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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Clean, Non-Toxic, Hypoallergenic: Do You Know What These Skincare Marketing Terms Really Mean?

The world of skincare marketing can be confusing, to say the least. With so many terms used to describe the products we buy, it can be hard to know what they really mean and how much stock we should be putting into them. In this post, my goal is to demystify some of the most common marketing terms found in skincare to help you become a smarter, more informed consumer. Let’s go!

Product Performance Terms

These are all common terms used to describe what a product will do for your skin. They have to do with the visible effect a product has on the skin.


I’ve always viewed bright skin as skin with an even, uniform tone that’s free from hyperpigmentation or dark spots. Some people may also lump “glowing” in with brightening. Glowing refers to skin being light reflective and having good circulation

There are three main ways a product can add brightness to the skin: 1) increase cellular turnover, 2) degrade melanin pigment within the skin for an overall more even skin tone, and 3) prevent excess melanin from being formed in the first place. 

Some of the main brightening ingredients include exfoliating acids, vitamin C, and retinol. I formulated the Pro Results Power Serum with exfoliating acids–glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids to be exact. They work together to brighten and smooth the surface of the skin. As for vitamin C, you can find this ingredient in the Vitamin C&E Treatment, which contains both water and lipid-soluble forms to penetrate within the epidermal layers of the skin. For retinol, try the Advanced Resurfacing Serum. It’s a retinol cream that’s suitable for sensitive skin and those whose skin has been unable to tolerate prescription retinoids.


There are a few ways a product can provide firmness to the skin. First, it can create a film over the skin that causes it to contract and become tighter. This gives the instant perception of firming. Skin also feels firmer when it’s hydrated because it will look plumper. 

If you’re looking for more long-term firming effects, look to peptides. Peptides stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which are two important structural components of firm skin. This is important because both begin to deplete as we age. You won’t see instant effects using peptides, but with consistent use, the benefits will be well worth it down the road!

You can find peptides in the Firm + Repair Overnight Serum, along with microalgae and superfruits to improve visible firmness and repair surface effects of daily pollution and environmental damage.

Hydrating or Plumping

Hydration is a term that people use to refer to water content within the skin. When your skin is being hydrated, it’s taking on increased water content, which leads to a plumping effect. The best way to achieve this is to use humectants, which are a class of ingredients that attract water from the air and pull it into the skin. Effective humectants include hyaluronic acid and glycerin

You can find hyaluronic acid in multiple products, including the Daily Mattifying Solution, Skin Drink Concentrate, and Moisture Infusion Toner. As for glycerin, it’s included in the Moisture Protecting Cleanser, Bio Calm Repair Masque, and more.

Calming or Soothing

This one probably resonates with you if you have redness in your skin or if your skin becomes easily inflamed when you try new products. Calming or soothing products typically contain anti-inflammatory ingredients that are meant to tackle visible redness as well as symptoms of inflammation such as burning or stinging. They help cool the skin down or, as I like to say, “put out the fire.”

There are tons of great calming ingredients out there, but one class of ingredients that’s really up and coming in this area is algae. I choose to formulate with red marine algae in my line and love it for its ability to soothe, protect, and strengthen the skin’s barrier. Try it in the Phytolipid Comfort Creme, which reduces visible dryness, flaking, and redness. 

Anti Aging

This one is a bit trickier because it’s really about prevention, so you don’t always see instant results. Because of this, I’d divide anti-aging products into two categories: those that give an instant boost and those that give results further down the road.

Some ingredients (in fact a lot of the ingredients mentioned above) instantly make your skin look better and, therefore, more youthful. If your skin looks brighter, smoother, or plumper, it makes you feel better instantly. On the other hand, you have ingredients that need to be used over long periods of time. You won’t see them working immediately but when used consistently they can actually prevent some of the visible signs of aging that would otherwise naturally appear. Read my beginner’s guide to using retinol or retinoids.

Consumer Preference

These terms all have to do with product classification and consumer preference. It can definitely be a confusing space because a lot of these don’t have legal definitions, but I’m here to help you navigate them!


“Clean” has no legal definition. It can vary from company to company and from person to person. What you consider clean really comes down to what you’re personally comfortable with, You have to find a brand you trust that resonates with that.

For example, some people feel silicones are clean because they have very pure chemistry and are unlikely to cause a bad reaction on the skin. Other people, however, may not feel silicones are clean because they tend to be synthetically processed, meaning they aren’t strictly raw materials (such as honey or other unprocessed foods). 

Learn more about my thoughts on the clean beauty movement


This is a skincare marketing term that’s especially problematic because labeling your product “non-toxic” implies that other brands may be formulating with toxins you’ve chosen to leave out. In reality, it’s illegal to put toxins into cosmetics in the U.S. I know a lot of people feel that the cosmetics industry in the U.S. is unregulated, but there are certain standards you must abide by to be a legitimate brand. If you’re following these standards, you’re formulating your products safely and are never using ingredients in a way that could be toxic to humans.

Most big beauty brands or conglomerates conduct safety assessments for their products by having a toxicologist review not only the final product, but each individual ingredient to make sure they’re being used properly and aren’t interacting with one another in a potentially harmful way. This toxicology testing is required in Europe but optional in the U.S., so the responsibility is on the brand to make sure their products are safe. Again, it’s important to buy from companies you trust!

Natural or All-Natural

This is definitely a confusing claim as it’s pretty open to interpretation. Much like “clean,” there is no legal definition for natural. When a brand makes this claim I’m often left wondering what they mean. Do they mean the raw materials they use aren’t processed? That they haven’t added anything from synthetic chemistry? Are they adding things from natural sources then chemically modifying them? It’s just not clear. If a brand identifies themselves or their products as natural or all-natural, it’s on them to explain what that means. 

There is an international standard that is trying to become more mainstream for calculating the percent natural origin of a product. This standard takes into consideration the original ingredient, what chemistry has been applied (if any), and which ingredients are completely synthetic. The problem with this is that people automatically assume a product with a higher natural percentage is better or safer than something synthetic, and that’s not always the case. In fact, a lot of synthetic ingredients are used to make cosmetic products safer. The claim that something is natural can be very misleading when it’s used for marketing. 


This is one of few claims that are highly regulated. It doesn’t speak to an entire product, but rather to the ingredients that make up a product. It speaks to the cultivation practice the ingredient undergoes and how it’s grown, cultivated, and processed.

In order to claim a product is organic, it has to contain a certain percentage of certified organic ingredients according to the USDA.


This claim can be made when a product doesn’t contain any fragrance material at all. This includes synthetic perfumes, essential oils, and anything that is added specifically to provide a pleasant scent. This could even be a pleasant-smelling fruit extract. 


Unscented is a little different in that, while a product hasn’t been formulated to have a beautiful scent, it can still contain ingredients that have been added to neutralize unpleasant odors. So while these products don’t usually have much of a scent, they’re not technically considered fragrance-free.


The term oil-free means just that—a product that literally doesn’t contain any oils. To get a little technical, oils are officially classified as any compound made up of triglycerides. This includes things like marula oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, etc. 

That said, there are ingredients that aren’t made up of triglycerides but intrinsically still have an oily or greasy feel to them. A company can include these in a product and still claim it’s oil-free. There has actually been some recent litigation around this because some consumers have felt duped by the oil-free claim. Yes, the product may be free of triglycerides, but it can still contain other greasy-feeling ingredients that make consumers feel like they aren’t getting what they were looking for from an oil-free product.


This is one that most people think they understand, but there still seem to be some misconceptions. At its most basic level, comedogenicity is the likelihood something will cause comedones (clogged pores). Today, there are two methods used for comedogenic testing. 

In the first method, a product or ingredient is applied to the skin on a person’s upper back. Over the course of hours and weeks, clinicians will check for an acne response and even take a small biopsy from the site to see if there are any comedones in the area. The problem with this test is that the skin on the back doesn’t translate directly to the skin on a person’s face, so it’s not the most accurate.

The second method is a clinical testing format where the results are evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist. Participants are graded on whether they already have mild, moderate, or severe acne lesions. The product or ingredient is placed on the skin over the course of four to six weeks after which the skin is evaluated for the number and type of lesions. This is then compared to the baseline.

The good thing about this test is that it uses a real-life model and translates much more directly to how people use products in real life. The drawback is that, when ingredients are tested for comedogenicity, they’re applied to the skin at 100 percent concentration. When an ingredient is used in a skincare product, it’s never at 100 percent, so this test doesn’t take into account how an ingredient will be formulated. What’s the delivery system? How does it interact with the other ingredients in the formula? None of this is taken into consideration, which is why the “comedogenicity scores” assigned to ingredients (which a lot of consumers look at) are not always realistic. Keep in mind that it’s very expensive to test an entire product for comedogenicity, so most brands just go off of individual ingredient scores. Learn more about skincare ingredient percentages

Product Testing

These terms relate to how product claims are tested as well as product safety.


In order for a company to claim their product is hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, so especially good for sensitive or reactive skin), it has to undergo what’s called human repeat insult patch testing or HRIPT. 

It’s not a perfect test of course, because the number of subjects is limited, but the benefit is that it’s performed on actual human subjects. Basically, 100-200 people with different skin types are selected and the product is repeatedly applied to their skin. The subjects’ skin is then evaluated for a response to determine if the product is in any way irritating, sensitizing, or elicits an allergic reaction.  

If the results are good, you can say your product is for sensitive skin. To claim that it’s hypoallergenic, you have to take it a step further and have the results reviewed by a dermatologist. This is where dermatologist-tested and dermatologist-approved come in.


This comes from the HRIPT test mentioned above. During the test, you can say, “I want a dermatologist to review my report, and put a stamp on it.” That’s dermatologist-approved, and now a product can be labeled as such. 

Another way to look at “dermatologist-approved” is if you have a dermatologist test the product themselves, or test the product with their patients. This is basically a form of consumer testing and means dermatologists have said, “This is a great product that we recommend to patients all the time.” 


Dermatologist-tested basically takes dermatologist-approved one step further. Instead of having a clinician conduct testing, such as an HRIPT, you would have a dermatologist overseeing it and making the final assessment. Another way to think of this is that a product has been dermatologist-reviewed.


This is a claim-substantiation test, meaning it could be testing any number of marketing claims. The important thing about “clinically-tested” is that it means a company has had a third-party lab or consumer product testing facility do unbiased testing of their product. 

For All Skin Types

For some brands, it’s important to have versatile products that can be used by people with a wide variety of skin types. There are a few ways a brand can get this claim for a product. The first option is clinical testing. In a clinical setting, the product has to be tested on a wide variety of skin types and monitored for any unwanted side effects. The second option is consumer product testing. To do this, a company needs to bring in a third-party organization that sends their product out to consumers and sets up the testing.

So there you have it! These are some of the most common skincare marketing terms and what they really mean. As you can see, it’s not always black and white. I hope this post offers some insight and makes you more confident about choosing the skincare products that are right for you.

Next, learn whether medical and professional-grade skincare products are really better.

The post Clean, Non-Toxic, Hypoallergenic: Do You Know What These Skincare Marketing Terms Really Mean? appeared first on Expert Skin Advice from Renee Rouleau.

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