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October 05, 2021
Our last interview with our founder Wendy sharing some of her skincare hacks has received overwhelming responses. We really appreciate all of your support! If you haven’t checked out the article, simply click here.
As many of you have asked for more exclusive skincare tips and tricks from Wendy, we have therefore decided to make this into a regular segment. This week, it is about traps that you may encounter from skincare brands and stores.
Wendy: You know what, it makes me angry every time I see something like that. There is nothing, absolutely nothing on earth or in the universe, that contains no chemicals. Everything is made up of chemicals——flowers, leaves, fruits, our body, our skin, the air, and even water is made up of chemicals. By claiming a product does not contain chemicals is a complete disregard of science and just shows the brand or retailer lacks in basic knowledge and integrity thus cannot be trusted.
As for preservatives, it's fine if what the brands or products really mean is no paraben, which is a controversial preservative (all our products do not contain paraben). However, if what they really mean is no preservatives, then you have to be extra careful. This is because unless a product is anhydrous, meaning a powder or an oil, or contains absolutely no water, no honey, no flower water or hydrosol, no aloe vera leaf juice, no humectants and so on, microbes will grow with no exception, and thus a comprehensive anti-microbial and anti-bacterial system is crucial, otherwise you, the user, will be smearing microbes all over your face every single day.
Unfortunately, I have seen so many natural brands, even extremely well-known international ones, do not properly preserve their products (and no, colloidal silver is not enough). Some result in mold, some end up in product recalls, while some get discontinued, yet many of them actually go unnoticed and continue to damage people’s skin.
I understand that it’s hard for an average customer to determine whether a product is properly preserved, but at the very least, if a product is not an oil or in powder form and claims to contain no preservatives without specifying paraben, run the other way and never trust the brand or store again.
Serum Bioluminelle™ <- Click to shop
holi(oil) Ageless Face Serum <- Click to shop
Wendy: Everyone wants and expects lightning-fast results, and skincare companies and stores take advantage of that by over-promising consumers with phrases like “lifts eye contour within 60 seconds”, “overnight results”, “smoothes wrinkles within 7 days”, “fade acne marks in 7 days”, “instantly iron out wrinkles”, and so on. Here’s the inconvenient truth, skincare products cannot instantly tighten your skin, nor can they make your hyperpigmentation and wrinkles go away like Thanos’ snap in the finger. Wrinkles and enlarged pores are not like sink holes which you can fill in with topical products or iron out like a piece of cloth——the collagen and elastin inside the skin has to synthesis first! I cringe every time I see such marketing claims, as they are simply false, scientifically and biologically impossible, and irresponsible.
What a lot of people fail to realize is that our skin is actually our body’s biggest organ. It has its own biological mechanisms, and unfortunately, limitations. For instance, it takes around 14-21 days on average for our cells to renew themselves in our 20s; this process gradually lengthens to 28-45 days in our 30s, 45-60 days in our 40s, and 90 days in our 50s-60s. Whilst, new collagen formation, stimulated by even the most advanced skincare ingredients and technology, can take anywhere from at least 4 to 12 weeks, subject to factors such as age, metabolism, microcirculation, UV exposure, free radicals exposure, diet, daily habits, etc.
Also, don’t forget, issues like hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin and loss of elasticity, are the results of damages accumulated over decades (which is why prevention is always better than cure!). Just like you won’t expect supplements, Chinese medicine, and changing your diet to make your weak stomach strong and healthy within days, why would you expect skincare products to work magic? Your skin is just like all other body organs, with cells that need time to fight off inflammations, repair damages, get shredded off, and grow new ones.
Here’s the thing. Our cells get rid of old cells that are oxidized, filled with melanin, and damaged, by moving upwards to be shredded (no, they don’t just disappear into thin air). Which means if they don’t shred properly in a timely manner, they will keep sticking to the skin surface and new cells cannot move upwards, meaning issues like acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dryness and rough texture, won't really improve. Therefore what you can do, is help stimulate cell renewal by using products with AHA, BHA, PHA, and retinol at the right concentration and formulation, for instance, OUMERE No. 9 Exfoliant, KLUR Stellar Restoration and Agent Nateur acid(wash). Not only do they help accelerate cell turnover, they also stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, so the wrinkles, fine lines, enlarged pores and sunken skin can be filled in from within. Say you’re in your early 40s, and your natural cell renewal process has lengthened from 28 days to about 45 days; once you start using AHA, BHA, PHA, and retinol consistently, the cycle can potentially go back to 28-35 days. Can you imagine how much difference that makes?
No. 9 Exfoliant <- Click to shop
Stellar Restoration Corrective Complex <- Click to shop
acid(wash) Lactic Acid Brightening Cleanser <- Click to shop
Wendy: Hydrating ingredients generally only take a few minutes to work, but on the flip side, they lose effectiveness quickly due to trans-epidermal moisture loss, hence what you really need, is to strengthen your lipid barrier, which gets damaged daily by environmental factors like heat, pollution and UV-rays, and improve the skin's natural water retention function, by replenishing lipids that make up the barrier. And yes, I mean oils and not moisturizers, because the main function of moisturizers is to lock in water and not repair the barrier.
Other ingredients need time to show their real effects visibly. For instance:
Not seeing visible results does not mean the ingredients are not working hard within the skin——human’s skin has an extremely complex structure, thus it simply takes time for skincare products to biologically and scientifically induce visible differences. So give your new skincare product at least 3 months, use it consistently, and seriously, don’t expect miracles. In fact, more often than not, there are visible differences along the way, and you just aren’t seeing them as you’re looking at yourself in the mirror multiple times a day!
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Restore <- Click to shop
The London Mask <- Click to shop
Wendy: Absolutely not. High concentration does not necessarily equal higher efficacy. Just like drinking too much water may lead to a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia, also known as water toxicity, and eating too many eggs can make your cholesterol level skyrocket, even excellent ingredients in high concentration can greatly irritate the skin. In fact, sometimes your skin just physically can’t even absorb higher percentages of an ingredient, whilst some ingredients actually need to be in low concentration to benefit the skin.
We have talked in depth regarding Hyaluronic Acid, niacinamide, acids, retinol, and peptides before, so I will not go through them again one by one (for details, click here).
For an easy reference, here are the maximum concentrations of some of the most common ingredients that I stick to no matter what, as anything over these percentages may irritate or damage the skin:
holi(c) The C Duo <- Click to shop
Smooth Operator Purifying Cleansing Gel <- Click to shop
Brilliant Light Multi-Correction Repair Serum <- Click to shop
Wendy: A product’s formulation is trade secret, so there is no way to know the exact concentration of each ingredient. However, there are international regulations about how the ingredient list has to be written up (names, order, and so on), thus as long as one is familiar with the general usage of certain ingredients, a concentration range of an ingredient is not too difficult to guess. (Note: Most locally made products do not follow these rules however as there is no regulatory body here, and they do not sell overseas, which also means no requirements to follow, no official testing, and no approval needed to put on market.)
Here’s the thing. When a brand highlights one single ingredient in its product formula, you would expect it to be high in concentration, right? That is often not the case. I’ve seen products that highlight Hyaluronic Acid, but their concentrations are less than 0.01%. Whilst, some botanical extracts that get highlighted as main ingredients are even at the 0.0001%-0.001% range! The worse case is, I’ve seen a cream called Placenta Cream but does not contain any placenta whatsoever. No wonder you are not getting any results!
It's sad to admit but there are indeed many brands that lack integrity. This is exactly why Ambrosia exists. Here we do all the investigative work and testing for our customers, so while we cannot guarantee results within a specific timeframe because everyone’s skin is different, and factors such as genetics, diet, UV exposure, pollutants, stress, daily habits etc. all affect results, you know you’ll always be getting quality, results-driven products from us.
All Day Radiance Light Concentration Cream <- Click to shop
Ultra Revitalising Elixir <- Click to shop
There are many other traps out there. For instance, a self-proclaimed high tech German skincare brand sold and widely advertised in HK that cannot be found anywhere else on the internet, and when you look deep into it, the company in Germany only has 3 registered personnel with zero product info. Or a self-claimed HK brand with all products that are actually made in the mainland China. The bottom line is, never believe in something that sounds too good to be true, or uses over-the-top wordings.
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