Friday, November 3, 2017

REVIEW: Merumaya Treatment Toner™ with Vitamin C

Say the words 'treatment', 'toner' and 'vitamin C' in a single sentence and you'd have me hop around with excitement. That's exactly what my intentions were going in with this toner from UK-based brand Merumaya. So, let's get to know this toner well.

Why I purchased it
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, the three magical words got me excited. I'm always looking for something more in a toner apart from the basic function of wiping away any leftover residue post cleansing and bringing the ph of the skin to the optimal value of 5.5. I want my toners to be almost pre-serums or essences. And this one seemed to fit the bill, as per Maleka's (the brand owner) description on her site and the many positive reviews.

Aqua (Water), Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Betaine, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Maris Aqua, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Cellulose Gum, Hydrolyzed Algin, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citronellol, Disodium EDTA, Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Isoeugenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate Parfum (Fragrance).

Star ingredients
Betaine: This ingredient stood out for me as I have seen it in several K-beauty skincare products. Betaine is a naturally occurring amino acid which acts as an anti-irritant and is responsible for maintaining moisture. It is also a non-sticky ingredient, a must-have in my books as I constantly struggle with high humidity in Mumbai.

Vitamin C: The finicky antioxidant that you want to own for its brightening, collagen-building, sun protective qualities, but also one that requires utmost protection as it's highly prone to oxidation. In short, Vitamin C provides great skincare properties but if exposed to light or air, turns a pale yellow to a vivid orange depending on how much oxidation has taken place. Oxidised Vitamin C not only stops providing skincare benefits but also causes damage to the skin, according to some reports. This toner contains Ascorbyl Glucoside, a stabilised, natural vitamin C which activates on contact with the skin, providing slow and sustained benefits.

Sodium Hyaluronate: Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid again is a naturally occurring substance found in our bodies which helps retain suppleness and is a magnet for moisture as it can hold 1000 times its weight in water. This ingredient unfortunately depletes with age which is why babies look young and supple and older people lose that quality.

Packaging and user experience
The 128 ml product comes in a see-through plastic bottle that has a press-down lid--and this is where the product let me down. While the brand says that the toner contains a stabilised form of vitamin C, mine has turned a pale yellow after a couple of months' use--this despite having stored it away from light and air, in a closed cabinet. Thankfully, I had already finished using 3/4th of the product as I love it that much but I think the see-through packaging is a complete let-down especially because the vitamin C seems to have oxidised. The yellow colour is more pronounced at the neck of the bottle. See below...

On publishing this blog post, Maleka, the incredibly helpful owner of Merumaya, provided a clarification regarding the yellowing of the toner's content. This is her comment:

"First I thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on our products. I really do appreciate it. I sent it off to one of our team of Cosmetic Scientists for his response to your comments about Vitamin C degradation. "Any yellowing is down to the acids rather than the Vit C. Acids are prone to a bit of yellowing. We know it's not Ascorbyl Glucoside as that ingredient only becomes Vit C (ascorbic acid AFTER contact and reaction on the skin. So it won't oxidise in the bottle. I hope that helps all your followers to feel perfectly reassured that what we said is true. It is encapsulated. Thanks again and I hope you will keep trying and sharing your thoughts about our products - you write exceptionally well. Fluid, factual and yet very personal. Regards to you all Maleka x Founder of MERUMAYA"

I thank Maleka for being so proactive with responding to reviews and concerns stated by users such as me. This is what sets her brand apart from the run-of-the-mill ones who don't even bother to show a face let alone address concerns. So, all in all, we don't need to worry about the 'yellowing'.

User experience wise, there is not a single fault that I can find with this product. The press-down lid is user-friendly as is the lightweight plastic bottle. The toner carries the same signature Merumaya scent present in all other products in this line, which is a delight to the olfactory senses.

Price and where to buy
The toner is priced at 16.5 GBP, which translates to 1395 INR. Like its sister toner, the Merumaya Gentle Exfoliating Toner reviewed here, this one is also pricey when compared to most Indian toners. But I feel the value this toner provides is much more than the average toner you'd find in the Indian market. Both toners can be bought at

Worth the hype?
The Merumaya Treatment Toner is completely worth the hype. Go for it if Vitamin C is something you like to incorporate in your routine minus all the typical inconvenience associated with it.

I feel like I have covered quite a few toners over last several posts. I hope to write about other exciting products very soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

REVIEW: Plum Green Tea Alcohol-Free Toner

Continuing with the toner review series, today, I'm diving deep into Plum's Green Tea Alcohol-Free Toner.

Erm, alcohol-free?
It is interesting how Plum, a fairly new brand (estd. 2013), inspired by global best practices in safe, natural cosmetics and beauty solutions, has to expressly state the words 'alcohol-free' in the name of its toner. For one, this (in no uncertain terms) bids goodbye to the horrible alcohol-filled toners of the yore, but also subtly educates the Indian consumer that you don't need alcohol in your toner anymore as cleansers today are far more sophisticated and thus, don't need an alcohol swab to get rid of the remnants of the cleanser.

Now that we have established how toners can very well do without alcohol, let's get to know this one well.

Why I purchased it
After my meh experience with the Sidmool toner reviewed here, I needed a new cleansing toner in my routine. And I wanted it to be an inexpensive one, especially because it's not going to be a leave-on product. I had heard about Plum from its PR machinery so I scanned their website to check for toners; this glycolic acid and green tea toner seemed to suit my requirement.

Aqua (Water), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, FDA Approved Colours, Fragrance Glycerin, Glycolic acid, Phenoxyethanol

Star ingredients
Since this isn't technically an exfoliating toner, I'm doing away with the usual 'how much acid is in it' part of the review. Instead, I'd like to focus on the star ingredients: glycolic acid and green tea leaf extract.

Glycolic acid: A recent favourite ingredient of mine, glycolic acid, apart from exfoliating dead skin cells, helps to reduce the appearance of clogged pores (a major concern of mine), reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and fade hyperpigmentation from sun damage or acne. Glycolic acid is a great-to-have ingredient in skincare routines if you suffer from any of the above-listed concerns. This toner, I'm assuming, contains a very small percentage of glycolic acid given that it shows up way down the inci list. It's actually second-last, right before the preservative, phenoxyethanol.
Green tea:
I only know green tea as an antioxidant for both the inside and outside of your body, but the Plum website explains it well. They say: A great natural astringent (tightens pores), green tea is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and provides the skin with nourishing anti-oxidants to decrease the signs of aging. Need I say more? Astringent toner lovers, if you love to "feel" the toner on your skin, the green tea in this toner will take care of that for you.

Packaging and user experience
The toner comes in a no-frills plastic bottle, with a press-down lid. I didn't imagine this would cause problems while travelling but it did. I lost 70% of the product as it leaked through the press-down lid. So, that's a big con I have regarding this product. I hope the brand takes this into account.

The toner has a very slight herbal smell, which for some reason reminds me of men's shaving cream. I can't decide if that's pleasant or not.
I use the toner poured onto a cotton pad and then swiped across the face,  neck and even hands, cuz it's inexpensive and I can afford to use it all up, sans the guilt.
Now, for the results. The toner cleans up every little particle of grime off the face, even after using a cleanser. And I take my cleansing very seriously, spending up to a minute massaging and then washing/wiping off till the cows come home, so that's saying a lot about this product's efficacy.

Price and where to buy
The toner is priced at 380 INR, which is pretty good for such an effective product. I bought mine from, where shipping is free for orders above 300 INR, and you earn points with each purchase. The product was delivered to me in two days. You can also buy the toner from, but I prefer free shipping and bagging reward points.

Worth the hype?
Plum's Green Tea Alcohol-Free Toner is (fairly) worth the hype. Apart from the healthy standpoint that the brand has (which other brand in India says no to fairness creams and plastic microbeads in scrubs?), the products definitely seem promising.  Now, if they'd only fix the lid on the bottle, they would have a perfect product on their hands.

Monday, January 30, 2017

REVIEW: Bravura London Detoxifying Eucalyptus Astringent Toner 15% AHA/BHA

It seems like forever since I last did a toner review. But we're not done yet! So, let's jump right into it.

In my previous post, I talked about the Merumaya Gentle Exfoliating Toner, why it's one of my favourite toners (as it meets pretty much every requirement), and my only one gripe about it. Today, I want to talk about the Bravura London Detoxifying Eucalyptus Astringent Toner 15% AHA/BHA, another exfoliating toner in my stash.

Why I purchased it
I started my exfoliating toner journey with this product aimed at oily, problem skin, mainly because it has salicylic acid (good for spotty, clogged, oily skin) and eucalyptus, which I simply love. I love peppermint-y, eucalytpus-y ingredients in my skincare products, which give my skin an instant cooling, refreshing feel. So, this seemed like a no-brainer purchase.

Purified Water, Glycolic Acid and Sodium Glycolate, Aloe Vera Extract, SD Alcohol 40B, Glucose and Fructose and Sucrose and Urea and Dextrin and Alanine and Glutamic Acid and Hexyl Nicotinate, Lactic Acid, Eucalyptus Extract, Salicylic Acid, Camphor, Balsam Peru, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate

How much acid is in it?
As per the Bravura London website, the Gycolic Acid in this amounts to 15 per cent, partially neutralised with Ammonium Hydroxide. However, the website does not mention the percentages of both Salicylic Acid and Lactic Acid. We know that Salicylic Acid is typically used in very low concentrations as it's quite potent, so that might explain why it's showing up towards the end of the inci list.

Packaging and user experience
The toner I had purchased came in a no-nonsense flip-top, see-through bottle, which I absolutely love for travel as it's so practical. Bravura has since changed its packaging so do have a look at the website to see if you like it.
The scent is very herbal and refreshing (to me at least), but it may come across as strong to others. I use this poured onto a cotton pad and swiped across the face and neck.
With a ph of 3.8 (perfecto!), this toner gives a tingly kick to the skin. With that said, this toner is not for the faint of heart. Bravura states clearly on its website that this toner is a strong one and should be avoided if your skin is sensitive. Mine isn't so I had no issues using it.
The toner seemed very effective initially in evening out my skin tone, but sadly, with my second bottle, I did not see sustained impact. In other words, clogged pores were still a major issue for me, even with continued use of this toner.

Price and where to buy
The toner is priced at 12.90 GBP (roughly 1000 INR), and can be bought from the Bravura London website. I don't believe Bravura sells this anywhere else, although I have seen resellers having a go at it. But I'd be wary about buying skincare from unauthorised sellers.

Worth the hype?
Sadly, even after using up one-and-a-half bottle of this toner, I have concluded that it isn't a keeper for me. Even though I love its eucalyptus-y kick, it did not completely meet my expectations of managing my clogged pore situation. Having said that, if you have non-sensitive skin and the AHA/BHA concentration and other ingredients excite you, do give it a try. After all, I did repurchase it to give it a fair chance.

In my next post, I will talk about a recent purchase of mine, the Plum Green Tea Toner, possibly the only toner with glycolic acid in it, being sold in India commercially. Stay tuned!