Additions to the Skincare Cabinet | SkinCeuticals

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No matter my attempts at streamlining my skincare cabinet, I always find it full to the point that products become weapons – a bottle of Gunjeoir Neroli Face Elixir dropping on your head upon opening the cabinet is not fun! Each and every product in my cabinet has a status; some are an absolute daily necessity, others go untouched for months and there are some that have just joined the skincare cabinet family and are destined to be part of the former, and seeing as I’m of the philosophy that you can never have too many serums (I’m all about layering them up), these three superb serums from the doyens of skincare SkinCeuticals are a welcome addition.

First up we have my first dip into the sea of antioxidant/vitamin C serums – Serum 10*. With just 0.2% ferulic acid and 10% l-ascorbic acid, it’s a serum suitable for you sensitive skinned ladies out there and for those like me who are only just getting into antioxidant serums and want to gradually move onto stronger concentrations. Serum 10 is a great product to enlist in the fight against the impact of environmental aggressors such as pollution, UV rays, smog and smoke on your skin; perfect for those in big cities like London. It’s been almost two months since I’ve added Serum 10 into my skincare routine, and my skin has been significantly brighter which a few friends have picked up on. I’ve also noticed that the general tone of my skin is evening out which is amazing news because breakouts in the past have stamped their mark, and left my skin littered with hyperpigmentation.

Who do you know with breakout prone, sometimes oily and partially dry skin? It’s an affliction to to leave you eternally confused. Looking for something to keep my skin moisturised but also appeases the other factions of my skin is tricky, and apart from Olay’s Regenerist Night Renewal Elixir, the Retexturing Activatoris the only other product that can keep my skin truly moisturised without breaking me out. SkinCeuticals claim that using the Retexturing Activator is akin to a daily 20% glycolic acid treatment, and it’s a rather big claim for two reasons – firstly, glycolic acid is one of the finest, unrivalled chemical exfoliants in the market, and secondly my skin would never be able to tolerate glycolic acid of 20% strength on a daily basis without the harsh effects so my expectations of the Retexturing Activator were quite high when I first tried it. As usual SkinCeuticals doesn’t disappoint and within the first week of using the serum my skin was soft, supple, hydrated and I needed very little make-up; I hadn’t felt this good about my skin in an incredibly long time!

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The final SkinCeuticals addition to my cabinet is their new Resveratrol B E, another antixoidant serum but revolutionary in that it’s intended for night-time use and combats internal aggressors unlike Serum 10 which deals with the external free radicals. What’s also revolutionary is that it mostly contains antioxidant ingredient of the moment, resveratrol (which Refinery29 explain pretty well), found usually in grapes and knotweed and is complemented by 0.5% baicalin and 1% vitamin E. Coupled with Serum 10 I have high hopes for my skin, but I’ve only been using this for a few weeks and SkinCeuticals recommend a minimum of 12 weeks to notice a difference in density, elasticity, smoothness and firmness. Stay tuned…

Breaking the Break Out Cycle

If you’ve stuck by and have been reading Muslimah Beauty for long enough, not only do I thank you, but I also apologise as I’m sure you’ve become fully adjusted to my incessant complaining about my breakout prone skin by now! Funnily enough I was blessed with the gift of acne shortly before deciding to start this blog, and it was hardly ever something I experienced in my teens so while my friends were experimenting and blasting their faces with Clearasil, Duac and any other acne clearing product my quest for a ‘cure’ has been a fairly recent phenomenon. But after years of trying just about anything from Harley Street dermatologists to blue light lasers I’ve found that it boils down to two very simple things – great skincare and an even greater diet.

Acne is often a symptom of an underlying problem such as an imbalance of the hormones, and if this problem isn’t nipped in the bud your skin will continue to breakout. It took years for me to accept that dairy and gluten are not my friend and that my skin was better off without. I’d recommend investigating out why exactly your skin is breaking out and treating the problem rather than seeing acne as an isolated issue requiring its own treatment. But in the meantime I guess it’d be worth sharing what has worked for me in treating my own acne, however there’s just one caveat to this post – take into account that most of what I note is subjective and is due to personal experience; what works for me may not necessarily work for you however it doesn’t hurt to consider it either.

Diet

Years ago I read an article debunking myths concerning acne, and one dermatologist claimed that chocolate and other junk foods did not cause acne. I took that for gospel and continued to eat those foods oblivious to the effect they were having on my skin. While I may not hold a PhD in dermatology or nutrition, junk food has a causal relationship with my acne and no dermatologist can tell me otherwise. In fact I recently posed a few questions about the relationship between diet and the skin to renowned naturopathic doctor Dr Nigma Talib and she confirms my suspicions. “I have seen over and over again in my patients that diets rich in sugar and certain carbohydrate type foods (which eventually convert into sugar during digestion) can be a major problem for skin health. Not all carbohydrates are created equally. Carbohydrates that are processed and contain gluten can cause imbalances in your gut bacteria, which can in turn cause inflammation in your body affecting your hormones, which are your body’s messengers. If you continuously consume high amounts of sugars and harmful types of carbohydrates, your body will not be able to sustain the large amounts of inflammation and it will show up on your skin as various levels of congestion such as redness, acne, large pores, black heads and dry and pigmentation patches, not just increased inches to your waistline”. Key food culprits waging war on our skin include sugar infested foods such as cakes, cookies and ice-cream and also refined carbs like pasta and bread as they convert into sugar and essentially have the same effect on your skin as a chocolate bar. “Your skin is a reflection of your diet” Dr Nigma states.

When my skin was at its worst in 2010-11 with severe cystic acne, my diet was just abysmal and at the time I was adjusting to university life so takeaway pizzas, burgers, crisps and copious amounts of cheesecake were all I consumed. I’ve since made a conscious effort to rid my diet of refined sugars for the past 6 months, and my skin has completely transformed. Apart from the occasional indulgence (I am human after all!) gone is the junk and in are green smoothies chock-full of kale, blueberries, spinach, celery and spirulina, salmon, cottage cheese, lentils and nuts. “Your body has an innate ability to heal itself given the right diet” says Dr Nigma“The foods our bodies require for glowing skin requires a combination of anti inflammatory foods rich in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory foods not only helps keep your skin looking flawless, but help support insulin and blood sugar levels in your body”. Apart from the previously mentioned foods, some foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega fatty acids include turmeric, chia seeds, quinoa, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts and cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli, cauliflower and bok choy.

Skincare

Contrary to how many people approach treating acne, I personally find that nothing is more effective than a gentle approach. That means using nourishing products that’ll help to calm my skin such as Elemental Herbology’s Purify & Smooth Cleanser, the Gunjeoir Neroli Face Elixir*, Avène Thermal Water Spray*, Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser* and the Estèe Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum*. These are products I will generally use irrespective of my skin breaking out but when the spots appear there are products I add into my skincare routine specifically for treating the breakouts.

For fear of waffling on for hours I’ll merely list the acne treatments I use, but there’s something these products tend to have in common – their ingredients. Look for products loaded with zinc, aloe vera, glycolic and salicylic acid, witch hazel, sulfur, lavender, willow-bark, tea tree and benzoyl peroxide although I’d wouldn’t haphazardly slap on liberal amounts of BP as it tends to dry the skin out.

20140703-195415-71655338.jpg Origins Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Pads* and Blemish Treatment Gel*

Mario Badescu Drying Cream and Buffering Lotion

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel*

Simple Rapid Action Spot Zapper*

Aknicare SR Skin Roller*

Other products that haven’t been pictured but deserve equal adulation are the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Serum, Jan Marini Bioglycolic Cleanser, Bioderma Sébium AKN, La Roche-Posay Efflaclar Duo [+]* and Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.

Parfum Du Jour | Le Soft Perfume Parisian Rhapsody

photo (1)It’s no secret that I’m completely obsessed with Le Soft Perfume’s Striptease Flowers or any other kind of solid fragrance for that matter, and that obsession has been further fueled by the recent launch of their Parisian Rhapsody* fragrance which the brand describes as ‘des notes comme des libellules amoureuse dans le ciel de Paris‘. If my basic French serves me well I believe Parisian Rhapsody is intended to be reminiscent of loved up dragonflies gliding through the skies of Paris; now I’m not entirely sure of that, but what I am sure of is that if you were to bottle up a balmy Parisian day by the Pont de l’Archevêché you’d have Parisian Rhapsody.

Top and middle notes of wild orange, red berries, rose, jasmine and nutmeg combine with heart notes coumarin, vanilla and musk – it’s very sweet and floral, and when I first swiped Parisian Rhapsody on my wrists I was immediately reminded of how familiar it is to the Bali James Maiko Body Oil*. I think it’s a great idea to play around with a fragrance by either pairing it up another or slathering on a moisturiser with similar notes, and the Maiko Body Oil really heightens up the sweeter notes in Parisian Rhapsody, only the body oil gives it a certain figginess.

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The Beauty Business | Martine Micallef – Founder of M. Micallef Parfums

My fascination with all things olfactory goes beyond the delights of the nose, it’s an experience. Sweet smelling notes cased in a beautifully designed bottle will always be my weakness, and M.Micallef Parfums is the epitome of it all. In a world where mass fragrance has a firm grip on the market, M.Micallef Parfums takes fragrance back to the days where it was an art to be appreciated with carefully handcrafted, gold and crystal studded  bottles filled with exquisite scent.

Founded by Martine Micallef and her husband Geoffrey Nejman, I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the lady behind one of my favourite fragrances, Mon Parfum Cristal, a delicious gourmand blend of Bulgarian rose, toffee, Madagascan vanilla, musk and amber.

Martine_MicallefWhat was it that ignited your interest in fragrance and eventually led you to founding M. Micallef? I founded M.Micallef with my husband in 1997, and it has been a joint venture of love and passion since the first day . I am an artist and I love to work with my hands; I love creating, designing, painting and combining elements of art. When I met my husband in 1992, I owned two beauty Salons in Cannes and Geoffrey was a banker and managing the finance department at a lab in Grasse. We would both speak about perfumes a lot and what he experienced in the lab, and it helped us to decide to create our own company and develop a brand. M.Micallef Parfums was born…

What are the things that inspire you when creating a fragrance? What does the process of creating a fragrance entail? Creating a perfume starts with a mood and a flash in my mind. It often happens when we travel and are in changing environments. It is either Geoffrey or myself coming up with the idea. Geoffrey then goes to the lab and starts to mix the first ingredients that appeal to the idea with our senior nose.

It is a long process and it can take 6 months and more, but sometimes it is done in no time. We use the finest ingredients and we do not save on ingredients costs. It is always a mix of best natural ingredients and some synthetics that are of the highest olfactive quality. We decided to target the high end of the consumer market from the start and decided to produce luxury with magnificent packaging and scents with rich and natural notes. I think it was the right choice since these consumers are connoisseurs and enjoy great quality.

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What are your favorite raw materials to work with? Your best job is when you like something yourself, so I would say that ingredients like rose, jasmine, iris, ylang, aoud, vanilla, gaic, osmanthus and styrax are among my favourites.

Scents usually trigger memories, events and important people in our lives. What was your earliest and favourite scent memory? I think it is going back to the perfume my mother wore. It reminds me of childhood and the warmth and sensitivity of my mother holding me in her arms.

What kind of training is required to create fragrance? There is a special school to attend to become a perfumer, I think it’s a course for a 3 year period. But I strongly believe that the key to become brilliant in this science is to be born talented and gifted for the creation of perfumes. Theoretical knowledge would not be enough to become a master perfumer.

Any advice for budding perfumers? It is really difficult to advise and to say something. To be a perfumer… or not to be…? Perfumery is so interconnected with passion, dreams, feelings and personal inspirations and moods that you cannot be the external adviser.

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