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Double Cleansing: Is This the Secret to Flawless Skin?

Another Japanese beauty secret unfolds, it is called Double Cleansing.

The backstory. This happened on a short weekend getaway with my girlfriends in Bangkok. Three girls, stuck in a cozy little room made smaller with an additional rollaway bed. Yes, we paid extra to cram in one room, sleep on separate beds and share one bathroom. The need to climb over each other's beds to get to our luggage bags, the toilet and the front door made this a, surprisingly, bonding holiday. Beds sprawled with our own personal collection of beauty products followed by countless verbal statements of 'you should try this' is what happens when you travel with a bunch of girls who are beauty fanatics. As I dug into my toiletries bag, I found a cream cleanser that I (tried and disliked) was about to toss out. I don't like cream-based cleansers. Both my girlfriends stopped me instantaneously and yelled 'Wait. Don't throw it out. You can use it for double cleansing'.

The logic
Our face is the only part of our body that is exposed to environmental elements all day long. Dust, bacteria and toxic particles in the air come in contact with perspiration and oils that secrete from the skin. Once in contact, the skin's pores capture the particles from the air in contact and lock them in, much like a canvas holds paint.

What is double cleansing?
Double cleansing is a two-step facial cleansing method that aims to purge both oil-based and water-based impurities.

First step is to remove oil-based impurities from your face. This require a cleanser that can melt away and lift off excess sebum and makeup from the skin's surface. These kind of cleansers usually come as cleansing oils, cream or milk.

Second step is to purify the skin by removing water-based impurities like dirt, dust, dead skin and perspiration from your skin's surface. This requires a cleanser that can envelop the impurities in a rich lather, carry and wash away all remaining impurities with rinsing. These kinds of cleansers usually come as soaps, gels and cleansing foam.

The Verdict
This skin cleansing regime has been practiced by Japanese women for many centuries. It started as a method to remove stubborn Geisha makeup, the Japanese traditional white metallic makeup which was toxic and known to traumatise the skin. Over generations, it has become part of Japanese women's daily beauty regime for amazing, flawless complexion.

Double cleansing is worth a try.

Human+Kind: Shampoo+Bodywash & Conditioner

This is probably one of the best shampoo+bodywash and conditioner combinations I have tried. Perfect for people on the go. Last week, I went on a short weekend shopping holiday with my girlfriends. I grabbed this attractive pair and added them to my toiletries bag - for this review.

Made in the EU, Human+Kind creates gentle skincare products that are multi-functional and price conscious. Their products are blended with natural ingredients and made with no petrochemicals, no animal testing, paraben free and SLS free.

Human+Kind Shampoo+Bodywash is 99.6% natural and specially formulated for people with sensitive skin, hair and scalp. Its natural ingredients of aloe vera, marshmallow root and calendula flower extract are known to soothe and comfort dry and irritated hair and skin.

Result: I love this 2in1 shampoo + body wash. Besides its functional practicality, this clear gel shampoo really does the job.  Being labelled as Apple & Herbs, this does have a strong yet pleasant botanical and fruity scent. It lathers well and does not leave my skin dry after wash. It is lightweight and leaves a refreshing scent behind. My hair feels clean and fresh.

Sidenote: One of my girlfriends, who also tried the shampoo, felt it did not lather enough for her. Personally, this shampoo lathered very well for me. Look at my hand in this photo. It was taken right after I added a little water and rubbed my hands together.

Okay, so don't expect a head full of bubbles or anything like that. It is not how shampoos made with natural ingredients take effect.

What makes shampoo bubble up anyway? Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ("sulfates" or "SLS" for short) are two main ingredients used by manufacturers to make shampoos, conditioners, cleansers and soaps foam and bubble. Unfortunately, they are also the most dangerous to our health. Sulfates can cause severe skin irritation and are clinically proven as carincogens (which are directly linked to cancer development). Remember? Human+Kind products are free of SLS.

Human+Kind Conditioner is, again, 99.6% natural and formulated for people with sensitive hair and scalp. Its main ingredients of aloe vera, grape seed oil, cotton seed oil, cucumber seed oil, sunflower seed oil and marigold flower oil help smooth, condition and strengthen hair.

Result: This is a great pairing to the above - Human+Kind Shampoo+Bodywash. The scent is amazingly similar to the shampoo. This cream conditioner moisturised my hair, helped detangle knots and did not weigh hair down like most conditioners do.

I also love the soft, matte plastic tube packaging; it makes handling these products very easy. Human+Kind's signature pattern packaging is also attractive. Personally, this simple, no-nonsense pair have found their space in my go-to travel toiletries bag.

Retail: S$25 per tube

Available at Superberry@Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, #03-29, or simply shop online at

How to Choose the Right Hair Brush for Your Hair?

When it comes to combating hair problems like limpness, frizziness and greasy scalp, a lot of emphasis is placed on choosing the right shampoo and conditioner. But ever wondered if you are using the right hairbrush for your hair? You might just be using the wrong tools - not products. With so many different brush types on the market, it can be confusing to know which brush does what and which ones suit your hair type.

To determine the right brush for your hair, let's look at some basic brush types and their bristles.

Paddle Brush
The everyday brush. The paddle brush, also known as the the detangler, comes in many shapes - oval, rectangle and square. Until recently, brands like Tangle Teezer and Scaredoo have revolutionized paddle brushes making them a fashionable accessory. These new brushes look like odd-shaped bars of soap with teeth that comes in a variety of prints and colors. Perfect for all hair types.

Round Brush
Best all-round brush that hair professionals use. Great for creating smooth, shiny and bouncy hair; no matter straight or curly hair. When used with a hair dryer, a round brush can create desired curl and volume giving hair that extra oomph. Most traditional round brushes come with a wooden barrel. For longer lasting curls, choose a round brush with a vented ceramic barrel. Perfect for medium to long hair. For shorter hair, you can choose a smaller size round brush.

Denman Brush
This classic semi-curved brush is so popular that it is known throughout the world by its company's name. It is simply a curved brush with round-ended nylon pins on an anti-static rubber pad. When used with a hairdryer, this brush gives a soft bend to hair ends and creates shine working well with bob cuts. Perfect for all hair types, especially short and fine hair.

Wide Tooth Comb
As the name suggests, this is a comb with teeth wide apart that helps to detangle both wet and dry hair preventing breakage. It works well as a shower comb when washing hair to evenly distribute shampoo and conditioner. Perfect for all hair types, especially thick and coarse hair.

Fine Tooth Comb
I refer to this as the 'uncle' comb. A comb with teeth set very close together and that is often seen sticking out the back pocket of a man (usually older, hence the term uncle), or call it the Grease comb. Like in the movie, this comb is used to create a certain look be it a high back-combed beehive (like Sandy played by Olivia Newton-John) or a slick back wet gel look (like Danny played by John Travolta). Perfect for hair teasing and styling.

Next, we need to decide on the right brush bristles.

Natural Bristles
When it comes to brush bristles, natural means hog hair. True boar bristle brushes are made from 100% natural wild boar hair. They are usually packed together tight and feel stiff with a little flexibility. Boar hair is similar to human hair. It grips hair better, effective for cleaning hair shaft, follicle and scalp, and also distributes oil evenly through hair strands for shinier, smoother, healthier hair. People with thick and coarse hair may find natural boar bristles too soft to comb through dense hair mass and contact scalp. Hence, this type of bristles are suitable for fine to normal hair textures. The downside? 100% natural bristle brushes are not cheap. A classic boar brush can cost up to hundreds of dollars!

Synthetic Bristles
Synthetic bristles usually means nylon or plastic bristles. There are many good things to be said about synthetic bristle brushes: lightweight, quick at drying hair, easy to handle, suitable for most hair types and a whole lot cheaper than natural bristle brushes. Synthetic bristles are especially great for people with thick, coarse and bushy hair textures. While they do a good job combing through hair, massaging the scalp and stimulating sebum production, synthetic bristles are useless at cleaning the hair shaft and distributing natural oils through the hair.

Mix of Natural & Synthetic
Sometimes called the Porcupine, most hair professionals will choose to use a blend of both bristles for versatility and longevity. Nylon mixed with natural boar bristles helps retain the shape of the brush. These brushes are good for normal to thicker hair. It gives the best of both worlds. Boar bristles gives hair a good polish while synthetic bristles help detangle hair allowing it to dry faster. Purists would agree that mixed bristles does not mean it is the best for your hair type. Porcupine brushes can be just as expensive as natural bristle brushes.

Knowing these basic fundamentals of hair brushes, you can make a better decision on the right hair brush for you hair.

How to choose the right hair brush for your hair? Let's use me as an example.
My shoulder-length hair is straight and fine textured, prone to becoming limp and flat like a helmet on my head. I need body and bounce. Using the above guide, the best kind of brushes I should have consist of: a paddle brush (for everyday detangling), a round brush (for voluminous blow drying) and maybe a fine tooth comb (for days when I have to back-comb to create lift). For bristle type, my ideal is a 100% natural bristle brush. Or I can settle with a mix of natural & synthetic bristle as well.

(Sidenote: Before doing this feature, I have only used and owned a synthetic bristle paddle brush. How wrong I have been! This reminds me of how women often buy the wrong size bra as well. I digress.)

Choosing the right hair brush can make a noticeable difference to your hair's health and appearance. Next time before you buy a brush, know what you are getting because a good quality brush will serve you for many, many years.

bSoul: Hydra-Normalization Kit

You are probably thinking 'What does normalizing the skin mean?' Don't worry because I didn't know either. In layman language, it means to put back or restore the skin's natural hydrative state.

Many skin-related problems we face are commonly caused by poor diet, hormonal imbalances, over-exposure to the sun, allergic reactions, stress and bad lifestyle habits. Our skin reacts by either becoming too dry or too oily. Conditions like acne, rosacea and psoriasis are results of an overworked, overstressed organ (Side note: Did you know our skin is the body's largest organ?).

So, the idea is before you treat the skin for any specific condition with medication and procedural treatment, you need to first bring your skin back to its normal, healthy state. Sounds logical right? That is bSoul's skincare philosophy.

bSoul is touted as the first eco-friendly phytoceutical line that uses only eco-certifed active ingredients in their skincare formulas to give younger and healthier looking skin. Produced and packaged in Italy with several eco-certifications, bSoul products are safe and 100% without harmful factors.

* No Petroleum-derivatives (petroleum and paraffins)
* No PEG
* No Silicones
* No Parabens
* No Animal Testing

This review is on bSoul Hydra-Normalization Kit. The set consists of 4 products: Hydra-Milk Cleanser, Redness-Sinergy Serum, Hydra-Comfort Face Cream and Hydra-Face Scrub.

Hydra-Milk Cleanser
This milk cleanser is made with Argan oil and Mosqueta rose lipids that are similar to the skin. Therefore, the lipids are easily absorbed; binding to the epidermic sebum to rebalance and rehydrate skin's deeper layers. This cleanser is also infused with sage, thyme and rosemary extracts for antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. It contains lactic acid (AHA) to soften skin and reset its PH balance.

Result: I usually stay away from milk cleansers because I don't like how it leaves a creamy layer behind that takes more than a few splashes of water to rinse off. However, I am glad I gave this one a try. What a difference! This milk cleanser is quite watery, not the usual thick and creamy, consistency. And it rinses off quickly without much hassle! My face felt clean and refreshed after. Don't expect a good foam though because that is not how milk cleansers work. It has a strong floral scent - imagine crushing a handful of fresh rose petals in the palm of your hand. Even as a milk cleanser skeptic, I have to say that I really liked this cleanser.

Redness-Sinergy Face & Neck Serum
This serum has a high concentration of active ingredients to stimulate the skin's defines mechanism against signs of ageing, and is marketed with signature formula names such as HyaCare 50, MAXnoliaEpiCalmin TCM and Eterniskin.  I am not going to get into it but just know that these are all different formulations of ingredients to deliver the desired result. All in one bottle! Suitable for all skin types; especially for fragile/sensitive skin prone to redness.

One pump of bSoul Redness-Sinergy serum 
Result: The serum has a strong fruity scent that I am not keen on. But if you like sweet fruity aromas, this would not be an issue. It is infused with chamomile, magnolia bark extract, calendula, Maitake (a kind of wet mushroom) and aloe vera. However, the serum really does absorb very quickly into the skin. One night, I applied the serum on my face and went to bed (without a moisturiser) in an air-conditioned room. The next day, my skin still looked well-hydrated. I had almost forgotten that I had forgotten to put on moisturiser. And you don't need much serum - because it is expensive. One pump is good enough. Rub the palm of your hands together to warm the serum and spread over face.

Hydra-Comfort Face Cream
This moisturiser is packed with a lot of edible-sounding ingredients like olive fruit oil, aloe vera and rosemary extract and Karite butter. Butter?! Not the kind you spread on your bread. Karite butter, more commonly known as shea butter, is derived from stearic acid and oleic acid and is rich with lipids that is, again, similar to the skin cellular makeup.

Result: A soft face cream with delicate floral notes. This lightweight cream spreads well and, again, absorbs quickly. Even in the hot and humid Singapore climate, I had no problem using this cream in a non-air conditioned room. It has become one of my daily go-to face moisturizers.

Hydra-Face Scrub 3Action
Called 3Action because it is made with three primary ingredients - jojoba, aloe vera and baking soda. Together, they aid in normalising cell generation and restoring skin lipids. To be used once every 2 weeks, up to a maximum of twice a week.

Result: I like this scrub. Although the exfoliating beads are small and fine, the scrub is lightweight and does not leave any residue after rinse. I like that my skin does not feel dry, tight or stretched after the scrub. A good all-round essential to have.

I tested this kit for 2 weeks. During that time, my complexion was completely problem-free. Not even an appearance from my usual pre-period pimple. My skin did feel balanced and well-hydrated. I was particularly impressed with the consistency of how easily and quickly all the products penetrated into the skin. Reason is bSoul chooses specific formulas that are structurally similar to natural skin, allowing their products to easily absorb and blend into the skin's deeper layers.

This normalization kit is not cheap but you pay for what works. The good news is - if you want to try this set, the friendly people at bSoul are offering a special 10% discount* to all Kat Juju readers.

Retail: S$434 per normalisation set (includes a Hydra-Milk Cleanser, Redness-Sinergy Serum, Hydra-Comfort Face Cream and Hydra-Face Scrub)

Use reader's promotion code BSKat10% upon check-out to get 10% discount. Valid now until 31 September 2014.

Available at bSoul online shop.

*Discount is exclusively applicable for bSoul's Hydra-Normalization Kit only.

Disclaimer: This product was sponsored for consideration to review., is not affiliated, in any way, with this company or its products. This product review is written with editorial integrity and honesty; and without influence.

Natural Konjac Sponge: Pure White & Cherry Blossom Facial Cleansing Puffs

As you would buff your nails for that extra smoothness and radiance, you can buff your face. After Konjac: The New Natural Face Buffer feature, I have gotten a few requests to do a konjac review. This review is on Canadian-based company, Natural Konjac Sponge's Facial Cleansing Puffs.

I choose to work with this company because every single sponge puff is handmade in Japan, 100% natural (pure glucommanan fibers extracted from Konjac plants grown in Japan), 100% biodegradable and without artificial colouring.

Until now, the use of a face buffer is quite foreign to me. When I received these Konjac sponges, I was relieved to see clear and proper instructions printed on their box packaging. Very helpful!

Before use: Most konjac sponges in the market are packaged in an air-tight plastic pouch with a slightly damp sponge. This prevents the sponge from cracking and breaking off during shipment. Bacterially speaking, some people may find this a little disconcerting. The good news is Natural Konjac's Facial Cleaning Puffs are shipped dry. Bone dry.

New Natural Konjac Sponge - hard & dry. Notice the fibre pores are compact and closed.
How I used it: When I first took the konjac sponge out of the box, it was hard and dry like a pumice stone. I soaked it in lukewarm water for 5 minutes. The sponge started to puff up in size and its density became soft yet very firm. The sponge is half-dome shaped like a tutu kueh. I placed the flat part of the sponge on the base of my hand and used the curved surface to massage my face; concentrating on areas around my nose, forehead and chin.

Used Natural Konjac Sponge - soft yet firm. Notice the fibre pores are expanded and open

Size difference: Used konjac sponge (pink) vs. New konjac sponge (white)
User's advice: Because the sponge is so soft, I had the tendency of over-scrubbing and massaging my face with strong pressure (going for a good scrub!). This only made my skin red from the excessive pressure. After a few uses, I relaxed my sponging pressure and combined my buffing with an exfoliating cream. This really made a difference. I noticed my face complexion begin to radiant and look noticeably smoother.

TIP: You can use the sponge with water. Or add your facial cleanser or exfoliating cream for that additional scrub effect. I have tried both ways. Personally, I get a better buff when I use the Konjac sponge with a cleanser or exfoliating cream. The good thing about this high quality konjac sponge with an exfoliating cream is that the sponge's fibers doesn't seem to absorb the exfoliating beads; meaning you get double the scrub.

After care: Rinse sponge after each use to remove any soap or dirt residue. Make sure to squeeze out all excess water between the palm of your hands. Do not wring! Then hang the sponge in a well-ventilated area to dry. Or, place in a sealed container and store it in the fridge until the next use.

If you want to disinfect your sponge, you can soak it in hot water for 3-5 minutes on a weekly basis.

With proper use and daily care, a good quality sponge like Natural Konjac Sponge should last 4-6 weeks without much visible wear-and-tear. Always replace your konjac sponge regularly for best cleaning results.

Natural Konjac Sponge has 6 varieties of facial cleaning puffs to choose from:
* Pure White - Best all rounder! For all skin types, including sensitive skin
* Bamboo Charcoal - For oily and acne-prone skin
* Cherry Blossom - For all skin types, with added skin smoothing and lightening effects
* Green Tea - For all skin types, with added anti-inflammatory effects
* Citrus - For dry skin
* Wild Mint - For all skin types, with added skin refreshing effect

I tried Pure White Konjac Puff and Cherry Blossom Konjac Puff.

Pure White Konjac Puff is the original 100% Konjac glucomannan fiber; where as Cherry Blossom Konjac Puff is 100% Konjac glucomannan fiber infused with cherry blossom leaf extract and pink clay. While the name of the puffs indicate what extracts the sponges are infused with, don't let it fool your nose. Mint does not mean it smells minty and refreshing. These puffs are so natural, they have no distinct smell at all.

Pure White Konjac Puff
Cherry Blossom Konjac Puff
Result: After a week's use, both konjac sponges retained their shape. No tear (a common problem with sub-quality sponges). I did notice the added smoothness of my complexion with the konjac sponges right after use. A definite add to my daily skincare routine.

Price: USD$10 - USD$10.50 per puff

Available online at Natural Konjac Sponge. Free international shipping for orders above USD$20 (that's just a minimum order of two konjac sponges).

Disclaimer: This product was sponsored for consideration to review., is not affiliated, in any way, with this company or its products. This product review is written with editorial integrity and honesty; and without influence.

Truffle Oil: A Dirty Truth

When someone asks how is truffle oil made, what comes to mind? Small pieces of dried truffle steeped in olive oil. Right? Wrong!

"Comparing truffle oil with real truffles is like comparing sniffing dirty panties to having sex."

Here is how this all began. Recently, I have been craving steak and truffle shoestring fries. I order it for dinner everywhere I go. Real truffles are extremely expensive; a few thin shaves can set one back hundreds of dollars. So, having truffle oil as an alternative food flavouring makes for a real treat.

Truffle oil seems an easier and cheaper way for restaurant chefs to add truffle aroma to an otherwise boring dish - like french fries. And stick on a higher price tag. People are ordering. And why not? It's an inexpensive way to taste these heavenly morsels and gives your fries a new lease of flavour.

Problem is, truffle oil is not made from truffles. Truffle oil is olive oil mixed with an organic chemical compound called 2,4-dithiapenthane - derived either naturally or from a petroleum base - to create the flavour of truffle oil. In other words, it is perfumed olive oil.

Some truffle oil contain higher grades of olive oil and are therefore healthier than lower grade olive oil. Lower grade oils are mixed with safflower oil, walnut oil and other oils to give truffle oil its fragrance and taste.

Knowing this, what do I do with my truffle fries craving...? 

I wish I could be like late celebrity chef Jean-Louis Palladin, who upon returning from a trip out of town found bottles of truffle oil cropping up in his restaurant's kitchen. He went into a rage; grabbed two bottles of truffle oil, called his confused and frightened staff out into the restaurant's back alley, threw the bottles against a wall and screamed 'It's full of chemicals. No more!'