Natural beauty and well-being

26 May 2015

Skin, enzymes, peptides: what you need to know.

Some green and (non-green) beauty companies, beauty websites, and/or magazines can use quite a bit of scientific jargon to describe/highlight the advantages of the beauty products they sell, talk about or praise.
However consumers are not always familiar with the language they use and it may sometimes even be misleading. Consumers may, for example, mistakenly think those complicated ingredients imply effectiveness or quality, while others think they are non-natural or even toxic... And, on the other side, users of this vocabulary not uncommonly demonstrate a clear lack of understanding themselves!
In today's post, I thought it would be useful to explain some of the terminologies that I encounter most often in beauty.

Skin- Made of various layers, the stratum corneum layer in the epidermis is THE outer structure of the skin and functions as a barrier against the environnement/microbes. Different cell types are interconnected with each other and glued together with the help of various lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol.

Cell- It is a very small unit that is able to multiply, differentiate, migrate under internal/external factors. There are a lot of different types of cells in our body. In the the skin epidermis, the most common cells are the keratinocytes which produce and release a protein called keratin responsable for the structure of the skin.

pH (known as "potential hydrogen")- The skin layer has a acidic pH which plays a great antimicrobial and protective role. It also allows all the enzymes pH-dependant to process all the different fonctions of the skin cells.

Amino acids- These 20 molecules are the building blocks of peptides and proteins. Only 10 can be produced by the body, the rest should be supplied by food.

Peptides- These molecules are structurally very similar to proteins but just smaller. You often hear about peptides in skincare cream, correct? Well, I will focus on that in another post.

Proteins- There are so many of them in our body, you wouldn't believe it! They are made and released by cells (and in a simplified way, you can also get them from the food). Some can be classified as structural other as hormonal or as enzymatic. Their structure define their biological properties.

Enzymes- These molecules are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions- essential in our body. Please bare in mind that the word chemical used here is not about something being bad or good, it is just the true way to call the type of biological processus within the living world. Enzymes play a very important role in any cell fonctions, and again, they are a lot in our body and around us (yes, in plants, animals, virus etc).

Starting from here, stay tuned for some follow-up posts where I will explain a bit more the function of (certain) peptides, enzymes, or amino-acids in beauty products.

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19 May 2015

Protecting my skin with MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Schield unscented

Despite some rainy days, we already had some very nice summery-feel days here in Amsterdam. What do I wear when sunshine is out? A little blouse, a nice pair of spring trousers, and some flip-flops....and my recent beauty purchase: the Sun Shield unscented from MyChelle Dermaceuticals.
MyChelle Dermaceuticals is a brand that I wanted to explore since a long time after I have tried, tested & loved their Ultra-hyaluronic hydrating serum (see review here). I have bought their Sun Shield for 3 reasons: it is unscented, SPF28 and it contains a good proportion of Zinc oxide. So what do I think of it?

Product name: Sun Shield unscented broad spectrum SPF 28
Certified: no
For: all types of skin including combination
Presentation: tube
Texture: cream

My opinion

I have been using the Sun Shield cream over the last few weeks in a very consistent way - massaging my face every morning with it. It is known that UV exposure is the primary cause of skin cancer and it is therefore very imporant to ensure a good protection of the skin against the nasty UV radiations.
       This cream features a combination of Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide, both white powders acting as naturally sourced sun blockers. The particules of Zinc oxide are able to absorb and reflect the radiations which prevent any damages to the skin cells. What is even better is that Zinc oxide has a broad spectrum of all types of UV: UVA, UVB and even the C. And final bonus: Zinc oxide has also has been proved to be anti-inflammatory so it makes any cream rich in Zinc Oxide (minimum 10% of the composition) really suitable for acne-prone skin. Titanium dioxide has a more limited action but works really nice when in duo with Zinc oxide.
       The formula also features some interesting ingredients such as the fructoooligosaccharides D-beta which condition and protect the skin. Additional components such as glycerin and allantoin ensures moisture increase and skin softness. Alumina probably serves as the main cream carrier of Zinc Oxide and Titanium dioxide. The presence of simethicone; although at a low percentage- left me intrigued- known as an anti-foaming agent, I am not sure whether it brings very much to the formula.
        Results now. I actually quite like it. Initially I was reluctant and thought, for example, that it may leave some white marks on the face, but it does not (as long as you do not put too much). The only thing is that, while applying, you need to act fairly quickly. It "dries out" fast once out of the tube and then it does not massage very easily anymore. But that's the only thing really. Sun Schield would be a very good choice, especially for those with a sensitive skin and want to stay away from overpowering scents. I would really recommend it as a spring/fall cream (for a summer/hot weather cream I may find it a little bit heavy - but that's probably only a very personal preference I guess)!

....a good everyday skin protector even for sensitive skins!

++ mineral sunscreen SPF 30
- texture a bit heavy for the hot days

My overal grade: 8/10

Active ingredient- Zinc oxide (ZinclearTM) 11.6%, titanium dioxide 0.67%.
Inactive ingredients- alcohol, allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice powder, alumina, aqua (water), caprylic/capric triglycerides, ceteryl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, citric acid, coco-caprylate/caprate, dicaprylyl ether, fructooligosaccharides (D-beta), gluconolactone, glycerin, Glycine soja (Soybean) oil, glyceryl isostearate, Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) water, isononyl isosonanoate, magnesium aluminiun silicate, polyhydroxystearic acid, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, polysorbate 60, potassium sorbate, simethicone, sodium benzoate, squalane, tocopheyl acetate (D-alpha), trisodium ethylenediamine, xanthan gum.

Get it here.

What do you think? which suncare products are you using?
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12 May 2015

Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon creamy cleanser: the verdict

Andalou Naturals is a US brand that is not easy to find in Europe, if at all. It is liked by many bloggers, including Mary from Make-up by Mary B or Nicole from Live it, Love it, Green it! On a US trip, my husband brought me back some Andalou Naturals products including the Revitalizing serum that I recently reviewed (read here).
He also got me one of their face cleansers: the Meyer Lemon creamy cleanser. So what are my thoughts?

Product name: Meyer Lemon creamy cleanser
Certified: no
For: normal & combination skins
Texture: gel/cream
Price: $13.00 for 6oz (180ml)

My opinion

     Housed in a opaque dark-green pump bottle, the cleanser is well protected from light, air and over-exposure. Nice!
      It is a water-based cleanser, which is a type I really love. And this one from Andalou is indeed, as I hoped, creamy but not too rich with a slightly gelified texture. What makes this cleanser appealing to me is the presence of Manuka honey, a now famous rich honey originated from New-Zealand. Packed with vitamins and sugars, Manuka honey is incredibly soothing yet exerts antimicrobial effects on the skin. Included in the formula are a few soothing plants oils (Sunflower, Jojoba, and Rosehip) infused with a blend of aromatic essential oils such as Ylang Ylang, Orange and Lemon.
The other star ingredient is the Citrus Meyer extract. A Citrus Meyer is a Lemon crossed with a Mandarine or an Orange and is meant to have a sweeter taste. It is known for its content in flavonoids, which are the pigments that give the color to the fruits (yellow or orange etc) and can act as anti-oxidants and skin luminizer molecules. If you have a sensitive skin, make sure to patch test it before use, since it contains citrussy extracts/essential oils and these can be irritant.
     The cleanser also contains a gentle detergent (decyl glucoside), which aims to lift away dirt and daily grime.
     In terms of routine, I like to use this cleanser in the morning or as a 2nd cleanser in the evening (after my beloved Beauty balm - see review here).  I love the scent: citrus but incredibly subtle at the same time. Because it is lighter than a cream and richer than a gel, it makes it very easy to massage onto the face. I insist on the forehead and nose and usually leave it for a couple of minutes. Then I rinse it out with lukewarm water. However, this part I find a little less convenient - I need to insist a bit in order to properly rinse it out. Perhaps a small flannel would help, but this will make the routine less quick or simple in my often busy morning.
    In terms of the results, I am really happy: skin is absolutely really cleansed, feeling confortable with a fresh look- almost glowing!
For that price and despite the little effort to remove it, I am quite impressed and I am ready to keep that cleanser as a beauty staple for quite some time!

++ excellent value for price
- a bit tedious to rinse out

My overall grade: 8.5/10

Composition: Aloe barbadensis juice,* decyl glucoside, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) oil*, Manuka honey, vegetable glycerin, sorbitol, Citrus medica limonum (Citrus meyer) extract, Simmonsia chinensis (Jojoba) and Rosa Canina (Rosehip) oils, lauric acid, cetearyl alcohol, Hippophae Rhammnoides (Sea buckthorn) oil*, fruit stem cells (Malus domestsica, solar vitis) amd bioactive 8 berry complex*, magnesium ascorbic phosphate (Vitamin C), Vitis vinifera (Grapeseed) polyphenols, allantoin, Camellia sinensis (White tea) and Hibiscus sabdariffa extracts*, tocopherol (Vitamin E), Vanilia planifolia and Citrus aurantium dulcis (Orange) extracts*, phenythyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang)*, styrax benzoin, Citrus medica limonum (Lemon) oil*.

Get it here.

What do you think? Have you tried any Andalou Naturals cleansers?

07 May 2015

A little blog update

A cleaner design and a handy summary of some of my favorite brands and peer beauty bloggers!

My blog is slowly but surely progressing into what should be a very nice beauty website. Yes, I am a little perfectionnist - I want this site to be friendly, informative, interactive, beautiful, clean, chic, and also easy to browse through. Welcome to the world of Mademoiselle Nature!

In addition to a cleaner design, here are a few highlights that I would like to share with you:
  • At the top menu bar, I have recently created categories (see beauty) which enables you to search for product reviews accordingly to the area you want.
  • You can also browse by brand (see explore). I have linked each of my review which makes it very easy for you if you really want to focus on one brand only.
  • There are other fabulous beauty sites/bloggers (see explore) that I enjoy very much following, so I have listed all my fav here in addition to all the nice online beauty retailers. Let's spread the word!
And...there are a couple of other things I am working on at the moment, so stay tuned for more surprises!

Have a lovely day everyone! x

05 May 2015

Introducing the english natural beauty range Kalinka skincare

A few months ago, Alley kindly proposed me to try her range, Kalinka skincare. This handcrafted "Made in England " skincare range is a natural beauty line using botanical actives and is free from mineral oil, silicones or PEG, parabens... Although this range is designed for all types of skins, it is particularly suitable for more mature ones.
I was lucky enough to be able to test every single item of the range and today I will review four of them.

Organic Tonic Water (£8.50 for 100ml)
Face mist is a must-have for me: beautifying, moisturising and just really complementary to my cleansing routine. And the one from Kalinka is not an exception: extremely soothing and calming - I love using it. The blend of Rose and Orange flower waters brings softness and calmness to the skin whereas polysaccharides rich-Aloe vera helps the skin to heal. The scent may be a little bit dull, but I guess it is just very "as it is" pure and raw. For the price, this mist is pretty good and quite suitable for any skin type.

Eye Brilliance Replenishing Cream (£19.00 for 15ml)
This is by far my favorite product of the range. It does exactly what it says on the jar: helping to give a perfect glow around the eyes. Every evening, I use it to massage the delicate areas underneath the eyes. The texture is nicely balanced: not too rich and not too light. It has a blend of some powerful plant oils such as Borage, Chia, Kiwi seeds, which repairs the skin, and has the super-hydrating hyaluronic acid to moisturise. Although I don't believe in miracle anti-wrinkle eye creams, I do think this cream really helps in smoothing away fine lines and keep the skin very supple.

Repair Lifting Serum (£15.00 for 30ml)
This powerful blend features some of the best regenerative 100% organic botanical oils (Rosehip, Evening Primerose, Blackcurrant seed) and aims at improving skin's tonicity and overall apprearance. Also present is pure Olive squalane, a molecule very identical to the squalene in the skin, that is very moisturising. Perhaps best designed at mature skins, I believe sensitive and dry skins could also benefit from this facial elixir. I use it in the evening and I am quite happy to see my skin having become really smooth the next morning!
But there is one big drawback for me and this is the scent: I usually love the Orange blossom aroma but in that case, I just find it too strong and wish it was lighter. Besides that, the serum is a pleasure to use!

Jojoba Grains Exfoliator (£14.50 for 50ml)
The white creamy face scrub, which features some lovely botanical oils such as Thistle and Castor oils, is really rich and soft to apply. It contains some fine blue colored (ultramarine blue) Jojoba wax beads that gently remove dead cells and dirt and help to reveal a more unified skin complexion. It is very gentle and not abrasive at all - perfect if you have a sensitive skin. The scent is floral but, again, a tad too strong for me. I use this exfoliator once a week in the evening, massage it onto cleansed skin, rinse and I then follow up with the Organic Toner Water. Similarly to the Lifting serum, good performance but the scent is a bit a let-down for me.

As an overall, Kalinka skincare offers a very nice beauty line at an interesting price point. However, there are also a couple of things I would like to mention. The beauty products do not display the full INCI list on their packaging and I hope this will be fixed in a near future. Also, most of the products have a 6 months expiration date. This is somewhat short; however, for me this time frame is long enough to finish any of the products, so no problems at all.

Explore the line and get the products here.

What do you think? Have you tried this beauty range?
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