SKINCARE

The Clarisonic Aria Facial Sonic Cleansing Tool is one of my best beauty purchases this year! I am not a strong advocate for using anything “harsh” to clean the face everyday,  but a recent trip to see a dermatologist (whom I visit for my pigmentation problem developed during pregnancy) has changed my mind and recommended me this product. My question for her was ‘how do I get a poreless complexion ‘ and her answer to me was the Clarisonic and wearing sunscreen everyday. So  I rushed to my nearest store and got myself the Aria which is a relatively new model.

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Just a brief review on the machine itself – it has 3 speed settings (low, normal and high) and comes with a drying stand which is pretty handy. Compared this to MIA2 which is another very popular model, the Aria is slightly longer and looks more sleek. In terms of functionality, MIA2 has only 2 speed setting (low and normal) and does not have a drying stand. Speed low and normal are suffice to give the face a deep cleanse, and the high speed is generally used for body. I have had my Aria for about 6 months now and I have only used it to clean the body once! So if you are still contemplating as to which model to get, I would say Aria is great for having the extra drying stand, however MIA2 is just as good and more wallet friendly.

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Result

I have been using it for the past 6 months with different brush heads, and it has made a huge difference in how clear my skin looks. My biggest problem has always been skin congestion around the nose and chin areas, so the pores are quite visible. The texture on my cheeks was ok but I also got occasional pimples and blackheads.  Prior to having  the Clarisonic Aria, I had to have an extraction on the nose/chin at least every 3-4 weeks, and the congestion would slowly built up again over the next 3 weeks until my next extraction.  Since I had the Clarisonic I only needed twice so far! My complexion appears visibly more clear and the skin on my nose/chin is noticeably smoother because of less congested pores. As a result the texture and pore size are looking much more refined.

For Dry Skin

My skin is dry and thin, so I only use it on the days when I wear makeup and I don’t use this in the morning. Although there are a lot of videos and tests suggesting that device is ultra gentle by demonstrating running this device over a piece of tofu or stocking and the objects stay still during the use,  I still wouldn’t use this device twice a day. Too much friction with the skin is never a great idea in my opinion. If I am starting to feel the nose area is starting to feeling rough, then I would increase the frequency of usage only on the required area.

How I use it

The default setting for the Aria is 20 seconds for the forehead, 20 seconds for the nose and chin, and 10 seconds for each cheek. The timer setting is configurable based on different skin conditions, and I have re-adjusted to 10 seconds forehead, 30 seconds nose/chin, and 10 seconds for each cheek. Since I only use the Clarisonic once a day at max, I find 30 seconds on the nose and chin delivers the best result.

Brush Heads Reviews and Comparison

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1. The Delicate Brush Head is my favorite. It feels very gentle on the skin during use yet provides a through cleanse, and is ideal for daily use.

2. The Sensitive Brush Head is the most standard one that comes with the brush. If you have normal to oily skin this brush would be ideal, for dry and sensitive skin types I would say the delicate brush is a better option.

3. The Deep Pore Brush Head feels coarse on my skin and I won’t repurchase it. It is specifically designed for unclogging pores, however I didn’t notice it made my skin more clear than with other brush heads.

4. The Satin Precision Contour Brush Head is my second favorite and I would repurchase it again . It allows for more precise cleansing for the nose, lips or even for the eye lids as the bristles are very soft and flexible.

5. The Cashmere Brush Head (not in the picture). I don’t have this brush head with me now. It is a great brush for very dry, fragile and mature skin. I like its cashmere-like softness but I feel the Delicate Brush Head provides a more thorough cleanse, so I did not repurchase this one.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend Clarisonic sonic cleansing to anyone who has congestion problem. I have tried tons of skin care products for unclogging pores and none of them have delivered such a visible result anywhere close to this. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (only 2 days left!) is currently offering lots of different special packages for the Clarisonics.

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Sunday Pamper

June 11, 2014

As much as I enjoy a pampering spa treatment every now and then, I often do a ‘home version’ on a weekly basis. Obviously it’s a lot cheaper, and to be honest, the result is pretty much ‘spa-like’ with the help of some good products. My current home-facial is as below – it’s my ideal Sunday night wind down activity with my favorite candle, music and magazines!


1. Deep Cleanse - After removing the makeup, I wash my face using my Clarisonic Aria with a foaming cleanser. I bought this wonderful cleansing tool about 2 months ago and I am completely hooked on it. It gives the skin a true deep cleanse and mild exfoliation which significantly improves the skin congestion around my problematic areas.

2. Massage – This is an essential step to improve blood circulation and lymph drainage hence your face appears more contoured and radiant. I often notice that my face appears significantly slimmer and more lifted after a professional facial. At home I always follow the famous Tanaka’s Face Contouring massage (you can watch her videos here – part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 shows the before and after result). She is the guru of  anti-aging massage, and her book has sold millions of copies across Asia. Combining her massage technique with my Suqqu Massage and Mask Cream helps in firming, detoxifying and lifting the face.  If your face is starting to show signs of sagging/fatigue, or you are prone to water retention, I highly recommend that you include this step into your skin care routine. Be aware not to massage on dry skin as too much friction will undo the benefits.

3. Purifying/Clarifying – I then put on the Chantecaille Fruit and Flower Acid Mask. It’s a very gentle clarifying mask that acts almost like a mild peel. It removes the dead skin cells, unclog the pores and brighten up the complexion. I have very thin skin and this one delivers the result without any irritation.

4. Hydrate/Moisturize – Now my skin is all clean and ready to absorb the miracle ingredient of Pitera from my all time favorite SKII’s Facial Treatment Mask. After trying out tons of paper masks over the years, this one still remains my top favorite. It hydrates, brightens and plumps up even the most tiring skin . When using a face mask make sure you are always lie down, because these weighty paper masks (as they are soaked in liquid) can drag your face down “discreetly” if you have it on while sitting/standing!

 

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Updated Skincare Routine

November 8, 2013

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Here is my current skincare regime as I am very pleased with the results.

1. Clinique Take the day off Cleansing Milk: A gentle and soothing cleansing milk that is effective to take off light makeup.

2. ALBION EXAGE Moist Crystal Milk: ALBION’s signature pre-toner lotion. When it is used in conjunction with the ALBION Skin Conditioner Treatment Lotion my skin stays moisturized and supple all day long. Absolutely love the combination.

3. ALBION Skin Conditioner: Japan’s best selling treatment lotion that tops the sales record every year (a bottle is sold every 13 seconds!). It is a refreshing yet highly hydrating treatment lotion which is made of high concentration of Japanese barley. It helps to keep the skin oil and water balanced and it purifies, brightens and moisturize at the same time. It is my all time favorite treatment water and I have gone through countless bottles of it.

4. Ipsa Premier Line ME Serum 1: The latest skin firming gel-type serum from Ipsa that claims it will give the same result as having a laser thermage. I almost used the bottle up, and although I have not noticed a significant slimming/lifting and anti-aging effect, it does keep the puffiness at bay.

5. Ipsa Premier Line Lift Up Roller: A special face massaging tool especially designed to be used together with the ME serum . It gives a temporary lifting effect and helps to stimulate the lymph notes and blood circulation along the jaw lines and the neck which helps to eliminate toxins.

6. Perricone MD High Potency Evening Repair: I really like this serum for night time. It is a very potent serum that helps to repair and resurface dull and aged skin, and I can see a great improvement overnight. As a bonus I have noticed it has some firming effect, as I feel the definition of my face appears sharpened and more lifted every time I use this product.

7. Sisley Day & Night Ecological Compound: Another holy grail product for me and I always keep one on my vanity table. Sisley is known for its state of the art botanical ingredients, and this silky moisturizing lotion has a lovely milky texture that is easily absorbed by the skin which is ideal all year round and is suitable for most skin types. It gives the skin a lovely glow, and is also great to be worn under the makeup.

8. Fresh Creme Ancienne: I was intrigued by this cream as it is comparable to cream de La Mer. The texture is even thicker and waxier than the latter, and it is extremely rich so a tiny dab is enough for the whole face even for the very dry skin type. I only reach for this cream on days when my skin is desert dry, and this cream works wonders.

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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.

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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.

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I love the NARS Purifying Foam Cleanser! I started using this one since summer, and it worked brilliantly for my normal to dry skin. What surprised me the most is that my skin is still loving it in this cold weather which is a good indication that it is an all year rounder for even dry and sensitive skin. So I think I need to write up a more detailed review to share my love.

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As the name suggests, it’s a foaming cleanser that helps to clean and purify the skin. The cleanser contains micro beads that feel very gentle on the skin. A tiny dab of it forms a lot of bubble so I have barely used a dent after several months! And this gigantic tube will last me a long time I think. It is part of the Nars’ latest brightening skincare range so it contains “light reflecting technology” which helps to brighten up your complexion. I would say it is a good product to be incorporated into your skincare routine if your main concern is pigmentation or dullness but I won’t solely rely on this product for brightening purposes.

When it comes to foaming cleansers, my preference has always been with Japanese brands as that is what they are known for. The Japanese cleansers pioneer in terms of producing ultra-dense and creamy foam (that has a marshmallow-like texture) and has excellent cleansing power . The downside is that they tend to over clean my dry skin so I always feel my skin a little taut after washing with most brands. Compared to that, what wins me over with Nars is that it does a good cleaning job and makes your skin feel refreshed without stripping any natural oil off. My skin feels clean, balanced and soft (not dry and tight) after washing, It completely removes any makeup residue and makes the skin appear ‘very clean’, and for morning use I like how refreshing it feels and how it instantly wakes my skin up.

Bottom Line: A very good foaming cleanser for any skin type (even sensitive). Highly recommend! I love it so much so I have bought almost the entire range (typical me!), and so far I am very impressed with the luminous mask and the moisturizing gel-cream which are worth checking out. The cleanser can be purchased here.

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My updated skincare routine as requested by my readers. To recap, my skin is dehydrated inside but can look oily outside. My main skin concern is dehydration and skin congestion around the t-zone area. I am also at a sad old age where my skin metabolism rate has gone downhill – as it takes forever for any scar to heal. I do get occasional breakout so I always incorporate a powerful serum which increases and stimulates the cell turnover rate as it is vital to speed up the skin renewal process so it helps to clear up my scars within a short time.

MORNING:

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I always use a gentle, non-foaming cleanser to cleanse my skin in the morning. At the moment I am using the Lancôme Galateis Douceur Gentle Softening Cleansing Fluid. I bought the jumbo size (400ml) so I can use a generous amount of it everyday with a special massage tool. It’s gentle and makes my skin super soft after washing, and in conjunction with the massage tool it helps to eliminate the water retention of my morning puffy face. Followed by Lancôme HYDRA ZEN Anti-Stress Moisturizing Aqua Gel which is just an average hydrating gel-to-water type toner. It comes out like gel and transforms into water upon touching the skin. The Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Serum is my absolute must-have for the morning – I have gone through tubes and tubes of it. The smell is relaxing and it helps to lift and sharpen the facial contours. Dr Brandt Pore Effect is applied over the t-zone (reviewed here). The last step is to apply a thick layer of my all time favorite moisturizer Dr. CiLabo Aqua Collagen Gel. For those of you who haven’t heard of the brand – Dr CiLabo is a celebrity dermatologist in Japan. The collagen gel is the signature product of his line, and the story behind the product was that he was very frustrated that he could not find a perfect moisturizer for his elite clients so he developed his own! It was so good so he started selling this to the general public. I got hooked on since it was first released which was 10 years ago! It is lightweight, absorbs instantly, plumping up my skin, stimulate collagen and most importantly keeps my skin staying hydrated all day long. Clinique All About Eyes feels quite soothing to the eyes and moisturizes as well.

NIGHT:

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The cleanser and toner used are the same as my morning routine. The Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector is my recent favorite anti-aging serum. The patent ingredient is the LR 2414 (aka jasmonic acid) which enhances the skin’s natural self renewal processes. It minimizes skin imperfections, pore sizes and improves skin’s overall texture. I really love it because it works for clearing up my scars. With this serum the new scar forms a scab and then comes off with a faded mark within days. La Mer’s Crème de La Mer Moisturizing Cream is another all time favorite moisturizer. If Dr CiLabo Collagen Gel is the perfect hydrator, then La Mer is one level up for giving me an incredible luminous complexion. The key to using this moisturizer effectively is to activate the ingredient by emulsifying this thick cream. I found that the enclosed instruction never worked for me. Here is a little discovery I made – warm up the cream when there is still some Lancome Visionnaire remnant  left in the palm. Within seconds this moisturizer turns into a fluid elixir-like texture so it absorbs into the skin immediately. The combination works like a dream, and I really love the way my skin looks every morning – clear and luminous :-) For the eyes I use La Prarie’s Cellular Eye Contour Cream.

WEEKLY TREATMENTS:

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SKII Facial Treatment Mask once a week, and SKII Sign’s Eye Mask once every fortnight.

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rose-obsessionClockwise:

By Terry TEINT DE ROSE – the most luxurious primer made of premium rose extract and provides a golden rosey glow to the skin.

Duchess Marden Skincare Line - Everything from this natural brand is made of pure Damascena Roses. The textures, scents and sensations are delightful and sensuous.

Diptyque ROSES Candle – Diptyque makes my favorite candles. I love most of their scents and ROSES makes my house smell like heaven.

Jo Malone Red Roses Room Spray - Another clean and relaxing rosey scent. I like to lightly spray my room every night before I go to bed which guarantees a good nights sleep :-)

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I don’t know how I lived without Dr Brandt’s PORES NO MORE Pore Effect Refining Cream, but I’m pretty sure it will be a staple product for my skincare for a long time. My biggest pet peeve about my skin is that it is prone to congestion since my teenage years. It is getting a lot better compared to how my skin was, but the nose and the chin areas are still subject to blackheads, and to combat that I always have a facial done with extraction at least once a month.

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If you have seen my previous skincare posts (here or here), you would know that products with AHA/BHA/Retinol have always been a core part of my daily skincare routine. The products that were featured in my previous posts have all improved the congestion by a certain extent. But I thought Dr Brand’s Pore Effect Refining Cream makes the biggest improvement! Having said that, it is not a miracle product as it will not totally diminish anything and nor will it give you pore-less skin (if you already have visible pores). But I have been using this product on and off purposely, and I noticed that my skin appears noticeably more clear when I was using it. In summary I really like this product because:

- It has a creamy texture and gives a nice slip when applying it over the face.

- It feels mild on my sensitive skin with no tinge and no irritation, and it doesn’t dry my skin out after long term use.

- It has a lovely floral tea tree oil scent (some other AHA/BHA products have smelt rather disgusting).

- Most importantly, it works! I have done a comparison – I started using this product on my skin which was completely  clear after the extraction. My skin stays clear (and I mean no blackheads at all on my nose for 3 weeks) for a much longer time than with of other products.

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Bottom Line: I never expect any over-the-counter product to provide a poreless complexion and completely unclog pores. I judge this type of product purely based on how much it improves, and how long it keeps my skin clear after I deep cleanse with an extraction. And so far Dr Brandt’s delivers the biggest improvement to my skin!

I bought mine here, and it is also available at Sephora.

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