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.  

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

5 tips on how to get your partner into skincare

The age-old perception that skincare is something feminine and that only women do has finally started to fade, and we have male skincare bloggers to thank for it. But the skincare landscape is still very gender-biased, and a significant percentage of the male population doesn’t take adequate care of their skin. 

If your husband, boyfriend, or even brother is refusing to give his skin real TLC, it deserves, you came to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll go over some tips that will help you to help your man to start taking care of his complexion and never stop. 

Tip 1. Start slow. 

Sure, you might be doing all ten steps religiously and want him to try it all immediately and fall in love with skincare just like you did. But, hold your horses and try putting yourself in his shoes.  For someone whose skincare hitherto has been consisting of splashing water on his (severely dehydrated) face and calling it a skincare routine, this might be a little too overwhelming. Remember how you started? It took you a while to learn, understand, and appreciate each product. He should be allowed to do the same. So, chill out and start from the beginning. 

Tip 2. Go basic. 

A basic skincare routine that is absolutely non-negotiable for anyone is a cleanser, moisturizer, and a sunscreen — nothing more, nothing less. Choose a gentle (low or neutral pH is the best) quality cleanser, lightweight, non-greasy moisturizer that can be used day and night, and a 50+ broad-spectrum SPF. 

There’re tons of great moisturizers on the market for every budget, some even come with SPF, but we don’t recommend them. Why? Because a) he’ll need another night time moisturizer, which will complicate things unnecessarily, b) to get adequate sun protection, he’ll need to put on A LOT of said moisturizer and things can get very greasy very quickly. So, it’s best to start with 3 separate products – two to use at night and all three for the morning. 

Tip 3. Solve the problem. 

Most men are rational, plus they love challenge, so start with highlighting a problem.  Do you notice that he wakes up with a papery flaky skin? Does he have super-enlarged pores? Acne? A deep wrinkle on his forehead? Tell him that, explain why this is a problem and show how to fix it (remember, it should be super easy!).  After you bring attention to something he might not have noticed before, he will be more willing to listen to you talk about skincare since now it’s the topic he’s interested in. And while you have his attention, feel free to explain the science behind a product(s) you’re recommending. Point out one or two main ingredients in the products and tell why they’re an excellent solution for his skin concerns.

Framing “the skincare talk” in the “problem-solution” discourse will also help him to become more aware of his skin issues and will be more motivated to continue once he notices an improvement. 

Tip 4. Throw on a sheet mask.

Ok, let’s say you’ve succeeded, and he now washes his face regularly and doesn’t need a reminder to apply sunscreen. Great news! Now it’s time to take things beyond basics and to the next level. But proceed with caution.  Introduce too many new things at once, and it can backfire. One extra step you can easily add to spice up his regimen is sheet masks. They’re beneficial to the skin, and received social approval as a genderless skincare item thanks to Instagram that is pollinated with selfies of couples boasting their sheet masking experiences. 

When you’re about to curl on a couch to watch some Netflix in the evening, tell him you’re going to put on a sheet mask and casually ask if he’d like to try one too. Choose a mask that isn’t messy and will stay put on his face. Explain how to use it or better so, apply it for him. He’ll feel loved, and his skin will glow – it’s a win-win in our books! And who knows, maybe it will become your new weekly ritual that he’ll look forward to. 

Tip 5. Share products .

Sometimes, it’s easier to start building the skincare habit by getting one of those “for men” lines. They usually come in handy sets and feature very slick, minimal design. Another plus – he will most likely have no qualms about using a cleanser, toner, and lotion since it’s a set. However, we all know by now that there’s no such thing as “skincare for men.” For the most part, this is a simple marketing trick to sell guys mediocre, highly fragranced, and overpriced products. 

As time goes and he starts being more and more comfortable with having skincare as a part of his everyday life, try bringing up the idea of using the same products. If your proposal is met with resistance, appeal to the money factor – buying separate skin care can add up quickly, not even mentioning the extra clutter in the bathroom. No guy will say no to the prospect of saving up. But it’s not just about the money. Heavy fragrance in men’s skincare can easily irritate the skin, not even mentioning the fact that the ingredient list isn’t always the cleanest. 

Going for “gender-neutral” well-formulated products is the best for both, your man’s skin and your wallets. If you have similar skin types, you can comfortably share the majority of your routine, introducing only some small tricks where necessary. But even if not, you can still share some of the products, like a cleanser, toner, or exfoliator, since they’re less skin-type specific. 

And there you have it! Five tips to help your man get healthy, hydrated skin. 

Do you have anything to add? Or personal experiences to share building a skincare regimen for your better half? 

Drop us a comment or DM us on IF (@mothermade_global). We’d love to hear from you!  

Common CC cream mistakes and how to avoid them.

Let’s be honest. Finding your dream CC cream is like choosing a pair of perfect jeans – it’s hard, it’s a lot of work, and it might take years to find THE ONE that ticks all the boxes. After many costly mistakes, you might even decide you’ve had enough, call off the search, and declare that CC creams suck.

But what are those boxes that no CC cream could ever tick?

Skincare ads trained us well to believe that there’s a “magic” product that will solve all the skin problems, and our bar is set higher than ever. This narrative is especially true in the base make-up realm. As a line between CC, BB, and foundation becoming increasingly blurred, so are the product claims. (If you want to read more about the differences between them, we’ve written a dedicated blog post). Regardless of the alphabet signage, base products often promise to do everything from hydrating, sun protecting to giving a flawless coverage that lasts all day. And this can be very misleading because it creates unrealistically high expectations that are bound to get shattered to pieces when a product doesn’t’ deliver.  And how could it? There’s a good reason why we don’t call CC cream a foundation and vice versa – they’re not the same!

So, in the spirit of bringing clarity into the issue, we’ve gathered common misconceptions and mistake people make when buying or using CC creams that are probably stopping you from getting the most out of yours. Keep reading to find out more!

Mistake number 1. Relying solely on CC cream for hydration.

Sure, some CC creams can feel very moisturizing, but it’s not their core purpose to provide an adequate hydration level to last all day. If you notice your skin gets uncomfortably tight by noon with dry patches showing, most likely, that’s not a CC cream’s fault. Consider adding another layer of cream or lotion before applying the CC cream and note the difference in how your skin feels throughout the day.

Mistake number 2. Expecting CC cream to cover blemishes, erase pores, be lightweight, natural, AND last all day.

Phew, quite a list, huh? It sounds like nothing short of a miracle product, and such extreme multitasking is by far the biggest misconception about CC creams. So often we hear people complaining about “poor longevity” and that it won’t cover an annoying pimple or pores.  But the truth is, it was never meant to do that, it’s just isn’t pigmented enough! CC isn’t foundation and can never give the same amount of coverage and longevity on its own. So, if you’ve always fancied more of a medium to full coverage look, well, honey, let us tell you right away – you’ll be disappointed. CC cream is many things, but it’s not a substitute for a full (even medium) coverage foundation.

Granted, some CC creams are buildable, but even then, there’s a limit to how much you can layer. If you’re after a flawless-looking skin, try using CC as a primer, and you’d be surprised how much more you’ll enjoy it.

The best blending tool for CC cream is… your hand!

Mistake 3. Not using the right tools to blend it.

There isn’t a universal consensus on what’s the right way to apply a CC cream, but it seems like the best CC blending tool is…. your hand — fingers, to be precise. Because CC creams are lightweight and don’t require application precision as much as the foundation does, using tools other than your fingers will rub you off a lot of product and coverage. Using fingers will also give you more flexibility –  you’ll be able to concentrate on areas that need more evening out and spot-correct. Just make sure your hands are clean 😉

Mistake 4. Applying too much.

For some people, even the most lightweight CC cream can feel too heavy and suffocating. But don’t be in a rush to declare yet another one a failure. Most likely, the problem is not the formula but your perception. If you’re going make-up free most of the days, even the slightest tint can feel like a lot of color.

What to do you do? Less is more in your case.

Rather than blending the CC all over the face, mix a drop of the cream with your favorite daytime moisturizer or sunscreen to create a very subtle tint. It won’t last long, nor will cover much, but that might be exactly what your skin needs.

…some CC creams are buildable, but even then, there’s a limit to how much you can layer. If you’re after a flawless-looking skin, try using CC as a primer, and you’d be surprised how much more you’ll enjoy it.

Mistake 5. Using the same CC in summer and winter….

…and expecting the same result. Ok, so this is a more advanced level mistake since you need to have used CC creams for a while to make it, but we decided to throw it in the mix anyway.

Tweaking a skincare regimen based on the season might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people forget that the same rule applies to your base make-up. This rule is especially important to remember for combination-oily skin that’s prone to dehydration. CC creams that work wonderfully in summer will be too dry in winter and vice versa. If budget allows, it’s best to have dedicated summer and winter base make-up. But if not (or if you don’t want to collect too many products), try looking for a CC cream that isn’t overly dewy, but not matte either. That way, you can mattify it in summer with setting powders or primers and make it more hydrating by layering heavier moisturizer underneath in winter.

And there you have it! Like and share with your friends if you found the post useful!

Stay warm and talk to you soon,

MOTHER MADE team xxx

Ingredient Series: Baobab Seed Extract

Baobab, or Adansonia Digitata, is nicknamed as “tree of life” for its impressive longevity. But equally as impressive are the skin benefits that this unique ingredient can provide.  

The part of the tree that is the most beneficial is the fruit seeds. They are packed with Vitamin C, high in minerals, and three main omega fatty acids. The seeds are harvested only after the fruits completely dried out while still on the tree and fell on the ground to preserve the maximum nutritious value. 

We chose to include baobab seed extract in our Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel formulation to help invigorate your dull, tired and stressed skin. 

Here’s a quick round-up of what baobab seed extract can do. 

baobab seed extract

Improve Hydration Levels 

Exfoliation can often leave your skin drier than usual, which is a big no-no since people with dry, flaky skin need exfoliation the most. And given that baobab’s excellent moisturizing properties have received approval from science, it isn’t that surprising it made its way into the formula.

Improved Skin Elasticity
Seeds of baobab fruits are exceptionally rich in Vitamin C, which is known to boost collagen production. It’s also a natural source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids that work to deeply nourish and plump the skin from inside out.

Boost Anti-Oxidants
Baobab boasts an insane amount of anti-oxidant content that long surpasses touted matcha and goji berries. It contains prebiotics and dietary fibers that can help fight harmful free radicals, making it an excellent choice for people who want to up their anti-aging game.

Overall, this is a highly underrated ingredient that we hope to see more companies include in their formulas in the future.

Have you tried anything with baobab seed extract? Let us know!

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.

Common sheet mask mistakes and how to avoid them

Sheet masks are amazing. No one will argue with that. They’re fun, relatively inexpensive, and have the power to transform our skin instantly.

Using a sheet mask might seem like the easiest and the most straightforward thing on earth. And for the most part, it is. But if you really want to make the best of your sheet mask collection, it’s crucial to know common mistakes people make along with some tips that will help to take you masking game to another level.

If you’ve ever felt that sheet masks aren’t doing much for your skin or just generally confused about where they belong in your skincare regime, this post is for you!

Mistake #1. Using the wrong sheet mask.

Similar to serums or ampules, a sheet mask is an extra slot in your skincare routine that you can and should use to address specific skin concerns. Skin feels like the Sahara Desert? Deep Moisturizing masks are your best friends. Pore and texture issues? Look for the masks with clarifying acids and pore-caring ingredients. If you don’t see the effects, that’s likely because your targeting is off.

MOTHER MADE Deep Moisturizing Rich Snail Mask

Mistake #2. Not patch testing a mask before applying.

Sheet masks are essentially a highly concentrated booster for your skin. That’s why some ingredients that don’t bother you in toners or creams can trigger a reaction when used in a sheet mask. Always patch test the essence first on your arm before slapping the sheet on your face. 

Mistake # 3. Not prepping your skin.

By now, everybody knows that freshly cleansed complexion is a non-negotiable prerequisite. But prep work doesn’t end there. If sheet masking is a weekly ritual for you, it’s best to exfoliate before to help the essence to absorb better.  We also recommend to at least prep your skin with toner. Why “at least”? There isn’t clear and cut answer to that, but some savvy skincare enthusiasts recommend finishing your whole night routine, except moisturizer before relaxing with a sheet mask. This will, arguably, help to seal all the layers you’ve applied before and to make your sheet mask to work even harder.

Mistake # 4. Not customizing your mask.

Everyone’s face shape is different, so making a pattern that would fit everyone effortlessly just isn’t possible. Some masks will fit better than the others straight out of the box, but some will require a bit of work – and that’s completely normal. If you feel like the eye or mouth area is a tad bit small, go ahead –  make small rips in the mask to adjust the fit to your liking.

Mistake # 5. Keep the mask on for too long.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but when it comes to sheet masking, longer doesn’t always mean better. As the sheet starts to dry, it can actually strip hydration and nourishment away from your skin. It’s better to always follow the instructions on the packaging the first time you use a mask and see how it behaves on your skin. You might find that it still remains drenched in essence even after 30 mins of wear. Then, by all means, feel free to keep it on longer. But usually, 10-15 mins is more than enough to get all the benefits your skin needs.  If you want to wear the mask longer, flip it over when you’re halfway through and apply the remaining essence to prevent dryness.

Mistake # 6. Skipping moisturizer.

It might seem like overkill, but moisturizing after a mask is super important. Use your favorite light- to medium-weight moisturizer (go easy tho, a thin layer will do) or oil to seal in all the hard work your sheet mask has done. My skin is too hydrated – said no one ever.

Mistake # 7. Washing your face after a mask.

Sure, there must be a good reason why you’d want to wash your face right after a sheet mask, but whatever it is – try not to. The essence takes at least 30 mins to fully absorb and deliver the necessary nutrients to your skin. By rinsing your face even with just water is basically flushing your money and efforts down the drain. Not only you’re undoing all the effects of the sheet mask, but you’re also wasting your toner and serums you’ve applied before.

But wait, what if the mask feels unbearably tacky? That is, of course, not the nicest of feeling. But instead of rushing in the bathroom, apply a moisturizer. It will help with the tacky feel, and all your skincare layers will remain intact.

When it comes to sheet masking, longer doesn’t always mean better.

Mistake # 8. Wasting the extra essence.

There’re so many ways the extra essence can be used. Apply over the sheet once you’ve flipped the mask over (as mentioned earlier) or slather it all over your neck, arms, and legs. You can also transfer the essence in a separate, tight lid container to make a DIY mask with facial cotton pads in the future.

Mistake # 9. Storing the extra essence for too long.

Decanted extra essence shouldn’t be stored for longer than a couple of days. Sheet masks are single-use products, so their formulas aren’t designed to withstand prolonged sun and air exposure. The essence can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, and if you’re not careful, you might end up doing more harm than good to your skin. We also don’t recommend using stored essence instead of toner or regular essence. The formula is entirely different, and you won’t get the same benefits by using it without a sheet mask.

And there you have it! Comment below if you have more tips to add!

Happy sheet masking!  

CC, BB, Foundation, Tinted Sunscreens – what’s the difference, and which one to choose?

Navigating the world of base make-up can be confusing even if you’re a savvy skincare addict with years of experience under your beauty belt. And we completely understand. The beauty/skincare industry has an annoying habit of assigning the same names to different products or vice versa, which further confuses things. That’s what happened with essences and toners, serums and ampules. And now, the line becomes increasingly blurred between various base make-up options. To make things worse, the meaning behind alphabetic abbreviations can also differ depending on the country of origin. You’ll find that a CC cream from an American brand can be quite different from the Asian ones.

Today, we’re attempting to give a comprehensive breakdown of each category, in hopes that it will make your next shopping trip less stressful. Let’s dive in.

Tinted sunscreens

As the name suggests, it’s just that – sunscreen with a bit of color. You won’t find many (if any, really) options in the Asian beauty aisle, but some American brands have quite successful formulas that people love. Tinted sunscreens won’t cover any blemishes or discoloration, but will give you that natural, “my-skin-but-better” look. Seriously, you’ll barely feel it on your skin. Tinted sunscreen would be an ideal option for those who’re not big on make-up and want to wear as little on their face as possible. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that tinted sunscreens don’t have an array of shades to choose from. Since the coverage is ultra-sheer, there’s usually only one shade, so it won’t be an option for those with very fair or dark skin tones.

Foundation

The opposite of tinted sunscreen, the foundation is pure color. It works to even out your skin tone, camouflage blemishes, and give you an overall airbrushed skin effect. Meaning that even the lightest formula will still have a decent amount of coverage. Foundations can be formulated with SPF filters, but we wouldn’t rely solely on them for sun protection. Since it isn’t a dedicated sunblock, the quality of the filters can be questionable. Also, the SPF number rarely goes higher than 35, which is barely enough, and you’ll need to apply a face full of foundation to get this level of protection. Never a good look.

Foundations are an obvious choice when you have an important event to attend, which calls for flawless skin. Some lighter formulas will also work great for those who like to be more “covered up” on day to day basis. Just don’t forget your SPF!

BB cream

Dubbed as a “Blemish Balm” or “Beauty Balm,” this cream is essentially as a foundation with skincare. It’s meant to even out skin tone, cover blemishes (hence the name), and give the appearance of smooth skin. BB creams formulas also have various antioxidants, hydrating ingredients, and a decent amount of sun protection. Again, we wouldn’t rely solely on bb for sun protection, especially if you spend a lot of time outside. But since most of the BB creams (Asian at least) boast an impressive SPF 50, it might work for a day in the office.

BB creams are perfect for those who need a higher amount of daily coverage that’s also hydrating and nourishing for the skin.

The question, however, that logically follows is – if BB creams do everything foundation does, but better, why do foundation as a concept hasn’t yet become extinct? In short, because BB creams don’t offer nearly as generous shade line up as foundations do. Developing shades for darker skin tones is more complicated than merely adding pigment to lighter shades. Not every skincare company has the knowledge or resources to dedicate to this process, so they stick to tried and tested formulas. Also, because of added sunscreen filters (especially if they’re mineral), BB creams cannot compete with foundations in terms of a variety of finishes. For this reason, most make-up artists still prefer foundations over BB creams as the foundation allows for more creative freedom.

CC cream

MOTHER MADE Aqua Light CC Cream SPF 50+/PA+++

Originally CC, or “Color Correcting,” cream was designed as a lighter version of a BB cream.  Like BB creams, CC creams also contain various skin-loving ingredients but are targeted at those who want sheer, natural-looking coverage that adds a bit more color balance to the skin rather than covering it up. The primary functions of cc creams are to even out blotchiness, cover redness, and give skin overall brighter, woken-up look. It’s also supposed to be lightweight enough to be used as a color-correcting primer under a foundation if needed.

CC cream is ideal for those who want more coverage than a tinted sunscreen would offer, but find BB creams to be too heavy.

The problem, however, is that the difference between CC and BB isn’t always as straightforward. Some CC creams are dense and opaque with a foundation-like coverage. On the other hand, BB creams can disappear into the skin without leaving a trace. To add to the confusion, American CC creams tend to have more coverage (which brings them closer to the foundation realm), and BB creams are considered as their lighter counterparts.

The bottom line

For better or worse, a name on the packaging doesn’t always serve as a good indicator of what’s inside, but you can still use it as a general guide. We always recommend to get a sample and try the cream at home a few times before committing to a tube. Swatching in-store isn’t ideal as the lightning is often off, but it’s also an option. Just make sure to apply a cream on your jawline (not on the back of your hand) to get a feel of how a product works. If neither option is available, get in touch with the brand and ask for a consultation. Most brands will be more than happy to offer you guidance.  

How not to let alcohol take away your glow

Colder months call for nights in enjoying wine with pizza or finding a cozy bar to share a cocktail or two with your girlfriends after work.  It can do wonders to our mood. But to our skin? Not so much.  If you’ve ever woken up to a constellation of pimples topped with flaky, angry skin after a night of drinking, it’s not a coincidence.  Alcohol isn’t exactly a trip to a spa, even if it’s just a couple of drinks with dinner.

But before you sign in disappointment, thinking what else you have to give up to have the skin of your dreams, don’t panic. You don’t have to.

Alcohol isn’t exactly a trip to a spa for your skin, even if it’s just a couple of drinks with diner.

Admittedly, going cold turkey (together with quitting sugar and dairy) is the best gift your skin can get. But let’s face it – we’re all humans and are allowed little pleasures in life. For some – it’s digging into a glazed donut. For others – it’s an occasional drink in a good company. Emphasis on singular “drink” and “occasional,” of course. But as long as you don’t overindulge and take the necessary step after a fun night to help your skin bounce back, by all means, hit that bar! What steps? Read along to find out!

How alcohol affects our skin

Before we’re spill the tea on how to cure your skin hangover, it’s essential to understand what it that needs fixing – i.e., what happens to our skin when we drink.

1.    Skin dehydration and skin malnutrition

Alcohol is a well-known natural diuretic that it increases the urine output, making your body lose fluids. Alcohol is also a toxin. As our liver starts to metabolize alcohol, it breaks down to even more toxic substances that require a host of vitamins and minerals to make it less harmful. These are the exact same nutrients that skin needs to renew itself and maintain an intact protective barrier. But whenever you drink, these vitamins and minerals never get delivered to your skin because your body focuses on ridding the system of toxins first. Lack of nutrition and moisture, in turn, weakens the barrier and makes your skin dull, less plump, supple, and also leads to more prominent fine lines and wrinkles.

2.    Increased chances of breakouts

Not only a cocktail night can give you dehydrated, aged-looking skin the next morning, it can also cause acne and breakouts. Alcohol triggers adrenal glands to start secreting stress hormone cortisol, which forces your skin to start producing more sebum. It messes up oil-water skin balance and can lead to congestion, increased pore size, and breakouts.

3.    Skin inflammation and redness

Alcohol increases blood flow to the skin, making capillaries dilate and break. This breakage leads to temporary flushing and in some cases, even to a more permanent skin condition such as rosacea. Especially if your drink of choice is white wine.

Skincare routine to restore and re-charge your skin post-alcohol

Now that we know exactly what happens to our skin let’s break down the basic routine to help get back on track quicker.

First thing first, before you even start the routine, don’t forget to drink plenty of water TOGETHER with your drink. One glass of water to one glass of wine is a pretty good ratio, but more water you can drink the better. It’s also a good idea to have a last sip at least 2 hours before you’re going to bed for alcohol not have an affect your sleep quality.

Step 1. Cleansing

WASH. YOUR. FACE. ALWAYS. Even if you feel like you will fall dead if you make one more step – wash your face. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Use an oil cleanser (better if it’s formulated with natural oils that fortify skin barrier) to remove sunscreen and make-up. If you have oily skin or tend to wear full make-up, follow up with the gentlest water-based cleanser you have not to inflict any more damage to your skin. If your skin is on a dry side, we recommend skipping the second cleanse and move to Step 2.

Step 2. Preventing potential breakouts

Since alcohol increases your chances to develop acne or clogged pores, it’s essential to use a toner with an exfoliating effect. Oily skin will benefit from toner containing BHA (beta hydroxy acids), while dry and sensitive skin types are better off with AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). Just make sure, it’s gentle and hydrating enough.

Step 3. Brightening the skin

To prevent dull, ashy skin tone, use a brightening serum or ampule. Look for niacinamide to be on the top of the ingredient list (bonus: it also helps with the appearance of enlarged pores) and also for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, adenosine, or allantoin.

Step 4. Hydration, hydration, hydration

Finally, apply a good moisturizer or a sleeping pack. Go for something in between the lightweight gel and the heavy occlusive cream. Gels might not be hydrating enough, and heavier creams can potentially clog your pores, ultimately doing more harm than good. Choose something that absorbs quickly, doesn’t feel heavy, but still leaves a protective film on your skin to prevent moisture from escaping.

In the morning….

MOTHER MADE Brightening Pure Pearl Mask

While getting ready, apply a hydrating and skin brightening sheet mask to ensure your skin stay supple throughout the day. Optional, but if you can spot dark circles and your eyes look a bit puffy, apply a caffeine-infused eye cream or an eye patch. It will help to reduce swelling and constrict blood vessels dilates by alcohol.

And that’s it — the bare minimum to help re-balance and reset your skin.

The bottom line

Of course, just like you can’t outrun a bad diet, you can’t “outskincare” poor lifestyle choices. If you’re chugging glass after glass every night, there’s only so much your skincare can do. So, be mindful, don’t over-indulge and stay hydrated!

Essential books every skincare addict should read

Over the last years, the Internet has become a proverbial well of skincare wisdom that never runs dry. And fair enough. The knowledge you can get from reading skincare/beauty columns, blogs, and even Instagram captions (feels surreal to say this) is invaluable. 

It’s plenty.

It’s easily accessible. 

It’s relevant and up-to-date. 

But as with everything instant and immediate, information fished out of the Internet has its limits. It often provides quick-fix solutions for your concerns rather than equipping you with an in-depth understanding of how your skin works so you can make an informed decision. Plus, all that hottest and trendiest knowledge right at your fingertips often leads to spontaneous purchases that neither your budget nor, frankly, your skin needs. 

That isn’t to demonize beauty blogosphere or say that all online content is inherently flawed. But if you feel uninspired, overwhelmed or lost, we recommend to turn off your computer and pick up a book instead. 

But what book? 

To get you started, we’ve put together a list of five books that anyone interested in beauty and skincare should read. Whether you’re a skincare newbie or a savvy enthusiast, looking for an entertaining read or a serious dive-in into how our skin works, there is a book for everyone! 

1. Clearing Up Skin Care: A No-nonsense Guide to Finding a Routine that Works

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

New to skincare and feeling overwhelmed? Skincare addict who got sidetracked by all the marketing noise? Then this book is for you. Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Jennifer Janiga offers sensible advice on how to approach your skincare regimen – from building to sustaining it long-term. She will guide you through a bizarre world of skincare ingredients, sharing useful insights about skin, health, and busting a few beauty myths along the way. After reading this book, you’ll feel empowered not to be bothered by distractions, set clear skincare goals, and choose products that work for you. 

2. The Beauty Geek’s Guide to Skin Care: 1,000 Essential Definitions of Common Product Ingredients

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

If you’ve always been wanting to “clean up” your act vanity and possibly even venture into the world of DIY beauty, this book is for you. It offers a realistic perspective on what clean, nontoxic beauty is without being preachy or patronizing. The author, Deborah Burns, won’t tell you that natural is better, nor that synthetic is toxic. Instead, she’ll arm you with essential knowledge on how our skin works, common ingredients, and their functions, so you can choose what’s right for you. And in case, you decide au naturale is the way to go; she’s got ten easy DIY recipes to get you started. 

3. Skincare Bible. Your No-nonsense Guide to Great Skin

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

While the books introduced above focus more on the ingredients and how to spot those that work for your skin, this book dives deeper into various skin conditions. Dr. Anjali Mahto has long recognized that beauty blogosphere is saturated with conflicting (and sometimes straight-on harmful) advice. With this book, she aims to offer unambiguous, scientifically-backed advice for common skincare conditions, such as acne, rosacea, age spots, and moles. Despite being chock full of scientific facts about our skin and body, the book is written in simple language that’s easy to follow and understand. 

4. Great Hair Days and How to Have Them

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

Technically, this isn’t a skin care book, but it deals with a topic surrounded by as much mystery and pain as skin care. And this topic is hair. Specifically, how to care for and style it. This book is for everyone who have you ever left hair salon feeling cheated. Or stood in front of the mirror for hours trying to tame unruly locks without much luck. Written by an acclaimed British hairstylist, this book is full of easy-to-follow, no b.s. advice on how to take matters into your own hands and become an expert in your hair. A great hair day every day? Yes, please. 

5. Pretty Iconic. A Personal Look at the Beauty Products that Changed the World

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

An entertaining, spritely written page-turner that any self-respecting #beautyjunkie must-read. Sali Hughes, an eloquent British beauty journalist, presents her take on what’s become iconic in the beauty industry. Each iconic product is a personal story that is masterfully interwoven with nontrivial historical facts that altogether make for a very entertaining read. Sali acknowledges that her answer to “what makes an icon” is heavily biased – by being a woman in her forties and British to the core. But it is this bias that makes the book well worth the time because it makes us, readers, wonder: “If I were to write this book, what stories would I tell?”