Hydrating Toners Review: Klairs, Shu Uemura, Clinelle, A’kin

Hydrating Toners Review: Klairs, Shu Uemura, Clinelle, A'kin

If you have dehydrated skin like me, you’ll love hydrating toners (if you haven’t already collected a massive stash!). These watery products contain humectants which hold onto water and slow down evaporation. Confusingly, they aren’t always labelled as toners – you’ll also find them called essences, waters and lotions, and while there are minor differences in texture and performance, they’re all pretty much the same category. I apply these before or after actives, and I haven’t really found a big difference in the effect either way.

After applying the toner, you can seal the watery concoction in with something heavier on top, like a moisturiser containing emollients and occlusives. This method of layering has done wonders for keeping my skin hydrated and bouncy.

Since my last set of hydrating toner reviews, I’ve tried out some more hydrating toners: Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist], Clinelle PureSWISS Hydracalm Lotion and A’kin Hydrating Mist Toner.

Hydrating Toners Review: Klairs, Shu Uemura, Clinelle, A'kin

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner ($21.99 USD for 180 mL, Amazon, Wishtrend) is a cult product in the K-beauty community. After Wishtrend sent me this to try, I can see why! It’s super hydrating but doesn’t feel heavy, and because it’s so light it’s very easy to integrate into a routine. As well lots of humectants (butylene glycol, betaine, sodium hyaluronate, dimethyl sulfone, natto gum), it has some caprylic/capric triglyceride, a purified form of coconut oil. In terms of actives, there’s Centella asiatica extract which promotes healing, and licorice root extract which is anti-inflammatory and fades hyperpigmentation. Natto gum can also work as an antioxidant. Dimethyl sulfone can potentially reduce sebum and reduce inflammation, but there isn’t much evidence so it’s more of a bonus.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Dimethyl Sulfone, Betaine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Natto Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Disodium EDTA, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Chlorphenesin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Panthenol, Arginine, Luffa Cylindrica Fruit/Leaf/Stem Extract, Beta-Glucan, Althaea Rosea Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Lysine HCl, Proline, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Acetyl Methionine, Theanine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Copper Tripeptide-1

Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist]

Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist] ($72 AUD for 150 mL) is a glycerin and butylene glycol rich toner. There are a few unusual ingredients as well, like bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane and methyl gluceth-10, which soften and hydrate skin. There are a bunch of actives at low concentrations too, like salicylic acid, adenosine and hyaluronic acid.

There’s alcohol in this, which would normally run the risk of being dehydrating. But I haven’t had any issues with it at all. It’s far enough down the ingredients list, and it’s overwhelmed with enough humectants that it doesn’t seem to make a difference. The alcohol is very slightly noticeable smell-wise, but I suspect it may actually be beneficial in helping the humectants penetrate deeper into the skin. There’s also a “Fresh” version available that I’ll be trying out over summer.

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat., Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PPG-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Methyl Gluceth-10, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polyglyceryl-5 Laurate, PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Sodium Methyl Stearoyl Taurate, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Rhamnose, Disodium EDTA, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Faex Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, BHT, Paeonia Albiflora Flower Extract, Parfum.

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Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl’s, A’kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl's, A'kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

In my last post I reviewed some water-based vitamin C serums containing ascorbic acid (Paula’s Choice, Ultraceuticals and Ausceuticals). Today, I’m looking at some oil-based serums containing a slightly modified version of vitamin C: ascorbyl isotetrapalmitate.

There are a few reasons to use a modified version of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of the real thing. Since ascorbic acid isn’t soluble in oil, it can’t be the main form of vitamin C used in an oil-based product. Instead, oil-based bits are added to the structure of ascorbic acid to make it mix well with oil. This usually results in chemicals called vitamin C esters. The most popular ones are ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (also known as tetraisopalmitoyl ascorbic acid or ATIP), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THDA, which seems to be the same molecule with a different name) and ascorbyl palmitate.

The advantage of using an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative is that it penetrates the skin more easily than water-soluble ascorbic acid. The advantage of using any vitamin C derivative, both water- and oil-soluble, is that they’re a lot more stable than unaltered ascorbic acid. For example, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate has a shelf life of over a year compared with a few weeks or months for ascorbic acid. The downside for all these derivatives is that they need to be broken back down to ascorbic acid to have its full antioxidant, collagen-boosting effect on your skin, and this isn’t always efficient. For vitamin C esters, the enzyme cytosolic esterase is responsible for this conversion. Additionally, many of these esters aren’t very well studied, so their effectiveness is less certain.

Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is the most popular oil-soluble vitamin C, and while there aren’t many studies on it yet, it seems that it does convert to vitamin C in the skin, and help with UVA and UVB damage (possibly via an antioxidative effect). Here are some products containing ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate that I’ve tried out:

Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl's, A'kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

MooGoo 3 Vitamins Serum

Australian natural skincare brand MooGoo have two ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate serums: 3 Vitamins Serum ($24.90 for 25 mL) which contains an unspecified amount of ATIP, and Super Vitamin C Serum ($34.90 for 25 mL) which contains a whopping 25% ATIP (I love it when companies make it easy to find percentages!)

I’ve only tried the 3 Vitamins Serum. Apart from ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, the other two vitamins are natural vitamin E and panthenol, which can turn into vitamin B5 in the body (pro-vitamin B5). Vitamin E works in tandem with vitamin C to give a stronger antioxidant effect, while vitamin B5 can potentially act as an anti-inflammatory and promote skin repair. The base of the serum is jojoba, squalane and olive oil decyl esters, which are all skin-conditioning emollients.

My skin responded well to this, and it gave a nice smooth look to my skin the next day. However, the brightening effect wasn’t as strong as with other vitamin C serums, probably because it contains less vitamin C. It comes in a handy pump bottle. The things I didn’t like were the smell (it smells like soy sauce at first, though the odour goes away quickly) and the stickiness it left (probably the panthenol – it’s a humectant). The product also separated a bit – again, I’m blaming the panthenol.

Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Olive Oil Decyl Esters, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Tocopherol, Panthenol.

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparation with Brightening and Pore Minimising Complex

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations ($140 for 20 mL + 2 x 5 mL = 30 mL) is an interesting concept. A Kiehl’s consultant assesses your skin with you and you come up with your 2 key skin concerns that you’d like to target (out of 5). You get 2 tubes of “complex” tailored to your concerns, and a dropper vial containing the base (“skin strengthening concentrate”). Once you get home, you squeeze the complexes into the base, give the bottle a shake and you’re ready to go! It’s a really clever way for Kiehl’s to stock 10 different serums without making the decision difficult for customers – picking 2 concerns is a much less stressful task than trying to understand 10 serums so you can work out which one is best for you.

Unsurprisingly, I was given two complexes containing ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate as the second ingredient (Brightening and Pore Minimising), since vitamin C is going to solve all my skin problems. (The other complexes available are Visible Redness Neutralising, Wrinkle Reducing and Texture Refining – I have no idea whether vitamin C are in those as I can’t find the ingredients lists online.) The Brightening Complex also includes scotch pine extract, which is where the much-hyped pigmentation-fading ingredient SymWhite 377 comes from (unfortunately no independent studies available). Pore Minimising Complex has the featured ingredients salicylic acid and samphira (Crithmum Maritimum or sea fennel) extract, which again is hyped for pore clearing though there aren’t any independent studies (it’s used in some pore-clearing products from Phytocéane and ZO Skin Health).

The finished serum feels very luxe and spreads really well on skin, thanks to squalane being the top ingredient in all three components. It’s very nicely skin-smoothing. However, it’s impossible to tell how much vitamin C is in this product – you can usually get a very rough estimate with a straightforward ingredients list, but with all the mixing and separate components it’s impossible. It’s also on the pricey side. I think this is a great product if you’re lazy and want one serum that targets your skin concerns without thinking too much about active ingredients and layering, but if you’re a hardcore skincare nerd you’ll probably prefer a more straightforward vitamin C serum.

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Lab Muffin’s top beauty products of 2012

2012 is nearly over, so here’s a round-up of the beauty products that got the most use this year (nail polish excluded): Skinfood Pineapple Peeling Gel (reviewed here) – My go-to exfoliator when my skin feels like it needs a good scrub. It’s a mix of physical and chemical exfoliant, and it lives in my shower caddy pretty much permanently.PVA …

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Current Favourites

I haven’t done a favourites post in ages (since New Years in fact!), so I thought I’d share some of my recent finds and classic beauty/shiny favourites: The Grove Perfumery Half Baked – Made by the same people who do Glasshouse, this line is sadly discontinued. Half Baked comes in a cute punk-themed glass with an air-tight lid and smells …

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Oily oily oily, oi oi oi!

Even though I have an oily T-zone, I love using oils on my face. At the beginning I wasn’t quite so enthusiastic, but now they’re often my only moisturiser during the day. Here’s a review of some of the oils I’ve been testing out on my face lately: Rose-Hip Vital Rosehip Oil (RRP $19.95 for 30 mL and $29.99 for …

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Review: A’kin Rosehip Oil

  I haven’t written a proper review in a while, but this inspired me to write one. My first experience with rose hip oil was half a bottle that my mum gave me. I wasn’t impressed at first – funny smelling orange oil in an old crusty bottle. But my skin was crappy from years of daily heavy foundation, and …

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