Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Has Arriived....And so has dry, itchy skin

Beauty Wonkette is a child of the Mediterranean.  Translation:  Beauty Wonkette has pretty oily skin.  But, even with a humidifier running, the dry air that heats both her home and office makes for itchy, sometimes downright ashy, (body) skin.  Beauty Wonkette cannot walk around scratching like a monkey.  Nope.  BW refuses to live with winter itchiness.

“A body conditioner works just like a hair conditioner, but on your body,” reads the label on Lush’s body conditioner, African Paradise. Translation: This is the product you need if you cannot live with skin dryness. It's heavy-duty stuff. 
BW approached African Paradise as if it were a hair conditioner and rubbed on a handful after a shower. It smelled nutty, like melted chocolate — a result of the cocoa and shea butter rounding out the ingredients list. Other oils, including almond, moringa, and baobab, make the conditioner into a moisturizing magnet. I let it sit on my skin for about a minute (the directions don’t indicate how long you should wait), and then rinsed. It left a residue on my skin that eventually disappeared to make way for softer, smoother skin.
African Paradise won’t replace a body cream (it's not as moisturizing by itself, due to the required rinse), but it's a helpful intermediary step that enhances a lotion or cream and makes it last longer. It's safe to say that this moisturizing mini-step just earned a permanent position in BW's skin-care routine.

A Bargain Shampoo That Cleanses Like a Pro

     Hello hello hello.  It's good to be back in the U.S. (mostly...hehe).  As Beauty Wonkette resumes posting, in order to keep things fresh, we occasionally use friends, family, and people we kidnap as LAB RATS.  It keeps things fresh.

     In this case, BW was assisted by her able VERY CURLY HEADED assistant to test this new shampoo.  BW could have used her own head, but BW wanted to try it on somebody who used ALOT of hair product for reasons that will soon be apparent.  She fit the bill better than BW.  So fellow Wonkettes.....

Here's the rub with curly, dry, or chemically treated hair: While moisturizers, masks, and oils keep dull and dehydrated hair at bay, they also leave a nasty coating of buildup on the scalp. This buildup, which often resembles greasy gray yogurt (fun!), inhibits hair growth, triggers flakes, and cramps any decent style. Hair Food's Root Cleansing Shampoo claims to wash away cakey buildup without drying hair. Seeing as how my Lab Rat's scalp has seen better (and clearer) days, Beauty Wonkette asked her to put the new shampoo to the test.
The root-cleansing shampoo has a gel texture and smells like a Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple. One pump and the shampoo grew into a mild lather that she used to scrape away a week's worth of products on her scalp. Considering that she says she usually needs to dump half a handful of shampoo on her head to cut through the curls, grease, and scalp scum, one small pump that lathered all over was a promising start. Where the shampoo really had an effect, however, was in the rinse. After washing the suds out , she reported that her hair felt clean, but not stripped. It takes a special kind of shampoo to remove excess residue without leaving hair feeling like it belongs on the backside of a horse. You could say that we were impressed.
In addition to removing buildup, the bottle of Hair Food's Root Cleansing Shampoo offers quite a few remarkable claims. For one, the shampoo is free of parabens, mineral oil, and silicone. The first two are believed to be linked to serious medical conditions, while the latter ingredient is said to damage hair over time. Silicone also impedes the cleansing abilities of shampoos. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Skin-Care Secrets From Around The World: FRANCE

France: Natural Beauty?

     Beauty Wonkette knows that it’s not news that French women are ahead of the curve in the realm of aesthetics — beauty being no exception. But, their beauty “secret” might shock most American women, because the way French women stay beautiful is not necessarily a secret — it’s more a state of mind.
     “French women understand that perfection is not possible and accept the good and the bad. They prefer the look of bare skin, to have a healthy glow, and be proud of it,” says Isabelle Bellis, a French-born epidermologist and holistic nutritionist. “French women are more concerned with keeping their skin soft, glowing, and clean rather than treating wrinkles and dark spots.” 
     And, while Bellis admits that wrinkles and anti-aging are issues, she notes that women in France will focus more on the overall feel and texture of the skin as opposed to erasing the effects of time. “They’re more obsessed with the softness of the skin,” she says, adding that they balance out a “bon vivant” lifestyle with the right products. “French women use a lot of moisturizers in order to offset the moisture-robbing effects of drinking wine and coffee and smoking cigarettes (BW wonders if French women still partake in this disgusting habit?).”
     According to Bellis, the French skin-care regimen is a fairly simple, daily three steps: a milk cleanser to wash the face; a lotion (or toner) to further cleanse the face, oxygenate the tissue of the skin, and allow for better penetration of active ingredients; and finally a moisturizer or serum.
     Sylvie Chantecaille, CEO and president ofChantecaille Beauté, adds that skin care is as much a part of French culture as the baguette. “They’re innately more proactive when it comes to skin care and buy into a routine — one that’s passed down by their mothers and grandmothers — early on,” she says, also noting that milk cleansers, such as ChantecailleFlower Infused Cleansing Milk, are popular with French women. “They have a very simple and tailored routine with little fuss,” she says.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Skin-Care Secrets From Around The World: U.K.

     Beauty Wonkette's series on international beauty secrets continues.  Let's check out what's happening across the pond in the U.K.

U.K.: Ahead Of The Curve

     Our sisters in the U.K. are often the first to catch on to many trends, be it the latest reality show or the next boy band. AND Beauty Wonkettes in the UD can also teach us a thing or two about beauty, says Jane Cunningham, editor of blogs British Beauty Blogger and The Beauty +. 
     While American women are accustomed to cutting-edge beauty services being as accessible as a cup of Starbucks coffee, our British counterparts have become far more industrious — and knowledgeable — about beauty. “There isn’t a nail bar on every corner, even in London,” says Cunningham. “And, there isn’t a waxing salon on every high street, which means we’re more likely to tackle those things at home. It makes us very adept at waxing our own legs and doing our own manicures and blowouts.”

     Which is not to say the Brits are missing out in any way. In fact, simple geography means they’re privy to a host of interesting European trends way before they're even a blip on our radar. Cunningham sites the recent popularity of micellar waters, a gentle French cleansing method that uses tiny micelle particles (instead of soap and alcohol) to remove makeup, sebum, and impurities from the skin. “Our makeup artists started using Bioderma Crealine micellar water during Paris Fashion Week, and now the line is stocked in the U.K.,” says Cunningham. “A few years ago, you couldn’t buy it here at all!”
     London-based dermatologist Dr. Eric Toni adds that U.K. women face a variety of unique weather conditions, adding to their hardier approach to beauty. “In areas like Scotland and Northern Ireland, it’s often wetter and windier for more of the year, so women there complain of a lack of radiance and dry skin,” says Dr. Toni. “And, while the U.K. isn’t really known for being sunny, women are surprised to find that they need help with brown spots and patches that may have built up over time due to lack of sunscreen use and holidays abroad.”
     Toni favors antioxidant products from theSkinceuticals line to protect against daily environmental damage as well as peels and IPL to target pigmentation issues. “Antioxidants are a key element of daily skin care,” he says. “And, sunscreens are a must, daily, no matter where.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Skin-Care Secrets From Around The World: CHINA

     Okay, my sister Beauty Wonkettes, our global tour continues.  Today, let's take a look at China.

China: Light Bright

     Bottom line: Chinese women are way ahead of their American counterparts in terms of protecting their skin from the elements. Dr. Yuanhong Li, professor and vice chairman of the department of dermatology at China Medical University, says Chinese women are typically more concerned with achieving whiter, brighter skin as opposed to combating wrinkles, which she says is a result of careful planning (and a bit of genetic luck).

     “Thanks to the inborn yellow color in Chinese skin, which acts as a natural barrier to photo-aging, Chinese women typically don’t worry about fine lines and wrinkles until their 40s,” she notes. She adds that, unlike American women, Chinese women are taught from a very early age to worship the sunscreen, not the sun. “They’ll wear a thick layer of sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and even an umbrella in the sun,” says Dr. Li.
     Indeed, the Chinese ideal described by Dr. Li — a porcelain doll — is far different from a sun-kissed model strolling along a Malibu beach. “Chinese women love snow-white skin,” she says. “As the Chinese proverb says, 'The whiter, the prettier.'” To help patients achieve this luminous effect, Dr. Li prescribes whitening agents such as hydroquinone cream as well as vitamin C serums and chemical peels, laser toning, and resurfacing. 
     For targeting enlarged pores, Li recommends cleansers with glycolic acid, to be used with a motorized cleansing brush like the Clarisonic model. Other methods like fractional lasers and IPL are also popular in China for boosting collagen production.
     Judit Galambosi, lead therapist of The Institute Erno Laszlo in New York, who sees many clients traveling from Hong Kong, notes that pollution is another chief concern for Chinese women. “Their skin is exposed to more pollution than in the U.S., and they’re willing to take the time to invest in their skin,” she says. To combat the effects of environmental stressors, Galambosi starts with a thorough cleansing and microdermabrasion to take away any accumulation of dry and dulling skin cells. Then, she recommends the client use a hydrating mask like Erno Laszlo’s Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment at least twice a week to maintain hydration and radiance.

Skin-Care Secrets From Around The World - a new series from Beauty Wonkette

Beauty Wonkette is a red, white, and blue AMERICAN GIRL.  But, with that said, Beauty Wonkette must admit that while we Americans may think we know our beauty, anyone who’s ever witnessed the detailed skin-care program of a gal from Korea knows there’s, um, always room for improvement. Read on to discover the many, many ways women around the globe are light-years ahead of us in the States when it comes to taking care of their skin — and then steal some of their secrets. Check back often as Beauty Wonkette globe trots, tossing out fab skin care secrets as we go....

First up:  


     Innovation and newness are biggies with the beauty-obsessed Japanese consumer, and Japanese women are up for pretty much anything to combat the signs of aging, says model, blogger, and Tokyo transplant Cynthia Popper. “Japan is obsessed with youth — maybe even more so than the States — and anti-aging products sell like mad here,” she says. Popper notes that even gimmicky offerings likedrinkable collagen (also known as “beauty drinks”) and collagen supplements are extremely popular, even though the concept of topical collagen is questionable at best.
     Exotic-sounding “cocoon shells," or actual silkworm cocoons, are one of the more popular methods in Japan for removing dead skin and unclogging pores. “The amino acids and proteins in the silk are similar to those in skin, which makes them a great natural exfoliator,” Popper says.    
     Compared to American women, who tend to take a more “restorative” approach to aging, Japanese women are more focused on preventing damage before it occurs. “The array of SPF 50 products, including sprays, lotions, wipes, creams, and even powders, is staggering,” says Popper. “Most women carry lightweight parasols with a special UV reflective lining any time they’re outside — it’s not uncommon to see women wearing long arm covers with T-shirts on even the hottest days.”
     Vicky Tsai, founder of skin-care brand Tatcha, agrees. “Anti-aging is a universal area of interest, and Japanese women are diligent about staying out of the sun from an early age, so wrinkles only become an issue much later in life,” she says. “Western women are primarily focused on wrinkles, but in Japan the emphasis is on achieving a poreless, creamy complexion.” 
     Tsai also says Japanese women take more of a ritualistic approach to skin care and spend more time each day caring for their complexion with daily exfoliation, masks, and sun protection. “This daily ritual helps fend off issues like acne, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation before they arise,” says Tsai.

Next up:  China

Monday, February 24, 2014

Beauty Wonkette's CliffsNotes Guide to Acid 101

Acids can be the most important part of your skin-care routine. That is, as long as you know your ferulic from your salicylic. Indeed, all acids are not created equal, which is why it's worth it to learn the real deal on each one and, in turn, avoid unnecessary reactions (not to mention, never shell out big bucks for a product that's totally wrong for your skin type ever again).  After consulting with several of Beauty Wonkette's favorite dermatologists, we present a reasonable approximation of which acids will brighten us up, zap our acne, and generally leave our mugs as smooth as a baby's butt. Read on and bring this along as a cheat sheet the next time you go skin-care shopping.

Salicylic Acid 
Salicylic acid also goes by the name beta hydroxy acid.  It is a keratolytic agent (meaning that it removes the top layer of skin when pores are clogged). BW's derm recommends the ingredient for oily skin, but reports that it can also be used on drier or sensitive skin, as long as it is combined with hydrating ingredients, such as those found in Aveeno's Clear Complexion line. A warning: Pregnant women shouldn't use products that contain salicylic acid, as salicylates have been linked to birth defects.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acid
Alpha-hydroxyl acids are a group of acids named based on their chemical appearance. In this grouping: lactic acid (which is derived from milk), glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane), citric acid (from citrus fruits), and tartric acid (from grapes). AHAs have multiple good effects on the skin: they are primarily used as chemical exfoliants, but they have also shown to promote collagen synthesis and reduce hyperpigmentation.

AHAs can be beneficial for almost any skin type. If you have sensitive skin, start with a mild daily lotion to test its effects (BW's derm likes the NeoStrata line, which was the first of its kind to make AHAs user-friendly).

Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is the ingredient that you want to turn to when your skin becomes drier than the Sahara (probably right around this time of the year), as the molecule can hold up to 1,000 time its weight in water. This ingredient actually has the ability to pull moisture from the air down through the stratum corneum (or outermost layer of the skin) so that skin stays supple.

Hyaluronic acid is obviously a great pick in moisturizers, but look out for it in treatment products as well — the addition of hyaluronic to a typically irritating ingredient like retinol can ease the burn.

Ferulic & Alpha Lipoic Acids
These two ingredients are antioxidants — meaning that they reduce the amount of free radicals wreaking havoc on your skin (a result of your bod dealing with environmental stressors such as sun damage and pollution). Plus, these puppies aid in collagen production so your skin will be plump and protected.