Sunday, 29 March 2015

Brand Focus: La Roche-Posay

Hello lovelies,
Recently i noticed that slowly but surely, La Roche Posay has taken over the reign in my skin care cabinet. I have been loving this brand for a long time and thought it might be fun to introduce you to my brand favourites.
La Roche Posay is named after a village in France, named, you might guess it, La Roche Posay. Not only has La Roche Posay a source of thermal water but also a record of treating people and their skin care issues with said water. In 1975 then the laboratoire pharmaceutiques la roche posay which was and remains a pharmaceutic company producing skincare for the pharmaceutical market was founded mainly producing prescription skin products. In 2010 it was renamed to Laboratoire dermatologique La Roche Posay. Over the years La Roche Posay started to cater more and more to the general skin care market along with pharmaceutical products becoming in general more popular.
I think what i really like about La Roche Posay is that they have put their research in and i can find a product pretty much for every specific skin issue. It does not matter if you have dry skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, acne prone or redness prone skin, La Roche Posay has pretty much an answer to everything. This allows me to compose my own individual skin care regime with the brand i know my skin handles very well. So far i have not been disappointed by any product. Yet i have some clear favourites:

1) Effaclar Duo anti imperfections aka the life saver: This product has been raved about on blogs. However, this was one of the few occasions where i seem to have been ahead of the trend. I have been using this for a long while and it is amazing. Whenever i feel spot coming up i will add this on top and usually i really notice the effect within a few hours. After a few days, the spot will just vanish without really ever becoming clearly visible. This stuff is amazing and i cannot be without it anymore. I never travel anywhere without this.

2) Serozinc: I guess this qualifies as a toner but is pretty much only a Zinc sulfate solution. No tonnes of additives, just watered down zinc sulfate. You could even use this on a baby. It calms down the skin, combating redness and spots and is oh so refreshing. This stuff wakes me up in the morning and refreshes me in the evening. This would be even okay on injured or inflamed skin.

3)La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat. I have times in the year where my combination skin turns into a full on oily disaster and then this is my saviour. This moisturiser hydrates my skin while actively reducing sego production. Even when i once had a red patch on my skin (allergic reaction i guess) and i could barely use anything without feeling like my face was on fire, this i could still use without any issues.  Really great recommendation for those of us with too much glow but still sensitive skin ;).

4)Effaclar astringent toner. I started to use an astringent toner with salicylic acid after reading up on it on the website of Caroline Hirons (aka Lady Hirons, skin care goddess). Unfortunately a lot of the Hirons approved favourites are hard to get a hand on in Belgium but this toner does a pretty good job too. I use it after cleansing and before the serozinc.

5) Redermic C eye cream. You are looking for an affordable eye lotion for sensitive eyes? Give this a shot. I was reacting on everything from from drugstore to high end. I was already about to give up when asked my pharmacist and she gave me a good bunch of samples to try my way through. Even a good bit of the pharmacy eye cremes for sensitive skin made my eyes burn, beside, obviously La Roche Posay. This one contains Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C which helps even out the skin. It also brightens up the skin slightly giving a more awake look. They have those for dry and for combination skin and with and without UV filter. I doubt after the nightmare of allergic reactions around my eyes, that i will ever use another one anymore.

I have also tried several other products from la Roche Posay but those have been my firm favourites and i have repurchased them several times. The best part, these are pretty much available for drugstore prices. Granted its the higher end of the drugstore prices but its great quality for money. Have you used La Roche Posay in the past? What is your favourite? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

When Science and Beauty collide

I am a scientist and a beautylover. One thing inherent to my job as a cell biologist is that i take rarely anybody's word for it when it comes to science. I want to see scientific evidence and reasoning best in a peer reviewed journal, or at the very least an argumentation with a good scientific foundation. 

Scientists have a tendency to communicate more with each other than with the general public. Most scientific evidence which makes it to the public does so because non science journalists took interest in it. However, their articles sometimes deform the truth. News and company reps do not want to tell you very specific compound xy in this very specific form showed a 10% increase in effect on 68% of rats. No they want to say: Compound xy will kill you or scientists say compound z is the new fountain of youth. And in all honesty it is what we all, including me want to hear, no? We want to hear what to get and what to avoid. We don't want to get gigantic maybes.

However, i do believe that when we get asked to spend our hard earned cash on products which either contain certain compounds or go to  a great length to omit others, we should all know about what kind of gigantic maybes are associated with the claims.

Now there is enough self proclaimed experts out there in the beauty world and some are great and do their research with decent resources and others are basically making it up as they go and try to push their own product lines. I do not want to claim that i am an expert in any capacity. I am a cell biologist but i am not working in dermatology or with human nutrition, so all i can do is show my opinion and some great resources so you can form your own opinion.

So i thought in this article, i give a few topics which caught my interest and link some nice articles to read on the subject which in my opinion are written by people which have done their research and know what they are talking about:

1) Detoxing of the skin

I look into cells for a living and my sister who is in the medical profession looks into whole humans and we both have yet to find all this toxins companies claim we have in us. Now obviously we are exposed to some toxins during our live.
Some we expose ourselves too like alcohol and nicotine and others we are exposed to by our environment like engines exhaust and heavy metals and chemicals in food or drinks. However, those do not end up in our skin but in kidneys and liver where no face cream will ever reach them.
What are not toxins is dirt on our skin or oils produced by ourselves. Yet this is surprisingly how some popular skin care producers seem to define toxins. What i dislike about this use of the word "toxin" is that it suggests that when we do not use such products is that our skin remains full of toxins, which are damaging to us and that we need to spend a good amount of money for specialised products to protect us from those "toxins" when all we need is simply a product which cleans. I don't know what you do at home but i clean and do not detox my floor. Same goes for skin. So i when i invest into a good skin care product, detox is not what i will pay extra cash for.
I link here a PDF from a great website where young scientist actually contacted the companies which produce some well known products and asked for scientific evidence. The answers you find in this PDF:

and i can also not skip to link this post by fellow blogger and scientist Esmeralda from "Science is so sexy" which explains it in great detail and better than i ever could how much there is to detoxing.

2) Detox foods

If you clicked the link to Esmeraldas website you will also have read about detoxing through foods. So now here the subject lays a bit more complicated. There has been in fact some very specific diets which have shown some evidence that they could have an effect on getting rid of certain chemicals in our body. However, none of them were just a particular smoothie or algae or vitamin pills. The diets which were described as maybe having an effect (and none of that was to the extend that it was called scientifically conclusive) were including huge lifestyle and nutrition changes. 
As i described above there are some toxins we do deal with, however, normally our organs take perfectly care of that for us. They do not need to be boosted nor can they be that easily boosted. The best "boost" for your organs is a healthy lifestyle. This means a balanced diet and sport, not specific pills or smoothies. Saying that, smoothies are delicious so no harm in drinking them. Just i would not spend a lot of money for special detox ones cause chances are you are paying way to much money for what is essentially just a snack.
Here you find an opinion piece by a reputable researcher on the matter.

3) Vitamines and antioxidants

So in the same line of thinking, we all get told to take vitamins to get a better skin, stronger hair etc. If it is not in form of pills then it is in the form of so called super foods. Now i would have loved to believe that. I have thin hair and skin which is pale and blemish prone. Unfortunately (and this actually does touch my research) we all have a maximum of vitamins we can utilise and certain ones even become dangerous to us when we ingest to much of them (e.g. vitamin A, D, E etc.). 
Now vitamin pills can be useful for certain people which have a deficiency which can not be countered with healthy eating. For that it is a great idea to see a health care professional, get your blood taken and check for deficiencies. 
I for example suffer from zinc and vitamin D deficiency which can lead to brittle hair and bones and worst case, extremely low vitamin D levels have even been associated with occurrence of cancer. So i am taking some pills and my hair has indeed become better. However, i am still waiting for that lucious mane.  The thing is, somebody with a regular level of zinc will experience absolutely no effect from taking extra zinc. Imagine your vitamin levels like little containers. Once they are full, they are full and everything you add will just end up going to waste or goes out and does bad things. This containers are surprisingly small and healthy eating and living will keep them in healthy people more then full enough. Unfortunately about our hair and skin is defined by our genetic makeup and no amount of vitamin pills will change that. Quite the opposite, stuffing yourself with vitamins and antioxidants (often antioxidants are vitamins) can effectively damage your health. Here is a scientific study conducted on the effect of supplements of antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin D on health.

Bottom line is that vitamin pills, in my opinion should be used only when your doctor advises them due to a deficiency.
By the way, a lot of the vitamin pills you can purchase in the health food isle are not even in a form which can be taken up.  So rather save your money and buy a nice bunch of veggies.

4) Hair Repair and making your hair grow faster

Okay let me start by getting disgusting. Hair is dead waste material pushed out of your body to keep you warm.  It is made mostly of keratin and a few lipids. Okay with that mental picture lets move on to what that implies. The following claims of shampoos can not possibly be true:
- it provides nutrient to your hair
- it goes into the core of your hair and regenerates it
- it detoxes your hair
- it suffocates your hair
I cannot feed, suffocate or regenerate my hair more then i can feed, suffocate or regenerate my furniture. It does not need vitamins or nutrients because it is not a living material. And as much as i can not let my couch table regenerate the scratch my cat left in it, i can not regenerate broken or thin hair.
One more thing it can not do is make your hair grow faster. Your hair grows at a pace determined by your hormones and other cell biological processes happening inside your scalp and body. Unless you inject your shampoo into your blood, it won't change your hair from the get go.
What shampoo can do is to protect your hair against damages and can keep it to some extend from getting dry and brittle. The lack of damage and breaking might give you the feeling that your hair grows faster or thicker. It can also keep your scalp healthy and prevent that your inflamed scalp stops hair production or sheds the hair.
And thats also where the bad news start. If your genes say thin and few hair, then no amount of products will change that. You can use shampoo and masks and conditioners to keep it from breaking but it won't become thicker or even more hair then what your genes allow. If that would be possible, all rich people would have lucious manes.
Good news is that with good styling and good hair care we can cheat quite a bit. However, me as a somebody who really envies people with beautiful hair get nearly a bit angry when i see youtube guides to long lucious and full hair by people which are obviously born with long lucious and full hair suggesting that any form of routine could lead to me having what they have. 
Obviously there are diseases and deficiencies which can lead to thin brittle hair and hair loss in which case you should see a general practitioner, however, none of them is fixed by shampoo.

While i did not find any science based article on this subject, i will link here a nice article by Esmeralda about your shampoos ingredients which is well worth a read.

I could go on but i do not want to kill you all with a wall of text. If you would like to read more of this type of articles. Let me know in the comments. You disagree with me, please let me know. I always love to learn and get my opinion challenged. 
If you have any suggestions which topics would deserve some scientific background check. Please let me know also in the comments.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

My spring makeup additions

Seeing the first rays of spring sun makes me incredibly happy. Done are the days of standing in the morning at the train station in the dark and freezing cold. And even though it is not fully spring yet, i felt updating my makeup will maybe make it feel like it is already here. Another change which came with the slightly warmer weather again is that i also bike from the station to my work, so i also wanted to make sure that my make up will stand the physical activity glow. Now some of this products might look less spring for some people but i find that anything to light pink will just wash my face out, so i am foregoing that trend entirely.
But enough gibber gabber and lets get to the products which have put the joy of spring into my step and face .
I have been loving the L'oreal BB creme "skin perfection". I use their serum and since it did wonders for my skin, i thought i give this a shot and i very much like it. It gives just the right amount of coverage and lasts a fair amount of time even with all the biking. I use the famous garnier one before but found that it was to fatty for my skin. Along with the BB creme i use a powder and i purchased finally the Bourjois healthy balance powder. This feels very light weight and in combination with the BB creme gives me a very even but still natural teint.
On days that i feel particulary dull i love to add a bit of the bodyshop radiant highlighter under the BB creme. It won't turn you into a disco ball but leaves a subtle radiance that can be build up. Perfect for a spring fresh face.

Ooh blushes, how love them. As i said i am not going all pinky pink because it will make me look like i have fever with my pale skin and dark hair. But i have been loving this two blushes recently for the right amount of healthy colour. This is the kiko mosaic blush (isn't it gorgeous) in inspiration rose coral from their generation next series. I have used this blusher a fair amount of time and as you can see the mosaic stays intact. The other beauty is from one of my favourite brands. The Balm. The Balm for me combines the fun and quality of Benefit with a lower price tag. Its not quite budget but i think i paid about 17 euro for this blush which i find reasonable. This is their Fratboy blush and it comes in a cute cardboard packaging. It also has a cardboard envelope so it is fit for travel though i would not pop it permenantly into my handbag. This one is to be dosed carefully since the colour pay off is amazing. But with my Real Techniques blusher brush it glides on perfectly. Seriously if you never tried a The Balm blusher, get out there and pick one up. You can thank me later.

 So the last products i wanted to show you are my three favourite spring lipsticks. Now as i mentioned those might be a bit dark for some but to me they are perfect for my complexion now in the spring where i leave my beloved reds behind for a bit.
The Rimmel Provocalips finally have hit Belgian Drugstores and i was super exited to pick up this colour "I'll call you". I had brought "Play with fire" (a strong red) from London and it carried me over every christmas party and market. This one does not last quite as long but still longer then any other lipstick i ever had and the colour is drop dead gorgeous. The second one is the Mac lipstick in Plumful. I just love the colour and looks very natural on me but still gives me the bump of colour i need. The third one is a new love i purchased on my birthday weekend in Bruge. It is the clarins instant light lip perfector. The only negative thing i can say about this is that its not a lot of product but that might also be me overusing it. It smells gorgeous (somehow like waffels and sirup) and it moisturises my lips and makes them look plumb and full. This can handle the comparison with a decent lip balm any day but still gives me some colour. I also sometimes apply it over another lipstick (e.g the Rimmel provocalips) and it mixes gorgeously.

So this were my spring make up additions. Just looking at them makes me happy. I also have covered my house in fresh tulips and narcisses. I love to buy the potted ones and see them bloom within a day. What are your make up spring additions? What puts you into a spring mood? Let me know in the comments.