Beauty Lifestyle

I Don’t Know Much About Hair

Photo: Boripat Lebel

I must confess to not knowing much about haircuts. For years my request to the barber was always “shave it all off.” The bold pate style, if one can call it a style, never really bothered me; for it was easy to manage and very comfortable, like a load had been lifted off my head, which was literally the case. Nevertheless, I don’t think my relations ever got used to my appearance after a visit to the barbershop; evident from their quick glances and polite observations. However, a few days ago the faculty at the university asked me if I might be a model for them in photos to be put up on their new website. It wasn’t going to be a fancy photoshoot or anything like that of course; presumably just pictures of me staring significantly at pretend-work, that sort of thing you know. Nevertheless, my ego was inflated and I was vaingloriously flattered. But this feeling of jubilation did not last long, for it dawned on me that if I did not look good, then the pictures would not come out well, photoshopped or not. So I decided to do something radical that would alter my appearance quickly. Obviously plastic surgery was not a viable option, so I opted for the next best thing to cosmetic correction. A haircut.

With that in mind, I entered the barbershop nervously. The barber invited me to a stool, and followed up by asking how I would like my hair done. In response, I think I said something like “short and long.” Indeed, not the most informative answer. The barber must have thought so too, because he was visibly puzzled. But being a pro, he attempted to reinterpret my request by venturing an educated guest. As I did not speak hair, I thus had no idea what he was suggesting. But not wanting to be impolite or take up any more of his time, I just nodded my head in agreement; as one does when verbally approached by a foreigner with questions. All that said and done, I must admit to myself that the result came out decidedly ok.

Beauty Lifestyle

Smell Like Expensive Lemons by Chanel

Photo: Boripat Lebel

If you want to smell like a Mediterranean lemon, a few spritzes of Allure Homme Édition Blanche by Chanel will do the trick. Seriously, the juice in this gorgeous golden beige flask is concentrated yellow citrus pizzazz. The scent is a stimulating orchestra of freshness and piquancy in a bottle. It forces you to think of sour lemonade, sweet lemon meringue pie, tangy lemon tart, etc. I’m sure there are other worthy notes in this recipe too, but the sweet acid is overwhelmingly present; and remains dominant till the “dry down” i.e. the end.

This flanker is part of the Allure Homme line of fragrances by Chanel. I’ve used the original Allure Homme before; for a short while in college when I was dipping my nose into the world of perfumery. It’s a nice warm and spicy scent. But the Édition Blanche is very different to that one. In fact, if not for the similarity in packaging style and naming, I wouldn’t even know they were from the same family.

As a side note, for those who have read my post about the Sauvage deodorant stick by Dior, which I reported not long ago, this buy, of which the color of the flask no doubt played a large role in the decision-making process, is indeed very different to the present eau de parfum purchase. Evidently my taste continues to evolve, and along with it, my vanity, it would seem; based on the selfie product placement ad-like photo I took. So saying, I think my next post will be about a boring brown butterfly.

Beauty Lifestyle

Armpits Smell Nicer With Dior Sauvage

Photo: Boripat Lebel

You know you need to start using a scented body product when your mother comments that you smell like armpits. Actually, she has hinted, implied, noted about my mammal scent on several occasions during the past decade, beginning since I was 14 if memory serves. However, being a rebellious nerdy teenager at the time, instead of going to the supermarket and buying a roll-on, I rolled my eyes, and shrugged the suggestion off with an “I’m French” attitude.

Nevertheless, when you’re 25 and your mother makes the same observation that she did ten years ago, you know she’s onto something. Which brings me to my search for a deodorant stick; not spray, I detest sprays, for they bring back unpleasant memories of high school locker rooms, wherein too many a times I felt I might just pass out from asphyxiation. Aerosols of horror!

Naturally, I started my search at the drugstore and supermarket, checking out the common offerings: Adidas, Axe, Nivea, etc. But those smells just didn’t agree with my snobby nose, and thus I started thinking about designer alternatives at the department store. As I was most familiar with the House of Dior that was my first stop. You see my mother loves J’adore by Dior, which, not coincidentally, is also the first fragrance I ever wore. Indeed, imagine a young boy with a violent curiosity, who on one day decides to spray some of his mother’s perfume on his t-shirt. Suffice it to say here, too much! Cough, cough.

Returning to the present. Another reason the Dior counter attracted my attention first was because from online research, Sauvage was pretty much unanimously praised. And it was indeed a very nice eau de toilette; but far too potent to wear on my person. Fortunately though, the brand also made a deodorant spray (no) and a deodorant stick (yes). With this in mind, I spent the next two days pondering on whether or not to purchase said stick; for the price was not Nivea cheap. Ultimately, giving into my good tastes, I bought a stick of Sauvage, and now use it daily on my armpits; not on my t-shirt, to be sure.

Beauty Lifestyle

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Review

Photo: Paula’s Choice

After years and years of battling breakouts with every weapon from the pharmacy, I’ve finally found my bazooka. Here enters the 2% BHA Liquid by Paula’s Choice; a best-selling product part of the SKIN PERFECTING line of exfoliants. To many loyal fans, yours truly included, this stuff is “miracle water” in a bottle.

Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or salicylic acid is a popular cosmetic ingredient with a library-worth of published research attesting to its benefits for multiple skin conditions. It is closely related to the anti-ageing superstar alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), but considered to be gentler due to its intramolecular structure. A chemical exfoliant, BHA is able to remove built-up dead skin cells on the uppermost layer of the skin, thereby revealing the “new” layer underneath. This exfoliation and rejuvenation process results in a smoother complexion.

Moreover, being oil soluble, salicylic acid is able to clear pores without disrupting normal skin function. Thus making it particularly suitable for oily, combination or acne-prone skin; though all skin types can benefit from daily use of a leave-on BHA cosmeceutical product, formulated within the Goldilocks pH range of between 3 and 4. Also noteworthy, BHA boasts some soothing properties that can help minimize and fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation; the red marks left behind after a pimple attack.

The SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid feels weightless on skin and absorbs well. However, as some reviewers on the product page note, if you over apply it can leave a “greasy” feel on skin. This is due to the high concentration of butylene glycol; a hydration agent that also helps the salicylic acid penetrate deeper into pores. Another point about zealous application is that it can cause drying. So remember, more is not always better when it comes to chemical exfoliants. Experimenting with the amount and frequency of application will help you determine the optimal exfoliation your skin needs and can handle. Switching to a lotion-based 2% BHA is also an option worth considering if the liquid proves too potent; as the additional emollients in the lotion’s composition can help act as a buffer to the action of salicylic acid. All that said and done, in the spirit of all honesty it must be confessed that I too belong in that group of zealots who wets their face with BHA every night.

Aside from hydrating and exfoliating ingredients, Paula’s Choice also included in the formula camellia oleifera leaf extract; i.e. green tea, a potent antioxidant with calming and soothing properties. The literature on green tea in cosmetology is very promising. Furthermore, as is the case with all Paula’s Choice products, the 2% BHA does not contain fragrance; an irritant that causes inflammation, which is bad news for breakout-prone skin; for acne, by definition, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.

Applying the 2% BHA Liquid is easy; simply soak a cotton pad and swipe it all over your face and neck; oh yes, you can get acne flare-ups on your neck too. I use it once a day, as part of my evening routine, along with the moisturizing RESIST Omega+ Complex and a few drops of the 1% Retinol Booster. The combination has worked out quite well for my skin; especially as a maintenance therapy to keep pimples at bay.

For those of you searching for a solution to your acne woes, feeling crestfallen from all the battles fought and loss, do consider giving the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid a try. It is a weapon of breakout instruction!

Beauty Lifestyle

Paula’s Choice RESIST Omega+ Complex Review

Photo: Paula’s Choice

When I first heard about the RESIST Omega+ Complex Serum by cosmetics company Paula’s Choice, my thoughts raced to salmon sashimi. Had the cosmetic industry found its next star? Was salmon sashimi replacing snail slime?

Fortunately, my assumptions were wrong; for, upon further study, I can confirm that this omega oils-themed product does not contain any fish extracts. The oils are all plant-based. Thus clarified, let us move on to opening the signature grey box of PC, wherein the vessel containing the goods is anchored.

The formula is housed in a heavy platinum pump bottle; expensive-looking, like something Estée Lauder would consider for their high-end, Re-Nutriv line. However, instead of charging $360 as the latter would demand, Paula’s Choice asks for $36. To borrow a phrase Anna Wintour used to comment on a $1,000 dress by Alexander Wang, while herself clad in a $10,000 Chanel suit, “That’s very reasonable.”

One pump dispenses a generous modicum of product. The color is diluted milk, and its texture is a gorgeous, light lotion that is a bit lighter than Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask, and which sinks right in without leaving skin feeling heavy or greasy. Even those with oily or combination skin (such as moi) will be pleasantly surprised that they can use this product containing oils and not be left with a face ready to fry an egg on. In fact, it can double duty as a moisturizer for anyone with dehydrated oily skin. Thus, while instructions suggest 1-2 pumps for face and neck, yours truly does 4-5 pumps on his face alone.

Despite no added fragrances, the lotion imparts a pleasing scent; an aromatherapy smell. As a side note, never buy or apply skincare pizzazzed with perfume (Chanel No. 5 on your face anyone?), because fragrance is an infamous skin irritant; and just because you don’t feel your face burn or turn vermilion red, doesn’t mean that no damage is being done to skin. Like how repeated, unprotected exposure to sun can cause premature aging of the skin, damage from fragrance is also cumulative.

Chief among the list of ingredients is a concordia of omega fatty acids (not from sashimi, rest assured) with publications to attest its benefits, including omega-3 from linseed and chia, both oils rich in potent antioxidants to improve skin’s surface and reduce inflammation; omega-6 from passion fruit, known for its skin-soothing and anti-aging properties; and omega-9 from plum, a non-fragrant plant oil promising lasting hydration.

But that only makes up half the recipe; for, as is typical of a Paula’s Choice product, additional ingredients of consequence are added to make the cocktail stronger. In this case, besides omega oils, the emollient olive oil is also featured high in the list due to its impressive antioxidant activity and profile of essential fatty acids, both of which are beneficial to all skin types and to dry skin in particular. Furthermore, this would not be a Paula’s Choice product if it did not include at least five different ceramides; long chain lipids found naturally in the epidermis that play an important role in skin barrier function, preventing water going out and environmental stressors coming in.

When added up altogether, you can expect the Omega+ Complex to strengthen skin’s moisture barrier and further protect it from the elements and inclemency; thus resulting in a smooth, firm, hydrated and radiant appearance, entitled to the jealous glances from those whose faces have seen the light of day without sunscreen protection. This cannot be stressed enough, but always (always!) wear an SPF product during the day; because no face cream in the world (however well formulated it may be) will make a difference if you are exposing unshielded skin daily to the injurious, pro-ageing UV rays of the Sun.

As a side note to advanced skincare users, you can enhance the results of the Omega+ Complex even further by pairing it with a specialized treatment; for example, vitamin C liquid for a brighter complexion; niacinamide solution to visibly minimize pores; hyaluronic acid gel for plumper skin; face oil to increase the moisturizing factor; or 1% retinol booster for extra firmness.

All in all, the RESIST Omega+ Complex Serum is a unique product, first of its kind, and loaded with ingredients research has confirmed beneficial to skin. To boot, the bottle is worthy of adorning the vanity table of a countess in Chanel; and the luxurious lotion is so lightweight and fast absorbing that it’s hard to believe this is a treatment serum inspired by oils. Thus, the motto of this story is, “No shine and plenty to gain.”