Ingredient series – Aquaxyl

It’s a common knowledge that healthy glow everyone is after is a result of a hydrated skin with well-functioning, strong barrier. That is why when re-developing a formula for our Pure Pearl Sheet Mask, our research team was searching high and low for the ingredients that can provide these benefits while also being suitable for various skin types. Because let’s face it, coconut oil or shea butter can definitely help with damaged barrier, but it’s a disaster for people with oily break-out prone skin.

MOTHER MADE Brightening Pure Pearl Mask

When we discovered xylitol and a compound called Aquaxyl that offers all the xylitol has to offer and more, it was one of those “we have to have it in our formula” moments. So, that’s what we want to talk about in today’s post. 

Although the name sounds a bit like a laundry detergent, it is actually a wonderful blend that helps your skin to maintain healthy hydration levels. Keep on reading to find out what Aquaxyl is and why it is oh so good for your skin!  

 So, what is Aquaxyl? 

Aquaxyl is a trade name of the ingredient developed by French company SEPPIC. While it is called an ingredient, it’s technically a blend of three – Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, and Xylitol. 

Xylitol, the most familiar of all three, is a sugar alcohol (“good” alcohol) that naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables like bananas, strawberries, lettuce and plumps. 

You might have heard of xylitol as a sugar substitute and yes, it’s a great more nutritive alternative. It’s considered a “healthy” sweetener that has prebiotic action and therefore can positively influence the gut microbiome. 

But it also has proven skincare benefits. 

Just like glycerin, xylitol replenishes moisture and helps to prevent it from evaporating by strengthening skin barrier. If for some reason your skin barrier isn’t functioning properly (i.e. no matter how much product you put, your skin always feels dry in a couple of hours), xylitol can help with restoring healthy barrier function. 

Anhydroxylitol and xylitylglucoside are both natural, plant-derived humectants also help skin to stay hydrated for longer.  These compounds work to enhance skin’s dermal water reservoirs, so the skin can absorb more moisture and help with barrier function, so accumulated water doesn’t evaporate easily. Bonus points –  these ingredients help the body to produce more hyaluronic acid, which also helps with hydration. 

Aquaxyl, then, is a combination of plant-derived ingredients that target dry and dehydrated skin by improving water circulation and reserves. On their website, SEPPIC defines Aquaxyl as “anti-hydration shield” and this is probably a very accurate way to describe its main skin benefits. 

Here’s a breakdown of how your skin can benefit from Aquaxyl:

  • Restructure and strengthen the upper skin layer (stratum corneum).
  • Boost all skin hydration elements – lipids, proteins, polysaccharides (dermal and epidermal hyaluronic acid), NMF.
  • Smoothes the skin and improves its tone.
  • Strengthens glycerin benefits and removes its side-effects.

The bottom line. Aquaxyl is a great ingredient that all skin types can benefit from (there’s no such thing as too much hydration, right?), but it will be especially beneficial for people with dry and/or dehydrated skin. 

Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation – which one is right for your skin?

Exfoliating is an essential step in our skincare routines that helps to keep skin healthy. Not only does it have an instant benefit of cleaning pores, smoothing, and brightening your skin. It also allows serums, sheet masks, and moisturizers to absorb better and work more effectively. But with so many exfoliating products now available on the market, which one to choose? 

There’re two main types – acids (think AHA, BHA, PHA), a.k.a. chemical exfoliants in a liquid form (they look like toners) and scrubs – cream- or gel-like products with microbeads or other grainy substances. 

Chemical exfoliants sink deep into the skin, where acids work hard to unstick the cellular glue and remove dead cells. Physical exfoliants do mostly the same process – breaking the bonds between healthy and dead cells. But instead of “melting” the dead cells, scrubs work to buff them away mechanically. 

These days beauty world tends to favor chemical exfoliants and demonize physical scrubs, but we believe there are a time and place for both in our routines. The argument here is that traditional scrubs can cause micro-tears in the skin, which can lead to infection and breakouts. However, beauty science has come a long way, and there’re plenty of physical exfoliants like peeling gels or gommage peels that are very gentle on the skin. Which one to choose, however, will heavily depend on your skin type/ concerns, what type of exfoliation you’re looking for, season, and many other factors. You might prefer one over the other or successfully combine both. 

So, how to choose the right one? 

Chemical exfoliators.

This category includes different acids (AHA, BHA, etc.) as well as enzyme extracts (papaya, pineapple). This an excellent choice for warmer months when your skin gets oilier and needs to be exfoliated regularly. Most have very gentle formulas that can be used daily (or every other day) to maintain a healthy, clear complexion. 

BHA is better suited for people with oily skin, congested pores and blackheads while AHA and PHA help with redness and breakouts. Enzyme extracts are gentler than acids can be a great alternative to people with extra sensitive skin.  

The drawbacks. Chemical exfoliants are not great at helping with skin texture issues. Nor will they be of much use if you have dry, parched skin that needs to be buffed away manually. That said, for people with scrub-sensitive skin, chemical exfoliating products are an excellent choice. 

Physical exfoliators.

As briefly mentioned above, this is a broad category that includes everything from professionally done microdermabrasion to traditional scrubs to peel gels.  Scrubs usually contain small-sized particles (most popular are coffee, salt, sugar, etc.) that help to remove the dead cells from your skin manually. These are not the best to use on your face where the skin is delicate. But that’s not to say they can’t be. If your skin loves the post-scrub feeling and doesn’t feel sensitized or irritated – by all means, use it. Just make sure not to rub too hard. Apply little pressure, and that would be more than enough to reveal that silky-smooth new skin that was buried underneath. 

Peel gels (or gommage peels) are considered the mildest and the least abrasive in the family of physical exfoliators. They either don’t contain any grainy substances at all or formulated with very finely milled non-abrasive particles (i.e., cellulose) that give a gentle scrubbing effect. Peeling gels are usually used on dry skin and start balling up as you rub them against your skin. These types of exfoliators are great for people who can’t handle full-on scrub but need some manual exfoliation from time to time to help with skin texture issues. It is also an excellent choice for people who need to get rid of dry patches while hydrating the skin.

The drawbacks. The potential to sensitize the skin is an obvious one. If you have extremely sensitive skin, suffer from rosacea or eczema – this won’t be for you as you need to apply as little external pressure to the skin as possible. Also, since they’re only working on the most upper layer of the skin, the effect might seem fleeting, especially for someone who’s used to acid exfoliators. The solution might be to look for a gommage peel that has acids or enzymes in the formula that help to improve cleansing results.  

MOTHER MADE Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel

The bottom line. Physical and chemical exfoliators have their pros and cons. With the right approach, the correct dosage, and frequency of use –  both can serve you well in your skincare routine.  

Anti-aging skincare: when and how to start?

It seems like in the current beauty world, everyone (even teenagers) is constantly encouraged to inspect their skin for the first signs of fine lines and wrinkles and take the necessary steps, a.k.a. start an anti-aging skincare routine. But what exactly is the anti-aging routine? And how early is too early to start incorporating anti-aging skincare in your routine?

First, what is anti-aging skincare? In the most general sense, anti-aging skincare is moisturizing and daily sun protection. This is the best way to prevent aging-related skin troubles like severe dryness and UV damage that results in hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. This means that regardless of age, “anti-aging” skincare must be in everyone’s daily routines.

On a more specific level, anti-aging skincare is supplement products that help the skin work more efficiently and combat the damage that has already been inflicted. Such skincare consists of products full of antioxidants to fight free radical damage, intensive lipid-rich creams and oils to restore skin barrier function, and acid exfoliators that help to boost cell turnover that slows down as we age.

So, when should you start incorporating these heavy-duty supplement products in your regimen? It really depends on your skin type and condition. Generally speaking, you can begin using skincare that is high in antioxidant content as soon as you reach 20. These are low to non-irritating products with various Vitamins or natural ingredients like a snail, green tea, and other extracts to provide extra support for healthy skin barrier function. If you have extremely dry skin, you might benefit from adding richer creams and oils to your routine early on. But if your skin is an oily, combination, and/or acne-prone, you don’t need this. Such heavy products will only result in breakouts, clogged pores, and an increase in blackheads and sebaceous filaments.

MOTHER MADE Anti-aging Rich Snail Deep Moisturizing Sheet Mask

In your early 20s, steer clear of exfoliants with high acid concertation. “Heavy-duty” exfoliators are meant for more mature skin when normal cell turnover rate slows down, and skin can’t regenerate itself. Your 20-something skin simply doesn’t need this. Also, make sure that only one product in your daily routine contains acid. Often, people go overboard and include acid in toner, serum, and cream. This results in redness, skin flaking, and damaged the skin barrier.

Once you get in your 30’s and beyond, start to consider incorporating more active ingredients in your routine. It’s an excellent time to introduce higher concertation of Vitamin C and A (a.k.a. Retinol) in your routine together with peptide serums and heavier night creams. That doesn’t mean that you should completely forget about more natural and less harsh alternatives. While they might not miraculously erase your wrinkles overnight (no product will), they will help to support healthy skin functioning. Alternate between harsher products and their natural alternatives to ensure you’re not ruining your barrier and sensitizing the skin.

The bottom line. Your skin is the best guide when it comes to choosing what product to start and when — experiment with adding different products to your routine and note your skin’s reaction. You shouldn’t feel pressured to use a particular expensive serum just because you’ve reached a certain age, and that’s what people do. And most importantly, remember that signs of aging are completely normal. Aging is a beautiful process, and skincare is just a tool that you use along the way to minimize any “side-effects” that come along. 

Holiday skincare tips for healthy skin

Ah, the holiday season, a.k.a. the time of the year that takes the biggest toll on our skin. Festive foods that are high in sugar and carbs, alcohol, lack of sleep, and added stress – all that makes your skin start freaking out. If holiday breakouts are an annual thing together with the first snow, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we’ve put together a little guide to help you take this tradition off your calendar this year.

First thing first, if you haven’t already, switch to a low pH, ultra-gentle cleanser. Dry air, heating, and winter winds weaken your skin barrier, and you don’t want to finish it off with a harsh face wash that strips last bits of oils off your skin. In the morning, consider washing your face with water only to minimize the damage even further.

On a similar note – stop with scolding hot showers. Yes, when outside temperatures take a dip to the sub-zero area, a hot steamy shower or bath feels very nice. But it can severely dry out your skin and also bring unwanted rosacea or eczema flare.

Do detox wash off masks regularly. If you’ve been saving a jar (or a pack) of the mask that promises to fight off dull, lackluster skin, now it’s the time to bring it back to your routine. Creamy non-drying clay masks are the best because they help to clear your skin without sensitizing or irritating.

MOTHER MADE 2 step Honey Citrus Facials

Double on a moisturizer. ‘Tis the season to finally bring out your heavy-duty moisturizers and oils. Don’t neglect your body, too. Even if you’re not big on body lotions, try to incorporate them into your body care routine at least several times a week. Pay attention to elbows and knees as the skin on that areas tend to dry out the most.

Eat as healthy as possible. That doesn’t mean saying no to all of the festive foods. Instead, but be strategic and smart. For example, if you know you’ll be having a big dinner at night where you’ll definitely overindulge, have a light salad or green smoothie for lunch. It’s all about balance!  The same goes for alcohol. It’s okay to have a couple of drinks, but drinking every night is probably not a good idea. If your social calendar is packed with parties that you have to attend, consider sipping a club soda instead of a cocktail whenever you can.

Take your makeup off. Yes, even when you’ve had one too many and feel like passing out. For the days like this, stock up on makeup removing wipes or consider getting yourself a cleanser that can remove makeup and clean the skin in one go.

Finally, stay as consistent as possible. One of the biggest reasons why our skin starts to misbehave during holidays is because our familiar routines come crumbling down. At the very least, stay consistent with your skincare and exercise regimen. Feel free to do some minor tweaks to be able to maintain it throughout a busy month of December. For example, if you typically enjoy a 10 -step skincare routine, consider pairing it down to the basics for a while. That way, even when you’re dead tired, you will have no excuses not to do it. The same logic applies to exercise. If you can’t fit a gym session in your schedule, try simple 10-15 min workouts at home instead. It will keep you moving and help not to fall off the habit of daily physical activity, so it’s easier to go back on track once the New Year celebrations are officially over.

And that’s it! Hope you found at least some of these tips helpful.

Have a wonderful, stress-free December,

With love,

MOTHER MADE team xxx

Choosing skincare according to your skin type is likely damaging your skin. Here’s why

If you’re religiously following a routine designed to treat your dry/oily/combo skin, please, stop. Wait; what? Isn’t that the opposite of what beauty bloggers, self-professed skincare experts, dermatologists, and aestheticians have been telling us to do? Figure out your skin type and choose products accordingly. 

Well, in an ideal world – a world without stress, pollution, sun-damage, makeup, birth control pills, monthly hormonal rollercoaster, and god knows what else – sure, that would be sound advice. 

But here’s the truth. While our skin might be genetically predisposed to have less or more oil, larger or smaller pores, more even or rough texture, everything that comes after is a result of our own making. 

So, what does it mean? Skin types don’t exist? 

They do, in theory. Skin types are sort of like color types named after seasons or geometrical body shape types (an Hourglass-shaped Inverted Triangle, anyone?) – constructs that are way too simplistic to describe real, living and breathing people. They are a vast generalization that serves as a guide to understanding our skin and bodies a bit better, but it isn’t meant to be the be-all and end-all. 

In real life, things are rarely as black and white as having just dry skin or oily skin. The “type” we have is a combination of many many factors where genetics certainly plays a role, but not the leading one. Season changes, weather changes, hormones, hydration levels, sleep hours, and a number of drinks you had last night – these are all things that guarantee your skin condition will fluctuate. For instance, you might have been born with a skin type that tends to have more oil, but years of harsh cleansers, mattifying toners, and excessive tanning can and will eventually take its tall, bringing you closer to the dry type. And even if you’ve always moisturized diligently, applied your SPF, and never ever went to bed with makeup on, the skin will inevitably lose its youthful vigor, a.k.a. being able to hold on to moisture, as the years go by.

Skin types are sort of like color types named after seasons or geometrical body shape types – constructs that are way too simplistic to describe real, living and breathing people.

So, you see now how skin type-specific regimen might be problematic. You might be sure you are quote-unquote oily when really all the excess oil is a result of an inadequate beauty regimen that made you severely dehydrated. Swap a mattifying toner with an ultra-hydrating one, and your skin will transform. 

Let’s take another example. Imagine a young woman named Julie. Julie’s always been confident her skin is dry as a desert. She’s been diligently applying heavy, oil-based emollient creams because, as we all know, dry skin lacks oils. But to no avail. No matter how much cream she’d put on at night, her skin would feel uncomfortably tight and even itchy the next day. She’d assume that that’s just how her skin is and kept going. What she should have done, however, is to realize that tightness and itchiness are also signs of dehydration (a problem any type can face at one point) and that her skin is in desperate need of water. 

Do you see a pattern? There’re so many external factors that contribute to what is happening to your skin, and it’s very easy to get it wrong. You might be sure you’re oily when your skin is just perpetually dehydrated. You might be drying out your acne with bacteria-killing toners and masks when what you should be doing is to lay off sugar and stress less. 

The bottom line. Skin types should be treated for what they are – rough guidelines. Remember, your skin is too unique to be boxed into just one category. The best way to build a solid routine is to focus on current skin problems and work from there. Take the time to get to know your skin. Learn how it reacts to external stress factors. Apply products you think might be right for your skin and observe. How does your skin feel? Does it like the product? Does it want more? Less? None at all? You’ll be surprised to learn that what you though your skin needs, might be far away from what your skin actually needs.

Essential summer-to-fall skincare transition tips you need to start doing right now.

It seems like only yesterday you were giddy with excitement about an upcoming summer getaway. Suddenly, it’s almost time to unpack your cashmere sweater and jacket collection. But it’s not only your wardrobe that needs a transitional tweak. With the air getting crisper and drier, now it’s the right time to take a hard look at your existing skincare routine. Is it still working for you? If yes – great! Save this article in your to-read list and revisit it a couple of weeks later. But if your skin has been acting up – feeling tight or sensitized more than usual, that’s the sign your routine needs some rethinking.

Below, we’re sharing eight tips to seamlessly transition your skincare regimen between the seasons without stressing or overwhelming your skin.

TIP 1. Question a morning face wash.

If you have oily skin, in summer you’ve likely to been washing your face with a cleanser morning and night. But do you still need it? We, humans, are creatures of habit, so it’s easy to continue doing the same thing even though it might no longer be necessary. Unless it’s boiling outside and you wake up feeling sticky and sweaty, it’s better to use just water and follow up with a toner to prep your face for the day.

TIP 2. Switch to a milder cleanser.

While foaming cleansers with stronger surfactants are great for summer to prevent clogged pores, it’s time to switch things up come fall. If cleanse in the am is a must, go for a gentle hydrating face wash and choose creamy, milky lotion-type cleanser for the night. The same principle applies to choosing cleansing water. Check the ingredient list to make sure it’s formulated with mild cleansing agents that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.

TIP 3. Upgrade your NIGHT moisturizer, keep using your lightweight gels.

We often hear that we should switch to heavier moisturizers AS SOON AS fall is on the corner. But let’s be honest, September is probably the most unpredictable and controversial month in terms of the weather. One day you regret not layering your moisturizer and the next, you wish you’ve opted for a light gel instead. When the weather is playing tricks, we recommend tweaking your night routine first. Ensuring you get enough hydration and moisture at night can help you to get away with keep using a lighter day cream. Look for the cream (or sleeping mask) that has the right humectants, emollients, and occlusives ratio to provide holistic moisturizing benefits.

A quick reminder. Humectants (hyaluronic acid, glycerin) will improve your skin’s ability to draw water from the environment. Emollients (ceramides) will strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and smooth your skin. Finally, occlusives (silicones) will form a protective film on top of your skin to ensure that the skin can hold moisture for longer.

The same principle applies to sheet masks. Choose masks with moisturizing and nourishing benefits that will help to seal all that moisture in. And voila! Follow up with your usual routine in the morning, and your skin will be weather-proof.

TIP 4. Consider adding eye cream.

The eye contour has the thinnest, most delicate skin. No surprise then, it can get dehydrated quickly once the temperatures drop. So, we recommend paying extra attention to an eye area, investing in a special cream or a good moisturizer that can double as eye cream.

TIP 5. Protect, Protect, Protect.

Just because you’ve packed your bikini away doesn’t mean you should do the same with your sunscreen. While the UVB rays (the ones that give you tan) aren’t as strong in fall and winter, UVA rays (the ones responsible for cancer and premature aging) aren’t going anywhere even when it’s icy cold outside. Long story short, protecting your skin from UV damage is a year-round job. So stock up on your favorite sunscreen and apply (and reapply) to the face, neck, ears, chest and any exposed areas to shield your skin from harmful rays.

TIP 6. Exfoliate more? Less?

Ah, that’s the tricky one, and it entirely depends on your skin type. Oily skin types tend to exfoliate more in summer because that’s when skin produces the most oil increasing chances for clogged pores and congested skin. Those with dry skin, however, tend to exfoliate more in colder months because that’s when their skin becomes patchy and flaky. In other words, If you’ve regularly been exfoliating during summer, fall is the time to go easy on your scrubs and peel gels. But if your skin looks scaly, rough to the touch and make-up cakes up,  it’s time to welcome exfoliators back in your skincare routine.

While the UVB rays (the ones that give you tan) aren’t as strong in fall and winter, UVA rays (the ones responsible for cancer and premature aging) aren’t going anywhere even when it’s icy cold outside.

TIP 7. Consider switching bedding.

Even the nicest, softest cotton can cause friction on dry, sensitive skin. Consider switching to silk pillowcases that offer numerous benefits not only for your skin (like keeping it smooth and wrinkle-free) but hair as well.

TIP 8. Invest in an air humidifier.

Usually, your skin draws moisture from the environment to maintain optimal water-oil balance. During fall and winter, as humidity levels drop, your skin can quickly become dehydrated, especially once the heating season starts. We recommend getting a humidifier and turn it on as soon as you get home to help your skin naturally replenish moisture.

The bottom line is, however, you choose to approach the transitioning process; it’s essential not to overhaul your skin regimen all at once. The goal should always be nudging your skin in the right direction and helping it to adjust to seasonal changes without causing stress.

Any other tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!

#Skinconfessions feat. Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash. Ep.2.

For this episode of #skinconfessions installment, we’ re talking to our Operations Manager, Monica Shin. She oversees the production process and makes sure that all paperwork in the company is done well and finished on time.

Monica Shin, Operations Manager

Q: How would you describe your skin?

Monica: Very dry. So dry that even in summer, I need heavy moisturizing cream. Lightweight creams/gels do absolutely nothing for my skin. Girls in the office often complain how hard it is to manage oily skin, but in all honesty, having extremely dry skin that is not a piece of cake either. It can easily add a few years if I’m not diligent enough with my moisturizers. In Korean, we have a word akkeonseong [악건성], meaning “really really really dehydrated,” and I’m the perfect example.

Q: Do you have any particular skincare concerns?

M: Well, on top of being super dry, my skin is also papery-thin. You can almost see through it. And while I wouldn’t describe it as sensitive, it’s sensitized easily, so I have to be very careful with what I put on my face. I also have smile lines, and year after year, my skin is losing firmness. 

Q: How would you describe your lifestyle?

M: I work in the office, so around 70% of the time, I’m clunking away on my keyboard. The rest of 30% I’m on my foot – in our warehouse or meeting our suppliers and partners. I’m not very into sports, and luckily my job allows me to move a bit during the week. But I know I should move more, so try to take long walks on the weekend if the weather allows.

Q: Walk us through your typical summer morning and evening skincare routine.

M: I never wash my face with a cleanser in the morning, just splash some water. I then apply a hydrating toner. Generously. Summer or winter – it doesn’t matter. I always use rich, viscose-y toners. After years of experimenting, I found that using hydrating products at every stage of the routine is the only way to keep my skin from being completely and utterly dehydrated by the end of the day.

After toner, I apply a thick layer of moisturizing cream ( REALLY moisturizing), then moisturizing sunscreen. Sometimes, instead of regular sunscreen, I use our Aqua Light CC cream, which has the same protection level as my daily sunscreen (SPF 50+/PA+++), plus it’s tinted. I don’t wear eye make-up, so that’s it.

In the evening, I use an oil cleanser (or oil-based cleansing pads)/ low pH cleanser combo to wash the day off my face.  Toner comes next and I might follow with some kind of brightening or firming serum if I feel like it. I don’t feel like it very often and honestly, over the years I’ve realized that the best anti-aging product is a moisturizer. That’s where most of my skincare money go. Sometimes I’d use a hydrating sheet mask, like our Rich Snail Mask, or a sleeping pack when my skin is feeling extra rough.

Q: How does an Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash fit in your skincare routine?

M: I use it every night as my second cleanser, and it’s been working great for me. I don’t like dense foams (they dry my skin out mercilessly), so I add quite a lot of water when lathering the product to make airy, weightless foam. A foaming net serves this purpose well.

My favorite way to use it though, is with cotton pads. I massage the foam first into my skin and then, instead of rinsing it, I’ll remove the foam with a dry cotton pad. It gives a light physical exfoliating effect plus my skin looks sort of polished afterward. I don’t do it every day, more like 2-3 times a week. This is the only form of exfoliation my dry skin needs in summer. 

Q: What do you like about Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash the most?

This is the first charcoal product that’s actually mild enough for me, which makes me very happy. I love charcoal, but most of the products I’ve tried (and I’ve tried plenty) sucked the last bits of moisture that was left in my skin. I’m glad we could make our Charcoal Powder Wash so suitable for different skin types.

Another thing I appreciate is that it’s keeping my pores clean. Even if I have dry skin, it doesn’t mean my pores don’t get clogged. But I can’t use acids – they sting and tingle. So, our charcoal powder wash is an excellent alternative for me!