying Mask. I follow with a retinoid, but it is up to your skin’s level of sensitivity. I would have no qualms in recommending this to sensitive skin because of the aloe base and relatively gentle ingredients.

Results and thoughts

Ah, Tata; you spoil me with this one. When I told a friend I was about to use this mask after Purifying she said “oh great, get that nice hydration!” and I was utterly confused. But this is an exfoliating mask? Hydration? But then I remembered the ingredients, and it all makes sense; the reason I love the way my skin looks after this mask is because of the ingenious mixture of aloe (hydrating), pink clay (purifying), BHAs (exfoliating), and enzymes (exfoliating). It is honestly a bevy of masks in one treatment, and does it all rather brilliantly. No this is not going to replace a hard-core acid peel, and no it will not banish your blackheads in one use, but what it will do is leave your skin plump, smooth, and a bit more radiant than it was before. My only qualm with this is the added fragrance and the price. Yes the fragrance is natural, but I have such doubts that its inclusion is necessary and I would feel better knowing it was free of any added ingredients. And at $77 CDN for 1 ounce this is an incredibly expensive face mask, especially when one considers Tata’s recommendation of a ‘thick layer’. That being said this is a regular in my routine, so I suppose none of my qualms seem to matter.

Find Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask at Sephora.

Disclaimer: The product mentioned in this post was given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.

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Affordable Clinical Skincare Brands

The lustre of glossy white walls and product consultants dressed in black may be attractive, but the department store may not always be the best place to shop for skincare. Often times one can find more researched, proven, and less expensive products from the science-based brands in ugly packaging, and though it may be boring, these are the brands who treat skin with fact rather than marketing.

NeoStrata

neostrata-canada-clinicalNow, first things first; NeoStrata in Canada is very different than NeoStrata in any other country. Canada has its own exclusive formulations, often with different technology. Nevertheless, NeoStrata is brilliant no matter the country. In Canada they were the first to introduce glycolic acid, stem cells, retinol with peptides, and L-ascorbic acid. They use external, independent and clinical evaluations to judge their products for efficacy, and focus on skin concern rather than fancy marketing and packaging.

Signature technology: Glycolic acid, retinol, L-ascorbic acid, PhytoCellTec fruit stem cells, Matrixyl 3000 and New Matrixyl peptides, Genowhite brightening peptide, epidermal growth factors, and hyaluronic acid.
Iconic product: Purifying Solution, because of 8% glycolic acid at a proper pH level for exfoliating.
Newest release: Anti-Aging Peel Solution, because of a 25% blend of glycolic acid, gluconolactone, papaya, and 1.5% peptides.
Personal favourite: All-in-One Night Serum, because of 0.30% retinol, 5.0% New Matrixyl peptides, and 0.05% hyaluronic acid.
Who the brand is for: Mature skin wanting steady results, blemish-prone skin, or those with uneven skin tone and texture.
Price point: Generally under $50, though nothing is more than $150.
Where to find it: Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall in Canada for the mentioned products, everywhere else in the world will have other products which are different though still brilliant.

La Roche-Posay

la-roche-posay-clinicalAnother one with a very country-focused product offering, La Roche-Posay is one of the many iconic French pharmacy brands in the industry which focus more on soothing and calming rather than aggressive treatment. The primary differentiator in La Roche-Posay products is the inclusion of thermal spring water containing bicarbonate, calcium, silicate, magnesium, strontium, selenium, zinc, and copper¹. The result of including this specific thermal spring water is a demonstrated antiradical, anti-inflammatory, and protection against ultraviolet B-induced skin damage. Is this a miracle ingredient, no, but it does have merit in skincare.

Signature technology: Thermal spring water.
Iconic product: Thermal Spring Water, because of its purity, mineral content, and ability to soften and soothe skin.
Newest release: Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer, because of its simplicity in formulation and inclusion of soothing prebiotic technology, glycerin, and niacinamide.
Personal favourite: Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser, because of its cushy cream-to-foam texture and EDTA to balance skin challenged by hard water.
Who the brand is for: Anyone fed up with aggressive active ingredients who wants a soothing, steady routine.
Price point: Generally under $50.
Where to find it: Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall in Canada, Ulta or Target in America, essentially any proper drug store in the world.
Continue reading “Affordable Clinical Skincare Brands”

CLE Oxygen Foam Cleanser

cle-cosmetics-oxygen-foam-cleanserA good cleanser is something I seem to be forever looking for. My expectations are not high, I just want a good cleanser; nothing fancy, just clean my face and leave it comfortable. While this is not my idea of the perfect cleanser, CLE has formulated a brilliant choice for someone who has relatively nice skin and just wants to take the day away in the evening or start the day with a bright face.

Purpose

Removes makeup, cleanses skin, and works as a mask.

What’s so special about it?

It bubbles on your face, and though it is gimmicky and serves no quantifiable purpose it is fun. It cleanses using a gentle blend of surfactants cleanse along with calming plant extracts, which makes it an all-around good cleanser.

How does it work?

Oxygen gas is necessary to the production of collagen in the skin, so theoretically a product that can supplement the levels of oxygen gas in the skin would be anti-aging. To create a product that bubbles on the skin, oxygen is dissolved in perfluorocarbons. When activated, the formula releases the oxygen on the skin causing a tingling sensation that is very pleasant to experience, but also theoretically introduces more oxygen gas into the skin. You can read more about them in this comprehensive article on Lab Muffin, but the only thing you need to know is that rinse-off oxygenating skincare products have no research to substantiate any claims that the oxygen can permeate into the skin and provide any tangible benefit. CLE does make the claim that the oxygen in its product is what makes it anti-aging, which I will categorically disagree with, but I enjoy it too much to focus on that blunder.

How often would I use it?

Every evening on dry skin to dissolve makeup before going in with a second cleanse. This could be used as a one-and-done cleanser if you do not wear makeup/lead a simple life, or as a quick mask for a few moments of peace.

Results and thoughts

I would never have bought this for myself, but I do rather enjoy it. Yes it is loaded with plant extracts, and yes the anti-aging claims are a bit much, but I like this. After a long monotonous day the oxygenating sensation is incredibly peaceful and I rather enjoy the thirty seconds I spend looking in the mirror watching my face bubble; it is cathartic to watch the day be metaphorically dissolved. As a cleanser it leaves my skin rather comfortable, and it takes away medium-coverage foundation without fail. The packaging is simple, CLE’s Instagram account is a delight, and I am inspired to try their CCC Cream when I am finished with my mountain of colour products. Bravo, CLE, for making a product that is aesthetically pleasing and able to calm my nattering mind down, if only for thirty seconds.

Find CLE Oxygen Foam Cleanser at CLE Cosmetics.

Disclaimer: The product mentioned in this post was given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.

Drunk Elephant

The skincare industry’s darling, Drunk Elephant; a starlet in bloom. A year ago I bought most of the collection, threw everything else in a box, and went all-in. I ate well, paid attention to my skin, and cut out everything that was not Drunk Elephant. My skin should have been brilliant, but I saw no notable difference over those three months than when I was using a hodgepodge of products from a bevy of brands. No miracle came, and so I tossed Drunk Elephant aside. A few months ago I was given even more of the collection to try, and thought that this concoction of products may be more successful. Unsurprisingly it was not, and I developed more blemishes than usual which lasted longer and healed slower.

Products mentioned:
– Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Beste Jelly Cleanser (DE, Sephora)
– Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)

C-Firma Day Serum

A potent blend on paper—with 15% L-ascorbic acid, 5% ferulic acid, and 1% vitamin E—this was my first true foray into the world of vitamin C. I have post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) rather than post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH); red marks rather than brown marks. Vitamin C is notably effective at reducing hyperpigmentation through disrupting melanin, however I have seen no conclusive evidence to suggest it corrects PIE. Despite this, Drunk Elephant does recommend C-Firma as a corrective treatment for acne scars. I saw no level of advanced correction with regards to my PIE, in fact I believe C-Firma was contributing to my extra blemishes as within a week of stopping they seemed to fade in severity. If your issue is PIH with no active blemishes, perhaps this would work for you; otherwise, I fail to see any benefit.

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T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

The iconic Drunk Elephant product, T.L.C. is another potent product: glycolic, salicylic, citric, lactic, tartaric acids plus calming, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating ingredients like marula oil, cactus extract, and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer. Perhaps this was just not enough for me, or perhaps it was too much, but I find my skin responds far better to retinoids than constant acid application. A common misunderstanding with acne suffers is that skin cells are being turned over too slowly, when in fact it is the opposite; elevated levels of hormones cause quicker skin cell turnover from the basal layer, which are then not sloughed away quick enough, and thus form blockages. Acids in theory clear these skin cells away faster, allowing them to be pushed through naturally. What would be more effective though, would be to regulate the level of skin cell turnover to begin with; retinoids do that. So on a theoretical level, this level of exfoliation daily is rather excessive for most people and you may see far more effective results with a retinoid paired with a more gentle means of exfoliation.

Beste Jelly Cleanser

A welcome addition to the Drunk Elephant family, I bought this as soon as I saw it but after a few weeks of using it I have still yet to develop a strong opinion. The formulation is very clinical, with only a bit of cantaloupe, marula oil, and aloe thrown in from nature. The surfactants used are modern and the pH is slightly acidic at around 6. Beste has a sticky clear gel texture which makes the cap being on the bottom rather annoying; it runs a wee bit after closing. On the skin it has a good creamy lather, and skin absolutely feels clean after rinsing. What gives me hesitation is how tight skin can feel after using it; a hydrating essence is an absolute must and when I tried it for a week without one my skin was raw along my jaw and I developed a nasty bit of blemishes which I recognize on myself as stemming from dehydration. While this is gentler than the bar cleansers, I find that using this means adding another hydrating product to compensate and that seems a tad bit excessive.

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel

A medium-weight serum to better enable the skin to hold water, B-Hydra is an interesting concept that needs greater clarification on the packaging. This is not a moisturizer, this is a serum; you need to pair something with it. I am not sure if someone with oily skin would need to because in theory they produce their own oil-based occlusive barrier, but everyone else needs to mix this with an oil like Marula Oil or a moisturizer like Lala. I tried both and found the Marula Oil and B-Hydra combination to be the most effective. My skin felt comfortable, foundation application went brilliantly on days I wore it, and my skin better tolerated T.L.C. application in the evening. That being said, I have still not received a satisfactory answer as to how ‘coconut alkanes’ differ from coconut oil, and it could have been something else in my routine but I did notice more severity in blemishes when including this into my routine.

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Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

‘Luxury’ as a descriptor is a tad bit much for my taste, but this is a brilliant oil. It is more heavy on oleic acids, which means it is far more effective at hydrating than at balancing, but its small molecular size apparently means it is not very comedogenic. It blends wonderfully into B-Hydra, and is unlike any other carrier oil I have tried in fluidity; it glides on the skin and skins in so easily. I enjoyed this face oil, and will continue to use it as a booster in the cold winter months and on summer nights when the air is dry.

Lala Retro Whipped Cream

A tragic product for anyone but a connoisseur of heavy creams, this blend of six whipped oils is a neat concept but heavy, occlusive, and greasy on my skin. Beyond that, my skin would flush and burn upon application which I have been told is due to the inclusion of yeast in the formula though I cannot confirm that. All in all, this is for the person who would be comfortable with the original Nivea cream on their face. A strong pass for me.

Shaba Complex Eye Serum

Ah now this is brilliant. I rarely find an eye product that I find performant, but this is a true treat. It has a lightweight creamy texture which blends easily into skin, and no detectable scent which I prefer around the eye area. Black tea ferment, copper peptides, edelweiss, niacinamide, ubiquinone, citrus fruit bioflavonoid, sea buckthorn oil, and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer all work to relax the eye area, soften fine lines, reduce the appearance of dark circles, and improve texture. I find most eye creams overpromise and underdeliver, but I notice smoother dehydration lines and a brighter look to the undereye area.

All things considered, the entire brand is a pass for me. The prices are far too high for the ingredients in play here, and the packaging is tired and reminiscent of decoration for a sad birthday party that nobody attended. But beyond all of that, it annoys me to no end the manner in which the Drunk Elephant social team prides itself on being greater than any other brand in the industry. This is not the ‘one and done’ collection they sell themselves as; it is a curated selection of products that are mostly good, but far from innovative. Good acids can be found from NeoStrata; good vitamin C is being done by Dr. Dennis Gross, Algenist and Perricone; modern cleansers are gentle and pH-balanced; night creams are a dime-a-dozen; and even Neutrogena has figured out hydrating serums. All Drunk Elephant has done is make the work easier for you, but that costs you more and it comes with your buy-in of their holier-than-thou attitude.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.

Lazy Skin Day

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A pile of ‘lazy day’ products have seemingly collected themselves on my vanity; these are products for days when you have things to do and not much time to spare on skin. I am a person who enjoys spending quite a bit of effort on my skin, but if I can find products that cut down on time I am all for that.

IMG_0334First up is cleanse; two to mention, both rather different in concept. Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water* is a smartly-packaged micellar water with the innovative inclusion of hydrogen water, the same ingredient at the heart of the rather unique Perricone H2 Elemental collection. I recommend this article on hydrogen skincare, but essentially hydrogen is an antioxidant with a unique activity in the skin that up-regulates NRF2, which in turn increases our body’s own antioxidant production. So we have hydrogen, sake, willowbark, royal jelly, and rose all acting to soften, cleanse, and resurface the skin. For those who love that squeaky-clean feeling, this is an incredible one-and-done rinse-off (please rinse it off) cleanse.

For those with a penchant for a traditional cleanser, CLE sent me their Oxygen Foam Cleanser*. This is applied to dry skin where it can dissolve makeup and cleanse the skin in one step, though I would always go in twice on days I am wearing liquid foundation to ensure every last bit is taken away. This too gives that squeaky-clean feeling, and I do enjoy how bright and even-toned my skin looks after application. This does say it assists in promoting the production of collagen, which I am sceptical of, but as a cleanser this is a comfortable option.

I have a few bottles of Avène Thermal Spring Water lying about, and though I have tried and tried to make these work I never see any difference when using them despite having tried Avène’s and both the regular La Roche-Posay and Serozinc. The infusion of minerals is supposed to act as a supplement to the skin, though again I never notice anything different. Nevertheless, I quite enjoy spraying them on my skin mid-day to refresh or before a moisturizer to sheer it out and make it feel lighter. For me this step is necessary whenever I wear Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream*, which I tried to like but just could not get on with. I quite enjoyed it the first few days I used it, but several weeks later my skin had developed red bumps across my temples and even a few hours later I could feel it on my skin. I was rather disappointed because Caroline Hirons just dropped it into her Hall of Fame, and I have heard wonder-stories of people who have replaced most of their routine with this one product. Its claim-to-fame is its inclusion of ceramides, which are lipid molecules that exist in the stratum corneum and protect against water loss and the entrance of foreign substances into the skin. I suppose not every product is for every person, but I still wholeheartedly recommend giving this cream a try if you have compromised, problematic, or mature skin.

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To finish the lazy look, Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Advanced* is an after-moisturizer skin perfecting serum that provides both instant gratification and long-term benefits to the skin. I am always sceptical of luxe products in higher price brackets, but this is truly remarkable. Within a few minutes its optical powders mildly blur imperfections like moderate dark spots, impart a subtle glow to the skin, minimize the appearance of pores along the top of my cheeks, and subdue minor texture along my jaw. What is unique about this is that it also has long-term benefits, stemming from the inclusion of longoza extract which acts to both increase collagen and elastin production and ease gravity-related sagging, and opilia extract which aids in dark spot correction, red spot correction, and the reduction of visible pore size. Critics say these ingredients are unproven, but if we look at skincare as a whole the only ingredients which are relatively ‘proven’ are ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, green tea, and vitamin C and even so, most of these studies are far from extensive nor are they done on the product but rather the ingredient and often tested in vitro rather than in vivo. So in all honesty, if a product makes you look instantly better, makes you happy to use it, and will not kill you, then it is aces in my books.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.