Product Review: Nivea Creme

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Name: Creme
Brand: Nivea
Size: 200 ml
Price: £3.39

From Nivea’s website:
NIVEA Creme’s unique preservative free formulation has remained under lock and key since its birth in 1911. It provides the skin with all it needs to stay pure, making it the all time beauty classic!

What I liked:
– thick texture absorbs quickly on dry skin
– very moisturizing, leaves even extra dry skin soft and smooth for hours
– the price

What I didn’t like:
– very basic formula; it can only moisturize skin
– not suitable for combination or oily skin

I’ve already talked about Nivea Creme before, but I have yet to write a proper review about it. It’s high time I remedied that, don’t you think? So here we go, these are my thoughts on the German version of this cream.

Nivea Creme is very old. It was first formulated more than a century ago, in 1911, and since then has only undergone an aesthetic rejuvenation. The retro yellow jar has morphed into the minimalist blue container we are all familiar with, but its content has stayed pretty much the same throughout the decades.

And that’s the problem. In 1911, Nivea Creme’s blend of mineral oil, glycerin, paraffin, and waxes was cutting edge. If you wanted to treat dry skin back then, you could hardly have chosen a better cream. Now, though, it is terribly outdated. In the past decades, skincare research has made leaps and bounds, bringing us a lot of other ingredients, such as antioxidants, ceramides, and amino acids, that are very beneficial for dry skin.

And yet, Nivea has taken the old adage approach, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Why? Nivea Creme has always been very popular, so maybe the brand is just scared of losing customers if it modernizes it. Or, maybe, it’s just laziness. After all, even though the ingredients in this cream can only moisturize skin, and nothing more, they do that very well.

Mineral oil and paraffin may have recently gained a (totally undeserved) bad reputation for being derived from oil, but they still are some of the most moisturizing ingredients available on the market. They work by creating a protective barrier that slows down water loss. Glycerin, instead, attracts water from the environment into the skin, providing the hydration boost dry skin badly needs.

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Part of me can see why people are impressed. Whenever I apply it all over my body after a shower or bath, my skin, which is very dry, becomes soft and supple, and stays hydrated for most of the day. Not a lot of creams have that effect on parched, super thirsty skin.

But some do. Body butters from House Of Gloi and The Body Shop are godsend for very dry skin too. Made with shea butter and moisturizing oils, they are available in lots of different scents and flavours, all more pleasant than the clean and waxy scent that emanates from a jar of Nivea Creme.

They are all easier to apply as well. Although not as thick as the American version, the German cream has a thick consistency that doesn’t easily spread evenly all over my skin. But at least, it sinks in quickly, drying to a satiny, rather than greasy, finish.

Nivea Creme can also be used on the face. But do so only if your skin is very dry. This cream is too rich for other skin types. On my slightly oily t-zone, it feels greasier and takes longer to absorb. But even if you have dry skin, don’t forget to apply an anti-aging serum beforehand. This cream, alone, does nothing to keep wrinkles at bay, so you need extra help if you want to age gracefully.

Basically, if all you are looking for in a cream are moisturizing properties and a very cheap price, then Nivea Creme is hard to beat. But if, like me, you think that a face cream should also contain anti-aging ingredients, and a body cream, be infused with a fun and pleasant scent, then it’s worth to spend a bit more for something with a more complex, modern, and enjoyable formula.

Ingredients:
Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Glycerin, Lanolin Alcohol (Eucerit®), Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearates, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Parfum, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol

Available at: Amazon and Boots

Summary
Nivea Creme has a rich and moisturizing formula that leaves dry skin soft and smooth for hours. But don’t expect anything more than that.

Rating: 3/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Pat or Rub: Which Makes Skincare Products Work Better?

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you rub in or pat on your skincare products?

I’m a patter, but not for the reason you think. Clarins, Hada Labo and a dozen other brands want us to believe that patting your lotions and potions on helps them to penetrate our skin better. I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

The patting technique doesn’t enhance penetration (and neither does rubbing)

Our skin is a very underrated organ. We often think about how to prettify it, but rarely of what it does for us. Its outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, has a very important function. It forms a barrier between our body and the rest of the world.

This barrier is very difficult to penetrate. And that’s a very good thing. If getting through it were easy, pretty much anything we come in contact with would enter our bodies, and, worse, our insides would spill out!

When this barrier is broken (that may be due, for example, to severe dryness and irritation, strong acid peels, or laser vaporizations), our creams, but also bacteria, and other substances can more easily get inside our bodies. But this often causes irritations, infections, and other problems we’d rather not deal with.

There are also ways to get through a healthy skin barrier. Substances like propylene glycol and linalool can help other ingredients better penetrate into the skin. Applying creams to damp skin increases absorption by about 10% too. But to the stratum corneum, it doesn’t make any difference whether you rub in or pat on your creams. Either way, they seep in slowly, at the rate the stratum corneum allows them to.

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Why patting is really better than rubbing

Patting may not enhance penetration, but it can help you age better. How? Rubbing too vigorously stretches skin, causing the breakdown of elastin and collagen. This, in turn, promotes sagging.

It’s true, though, that a gentle massage, using circular motions, can be beneficial for skin too. It help increase blood flow, which gives your skin a pretty natural glow. But there’s an exception. If you have rosacea or overly red skin you should avoid rubbing. It can aggravate the condition.

Patting is also a better way to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen is not skincare. It is not meant to be absorbed. To work properly, it needs to sit on top of the skin and form a protective layer against UV rays. Rubbing gets in the way of that. A 2006 study has shown that rubbing sunscreen in vigorously can affect the formation of this even layer, leaving tiny holes that are impossible to detect with the naked eye but allow UV rays to get through and damage skin.

The bottom line

Neither rubbing nor patting enhance the penetration of your lotions and potions. But patting is gentler on the skin, and, unlike rubbing, doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen.

How do you apply your skincare products?

Product Review: HQ Gel “Effetto Lifting”

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Name: Gel “Effetto Lifting”
Brand: HQ
Size: 15ml
Price: €2,80

From the packaging:
Gel “Effetto Lifting” helps to smooth out skin and reduce micro wrinkles, brightening up the complexion.

What I liked:
– hydrating, makes skin soft and smooth
– temporarily, slightly reduces the appearance of wrinkles
– gel texture is just right, and absorbs quickly into the skin
– practical packaging

What I didn’t like:
– basic formula, can only hydrate skin

HQ Crema Idratante Intensa wasn’t the only skincare product I left lying in a drawer for ages, neglected and forgotten. Fellow HQ Gel “Effetto Lifting” suffered the same fate too.

I’m glad that I rediscovered it when the weather is still cold, though, because that’s when my combination skin, which tends to get a bit dryer in winter, appreciates hydrating humectant-based gels like this the most. Humectant is a fancy word to define those ingredients, like Glycerin and Sodium Hylauronate, that have the ability to draw moisture from the environment into the skin.

This added moisture helps keep skin hydrated. And hydrated skin feels softer, and looks plumper and smoother. As long as the hydration lasts, wrinkles and fine lines look slightly smaller, giving your face a more youthful appearance.

I was pleased Sodium Hyaluronate was added to this formula. It’s one of my favourite humectants because it works well both in high and low humidity conditions. And it can hold 1000 times its weight in water! Impressive, isn’t?

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Instead, I was frustrated by the inclusion of Ammonium Acryloyldimethyaqua. Why? Because I have no idea of what it is and what it does. I’ve consulted all my usual sources, but nothing. None mentioned it. My guess is that it’s used to adjust the consistency of gel products, but I can’t be 100% sure about that. If anyone has any information about it, please let me know. :)

The rest of the formula is quite boring. It contains a couple of antioxidants, but not in concentrations high enough to do much for the skin. HQ Gel “Effetto Lifting” is a simple humectant treatment that keeps dry skin soft, smooth and well-hydrated when used regularly. Just don’t expect anything more than that.

The gel consistency is just right. Not too runny, not too thick, it spreads easily on the skin, sinking in quickly. Because a little goes a long way (unless your skin is super dry), the gel will last you more than the 10 applications guaranteed by the packaging. The satchel is also convenient to bring on your trips with you. It doesn’t take up much room and, if you go somewhere with a harsh climate that sucks the moisture out of your skin, its contents helps you replenish it.

Ingredients
Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyaqua, Glycerin, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Buddleja Davidii Extract, Thymus Vulgaris Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum, Mannitol, Dextrin, Disodium EDTA, Saccharide Isomerate, Dextran, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Cholesterol, Phytosphingosine, Carrageenan, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamol, Limonene, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, CI 16035, Methylsothiazolinone, CI 17200.

Available at: Beauty 2 Buy

Summary
HQ Gel “Effetto Lifting” is a humectant-based gel that hydrates skin well. As a result, skin looks softer and plumper, and the appearance of wrinkles is reduced.

Rating: 3.5/5

Product Review: HQ Crema Idratante Intensa

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Name: Crema Idratante Intensa
Brand: HQ
Size: 15ml
Price: €1,60

From the packaging:
Signs of premature aging look less obvious. Skin is brighter, smoother, and more hydrated.

What I liked:
– moisturises skin, leaving it soft and smooth
– lightweight texture, sinks in quickly without leaving a greasy residue behind.
– satchel packaging is very practical for travelling

What I didn’t like:
– basic formula can only moisturise skin, so don’t expect anything more
– if your skin is very dry, this won’t be moisturising enough for you
– unpleasant scent

Jar packaging is a waste of money (it doesn’t keep antioxidants stable and effective for long). But opaque tubes have their disadvantages too. The worst one? You can’t see how much product is left inside. You use your cream for weeks and then, one morning, you press the pump dispenser and nothing comes out. Nothing. Not even a drop. Argh!

It’s at times like that that I’m grateful for being a beauty junkie. I have a drawer full of creams that haven’t impressed me enough to use them daily but will do in a pinch, lotions that I still have to test, and moisturisers I’ve completely forgotten about. HQ Crema Idratante Intensa (Intense Hydrating Cream) falls into the latter category. While I was busy ignoring it, HQ changed the packaging, but the cream inside wasn’t revamped. Is it good?

It depends on what you’re looking for in a moisturiser. If that’s a basic, simple formula that will only moisturise your not too dry skin, you should check it out. It features mineral oil and meadowfoam seed oil, two occlusive oils that form a barrier on the skin, thus helping to prevent moisture loss. As a result, skin is well-hydrated, softer, and smoother.

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Mineral oil gets a bad rep because it is derived from oil. But the type used in cosmetics, cosmetic grade mineral oil undergoes a strict refining process that eliminates all toxins and other impurities, making it safe to use. It doesn’t clog pores either, at least not on its own. Only when you use it with comedogenic ingredients, breakouts can occur. I didn’t get any from using this cream.

Despite its name, Crema Itensa Idratante doesn’t provide intense hydration. Just hydration. The lightweight, fast-absorbing texture is usually enough to keep my skin soft and moisturised but, on very cold days, I need something richer for my dry cheeks (my t-zone is oily and this cream works well for it whatever the weather). That doesn’t bother me much. Unlike the scent, which is quite strong and unpleasant, but at least, disappears quickly.

HQ creams come in big satchels that contain 15ml of products. Although not as practical as a tube, these satchels are perfect to bring on planes with you. They contain enough cream for several weeks of use, don’t exceed airport limitations, and barely take up any room in your carry-on luggage. And, when nothing comes out of the dispenser anymore, you can always cut the satchel and scoop up the product left inside. You can’t always do that with a tube.

Ingredients:
Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Glyceryl Stearate, Lanolin Alcohol, Petrolatum, Astrocaryum Murumuru Butter, Passiflora Edulis oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum Butter, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Parfum, Disodium EDTA, PEG-4 Dilaurate, PEG-4 Laurate, PEG-4, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, CI 18035.

Available at: Beauty To Buy

Summary
HQ Crema Idratante Intensa has a lightweight, fast-absorbing texture that moisturises skin well, leaving it softer and hydrated. But it doesn’t do anything more than that. And it’s not moisturising enough for dry skin either.

Rating: 3.5/5

5 New Skincare Products For Spring 2015

skincare products spring 2015

Makeup shopping can be a lot of fun, but when it comes to skincare, trying to decide which moisturizer or serum is best for our skin can be quite frustrating! New products are released every day, but are they worth a try? I skimmed through the latest releases and found five that certainly are:

PURITY OF ELEMENTS RADIANCE FACE SERUM ($60.00)
This serum features a blend of rose hips, honey, and sweet almond seed extract that moisturizes skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is also infused with pretty much any antioxidant you can think of, such as vitamin E and green tea, and even a small amount of vitamin A, to help keep wrinkles at bay. Available at Nordstrom.

DERMA DOCTOR KP DUTY DERMATOLOGIST FORMULATED AHA MOISTURIZING THERAPY FOR DRY SKIN ($90.00)
Suffering from dry skin? This moisturizer features a blend of glycolic acid, green tea extract and urea to help exfoliate, calm and hydrate it. It makes skin soft and smooth, improving the appearance of dry patches. And can be used all over your body, hands and feet included. Available at Derma Doctor.

PAULA’S CHOICE RESIST 25% VITAMIN C SPOT TREATMENT ($55.00)
This powerful spot treatment enriched with 25% stabilized vitamin C (ascorbic acid) promises to get rid of stubborn brown spots and post acne marks anywhere on your face, neck, and body. And like that weren’t enough, it can improve the appearance of deep wrinkles as well. Its texture? Silky smooth. Available at Paula’s Choice.

INDEED LABS RETINOL REFACE ($24.99)
Retinol is one of the most effective ingredients in the fight against premature aging. It can really reduce wrinkles, but it works very slowly. In the meantime, the serum is also infused with dimethicone, a silicone that can temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them look smaller. And all without suffocating skin. The formula is pretty basic, so I would recommend it only to young women looking for their first, and affordable, retinol serum. Available at Ulta.

DERMA DOCTOR PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY AGE SPOT ERASER & SKIN BRIGHTENER ($60.00)
Hydroquinone is the most used skin-lightening agent in skincare, and there’s a reason for that. It works really well. But not everyone likes it. If you want to try an alternative treatment, why not give this lotion a go? It is infused with Azelaic Acid, licorice and mulberry extracts, all of which have been proven to treat hyperpigmentation. They’re not as potent skin-lighteners as hydroquinone, though, so it may take longer to see an improvement. Available at Derma Doctor.

Are you going to try any of these products?

Product Review: Ten Instant Lifting Cream

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Name: Instant Lifting Cream
Brand: TEN
Size: 50ml
Price: £23.99

From Clever Skincare’s website:
TEN-™ Anti-Age Instant Lifting Cream ’lifts’ the face making it appear more youthful and counteracts the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Using a formula rich in antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid (HA), this anti-age face cream rejuvenates cells for a smoother, younger complexion.

What I liked:
– lightweight texture sinks quickly into the skin
– moisturizing, makes skin soft and smooth
– plumps skin, temporarily reducing the appearance of wrinkles
– most people will love the subtle shea butter and coconut scent

What I didn’t like:
– jar packaging
– doesn’t contain many antioxidants

Humectants are a must have in any well-formulated moisturizer. They draw water from the environment into the skin, thus helping to keep it moisturized. When skin is moisturized, it is softer, plumper, and looks younger.

TEN Instant Lifting Creams contains two: glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is particularly effective because it can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water and, unlike glycerin, works well both in high and low humidity conditions. That makes it a great choice for women all over the world, regardless of the climate they live in. Besides, hyaluronic acid has also been shown to improve skin’s elasticity a bit.

The rest of the cream is made up of emollients, such as Glyceryl Stearate, which acts like a lubricant, giving skin a soft and smooth appearance, and forming a barrier that prevents water loss, and Diethylhexyl carbonate, which is often used in place of silicones for the light emollience and good spreadability it provides.

Of course, like most moisturizers these days, TEN Instant Lifting Cream contains a peptide. It’s called Palmitoyl Pentaptide-4, also known as Matrixyl, and consists of five amino acids linked together and attached to a fatty acid to enhance its penetration into the skin.

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Although whether it can really do so is still debatable. Peptides are usually too big to penetrate skin, but they could still work even when left on the surface. According to this theory, the signal to receptors present there how cells should behave.

Palmitoyl Pentaptide-4 is said to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, much-needed substances to keep skin elastic and firm overtime. Although the results of the studies are promising, they were all conducted by the company that makes this peptide. Another concern is the small amount of this peptide in this formula. Even if it works, it’ll do so very slowly.

But moisturizing skin is something this moisturizer does very well. It has a fairly lightweight consistency that sinks very quickly into the skin, leaving both my oily t-zone and dry cheeks soft, smooth, and hydrated for most of the day.

I didn’t detect any brightening effect, but the fine lines around my eyes looked a bit smaller. The effect, though, is only temporary. Once the cream is removed, they are still there. But I don’t mind that. It’s the scent I can’t stand. It’s a subtle blend of shea butter and coconut most people will find pleasant, but I don’t. My nose rarely likes coconut scents. I’m weird like that.

Ingredients:
Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, PEG-100 Stearate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Hamamelis Virginiana Water, Phenoxyethanol, Tapioca Starch, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Olus Oil, Parfum, Steareth-2, Carbomer, Polyacrylate-13, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, Polyisobutene, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Simmondsia Chinensis Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Hydrogenated Lecithin, PVP, Decyl Glucoside, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Isostearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Propylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xantham Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Palmitoyl Pentaptide-4

Available at: Amazon and Clever Skincare

Summary
Ten Instant Lifting Cream has a lightweight texture that sinks quickly into the skin, leaving it soft, smooth, and moisturized. I just wish it contained more antioxidants and that it weren’t packaged in a jar.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration.In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.