What I'm into right now

Last week was a hectic one, I'm sorry I couldn't post as much. It was my birthday week and I had some extra plans accompanied by some additional work and my studies. While I'm working on more comprehensive posts, I thought I'd casually share what I've been into lately. I love watching and reading monthly favorites posts and videos, but don't feel like I accumulate enough new items to do those updates myself. This could be my laid-back version of those, with some life updates.

Vitamin C serum

Not a new addition to my routine, but I've been very regular about using a Vitamin C product in my skincare. For more info why you should be using one too, please read my Vitamin C in Skincare 101 post here. This NIOD ELAN is a strong 30% L-Ascorbic Acid*, which I've been using about 3 months. I've used 1/2 this bottle so I presume it'll last me another good 2-3 months. My pigmentation has nicely lightened and my complexion looks even and bright. Proper review will come soon!

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder + Chikuhodo Sakura

When I first started using this powder I found it difficult to detect any difference in my skin. I expected more divided reviews online, but could be the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder won over the hearts of beauty addicts like it did mine. I use shade Diffused Light as a setting/finishing powder with my Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Collection 2015 Powder Brush for a subtle glow. I find my other powder products blend better when there's a light dusting of powder on the top of my foundation. The Sakura powder brush has a nice angled shape and gets easily in every part of the face.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Tinted Luxe Balms

I've been keeping the Pinch of Nude* shade on my table and applied liberally in the mornings while doing my make up or in the evening before going to sleep. I love the instant hydration and plumpness it gives to my lips with a shiny finish. Full review and swatches here.

Luxe botanics Marula Hydrating serum

During the colder windy Winter months the dryness (and ageing, sigh) accentuates my fine lines, which I'm trying to treat and plump with retinols and added hydration. I was gifted the Luxe Botanics Discovery Kit* some time ago and decided to give the Marula Serum a try. This serum-oil instantly treats and nourishes the skin, leaving it plump and supple. I have high hopes of this line and looking forward to purchase the full size.

pH Meter

Ever since I battled with acne I've been very into skin health and I'm now working on a blog post about the acid mantle. As a nerdy person I felt the need to test the pH of my cleansers. Stay tuned for more!

Ouai hair oil

This hair oil is both nourishing and gives my hair a nice glow, doubling as a heat protectant. The floral scent is quite intense (love it or hate it) and liberal use of this oil can make my hair look greasy. So far I'm enjoying Ouai products, but haven't totally made up my mind yet.

SUQQU Dual-ended eye liner

I haven't been wearing a catliner for a while, but I like to "stamp" my upper lash line with a sharp liquid liner. This thin line of brown or black makes my eyes look framed and lashes fuller without looking too harsh or intense. The SUQQU liner wears beautifully and you have the option to use either color!

Get Giddy solid hand bar

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know I'm hooked in my climbing hobby. Protective calluses haven't properly formed yet and my hands have been extra sore, rough and even bloody after bouldering sessions. I wanted a climbing salve to treat the hands while keeping them rough. I rub Giddy's har hand bar in evenings and wake up with healthier hands.

I did a little bit of damage to my wallet for my birthday and on Black Friday: some bits and bobs from Cult Beauty, Deciem and Rouge Bunny Rouge. I wasn't planing to purchase much but the latter two had massive savings on selected items. I'll be showing and reviewing those items for you as the parcels roll in. What're you into right now?

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This post contains *product(s) that were generously provided for consideration. Regardless, my opinions are my own honest and unbiased views. The links are for your convenience and do not contain ads.

Vitamin C in skincare 101

Today I'm chatting about one of my favourite skincare ingredients: the Vitamin C. Thanks to marketing and middle school health classes, you may be familiar with the great health benefits of ingesting Vitamin C every day, but as a topical skincare ingredient I feel it needs more careful attention. Not any OJ is going to do the job! Worth mentioning again: the lemons are just props - never slap them on your face. Never, no matter how many Pinterest DYI's tell you to.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C serums are most commonly made of the active ingredient L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA for short), which is a form of Vitamin C. It can come both in natural or synthetic form, and there are no known differences in how they affect our bodies (source). LAA is a rich antioxidant and an essential in your diet with a lot of roles in body functions, such as protecting out immune system, preventing common cold, delaying cancer development and production of collagen. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which humans are unable to synthesis in our bodies, which means it should be ingested every day. Since our digestive system gets rid of the excess, an effective way to get it on your skin is using topical Vitamin C products.

Benefits of Vitamin C in skincare

LAA is a great ingredient for anti-ageing, as stimulating collagen production plays an important part in skin firmness and elasticity. One cause for wrinkles is simply a loss of collagen due to ageing, smoking or photoageing. It protects from free radical damage, and has been found effective preventing sun burn by thickening the dermis layer of the skin (but should not replace your sunscreen!). The topical application of Vitamin C has been shown to lighten hyperpigmentation and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (acne scaring). Overall it gives the skin healthier, more even look. 

Finding a product

You might find LAA listed in lotions, creams and other products, but serums tend to have the highest concentrations. Now here comes the tricky part: As an excellent antioxidant LAA is an electron donor and will oxidize in contact with oxygen, becoming ineffective. LAA is particularly unstable and vulnerable to oxidation when exposed to UV light and air. Choosing an opaque container is the safest, that's why I'm often sceptical when I see serums in clear bottles or jars. Look for tubes and airless pumps! Working LAA serums are usually water like clear liquid, and turn yellow to brownish when oxidized or 'gone bad'. When looking for an effective LAA serum you should also check the concentration and make sure it's high - at least 15%. Being an acid, you want the serum to be low pH (less than ~3.5) in order to function and penetrate effectively. I know, many points to consider, but looking into your products pays off.

NIACINAMIDE AND VITAMIN C?

Niacinamide (part of Vitamin B group) is also a very effective anti-ageing ingredient, improving skin look and feel, tone and texture. The worry is Vitamin C and niacinamide forming a 1:1 compound that turns into niacin (or nicotonic acid), and cancel each other's skin benefits. As I'm not a cosmetic chemist, I'd like to link Stephen's article where he explains in detail why these two ingredients can be combined - at least for most people. However many sources still claim these two ingredients should be used separately - one during the day and the other in the evenings for example. Personally I'm not having a panic attack about the matter, but I might discuss it in a separate post once I've gathered more reliable evidences on the subject. 

APPLYING LAA SERUM IN A ROUTINE

I've found active ingredients best applied on clean skin before any other products. I'll be chatting more about skin acid mantle in and importance of product pH in another post, but to put it shortly: when choosing a product LAA must be formulated at pH levels less than 3.5 to enter the skin (source). This means if you're using a higher pH cleanser you should allow 15-20 minutes to allow your skin to return a normal pH or use a pH adjusting toner before applying Vitamin C.

Personally, I haven't found a perfect pH adjusting toner for my routine, so I try to use as low pH cleanser as possible and go with that. After cleansing, I take the serum on clean hands and gently spread it over my dry face. I let the serum to absorb about ~15 minutes after application before moving onto the next step in my routine, which are chemical exfoliants (also pH dependant) and retinols. The LAA product I'm using is advised to be used in the evening, so here's my current routine:

1. Double cleanse w/ cleansing oil/balm and a low pH foam
(2. pH adjust the skin (wait time or toner pH <3.5))
3. LAA + 15 minutes wait time
4. Chemical exfoliant / retinol + 15 minutes wait time
5. Rest of the routine

Thoughts

I don't have much sun spots on my skin yet, but I do struggle with very visible post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or acne scaring. Sometimes the PIH on my face has bothered me even more than active break outs, as the marks are very visible on my light complexion and look apparent for months. I've found applying a Vitamin C serum in my routine to visibly brighten my complexion and slowly fading the PIH. I used to have the need to pinpoint conceal everything on my face, now plain foundation evens out most of my skin. I can highly recommend including a good Vitamin C product in your routine! 

Have you incorporated a Vitamin C product in your routine? I'd love to hear more!

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The pictures contain product(s) that were generously provided for consideration. Regardless, my opinions are my own honest and unbiased views.