Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cool for the summer: ingredients to look out for in your summer skincare

Summer, according to me, is the most challenging season of the year. In Mumbai, you have two seasons practically speaking--summer and monsoon. You can no longer feel the winter cold possibly because of climate change, so skincare is geared more towards being sun-proof and summer-friendly.

One of the best things to do to your skin topically is to hydrate it and keep it cool. Mists are a great way to do that. And if you keep yours in the fridge, even better! Another way to keep the skin cool is to use products that contain cooling ingredients, such as peppermint, eucalyptus, cucumber, green tea, aloe vera, bamboo, rose and possibly many others. The products can be anything from cooling masks to hydrating toner mists. Here are some of my favourite cooling skincare products:

1) Fresh Spa Imperial Caviar -30 degree Cooling Mask
This hybrid between a night cream and a face mask is my holy grail skincare product. It contains arctic peppermint oil, which gives an instant cooling and toning effect together with other ingredients such as caviar and snow cladonia found in the most pristine Russian landscapes. 

2) Aroma Magic Activated Bamboo Charcoal Mask
This face mask is loaded with Himalayan clay and bamboo charcoal powder along with cooling ingredients such as panthenol, red sandalwood and aloe. Lately, this has become my favourite skincare product but for a very different purpose. Watch this space to know what I use it for. :)

3) Aloe Derma After Sun Repairing Mask
This aloe-enriched gel face mask is uber cooling, especially when you leave it in the fridge and use it after you return home from a hot, humid day. It also contains other cooling super ingredients such as mint, chamomile and purslane, a herb that is also used in salads! Sadly, I don't think Aloe Derma sells this mask anymore. I tried finding an active link for it but couldn't come up with anything.

4) Leejiham Tea Tree Toner Mist
Leejiham is a renowned Korean skincare brand and this spray mist is my first purchase from them. This power-packed mist contains 70 per cent tea tree extract along with other skincare goodies like niacinamide, witch hazel, cucumber, aloe, grapefruit extract, orange fruit extract, apple fruit extract, lemon fruit extract and lime fruit extract. A skincare cocktail, in short!

5) Whamisa Organic Flowers Eye Essence
Whamisa is another well-respected Korean skincare brand. Their packaging is drool-worthy but what's most exciting is that they carry some really well-formulated products that work. I had never used eye cream in my life so buying this was a gamble. I did not know what to expect. However, in the first use itself, I noticed how the eye cream left my eye area feeling cool and tingly, not in a menthol sort of way but in a very subtle and refreshing way, thanks to cooling ingredients like aloe and green tea.

More information about cooling skincare ingredients can be found here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

REVIEW: Tosowoong Osory Oil Emulsion

One of the constant challenges for an oily-combination skin type is to find the right kind of moisturiser. You want something light (not greasy/shiny) and if a moisturiser gives you more than just a beautiful after-feeling, you have yourselves a winner!

A strong contender
The strong contender in my stash is the Tosowoong Osory Oil Emulsion. Tosowoong is a leading Korean beauty brand, famous for creating products using the best natural ingredients such as tea tree, aloe, propolis, camellia, bifida ferment, and many others.
Now, to the most interesting part of the product name--osory! Osory is Korean for badger, the furry animal that resembles a beaver and a weasel. Apparently, the moisturiser contains oil derived from the animal--don't ask me how, as there is no information documented about this online, or at least in English. Now, Koreans are known to derive natural ingredients from creatures such as snail (its mucus is known to be anti-inflammatory), bee (its venom is known to stimulate collagen), red algae and crustaceans, which are known to produce astaxanthin, a super antioxidant. But many Korean brands are happy to show you that they cultivate snails responsibly. So, let's assume for a minute that our friendly little badger is not harmed as well.

What does the moisturiser contain
Okay, now that we have the controversial part out of the way, let's focus on why someone would use badger oil in skincare. While there is not much research available online about the benefits of badger oil, there is some indication that it contains unsaturated fatty acids, which when applied topically help repair the moisture barrier of the skin. I have spoken about the moisture barrier previously here, and why it's important to maintain it. Repair your moisture barrier and you will have taken care of acne--it's as simple as that.

This moisturiser also contains squalene, a natural oil that is very similar to the sebum that our skin produces. Squalene is anti-bacterial and also helps compensate any oil loss from the surface of the skin, thus helping repair the moisture barrier.

Another ingredient in this moisturiser that helps repair the barrier is meadowfoam seed oil, which is an antioxidant. It's worth mentioning that all of these three oils are super light on the skin, which is essential for an oily-combo skin type.

The product comes in a sturdy, non-fussy bottle with a screw-on lid. The bottle is not very practical as it has a slightly wide mouth so you typically end up with more quantity than you need. A pump style bottle would have been more practical.

Price (and er, fragrance)
For me, using this product has been a mix of yays and nays. Let's start with the nays. Apart from the price, which ranges between 22 USD to 32 USD (roughly 1,450 INR to 2,000 INR for 150 ml), which could be a nay for some people, the product has a strange smell. I cannot even begin to describe it but I can tell you what it's not--it's neither floral nor fruity, it's neither medicinal nor grassy, it's something else entirely. If that's how the badger oil is supposed to smell, then I get it.

Once you get over the fragrance part, there is good news waiting for you because the product works. To begin with, you only need a little so that justifies the price. It is absolutely 100% non-greasy so perfect even for summers. When I tested this initially, I did not have major acne to test it on, so please excuse me when I say that I cannot attest to the acne-reducing claim. However, the ingredients should technically work in reducing acne. What I did notice, though, is that it made my face less oily than usual, which is not a surprise because the ingredients are meant to do exactly that. By adding the right kind of oils to your skin's surface, it stops the skin from overproducing oil. When the skin has the right amount of oil, pore clogging is down to minimum, thus reducing acne. I would imagine that you'd need to use this regularly along with using the right kind of cleanser (not the oil-stripping foaming washes) to see sustained results.

I actually won mine in an auction on Tosowoong's own ebay store. So, I ended up paying 13 USD for 150 ml. But last I checked, the ebay store no longer holds auctions. However, the store continues to sell the product at the full price of 32 USD. You could also get it for cheaper on websites like RoseRoseShop.

Skinsleuth Says:
While the moisturiser is a downer in terms of fragrance, it is light enough to use while maintaining the essential oil-moisture balance. For these reasons, I would recommend the Tosowoong Osory Oil Emulsion.