As with most cult beauty products, there are always two comparable products between high-end and a more accessible drug store brand from the same company. Lancome’s Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate has reached the cult status across the world ever since it was released , and it has now become the world’s best selling serum and most sought after serum in the beauty market. In the wave of its popularity, L’Oreal has released a drug store version of it named Youth Code PreEssence.


Let’s talk about the original Lancome Genifique first. The product shown in the picture is a travel exclusive of 100ml edition of it, and I always restock them whenever I get a chance. Judging by its jumbo size, it clearly shows how much I love this product! It has been a staple base serum in my skincare routine for years. Apart from its anti aging and rejuvenating benefits, the main function of this serum is that it boosts the benefits of other products that are applied after. So I always combine this with another more powerful serum that targets at specific areas, as it helps the second product penetrate into deeper layers of skin for better absorption, then finish with a moisturizer. These three-steps never fail on me, and the result is almost immediate. I wake up with a noticeably more supple, energized and radiant complexion the next day. Most importantly I have noticed the texture of my complexion appears more refined, even and translucent day by day. I wouldn’t say it helps to shrink the pores (actually nothing does), but as it makes the skin more moisturized and plumped it definitely helps to reduce the appearance of pores.

At the moment, I am combining Genifique with the following serums in rotation depending on my skin condition.

1. Ultraceuticals Ultra Brightening Serum for brightening purpose.

2. Lancome Visionnaire for an overall anti-aging, poreless complexion. Possibly my all-time favorite combination.

3. Ultraceuticals Ultra B Hydrating Serum if my skin feels desert dry, and it helps my makeup to glide on like a dream.

4. Ipsa ME Serum for tightening and lifting purpose. If my face appears puffy, this is an instant overnight fix!

skincare_serumsWith the L’Oreal Youth Code, in terms of texture it is very similar to the Lancome Genifique. Both of them have a very fluid and lightweight texture with a mild floral scent, and they absorb into the skin immediately. It also feels the same when just applied, and the skin appears softer and hydrated immediately after use. The instant absorption allows you to prep the skin with more potent products straight after. I have finished the entire bottle of Youth Code, and combined with exactly the same products I would use with Genifique. The result is relatively great for an affordable drugstore serum as it keeps my skin moisturized and supple, however I have not noticed a great improvement in my skin’s texture and clarity compared to the result of using Genifique.

lancome-genifique-youth-activating-concentrate-vs-loreal-youth-code-pre-essence-1Genifique Ingredient List:

lancome-genifique-ingredient-listBottom Line: Both are great as a base serum. L’Oreal Youth Code is more suitable for younger women with a lesser anti-aging concern. Lancome’s Genifique is a great all-purpose serum on its own for all skin types, and you can achieve an even better result if it’s combined with other products.  I personally cannot live without Genifique so I highly recommend this product to any women over the age of 25.

Lancome Genifique in 5ml, 30ml and 50ml are available here with international shipping.


In the word of my HD “L’Oreal Steampod will change my life”. I trusted her, and bought this tool as soon as it was available in Australia. I might be a beauty junkie when it comes to skincare and makeup, but I have always been very loyal with my hair products. For the past 10 years, I did not look beyond any hair straightening tools other than my trusted GHD – I have gone through 5 of them and have them in every color/size…So I felt very guilty that I have to replace my GHD with the L’Oreal Steampod ..since I paid AUD$300 for it!


What is Steampod:
Similar to the traditional hair straightening tool, Steampod is a hair styling tool mainly used for hair straightening (as well as curling) whilst delivering purified steam to hydrate and nourish dry and damaged hair, and further strengthening the benefit of any leave-in hair treatment.

My Experience:
I cannot believe I am saying this “I love Steampod more than the GHD!”, as I find that it is a better straightening tool for my medium to thick naturally frizzy hair. Here is a whole list of reasons why:
– It only takes half of the time compared to a traditional straightener.
– It tames unruly and frizzy hair more effectively.
– It makes the hair sleek straight, frizz free, shiny without making it look flat! Which is a big bonus for me as I find GHD can make my hair too flat sometimes.
– I always use a hair leave-in treatment before using any heated hair styling tool, and the steam from the Steampod helps to penetrate the product deep into the hair shaft which makes my hair more nourished! This is absolutely a savior for my very dry and damaged hair.

Note: L’Oreal recommends the use of the L’Oreal Steampod Preparation Cream which contains keratin in conjunction with the tool. I have checked with my HD and she suggests that it would work with any type of hair treatment products, so it doesn’t have to be this particular one.

There are always a few things to nit pick on:
– It is slightly heavier than the GHD (though it doesn’t bother me as I get to work out my arm muscle!)
– There are 5 different temperature settings, and it defaults back to the lowest temperate (170) each time you switch it on. I normally use 200 or 210 so I would prefer it has an automatic saving option.
– I have to be clear that I am not good at curling my hair with any straightening tool (not even with GHD). And with the Steampod, I find that it is actually easier to work with for curling purposes because of the curved plate at the top. It gives nice loose bouncy waves, but it can make my hair look a little frizzy. However when my HD curled my hair with the tool, my hair looked totally fine and smooth so I think this problem is to do with my limited skill.


Other factors:
You can only use filtered water with this machine.
I use it everyday and it takes about a week to replace the water tank.
The machine heats up within 3-4 seconds, but it takes about 10 seconds for the steam to come out.

Bottom Line:

I highly recommend this tool for anyone with unruly, dry or damaged hair. It truly makes a difference compared to the ordinary as the steam helps to further nourish your hair in conjunction with any hair treatment and causes less damage from the heat. For people with healthy and naturally sleek hair, if you are happy with what you are using now, it might not be necessary.

If you are in Australia, you can purchase the L’Oreal Steampod here for Australian voltage as well as better shipping and warranty service. It is also available here for international customers.


A quick report on my bi-monthly mascara road-test! As usual, I normally use 3 new mascaras (a mixture of drugstore and high end) every 2 months, and unfortunately for the last two months my lashes have been looking quite bland and deflated as I didn’t find anything extraordinary.


1. My biggest disappointment has to go to the highly raved Givenchy Phenomen Eyes Waterproof Mascara. The waterproof version supposedly holds the curl better, but it failed on me. It straightens my lashes like a flat iron, and clumps several lashes into one with a minimum lengthening effect. Worst of all, I cannot even use it on my lower lashes without getting it messy. Mind you, I am very skillful in terms of applying mascara on my bottom lashes but I just can’t make it work with this ball-shaped wand. You either love or hate this mascara based on the reviews I have read, and I am clearly on the hater’s side!


2. The Covergirl Clump Crusher by lashblast is another disappointment but performs slightly better than the Givenchy. This mascara doesn’t hold the curl either, but it separates the lashes and adds natural volume and length without any clumps as the name suggests. The wand is about the same size as the original lash blast, and it makes the lashes softer and look more natural looking compared to the original version. You would like this one if you have naturally thick and curly lashes.


3. The L’Oreal Lash Architect 4D Waterproof is the best out of the three, but not good enough for a repurchase. It wins in lifting and holding the curl, and the formula gives natural volume and keeps the lashes soft and fluttery. It also stays put on me for at least 12 hours without smudging. I am not particularly fond of this wand as it doesn’t help to separate the lashes one by one. It thickens the lashes by grouping a few together, so I always need a lash comb to comb through as an extra step… It is not a deal breaker as I am quite pleased with the end result once it is fixed with a comb, but there are just too many other mascaras for me to explore.


Have you found any great new mascaras lately?






I received a large response from my last mascaras review post, and many of you have given me a lot of suggestions on other drugstore mascaras. Thank you all! I have indeed purchased a lot based on your recommendations, and here are the three mascaras I have been using for the past 3 months – the Makeup For Ever Smoky Lash, L’oreal Extra Volume Collagen and KissMe Impact Frame & Curl Mascara.

To recap: I have stick straight lashes with medium volume and medium length (Asian standard..). I need my mascara to hold the curl (I use my Shu eyelash curlers), volumize and separate the lashes and to be smudge proof. I also use mascara on my lower lashes so preferably the brush of the mascara is easy to work with, without staining my skin, and is black enough to make my lashes pop.

1. L’oreal Extra Volume Collagen Plumping Mascara Blackest: This is a mediocre mascara for me. I like the brush which reminds me of the infamous DiorShow. The formula is on the dry side and is quite waxy, so it tends to clump my lashes but are fixable using an eyelash comb (I love mine which is by tweezerman!). It gives medium volume and length, holds the curl and stays put all day. Overall it is quite a satisfactory mascara but there is no aspect of it that blows me away.


2. KissMe Heroine Make Impact Frame & Curl Mascara: I am a big fan of the original KissMe Heroine Make Volume and Curl, so I was very excited to try out their newer version. It has a comb style, and the teeth is finely spaced so it separates the lashes amazingly. I absolutely hated this mascara when it was first opened, as the formula was so wet it made my lashes look spidery. I gave this mascara a second chance after letting it ‘dry’ for 2 months, and an amazing thing happened – it worked so well for my lashes as the result was even slightly better than my beloved Maybelline Falsies. It adds medium volume and length, but the unique comb just really helps to separate and fan out the lashes beautifully. It holds the curl all day without smudging, so a big thumbs up from me! I probably would repurchase this one, but the fact that I had to wait till it dries is off putting.


3. Makeup For Ever Smoky Lash Jet Black – Compared to the above two, this is a very dramatic mascara. It is ultra black and thickens the lashes a lot! The effect is more of a doll-like (thick and slightly clumpy lashes) rather than natural-but-better lashes effect. I like it because it is so black and I only needed a little bit on my lower lashes which really helps to open up my eyes. I only wish it had a better brush design for separation.


Whilst the quality of makeup is generally improving in newer releases, I think the overly saturated mascara market can be a little gimmicky with their newer inventions (ie. the 360 degree rotation brush). So I don’t keep track of the new mascaras, but if you have discovered any new ones that knock your socks off, please let me know!