Lots of Updates, Featuring Some (Surprise!) Book News & Giveaways Galore

Between working (on work) and hustling together some exciting book launch events (which are going to kick ass and I can’t wait to tell you about them), I’m not sleeping much these days. BUT. I’ve also been working on some kick-ass blog posts about beauty oils and body care routines!  In fact, I was hoping to post them this week, but my plans were foiled. They were foiled, however, for the very best reason, and that reason is that our Korean Beauty Secrets book started shipping 3 WEEKS EARLY!

Korean Beauty Secrets Book

It was insane, actually, as we had absolutely no idea that was going to happen!  We found out about it when people started messaging us on Sunday to tell us their book had just arrived from Amazon. First we did a lot of squealing, and after that we panicked. The original release date was supposed be November 3rd. Coco and I have been working on a companion website, the URL of which is actually in the back of the book. But that website isn’t ready yet because we thought we had a couple more weeks to work on it! So I’ve been in a frenzy since this past Sunday, frantically trying to get the book website ready for prime time. I haven’t showered in a couple of days, I’ve been subsisting on cereal and black cherry seltzer, and sleeping for 8 hours in a row is my new life goal.  This is how the hot dogs are made, you guys!

Korean Beauty Secrets Book

But the good news is: books are shipping! And I finally got a couple of copies of it today, and they look really, really good! Not only is the content great, the actual production is amazing. The binding, the weight, the print quality are all absolutely gorgeous; better than we ever imagined it would be. I’m so proud of this book that I have to restrain myself from shoving it in people’s faces and saying, “Have you seen this? I wrote it. Look at it. I SAID LOOK AT IT!”

Korean Beauty Secrets Book

Korean Beauty Secrets Book

Book-Related Instagram Giveaways

We’ve got a couple of pretty exciting Instagram giveaways surrounding this book going on right now! Here are the details for both:

Giveaway #1

Club Clio USA Book Launch Countdown Instagram Giveaway Event

Club Clio has been awesomely supportive of this book launch. They are doing a whole series of giveaways leading up to November 3rd (the original book launch date), with different bloggers getting to choose the giveaway prize. Today marks the start of my Clio giveaway, and the prize I’m choosing to bestow the winner is: Goodal Repair Plus Essential Oil! This is a moisturizing oil blend with fermented rice yeast, so it combines a few of my favorite things: fermentation, beauty oils, and Goodal. It’s rich but light, and perfect now that cooler, fall weather is setting in.

Goodal Repair Plus Essential Oil
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Entry is easy! Just complete the following 3 steps:

Step 1: Post or regram the giveaway post from my Instagram account (@skinandtonics), with hashtags #beautywolfxclubcliousa #kerryxcoco #koreanbeautysecretsbook #clubcliousa #clio10dayskbeauty
Step 2:  Follow us on Instagram: Coco is @thebeautywolf, I’m @skinandtonics, and Club Clio USA is @clubcliousa
Step 3: Tag three friends you think might enjoy this giveaway

You can enter once a day, just tag three different friends each day!

Giveaway #2

Kerry & Coco’s “Show us Your Book” Mega-Hardcore-Balls-Out K-Beauty Giveaway

Okay, you got me, I actually just made the name up for this giveaway just now. It could be a little tighter! We thought we had a couple more weeks to think of a name! Luckily, we already had the prize all ready to go. Hold on to your hats:

Show us Your Book Giveaway Price Package

One lucky winner will get an insane prize package that includes the following full size products:

• Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser (a recent favorite, review forthcoming)
• S:um37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick
• Leejiham (LJH) Cosmetics Tea Tree 90 Essence
• Leejiham (LJH) Cosmetics Vita Propolis Ampoule
• Graymelin Hyaluronic Acid 100% (Serum)
• Illi Total Aging Care Body Oil (This oil changed my life)
• I’m Lip Liquid by XO Memebox in color OR601
• I’m Lip Liquid by XO Memebox in color VL600

and the follow deluxe sample/travel-size products:

• Illi Total Aging Care Body Oil
• Illi Total Aging Care Body Lotion
• Goodal Moisture Barrier Cream
• Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
• Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil

This prize is serious. We did not want to mess around, and we hope you’re as excited about it as we are!

How to Enter:

It’s super easy! All you have to do is post a picture on your Instagram of an in-person copy (preferably your personal copy) of Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup. You can style the photo however you want, but it has to be a picture of the physical book or e-book (as opposed to a picture you found on the internet). For e-books, just show us a shot of the book on your e-reader! Then follow and tag @kerryandcoco, @thebeautywolf, and @skinandtonics, and add hashtag #showusyourbook.

Once you’ve done that, voila! You’re entered! We’ll be choosing a winner at random on November 15, 2015 and announcing on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This giveaway is open internationally!

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, now is a great time to do it. It looks like it’s only ~$14 on Amazon right now, which is a fantastic deal. It will also be available from a huge number of other retailers in the U.S. and internationally on November 3rd; Amazon just happens to be the only one I know is already shipping right now.

It’s an amazing book; we’re really proud of it, and we can’t wait for all of you to read it and tell us what you think!

The post Lots of Updates, Featuring Some (Surprise!) Book News & Giveaways Galore appeared first on Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews.

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Splashing Your Face With Water is Doing More Harm Than Good — Here’s Why

There are a number of reasons someone might splash their face with water. You might do it as a quick and easy morning cleanse, to cool down on a hot summer’s day, or to refresh when you’re feeling grimy or sweaty. While splashing your face may seem harmless, it can actually cause problems for your skin and lead to unwanted side effects. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot of clients and customers doing (especially now that it’s getting hotter out), so I thought I’d address it. In this post, I’ll explain how splashing your face with water could be harming your skin and what you can do instead.

Why Splashing Your Face With Water is Damaging Your Skin

You may not think much of splashing your face with water, but this seemingly innocuous behavior is doing your skin more harm than good. Here’s how.

Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)

First and foremost, splashing your face with water sets your skin up for something called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This is when the outermost layer of our skin loses water to the surrounding air through evaporation. 

The reason splashing your face accelerates this process is that water acts as a magnet for the surrounding air and will be pulled out of your skin if you don’t seal it in. As moisture evaporates from your skin, it causes dehydration. This dehydration caused by TEWL can disrupt your skin’s protective moisture barrier, which in turn can lead to even more dehydration. It’s a vicious cycle!

Harsh Minerals From Tap Water

Another way you’re damaging your skin by splashing it with tap water is by depositing harsh minerals and chemicals. This will vary depending on where you live, but it’s common for tap water to contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. While these are fine for drinking, they can irritate skin and exacerbate certain conditions like acne or eczema. 

On top of all this, tap water tends to have a higher pH than our skin—another factor that can cause irritation and disruption of your natural moisture barrier. 

Given all this, you might be left wondering, “If tap water is so damaging, how am I supposed to wash my face?” This is where toner comes in. After cleansing with a pH-balanced, sulfate-free face wash, I always recommend swiping an alcohol-free toner over the skin. This will balance the pH level of your skin while removing impurities left behind by tap water. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons you should be using an alcohol-free toner.

Removing Protective Products

It seems natural to splash your face with water midday to cool down or refresh. But, chances are you’re rinsing away your moisturizer and/or sunscreen. Not only does this remove important protective ingredients and leave your skin vulnerable, but it also sensitizes your skin to heat in the long run. By eroding your moisturizer, you’re leaving your skin without a barrier so it becomes more dehydrated and hot-feeling.

If you’re splashing your face with water first thing in the morning in place of cleansing, you may not be properly removing your nighttime products or your skin’s natural oils. This will also make your protective daytime ingredients less effective and leave your skin vulnerable.

What to Do Instead of Splashing Your Face

Now that you understand how splashing your face with water is actually harming your skin, here’s what you can do instead.

If You’re Feeling Hot and Want to Cool Down Midday

Cold temperatures can benefit the skin in a number of ways: they reduce inflammation and redness by restricting blood vessels, help prevent pigmentation, and can temporarily make pores appear tighter. Here are a few great ways to cool your skin down without causing any negative side effects.

  • Use a jade roller kept in the fridge
  • Use ice cubes made out of your favorite alcohol-free toner 
  • Apply a water-based gel mask kept in the fridge. If you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to disturb it, you can also try a reusable sheet mask with cooling gel inside. 
  • If you like tools and devices, I like the Joanna Vargas Magic Glow Wand (it has a cooling setting) or the Georgia Louise Cryo Freeze Tool
  • Of course, if you’re in a pinch, a bag of frozen peas will also do! 

If You Feel Sweaty or Grimy and Need a Refresh

There’s nothing worse than feeling sweaty and sticky, but again, simply splashing your face with water is not the solution! As I’ve said, it might make you feel better temporarily but will ultimately just lead to a cycle of dehydration and sensitization. 

Instead, try putting some of your toner in a spray bottle and misting your skin. I’m not a fan of traditional face mists because most of them are water-based and will cause TEWL, just like splashing your face with tap water. I remember, for example, when the Evian Water face mists were really popular a few years ago and shuddering. Remember, water acts as a magnet for the surrounding air and will be pulled out of your skin if you don’t seal it in. Have you ever licked your lips to relieve them of dryness, only to find that they keep getting drier and drier? It’s the same concept, and the only solution is to use a well-formulated lip balm with ingredients that will lock moisture into your lips so it doesn’t evaporate.

If you’re misting your skin with a toner, I really like Moisture Infusion Toner for this reason. It includes ingredients such as black cumin and raspberry seed oils, B3 (niacinamide), and sodium hyaluronate, the largest form of hyaluronic acid. These ingredients all help prevent TEWL to keep your skin happy and hydrated. Of course these days, skincare products are becoming more sophisticated so you can certainly find face mists on the market that are specifically created to prevent moisture from evaporating out of your skin. 

If You Want to Save Time or Don’t Like Cleansing in the Morning

Sorry to disappoint, but unfortunately, I don’t have any skincare “hacks” for you here! Cleansing your face in the morning takes about sixty seconds and has a lot of benefits.

If you’ve ever said something like, “My skin is actually worse when I cleanse in the morning, so I just splash it with water,” chances are you’re not using the right cleanser for your skin type. Regardless of your skin type, it’s so important to use a sulfate-free cleanser without artificial fragrances or dyes. Sulfates disrupt the skin’s natural pH causing dryness, irritation, and sensitivity.

Here are eight common cleansing mistakes you need to stop making.

I hope you found this post helpful! Hopefully, you come away with a better understanding of how water and moisture interact with the skin as well as a few helpful tips for cooling and refreshing your skin now that it’s summer.

The post Splashing Your Face With Water is Doing More Harm Than Good — Here’s Why appeared first on Expert Skin Advice from Renee Rouleau.

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Understanding Ingredient Percentages: What Product Labels Won’t Tell You

Now more than ever, consumers are educating themselves about skincare ingredient percentages so they can make informed decisions about the safety and efficacy of their products. Ingredient lists are often one of the first things people look at, but I’m here to tell you, they can be very confusing and misleading.

What is the “First Five” Rule?

You may or may not have heard of the First Five Rule. This rule claims that because the first five ingredients listed on a label have the highest percentages, they are ultimately what determines the true performance of a product. Those who follow this rule claim that any ingredients listed below the first five won’t have a meaningful effect on the skin, because they are included at too low a percentage. While it’s true that ingredients are generally listed in order of highest to lowest concentration, skin care formulations are incredibly nuanced. It’s almost impossible to tell how well an ingredient will perform based where it falls on the ingredient label. In this post, I hope to give you a new perspective and to teach you that skin care formulations are never black and white as we’d like to believe. Hopefully, this information will empower you to be a smarter skincare consumer!

Background of the INCI List

INCI stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. It’s a standardized system for listing ingredient names on cosmetic product labels. Because an ingredient can have different names depending on the country, using a standardized system eliminates confusion and makes international trade easier. INCI has been in place since the 1970s and is used in many major countries, including the USA, China, Japan and all of the EU. Ever wondered why the ingredients on your product label are listed under their scientific names? Now you know! You might also be interested in a few more facts about ingredient lists:

  • According to INCI, a skincare brand is required to print the ingredients on the packaging in the order of highest to lowest concentration.
  • However, once the list gets to ingredients that are included at a concentration of 1% or less, they no longer have to be in order.
  • The first ingredient is usually water or aloe (which is made up of mostly water). These often make up 70%–95% of the product, which is perfectly acceptable.
  • After that, the next four ingredients are typically included at concentrations between 3%–5%.
  • Listed below the first five ingredients, you can still find many performance-based actives along with thickeners, preservatives, fillers and everything else that makes up a product.

When a formulator is determining what percentage should be used, each ingredient is carefully considered based on information provided by the ingredient supplier:

  • The recommended use level
  • The range of use levels to achieve different effects
  • The clinically tested level based on an exact percentage

Why the “First Five” Rule Isn’t Always Right

In short, an ingredient doesn’t need to be listed in the top five to have a positive impact on your skin. This doesn’t mean the First Five Rule never applies, but basing assumptions on an INCI list is difficult under the best of circumstances.

There are many exceptions to the First Five Rule.

Examples of Ingredients That Don’t Require a High Percentage to Work

These ingredients may or may not be listed in the top five on the label and may or may not be in a concentration of less than 1% but can still be effective either way:


Many antioxidants can be quite potent in very small doses. When it comes to antioxidants, it’s particularly important to understand the complexity of our skin cells’ protection needs. Using just one type of antioxidant at a high percentage won’t adequately protect your skin against the many forms of ROS and RNS (free radicals) that contribute to premature cell aging. For comprehensive protection, your skin needs a variety of antioxidants. This could easily push some of these ingredients down past the top five, which certainly doesn’t mean that you aren’t benefitting.

Two good examples are lipochroman-6 and astaxanthin. These antioxidants should only be used in concentrations of a fraction of a percentage, which could put them pretty low on the ingredient list. So if you’re only paying attention to the first five ingredients, you’re completely overlooking the potency of these actives. If you’ve ever used my Firm + Repair Overnight Serum, you have seen how the color is bright orange. This comes from the astaxanthin, which is listed as the ninth ingredient on the label. Only a small amount is used to give off that color, yet it delivers a powerful dose of antioxidants to the skin. In fact, astaxanthin gives up to 10 times stronger free radical protection than beta carotene and 500 times more than vitamin E. It does its job at clinically tested levels of just 0.035%!
Serum for firming and repairing skin

Vitamin C

There are so many different kinds of Vitamin C, all of which have a different recommended use level depending on which form they are in. This can include acids, alcohols, esters or liposomal forms. The range can be very wide, starting at a fraction of a percent and going up to 20%. Here are five things to look for in a Vitamin C formula.

Vitamin A

Like Vitamin C, the recommended use level for Vitamin A will vary greatly depending on whether it’s in the form of an acid, alcohol, ester or liposome (for a time-released delivery). This means percentages will vary a lot. For example, prescription retinoids are usually at most 0.1% but are known to be much more potent than over-the-counter retinol, which typically includes a much higher percentage of Vitamin A. Each form has benefits and downsides, depending on the formula.


Glycerin is a powerful humectant that, based on the percentage used, can drastically affect a product. A high percentage (listed in the top five) would make a product sticky and would perform best in a serum, whereas a lower percentage that would fall further down on the list would be a nice addition in a toner or essence to maintain a lighter texture.

Collagen-boosting peptides

Some peptides have a very set recommended use level that has been determined by clinical testing. For example, most matrixyl peptides have a recommended use level of 2%-3%, since most studies have been performed at this level. Other peptides might have a whole range of recommended use levels. This range can be anywhere from 0.5%–10%, depending on the type of peptide.

Under Eye Creme


Unlike a lot of other active ingredients, niacinamide can have different effects on the skin depending on the percentage at which it’s included in a formula. For example, 0.5% can give skin a great energy boost; 2% can improve the skin’s barrier function, boost collagen and help with brightening. A study by the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest University also showed that at 2%, niacinamide can help control the skin’s oil production; at 4%-5%, niacinamide has been clinically proven to have significant brightening effects, even compared to a popular skin bleach called hydroquinone.

Exfoliating Acids (AHA/BHA)

Exfoliation acids can be effective in very small percentages depending on the product’s pH, but some formulas call for a higher percentage of acids more like what you’d find in a professional chemical peel. But even then, if the manufacturer doesn’t control the pH in the product, that high of a percentage becomes useless.

Plant stem cells

Plant stem cells are usually delivered via a liposomal delivery system or through solvents, such as alcohol. This means the same material can have two very different recommended use levels. A solvent can be used in a very small percentage while a liposomal delivery system can require a higher percentage—but both work the same.

Synthetic perfumes

Synthetic perfumes are usually included at a concentration of less than 1%, which puts them pretty low on the ingredient list. And yet, they are well-known for causing skin sensitivity, disrupting the skin’s moisture barrier and even causing allergic reactions. This goes to show that an ingredient doesn’t have to be high on the list to have an effect on your skin.


Preservatives are only used at concentrations of a few tenths of a percent so this brings it almost to the end of the list, but you certainly wouldn’t want to use a product without them if you want your products to be safe. A low percentage is all that is needed to work.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the percentage at which an ingredient is used in a formula depends on so many factors. For you, the skincare consumer, it’s important not to succumb to the instinct that more is always better. Hopefully, this information will empower you to make better purchasing choices and teach you not to rule out a great product because a product appears to have a low percentage. Casting judgment on a product just based on the first five ingredients is truly an inaccurate way of evaluating its content and performance.

As a skincare formulator, these are the things I consider when developing a new product:

  • What is the intent of this product?
  • What skincare problem am I looking to solve with this product?
  • What other ingredients aside from the top five am I trying to incorporate into the formula for combined benefits?
  • What percentages of ingredients are necessary for efficacy in the formula?
  • What delivery vehicles do I want to use to get the ingredients into the skin so they can go to work?
  • How are the ingredients going to be stabilized?
  • What does the formula taste like? (As I mentioned in this post, I have always used my tongue to determine certain traits of a skincare product, particularly as it relates to a products pH.)

For me as a skincare formulator, this is a very exciting time in which new technology is becoming available at an incredible rate. We are also dealing with serious science where constant interaction between product chemistry and the skin’s biochemistry is occurring. It is in our best interest to gain a thorough understanding of the powerful tools product manufacturers are putting in our hands. Then, and only then, will we be able to truly appreciate and apply the vast possibilities in the treatment of skin’s imperfections through innovative product development.

Why I choose not to disclose percentages in my product line:

It’s important to know that some brands have used the opportunity of sharing the percentage of ingredients as part of their unique selling position in the market so they have a point of difference from competitors. This does not mean that the product will be more effective as percentages are just not the only element of the ingredient having efficacy. If someone says to you, “…that ingredient is only effective at _____%”, this is just not always an accurate statement. As for my line and belief system, I choose not to disclose percentages as they are proprietary formulas as part of our company’s intellectual property. However, I can assure you that each product that I develop has my stamp of approval for giving results and creating positive change within the skin. Simply put, they work and I’m super proud that Renée Rouleau Skin Care has 24 years of a proven track record. 🙂

My best advice I can give you is to shop with brands that are transparent and put a premium on integrity. If a brand cares about these values, chances are they’ll put a lot of effort into ensuring their products are formulated well. Unfortunately, anyone can tell you anything and the only way you can truly test the efficacy of a product’s formulation is to take it to a lab.

Read more about understanding ingredient labels.
And you might enjoy learning about how I’m unsure of how the main ingredient works in our #1 best-selling product.

Chem Safety Pro: INCI List

The post Understanding Ingredient Percentages: What Product Labels Won’t Tell You appeared first on Expert Skin Advice from Renee Rouleau.

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