Month: December 2015

Decoding Oils – Edition 1

In my recent post on Body Oils, I wrote about various body oils I own with a very high level view of their key ingredients.

As you all know, the companies charge a certain price based on its branding, packaging, research and development costs, and most importantly on its ingredients. Some ingredients are a lot cheaper to source and include in any given formulation. As an example: much debated and controversial Mineral Oil, it’s a very cheap (in terms of $) ingredient to include (even the cosmeceutical grade) however some companies charge an exorbitant amount for the product.

What can you expect from this series on Decoding Oil?

Learning more about the types and categories of oils (difference between Carrier and Essential Oils), extraction processes and its impact on the overall quality and integrity of oil properties. In the process, you’d understand why I prefer  oils over moisturizers. Having said that, in some instances some moisturizers are betters than face oils. This may be a controversial series for some die hard green beauty addicts, but I request do your research and keep an open mind. Nothing is ever conclusive or gospel and we are all in the learning curve together.

If you’ve read French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas (founder of Caudalie) you would have touched on the topic of Oils in one section. It’s important to understand this basic foundation of categories of oils. This will also help you break down the ingredient listing next time you see a product and truly understand what are you paying the big bucks for? Are you getting value for money?!

Oils can be separated in two basic categories, namely Essential Oils and Carrier (Plant) Oils.

Essential Oils: these are extracted from seeds, roots, plants, herbs and flowers. A potent form of oil (only need drop or two) and extremely volatile in nature. Depending on how these oils are extracted, their stability and potency is determined. Applying essential oils directly to the skin can be harmful to the skin causing skin irritation and sensitivities (remember natural is not always good!). On the bright side, they possess a smaller molecular structure, which makes penetrability easier in the skin.

Generally, essential oils appear at the back of the ingredient listing. First 2-3 oils on the ingredient listing are carrier oils. Some inci lists refer to some ingredients as xxx extract, well these ‘extracts’ possess different properties to essentials oils and cannot be used interchangeably.

Essential Oils carry distinct characteristics, properties and aroma of the plant, flower or root. I will break down examples of Essential Oils based on their family of origin:

Flowers & Leaves: Rose, Lavender, Rosemary, Parsley, Tea Tree, Neroli, Palmarosa, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Marshmallow, Mandarin, Rosemary, Acacia flower, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Evening Primrose, Blue Tansy, Saffron, Peppermint or Mint, Marigold, Chamomile, Vetiver, Moringa, etc.

Roots: Turmeric, Lotus root, Ginger, Angelica,Sandalwood (not technically a root) etc.

Spices: Black Cumin, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Cardamom, Fenugreek, etc.

Benefits (scent, therapeutic and aromatherapy benefits) are many, depending on each class of oil and its individual properties. In addition, essentials oils are also used for aromatherapy. Inhaling a deep breath of essentials oils triggers and invigorates senses in your mind and body. I’ve always enjoyed burning essential oils in my oil burner. Obviously, very versatile in nature they can be used for myriad purposes.

These oils are sold in glass bottles, due to the concentrated strength plastic bottles are not the best option. Also, generally sold in smaller quantities such as 10ml – 20ml. They don’t go rancid but over a period of time they can loose its peculiar properties.

Carrier Oils or Base Oils or: Just as the name suggests, they’re “carriers” for essential oils. With a larger molecular structure they don’t penetrate as deep but nourish the upper layers of skin. They’re generally from fatty portion of seeds, plants, and nuts. Unlike essential oils they are not potent or concentrated and can be used in larger (generous) quantities. These oils do tend to go rancid over a period of time.

Examples include: Apricot, Jojoba, Coconut, Castor, Avocado, Almond, Macadamia, Chia Seed, Kukui, Tamanu, Argan, Borage, Sea Buckthorn, Camellia, Hibiscus, Rosehip, Sweet Almond, Prickly Pear, Avocado, Olive, Grapeseed, Sacha Inchi (Peruvian peanut), Meadowfoam (high in omegas), Walnut, St. John’s Wort, Wheatgerm oil (highest form in vitamin e), Sesame, etc.

Carrier oils are packaged in plastic or glass bottles and sold in larger quantities too.

To further your understanding of facial oils or body oils or facial cleansing oil or balm you’re currently using, I’d recommend, going through the ingredient listing so you can practice identifying carrier and essential oils (no I’m not giving you homework).

Many oils break down their ingredient listing based on how they were sourced. Some of the sourcing methods and nature of ingredients you may notice are Organic, Natural, Fair Trade, Wild Harvested, Natural, GMO free, USDA certified, from FDA approved facility.

Let me know in comments below how you’re going with decoding oils in your current stash?



Mission Empties Strategy

empties 4

Many of you have asked and wondered how do I manage to get through so many products during the Mission Empties Challenge.

Those who don’t know what Mission Empties entails –

💣30 Days “Mission Empties”🗑
💣Mission Aim: Use/Empty as many products as you possibly can.
💣Target/Suspects: Invade products from all categories (skincare, haircare, makeup, bodycare) are allowed to be wiped out. It’s all about HOW MANY🔢 products you can slam! All sizes of products like full, deluxe sample, sachet samples…Everything.
💣This mission DOES NOT restrict from purchases during the period. These are necessities of our life and we’re merely stocking up on them.

Many of us participated in this challenge for various reasons, but behind those reasons lie our strategy of how we conquer to achieve best possible outcome.


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Reasons: because the product was half full/half empty and just sat there on the shelf, because it got pushed at the back of stash, because we got carried away and got excited for newer releases, because we simply forgot about the product, because we had too many products of the same category, because we were hoarding/saving samples, because we were too scared to use it all up as it was sooo good, because we strongly disliked the product and didn’t have the heart to throw it, because we wanted to make space for some new products but the guilt (sigh).

Strategies & Tips to be Employed:

  1. Set yourself Targets you’d like to accomplish. Many believe in keeping them realistic, personally I like to go ALL out! 4 week mission is serious crunch time, might as well go the whole hog.
  2. Pull out products from various categories (like cleanser, balm, oil, eye cream, toner etc) at the forefront. Products that are half full, neglected, close to expiration, got pushed at the back, every single one of them.
  3. Select products as if you were developing skincare routines from them.
  4. By having variety of products, you won’t loose your motivation during the 4 weeks of the mission (gives you enough opportunity to swap, change but still keep you focused).
  5. Focus all your efforts Only on these products for next 4 weeks. Try not to waver, look for group support (this sounds like Jenny Craig ad😝)
  6. If you have some product, you’d procrastinate using it because you hate it or doesn’t work for you Try to repurpose any other way. As an example: don’t like moisturizer (for whatever reason) use it as body cream, don’t like shampoo use it for washing brushes, don’t like an eye cream use it as lip cream or cuticle cream. Personally I don’t believe in wastage (unless expired) so use every single product however possible. This way you will ensure you get through every single one of them.
  7. Employ family members to get through stuff you think would work for them. It takes a village for a successful Mission Empties. Silo effort will slow you down. Example: share the shampoo or body wash with your partner, spouse, kids, pets etc.
  8. Pull out some time for an eraborate pamper session for yourselves, this way you’d get some time to yourself, skin is pampered and more importantly products are being used up in the process.

Our Best Possible Outcomes – most number of empties and of course…..
In the process, we learn so much about so many brands, products. Some of us learnt how to cut tubes, some of us learnt turning bottle upside down to really empty the product and some of us were reacquainted with the concept of commitment to a product. We also came across some fabulous Instagram accounts😱😘

group effort

Top Row (L-R) - @beautyreviewsbyruth, @goldfishandfety, @hiddenharmonyworld
Middle Row (L-R) - @d2baresome, @ummbaby, @ruhimaach
Bottom Row (L-R) - @deszell, @YourSkinWithin, @LizAlaska

The group support and words of encouragement makes it certainly easier for every participant. Plus reviews on products helped us filter and reconsider our future purchases. The focus and commitment to the cause remains unwavered throughout the course of the Mission.

♻️Important Note: Please ensure you Reduce environmental impact by Reusing, Recycling, and Repurposing.