Our Favorite Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin: The Konjac Sponge

Konjac Sponges

Cleanser, Konjac Sponges, & Lotion: our mini spa night

Is exfoliation a part of your skincare routine? Since it’s healthy to exfoliate about once a week to remove dead cells, we were on the hunt for a calming facial exfoliator. We love trying out salt and sugar scrubs for our lips and skin, but never found a product that was be gentle enough for the sensitive skin on our face. In the past, we looked into the Clarisonic (does anyone use this?), St. Ives apricot scrubs (when we were teenagers), and Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub (unfortunately, this contains the plastic microbeads).

When we had the chance to move to Taiwan in 2010, we were extremely excited about living in a new country, especially for the opportunity to learn about skincare brands. One of the best things about living in Asia was the plethora of beauty products- we remember obsessing over Skin Food and the many amazing Korean and Japanese brands that were available.

So what was the product that we went crazy over? Our favorite exfoliator was the konjac sponge. This sponge is made from vegetable fibers, and is meant to help with cleansing. In 2011, a family member brought home a few of these spongy products, citing that it was a new product from Japan.  We admit, it looked strange at first, slightly comparable to sponges that we had lying around in the sink. The only difference seemed to be that the konjac sponge was round instead of rectangular. However, after using it once a week up until 2015, we felt that our skin looked brighter, more refreshed, and without that irritating redness we would get from other exfoliators. We loved how gentle the sponge was, and how perfect it was for sensitive skin. So how do you use it?

Bamboo & Aloe Konjac Sponges

Bamboo & Aloe Konjac Sponges

Directions:

  • Wet the konjac sponge
  • Add a dime-sized amount of cleanser to the konjac sponge
  • Gently massage all over your face
  • Rinse off with tap water
  • Clean the sponge with castile soap, squeezing out any excess water
  • Let your konjac sponge dry (using a soap dish works wonderfully)

The two that we picked up here are bamboo and aloe sponges! How do konjac sponges work? They help to break down dirt, cleanse pores, and remove grime naturally.

Have you tried using a konjac sponge? What’s your favorite brand?

Fine Line and Wrinkle Prevention: Is It Possible?

Wonderland Organics and BonBliss at Face and Body Expo!

Wonderland Organics and BonBliss at Face and Body Expo!

One of the best parts of running your own business is the constant education: we went to the Face & Body Expo a few weeks ago, eager for more skincare knowledge. We loved networking with many like-minded people, and the opportunity to learn from those in the know. Many of the classes focused on anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, new products and ingredients such as retinoids, and skincare tips. We will be adding to the Wonderland blog about our new found knowledge, so do stay tuned!

Since our culture places a high priority on maintaining a youthful glow and smooth skin, many people clamor for anti-aging products. Not taking genetics and family history into account, a question most want to know is: ‘Can fine lines and wrinkles be prevented?’

The unfortunate answer is…no. Everyone will at some point develop fine lines and wrinkles as they age – it is simply a natural part of aging. Lines and wrinkles will develop, and will become more evident over time as the strength and elasticity of skin naturally breaks down with age. The good news, however; is that there are things we can do to help slow the aging process down.

Eat right – eating a healthy, balanced diet can be an excellent first step to beautiful skin. Taking in the proper nourishment, including omega fatty acids and healthy fats help our bodies run more efficiently, which in turn promotes proper circulation, meaning blood can travel to the skin layers to promote the generation of healthy new skin cells. Check out our recommendations for healthy breakfast ideas here!

Drink right – 6-8 glasses of water a day are recommended. Reduce or cut out completely high sugar drinks such as soda and wine. Replace these with herbal tea to provide further benefit to your body. We highly suggest green tea for the polyphenols and antioxidants, though be warned that tea (and coffee) stains teeth.

Image courtesy of duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get a limited amount of sun exposure – sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, so we do need some sun exposure. The problem is that we often get too much sun. The more sun exposure one’s skin has, the faster it will age. Go for a healthy balance – wear protective clothing including UV hats and sunglasses, and use sufficient amounts of sunscreen that is reapplied regularly. We suggest using a physical sunscreen made of zinc oxide, or tinsorb S and tinsorb M (this active ingredient is found in European sunscreen products).

Reduce stress – stress, anxiety and worry cause us to furrow our browns, frown, and tense up our facial muscles. This can cause lines to quickly develop. By reducing stress, we can reduce the tendency to frown or wrinkle our face with worry, thus saving our facial skin from puckering. We know, this is a difficult one, but those frown lines and forehead lines are never fun to develop.

Get plenty of sleep – this may be anecdotal, but many experts say that getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night can contribute to having better skin, along with better physical and mental health. Some people are incredibly good at this, sleeping at 10 pm, and waking up early. Plus, resting on a silk pillowcase may help decrease lines on your face when you wake up the next day (you know what we’re talking about, the ones your typical cotton ones cause).

Quit smoking – do this not just for the health benefits, but also to reduce the puckering of the lips around a cigarette that lead to those deep lines around the mouth. Quitting smoking will also greatly improve blood circulation, so more of the vital nutrients in blood can reach developing skin cells and promote healthy cell turnover.

Products that help boost your skin –hyaluronic acid, chirally correct ingredients, carrot seed essential oil: these help with skin issues (we will be discussing more of these in our next blog post!), as our skin naturally has hyaluronic acid, just creates less of it as we age. Anti-aging isn’t quite possible, but finding products with certain ingredients will be sure to help, as least for awhile. For best results, follow the tips above in addition to using quality skin care products and you’ll be on your way to holding the signs of aging at bay for just a little while longer.

What products or skincare tips have you tried for prevention? Do let us know in the comments below!

Got Skin Issues? Let’s Solve Breakouts Naturally

Got Skin Issues? Let’s Solve Breakouts Naturally

4th-of-julyThe 4th of July weekend) is almost here– wouldn’t it be nice to take those firework selfies with friends and family with glowing skin? I know that’s on my list.

Oily skin? Acne? Breakouts? Been there, done that. In the past few years, there’s been a resurgence of using natural products to help treat our skin issues. Going back to the basics helps correct problematic skin and reduces scarring from that pesky adolescent acne. Pure and simple products that naturally absorb oil (some with anti-bacterial properties!) may be just what you’re looking for to treat breakouts.

Fight Oil with Oil

There were so many anti-oil mindsets, but the mainstream finally accepted treating oily skin with oil. Fruit, vegetable and nut oils are extremely helpful on oily and problematic skin without clogging pores. Some of these oils include, but are not limited to:

  • Argan oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Grape Seed oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Neem Oil
  • Peach Kernel Oil

You can cleanse your skin by using these oils, or search for skin care products that include one or more of these oils in their ingredients. Hint: the Wonderland Organics facial oils include argan oil, apricot kernel, fractionated coconut, and more!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural essences taken directly from plants, fruits, trees, roots spices, etc. The essential oils listed below have antibacterial properties that help to dissolve pimples and keep the bacteria from spreading and forming new pimples.

Look for products that include these oils. Both lavender and tea tree oil can be used in small amounts (diluted) directly onto a pimple to reduce redness, inflammation and to dry it out. You can also use one or a combination of these oils in a weekly facial steam to help detoxify your pores:

  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree

Note that none of these essential oils should be used neat on the skin, and it’s best to always dilute them with carrier oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, or an oil of your choosing!

Vitamins

Some vitamins have been shown to dramatically improve these types of skin conditions, especially vitamins A and E. Vitamin A is often used to treat acne. You’ve probably heard of Retinol A, based on a vitamin A derivative. A natural source of vitamin A is carrot seed essential oil (to toot my own horn, this essential oil is included in the Wonderland Organics Balance Serum).

Vitamin E has also been recommended for breakouts. You can use products that contain vitamin E, or you can simply take a vitamin E capsule found at your local health food store, poke a small hole in one end of the capsule, and apply the oil directly to your face at night right after cleansing and toning.

Clays

Once per week, you can try using a clay based mask to further clean and detoxify your pores. Clays that work especially well for breakouts include Bentonite, French green clay and Rhassoul. Simply mix clay with water to form a paste. Apply to the skin and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse well with lukewarm water and pat skin dry. I’d suggest spritzing with a hydrosol, then follow with the facial oil or serum of your choice.

Has anyone tried using these natural ways to reduce acne scars or get rid of those breakouts? Let me know in the comments below!

2014 Current Skincare Trends

2014 Current Skincare Trends

skincare-trends-2014To keep our body’s largest organ maintained and healthy, there has been many discussions about what’s best for our skin. Do we use traditional ones like saponified castile soap, or trends such as antioxidants? What’s popular so far this year?

BB/CC Creams

Made popular from Korea, we had the BB cream (and now CC cream). While it’s great to see these kinds of all-in-one solutions, the ingredients behind them had me shaking my head. According to a report from the EWG, using a BB/CC cream still has fewer ingredients, as compared to using multi-step products. Nonetheless, if you aren’t too concerned with a large amount of chemicals, since companies often hide up to 1,000 different types under the word “fragrance”, then the BB or CC cream may be for you.

Topical Antioxidants

According to Skin Inc. Magazine, ingredients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and other antioxidants help with those pesky free radicals. Vitamin C serums have been popular, specifically with l-ascorbic acid and ester C. The reason for its popularity is that it is said to help produce collagen. However, these serums oxidize rather quickly (as a result of the vitamin C), so make sure to buy serums that are packaged in airless pumps. As you may know, vitamin E is effective in slowing down the oxidation process in oil-based products (like Wonderland Organics’ facial serums!) When both vitamins are applied topically, they have been shown to help with sun damage. Of course, wearing a large hat and applying sunscreen are important to prevent any sun damage.

Internal Antioxidants

What can you do internally for more antioxidants? Green tea has been shown to possess a large amount of antioxidants, so feel free to sip on hot green tea (caffeinated or decaf). The best part about green tea is that there are no calories, and it tastes delicious. There’s different types, such as matcha, sencha, and jasmine green tea. You may use either tea leaves or disposable teabags. If you opt for the latter, you can also wait until the bag is cool, and close your eyes for a refreshing eye depuffer. Also, blueberries and pomegranates also have a large amount of antioxidants, which I love to include in my fruit salads. As for vitamin C, many people reach for a tablet when they start to feel sick. However, consuming an orange may be better, as it’s healthy and a decent source of vitamin C.

Anti-Aging

Anti-aging, of course has been a consistent trend: many skincare companies have clamored to add this phrase to their product labels. Personally, I’ve started on anti-aging products since I was 20, hoping to keep my skin as young as possible. However, the term “anti-aging” is considered puffery, since nothing seriously stops you from aging. Plastic surgery is one viable option, though I wouldn’t recommend it. For slightly less invasive procedures, people opt for Botox injections.

Whitening

In Taiwan, as well as in many parts of Asia, whitening facial creams and lotions have been a great source of interest for women. This is mainly because being pale is considered a gold standard of beauty. In department stores and drugstores like Watsons, ladies clamor over the whitening-option products.

Have you tried any of these trends? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

“How Safe Are the Ingredients in BB and CC Creams?” Environmental Working Group. Environmental Working Group, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 June 2014. <http://www.ewg.org/research/bb-and-cc-creams/how-safe-are-ingredients-bb-and-cc-creams>.

Imber, Gerald, MD. “Skin Inc. Magazine.” Antioxidants, Free Radicals and Skin Care. KCM Publishing, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 June 2014. <http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/ingredients/Antioxidants-Free-Radicals-and-Skin-Care-227888041.html?page=1>.