[Local] Review: Wardah Lightening Facial Serum

?????????????I just bought my third box of Wardah Lightening Facial Serum, so obviously this is a good one. It’s a box of 5 ampoules, each 5ml, and is marketed as containing Vitamin B3 to help brighten skin. Each of the ampoules has a twist cap opening, and the liquid content is a clear gel (not too runny) with a very faint floral scent.

wardah lightening facial serum 2

Wardah Lightening Facial Serum list of ingredients
Wardah Lightening Facial Serum list of ingredients

Niacinamide (or Vitamin B3) is the second ingredient after water in Wardah’s Lightening Facial Serum, and this was what caught my attention. Niacinamide is a very popular ingredient in products targeted for skin brightening or lightening, since it is touted to reduce wrinkles, hydrate, peel, AND help skin turnover at the same time, with many clinical trials and scientific research to prove the claims. You can read a bit more here, here or here, and googling will result in many more info about this ingredient.

Not only that, Glycerin and Aloe are also high in the ingredient list, and both are hydrating substances. Tocopheryl Acetate or Vitamin E, and Sodium Hyaluronate, another hydrating ingredient, are also present at relatively smaller amounts (but potentially still of sufficient quantities to be effective, as the list is relatively short). Housing the Serum in small ampoules is also a smart move as it reduces contact with oxygen (therefore slowing the breakdown/degradation of the ingredients).

Each ampoule of 5ml is sufficient for 4-5 applications in my experience – I use this liberally to coat my face, neck and upper chest. I use this only at night, after a thorough cleansing of my face, and the Serum is followed by a basic moisturizer to ‘seal in’ the hydration (I like St Ive’s Collagen Elastin Moisturizer). Even without the additional moisturizer, this Serum alone is hydrating enough for my oily facial skin, but I put on moisturizer on top since my neck and chest area can always use it.

So, great ingredients and packaging – but what about performance? Indeed, I see the brightening impact even after the second use! After the use of one ampoule (4-5 consecutive nights), I see significant brightening and overall evening out of skin tone.

I never use more than one ampoule continuously, preferring to switch around what I use to get the most benefits from different skincare ingredients. I usually take a few weeks before opening and using the next ampoule. So a box can last me at least 3 months. At a price of Rp54,000 for 25ml (less than US$5, and it is often on sale), this product is obviously a winner. Highly recommended and I applaud Wardah for making a good product (using internationally proven effective ingredient) at a price that everyone can afford!

Mega Himalaya Herbals Face Wash Review: Neem, Exfoliating, Whitening, and Oil Control

Himalaya Herbals face washesSeveral years ago I got a few gently-used Himalaya Herbals products, and was blown away by how good they were. This line of product is based on ayurveda, or ayuverdic medicine, which originated in India.

Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices.  (Source)

At that time, Himalaya Herbals products were not widely available in Indonesia, with only one known store in Jakarta, so I mostly purchased them when overseas. The brick-and-mortar store then closed. But during the last year or so, Himalaya is back in Indonesia, and the good thing is, they are now widely distributed across drugstores (e.g. Watson, Guardian, etc),  supermarkets and convenience stores (Alfa Mart, etc). Initially, the face washes were all that’s available, but increasingly, other products as well, e.g. moisturizers, face mask, etc.

This review is for the face washes that are sold in Indonesia, and I list them in order of preference. You will find the ingredients list for each variant at the bottom of the page.

Purifying Neem Face Wash

This has been the product I consistently used for many years now – I think it has been over 5 years. There are two version of this wash, the gel version and the foaming version. I have tried both a few times. In truth, I like them equally, and happy to purchase either one, and usually price dictates my choice, so will choose whichever is on sale or has a special bundling event. I always stock up when there is a special, as it’s a product that I continue to use.  I’ve found no difference in performance between the gel or foaming Neem cleansers that I bought overseas (Singapore, Malaysia Philippines) with those bought in Indonesia. In the picture above, the tube second from the right was bought overseas.

I use the Neem facial cleanser in the morning, or in the afternoon if I have mainly stayed indoors without makeup. Unlike the other facial washes which are heavily scented, this one has a mild floral fragrance, a bit plasticky to my nose, but not to the point that it bothers me.  I usually put on the cleanser on dry skin and message thoroughly over my face before rinsing off. For those concerned, note that this face wash (as also the other variants below) does contain a surfactant (i.e. a lathering agent, in this case ammonium lauryl sulfate).

Gently Exfoliating Daily Face Wash

This face wash has some small granules, said to be apricot seeds (and the ingredients list does list apricot kernels). The granules are very fine and not very abrasive, so it would be great for gentle exfoliation, although I still would not use this daily. Maybe once a day or every other day would be great. This cleanser also contains neem, aloe, etc. Sometimes I will mix a little bit of this into the Neem Facial Wash to get a bit of polishing action. The scent is very strong though, and not pleasant to my nose, as are the other washes below.

Clear Complexion Whitening Face Wash

This one is just ok. I don’t detect any whitening/brightening (and I actually do not expect any – I don’t believe that a face wash can whiten). Again, the scent is very strong.

Oil Control Lemon Face Wash

I dislike this the  most as the scent is very strong. It is advertised for oily skin, but I do not detect any more cleansing power than the rest, though it does not dry out the skin either.

So, bottom line, I would recommend highly the Purifying Neem Face Wash for all types of skin as a morning cleanser. I’ve recommended this numerous times to people, and most do find this great. If you are looking for a cheap yet effective manual exfoliator, then try the Gentle Exfoliating Daily Facial Wash for intermittent use, and this should be great for teen skin which don’t need heavy duty exfoliation yet. Both products are cheap and effective.

Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Gentle Daily Exfoliating Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Gentle Daily Exfoliating Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Clear Complexion Whitening Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Clear Complexion Whitening Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Oil Control Lemon Face Wash
Himalaya Herbals Oil Control Lemon Face Wash

Makeup as Skin Care

Guerlain Rouge G lipstick
Guerlain Rouge G lipsticks (which tout hyaluronic acid and mango butter for hydration)

When someone mentions a must-do about beauty and skincare, I immediately roll my eyes. Yes, it’s a wonder these eyes haven’t popped out due to so much eye-rolling. But Renees’s list of 5 Skin Care Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes* did not result in such eye movements. I’ve been reading Renee’s tips for many years now. She’s an esthetician to the stars (well, I only mention it because performing artists need to look their best at all times), with non-nonsense and rational approach to skin care and to basic biology, and this list is a classic Renee.

You can read the list of 5 mistakes you probably make (none of which I make, ha!) but want to draw on the most interesting point she makes, and that is makeup as skin care. This is somewhat my approach to makeup to0, nowadays, especially as technology evolved and enabled active ingredients to stay stable. In the article, Renee mentions foundation as skincare, and I find that is true, especially with the higher-end makeup line. Another are lip products, touting hydration, sunscreen and even wrinkle-fighting.

Ironically, people are now flocking to ‘natural’ products, and they’re missing out on these technological advances in makeup (and skincare) products. Not to mention that most people think ‘natural’ is non-chemical (honey, they’re ALL chemicals; it’s a matter of being organic or synthetic, and further mistake is in thinking that organic is safer  – well, not if you ask these regulators). Of course, knowing which is which, and what ingredients benefit you according to your needs, will need you to know about … ingredients! No surprises there.

*Information courtesy of www.ReneeRouleau.com, a website with skin care tips, products based on nine skin types and advice from skin care expert and celebrity esthetician, Renée Rouleau.”

Two Cleansing Oils: The Body Shop Camomile and The Face Shop Rice Water Bright

The Body Shop Camomile The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing OilsI recently finished two cleansing oils,  The Body Shop (TBS) Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil and The Face Shop (TFS) Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil. Both are widely available in Jakarta and do not contain mineral oil (for those who care – I don’t).

TBS Camomile (Rp199,000 or about US$ 15 for 200ml) has a relatively thick texture with a mild and (to my nose) pleasant floral scent. The main oil ingredient is soy oil.  The pros are that the texture is thick and spreads easily; cleans very well including all waterproof makeup and sunscreen; does not sting eyes; and rinses off relatively squeaky clean with water so I don’t feel a need to rinse off with a foaming cleanser.  The cons: not as squeaky clean as Muji Sensitive Skin Cleansing oil

TFS Rice Water Bright is 150ml and was bought under Rp200,000 during a sale (I’ve forgotten the exact price).  It’s main ingredient being rice bran oil, this indeed has a light texture, and a stronger scent though not unpleasant to my nose. Tried as I might, I could not find a positive thing to say about this. The texture is too runny: you need to quickly message onto skin or it will drip down to your neck. I need to use a lot more to take the makeup off, than other cleansing oils I’ve used and even then, it does not take waterproof eyeliners completely off. It stings the eyes, and leaves a filmy residue after being rinsed off with water, so a second cleanser is needed (not a good sign in my book, as the whole point of cleansing oils is the convenience of cleanse-and-rinse in one go).

Bottom line: Compared to these two, I still prefer Muji Sensitive Skin cleansing oil, but the TBS Camomile  is a good alternative. I was contemplating a permanent switch from Muji to the TBS Camomile when the later was priced at Rp139,000, but now that it is Rp199,000 (about the same price as Muji), I will not be switching. The TFS Rice Water Bright was a pain to use, and I will not be purchasing this again.

Ingredients list - The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing oil and The Face Show Rice Water Bright
Ingredients list – The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil and The Face Show Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil

 

Best of Beauty for over a Decade

top beauty products over a decade

The true test of quality is when you repurchase an item over and over again for years, despite other similar products in the market. Here are some products I’ve used and repurchased for at least a decade.

1.   Lush Magnaminty

I am a devotee of Lush skincare. I got introduced to the brand when I lived in the US, and at that time, there were no Lush store in the US. I ordered my first batch from Canada, and ever since that first package, I got hooked. There’s a few staples from Lush that I always stock, but Magnaminty, the clay mask+scrub in one, is one that is unique, and I have not been able to find a comparable product in other brands. Sure, there are lots of clay masks around, some with even exfoliants mixed in, and I’ve tried most of the popular ones like Glam+Glow, Queen Helene, etc, but Magnaminty is still superior in its deep cleansing and exfoliating power. Since Lush closed their shops in Indonesia, I have had this ferried to me from numerous cities across four continents. Anyone heading to a city where there is a Lush store will receive a request of Lush goodies by me, and most often Magnaminty is in the list.

2. Lush T’eo Deodorant

T’eo is another one of my staples from Lush. It is a gentle deodorant made of baking soda and lemon+lime concoction, and it’s a great one to be used at home and during days of low impact activities indoors.

3. Burt’s Bees Repair Serum with Attar of Rose

This has been a staple ever since my first encounters with the harsh winters of the north. I had initially thought a heavy duty night cream will work, for my oily face. A few days of that and my skin was peeling. The Burt’s Bees Repair Serum is a saver of a night cream, and I use it from face to neck to decollete. A decade ago, face oils weren’t so much of a trend, and the Repair Serum is one that was affordable and easy to obtain. I still have this in rotation as a night cream, although I rotate that with others. But after trying a few face oils, I still think this one is a winner that hydrates, tones, and protects the skin.

4. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat

Seche Vite is a fast dry top coat for the nails. I probably got introduced to it around the mid 2000s, and after a few trials and errors with other top coats, fast dry or otherwise, this is the one that I go back to again, and again. Seche Vite really lets me get on with life 5 minutes after I put it on. Some people find it harden quickly in the bottle – well, that’s what it’s designed to do, to harden with exposure to air. The key to keeping it a nice consistency is to drop a bit of polish thinner (I use Seche Restore, but other nail polish thinner will work) in the bottle after a few uses. Don’t wait until it hardens, but just as it gets too gooey for comfortable use, drop some thinner in and shake.

5. OPI Nail Polish

My oldest OPI nail polish was probably from 2003 and it’s still as good as when I got it. The key is keeping them closed tight. Sure, they harden, but nothing that a bit of thinner can not remedy. OPI nail polish are consistent in their formula, have a great variation of colors, relatively long-lasting, priced competitively, and most of all, I love their brush that is perfect in length and width. Perhaps I am just biased because I’m so used to them (there was once a Caroline New York nail polish brand, and I like the brush on their nail polishes as well), but I think the key to a polished nail look is half the color and half the application, so a brush that you like is already half the success.

What are you tried and true products?

 

DIY Skincare: Left-over Tea Scrubs

20150704_135529I’m a fearless MacGyver when it comes to concocting meals and potions, including skincare and makeup. Having a non-sensitive skin is a plus for these kinds of experiments. One of my favorite thing to do is to use left-over tea mix as face scrub. I was recently gifted a delicious box of teabags from Germany. It is a delicious winter-warm blend of berries, cinnamon and oranges, and upon inspection, the left-over mix looks nice as a face scrub – large particles still somewhat fragrant. So I’ve been collecting them in a small pot, stored in the refrigerator for use whenever needed.

It’s a bit messy, so I use them in the bathroom mixed with a bit of cleansing gel, where any fall out can readily be swept away with water. Alternatively, mix with some honey and apply after cleansing, leaving the mixture on face for a few minutes while you brush your teeth or attend to other matters.

20150704_135512
Ingredients: Hibiscus, Rosehip, Cinnamon, Apel, Aroma of spekulas, Orange peel, Blackberry leaves, Elder leaves, Lemon peel, Cloves.

Review: My Beauty Diary sheet mask

MBS My Beauty Diary Mask (2)

It took me YEARS to succumb to the rave that rippled across Asia. Yes, My Beauty Diary marks created a ripple that shook cities, villages, mountains and beaches. Alright I’m exaggerating here, but not much really. There was a time when you couldn’t browse the internet 10 minutes before some review/rave/mask-wearing phantom appeared to sang sonnets about the MBD masks. Really, it was a few YEARS that I ignored the hype. I mean, come on, with a name like My Beauty Diary?? How could it not be something useless with synthetic ingredients targeted at 14-year-olds?! Sometimes even I am amazed at my pigheadedness.

What made me crumble was offer of a discount. What else?! I remember buying my first few sheets, and oh.my. I was hooked. it was sooo good. I remember using the Bird’s Nest mask, and it was such a relaxing experience that resulted in a bright, glowing, plump skin texture that I was like, DAMN!

These masks are made in Taiwan, and boy those Taiwanese really make good products [MBD, DAAI TV, some NYX and other big cosmetic brands’ products. Really, Taiwan is such a model for creating wealth out of everyday products. Not bombastic planes! phones! cars! But basic, everyday products which you buy in bulk, make repeat purchases and can’t live without. But I digress]. Now, whenever I see these masks, I hoard. They’re not sold in Indonesia yet, but a few hours to the east will get you some (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur), so no biggie. I have dreams though, of personally bowing down at the altar of MBD in Taipei.

Anyway. I don’t really bother to read what the masks are prescribed for anymore, or even their ingredients, and have accepted that they’ve got magic, they are ALL good. I use them  indiscriminately, usually as part of an afternoon treatment after a shower, where I put the mask on my face, and drench the left-over liquids all over my body. I leave the mask on at least an hour, while napping or working, and have been known to sleep with them on (they’d be somewhere around my toes in the morning). When I do remember to take them off, I don’t rinse the liquid off my skin, leaving it overnight until my morning facial cleansing time. So essentially, I leave the liquid on for 12 hours or more, which might be the reason I get such good results with these masks.

So how do they compare with masks from other brands? I’ve tried a few, believe me! Tony Moly, The Face Shop, the generic ones from Watson’s or Guardian, the pricey SKII, etc. What MBD does better is consistency. All the masks are consistently good across variants, with great scent and hydration at the heart of it, and a royal splash of the magic liquid that’s enough to coat your whole body. I don’t even bother anymore with other sheet masks from other brands when there’s so many from MBD to choose from (well, except this Garnier one which I’ll post about later).

Here are a few of my MBD favorites. It’s pretty hard to pinpoint to just a few since they’re ALL good. I’ve not used one without smiling and just chuckling happily afterward. But if I MUST choose the top five, these would be my picks.

1. Bird’s Nest. This one really holds a soft spot in my heart, since it was my first and introduced me to the brand. Great job with this one, which will get you hooked as it’s got a pleasant, soft, clean scent, and results in hydrated, plump and just overall bright skin which will last a couple days.

2. Red Wine. This is one really tightens your skin in addition to hydrating it, with a unique red wine-like smell that I find so relaxing.

3. Apple Polyphenol. This one also tightens your skin, and the scent of apple is so energizing and relaxing at the same time.

4. Imperial Bird’s Nest. To be honest, I have no idea how this one is different in terms of ingredients compared with the Bird’s Nest Mask, but it does give similar effects although I feel the brightening effect is less pronounced, and they hydrating impact is more. This is a good one to use after a day out in the sun and/or the water.

5. Royal Jelly. I like this one mainly for the scent, which is a sweet and warm caramel scent. True, it’s not something you’d like to smell all the time, but so fitting when you’ve got a slight craving for something sweet like a Snickers or two. It is hydrating as all MBD masks are, but I haven’t noticed brightening, tightening, etc. To me, using this one is like getting my dose of veggies – honey is like veggies for the skin, you’ll notice the effect after 20 years. 😀

I’m going to spare you the face-with-mask picture. But don’t be like me, at least try these.

And if you have tried them, what are your favorites?