The general belief is that porcelain faces are a matter of luck and genes. Well, we’re sorry to break it to you, but perfect skin is not just a matter of DNA. It takes work and discipline to build and maintain a healthy skin. Everything that you do on a daily basis will end up on your face one way or the other. Food, drinks, smoking, sports, sun exposure or cosmetic products all influence the health of your skin. We are very much aware that there is a huge amount of information on how you should behave, what products you should use and how you should apply them. That’s why our Looca Beauty team thought it would be very useful to make an information tool kit to help you distinguish valuable information from BS.
This blog post is intended to give you all the skin care basics so that, at your own pace you acquire the necessary knowledge to build a healthy and conscious skin-care routine. We will take you through the steps that you should follow in your routine, the elements that you should consider when choosing your face-care products and we will also give you some tips and tricks for a glowing skin.
Let’s get down to business, shall we, ladies?
When you think of skin care, it’s 3 steps that should pop up in your mind:
- cleansing - meaning washing/taking make-up and debris off,
- toning - meaning balancing your skin’s PH
- moisturizing - meaning nourishing your skin.
This is the most essential step of your skin care routine. Your face is exposed to makeup, dust, smoke and all sorts of other polluting factors. It is for this reason that the most important step towards a healthy skin is cleaning it.
Dermatologists and beauticians recommend washing/cleaning your face twice per day: once in the morning, in order to wash off the excess of sebum that your skin produced during the night and once in the evening, to clean the day off.
What is a cleanser?
A cleanser is a cosmetic product used specifically for this purpose: to clean your face. But don’t be fooled to believe that a cleanser is just a cleanser and all cleansers do the same job. There are some things that you should consider when choosing a cleanser.
What kind of ingredients does a cleanser contain?
With the risk of sharing too much detail, we will dive into a short chemistry lesson. We, at Looca Beauty, consider that proper skin care is highly dependent on knowledge. The skin is the biggest organ of our body. The cosmetic products we use can be considered the food we feed our skin. If we look at it this way, it is crucial we know what our skin eats.
So what is a cleanser made of?
Surfactants stands for surface-active agents and are the basis of many cleansing products as they contribute to removing dirt, debris or oil. Different types of surfactants are usually combined in cleansers in order to minimize the risk of irritation. If you use to read the labels of the cosmetic products you use, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate doesn’t sound so unfamiliar. To translate it in non-chem language, it is the ingredient that helps with the foaming process. However, it can be quite rough on the skin. At Looca, in order to protect both you and the planet, we prefer to keep it natural, so we use for the same purpose xanthan gum or stearic acid.
The emollients are the ingredients that protect your skin from losing its moisture. Emollients can be found in silicone (dimethicone, cyclomethicone), in vegetable oils (grape seed, sesame seed, jojoba, etc.), in butters (cocoa butter, shea butter), in alcohols (stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol), and in petrolatum derivatives (petroleum jelly, mineral oil). At Looca, we keep this natural as well, so for emollience purposes we use oils and butters such as - silk liquid, sunflower oil, cocoa butter or shea butter.
Skin cleansers may include exfoliating products to act as skin brighteners. These products can range from citric acid to beads or seeds, which are supposed to physically exfoliate the skin. Most of the time, this exfoliation purpose is reached through microplastics, which has an unfortunate impact on the environment.
Looca Beauty is committed to environmental protection. Our brightening products contain walnut stones and pumice stones - natural ingredients which don’t harm you or the planet in any way.
Humectants basically have the same role as the emollients - to keep your skin moisturized. While emollients soften and smooth the skin, in order to prevent it from becoming flaky, humectants actually bond with water molecules to increase the water content in the skin itself. Glycerin is one of the most typical and effective water binding agents. Other humectants include sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey), proteins, amino acids, elastin and collagen.
How to choose your cleanser?
The most important thing to keep in mind when choose a cleanser is your skin type. What you want to achieve is getting rid of the makeup and impurities without stripping off the natural oils that your body produces. Using the wrong products can lead to imbalances and, on the long term, can have the exact opposite effect. Below you can find a table to help you choose the right products for your skin type.
|Skin type||Cleanser type||Key ingredients||What does it do|
|Dry, red, prone to eczema||Lotions, creamy cleansers||Glycerin, Shea butter||The emollient ingredients hydrate/moisturize the skin and fix the itching sensation|
|Oily skin, prone to acne||Foaming gels/wash lotions||Glycolic acid||Gently break down impurities and excess sebum|
|Combination||Cleansing milks||Combination of ingredients specific to both dry and oily skin||Nourish the dry parts and balances the oily parts of your skin|
|Sensitive||Cleansing oil||Carrier oils such as jojoba, argan, avocado etc.||Gently cleanses your skin without traumatizing it|
|Mature||Balms||Butter and oils||Deeply nourish the skin|
|All types||Micellar Water||Cleansing oil molecules (micelles) in water||Gently cleanses the skin without creating any sort of imbalance.|
Besides your skin type, it is also equally important to pay attention to the ingredients that the cleanser contains. If you want to reach your beauty goals, natural is always a safe choice. We are very much aware of the fact that not everybody is a chemist and most labels are very difficult to decipher. But we strongly encourage you to make informed decisions, especially considering that skincare routine involves using cosmetic products every single day! Don’t make rush decisions. Take your time and do your research!
Price is, of course, an important factor, but don’t compromise your health for the sake of saving a couple of bucks. At Looca we consider that for food and for cosmetic care, we should never compromise, as they both go one way or the other in our bodies and in the environment. So if you want to keep both yourself and the planet healthy and sound, always strive for the best price-quality ratio.
Another element which we consider important, but which is somehow neglected is the container which the cosmetic products comes in. Recent studies have proved that even water that is bottled in plastic bottles contains sometimes traces of plastics. You can bet that the same happens to cosmetic products. So, if you can avoid plastic containers, do it. Of course, the industry is far away from giving up plastics completely, but steps are taken in that direction.
At Looca we are big fans of amber glass. It is recyclable and the amber colour has the super power of protecting our products from UV rays, thus extending the product’s shelf life, in a non-chemical way.
And now that we’ve got ourselves a consciously clean face, let’s balance that PH with some toner.
Clean with this, tone with that, moisturize with the other.
Everywhere we turn, there’s either a billboard with a cosmetic product, a commercial selling us perpetual youth or some so called skin-care experts stuffing us with cosmetics related advice. And for some reason, we listen, absorb and use this information without questioning it not even once. We have cabinets full of cosmetic products and most of us would not be able to answer a simple question: Why? Let’s say cleansing and moisturizing are more or less self explanatory. But what the heck does “tone” mean?
What is a toner ?
A toner is a water-based liquid containing different active ingredients such as plant extracts tailored to address specific issues. It is supposed to be used after cleanser and before moisturizer.
The toner is used to complete the cleansing - removing the dust, pollution, and impurities that might still be left after using a cleanser, as cleansers usually contain ingredients such as oil, which can leave an oily film on your face. It also serves the purpose of balancing the skin’s PH, as many cleansers, especially the ones containing soaps and harsh chemicals disrupt that balance and leave your skin vulnerable to inflammation, dryness and speed up the aging process.
Now you might be wondering what gives toners their special powers?
What ingredients does a toner contain?
Once again, we will force feed you with a chemistry lesson, just because we want you to make responsible, informed choices when it comes to your skin-care routine.
The ingredients in a toner vary, of course, from manufacturer to manufacturer, but overall, they all serve the same purpose.
Generally, an astringent is a chemical compound used to shrink or constrict body tissues. In the cosmetic sense, its purpose is to reduce the oiliness of the skin. Any facial toner contains astringent ingredients. Alcohol-based toners contain isopropyl alcohol, an astringent that removes soap residue and bacteria, but that can also dry your skin.
Alcohol-free toners contain natural astringents such as rose water, witch hazel, green tea, mint, cucumber, orange blossom water.
At Looca we are big fans of natural skin healing, so among our ingredients you can find witch hazel, rose or orange waters.
Emollients and humectants
If you read the cleanser chemistry lesson, you should already be familiar with these two. But just in case you cheated, we will get you up to speed by telling you that these are ingredients that are supposed to hydrate, moisturize and soothe your skin.
Natural ingredients that have such effects are: oat silk extract, glycerin, aloe vera, lavender etc.
Antioxidants help with the cell regeneration and the repair of skin tissues. Vitamin C or sodium ascorbyl phosphate, as the chemists call it, is the best antioxidant out there. Together with citric acid, which also has PH adjusting capabilities, these two natural ingredients represent a power couple in the toning world.
Preservatives and emulsifiers
While the preservatives extend the product’s life, the emulsifiers are the ones that keep oils and water together. Here is where the forbidden word “parabens” intervenes. These are the most commonly used preservatives in the cosmetic and cleaning industry.
Research has linked them to endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity. So if you read on the label ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben or other ingredients ending in –paraben, just put the product back on the shelf and search for something else.
Maybe something that contains no parabens, but instead refers to citric acid (natural) or potassium sorbate & sodium benzoate (naturally derived). These are preservatives which, worse case scenario, can cause irritation.
At Loca Beauty your health and wellbeing comes first to us! That’s why hazardous preservatives such as parabens are a definite “no go” in our products.
As for emulsifiers, the most common ones are polysorbate-20 and hydrogenated castor oil. While the latter is natural, for the first, the overall hazard is low.
How to choose your toner
With toners, just like with any other face cosmetic products, it is important to be aware of your skin type, in order to keep the right balance between cleaning and keeping the natural skin oils at the right levels. Unlike cleansers which come in different form, toners are always water-based cosmetic products. It is the key ingredients that make the difference.
Below you can find a table to help you choose the right products for your skin type.
|Skin type||Key ingredients||What does it do|
|Dry, red, prone to eczema||Glycerin and essential oils (e.g. orange essential oil)||Deep moisturizing of the skin, leading to softening|
|Oily skin, prone to acne||Salicylic acid||Gently exfoliates and removes dead skin, while also increasing cell turnover and collagen production.|
|Combination||Lactic acid||Gently hydrates the skin|
|Sensitive||Algae or amino acids||Soothes, detoxifies and removes impurities that can irritate the skin.|
|Mature||Aloe vera or Vitamin C||Aloe vera soothes and moisturizes. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, which target free radicals and protect the skin in the fight against aging.|
|All types||Coenzima Q10 and Hyaluronic Acid||Coenzyme Q10 has antioxidant qualities and Hyaluronic Acid replenishes moisture|
We also insist that you keep your skin-care routine as natural as possible, in order to avoid exposing yourself to any chemical hazard, which on the long term, can have massive negative consequences for your health.
Price, is of course, important, but we insist that you shouldn’t trade health for money.
As we mentioned also in the cleanser section, we consider that an important factor that makes a cosmetic product the best is also the container. If you want to keep your body safe from unwanted chemicals, while prolonging naturally the product’s shelf life and protecting the environment, then the container should play an important role in your choice.
That being said, it is time to move on to our next step: moisturizing.
Now that your face is squeaky clean, it is time to use a product that helps our skin feel smooth, nourished and provides a layer of protection against dehydration, dry air and polluting factors.
There is an incredible amount of noise around cosmetic products and especially around face creams. Scientific language is used along marketing language in order to sell you the idea of perpetual youth. All face creams are sold today either as moisturizers or as hydrating creams, which are marketing terms that have no medical or scientific meaning.
What is a moisturizer?
Advertisements provide you with a long list of ingredients varying from vitamins, extracts, pearl proteins and all sorts of pseudo-scientific materials to convince you that a moisturizer is better than the other. But the truth is that, unless we’re talking about a highly natural product, usually, these key ingredients are in such small amounts, that it is unlikely that they will produce a significant change.
In any case, if we had to define moisturizers in a simple way that would be: supplying a little bit of water to the skin and holding it in through an oily substance. Initially, this oily substance was white petrolatum or more commonly called Vaseline. It is still highly used in a lot of moisturizers.
Moisturizers’ proliferation is however caused by the industry’s efforts to find a different way of keeping water in, that feels nicer to the skin.
What is the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?
Many times “moisturizing” and “hydrating” are used as synonyms. However, these are different types of products, formulated to serve different purposes.
The moisturizer’s role is to reduce the water loss through that oily barrier mentioned above. By forming this protective layer, the evaporation of the water throughout the day is reduced.
Normally, in a perfect world, we would be able to produce enough lipid cells to protect ourselves from moisture loss. But because of make-up, make-up removal, dust, pollution, artificial heat and other disruptors, our skin is unable to produce enough of this protective layer by itself. So it needs to be helped with a moisturizer.
While moisturizers lock the moisture into the skin, hydrators help increase the content of water in the skin. For a good skin care routine, it is advisable to first use a hydrator and after a moisturizer, in order to first replenish the water and after to lock it in.
What ingredients does a moisturizer contain?
In order to understand how moisturizer works, it is important to know what they contain. And for this purpose, we will once again embark in a short chemistry adventure.
The occlusives are the oily substances contained in moisturizers which block water from evaporating.
The most common one is petrolatum or petroleum jelly, a byproduct of petroleum refining. When properly refined, petrolatum does not present any knows health concerns. The risk is much higher when the refining process is not complete, leaving the petrolatum open to contamination with cancerogenic factors called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.
There are however safer ingredients that have occlusive effect. Among these we mention butters and waxes such as cocoa or shea butter or beeswax. Allantoin is also a common ingredient used especially in natural cosmetic products. Due to its healing, soothing and protection benefits, we are big fans at Looca Beauty.
Humectants and Emollients
If you read the previous sections, these should be already well knows by now. But just in case you skipped the previous chemistry journeys, we will bring you up to speed. Humectants increase the water in your skin. The most commonly used humectants are glycerin, honey, panthenol and urea.
At Looca we also use sunflower oil as a humectant.
Emollients are supposed to moisturize, but in moisturizers, they are in fact used to smoothen the skin - to prevent it from becoming irritated by other ingredients. Some moisturizers contain alcohols, such as octyldodecanol with emollient role.
Looca prefers coconut oil, shea butter and silk liquid for emollience purpose.
Antioxidants protect the body and the skin from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals (atoms or molecules which in combination with certain chemicals in the body might affect cells’ ability to function normally). We are constantly exposed to free radicals through pollution.
The role of antioxidants is to help beat the effects of free radicals. Among their benefits we mention anti-inflammation, skin firming, skin repair. Antioxidants are compounds such as vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, idebenone, zinc, copper and beta carotene.
At Looca we are big fans of hibiscus (also known as the natural botox), hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, grape seed and apple extracts.
How to choose a moisturizer?
With either hot summer air or cold windy winters, with constant pollution and debris we expose our skins to, our face need some serious protection.
As skin is 64% water, this simple ingredient becomes the key towards a healthy looking face. The inadequate levels of water in our skin can lead to itchiness, dryness, iflamations. That’s why the use of a moisturizer to replenish water is an absolute basic to any skin care routine.
Like with any other cosmetic product, with moisturizer also it is important to keep in mind your skin type, as the key ingredients differ. We’ve put together a table to make it easier for your to identify what ingredient to look for in a moisturizer, according to your skin type.
|Skin type||Key ingredients||What does it do|
|Dry, red, prone to eczema||Urea, lactic acid||Deep moisturizing of the skin with soothing effects|
|Oily skin, prone to acne||Hyaluronic acid, glycerine||Gently moisturize the skin without creating an excess of grease|
|Combination||Lactic acid||Gently hydrates the skin|
|Sensitive||Aloe vera||Soothes, without any harsh effect for the skin|
|Mature||Retinol or Vitamin C||Retinol increases cell production and vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, which target free radicals and protect the skin in the fight against aging.|
|All types||Coenzima Q10 and Hyaluronic Acid||Coenzyme Q10 has antioxidant qualities and Hyaluronic Acid replenishes moisture|
You should also screen the label and try to avoid the following:
- Fragrance: it is the number one cause of skin irritation and allergic reactions. We know that a nice smelling moisturizer is very attractive, but in order to reduce the risks, we would recommend going for fragrance free product. Look of fragrance, perfume or parfum on the labels and avoid these products.
- Silicone: these are synthetic polymers that are found in the majority of cosmetic products nowadays. They are very popular in the industry due to their low price and the velvety texture they give to the cream and the soothing sensation they offer to the skin. However, they only give the sensation of a highly hydrated skin, as in fact they block the pores with a highly oily film. We suggest looking for silicone free products or at least chose a products with below 10 silicone ingredients. Common names for silicones include dimethicone, trimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane and dimethiconol. Basically look for any words that end in -cone, -siloxane or -conol.
Once you made your choice and you start using your moisturizer, pay attention to how it feels on the face and to any reaction to your skin for a couple of days. As a general principle, a good moisturizer which is having a good relationship with your skin should not be felt in any way. Your skin should feel perfectly balanced: not dry, but definitely, not oily, there should be no redness and under no circumstance should you have any itchy sensation. If you notice any such reactions, you should consider going for another product.
Another element that we consider important apart from your skin type and the ingredients contained, is the container. At Looca, as a conscious company, we are in a bit of a conflict with plastic, so we try our best to minimize its us as much a possible. We encourage you to consider the containers when making your choice, not only for the sake of the environment, but also because there is a risk that plastic chemicals get mixed with the products and can have unfortunate consequences for your skin.
Glass containers are the safest choice and if they are amber colour, even better, as they guarantee protection from UV rays and naturally prolong the shelf life of the cosmetic product.
Price is of course an important factor, but try to keep in mind also all of the considerations presented above when making your choice. Using quality, natural ingredients in the making of a moisturizer could potentially increase the shelf price and giving up plastic as container, as well. You should always try to strive for the best price-quality ratio.
The best kept secret in the Beauty industry - Face Serum
Perhaps cleanser, toner and moisturizer don’t sound that unfamiliar. One way or the other, we all use these at some point. But we don’t hear anybody talk about facial serums very often. There’s not much fuss around them. Why do you think that is?
We always suspected that this is a sort of conspiracy theory. Because, if serums were as popular as other basic skin-care products, then, most probably the esthetic clinics would go out of business. Given the power of this super face juice, it is no wonder it’s such a great secret.
What is a serum?
Face serum is a vitamin packed shot that is highly concentrated and can focus straight on your problems and fix them in a faster and more effective way. Usually it is water based and due to smaller molecules, it can penetrate the skin more deeply and deliver this high concentration of active ingredients so that it fixes your troubles in a giffy.
What is the difference between face serum and a moisturizer?
Although serums are full of all the moisturizing elements like hyaluronic acid, the super powerful plant extracts, vitamin C etc, it does not fulfill moisturizing tasks, due to the fact that it is mainly water based and does not contain the occlusive ingredients (the petroleum jelly or the butters and waxes in the natural cosmetic products) which keep the water in. That’s why, for a effective complete skin care, it is recommended to apply the serum before you apply the moisturizer. This way, you ensure that after a proper cleansing and toning, you attack skin problems with all arsenal contained in the serum and you lock the eternal youth in with the moisturizer.
What ingredients does a serum contain?
Serums are water-based or oil base products, formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients. The main categories of power ingredients are antioxidants (vitamin C and E, coenzyme Q10, zinc, copper etc.), alpha and beta hydroxyl acids (lactic acid, salicylic acid), and unique botanic cells, each with their own magical effects on the skin.
What to consider when choosing a serum?
As usual, the most important factor that you need to consider when choosing a face serum is your skin type and the problems you want to address.
If you have an oily skin, going for a water-based serum would be the best choice, as the texture is lighter, it does not have a heavy effect over your skin. On the contrary, if you have a dry skin, then perhaps you could go for the oil based serum. However, the texture is not enough. Pay attention to the active ingredients! You can use the tables above to map the key ingredients to search for depending on your skin type.
Another factor that is of utmost importance when choosing your serum is the container. If for the rest of the products presented above this is just a matter of environmental awareness, in the case of serum, we recommend going for the amber glass. Due to their high percentage of botanical, natural ingredients, the serums are more prone to losing their power in contact with air and light. That’s why we recommend going for the bottled serums, thus minimizing the contact with air and for the amber glass, to ensure protection from UV rays.
As for the price, due to their super juices, serums tend to be pricer. But on the other hand, they do have special powers, so we are positive that you will get your money back through a brighter, younger, healthier skin.
5 tips for a healthy skin
As promised, we haven’t stuffed you with all this cosmetic chemistry information just for the sake of sharing the burden of knowledge. Now that we got you all cleaned, toned, juiced up and moisturized, we are ready to share with your some of our most precious advice.
1) Don’t cheat
We know you’re a wonder woman, juggling with work, family, friends and sometimes even hobbies. We understand that sometimes it’s just easier to leave the make up on and just crash on the bed. But if you want to achieve perfection not only in your professional and personal life, but also when it comes to body and skin, then this skin care ritual cannot be skipped. Under no circumstance should you go to bed with your make up on! Feeding your skin dust and make up isn’t cool! Be disciplined with your face just like you are with everything else!
2) Scrub it!
Even if you respect the rules and cleanse, tone and moisturize every day, it is not enough to deeply clean your pores of the foundation, concealer, powder, blush, contour product that you most probably use every day or at least every other day. That’s why we recommend a responsible scrub every 10 days. For more effective results, do it after a bath steaming, on the dry face.
3) Mask it!
If you want to increase your chances to fix your skin problems and also prevent the signs of aging, then once in a while, indulge in the luxurious activity of applying a mask. Face masks deeply clean pores, increase hydration and depending on the active ingredients, diminish fine lines and firm the skin.
4) Sunscreen it!
There is absolute consensus that if you want to prevent signs of aging - fine lines and wrinkles, then it is critical to use sunscreen. Experts recommend using a 30 SPF sunscreen on a daily basis, be it summer or winter. It make it easier, go either for or moisturizer that has sunscreen properties or for a foundation.
5) Feed it, hydrate it, work it, put it to sleep!
You can spend your entire life applying creams, lotions and serums. If you don’t combine this with an adequate life regime, it is all for nothing. For a healthy body and a beautiful skin, you have to also pay attention to what you eat, to drink enough water, to exercise often and to get the appropriate amount of sleep. If you eat only french fries with mayonnaise, hydrate with vodka (No judgment there! We’re also big fans of occasional junk fund and enjoy a good caipiroska once in a while), smoke, exercise by blinking and pull all nighters, then, don’t waste your money on the cosmetic products!
We hope we haven’t lost you on the way. But in case you weren’t patient enough to read all the skin care routine story, we got you covered.
Long story short a basic skin care routine is composed of cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Cleansing means getting rid of the make-up and debris, toning means balancing your skin’s PH and getting rid of the soap or oils left by the cleanser and moisturizing means feeding your skin with nourishing ingredients and locking these ingredients and your body’s water inside.
For extra powerful effects, we advise using a face serum before a moisturizing, so that you can target the problems through super strong active ingredients.
When it comes to choosing these cosmetic products, pay attention to your skin type, read the label and understand the ingredients. There are plenty of products on the market that, used for a long time, can have unfortunate effects over your skin and health. Try to go for as natural as possible to avoid any health hazard!
Although we are aware that as long as the product looks appealing and has powerful ingredients, nobody really cares about the container, but we encourage you to consider this factor also when you make your choice. Not only that it is a matter of environmental nature, but certain containers can also damage the product that they contain or not provide an effective protection from the UV rays.
Price is, of course important. But when looking at the price, keep in mind all the other factors presented above! It is not a rule that expensive products lead to more efficient results, neither that cheap products are total hazard. Just try to strike the right balance between what you pay and what you get.
As long as you are conscious about what exactly you are buying and what your money is going into, you should be fine!
Finally, we laid down some extra tips and tricks for you: don’t skip the routine no matter how tired you are, use a scrub every 10 days and an occasional mask, use a sunscreen every day and try to keep a balanced life regime.
That being said, we wish you a conscious skin care!
With love for you and the planet,
Looca Beauty Team