Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: Secret Key Snail & EGF Repairing Toner, Essence, Emulsion & Eye Cream

I have reviewed the cream from this line in the past, Secret Key Snail & EGF Repairing Cream - I have actually started to run out of the essence and emulsion and have cut open the bottles with a scalpel so I figured I'd best do a review of the full line before they run out!

Brand: Secret Key
Name: Snail & EGF Repairing Toner, Essence, Emulsion and Eye Cream
Price: Toner $6.34, Essence $5.76, Emulsion $6.34, Cream $5.95, Eye Cream $9.76
Where to buy: Koreadepart (Toner, Essence, Emulsion, Face Cream, Eye Cream)

EGF stands for 'Epidermal Growth Factor'; it's a growth factor (naturally occurring substance, usually a protein or steroid hormone; in these products it's a protein) that stimulates cell growth and kickstarts the cell renewal/repairing process. EGF can be found in human platelets, macrophages, urine, saliva, milk and plasma. The main active ingredients in these items are snail extract (1%), caviar extract, non-germ pork placenta, white mushroom extract and lanoline.

Snail extract is used in cosmetics for its repairing benefits - it strengthens the skin and moisture barrier, so skin holds onto moisture and hydration longer and breaks in the barrier are less frequent (breaks in the moisture barrier causes dry skin, irritation, breakouts, etc.). Snail extract, to some extent, repairs damage on and in the skin - skin looks brighter, more even toned and healthier. The benefits of snail mucin/mucus was discovered when someone (a company, person, etc? I forget.) wondered why the hands of paddy field/rice workers were so smooth, even toned and healthy-looking.

Caviar extract is debated about whether it has any benefits in cosmetic products. It contains proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, lipids, vitamins and minerals, which, assuming they can penetrate and effect your skin, means your skin is more hydrated, plump, soft, healthy, the moisture/skin barrier is repaired and more radiant. Studies done by Aqua Bio Technologies (a cosmetic company that features caviar extract in their cosmetics) for their Aquabeautine XL line showed that women between the ages of 40 and 65 showed improvement in wrinkles, fine lines, roughness, dullness, hyperpigmentation and sagging after 12 weeks (source). However, the means and actual ingredients of 'caviar extract' can vary from company to company; some companies actually use real caviar in their products, some use the fluid extracted from fertilized fish eggs and whether the caviar comes from salmon or sturgeon can depend on the company too.

Pork placenta is used in cosmetics for stimulating cell growth and renewal, leading to softer, more supple, radiant skin. The use of pig placenta (as opposed to other animals such as cow and sheep) has been shown to be more compatible to humans and more receptive. The cell renewal benefits of snail extract and pork placenta slow the visible signs of ageing when used regularly and over time.

White mushroom extract is used because white mushrooms contains lots of vitamins like Vitamin B and D, fatty acids, minerals like selenium, copper and potassium and antioxidants. These components are proven to prevent the signs of ageing, brighten the skin and hydrate it. Mushrooms contain a polysaccharide that is equally beneficial in hydrating and providing a plumping effect to the skin as hyaluronic acid. Vitamin D repairs the skin and its skin barrier. Some mushrooms contain kojic acid, which is a natural skin lightener that inhibits the production of melamine and evens out the tone of skin. Mushrooms also contain antioxidants which help fight against free radicals, damaged cells that spark a chain reaction in other cells that leave them damaged and causes visible signs of ageing.




All the product packaging is the same - a creamy main colour with brown lid/screw top and writing. It's not particularly cute, nor particularly boring but it reminds me of cocoa butter and chocolate! The little snail on each product is in metallic gold.

You get 50ml of the essence, which is a bit more than most serums (usually 30ml). This essence comes in a pump-style bottle.

You get 150ml of the emulsion, with the same product packaging and dispersion method as the toner, except the hole is larger, the full size of the neck. Because the emulsion is quite thick, it doesn't drip out like the toner - you have to shake/tap the bottle and squeeze a blob out, but it was almost always too much for my face and neck.

You get 30ml of the eye cream, which is a little more than the average (usually around 15ml-25ml). It's in a squeezy type tube with screwtop lid.

The toner is a watery substance and clear. It smells like most of the other Secret Key Snail & EGF items - it's not really floral, fruity, sweet, etc...just kind of clean and nice? The toner is meant to reset the levels of the surface of your skin back to PH neutral after cleansing (where most cleansers are alkaline) ready for the other products you'll put on your skin afterwards as well as give a bit of hydration. Many Western toners are for astringent purposes and contains alcohol usually. The toner spreads and absorbs easily in a few seconds. This will be the third thing to run out - the first thing that ran out was the face cream, then the essence and now that I've sawed the bottles in half, I can see that the toner will run out before the emulsion.

The essence is clear and smells the same as the toner. It has a more goopy consistency, and if you try to split the amount you've pumped out, it goes all stringy, a bit like glue. Some people have said it feels more like snail slime than the other products but I don't really think that and it doesn't really bother me; like I said, it's just a bit more goopy that the others. It's not sticky when you apply it to your face though, and again, spreads and absorbs easily. The purpose of the essence is moisture and the general benefits of snail extract, white mushroom extract, pork placenta and caviar extract (shown above in the 'Product Information' part) which is brightening and evening of the skin tone, encouraging cell growth and renewal, repairing the skin's moisture barrier and plumping the skin. I use two half pumps, one on each side of my face since it's hard to split one full pump due to the goopiness. Other than the face cream, this was the first product to run out. I sawed the bottle in half and was able to get about a week's extra supply by using a cotton bud to retrieve it! *hobobeauty*

The emulsion is thicker and creamier than the essence, with a milky white colour. This actually smells more citrusy than the rest of the products for some reason! Again, it absorbs really fast. This is the last product that will run out, other than the eye cream, which I started using after I started the other products. I actually ended up using too much of this product almost every night due to the opening of the bottle, as mentioned above, yet it's the last thing to run out? ...Okay.

This is the eye cream. I was using Clinique's All About Eyes when I first started using the Secret Key Snail & EGF Toner, Essence, Emulsion and Face Cream. I ordered the eye cream to go with it and when I used up my Clinique one, switched to it so I started using the Secret Key Snail & EGF Eye Cream after I started the rest of the line. I'm about halfway through the eye cream. It has the same brightening, evening, repairing and hydration properties as the cream. I started using this cream after I used the Balance Syn-ake Eye Cream to lighten my dark circles considerably so I was worried they'd darken again after switching to a new eye cream. I'm happy to say this eye cream maintained them and maintains the hydration in my eye area too. The eye cream doesn't really smell of anything and it absorbs and spreads easily. However, when combined with certain products that aren't part of the Snail & EGF line it can actually sting a little...more specifically, the Aurelia Revitalise and Glow Serum, I haven't tried anything else.
The whole line delivers hydration, brightening, cell growth/renewal and skin barrier strengthening. My skin has no dry flakes or tightness whilst using this line. Applying the skincare in the morning makes my skin feel hydrated and soft all day with or without makeup. At night I apply a couple of other products for night time hydration and again, the sensation lasts. In the morning, before makeup or not, I used to apply the toner, essence, emulsion, eye cream and face cream. Nowadays I use Clinique's Liquid Facial Soap in Extra Mild, Clarifying Lotion #1, the toner, emulsion, eye cream and Astral face cream now a couple of the products have run out. At night I applied the toner, essence, emulsion, eye cream, face oil (pure rice bran oil) and Astral moisturiser and nowadays I use the Clinique soap and Clarifying Lotion again, the toner, emulsion, eye cream, face oil and Astral cream.
I really like this skincare line - the benefits are great, actually work and the line is super cheap yet high quality. They don't feel the need to charge through the roof with ingredients like snail extract, EGF, pork placenta, white mushroom extract or caviar extract. There's a lot of higher end lines toting caviar extract as a luxury ingredient charging 10 times the price. The skincare line is great for my dry skin and I can imagine it's good for dry combination skin if you only use the toner, essence, emulsion, eye cream and face cream as opposed to adding in extra products like I do at night. With oilier skin types, you can actually swap the Snail & EGF Face Cream for the Snail & EGF Gel instead. I'd definitely give this line a 5/5 for price, quality, packaging (not cute but kind of chic looking) and durability. It's a great, affordable introduction to the delights of Korean skincare. The only niggle is that it's a bit hard to get, since you have to order through Koreadepart or eBay.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review: Balance Active Formula Snake Venom Eye Cream

I've got a couple of weeks usage left of my current eye cream so I figured I'd do a review of it! Please read on!
Brand: Balance
Name: Active Formula Snake Venom Eye Cream
Price: £1.99
Where to buy: Home Bargains, Savers, Bodycare, almost any discount drugstore in the UK or failing that, eBay UK or eBay worldwide.

I picked this eye cream up as I'd just ran out of Clinique's All About Eyes that I got during Bonus Time. I hadn't used eye creams at all until then but I've been converted as I like the extra moisture it gives my undereye area and if it can stave off wrinkles for any amount of time, all the better. I had just ordered Secret Key's Snail & EGF Repair Eye Cream so whilst waiting for that to arrive from Korea, I just wanted a cheap eye cream that would keep me going for the time being. Who knew that would lead me to what I just might call my Holy Grail eye cream?
Like I say, I only picked this up because it was the cheapest eye cream I could find. I figured that even if it just gave a bit extra moisture it'd do its job until my Secret Key one arrived. The packaging stands out a bit amongst other eye creams; it's interesting rather than cute or cool. It reminds me of bees though, which is strange as it's 'Snake Venom'. I guess it could be Mangrove Snakes though? Either way, I think it's supposed to look cool and advanced. I'd gone into Boots to check their cheaper eye creams and the cheapest I could find was Olay, I think, at £10 or £15. I was also interested in Holland & Barrett's Royal Jelly Eye Cream at £10 but I thought I'd try the cheapest first haha!

You've probably already noticed but this eye cream doesn't actually have snake venom in it. It has Syn-ake, a synthetic compound that mimics the paralysing effects of snake venom, effectively freezing wrinkles. I have no idea what 'Eyepro 3X' is though...a quick Google shows it's an active blend of ingredients meant to reduce puffiness, rejuvenate eyes, is anti aging and minimises dark circles. It contains an extract from a stressed yeast ferment, the adaptogen Rhodiola rosea and betaine isolated from sugar beets. To be honest, I never trust psuedo-scientific blends of ingredients with trademarks next to them but I appreciate they actually say what the blend consists of rather than just 'science and magic'.

This eye cream is dermatologically tested and even has clinical claims - it promises to reduce dark circles by 65% and reduce under-eye puffiness or bags by 60%. I'd just like to point out that a lot of mid to high end cosmetic brands like to reason that their items are expensive because they are dermatologically tested, fragrance free, clinically tested and include exclusive ingredients and active formulas that are top of the range and usually trademarked/patented...and this cream promises that all for the price of £1.99. Still, they're big claims to make for such a cheap item!
The cream itself is white, relatively fragrance-free and lightweight. I wouldn't quite say it's a gel-cream but it's definitely light, spreads and absorbs easily.

When I first bought this cream, I was hesitant to buy such a cheap cream as I was afraid it'd irritate my skin. My skin isn't sensitive 99% of the time but I didn't know with such 'cheap' ingredients. When I first applied this cream, it felt kind of...warm? Not stinging, but I did worry it was the start of an irritation. Nothing else came of it though and after a couple of days of using the cream, the initial warmness subsided.
In this case, 'Durability' will mean how well the cream actually works. This cream actually works pretty goddamn well. I expected barely anything from this cream and was amused to see how it worked compared to its clinical claims. In just 10 days (I wanna say between 1 or 2 weeks, I'm not quite sure), I could already tell my dark circles were significantly reduced! Like, I actually wish I had taken before and after photos as I'm 100% sure you would be able to see the difference.

I never considered that I get puffiness or undereye bags unless I don't get enough sleep so I can't comment on that claim. Again, I can't comment on how well it works against wrinkles or crows feet either. However, my undereye area looks significantly more fresh, bright and awake. When I wake up in the morning, my undereyes are almost the same colour as the rest of my facial skin.

I'd always considered my dark circles were pretty average but I can admit that they'd always show through concealer after a few hours due to the makeup fading and sometimes when I'd go to remove my makeup, they'd almost look like bruises in the shadows, with the amount of purple, yellow and green discolouration. I always chalked it up to having pale skin, since the blood raising to the surface, veins and fluid are seen more through paler skin. However, I can safely say I consider my undereye area improved at least 65%, if not more, so I am pleasantly surprised it holds up to its clinical claims. On the other hand, after using Clinique's All About Eyes (which I need to review), I didn't notice any difference to my eye area except maybe a bit more hydration, which is why I started to use eye creams.

I didn't expect any difference in my dark circles so this cream is pretty amazing, even more so for the price. There's brands that would charge £20-£30 for this eye cream and similarly, people would expect to pay that for these results. I can safely say I didn't expect such a great eye cream when I picked this up for £1.99 in Bodycare. My Secret Key eye cream has arrived and I'm equally eager to try that out when this one runs out but I'm also worried that if the results aren't as good for the Secret Key one, my dark circles will return. Unless the Secret Key one is as good or better, along with the eye cream samples I got in my work leaving gift (which I shall review as I use them), I will definitely continue buying this Balance one. I'd recommend this to anyone because for £1.99, what do you have to lose? 5 stars for me!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Die Milch 'Mama' Lyrics - Kanji, Romaji & English Translation

Couple of translation notes:
Japanese mothers often refer to themselves as 'mama' and the dialogue (quoted bits under each verse/stanza) are from the mother's point of view.

Die Milch 'Mama'
Lyrics & music: Coco
Arrangement & programming: Masahiro




Mama ママの夢は私の夢
Mama あなたを喜ばせたくて
Mama 私はいつも無理をした
Mama, mama, mama おぼれそうなの
Mama 本当はもう踊りたくない
Mama でも嫌われたくないのよ
Mama 一度でいいの私をほめてきゅっとただ抱きしめて


Mama ママの為に頑張るよ
Mama 喜ぶ顔が見たいから
Mama きょうねプロデューサーに声かけられたの
Mama ママも知ってる人みたいだけど
Mama ママの言う通りにしていれば私はもっと愛されるの?

Mama mama mama



Mukashi mama wa yumemita
Ako ga re no BAREE DANSAA
Demo ashi o kegashita mama wa
Musume no watashi ni takushita
「Anata wa mama no takaramono yo
Kagayakeru PURIMADONNA ni naru no yo」

Soto de tabete wa dame yo
Karada no RAIN ga kuzureru wa
Hora RESSUN ni okureru deshou
Karada o hiyasu fuku wa no yo
「Anata wa mama no ikiutsushi yo
Demo madamada wakai koro no watashi ni wa oitsukenai」

Mama, mama no yume wa watashi no yume
Mama, anata o yorokeba setakute
Mama, watashi wa itsumo muri o shita
Mama, mama, mama oboresou na no
Mama, hontou wa mou odoritakunai
Mama, demo kirawaretakunai no yo
Mama, ichido de ii no watashi o homete kyutto tada dakishimete

Soto ni wa mama mitai na mamatachi ga ippai miteru wa
O keshou to egao no ura ni wa shitto no nioi ga shite kuru wa
「Mama wa ne AIDORU ni naritakatta no.
Demo papa to ne deatte anata ga umarete yume yabureta no.」

Mama, mama no tame ni ganbaru you
Mama, yorokobu kao ga mitaikara
Mama, kyou ne PURODYUSSA ni koe kakerareta no
Kondo futari yukkuri hanashi youtte
Hitori de itte daijoubu?
Mama, mama no shitteru hito mitai dakedo
Mama, mam no iu toori ni shite ireba watashi wa motto aisareru no?

Mama, mama, mama


English translation:

Once upon a time my mother dreamed,
She longed to be a ballet dancer.
But she injured her foot
So it was entrusted to me, her daughter
"You are your mother's precious treasure.
You're going to shine like a primadonna."

Eating out is no good for you
Your bodyline will be ruined
You see, you'll be late to your lesson
You'll become cold, wear more clothes!
"You're the spitting image of me,
But you don't match up to me in my early years."

Mama, my mother's dream is my dream
Mama, I wanted to please you
Mama, I always did the impossible
Mama, mama, mama, I'm drowning...
Mama, I really do not want to dance any more
Mama, but I don't want to be hated
Mama, I want you to hug me tightly and praise me just once...

Outside I see many mothers like you
I fully look like you now
You can sense the jealousy behind the makeup and smiles
"Your mother wanted to be an idol.
But when I met your father and you were born, my dreams were shattered."

Mama, I'll work hard for mother
Mama, I want to see your delighted face
Mama, I applied to a producer today about my voice
He slowly took me aside and wanted to have a private talk with me later
Is it alright to go alone?
Mama, he looks like someone you might have known
Mama, if I do as you say, will I be loved more?

Mama, mama, mama