I can't believe no one knows about this!! The brand itself is not very well known on various skincare forums I haunt, but the star product of Actifirm must be the Z Peel!! It is a market first, I have never come across any sort of peel like this. Firstly, it is a rinse off enzyme peel - so it is an exfoliant. The key ingredient is an enzyme derived from a mushroom, this is the same enzyme which is found naturally in the skin and it aids the natural skin turnover process, and for sluggish congestion prone skin like mine it is excellent.
Texture - sort of like a glue-y gel which dries to a thin film on the skin, I tend to apply to skin straight after a shower (it is so gentle that it does not irritate for long) and I continue to massage for a few minutes until it starts to set, then I leave on for several more minutes. I do notice mild tingling, and I have only experienced strong tingling and redness ONCE. I can even use this during Differin! I have used every night before Differin, and even on the 3-4 day of Differin my skin does not feel irritated.
The enzyme is supposed to only dissolve skin cells that are ready to be shed, thus it is "self neutralising" and can pick up "hot spots" as the marketing says, basically it will not burn the skin or cause unnecessary thinning of the skin barrier.
It costs a little over $80 USd for 30 ml, the 200ml is much better value at just under $200, there is a 30% version which is very expensive, at $140 for 30ml and $400+ for the 200ml. I may switch to 30% in summer when my skin starts to thicken with a lot more due to congestion.
For those who cannot tolerate acids, leave on exfoliants, physical exfoliants, regular papain/bromelain based enzyme exfoliants, this is worth a try!!!! For reference, I have used pure microderm crystals (good but too rough for long term), Cellcosmet dual action exfoliant (good in conjunction with Actifirm but very gentle for use alone), EpidermxII (nasty formulation), Kanebo Silk peeling powder and Dermalogica daily microfoliant - too gentle, and also Pevonia Enzymo peel - too gentle.
Cleansers -Bioderma - Sensibio H2O (aka Crealine H20 Solution micellaire)
miranets 6/10/2008 3:35:00 AM
This is a very unique type of cleanser, I have come across only foaming, gel, cream, etc etc but never a clear solution like this!! I have this in the non scented version which I like, as I think the scented Bioderma products can be quite sharp.
I am currently experiencing very dry and dehydrated skin during winter in the souther hemisphere, although I still have oily t zone so I like to have a deep but gentle cleanser. I switched from Cellcosmet cream cleanser (I will return to it in summer again!) and it has been nice for my skin for removing heavy creams and products which I use in the evenings, and the light makeup I use during the day. I never have to repeat cleanse even intough areas, although because of the very liquid texture much of it runs off the skin before you can emulsify so there is a little reapplication needed to get enough product on.
I don't get the same tautness as Cellcosmet and I can use this all over the body as well. I just don't like the bottle because it's like tipping water into the hands, very hard to control, and a lot more wastage. I can't imagine there to be an effective dispenser for a watery solution... adding any thickeners would nullify the cleansing properties.
Good value, multi purpose, I even use for my eyes which I normally need a gel cleanser for descaling the area. Has not caused any congestion or irritation for me, does not leave a film on the skin. Nice nice, simple and gentle!
I got a sample and used it several times during cooler weather and a major regime overhaul. I think the Sensai range is very well formulated, and despite my reluctance to use a foaming cleanser, this was nice and gentle.
My skin is used to physical exfoliation and enzyme peels so I hardly thought this could have any exfoliation effects for me - and no it does not!! I would not purchase full size as I do not enjoy using powders during cleansing. I am currently using either Cellcosmet rich cream cleanser, or non fragranced micellaire solutions during winter. I may consider double cleansing as my next experiment but no I can never see a peeling powder as a part of my regime.
I have only tried a sample, a friend passed on the two step luxury sample set and I got about half a dozen uses from it. I was considering buying both lotion and emulsion together full size, I only got the emulsion because I grew quite apprehensive because of the comments regarding alcohol and dryness.
I have oily but easily dehydrated skin, so I avoid alcohol products like the plague, my last affair with alcohol laden products was Clinique back in 2004, and since then I have never even put so much as a facial cotton on the skin. I don't use the lotion with facial cotton but I press into the skin (SK II style!) while it is damp after a toner spritz. The Lotion is not a serum/moisturiser in the Western sense, it is the Asian equivalent of a toner, but the texture is like heavy slippery water. I think it serves as a balancing, softening and penetration enhancing step, while providing moderate hydration.
I have used this both straight and after airing to allow the alchol to evaporate, no significant sensations can be detected. I do find it a bit sticky if I use against dry skin.
In winter I will probably consider Lotion III, and Lotion II for spring/autumn and occassional in summer. This does not cause any congestion or acne for me, nor does it aggravate redness.
My skin, at time of review - oily t-zone, easily congested, sluggish skin turnover, mild sensitivity, dehydrated especially worse during winter
This is a review of the Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Emulsion II in older packaging (the new version with round packaging was released late 2007 but apparently the only difference in formulation is an additional orchid extract). I bought this full size without trying..! I am going through a stage where I am really liking high end Japanese skincare, and I find that choosing a product by ingredients listing is no longer a fair judgment and I can never predict what elegant formulations these top end guys are releasing.
I really did not know what to expect of the texture, I thought it was going to be quite heavy and wondered how on earth the product was going to move through those annoying glass jars with no dispenser. Well the Emulsion is quite watery, and be careful when you tip the bottle because the product gains a lot of momentum when moving out and I often end up with too much in my hands.
I like Cellular Performance because it is still suitable for young problem skin and contains more niacinamide than Sensai Silk or Impress, but Sensai Premier and above is not suitable for acne prone skin. This is one of the few high end products that uses simple pure niacinamide, none of that pro-niacin stuff!!
I think 100ml can last a long time, although in winter I find I like Albion milk II more, and I use A LOT of Sensai Emulsion II when my skin is feeling dry, I don't think it is such a great idea to go heavy handed with emulsions, it ends up forming a strange film on the skin that does not absorb.
I am not sure if my skin will like this in the peak of summer, although I see it as a good product for autumn/spring, and switching at the right time is critical to maintaining skin barrier integrity. I would consider trying the Sensai CP cream, very impressed with its results.
Does not feel heavy, although looks quite shiny/waxy even when fully absorbed (I also naturally have shiny skin) and does not cause congestion or acne at all. It does last long on the skin, because when I rinse in water I feel that it is still slippery. Fragrance of very light (but not cheap or synthetic) bubble gum and a pale pink colour. I don't mind the additives at all since good formulations use hypoallergenic colouring and scents.
Treatments -Unlisted Brand - Topix Replenix Green Tea Serum
miranets 6/9/2008 4:04:00 AM
My review - for the CF product. I have always been a huge fan of green tea polyphenol serums but have not been able to find a pure product until Topix. Actually I learnt of this product almost three years ago when I was going through a period when my skin was always upset and flushed - I did not ever consider purchasing because of how hard it is to buy outside of the US and the price! Also I went through a crazy DIY period when I bought lots of green tea extracts caffeine, licorice, sandalwood etc etc.. but honestly these actives are very difficult to dissolve and even harder to create an effective delivery system - from now on I will stick to big brands that have the resources to create good formulations.
Now my skin is at the stage where a lot of the inflammatory redness has subsided and even disappeared without Topix but I have a lot of minute surface capillaries from years of rough exfoliation. I do still hope that green tea is something that my skin will find beneficial, but as with any product there are always things lacking with the formulation.
I have oily skin but I started this during winter when my skin is very dehydrated and needs lots of humectants and emollients, and HA is not something my skin likes at all - it forms a film on my skin that causes tautness and inhibits product absorption. I use Topix as a base product straight after a toner, I even use it around my eyes because I am developing surface capillaries - I have rather thin skin! When I use only Topix and a light lotion type moisturiser, I find my skin feels very uncomfortable. I always finish with a rich emulsion and cream around problem areas.
Topix definitely is not stimulating to my skin, I use it right after a shower and normally I am *very* sensitive to any sensations during this period. As for its benefits, I am not sure if I can experience any improvement from my broken caps, although I will continue to use as an antioxidant product.
For those who are wanting to try other similar products, these are the few I know of containing calming ingredients like green tea polyphenols, licorice extract and mushroom extract - Pevonia RS2 concentrate, Origins Plantidote Serum, Albion Skin Essential Conditioner Noevir herbal line.
Update 11 Feb 2009. I have added this product back into my regime. I feel that the formulation has changed somewhat, it is slightly creamier, and the colour more opaque, the finish feels less watery and does not leave a film like feeling. My skin barrier has improved greatly as I've regulated my skincare routine, so I may experience different benefits from using this on regular basis now.
There is a lot of attractive and enticing language used to promote this mask - just read the one on Four Seasons' website. This is also called the Radiance Revealer Harmonising Cream-Gel Mask, how verbose! Basically a booster mask which helps to balance the skin. I think at the moment I am too young (or have not developed the problems this mask is intended to sooth) to experience the effects this mask is purported to have.
Texture - a watery mask which spreads very easily and takes forever to even dry to a damp finish, the colour is an offensive ochre brick brown, looks like crap. The smell is a little earth, I am not sure if there has been some fragrance additives used to enhance the clay scent.
I think I do experience some mild sensations with this mask, I generally tolerate clay masks quite well if they are simple and without many stimulating ingredients. The worst thing about this mask is how it is impossible to rinse clean! There are so many emulsifiers used in this mask that it feels like you are rinsing some sort of collagen gel mask off, basically you will need a sponge to help cleanse effective - which I don't like because it tears at tender skin.
I do like most Cellcosmet products and I think they are extremely well formulated, but this just attempts to achieve too many things - regulating skin functions, promoting and enhancing skin processes, achieve instant radiance, redefining contours!!!.. it is a very romantic product, but I think we are just buying the gimmick! Ok were I cash strapped and a princess, perhaps this would be an indulgence worth considering, but at this stage I am looking for very functional products...
Loose Powders -Make Up For Ever - HD High Definition Loose Powder
miranets 6/4/2008 3:46:00 AM
I have been looking forward to this release, actually the recent spate of "HD TV Makeup" starting from Cargo to MUFE, have all been really impressive - and the next brand launch of an HD TV makeup line will have a lot to compete with.
This is different from every other "fine mill airbrush" type powder I have tried, firstly it is purely silica, and an extremely fine mill! Also I believe this is probably the BEST finish of all the powders I have (and yes I have more than three dozen loose powders, mostly from mid-end, high end and luxury brands)... so as an affirmative from a powder-collector freak, this is excellent!
Let's get the bad points out of the way, price-yes perhaps (but that is not a criteria I use to decide on purchases anymore - since quality/function is more important).. Packaging - I do not like the narrow jar with low rims, end up wasting product if you are in a rush, I actually prefer the Jill Stuart (or say Chanel Poudre Libre, or La Mer) type bulky and oversized containers,there is still room to let you mix and tap powder back into the container, whereas the MUFE powder overflows..
Also, compared to other powders I have tried this does have the best finish (will discuss below) but here are some alternatives for MUFE HD powder if for any reason it does not work well for you - There is the Dior Extreme translucent powder (released in 2008), also a Chanel Cristalline loose powder, Laura Mercier secret brightening powder, or the By Terry loose powder (in a range of flesh tones, corrective tones and translucent tones), the La Mer/ Giorgio Armani are excellent mill too but it is tinted. Also the Japanese brand Canmake makes a good and cheap powder with a similar type of mill to the MUFE/airmill type powders. Also I just recently came across the Pure Luxe silica powder, but the first review has mentioned (quite usefully) that the MUFE powder has a superior mill.
Why it is the best - the finish is excellent, truly an airbrushed softening effect and does not emphasise pores or bumps. It can be used as a finishing powder and alone for a simple polished look. I do think that one does need to have good skin texture and skin tone for this powder to work at its best, simply because it is a translucent finish which will have very little effect for colour correction or coverage. I rarely use powders that are heavier than medium sheer coverage anyway as I do not think that is the true purpose of a cosmetic loose powder.
BTW I am NC30 with warm undertones, this does not make me look ghostly but does have a brightening/lightening effect. All I have is baby smooth skin..........!
An update - I forgot to comment on the oil controlling properties - I think it is average, because I always use a layer of rice/silk powder underneath anyway, and being winter in the southern hemisphere - my normally over oily skin is actually becoming a lot drier, so while I still had shine at the end of the day, the powder did not oxidise or disappear, and my face looked OK. I am not sure if I would use alone in summer, as my skin tends to be oilier and the humidity is very high... but even though it is a fine mill powder it is more absorbent than say talc based pressed/loose powders.
I have yellow undertones and pigmented mauve lips, Utterly Frivolous looks dullish in the tube but gives my lips a definite colour boost. It's effect is more than MLBB but not too overwhelming for office use. Imparts a strawberry pink juicy finish which is very flattering for my skintone. I think for now this is my HG colour, have picked up several back ups. I have over 100 lipsticks at home and this must be something special because I keep going back to it!!
Skin condition prior to using this product - slight sensitivity, prone to flushing as I have a lot of dilated capillaries from over zealous exfoliation, prone to congestion, oily skin.
I don't have angry redness or inflammation, but wanted something to help with general redness and as a calming buffer under Differin. This product certainly did not irritate at all, even after a scrub or enzyme peel, but I was not certain it had significant effects either. Perhaps had my skin been more irritated then this would have been helpful.
There are no added fragrances listed, but the scent from the rose extract smells so artificial! The texture is ok, not great and not incredibly moisturising. It does not enhance any irritation from Differin, nor did it cause any breakouts for me. For the price I don't think it is worth it, I have used half a bottle and then switched to Topix Replenix green tea CF serum instead. Perhaps in future I will mix the two (once I see how Topix works for me). Topix is a better alternative as it has more green tea actives.
I chose #15, it is a very nice shade and a totally different loose powder than anything else I've seen. The shimmers are multi coloured, you can see blues and reds, it looked a little chunky in the jar but from all the reviews I believed it would live up to the claim of its refined mill.
For my NC30 yellow undertone skin, this shade is a nice everyday tone which helps to define and enhance the natural contours of the eyelids. The multi coloured glitter did not look unnatural on the eyes at all.
Definitely keen to try other shades, and other MUFE eye products.
I bought this on a whim, was a bit apprehensive of the "glow" factor but previous flings with various "glow type" Japanese cosmetics reassured me this powder could potentially be something special.
I dabbled in a few Jill point cosmetics just months before and was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and elegance of this range. The powder has indeed fulfilled all my preconceived high expectations.
For my NC30 yellow undertone skin, the peach beige powder works to really brighten the complexion without adding any unflattering flushed peach tones. It contains signature Jill cosmetic scent, and a mixture of refined and particle glitter, the face has obvious iridescence but does not look overboard for office use.
Has great mattifying effects which gives that polished and tender look, not dewy (which is unflattering for shiny skin) and not chalky or fuzzy. Coverage is medium sheer and slightly buildable, I always use extra in the t-zone and to help neutralise any redness.
Probably could be a little more long lasting and oil absorbent but I don't care since it retouches well and ultra refined powders do not work well as long lasting heavy duty powders. It has such a delicate effect to create a charming complexion, and delicate products really do not need to have heavy duty abilities.
Masks -Unlisted Brand - Charmzone New Control Cream
miranets 5/20/2008 12:45:00 AM
I discovered this product through MUA and was tempted by the reviews to buy full size without trying. I didn't really know what sort of results to expect and was excited by the prospect that it was described to have drawing effects on sebum plugs.
I used this straight after morning cleansing and I was expecting this added cleansing step to be irritating on the skin. Actually this did nothing, but I am wondering if it is because I have no sebum plug type congestion.
I was concerned that the instructions recommended a second cleansing for oilier skins, as the product did not rinse clean and left a layer which was surprisingly comforting on the skin - this could be the "essence" in the new version. I continued my usual moisturising routine afterwards and did not feel anything out of the ordinary. I may try this on days when my skin is drier as it relipidises the skin quite well. ***update*** I think this is very similar, if not exactly the same as the original YSL Gomma sans grains, from reading the descriptions of how it turns into oil. Also I have increasined my rating from 3 to 4 because I find with my skin I needed to massage for over 5 minutes before I could feel any skin and sebum plugs coming loose, and it finally did! I will try it once where I repeat the cleansing around stubborn areas. A definite repeat for me now!
Treatments -Kose - Moisture Skin Repair with Rice Power Extract
miranets 5/20/2008 12:38:00 AM
Very nice, it actually feels like it is putting some good back into the skin. Slightly sticky texture but absorbs well. Using it has made me realise that products containing high alcohol content can be cosmetically elegant. This is a well formulated product and does not cause any irritation for me even in between Differin treatments. I do think it can be a little rich so I never use it more than a few days and I always ensure to exfoliate before application. It is good value as well, for 100ml it costs under $100NZD and lasts a very long time.
Moisturizers -Cle de Peau - Gentle Protective Emulsion
miranets 5/20/2008 12:29:00 AM
I have oily and easily dehydrated skin, slight sensitivity and somewhat prone to product congestion. I am normally an ingredient snob and this product did not seem that great so I never considered it. It was until I tried some other high end face creams on a whim, that I realised that many hypothetical "my skin won't like it" ingredients can be transformed into cosmetically and functionally elegant products -the beauty of chemistry.
I avoided the fresh "fraiche" version even though it is recommended for oilier skin types, the gentle version also contains alcohol but it did not cause any sensations for me. It is also slightly fragranced (I always imagined CdP to be richly fragranced) and I have no issues with the scent. I just don't like the very tradutional glass bottles with no dispenser, it will be a nuisance when there is little product left.
It is a very nice moisturiser and keeps the skin happy and does not feel heavy throughout the day. But other than that it does not really have any active functions. I think this is potentially worth a repurchase once I have done the rounds and tried other high end Japanese skin products.