Vestige Verdant is a luxury natural skincare brand hailing from Estonia, which is newly available in New Zealand and Australia. I don’t know a lot about Estonia—the only connection it sparks in my mind is with a guy from Estonia I knew on a music forum, years ago.
What I do know is that these products start off very well with a minimalist and stylish packaging design in the vein of Sunday Riley, which I am particularly susceptible to for some reason. Perhaps because it’s a natural brand that isn’t yelling at me from the packaging that it’s paraben free, organic, chemical free, no nasties, bullshit ad nauseam. I mean, it is paraben free and organic, but they focus on the effectiveness of their ingredients rather than screaming about what they don’t include.
I’ve been on a real rollercoaster of emotions when it comes to the pairing of vitamin C and niacinamide in skincare. When I wrote about niacinamide a year ago, general advice seemed to be that using vitamin C and niacinamide products together was potentially dangerous for your skin: the L-ascorbic acid could convert niacinamide to nicotinic acid, which can cause redness.
Then I was told about this niacinamide-containing mask by Klairs, which they were marketing as a mask to boost the efficacy of their vitamin C-containing serum. I figured no cosmetic company would promote the combination of products that would make your skin worse (surely) so I did a bit more research—and decided it was time to get my shit together and finally write my ‘What the hell is vitamin C?‘ post.
In this case, the explanation from Paula’s Choice lays it out clearly and simply: only pure vitamin C could convert niacinamide to nicotinic acid, and even then it needs high heat to complete the conversion, much higher than you’d find on your face or in the lifetime of your cosmetic products.
So let’s talk about the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E mask (with niacinamide), shall we?
Well this post has been sitting in my drafts for far too long so it’s time for me to stop procrastinating and tell you why you should care about vitamin C in skincare.
Vitamin C’s having a real time at the moment, helped by the proliferation of vitamin C and vitamin C-adjacent serums in The Ordinary’s lineup. It’s a complicated ingredient, though, and it’s fickle—not all types of the molecule are created equal, so it’s important to know what you’re buying. Even the wrong type of packaging can make your vitamin C product a total dud.
So who should use vitamin C in skincare? Oh, you know, everybody. It’s one of the most versatile skincare ingredients, having measurable effects for preventing and repairing signs of aging, preventing and repairing dark spots and other pigmentation, minimising inflammation… it’s a comprehensive list, basically.
Everyone has a soft spot for miniature-sized beauty products. The subscription box industry is built on this fact. Loyalty programmes are built on this fact. Smaller products are a marketer’s way to get people to try something expensive without having to buying the full size.
Ever wonder why cheap products don’t come in deluxe mini sizes? It’s because most peoples’ impulse spending threshold is high enough that we’ll just buy the full product. Like, you know, I’ll buy the full size of a Neutrogena or Goodness product untested because it’s only $20 if I don’t like it—but it’s only these Drunk Elephant minis that could get me to try the brand when the full-sized B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel is $82. (I haven’t even caved and bought the Drunk Elephant minis yet… but it’s only a matter of time.)
Anyway, more and more brands are making baby-sized products and my cynicism will step aside and make room for them every time. Tiny foundation bottle that looks like the full size? Yes please. Teeny powder jar, sifter and all? Get into my hands.
It’s technically the end of winter but it’s still cold af and it’s not going to warm up any time soon, in Wellington at least. With cold weather comes the combination of biting cold winds and dry air-conditioned offices, a great recipe for, uh, nothing really, unless you like being cold and battered by the weather and also being gradually converted to a dry husk when you’re indoors.
I try to drink tons of water at work—not literal tons, but at least two Pump bottles a day—to stay hydrated because that’s meant to be good for you, but also to give myself the excuse to get up and go for a walk every now and then, whether to refill my water or to go to the bathroom, again, because I’m drinking so much water. This has the positive side effect of keeping my skin slightly more hydrated and clear, or so I like to think.
In the depths of winter my skin needs a bit more though, and I know other people’s skin does too. At least four people have asked me how to combat the redness, dryness, flakiness, tightness, general sadness that comes with dry winter skin. Four whole people! I’m going to have to quit my job soon to handle the flood of requests for skincare advice.
The challenge in keeping your skin hydrated throughout the day is that a lot of the time, people are wearing makeup and aren’t so keen on massaging a layer of expensive hydrating serum into their foundation. The ten dollar solution? A bottle of hydrating facial spray.
Powder cleansers have come to my attention recently. Dermalogica launched the Daily Superfoliant* as a kind of dialed-up version of their ever-popular Daily Microfoliant, and Clinique’s new Fresh Pressed Vitamin C-based range includes a powder cleanser. Upon remembering I had a bunch of sachets of the Nude Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash that I’d never used either, I figured I should give them all a go and see how I feel about them. Is the powder cleanser format shelf-stable genius or over-complicated moisture magnet?
I’ve written about products from DECIEM’s NIOD and Hylamide ranges before, but The Ordinary is the line that everyone’s excited about because it’s so goddamn cheap (like, ten New Zealand dollars per bottle). The whole vibe of the Ordinary is offering single-ingredient-focus formulas that can be layered and coordinated into a routine that addresses your skin’s specific concerns.
The entire point of marketing is to tell people what outcomes and benefits a product will give them, and that’s one of the places where The Ordinary are saving their money. The challenge with their ingredient-focus concept for a lot of people is knowing which products to choose. I feel like I have a pretty sound grip on what skincare ingredients are and what they do, but it took me a while of navigating their website and doing some extra research before I decided on the products I wanted to try.
Seed + Soul are the newest company to hit the growing New Zealand natural skincare market and today I’m looking at what they’re about and what sets them apart from the rest. I’m vibing on their sleek packaging and charming product names, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? These products use all natural plant-derived, paraben free ingredients.
I know what you’re thinking. Morgan, you hate that kind of thing! Not quite. I’m perfectly happy putting parabens and chemicals on my skin but I’m also perfectly happy to put plant-based and natural ingredients on my skin—as long as they don’t claim to do anything they can’t.
With that out the way, let’s get in to the products proper.
It’s January 5 and at some point I might write about my 2016 favourites but right now I just owe my blog some kind of attention and these moisturisers are already photographed so let me write about them instead. Gel-cream moisturisers, to be specific. A real category, or a made-up descriptor to make an age-old formula sound novel and new? I don’t particularly care—all I care about is that this is the texture my skin likes best. Lightweight but not fleeting, cooling and non-greasy.
If you’re unhappy with your current skincare routine, the one change I would recommend over anything else is switching to a cream cleanser. Dry skin? Perfect. Oily skin? It sounds counter-intuitive, but I promise my oily skin responds so much better to a cream cleanser than a foaming one.
Cleansers spend such little time on your skin, it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on them. With that in mind, here’s a selection of seven cream cleansers, from cheap to less cheap (and you can buy ALL of them in stores in New Zealand!)