Here are my favourite skincare products of the year! For 2018 I went through my empties, but this year I didn’t actually use much up (too much product testing). I started making a list of products I loved, but it ended up really long, so I limited myself to products that I discovered in 2019, and only one product from …
Bath bombs are awesome balls of fizzy goodness, with some interesting science behind them! They were invented in 1989 by Mo Constantine, one of Lush’s founders. Bath bombs contain the chemical sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, as their key ingredient.
This is the text version – scroll down for the video!
Some of you might remember that baking soda isn’t good for your skin because it’s a base, with a high pH. High pH (alkaline or basic) products disturb the skin’s acid mantle, which protects your living tissue from the environment, particularly bacteria, like acne-causing Propionibacterium acnes.
But don’t fret! The second key ingredient in a bath bomb is a solid acid, such as citric acid or tartaric acid (cream of tartar). This lowers the pH by reacting with the baking soda when water is added to the mixture. Unless the maker of the bath bombs has really messed up their proportions, the final pH should be reasonably neutral. Until the water dissolves the acid and baking soda and allows them to mix at a microscopic level, nothing happens.
Aside from neutralisation, the acid + base reaction with sodium carbonate also produces tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas, which is what causes the fizzing:
There are some fantastic gift sets out for the holidays! Here are some of my favourites out of the many I’ve come across – hopefully it might inspire you if you’re still stuck for ideas!
I generally don’t suggest gifting skincare – skincare is pretty personal, so unless you know exactly what they use or if you know that their skin can tolerate most things, I’d recommend sticking with indulgent body products. Reactions and breakouts are much more common on thinner facial skin. For facial skincare, the least risky products are those that don’t stay on the skin for long, like masks and cleansers, or skincare tools.
Jurlique Rose Oil ($59 AUD for 100 mL) is based on safflower and macadamia oil. It’s an awesome indulgence for a friend who loves roses and isn’t sensitive to natural fragrances. Sephora also has a selection of their own little gift sets including konjac sponges ($20 for 2 – great for gentle exfoliation) and bath treats. Lush is also always great for bath products, especially with their huge Christmas collection. My favourite products are the bath bombs ($4.25-$8.95).
There are a whole bunch of makeup sets out, and makeup is pretty easy – anyone can use more makeup! Makeup brushes are a sure bet: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Must-Haves ($110) are a lovely set for your makeup addict friend. For younger makeup fiends, ulta3 have a range of affordable gift sets under $25, and Sephora have the fantastic Geometricolor palette ($69) if you want to set a budding makeup artist with a great starter kit. For someone who is a bit more conservative with their makeup, Revlon and Mirenesse gift sets are a great option. My personal favourite pick are the NYX vaults ($79), which have great pigmented formulas at a low price.
Toothpaste isn’t a product I’ve ever felt the need to experiment with, since almost every brand looks the same and feels the same to me, so I was intrigued when I saw Lush’s tooth products, which are completely dry – which totally confused me until I remembered that you brush your teeth beside a tap, and saliva exists, so it’ll end up wet anyway.
Lush have two tooth cleaning products: Toothy Tabs and Toothy Powder. Both products are dry, so they’re handy for travelling (no leakages or liquid allowances to worry about!).
Are Lush’s Tooth Products Too Abrasive?
First up, a bit of clarification: I’ve heard the rumour that Lush’s tooth products were too abrasive and could cause excessive tooth wearing, but once I actually Googled it, it turned out to easily busted thanks to some figures posted by Lush.
Teeth are made up of hard enamel and softer dentin, so a toothpaste’s abrasiveness is rated using its relative dentin abrasivity (RDA), with a higher RDA translating to greater abrasion, with the FDA-approved limit set at 200. The RDAs of some common toothpastes are listed here, with most whitening toothpastes at around 150-200 RDA. Lush’s Toothy products are on the low end of the scale (31-96). (I’m so glad they posted these numbers – I had a whole bunch of Moh’s hardnesses pulled up for some comparison work but this is much better data!)
Onto the products in action…
Lush Toothy Tabs
Toothy Tabs are small powdery tablets that come in a 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottle. They used to come in a cardboard box, but I’m guessing the box got wet easily and all the tablets got ruined (contrary to my gut feeling, cardboard is usually less environmentally friendly than reused plastic!). You break a tab up between your teeth, do your best not to swallow it, then take your toothbrush and brush your teeth normally. Toothy Tabs comes in a range of flavours, including 6 new ones:
Sparkle – lemon, grapefruit and pepper
Miles of Smiles – triple mint (2 types of peppermint and wild mint)
Limelight – lime, lemon, baobab fruit
Oral Pleasure – rose oil, vanilla, daisies, passionfruit
Dirty – spearmint and neroli
Bling – orange and frankincense
Boom – sea salt, aniseed, pepper, cola
I tried Sparkle and Miles of Smiles. I was a little wary of the un-toothpaste-like flavour description of Sparkle, but after using it twice I got used to it quickly. Miles of Smiles is in traditional mint territory, though it’s a lot more minty and less sweet than my usual toothpaste. My teeth felt squeaky clean after brushing.
Lush Toothy Powders
Toothy Powders work on a similar concept – you dip your wet toothbrush into the powder to pick some up, then brush normally. I found this a bit less convenient than the Toothy Tabs, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to drop the whole tub onto the floor some day. These also come in a range of interesting flavours:
Tooth Fairy – strawberry
Ultrablast – mint, watercress and wasabi
Atomic – coffee, cardomom, cinnamon and clove
I’ve heard good things about Tooth Fairy, but I found that the strawberry flavour was a bit too weird and artificial for me. I enjoyed Ultrablast a lot more – it’s minty and refreshing, but not quite like a traditional toothpaste flavour. I haven’t tried Atomic yet. My teeth felt clean after brushing, but not quite as clean as with the Toothy Tabs. I suspect it’s because it’s slightly harder to use, so it’s harder to distribute the powder evenly over my teeth.
I recently acquired two more Gorilla Fragrances to add to my Lush perfume collection: Vanillary (liquid spray) and All Good Things (solid balm). I received them at at the latest Bloggers United event hosted at Lush’s QVB store.
Vanillary has become my new everyday fragrance. As you can tell from the name, this is a hardcore vanilla fragrance! It’s not sweet, simple and lightweight like you might expect, but a spicy, buttery, full-bodied vanilla that’s gorgeously warm and sunny on the skin. There’s also a healthy blast of jasmine, especially at the beginning (it’s supposed to be less pronounced in the solid perfume) and tonka bean, which adds a creamy, brown-around-the-edges, caramelised toffee character in the middle and base. After a few hours it’s a lot less floral and mostly creamy, comforting and oh-so-sniffable – my sister says it “smells like cookies”. It’s reminiscent of the tonka drydown of the limited edition Twilight perfume. The sillage is great – one spray is enough, unless you want to offend everyone around you, and the creamy base lingers on your clothes for days. If you like creamy scents, this will probably be up your alley!
My favourite Lush product at the moment are the shower jellies. These are shower gels that have the texture of a firm pudding or jelly. They’re heaps of fun to play with in the shower – you can’t be sad when you’re rubbing a colourful wobbly lump all over your body!
What’s in a Lush Shower Jelly?
Here are the main ingredients in any Lush shower jelly:
Glycerin – A humectant moisturiser to make your skin smooth, but it also contributes to the jelly’s consistency.
Water (Aqua) – Keeps everything together.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate – An anionic surfactant that’s there to form bubbles and clean your skin.
Carrageenan Extract (Chondrus crispus) – The key ingredient! This is the gelling agent in the recipe that gives the Shower Jelly its jellyish consistency. Gelatin’s used in most edible jellies, but gelatin-based jellies melt pretty close to body temperature (like in your mouth). Carrageenan-based jellies melt at 45-70 °C (113-158 °F), which means they’ll stay intact for longer in the shower.
Scents and colours – To make it smell and look good.
Preservatives – To keep it bacteria free.
Lush have a cool video showing how all these ingredients mix to make a shower jelly:
Are you confused about how to choose the right exfoliation method for your skincare routine? This three-part series rounds up all the types of exfoliants for your face, with examples of products and their pros and cons!
This post covers all the physical exfoliation options. Part 2 will be on chemical exfoliation, and Part 3 will be a guide on how to choose the one(s) that will work for you. For a more barebones overview, check out this exfoliation basics post.
What is exfoliation?
Your skin consists of living skin (the epidermis), covered in a 15-20 layers of dead cells (the stratum corneum). The dead cells in the stratum corneum have an important role in protecting your living tissue from the outside environment. They’re completely replaced around every 2 weeks – the cells at the surface are constantly shedding. However, the shedding isn’t always regular, and sometimes it happens slower than it should. This leads to your skin being covered by too thick a layer of dead cells, which looks dull, uneven, scaly and flaky. Exfoliation helps the shedding along, ideally without compromising the ability of the stratum corneum to act as a barrier.
There are 2 main categories of exfoliation: physical and chemical. I’m including exfoliation tools under the banner of physical exfoliation, and enzymes in the chemical group.
What Is Physical Exfoliation?
Dead cells are buffed away mechanically using grainy products or tools. It’s a lot like sandpapering a block of wood or scrubbing tiles – the friction from rubbing an object back and forth over the skin lifts stuck cells.
Much like sandpapering wood, the harshness of physical exfoliation depends on a few factors:
what the exfoliating objects are like (how large, how hard, how smooth)
how you move them over your skin (how hard you press, what direction you go in, how long you rub it in for)
I personally find that rubbing lightly in small circles for a minute or two is more effective and less irritating than rubbing hard for a short period, with any physical exfoliation method.
Physical exfoliation has a reputation for being harsh, but I think it’s unfair – it can be very gentle, but most people use physical exfoliants way too frequently, and feel like it’s not working if they don’t feel raw and tingly afterwards. Don’t fall into this trap! It’ll make your skin worse in the long run, reducing the ability of the stratum corneum to act as a barrier against the outside world and prevent moisture from leaving (its barrier function).
These round beads are made of plastic and come in every imaginable colour. They used to be in tons of products because they’re really cheap and smoothly shaped, so they were budget-friendly and gentle on the skin.
However, it turned out that microbeads were an environmental pollutant – they made their way through the sewage system and into waterways, where environmental toxins (actual toxins) like pesticides latched onto them. When aquatic animals ate them, they would release the toxins. Nasty! (You can read more on microbead pollution on this post.)
Plastic microbeads were banned in a handful of US states after research showed that the beads were turning up everywhere. The Netherlands are in the process of phasing them out. Other Western countries are moving in this direction, so plastic microbeads are found in less products these days.
You’ll see them listed on the ingredients list as:
You can find lists of microbead-containing and microbead-free products in your country on Beat the Microbead.
How to use
These are the standard scrub products – squeeze some into your hand, slap it on your clean face and rub around, then rinse.
It’s actually been quite difficult to locate plastic microbeads in my skincare collection – I only managed to find an old tube of Nivea Pure Effect All-in-1 Multi Action Cleanser, and a couple of Asian products (Muji Scrub Face Soap and Missha Cacao &Cream Facial Scrub).
There are lots of replacements for plastic microbeads available now, so you can still get your scrub on without as much guilt.
One of the most popular replacements for plastic microbeads are jojoba beads. They’re made of chemicallyprocessed jojoba oil (the same process used to make solid margarine from liquid vegetable oil), and are usually listed as “hydrogenated jojoba oil” or “jojoba esters” in the ingredients list. These beads are translucent white, and they’re usually found in products as very fine grains.
How to use
Just like microbeads, these are straightforward scrubs. Rub them onto clean damp skin, rinse away afterwards.
These are particularly popular in products marketed as natural – they show up in Jurlique, Moreishand Neutrogena Naturals scrubs, as well as a Guinot Gentle Face Exfoliating Cream, a scrub/peeling gel hybrid. They’re popular but I’m personally not that fond of how they feel on my skin, so I don’t reach for these that often.
I went on holidays in the middle of July, so I didn’t have enough empties to post about. Here’s my last two months of beauty stuff:
Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Sulfate Free Shampoo* – I was pleasantly surprised by this shampoo! It’s the first sulfate-free shampoo I’ve used that made my hair feel clean and didn’t leave me with an itchy scalp.
Biore Charcoal Pore Strip* – I haven’t used a pore strip in years, but I had to try one (for science). It did pull out a few sebum plugs, and it was satisfying seeing all the bits sticking out from the strip afterwards, but I’ve noticed some broken capillaries around my nose recently (from other stuff like horrific allergies), so this paranoid vain freak won’t be trying another strip anytime soon.
Covergirl Lash Blast Waterproof Mascara – This was my favourite mascara for a long time – it hold a curl like nobody’s business, but it’s really hard to get off, even with oil and two-phase makeup removers. I’ve now moved onto Maybelline Full and Soft Waterproof, which is a bit easier to remove.
Bioderma Sebium Purifying Foaming Cleansing Gel – I really love Bioderma’s skincare products! This is foaming and cleanses really well, but somehow does it without stripping your skin of moisture.