Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt’s Bees…

Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt's Bees...

I have large lips so they tend to dry out quickly, so effective lip balms are one of my obsessions. I’ve been trying out some products to try to keep my lips moisturised overnight – here’s a review of:

  • No Frills Budget Options
    • Chapstick Cake Batter
    • Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock
    • Nivea Pure and Natural Lip Care with Chamomile and Calendula
  • More Fun Options
    • Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
    • The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Dessert Lip Balm
  • “Natural” Lip Balms
    • Nuxe Rêve de Miel Baume Levres
    • Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask
    • Moogoo Tingling Honey Lip Balm
    • Burt’s Bees Moisturising Lip Balm with Mango Butter

Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt's Bees...

No Frills Budget Options

Chapstick Cake Batter

Chapstick Cake Batter (around $4 for 4 g) is a limited edition lip balm from Chapstick that’s now part of their regular collection. I’m a huge fan of their menthol-free lip balms, and having it in a delicious vanilla flavour just takes the cake (ha!). It’s also reasonably hard so it lasts quite a while. This has been a staple of my routine for a while. The only complaint I have is that if my lips are dry and aren’t hydrated, it doesn’t work so well, so I put some face moisturiser or toner on my lips first – I’d much rather have both steps in the one product though.

Ingredients: Petrolatum, Paraffin, Mineral Oil, Octyldodecanol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacryladipate-2, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Arachidyl Propionate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Beeswax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Isopropyl Myristate, Flavor, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Benzyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Triacetin, Titanium Dioxide, Methylparaben, Saccharin, Alumina, Propylparaben, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Silica.

Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock

Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock ($5.25 for 4.4 g) (now rebranded as Day & Night) would’ve potentially answered my prayers above, but it fell short because it still ended up being a two-step product, and while it was better at hydrating my lips than the plain Chapstick, the lack of humectants was still noticeable. I did really like the design of the double-ended tube though!

I find it a little strange that it’s been rebranded from a two-step layering product to a separate day and night use product – I think they weren’t really sure where they were going with the product, which may be why there was that lack of humectants. Interestingly the Moisture Lock end has sunscreen ingredients in it, and in the US it’s labelled SPF 12.

Hydration (Night) Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Jojoba Esters, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Beeswax, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Octyldodecanol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopherol, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Flavor, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate.

Moisture Lock (Day) Ingredients: Petrolatum, Paraffin, Isocetyl Stearate, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Beeswax, Isocetyl Lanolate, Isocetyl Myristate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lanolin, Carnauba Wax, Mineral Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Linoleate, Methylparaben, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Fragrance, Propylparaben.

Nivea Pure and Natural Lip Care with Chamomile and Calendula

I’ve been a fan of Nivea lip balms ($4.49 AUD for 4.8 g) for ages (see e.g. , and they all tend to work really well for me. My lips just seem to love heavy occlusives! This version is unfortunately discontinued, but I really liked the fragrance – it was very floral and soapy, which was great for making me snack less.

Ingredients: Octyldodecanol, Microcrystalline Wax/Cire microcristalline, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Cetyl Palmitate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Polyisobutene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Myristyl Myristate, C20-40 Alkyl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glycerin, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de carnauba, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Beeswax/Cire d’abeille, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, Calcium Carbonate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Water/Eau, Neohesperidin Dihydrochalcone, BHT, Fragrance/Parfum, Titanium Dioxide, Blue 1 Lake.20

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Tip: Multi-Sunscreening for Maximum Protection and Minimum Grease

Tip: Multi-Sunscreening for Maximum Protection and Minimum Grease

Here’s a simple skincare trick that I’ve found ridiculously useful lately that I thought I’d share in case it helps anyone else out. I’m sure I’m not the first person to do it, but I also haven’t seen it discussed anywhere else (though I haven’t been looking very hard).

I’ve started doing something that can be best described as “multi-sunscreening”, a bit like the “multi-masking trend” that a lot of brands are jumping on. I was inspired to do this when I watched Fiddy Snails apply her sunscreen using a BB cushion puff on Instagram, when she patted her sunscreen in all over her face using the puff then went back to part in extra on her pigmentation problem areas.

Here’s my issue: I get pigmentation very quickly on the tops of my cheekbones. It’s an annoying genetic thing that a lot of East Asian people have, and I’ve managed to inherit it from my dad’s side (thaaaanks). Right now it’s not too bad, but mostly because I throw hydroxy acids and vitamin C at it all the time to try to lighten it, and cover it with high UVA protection sunscreen to stop it from getting worse.

The problem is that I also have oily skin, from my mum (again: thaaaanks). The sunscreens with the highest UVA protection that I know of come from French brands Bioderma and La Roche-Posay. And unfortunately, they’re greasy, at least on my oil slick face. Even their “fluids” designed for oily skin turn me into an unsightly mirror ball at the end of the day. So I find myself reaching for more “cosmetically elegant” sunscreens most of the time – usually Bioré Aqua Base Watery Essence – which keep my oily areas manageable but aren’t waterproof or sweatproof, and have lower UVA protection as well. I’ve noticed that my sunspots are steadily creeping back.

Here’s where multi-sunscreening has saved both my long-term skin health as well as my daily try-not-to-look-like-melting-wax efforts. My sunscreen routine now goes like this:

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All About Cleansing & How to Choose a Gentle Cleanser

What Makes a Gentle Cleanser? All About Gentle Cleansing

Gone are the days of harsh cleansers that dried out your skin – everyone’s getting into gentle cleansers! What’s the science behind gentle cleansing, and how do you pick a gentle cleanser? Here’s the scientific background behind this skin-loving trend!

Want more about the science behind choosing and using the right cleansers, moisturiser and sunscreen for your skin? Check out The Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare!

How Cleansing Damages Your Skin

Cleansing is the most damaging thing you do to your skin on a daily basis, but unfortunately it’s necessary to get rid of all the dirt, makeup, oil and sunscreen you’ve accumulated on your skin over the course of the day. These unwanted substances won’t come off with water though! That’s why cleansers usually contain surfactants, magical chemicals which can help the grime dissolve in water and wash away.

All About Cleansing & How to Choose a Gentle Cleanser

Surfactants are the key ingredients in pretty much every single cleanser: foaming cleansers, soaps, body washes, cleansing balms, cleansing oils and micellar water. In fact, the only common surfactant-free cleansing methods I can think of are oil cleansing and using a cloth with just water. (I wrote about how surfactants are in everything in this post on The Toast a couple of years ago).

As amazing and useful as surfactants are at lifting grime, they’re not always good for your skin. The outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum or SC) consists of dead, protein-rich skin cells filled with water-binding chemicals (your natural moisturising factor or NMF), surrounded by carefully arranged oily lipids (mostly ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids). It looks a lot like a brick wall, with skin cell bricks and lipid mortar. Together, these form a barrier against water evaporating from the skin into the environment, and against external irritants entering your skin.

All About Cleansing & How to Choose a Gentle Cleanser

When the SC’s structure is disturbed, skin becomes dry, itchy, flaky, red and irritated. Luckily, the SC is pretty hardy and holds up well against most things… but unfortunately, surfactants are VERY good at messing things up! Here’s what a harsh cleanser does:

Removes important stratum corneum components

Surfactants are amazing at removing grime, but they can’t tell the difference between the chemicals that make up your skin and the chemicals that aren’t meant to be there. Surfactants are good at removing lipids (particularly cholesterol) from your SC, which messes up its structure and makes it more susceptible to water loss. They also remove proteins and NMF components from your skin, meaning it won’t be able to hold onto water as effectively. This all leads to dry, dehydrated skin.

Remains in the skin, causing irritation and disruption

After cleansing, most of the surfactant gets rinsed off, but unfortunately not all of it. Some surfactant molecules will bind to proteins in the skin, causing them to denature (change shape) and swell.  The more swelling, the greater the irritation. (Interestingly, this interaction with proteins is probably a bigger contributor to the “tight” feeling after cleansing than the loss of oils!) Additionally, surfactants can remain in the lipid “mortar” of the SC, changing its structure. Together, these effects lead to a compromised SC that’s prone to letting water escape and irritants enter.

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Banana Boat and Nivea Facial Sunscreen Reviews

banana-boat-nivea-sunscreen

Here are some new sunscreens I’ve been trying. They’re available in stores in Australia which is very exciting, because Australia hasn’t had many “cosmetically elegant” (non-greasy, non-clumpy) sunscreens that you can use under your makeup without it all turning into a big greasy mess.

banana-boat-nivea-sunscreen

Banana Boat has released two sunscreens in their Everyday range – Everyday Sensitive ($17.49 for 200 g) and Everyday Faces ($12.49 for 100 g). The two sunscreens are very similar. Both are:

  • SPF50
  • Broad spectrum
  • 4hours water resistant
  • Oil-free
  • Free of added fragrance

The active ingredients are the same in both as well: Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane 5.00%, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor 4.00%, Octocrylene 2.00%, Bemotrizinol 1.00%; Preservatives: Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxybenzoates.

I really liked the light, non-greasy feel of Banana Boat’s Everyday sunscreen, so I was looking forward to trying these out. They do feel quite light on the skin, but leave a sticky, shiny film. Covering the sunscreen with powder helps kill the stickiness, but it reemerges after a few hours. I think Everyday Faces is a tad less sticky than Everyday Sensitive, but they’re almost indistinguishable on my face.

Unfortunately Banana Boat sunscreens are Australia-only, which means that they don’t have to include full ingredients since they’re classified as therapeutic goods. As well as not knowing whether they contain any ingredients that commonly trigger sensitivities, I also can’t check how similar the two formulas are. Some Australian sunscreens do voluntarily provide ingredient info – I’m hoping this becomes normal as consumers get increasingly ingredient-savvy. Everyday Sensitive comes in a bigger tube than Everyday Faces, which makes it a bit cheaper too.

Nivea Sun Protect & Light Feel Daily Face Veil SPF 30  ($12.99 for 50 mL) is another sunscreen designed for the face. Again, the ingredients aren’t on the packaging but a user on Makeupalley reports them as:

Aqua, Alcohol Denat., Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate + BHT (7.5%), Homosalate (6%), Tapioca Starch, Ethylhexyl Salicylate (5%), Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Triazone (3%), Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (3%), Benzophenone-3 (3%), Cyclomethicone, Trisodium EDTA (20%), Methylparaben, Parfum, C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide.

These match the active ingredients on the back of the bottle, so I’m pretty convinced it’s the same. Light Feel Daily Face Veil doesn’t lie, it really is very light. It glides onto the face smoothly and sinks in quickly, and there’s close to no shine – it reminds me a lot of Biore Watery Essence.  The high alcohol content might be a bit troublesome if you have dry skin, but for my oily face it was a relief to not have to deal with stickiness and shine. It’s lightly fragranced with a sort of fresh scent.

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End-of-Year Empties

empties-face-dec-2015

I really didn’t get through as many products as I’d hoped to this year – I’m hoping 2016 will be better! Here are my final empties for the year:

empties-face-dec-2015

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar – I used this for my Aztec Secret clay masks, but I’ve switched to citric acid instead to avoid the vinegar stink. I don’t think I’ll be rebuying this for a while.

Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA+++ Sunscreen – This is the old version, I’ve repurchased the newer, reformulated PA++++ version already. I love how light and non-greasy this is!

Nivea Repair and Protection Lip Balm – My trusty favourite lip balm. I have so many open tubes lying around my room.

Crop Gentle Cleansing Gel – I really like this foaming cleanser. It doesn’t strip your skin of oil, and I haven’t found the essential oils irritating on my skin either. I’ll be repurchasing this!

Banila Co Clean It Zero – I love this mineral oil-based cleansing balm for taking off heavy make-up. I have a bunch of little samples to go through, and I’d love to try the other varieties before going for a full-size tub.

Enbacci Vitis Vinifera Rejuvenating Gel Cleanser – This is a really nice, non-drying cleanser sample I received at the Bloggers United Australia event in Sydney earlier this year. I have a whole heap of other Enbacci samples I’m working through too!

Marc Jacobs Daisy Perfume – This has been my emergency handbag perfume, and I’m sad to see the end of it… lucky I have a few more sample sprays from various subscription boxes! Perfume samples are definitely one of my most used items from subscriptions.

Models Prefer Multi-Purpose Sponge – This is a nice sponge that’s a similar texture to the Beauty Blenders that are really popular now (I have a bunch of those too!). I find the sponge shape a little harder to work with, but it’s handier and a lot cheaper, and easier to wash.

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How to Exfoliate 1: All About Physical Exfoliants

exfoliation-tools

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).

Product categories

Click on each heading to jump to that section.

Plastic microbeads

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:

  • polyethylene
  • polypropylene
  • nylon-6
  • nylon-11
  • polymethyl methacrylate

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.

Examples

plastic-microbead

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.

Jojoba Beads

One of the most popular replacements for plastic microbeads are jojoba beads. They’re made of chemically processed 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.

Examples

jojoba-scrubs

These are particularly popular in products marketed as natural – they show up in Jurlique, Moreish and 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.

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How to choose a skincare mask

clay-masks

There are a lot of masks out there – which one should you use to boost your skincare routine into hyperdrive? Let me help!

What is a mask?

A mask is a treatment that you put on your face for an extended period of time (between 10 minutes and 10 hours). You’re not meant to be seen in public while it’s on. The effects of a good mask will last around 1-3 days.

There are a bunch of different types of masks, good for different purposes. There’s a bit of crossover, especially if you’re mixing the mask yourself, but these are the basic categories:

Clay masks

Clay masks have clay as their main ingredient, and are helpful for sucking oil out of your pores, along with any random gunk in the oil. There are a range of clays with slightly different textures, but since all sorts of ingredients (oils, humectants like honey, etc.) can be mixed into a clay mask, it’s hard to say what effect a particular clay mask will have without trying it (though we can safely say that none of them will detox your body).

Kaolin clays are less absorbent than bentonite, so kaolin-based masks (usually white or pink in colour) are generally better for dry and sensitive skin, while bentonite masks (usually green in colour) are recommended for oily skin (I’m using handwavy language on purpose, because there is a LOT of variation – look up reviews of that specific mask before you buy).

How to use: You can apply a clay mask with your fingers (my preferred method) or a brush (feels posher, but requires more clean-up). Wait 5-30 min depending on your skin’s tolerance, then wash off (you may need to use a cloth to soak it off – I find that sticking my face under the shower head for 5 seconds helps tremendously). You don’t need to wait for it to dry before removing, but letting it dry will result in more oil absorption (but also more irritation potential).

clay-masks

Examples: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is pure powdered calcium bentonite clay that you can mix into a mask yourself. If you mix it with an acidic substance, you’ll end up with a more skin-friendly pH and a very absorbent mask (here are some recipes for mixing bentonite with non-stinky citric acid and for mixing with slightly stinky ACV). You can make it less absorbent by adding humectants and oils. I’ve also got The Cosmetic Kitchen Raw Chocolate Clay Mask, which consists of pre-mixed Australian pink clay and raw cacao powder (antioxidant).

If you don’t want to go through the fuss of mixing, Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is a popular option which contains both kaolin and bentonite, but I find that the anti-acne sulfur in it smells very unpleasant (lots of other people disagree). Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil Absorbing Mask* is another example, but I found it quite itchy. Moreish Emergence Clay Mask* is a premade kaolin clay mask that’s super gentle, with lots of humectants and oils thrown in.

Hydrating masks

Hydrating masks are a pretty broad category – there are oil-based masks which soften your skin, there are humectant-based masks which help water bind and absorb. I’m lumping them together because most oil-based masks have some humectants in them. These masks aim to leave your skin smooth and plump.

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Banana Boat, La Roche-Posay and Nivea Sunscreen Reviews

body-sunscreens

body-sunscreens

I need to get this off my chest – I HAAAATE Australian sunscreen labelling regulations. We have some of the best active sunscreen ingredients available to us (yay for skin cancer awareness!), but we have ZERO info on the inactive ingredients, which makes buying a sunscreen without testing really hard, and places that sell body sunscreens tend not to have testers. I find it easier to buy international sunscreens for that reason. Get your act together, Aussie brands!

Anyway, I’ve been neglecting my body sunscreen-wise. It’s probably because I’m less vain about my body than my face and my feeble human mind is not a scared of cancer as it should be, so I’ve actually only roadtested a handful on my body…whereas I’ve tried 10 or so on my face. Here are 3 that I quite like:

For oily skin: Banana Boat EveryDay SPF 50+

I made a couple of slightly pasty dudes try this with me while on a canyoning expedition (including a 45 metre abseil down this magnificent waterfall), and we all agreed that it didn’t quite smell or feel “sunscreeny”. It’s light in texture and scent, which makes it quicker and easier to apply the right amount of sunscreen. It’s also 4 hours water resistant, which helped while getting waterfall to the face.

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