Skin Hydration vs Moisture: There Is No Difference


You might have heard that “hydration” and “moisture” mean different things in skincare. Today I’m going to make an argument about why this distinction is stupid and we should stop using it. I have lots of strong feelings about terminology. Ideally, I like terminology that’s both intuitive and accurate. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way and you need to …

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Amperna Skincare Review: Actives for Sensitive Skin

Amperna Skincare Review

Amperna is an Australian skincare line developed for sensitive and problematic skin that’s still packed with actives that treat acne. A lot of anti-acne product lines are harsh, and even if they’re effective for a lot of people, they can make sensitive skin can freak out. You don’t really want to switch acne-prone skin for stinging, irritated skin.

Amperna’s founder Kiri Yanchenko was inspired by her own experience with sensitive acne-prone skin, and the lack of gentle but active skincare products designed for sensitive skin. Amperna’s products are suitable for any skin type, and have been tested on skin that’s prone to eczema, dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, rosacea and acne. It’s also Australian made and cruelty free, and all of the products come in convenient pump bottles.

The Amperna line currently has 5 products: cleanser, exfoliant, moisturiser, vitamin C serum and soothing serum. I tried them out over a period of 3 weeks – here’s what I thought of them!

Amperna Ultra Gentle Soothing Cleanser

Amperna Ultra Gentle Soothing Cleanser ($40 AUD for 125 mL) is a foaming gel cleanser. It has gentle surfactants (betaine, sodium lauroamphoacetate, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, cocamidopropyl betaine) and foams very lightly with water. It has a low, skin-friendly pH of around 5, which is important for avoiding long-term cleanser-induced irritation.

There are a few interesting actives in the cleanser:

  • Canadian willowherb extract, which has been found to kill acne bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) in vitro in manufacturer studies, and reduce redness from irritation and sunburn in manufacturer clinical studies. It’s also an antioxidant that soaks up free radical damage. The active compound is called oenothein B.
  • White willow bark extract, which contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant (aka beta hydroxy acid or BHA), salicin which has some anti-inflammatory properties, and tannins, which are astringent.

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Stratia Skin Review: Liquid Gold, Fortify, Rewind, Soft Touch AHA, Velvet Cleansing Milk

Stratia Skin Review: Liquid Gold, Rewind, Soft Touch AHA, Velvet Cleansing Milk, Fortify

If you’re a skincare nerd, you’ve probably heard of Stratia Skin – their products are all over Instagram skincare addicts’ shelves! Alli of Stratia heard about my hunt for mandelic acid products and kindly offered to send me her range, which was very convenient since Stratia is one of the brands that I’ve had a ridiculous number of requests to review.

Stratia is a Los Angeles-based indie skincare brand that’s formulated with effectiveness in mind. Alli Reed, the founder, has an excellent blog called The Acid Queen where she detailed her DIY adventures before setting up Stratia.

As an Australian, I often get really excited about products, then completely disappointed when I see the shipping rate. Not to worry this time! Stratia has an extremely generous $9.95 flat rate shipping worldwide.

There are currently 5 products: Liquid Gold, Fortify, Rewind, Soft Touch AHA and Velvet Cleansing Milk. All the products are unscented, and three are vegan (Fortify, Soft Touch AHA and Velvet Cleansing Milk). The site states specifically which ingredients in the other products are animal-derived and from what parts of the animal, which is a level of detail that’s rare and appreciated. Other skincare nerd details are there too, like active percentages and product pH.

Stratia Skin Review: Liquid Gold, Rewind, Soft Touch AHA, Velvet Cleansing Milk, Fortify

Onto the product reviews:

Stratia Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold ($24 USD for 60 mL) is the most hyped of Stratia’s products, and was one of the products in their first release. It’s also my favourite Stratia product so far, and landed in Beautypedia’s and Gothamista’s best of 2017 lists! It’s a moisturiser that contains a bunch of awesome ingredients to keep your skin in good shape, and protect it from harsh treatment.

Liquid Gold has 4% niacinamide, which is fantastic for helping maintain your skin’s barrier function, so it can trap moisture in better, and keep irritants out. It’s also had a bunch of other skin benefits too in clinical trials, like decreasing wrinkling, fading hyperpigmentation, reducing appearance of pores and decreasing skincare development.

Related post: The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 2: Niacinamide + Zinc, Buffet

Liquid Gold also has ceramides and cholesterol, two of the components of the lipid matrix that surrounds the cells in your stratum corneum (the top protective layer of your skin). It also has oils in it, which contain fatty acids bound up in triglycerides. There’s some research that found that putting lipid matrix components on your skin in the wrong ratio could make it recover from harsh treatment (like washing with cleanser) slower, but from what I can tell the right ratio is here. There’s also research that found that oils can act like fatty acids in this specific circumstance, so it’s likely to work as promised.

I’ve found that Liquid Gold has been awesome at reducing irritation when I’ve gone too hard on the actives. I’ve recently started using tretinoin as well, and I’ve been using Liquid Gold to try to stave off the irritation (more on that in a later post!). Originally I planned to only use it on “recovery” days, but I’ve found that I end up using it almost every day. I sometimes mix it with Stratia’s face oil Fortify as well when my skin’s feeling particularly dry. I love that it comes in a handy pump bottle – it’s guaranteed that I’ll use a product more often if it comes in a pump. The cream itself is quite thick, so it takes a bit of pressure to dispense which means I never pump out a stupidly large amount and waste product.

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Elucent Skincare Review

Elucent Skincare Review

Recently I had the opportunity to try out an Elucent skincare regime for a month. Elucent is a skincare range that’s produced by Ego Pharmaceuticals, the company behind brands like SunSense, QV and Azclear. I’ve always been a fan of their scientific, evidence-based approach.

Elucent is their higher-end skincare range, which contains products specifically designed for anti-ageing and whitening. The Anti-Ageing range is based around alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and vitamins while the Whitening range contains a range of brightening ingredients including safflower seed, niacinamide, vitamin C and antioxidants (but no hydroquinone). Elucent’s products are dermatologically tested, made in Australia, manufactured to pharmaceutical standards and not tested on animals. There are lots of actives in these products. Since my main skincare concern is hyperpigmentation, I was matched with a bunch of their whitening products, and their anti-ageing cleanser.

Elucent Skincare Review

Elucent Anti-Ageing Gentle Cleanser

Elucent Anti-Ageing Gentle Cleanser ($29.99 for 95 mL) is a standard foaming gel cleanser that comes in a convenient pump container. It has gentle surfactants and lots of glycerin to reduce dehydration. I really liked that it doesn’t feel stripping, but still takes my make-up off efficiently. The cleanser also contains 1% lactic acid and 1% glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids that are great for exfoliating, anti-ageing and evening out skin tone. I don’t usually look for actives in my cleansers, but they’re a nice bonus. The pH is a skin-friendly 4. My only complaint about this product is that the fragrance isn’t my favourite – it smells very mildly acidic on top of a generic floral scent.

Related post: Video: The Science Behind My Favourite Skincare Acids

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Korean Skincare Review: Whamisa, Lagom, Huxley, Aromatica

Natural Korean Skincare Review: Whamisa, Lagom, Huxley, Aromatica

Franki + Seoul is one of the newest online Korean beauty stores in Australia. It’s run by two identical twin sisters Jayme and Jenny who are massive beauty nerds – they spent a year in Seoul testing beauty products and working with skincare companies, then received a grant from the City of Seoul government to start Franki + Seoul. Franki …

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Lazy Skincare Loves: Multitasking Moisturisers and Multipurpose Balms

Lazy Skincare Loves: Cinch Face Cheat and Multipurpose Balms

I love my multi-step night time skincare routine and it’s done wonders for my skin, and you will pry my targeted serums out of my cold dead hands. But if I’m staying over at someone else’s house or I’m travelling with limited space in my baggage, a multi-step routine just isn’t going to happen, and convenience wins. Here’s where my newfound love of multipurpose, multitasking products comes in.

Although a lot of beauty magazines say that multipurpose products are a backlash against the 13-step Korean style skincare routine, in my opinion they’re actually complementary. Most of the products in a multi-step routine don’t multitask well, since they’re usually designed to treat a single skin issue with maximum efffectiveness and customisability. Multipurpose products are designed with the complete opposite idea in mind – you want a product that can do a whole bunch of different things reasonably well.

The two multitaskers I’ve been loving for this sort of lazy skincare are Cinch Face Cheat and Multipurpose Balms.

Lazy Skincare Loves: Cinch Face Cheat and Multipurpose Balms

Cinch Face Cheat is the only product of its kind that I know of. It works as a light moisturiser that’s heavy enough for night time use in reasonably humid weather and primer as well as a hydrating mist that you can use under or over your makeup. As well as a host of humectants and occlusives to keep skin hydrated, it also contains Kakadu Plum extract which contains vitamin C. I tend not to use any skincare products on my face in the morning apart from sunscreen due to time constraints (i.e. I’m not a morning person), but I’ve started using Cinch under my sunscreen so I’m finally getting some skincare into my morning routine.

Cinch Face Cheat is also vegan, cruelty-free, and free of parabens and synthetic fragrances, if you’re steering clear of those.

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Qlabo Eauphoria and Collagenerous Review

Qlabo Eauphoria and Collagenerous Review

Qlabo Eauphoria and Collagenerous Review

Ever since I discovered that my skin was dehydration-prone, I’ve made a special effort to use skincare containing humectant ingredients to help my skin hold onto more moisture. My skin’s particularly troublesome in winter and spring, where my colds and allergies cause the already troubled dehydrated skin to chafe. Qlabo Skincare has two products designed to solve this issue: Eauphoria Complete Moisture Treatment and Collagenerous Advanced Youth Regenerator.

Qlabo is a Singapore-based skincare brand with Swiss-developed products. They purposely cater to sensitive skin, with high performing, non-irritating products that don’t contain alcohol, parabens, phenoxyethanol, isothiazolinone, allergens or colorants. However, unlike a lot of “free from” brands, they don’t try to say that these ingredients are bad for everyone, just that they should be avoided if you’re sensitive to them. Massive props for the honesty!

Eauphoria Complete Moisture Treatment

(Note: eau = water in French – I can’t not love a punny name!)

Eauphoria is made to counteract the thirsty dull tone of dehydrated skin in a few ways. It’s a watery gel serum that’s incredibly light and fast-absorbing. It comes in a squeeze tube, with a handy dot on the back of the packaging that shows you how much you should apply (why don’t more companies do this? Especially sunscreen companies!). Eauphoria has a very mild rose scent that you’d have to look for to notice.

Qlabo Eauphoria and Collagenerous Review

Here’s the ingredients list:

Aqua (Water), Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Polysorbate 20, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chlorphenesin, Trehalose, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate.

Firstly, it contains a whole ton of humectant moisturising ingredients, which are my favourite moisturisers right now. Humectants hold onto water and prevent it evaporating. This makes them perfect for hydrating parched skin. Eauphoria’s humectants are:

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