Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Mother's Day - A Pain or a Yay?

Women. So complex. With their hormones raging every 4 weeks or so... or maybe on a regular day basis, men really do have a tough job at finding the right moments to communicate effectively with women.

Ok. maybe it's not that bad!... is it?  But for many men, Mother's day is sure a heck of a brain whack! What do you do for your mother on the 13th of May? A repeat of last year's dinner? A bunch of flowers to thank them for their effort at raising their children? Or a simple "Happy Mother's Day"? Choices are so broad, yet limited at the same time.  There are only so many choices that will ensure you a day free of rambling, that is if you pick the right choice!

So what is the perfect choice?  Do you ask your mother/in law what they want? Well if you do ask, there are only two outcomes.  Either they say "it doesn't matter!" (when it actually does) or a statement that emphasises the man's "little" understanding and care for their mother.

Don't ask you say! So what should you do? Well, a tip! Look at their schedule and listen to their ramblings for the weeks coming up to mothers day. They will surely subtly hint at what they want... or need. It could simply be a box of chocolates... or as complex as a trip to Paris for this season's "It" item! Either way, you're just going to have to decipher their messages slowly, because i can tell you, it changes by the minute.

What if you're running short of time? Or that you couldn't understand the hints your mother was giving you? Well, there's one item that 99% of women will definitely like; Parfum.  Just go to the nearest department store, and pick out a nice gift set, usually the Parfum, hand cream and a body wash. Easy right? ... not really. You gotta think about the smell. Will it suit your mom? Will she like it? Has she already got something similar? Has she got this one already? Seriously, the questions are infinite, and the outcomes are indefinite.

Have i done my shopping for my mother yet? Of course. She hinted at a wallet she rather liked, so i bought it. Then i realised she's going overseas for work. Since the area is cold and dry, i bought some hand cream that she liked.

Really? Did you think this day was easy? Every year, if i'm not running out of time, i gotta think of something new. Comparing to Father's day, mother's day is much more complex and time consuming. For father's day it's just dinner, and for the past 19 years, i still haven't got a complaint.

Note: All photos are property of Tom Ford and Angry Birds.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Clinique - 3 step Anti blemish line & Moisture surge Review

Clinique (1968), is a manufacturer of skin care products, owned by Estee Lauder Corporation. Well known for their 3 Step Care sets, Clinique is now a well established skin care label world wide, promoting the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in treating skin conditions. Clinique also advertises their frequent lab tests, ensuring that their products are allergen free.

Comparing Clinique to other labels, their daily skin care products are relatively cheap, ranging from ~$30-$80AUD. And with regular promotions and complimentary gifts (purchases over $75), it is no wonder why Clinique has branched out to nearly every continent! 

Blemishes have been a constant problem with my skin, and so after several recommendations from friends and family, i decided to test out the Anti-Blemish line, and the moisture surge extended relief.

1. Anti Blemish Solutions - Cleansing foam @ $36AUD/125mL

Cleansing foams are lightweight cleaners, primarily aiming to clean and unclog pores in the skin.  Although it can be used to remove makeup, a heavier cleanser would be preferred for makeup removal. 

Effectiveness of this cleanser? Not very effective. Despite all the raving reviews online, reading how well this cleansing foam cleans the skin, reduces redness, unclogs pores and limits blemishes, i found it worse than a cleanser bought from the supermarket. There is no fragrance so it was rather boring, and skin doesn't feel clean and smooth after cleansing.  Having used this product for 6+months, there were no visible improvements on blemishes and skin complexity. 

On a note, i also hated the packaging. A light aqua color? Seriously? And the pump... doesn't always work.

Rating: 2/10

2.Anti Blemish Solutions - Clarifying Lotion @ $42AUD/200mL

This lotion....or exfoliator...or toner.... is the second step in the 3 Step anti blemish line.  Sales told me it did not contain any alcohol, but upon opening the bottle, it smelt of nothing but alcohol. So i put this lotion.. exfoliator? on a cut i had on my finger...and boy did it sting! Alcohol? I think so...

So, a toner, arguably not a necessity in one's skin care regime, however some people do recommend it for pH balancing, and skin prepping for moisturisers and other products.

Did this toner help? Well maybe as a disinfectant on my finger yeah... but for my face? No. Skin still produced a lot of oil, despite the claims by Clinique that it will "reduce excess oil". Oil absorbing powder is supposedly an ingredient in this lotion... but from what i see...there ain't any powder in it!

Rating : 10/10  for the disinfectant quality.  2/10 for its actual purpose.

3. Moisture Surge extended relief @ $75AUD/50mL

Clinique sales really need to get a grip on their knowledge of products.  For the 3 step anti blemish, i decided i wanted to use a moisturiser not in the line, and so was recommended the Moisture Surge extended relief.  After using this moisturiser for 6+months (and several repurchases of this product), i returned to Clinique, and another sales told me that i was using the wrong moisturiser; this surge was meant to be used as an extra moisture boost. So...i was recommended the wrong product on more than one occasion? 

The gel is quite heavy in comparison to other gel moisturisers. Clinique claims that this 'lightweight' product gives the face the necessary 'drink' of the day, removing any traces of tightness, fine lines and flakiness. To me, it felt like putting a lightweight paste on my face, and then 10 minutes later let the oil shine through once again. 

One of the worst moisturiser i have ever come across. Not only does it not help skin in anyway, but the price set is incredibly overpriced.  Actually, i would say its more overpriced than Sisley. At least Sisley is a luxury label.

Rating: 3.5/10

4. Anti Blemish Solution - Oil Control Mask @$52AUD/100mL

Masks are used for deep cleansing, and are usually used once or twice a week.  The anti blemish is a white clay based mask, that claims to deep clean the skin and unclog the pores, preventing the production of excess oils.  

The mask is quite watery, so it spreads quite well with a small amount.  However, after solidifying, the face becomes quite stiff, and any minor movement causes major cracks in the mask.  Although this isn't a major issue, it does feel uncomfortable whilst having a tight face and trying to talk.

Allergy tested, as Clinique claims.  Well, either my skin's very unique, or that the claims are exaggerated. This mask, not only made my skin very rough after application, but also redness and itchiness after it was cleansed off.  Pores weren't minimised, skin wasn't smoothed, skin was irritated, and blemishes looked the same; opposite to what Clinique claims on their site! 

Rating: 1/10

Do i still use Clinique? well i have a few tubs of the moisture surge left... so i put it on my neck. After i use it up? Goodbye! Unless Clinique comes out with some wonder working tub of lotion, then i won't ever go near their products again.  Then again, their wonder working tub of lotion could cause an allergy... even if they claim that all their products are allergen tested...

Overal Rating: 2/10

Note: all images are owned by Clinique.  All prices are set by Clinique, Australia


Sisley - Milk Cleansers

Cleansers are an important part of a skin care regime.  If skin is not clean, one cannot achieve the full benefits of the moisturisers, serums and masks applied to the face. Therefore, each individual needs to find a suitable cleanser for their own skin care regime, as there is no one product that works for everyone!

Cleansers are usually the cheapest product within a skin care set.  It contains the least ingredients that benefit the skin, as the primary goal is to wash off all the dirt and pollutants. Go to the supermarket and you can easily purchase a $9.95 cleanser, which will satisfy many consumer's needs! However, when cleansers are priced at $50-60AUD and above, one really questions whether it is necessary to spend a hefty amount on a product, which just washes off the dirt!

Giorgio Armani, Dior, Givenchy, YSL are considered to be the elite luxury labels in the fashion industry. Each of the respective skin care lines have cleansers that suit certain types of skins.  Although the range may not be as diverse as Clinique, Kiehls, or Clarins, customers are still given a choice as to the cleansers they purchase! In respect to the price, most of the cleansers are priced at around $50-60AUD, which is already considered to be expensive. 

When it comes to designer labels, nothing comes cheap.  When you spend large amounts of money, you expect to have a choice as to what you buy.  However, Sisley products seem to follow a much narrower path, as their products not only exceed $100AUD, but are also very limited in their range. For an everyday cleanser, Sisley only produces two milk textures, Sage and Lyslait, for normal/combination and dry/sensitive skin respectively.  

Sisley is a French owned company, and have a long reigning history.  Most, if not all of their products contain [large amounts of] fragrances, which is arguably a BIG no in skin care.  Despite the BIG no, Sisley is still considered to be a top luxury skin care label, and usually compared to other major brands such as La Mer, La Prairie and Chantecaille.  So, competing with the big names, and setting extreme prices.. do their products really live up to the prices set?

1. Sisley Milk Cleanser - with Sage @ $116 AUD/250mL

Priced at $116AUD, it is no doubt one of the more expensive cleansers in the market. Milk cleansers are lightweight, therefore they can remove makeup, and be used day and night. As with most milk cleansers, water is not required. 

Sage is a cleanser targeted for normal/combination skin consumers. Infused with strong fragrances, this cleanser should not be recommended to consumers with sensitive skin. The texture is a thick white milk, and is easily spread around the whole face.

As for myself, i would consider my skin to be combination/sensitive.  After using Sage for two days, i returned it to the store as the cleanser was clearly not the right for me.  My cheeks would turn red and itch for about 10 minutes or so after cleansing.  Although my face had an allergic reaction to the cleanser, if put aside, my face did feel quite clean afterwards.  Pores were also minimised from the minimal use! It really is disappointing as it would have become a daily cleanser for me, if not for the allergy.

Rating (based on cleaning quality) : 7.5/10
Rating (overall quality and worth) : 3/10

2. Sisley Milk Cleanser - Lyslait: with white lily @ $125 AUD/250mL

More expensive than Sage, Lyslait is targeted for those with dry/sensitive skin. Containing white lily, the cleanser not only cleans the skin, but also smooths and moisturises.  For such a hefty price, one should expect more than smoothing and moisturising benefits! 

The texture is the same as Sage, however the fragrance is noticeably reduced.  

Lyslait had the same cleaning effects as Sage, clean, smooth and refined pores. However, the allergy remained; itching reduced to about 4-5 minutes after cleansing.  The cleanser is already designed for those with sensitive skin, therefore it was not expected that the itchiness returned. 

Rating (based on cleaning quality) : 7.5/10

Rating (overall quality and worth) : 2.3/10 

Sisley can only be defined as being hyped up! It's cleansers do not live up to the expectations, and are incredibly overpriced.  For a cleanser priced at ~$120, one would expect much more than clean, smooth and moisturised skin.  Also, there are no actual lab results which prove the worth/effectiveness of their products!  

Will i try other Sisley products? Yes. The Sisley reign would not have lasted if their whole range was disappointing. However, their cleansers are a clear indication of their narrow path, as it only suits a limited number of consumers.

Overal Rating: 3.8/10

Note: all images are property of Sisley Paris and Givenchy. All prices are set by Sisley Boutique, David Jones limited.

Giorgio Armani - Skin Minerals Review

Since 2007, i've started my own skin care regime, changing brands from Etude House (Korean) to Clinique, Kielhs, Sisley etc.... All the brands that i've used have considerable numbers of reviews online, however Giorgio Armani's Skin Minerals range seems to have dropped of the radar. Armani, famously known for their makeup range, developed their own men's skin care line in 2007; Giorgio Armani Skin Minerals.

Many skin care brands boast their own unique incorporation of technology into their products, allowing them to differentiate from one another. With YSL's glycobiology, Sisley's phytocosmetology, Lancome's tiger herb, and La Prairie's cellular technology, Armani sets aside their own range with the infusion of Volcanic Complexes, derived from magma blown into the air during volcanic eruptions.

Yes. luxury skin care promises miraculous results; anti ageing, anti-wrinkle, brightening effects and other various claims. Accompanied with millions of dollars invested in advertisements, one would eventually be persuaded to test out these "age defying" products. Despite the boastful claims made by the companies, consumers are forgetting the most important aspect of Skin Care, clean and healthy skin. Blinded by the importance of visual appearance within today's society, consumers are more likely to spend their dime on luxury skin care, than search for products which are more suitable and less fancy for their faces.

So the question is, does Armani Skin Minerals live up to the expectations? Since 2007, Armani's Skin Minerals line has increased to 8 products, ranging from cleansers, serums to moisturisers. With a relatively hefty price attached to each individual product, will consumers want to defy age with Armani, or will they rather forget the Volcanic Complex hype and instead revitalise their skin with natural H2O (water) molecules?

1. Cleansing Cream @ $55AUD/200mL

As with all cleansers, the main selling point is a clean, clear and smooth skin after cleansing. Add a luxury label to the cleanser, unique minerals will be used to clean your face, providing not only clean, clear and smooth skin, but also pore tightening and moisturising effects.

The cleanser's texture is a lightweight white cream, which doesn't foam up at all. To cleanse the whole face, a larger amount of product will be required, in comparison to other cleansers of a different texture. There is also a slight fragrance, which is less noticeable when compared to La Prairie and Sisley cleansers.

Results? Clean, clear and smooth skin! There is no [dry] tightness of the skin after cleansing, and as a bonus, skin seems to glow much more! What of the pores? ... "What pores are you on about?" After two weeks of using this cleanser, pores are no longer visible to the naked eye, especially the larger ones on the nose.

Rating: 8.5/10

2. Scrubbing Mud @ $65AUD/150mL

Skin regenerates everyday; new cells grow and dead skin clings if you don't clean properly. An exfoliator, used once or twice a weeks, reassures that new skin is constantly on the top layer, absorbing all the vitamins and minerals you spend on your face. 

The exfoliator is a thick and rough, dark green/grey coloured mud.  The mud contains a scrubbing ingredient, Tephras, which are fine volcanic particles derived from magma. Containing rich mineral ingredients, Tephras removes the top layer of dead skin and unclog pores, leaving skin refined, smoother and firmer.

For such a price, do you expect an amazing exfoliator? Definitely! More expensive than many exfoliators out in the market, this product should not only remove dead skin, but also improve the appearance of pores, blemishes and skin texture. Immediate results? Just a nice scent and clean skin. Skin doesn't look much different in comparison to the cleansing cream (1).  Results after a night's sleep after exfoliating? A totally different complexion! Skin is refined, firmed, smoother, brighter, and blemishes are a tone lighter! 

Rating: 8/10

3. Fortifying Serum  @  $95AUD/75mL

Although not a necessary for any skincare regime, a serum provides an extra boost of nutrients, bringing out a healthier and brighter complexity to the skin. The fortifying serum contains Vitamin E and and Pro Vitamin 5, protecting skin against free radicals, and soothing the skin, respectively.

The serum's texture is a white/clear colour gel, which is easily absorbed into the skin. Only less than one pump is only required to fortify the skin, and the absorption rate is extremely fast. For those whom want a more lightweight moisturiser, but still achieve the same results, a serum is the perfect choice!

After applying the serum for two weeks, skin is noticeably smoother and there seems to be a glow to the skin after waking up.  Want smoother and less dull skin? Forget lasers and knives because this serum provides amazing results, just without the pain and bruising.

Rating: 8.5/10

4. Regenerating Cream @ $145AUD/50mL

Invisible to the naked eye, there are many pollutants that surround us everyday, breathed into our lungs and absorbed into our skin.  Although we can't control what we breathe in (unless you smoke), we can however protect our skin from radicals and pollutants.  An application of a moisturiser will provide a barrier between the skin and pollutants.

Creams are moisturisers that contain oils, and a common ingredient used is Shea Butter.  Generally, a moisturiser that contains oil is not suitable for consumers with oily/combination skin, however an exception has been discovered!  With a heavier texture than gels, this white/cream coloured moisturiser comes with an amazing fragrance, that smells and feels great on the skin. How much should you put on? ... just a little bit. This moisturiser spreads like crazy and a little bit goes a long way!! 

Two weeks have passed, and after day & night application of this cream, skin has not only become much smoother, but pores have also been refined and oil production has been drastically reduced.  Wrinkle reduction? Not too sure. Being only 19, wrinkles have yet to appear.  Maybe an update in 10 years or so, then i can write a review for the anti-wrinkle effects. But as an everyday moisturiser, the effects are surely skin regenerating!

Rating: 8/10

5. Eye Master @ $85AUD/15mL

A common ingredient in all eye cream/serums is caffeine; an active ingredient to combat puffiness. Add the label Armani to an eye cream, age and fatigue defying becomes the selling point.  Containing Conker and Butcher's broom extracts, and the hyped up volcanic complex ingredients, the eye master sells as an anti-aging, anti fatigue and de-puffing eye serum. How does this serum differentiate from a regular clinique eye cream? The Conker and Butcher's broom extracts stimulate micro blood circulation, erasing signs of ageing and tiredness.

The serum is a clear serum/gel with no distinct fragrance.  After 10 or so seconds of massaging it under theeye, the serum is fully absorbed.

No need for two weeks to see results with this product.  Only 10-15 minutes after application, eye lines, puffiness, dark circles and skin texture are greatly improved. For someone who sleeps at 4 in the morning and wakes at 7am, this eye serum revitalises the skin, appearing as if one has slept for 9+ hours.  A hyped up serum? Yes. A serum that provides results? a BIG YES!

Rating: 9.5/10

So, the Armani Skin Mineral's Volcanic Complex hype. Commercially? A success. Product packaging? Sleek. Price? Relatively well priced. Lives up to the hype? YES!

Many luxury labels are criticised for their skincare range, due to their main concentration in fashion.  Without actual lab test results, many are afraid to test out these high end products, due to the low belief of positive results, and hefty prices (compared to other skincare products).  Armani, however has steered themselves away from the usual stereotype, that luxury labels can only be successful in fashion. Since the development of the Skin Minerals range, Armani has not only been able to compete against other luxury label's skincare range targeted for women, but also brands that target Men's skin ie Biotherm.   

Do i recommend this range? Yes! For me, results have been proven, and skin is noticeably firmer, smoother and brighter.  Never have my pores been this small, and oil production is noticeably less! You want to regenerate your skin? Then live with Armani's skin minerals, and you won't be disappointed!

Overal Rating: 8.5/10

Note: all photos are owned by Giorgio Armani Beauty All prices are set by Giorgio Armani boutique, David Jones Limited.