Lady Reviews | Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser, B & Tea Toner and More

Beauty, Review, Skincare

As I’ve mentioned in my Cruelty Free Cosmetics post, Aesop is one of my favourite skincare brands of all time. Established in 1987, they have since aimed to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality, using only ingredients of proven safety and efficacy. Each of their stores are uniquely designed by collaborating with a plethora of designers, always reflecting local particularities.

Their Amazing Face Cleanser has become my go to daily cleanser.The brand describes the product as a low-foaming gel cleanser for combination to oily skin, which will thoroughly cleanse and balance the skin, while absorbing excess sebum. It is also recommended for use in warmer months and for those residing in humid or polluted environments.

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 I’ve been using it for the better part of a semester and though I adore the look of the packaging (I just think utilitarian design is so lovely, don’t you?), I must admit it’s screw cap isn’t the most practical. It doesn’t hinder my experience with the product in any way, but I dislike that this type of dispenser can be a bit wasteful.

The cleanser delivers all that is promised, providing a gentle, yet effective cleansing of grime and oil (though it will not remove makeup alone). It soothes, smoothes and softens my skin, leaving behind a luminous complexion. It has a very fresh and citrusy scent, and a light texture which will not irritate sensitive skin. The product does not claim to contain pore-diminishing properties, so the fact that it hasn’t substantially diminished my enlarged pores isn’t really a drawback.

As for the B & Tea Balancing Toner, it is described by the brand as a gentle everyday toner, suited for all skin types. It is named after the inclusion of Provitamin B5 (a form of Panthenol, which helps in hydrating and smoothing the skin) and green tea extract, both of which work as antioxidants to balance skin and refine pores. The product seems to last forever – I’ve been using it (though not very assiduously) for the past six or seven months and my 200ml bottle is still halfway through.

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It feels very watery and refreshing on the skin, and helps remove whatever grime didn’t get washed off by the cleanser. As it is alcohol-free, it feels very gentle and is suited for more sensitive skin. Both the cleanser and the toner will not leave the skin feeling tight after application, being ideal for everyday use.

Though the only two products I actually purchased were the cleanser and toner, Aesop is very generous with their samples and provided me with samples of other three products: the Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque, the Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum and the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste.

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Both the Cleanser and Toner are available in 100ml (3.4 fl oz) and 200ml (6.8 fl oz) containers

The Chamomile Masque is an astringent masque which can be applied either on single blemishes or on troubled skin. It is a deeply cleansing clay-based formulation which extracts impurities, absorbs excess oil, purifies and calms the skin. The brand recommends that the masque be applied twice a week, though a single application a week seems sufficient for me. It has a very fine and smooth texture and sits comfortably on the skin. I find my skin much soothed, refined and refreshed after application, especially coupled with lighter moisturizers such as Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (another favourite of mine. Its review can be found here) or the serum reviewed below.

The Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum is a daily facial moisturizer ideal for combination, oily or sensitive skin. Like the Amazing face Cleanser, it is recommended for those who live in warmer climates and humid or polluted environments. It goes on aqueous, as most serums do, but stays tacky for an instant before drying down completely matte. The Sales Associate who recommended the product to me said this was due to the gel-like texture of Aloe Vera. It provides the skin with a lightweight and fresh hydration whilst helping contain excessive oiliness.

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And as for the final product tested, the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste is also an excellent product. Fine Quartz particles and Lactic Acid offer both a physical and chemical exfoliation, which despite being very effective and deep cleansing, does not aggravate the skin. It is a mild product which provides a polished, purified and softened look and feel to the skin. It also contains Lavender and Rosemary oils, which help boost circulation and contain anti-acne, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, thus helping rejuvenate, detoxify and tone the skin. The only drawback I can think of is that I really dislike its earthy scent.

I have yet to try an Aesop product that doesn’t deliver on what is promised. If you are unsure whether the products will suit you and your skin type, do visit one of their beautifully designed stores and ask a consultant for samples! Their products are a bit on the pricier scale, but I found them to be worthy investments, and I hope you will as well.

Lady Tips | The Perfect Nude Lipstick for Your Skin Tone

Beauty, Makeup

I think most of us have been through the ordeal of trying to find the perfect shade of nude lipstick – choosing a shade that looks gorgeous on the tube, only to put it on and end up looking like you’re really unwell. It can be tricky to find a shade that matches the undertones of your skin, but the most appropriate choice should match your lip colour, not your skin tone – a colour that’s too light might wipe away the face’s natural pigments, making you look pale and sick. Here’s how to pick a flattering shade according to your skin tone:

Fair Skin With Cool Undertones

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If you have fair skin with cool undertones, like Emma Stone, rosy colours will suit you best. Either pale, powdery pinks; or peachy colours with caramel undertones will add some warmth to the complexion. Steer clear of light beige tones, which can make you look ghostly, and orange or coral tones, which can turn your complexion sallow. Matte finishes, especially on lighter shades, can end up giving a washed out effect – glossier formulas are more flattering.

Fair Skin With Warm Undertones

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Light skin with yellow undertones, like Lucy Liu’s, calls for more warmth and pigment than cool undertones. Pink, beige, caramel and peachy shades are all flattering options.

Medium Skin With Cool Undertones

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Lea Michele’s skin tone can get away with most shades, be them lighter or darker than the skin. Darker nudes work as well as soft, pale pinks, which won’t make the lips disappear.

Medium Skin With Warm Undertones

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For this skin tone (think Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lopez), rosy beige shades with warmer undertones, like caramel, will keep your complexion warm and avoid that washed out look which might come with cooler, grayish tones, or yellow undertones. Peachy and golden shades, no lighter than your skin tone, will enhance your complexion and won’t clash with the warmth of your skin.

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The skin tone of Rihanna and Eva Mendes. Rosy, beige and caramel tones will add some definition and separation between skin and lip, while glossy finishes add some extra definition. Pink-toned shades slightly lighter than the skin tone look subtle without being dull.

Medium Dark Skin

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Deep colours rich in pigment will suit medium dark skin tones, such as Beyoncé’s and Ciara’s. Lighter browns and more plummy tones are very flattering.

Deep Dark Skin

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The deep, chocolaty skin tone which Lupita Nyong’o and Alex Wek have can benefit from playing with light and shadow to create definition – glossy formulas, or products with shimmer, add some brightness to the face and look more natural. Copper or bronze tones also work beautifully, as well as darker berry tones.

Lady Reviews | Etude House Face Blur

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Face Blur by Etude House is a primer which promises to even out and brighten the complexion, and cover up pores and blemishes. It is said to provide multi-filtering effects for refined, smooth and flawless skin. It should be applied as the last step of your skincare routine, and can be used by itself or under makeup. It is also a sunscreen, with SPF 33 and PA++, providing moderate protection against both UVA and UVB rays (I’ve written a post explaining such labels on sunscreen, which you can find here).

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The product comes in a 1.2oz (35g) bottle with a pump which dispenses just enough product for the whole face. It is lightweight and moisturizing, with a powdery scent. The product’s texture and colour remind me of calamine lotion – a light pink, medium texture cream which spreads easily on the skin. I like to apply it with my fingers, right after moisturizer, then wait for it to be absorbed before putting on makeup, if I’m using any. Though it goes on a bit tacky, it becomes very comfortable and hydrating when absorbed, leaving the skin dewy and slightly whitened.

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My skin does look smoother and more even (both in tone and in texture) after application, though it doesn’t do much to hide my pores. It also gives the skin a healthy glow, however it is used, which is what I most enjoy about this primer. Though I did enjoy this product, I found that the lasting power of my makeup wasn’t terribly improved – though it did keep my skin from getting shiny for a couple of hours longer than usual.

An overall great product which I would recommend for anyone who loves a luminous, radiant look and doesn’t suffer from large pores; and also to anyone who would like a brighter and more even complexion without having to wear makeup. Considering that it is also a sunscreen, I’d say this product is more than worth a try.

Lady Tips | Boost your Metabolism

Beauty, Diet, Exercise, Fitness, Health

Not all of us have been blessed with ultra fast metabolisms which keep last night’s chocolate cake from becoming a tummy pooch, but the good news is you can trick your body into burning more calories. Though our metabolism’s speed is typically preset by age, genetics and gender, we do have some control over it, with our lifestyle and diet habits. Here are some ways you can speed up your metabolism:

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Eat The Right Amount of Food

We all know that eating too much can make you gain weight, but did you know eating too little can have the same effect? Most people think eating less will necessarily induce weight loss, and though it might, not ingesting enough calories causes muscle mass loss, which decreases metabolic rate, as well as making the body work more slowly to conserve fuel. This can also lead to a variety of nutritional deficiencies, as the body is receiving less food than it needs. You can find a calorie calculator to estimate the amount you need per day here.

Eat Breakfast

Having breakfast shortly after getting out of bed helps in waking up the metabolism – eating a healthy, nutritious and balanced morning meal also helps control cravings, which should keep you away from unhealthy snacks. Good options are slow to digest, which will make you feel fuller for longer: oatmeal with nuts and berries, an omelet with greens and low-fat cheese (such as rocket with feta, or spinach with buffalo mozzarella) – as a general rule of thumb, mixing lean proteins with complex carbs and healthy fats will yield a complete meal.

Drink Cold Water

The body burns calories by heating the cold water to core temperature – and though a single glass won’t do much difference by itself, making this a habit can help increase metabolic rate.

Drink Caffeinated Beverages

The average metabolic rate of people who frequently drink caffeinated beverages is higher than those who don’t – caffeine stimulates the nervous system by increasing heartbeat rate and breathing. Though coffee is a great option (especially if it’s sugar-free), green tea also contains antioxidant polyphenols and catechin, which increase thermogenesis (burning stored energy) and fat oxidation.

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Ingest Healthy Fats

Healthy fats help regulate metabolism and keep it healthy. They can be found in nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oils, avocado and fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna.

Maintain Muscle Mass

Strength-training helps prevent muscle decay and the decrease in metabolism speed which comes with age. The more developed your muscles are, the more calories you will burn while at rest.

Keep moving throughout the day

Most people stay sitting down at work for hours at a time on most days, which will make the body sense that it’s not using a lot of energy – this causes calories to be stored as fat. Taking a walk around the office at least once every hour will help mitigate the long-term risks of sedentarism, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Give Your Workout a Kick

HIIT, high-intensity interval training, boosts calorie burn during and after a workout. This tactic makes cells consume more oxygen and work harder to burn energy, and consists of aerobic interval training which intersperses high and low intensity exercise. Though there are plenty of routines online (such as these workouts for beginners), I recommend that you have a fitness professional tailor a workout for you and your needs.

Lady Reviews | Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel by Clinique is an oil free face moisturizer which promises to hydrate and balance combination to oily skin. It’s been my favourite moisturizer for close to a year – like expected of a gel moisturizer, it is lightweight, refreshing, and free of that tacky, greasy sensation one can get from a thicker moisturizing lotion.

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My skin is normal, though my T-zone can get a bit oily occasionally, and it’s also very sensitive. It’s not uncommon for me to try products which end up irritating my skin and making me break out, so finding a soothing, balancing, fragrance-free product with mattifying properties such as this one was such a dream. It is absorbed very quickly by the skin and won’t interfere with any products you put on top of it (sunscreen, primer and makeup), which makes it an ideal morning moisturizer. Though Clinique recommends that it be used twice a day, I like using other skin care treatment products at night instead of it.

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A little bit of it goes a really long way – normally, a single pump is enough for my face. On warmer days, I find that the product isn’t that effective in oil control, but in milder and cooler temperatures, the gel helps to keep my skin from developing shine for a least a couple of hours longer than usual.

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6.7oz (20ml) and 1.7oz (50ml) containers

It comes in two sizes (though I did buy a third size, of 6.7oz-200ml, in a Singaporean Duty Free shop, I’ve never seen it anywhere else): a 1.7 oz (50ml) tube, and a 4.2oz (125ml) container with a pump.

Overall, this is great moisturizer for people with oily and/or acne prone skin. It makes skin soft and smooth, and is comfortable and mattifying. It’s one of my favourite skin care items, and a product I really recommend for anyone who dislikes the texture of traditionally thicker lotions.

Lady Reviews | Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen

Beauty, Review, Skincare

Shiseido, one of my favourite skin care brands, is parent company to sunscreen specialized Anessa. I’ve only been able to find this brand physically in Japan, though their products are sold through various websites which ship worldwide.

Years ago, I hated the greasy feeling and white cast associated with sunscreen so much that I’d skip it completely. Fortunately, there currently so many satisfactory products which offer high protection and comfort, that there are no excuses for leaving home unprotected. The Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen is one of such products.

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The sunscreen is a lightweight, fragrance-free product which goes great under makeup. It is very runny and milky, and though it does go on a bit oily and wet, it is absorbed almost immediately by the skin, drying down matte and free of white casts. It also seemed to aid in oil control and prolonging makeup wear.

It is water and sweat resistant, and stays put for a long time after application, needing to be removed with an oil-based makeup remover. Sometimes I’ll apply it by early morning and find it almost intact before going to bed. Though it does make my skin soft and smooth for the most part, it can make the skin under the nose pads of my glasses go really red and dry if I don’t reapply moisturizer.

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It comes in a sturdy, golden 2oz (60ml) tube, which should be shaken well before use. As for protection, it’s UVA protection grade is the highest currently available (PA+++) with a 50+ SPF, meaning it has very high protection from both UVA and UVB rays. If you’re interested in better understanding these labels, I’ve written about sunscreens here.

I would recommend this sunscreen to anyone living in hot and humid places, or anyone who goes frequently to the beach – since it has high protection and is very comfortable and moisturizing, it can be worn anywhere, anytime. I definitely think it’s worth a try!

Lady Talks | All About Sunscreen

Beauty, Skincare

Sunscreens are products which help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from damaging the skin. Sunlight consists of two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB, with varying sunscreen protection.

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet radiation is part of the sun’s light spectrum and is invisible to the naked eye. Generally speaking, UVA (the longer wave UV ray) causes skin aging and lasting skin damage, and UVB (the shorter wave UV ray) causes sunburns and skin damage. Both can increase skin cancer risk, though the risk associated with UVB rays is larger.

Understanding the Labels

SPF

The Sun Protection Factor, shortened to SPF, is a measure of a sunscreen’s protection of UVB rays. Products with a SPF between 30 and 50 are recommended (SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 and 50 block out, respectively, 96.7% and 98% of UVB rays). The numbers work like this: if you can typically stay out in the sun for 10 minutes before getting a sunburn, applying a SPF 30 product (properly) should allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer without getting burned. It’s obviously not an exact science, since the amount of UV rays that reach us depend on a variety of factors.
The + sign sometimes used means “more than” – so a label of 30+ means a product should test higher than 30.

PA

PA is the protection grade of UVA rays and contains three levels of protection: PA+, PA++ and PA+++. The lowest protects sensitive skin against low to medium UVA radiation, the medium provides moderate UVA protection and the highest protects against very strong or direct UVA radiation.

Broad-Spectrum or Multi Spectrum

This label means the product offers protection for both UVA and UVB rays.

Application

Though the protection level is important, the application is even more so, since a sunscreen must be applied liberally to achieve its labeled protection. Most people do not use enough sunscreen to fully protect their skins, which may result in protection far lower than labeled.

Another thing to take notice is that water-resistant does not mean waterproof: even though a product may be resistant to water, that does not mean it will stay budgeproof and offer the same protection it did before a swim. Reapplying the product after swimming or towelling, or after two hours, is important to guarantee protection.

Lady Tips | Coconut Oil Beauty Benefits

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

Coconut oil has made its way into the pantries of many people looking to have healthier lifestyles and diets, and though it’s a great cooking oil, it is used in my beauty routine way more often than in my kitchen. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of this versatile oil.

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Hair

Deep Conditioning

Coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft very efficiently, moisturizing and nourishing it from the inside out. Homemade hair masks are my favourite way to use coconut oil – I usually apply them once a week, or whenever I feel that my hair needs a moisture boost. Here’s how:
Coat the hair lightly in coconut oil – you really don’t need to use much: half a tablespoon should be enough for long hair. Applying it on the scalp is also recommended, especially for people looking to treat dandruff.
Leave it on for at least an hour or two – though you can leave it on for only ten minutes, it’s best to do this when you’ve got more time on your hands. The longer it stays on, the better.
Wash it off with shampoo, then condition as usual – you might have to shampoo twice to get all the oil out. The mask does not substitute conditioner, as the latter seals the hair cuticles and moisturizes more superficially.
The most practical method I’ve found is to apply the oil before bed, then wash it as soon as I get up.

Flyaway Hair & Frizz Tamer

With dry or damp hair, apply a small amount of oil to the ends to detangle and style hair. This helps combat frizz and split ends, whilst making hair soft, smooth and shiny.

Pre Wash

Using an oil before washing your hair can help keep it from getting too dried out, as it adds strength and flexibility to it. Lightly coat the shafts with oil about ten minutes before washing.

Though coconut oil works great for some people, others report adverse effects such as hair loss or brittleness. In general, it seems that coarse and dry hair types do not work well with it – fine to medium hair will generally be able to achieve the strength, volume and shine expected.

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Body

Moisturizer

Apply all over the body after showering.

Body Scrub

Add half a cup of coconut oil to a half cup of sugar (white or brown, though I’d not recommend coarser sugars such as demerara) and combine. Optionally, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil (oils and benefits listed here) or half a cup of ground coffee, which is packed with antioxidants and is said to help fight cellulite.

Foot Bath

A great way to treat dry or smelly feet. Melt two teaspoons of coconut oil in warm water and soak your feet for a few minutes, then pat dry.

Massage Oil

An excellent choice for a massage oil, it’s not excessively greasy whilst retaining its glide.

Natural Deodorant

Mix ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of arrowroot powder (or baby powder) and ¼ cup of baking soda for the basic recipe. Amp it up with a teaspoon of grape seed oil to increase shelf life from 2 to 8 months, and/or 5-10 drops of essential oil for added benefits and scent.
Though this recipe works well for most, it should be noted that some women with more sensitive skin develop adverse effects from the baking soda, such as redness and irritation.

Shaving Cream

This oil’s antimicrobial, emollient and soothing qualities make it ideal for this task – apply it to the legs right before shaving.

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Face

Facial Scrub

Mix one tablespoon coconut oil with one tablespoon fine sea salt and, as an optional step, a couple of drops of essential oil for added benefits (my favourites are Lavender and Tea Tree).

Lip Balm

Apply directly over the lips for a quick and natural moisture boost.

Makeup Remover

Massage a small amount of oil onto your face to remove makeup, then clean it up with a clean cloth or cotton round.

For all the purposes and benefits listed, a cold-pressed, extra virgin, non-hydrogenated coconut oil is recommended for its better quality.

Lady Tips | Food for Healthy Hair

Beauty, Hair

You may have heard that beauty comes from within – and when it comes to hair, that’s most certainly true. I have recently written about tips & tricks to improve your hair’s health and appearance, and though those are wonderful tips I apply on a daily basis, eating a healthy and balanced diet is absolutely what made the most difference for me. Your hair can only be as healthy as you are, so I’ve put together a list of which foods and nutrients really help strengthen those tresses.

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BIOTIN

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin necessary to metabolize glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. It helps strengthen weak nails and hair, and also protect skin from fungal infections, acne and dryness; among other benefits. Common sources of biotin are eggs, almonds, cheese, yeast, avocado and whole grains.

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IRON

Iron helps hair follicles to grow – low iron levels, known as anemia, can contribute to hair loss. Animal sources of iron, such as lean red meat, chicken and fish; are more easily absorbed by the body than vegetable sources, which are better absorbed when coupled with a source of vitamin-C (oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli and blueberries). Vitamin-C not only boosts iron absorption in the body, it is also an antioxidant. Vegetable sources of iron include lentils, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.

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OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Omega-3 fatty acids are acids our body needs for proper functioning, but cannot produce, making ingestion essential. Fatty acids contribute to hair growth and moisture, as well as a healthy scalp. A good source of fatty acids are fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel; and also flaxseeds, walnut, walnut oil and pumpkin seeds.

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PROTEIN

Protein is one of the building blocks of the human body, hair included, so ensuring that you’re getting enough in your diet is crucial. Chicken, fish and low or nonfat dairy products are excellent sources of lean protein – as are beans, lentils, legumes and nuts.

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SELENIUM

A mineral and trace element, Selenium is an antioxidant which aids in suppressing free radical damage, helping to prevent premature aging and weakened hair follicles. It is also found in large amounts in the thyroid gland, and so thought to help regulate hormones. Sources include Brazil nuts, walnuts, whole grains, beef liver, and certain types of fish.

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ZINC

Zinc is an essential mineral required to, among other things, proteins synthesis – that and its strengthening of hair follicles makes it crucial for healthy locks. It also helps boost the immune system, as does selenium. Foods high in zinc include oysters, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, mushrooms and beef.

In the end, having a healthy and diverse diet is key to making sure your body gets all that it needs to function properly, so make sure to get all of your 5 a day and enjoy yourself while you’re at it!

Lady Tips | Hair Care

Beauty, Hair

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love of long, silky and luscious hair – back then, it was just a matter of admiring women I saw on TV; but nowadays, I actually strive to get that gorgeous look, everyday.

To my joy, I discovered that it’s not really necessary to take frequent trips to the salon or spend a lot of money (or time) to do that. After reading recommendations from experts on improving both the health and appearance of hair, I’ve put together tips & tricks to better help you achieve and maintain the tresses of dreams.

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DON’T OVERWASH YOUR HAIR

The frequency of hair washing is widely disputed – some people claim that it is better to wash it everyday, whilst others claim that washing two to three times a week is best. So which one is really better?

It really boils down to hair type and personal habits. Straight hair calls for more frequent washing, since the oil wicks down faster; as does frequent exercising, because of the sweat. Curly or coloured hair call for less washing. There is no universal formula which will work for everyone – you should really experiment and play around to find what works best for you and your hair type.

Though there is no universally flattering formula, there is something universally harmful, and that is overwashing. Our natural oils, which condition and protect our locks, can be stripped away by it – this will dry the hair, and in time, create an excessive production of oil. The excess will lead to a need for more frequent washing, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Using dry shampoo is a great way to help lower the regularity of washing. It will instantly refresh and add texture, whilst reducing the oil buildup and helping mainly the roots retain moisture. I really enjoy Batiste for their refreshing, hassle-free and affordable products.

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ROTATE SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS

There are shampoo love affairs which start out everything you could hope for – your tresses are drop-dead-gorgeous, bouncy and full of life, and it feels like nothing could ever go wrong – and then, suddenly, it happens: the shampoo’s effectiveness is gone. In its place remains limp, dull and flat hair; the remnants of a once happy affair.

So what’s up with that?

Shampoo’s byproducts, much like our natural oils, can build up in our scalps. By rotating shampoos and conditioners every 4-5 days, this buildup is removed, allowing our natural oils to reach the hair shafts and renew shine and softness.

SHAMPOO YOUR SCALP AND CONDITION YOUR ENDS

Shampoo isn’t meant to be scrubbed into the ends of your locks – rather, it is supposed to be massaged into the scalp (which also encourages circulation and detoxifying), then rinsed down onto the ends. Conversely, conditioner should be applied on the ends, to avoid your roots from getting greasy too quickly. Removing excess moisture from the ends before applying conditioner also helps – that’s because when hair is soaking wet, it can’t really absorb anything else, so taking your time to squeeze out water with a towel (your hands will also do the job, just not as well) will really help in allowing the product to penetrate the hair shafts.

DETANGLE IN THE SHOWER

I use my fingers to gently detangle my mane, from the bottom up, with conditioner on. This helps in really massaging the product in and boosting its effectiveness; and also makes detangling after the shower much easier.

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AVOID HOT SHOWERS

I’m not telling you to take cold showers, but the fact is that excessively hot water can dry and break off your hair. Cooler temperatures, on the other hand, can contribute to its strength and beauty – which leads me to…

FINISH WASHING WITH A SPLASH OF COLD WATER

At the very end of most showers (I skip this step in really cold days, or when I’m feeling lazy), I like to splash my hair with some really cold water. It not only helps seal in moisture, making it less frizz prone, but also increases shine. The only drawback of this step (other than the cold) is that since it does such a good job of smoothing your hair, it may cause finer hair to flatten out.

BRUSH FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP

Brushing from the roots down can cause breakage – try, instead, to carefully detangle from the bottom upwards. Wet hair is weaker and more fragile, so brushing isn’t recommended, but if you must, using a wide toothed comb is preferable. It is also a good idea to regularly remove hair that gets stuck in your brushes, and clean them with lukewarm water and a little bit of shampoo.

BLOT OUT MOISTURE WITH TOWEL

Try gently pressing your locks with a towel, from the ends up, instead of mindlessly rubbing. The rubbing action can rough up the hair cuticle, leading to breakage and frizz.

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BLOW-DRY AT LOW TEMPERATURE WITH THE NOZZLE POINTED DOWN

Overheating hair causes it to become dry and brittle. Ideally, blow-drying should be done with a low temperature setting and the nozzle turned down. If you really need the heat, try to mitigate it with a heat protective product, such as this one from Kiehl’s, or this one from TreSemmé. Finishing with a blast of cold air will do the same as cold water in the shower, helping to seal in moisture and shine.

Pointing the nozzle straight down helps avoid the frizzy messes that tend to come with blowing hair out sideways. Moving your hair around whilst drying also helps in creating volume and bounce.

USE HAIR OILS

Coconut oil works wonders for me – my hair gets shinier, softer and stronger whenever and however I apply it. Sadly, it does not work as well for all hair types, with people reporting adverse effects such as hair loss.

Other natural oils that are highly recommended are jojoba, castor and argan oils. I really love using a couple of drops of argan oil to style the bottom 3/4 of my mane – it’s the fastest way I know of to defrizz and create a sleek, lustrous look.

These tips, as well as they have worked for me, have only been a part of how I achieved healthy locks. For the best possible results, I strongly recommend a healthy and balanced diet along with external hair care.

Lady Tips | Vegan Cosmetics

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

What are vegan cosmetics?

According to vegan ideology, a vegan product should be free of animal products and animal testing, but since there is neither widespread knowledge of it, nor regulation, the term can be misused or misunderstood.

Vegan Action’s Certification, much like Vegan Society’s, is a trademark which is issued to some (but not yet all) products which are free of both animal products and testing. This helps in not having to examine ingredient lists for certified products, but keep in mind that not every vegan trademark will be certified cruelty free.
I have labelled cruelty free brands below and written a post about them, which you can find here.

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Skincare

skyn ICELAND (vegan, cruelty free)

Iceland is rich in natural resources, such as mineral rich waters, antioxidant berries and soothing algaes – many of them are used in skyn ICELAND’s products to soothe, stabilize and nourish skin. One of their main concerns is how stress affects our skins, and how to counteract these negative effects.

Nature’s Gate (vegan, cruelty free)

Skin, hair, oral and sun care – Nature’s Gate has it all. They have the largest selection of natural toothpaste flavours I have ever seen, including Anise and Cinnamon. The company is focused on Holistic Beauty and achieving beauty from the inside out, with a clean and healthy lifestyle.

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Makeup

Cover FX (vegan, cruelty free)

Specialized in foundation, Cover FX products are free of what they call “inflamatory 5” – parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil and talc. Their wide range of over 40 shades is meant to provide a precise match for all ethnicities and undertones, and all products are formulated to be safe for very sensitive skin.

Kat Von D (vegan in transition, cruelty free)

Kat Von D makeup is famous for its even pigmentation and for being budge-proof – it is a high-end, all-rounder and cruelty free brand which carries many vegan products. Kat has stated that she and her brand are working to reformulate the entire line to be vegan.

100% Pure (mostly vegan, cruelty free)

No synthetic chemicals, preservatives, artificial coloring or fragrances are added to 100% Pure products – they are coloured with fruit and vegetable pigments, and preserved by vitamins and antioxidants. Some products contain beeswax or honey, but all of their vegan products are labelled clearly on their website. The brand carries skin, body and hair care; but their makeup really caught my eye – especially the Gemmed Luminizers (in shades Rose Gold and Moonstone Glow), coloured with fruit pigments and light reflecting gemstones.

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Makeup Accessories

Beauty Blender (vegan, cruelty free)

The Beauty Blender’s popularity is entirely justified. It promises and delivers perfect application of base products, though some beauty gurus use it to apply powder as well.

EcoTools (vegan, cruelty free)

EcoTools has a wide range of eco-friendly brushes (hair and makeup) made with renewable bamboo and recycled materials. They also carry facial sponges, both for makeup and skincare; maintaining affordability and quality throughout.

Real Techniques (vegan, cruelty free)

Brushes and sponges by Real Techniques are not only vegan and affordable, they’re also very high quality – a recommended first splurge for people who are just getting into makeup.

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Nails

KL Polish (vegan, cruelty free)

KL Polish is the beauty YouTuber KathleenLights’s nail polish brand. I can’t get over how gorgeous and chic the shades are, and on top of that, they’re all vegan and 5-free (free of potentially allergenic chemical ingredients commonly used in nail polish).

Hair

Arctic Fox (vegan, cruelty free)

Get bright and colorful tresses without any animal products, drying alcohols, and harsh or allergenic chemicals. Some people have even used Arctic Fox dyes on their pets, though the company recommends consulting with your vet before doing so. They also donate 15% of profit to animal welfare organizations.

Avalon Organics (vegan, cruelty free)

The company’s concern with using pure, organic plant-based ingredients walks hand in hand with their sustainability – their products are biodegradable, free of harsh chemicals, and synthetic fragrances or colours.

Morrocco Method (vegan, cruelty free)

With shampoos, conditioners, hair brushes, henna hair dye and even pet care available, Morrocco Method is not only a great option for people looking for vegan hair care, but their products are also soy-free, chemical-free, gluten-free and raw.

I’m not vegan myself, but I think it’s never a bad idea to choose a product you know was crafted free of animal suffering. Putting this list together surprised my pleasantly, as I found the niche expanding, and hope for it to continue to do so.

Lady Tips | Cruelty Free Cosmetics

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

In order for a product to be considered cruelty free, no animal testing should occur during production – that includes even using ingredients that have been tested by a third-party.

In some places of the world, animal testing is required by law, either requiring that the final product (such as in China); or that certain ingredients (such as in the US) are to be tested to comply with legislation. These products are not considered cruelty free.

Cruelty free products are not necessarily vegan – they can be exempt of animal testing and still contain animal products; such as carmine, beeswax, honey, gelatin, lanolin, etc.

I have labelled vegan brands below and written a post about them, which you can find here.

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Skincare

Aesop (cruelty free, vegan)

This has to be one of my favourite skincare brands of all time. The quirky and utilitarian packaging adds to the sense of understated elegance of their products, which I have come to really enjoy. I’ve been using their Amazing Face Cleanser along with the B & Tea Balancing Toner – both are refreshing, balancing and gentle. I tend to neglect exfoliation, so I don’t use their Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste as often as I should – it gets the job done, softening and deep cleansing my skin, whilst remaining gentle. The Facial Hydrating Serum is also a marvellous face moisturizer, with a very lightweight and mattifying effect.

Alaska Glacial Mud Co. (cruelty free, not vegan)

I love clay masks for their detoxifying, pore-minimizing and firming properties. Alaska Glacial Mud Co.’s masks are produced with hand-harvested glacial mud, with biodegradable, natural and certified organic ingredients. Their products are also free of synthetic fragrances, color fillers, and other chemicals (such as parabens and phthalates). All of their products are cruelty free and allergy tested, but some of them do contain animal products, and therefore are not vegan.

The Body Shop (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

The Body Shop is concerned with ethical trading: enriching, not exploring, products, ecosystems and local communities; as well as restoring rainforests and protect endangered animals. As for their products, the tea tree oil line is lovely, especially the mattifying toner. Their vegan products are listed here.

KORRES (cruelty free, not vegan)

A greek skincare and cosmetics brand which focuses on natural, organic ingredients. The brand’s packaging successfully captures the clean, gentle and natural vibe I get when using their products, especially the Wild Rose line.

LUSH (cruelty free, not vegan)

Lush is a 100% vegetarian (though they have plenty of vegan products, the brand itself is not 100% vegan) brand focused on fighting animal testing and hand making their products with as little preservatives as possible. Their Tea Tree Water is one of my favourite facial mists: soothing, refreshing and mattifying; and its gorgeous scent lifts my spirits as much as the product revitalizes my skin.

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Makeup

Anastasia Beverly Hills (cruelty free, not vegan)

Especially famous for their brow products, the makeup brand best known as Anastasia is not vegan, though it does have some vegan products, listed here.

Charlotte Tilbury (cruelty free, not vegan)

Charlotte Tilbury, a highly respected makeup artist, is as dazzling as her luxurious makeup products. It came as a very welcome surprise to learn that not only is her brand cruelty free, many of her products are also vegan.

Bite Beauty (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

As a brand specialized in lipstick made with all natural food-grade ingredients only, Bite Beauty’s name makes perfect sense. Some of their products contain Carmine, which is not vegan.

NARS (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

I don’t need to do a lot of thinking to name a few makeup staples by NARS: the Radiant Creamy Concealer, their ever famous Blush in Orgasm, and their Audacious Lipstick, especially its bolder shades – which makes it so surprising that one of its most popular shades is Anita, a beautiful and light pinky nude.

Tarte (cruelty free, not vegan)

I have to confess to never having worn any Tarte makeup, but I believe the Tartelette and Shape Tape Concealer’s popularity speak for their own. Though they’re not 100% vegan, their vegan friendly product range is abundant.

Urban Decay (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

Urban Decay is probably most famous for their Naked palettes – but truth be told, whenever I think of Urban Decay and eye makeup, I think of the gorgeous Solstice. Both their All Nighter Setting Spray and Eyeshadow Primer Potion are also amazingly well received products. Their vegan range can be found here.

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Makeup Accessories

Real Techniques (cruelty free, vegan)

Samantha Chapman and Nicola Haste are the sisters behind Real Techniques and Pixiwoo (a YouTube channel I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys makeup tutorials). Their brushes and sponges are not only vegan and affordable, they’re also very high quality.

Beauty Blender (cruelty free, vegan)

The Beauty Blender is incredibly popular and well known – and for good reason. It promises and delivers perfect application of primer, foundation and concealer; giving a natural, dewy finish to base products (some beauty gurus even use it to apply powder!).

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Fragrance

Diptyque (cruelty free, not vegan)

I really enjoy lighting candles, especially scented ones – and though Diptyque candles are the ultimate in luxury and decadence, that’s not all they have to offer. With both personal and home fragrances, and face and body care available; their products never fail to entrance with their elegance (plus, the packaging is just so lush).

Le Labo (cruelty free, vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

Their fragrances are cruelty free, 100% vegan, and free of parabens and preservatives. I really love the utilitarian packaging, it just makes me feel like I’m tinkering with something really special – and when it comes to Le Labo’s fragrances, you can be sure that you are.

Fortunately, the full cruelty free cosmetics and skincare brands list is much more extensive, covering even hair dye and nail polish – that list, which is updated frequently, can be found here.

Whether you’re an animal lover, or just concerned with doing what’s best for them and the environment; whether you’re a makeup artist or just looking for good everyday makeup – finding high-quality cruelty free cosmetics has become a wonderfully easy task.

I hope this list was helpful. Happy shopping!