Do peeling gels really peel off my skin? (with video)

“Is all the stuff that rolls off with a peeling gel really my skin?“ This is a question I come across a lot! In case you’ve forgotten, a peeling gel is a popular type of cleanser in Asia. You start off with a watery gel like this, which you spread over your face (the one picture here is Laneige Strawberry …

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Skincare Favourites 2018 (Empties Video)

Skincare Favourites Video

Videos are coming thick and fast as I try to get rid of all the old ones with my old background! This time I review my favourite skincare products from 2018 that I liked enough to finish using, along with one foundation. Click here to watch the video. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here. …

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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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My Current Makeup Routine

My Current Makeup Routine

I’ve always been a bit lazy with my makeup routine because I really, really like sleep. I’m the least morning person who’s ever morninged, so I’m only willing to sacrifice 15 minutes for makeup, max.

But I also really enjoy playing with makeup, so cramming in a bunch of products is also necessary! My current makeup routine has expanded to the following, which I’m pretty proud of because it stays nice-looking despite the Australian summer and my oily-ass skin.

Pre-makeup: Wash face with water, apply sunscreen (I’m currently using Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 30 Mattifying, my previous fave was Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence). Use Pixi 24K Eye Elixir on puffy bags if I feel particularly nasty (the cold rollerball is almost as good as a coffee).

My Current Makeup Routine

1. Klara Cosmetics Reset Glow and NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% mixed together as a glowy primer with a little Shu Uemura Face Architect mixed in if my skin is being naughty. I’ve also started trying Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone as well. Since my skin is quite oily I used to avoid any sort of illuminator to cut down on shine, so applying it all over is a bit of a radical departure. I’ve found that if I put it all over with a sponge and cover it up with powder later, it works really well to make my skin look glowy and healthy without making it look greasy. Here’s what the three illuminators look like alone. From left to right: Klara, Becca, NIOD.

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Korean Two-Phase Make-up Remover Reviews

Korean Two-Phase Make-up Remover Reviews

Two-phase or biphasic removers are my favourite type of make-up remover. They’re the ones that look like they have a layer of oil floating on a layer of water (the two layers are often different colours so you can see them easily). You shake them up like salad dressing before putting them on a cotton pad and wiping off your make-up. They remove waterproof make-up easily, generally don’t sting your eyes and if you’re lucky, won’t leave a greasy residue either.

How do two-phase make-up removers work?

In chemistry, there’s a rule of thumb known as like dissolves like, meaning that substances that are alike in polarity will mix together. For example, sugar and water are both polar substances, so sugar dissolves easily in water. Oil is non-polar, so sugar doesn’t dissolve in it.

Two-phase removers contain a non-polar oily layer (usually consisting of lightweight silicones like cyclopentasiloxane or cyclomethicone) floating on a polar water-based layer. They don’t mix because of the difference in polarity. But when you shake the bottle before using it, it ensures that some of each layer makes it onto your cotton pad, which gives it the power to dissolve both polar and non-polar substances (i.e. pretty much all your makeup).

Make-up Remover Reviews

I recently ran out of my Face of Australia two-phase make-up remover (this stuff lasts me forever), so I decided to buy a bunch of Korean ones and try them out – they’re all under $5 on RoseRoseShop and available on Amazon (slightly pricier but faster shipping – still under $10 though!).

Korean Two-Phase Make-up Remover Reviews

Here are my reviews:

Missha Green Tea Eye and Makeup Remover

Missha’s remover has a colourless oily layer on top of a green water-based layer containing green tea extract. It also contains benzophenone-4, a sunscreen ingredient, for some mysterious reason (maybe a cosmetic chemist knows? Edit: “This UV-filter protects the colorants in the formula from fading out. Especially with transparent packaging you need to protect the colorants from UV light. Normally only a small amount is needed and this will not add any sun protection to the skin.” Thanks Roland!). It comes in a cute heart-shaped bottle, which makes the twist-top lid very easy to grip even when your hands are wet.

Links: RoseRoseShop, Amazon

Scent: Moderately strong floral “green tea” scent (the one that’s used in lots of green tea products, but doesn’t smell like any green tea)

Eye stinging: Very very slight stinging if you get a whole heap in your eye

Oily residue: Moderate. It’s barely noticeable after you rinse it with some water, but I wouldn’t want to skip rinsing afterwards.

Effectiveness: Gets everything off easily.

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Camellia Sinensis Leaf extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Fruit Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Benzophenone-4, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polydecene, Squalane, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Blue 1 (CI 42090).

Innisfree Apple Juicy Lip & Eye Remover

A lot of these Korean removers do have this rather disconcerting name – I can assure you that my lips and eyes are intact! This comes in a round bottle with a smooth twist top that’s a little difficult to open if your hands are wet.

Links: RoseRoseShop, Amazon

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Korean Gray-Brown Brow Pencil Comparison

Asian-brow-pencils

I have undyed East Asian hair, so it’s hard to find a good brow product in stores in Australia. Luckily the Asian beauty market has it covered with tons of grey-brown options! I couldn’t find many comparison swatches online so I ended up buying a whole stack of “Gray Brown” pencils from a range of Korean brands (The Face Shop, Missha, A’pieu, Skinfood, Tonymoly, Lioele) from RoseRoseShop, and swatched them to show the difference. I hope this helps someone with the same dilemma!

Asian-brow-pencils

Here are the “Gray Brown” products I swatched:

A’pieu Nature Easy Eyebrow Pencil in Gray Brown
Tonymoly Lovely Eyebrow Pencil in Gray Brown
Skinfood Black Bean Eyebrow Pencil in Gray Brown
The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Design My Eyebrow in Gray Brown
The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Design My Eyebrow in Dark Gray
Lioele Auto Eyebrow in Gray Black
Missha The Style Perfect Eyebrow Styler in Gray Brown
A’pieu Harutatoo Brow in Dark Brown

Asian-brow-pencil-comparison-grey-brown

Since my hair is undyed, the roots of my hair and brows are naturally grey-tinged. Pretty much all of the affordable brown brow pencils designed for brunettes in Australia pull too red, while black pencils are too dark, so they both look pretty unnatural. There are a few OK products on the market, but they’re few and far between, so I’ve been using The Face Shop ME:EX Design My Eyebrow in Gray Brown as my everyday brow pencil, while my sister uses the same pencil in Dark Gray. The shades are very similar, though Gray Brown has a subtle brown tone.

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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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June Empties

empties

empties

I didn’t actually get through that many products in June, and I don’t think I’m going to get through many in July either since I’m going on holidays! Here are my June empties:

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