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Strawberry Skin and Health Benefits

The Wonders Of Strawberries And Their Place In Your Beauty Regime

3 beauty hacks to add a bit of goodness to your skincare.

Strawberries make a delicious and healthy snack, but did you know that they have a great purpose in your beauty regime as well? This juicy red conical fruit is packed with essential nutrients such as Vitamin C, A and K, folic acid, magnesium potassium, and calcium. And, they have powerful antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Strawberries boost radiance and brighten dull skin because of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) in them which has been shown to help reverse signs of ageing and promote exfoliation. 

If you have acne-prone skin, you will be pleased to know that strawberries contain natural salicylic acid to unclog pores and promote cleaner and clearer skin. They also contain ellagic acid which removes the toxins from your body and protects against harmful free radicals. So, if you have any bacterial infections on your face or an acne breakout, strawberries can help to resolve this condition naturally.  For more information on an effective basic skincare routine for oily or acne-prone skin click here.

If this is not enough motivation to start incorporating strawberries into your beauty routine then we are going to make it a little bit easier to get behind these red beauties by sharing with you 3 beauty hacks that are so easy you are going to be asking yourself why you hadn’t thought of strawberry beauty sooner. All we ask is that you please try to refrain from eating them straight off your face so they have a chance to work their magic on your skin.


WATCH THE VIDEO: 3 STRAWBERRY BEAUTY HACKS TO TRY


HACK 1: Exfoliating scrub mask

Strawberries have many benefits for your health and skin and are perfect to make nourishing and revitalizing masks. This strawberry exfoliating Scrub Mask is a face mask and scrub all in one. In this blog, we focus on the face scrub mask, but you can easily replace the sugar with salt and transform this into a body scrub. 

Ingredients & Method:

  • 1 Cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 Regular-sized strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 Teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 Teaspoon water (optional)

Place the strawberries in a blender and puree. Add the strawberry puree to a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir. Add the coconut oil and mix well until the oil and the puree mixture are incorporated well with no separation of liquid. If you prefer a cool mixture, then use frozen strawberries which will also serve to calm any puffiness on your face. Leave this mask on for around 10 to 15 minutes. Then gently scrub the mask in circular motions to exfoliate the dead skin cells on your face. When done, gently wipe off with a warm wet towel or face cloth. You can apply this treatment 1 to 2 times a week.

Strawberry, PRP AED 19, available at falconfresh.com

Frozen Strawberries, PRP AED 12, available at boylans.com

Fine Granulated Sugar, PRP AED 6, available at noon.com

Organic Coconut Oil, PRP AED 16, available at noon.com


HACK 2: Puffy eyes no more

No matter what your age, all women should have some tricks on how to get alleviate puffy eyes. Genetics, lifestyle, diet, and the ageing process can all contribute to the development of under-eyebags. They can strike at any age and at any time! While you cannot prevent bags from forming under your eyes, nor remove eye bags entirely once formed there are ways to smooth the delicate area under your eyes, so the puffiness is less of an eyesore. So, let’s bag those puffy eyes, shall we?

This beauty fix uses strawberries which have many benefits for your health and skin. Strawberries contain a natural form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps smooth skin, reduce puffiness and lighten dark circles. You can safely apply this treatment as often as you like.

Ingredients & Method:

  • 1 Large strawberry

You will want to use a large strawberry for this do-it-yourself beauty fix so that you cover your whole eye with one slice. Place the strawberry in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 mins. After the time’s up, remove the strawberry from the refrigerator and cut 2 thick slices. Lie down on your back and place a slice of strawberry under each eye. You will want to push down on the slice lightly to ensure there is skin contact. After 5 minutes, remove and rinse with cold water. If you prefer a more intense cooling effect, you can place your strawberry in the freezer for a few minutes.                                                                           

Fresh Halved Strawberries, PRP AED 22, available at qualityfoods.ae


HACK 3: Teeth whitening

Who doesn’t want whiter teeth? Exactly what we thought too – we ALL want whiter teeth! Teeth cannot seem to get white enough for us. There is a huge tooth whitening market out there – strips, dental procedures, charcoal toothpaste…. you name it and it’s available. Some of the procedures and products do work in achieving the ivory grin you are craving for. But, if you are looking for a natural way to whiten your teeth look no further than your kitchen (or garden if you can grow strawberries)! Strawberries are a great way to achieve your favourite shade of pearly-whites naturally and the best part is you don’t have all the waste that’s generated from whitening strips, so its sustainable too.

You might be thinking strawberries are far too tasty and sweet to be good for your tooth. Yes, it does seem a bit too good to be true, but strawberries contain malic acid which is a tooth-whitening agent. Strawberries do contain natural sugar so if you do try this make sure to brush afterwards with your regular toothpaste to remove all trace of the strawberries and maintain the enamel on your teeth.

Ingredients & Method:

  • 1 Small strawberry
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda

Smash the strawberry into a pulp. If this is your first time trying this out, you may want to use just the strawberries without adding in the baking soda. After this, if you feel you want a stronger whitening effect you can try the mixture with the baking soda. You will want to use a 1:1 ratio – so 1 teaspoon strawberry pulp to 1 teaspoon baking soda. It’s perfectly normal for the strawberry mixture to bubble when you use it with baking soda. You are now ready to apply!

Always use a soft toothbrush to apply the mixture onto your teeth. Leave the mixture on your teeth for 5 minutes then brush thoroughly for about 1-minute with toothpaste to remove all the strawberry/baking soda mixture. Do ensure not to push too hard with your toothbrush when brushing. You want to use a light circular motion when brushing. Rinse and floss to remove any strawberry seeds. Voila! You have whiter teeth. You can apply this strawberry/baking soda treatment once a week.

Strawberries Grown Fresh Produce Fruit Vegetables, PRP AED 175, available at ubuy.ae

Baking Soda, PRP AED 14, available at organicfoodsandcafe.com

Soft Bamboo Toothbrush, PRP AED 15, available at feelunique.com

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Best Sunscreens To Shield Your Skin

The Best Sunscreens to See You Through Summer

We swear by these seven picks.

Prolonged exposure to harsh sun rays can lead to premature ageing, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and a decrease in the skin’s natural elasticity. Prevent these issues by choosing the right product and practising religious sun cream application stat! Don’t know where to begin? Here are our top seven sunscreen picks that will protect your skin from the scorching Dubai sun.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen 

This Supergoop! sunscreen is the absolute holy grail for a lot of skincare enthusiasts in the beauty realm. It’s a lightweight broad spectrum sun protection cream that leaves no white cast upon application, making it the perfect choice for when you want to go bare-faced or apply underneath makeup. If you’re sensitive to scent and particular ingredients, you might want to opt for this product as it’s scentless and created with clean chemicals.

Find it here.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Source: Revolve

La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid

This award-winning sunscreen is another favourite among men and women alike. Regarded as one of the most effective sun protection formulas in the market, this non-comedogenic UVA/UVB sunscreen from La Roche-Posay provides advanced protection in a weightless, matte finish. It is also packed with healthy ingredients free of parabens and fragrance, making it a great choice for every skin type.

Find it here.

La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid

Source: Life Pharmacy

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream

Want to give the K-beauty trend a try? Try this broad protection sun cream from COSRX. Containing 5,500 ppm of aloe vera leaf extract, this popular Korean skincare brand provides extra hydration and a deep soothing effect for all skin types. Its light formula keeps the skin looking fresh and natural, even after constant reapplication through the day.

Find it here.

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream

Source: Beauty Korea Dubai

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

Another beauty pick that sits atop many beauty aficionado’s vanity is this SPF 50 sunscreen from Anessa, a brand owned by Shiseido. This Japanese skincare favourite is formulated with hyaluronic acid and green tea extract that aids in hydrating the face and body while protecting it from environmental stressors. Additionally, its strong yet lightweight formula makes it the best sun protection product for both day-to-day errands and outdoor activities. 

Find it here.

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

Source: Amazon

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen

Protect your skin from the harsh Dubai sun with this pick from Neutrogena. True to its name, it provides an invisible finish, keeping the skin shielded from the harsh heat without giving off an unwanted white tint. It’s also the best choice for when you’re heading to the beach or the pool as it claims to be water-resistant for 80 minutes. For best results, apply a generous amount on the skin at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply after every two hours.

Find it here.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen

Source: iHerb website

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

A great mineral sunscreen that won’t break the bank is this variant from distinguished skincare brand CeraVe. On top of powerful sun protection, this drugstore favourite contains ceramides and niacinamide that work to replenish the skin barrier. It’s also free of parabens, fragrance, and oils.

Find it here.

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

Source: Desertmart

Sisley Tinted Sun Care

Don’t have a lot of extra time in the mornings? Cut your prep time with Sisley’s tinted sun care cream. The light and silky formula helps it seep into the skin easier, giving it extra TLC without any unpleasant greasiness. It is also filled with beneficial ingredients such as the vitamin E acetate that gets rid of free radicals, edelweiss extract that strengthens the skin barrier, and sage and marjoram essential oils that soothe and stimulate the skin.

Find it here.

Sisley Tinted Sun Care

Source: Ounass

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Clean Beauty Myths

5 Clean Beauty Myths, Debunked

By three clean beauty experts, no less.

Today, July 15th, marks National Clean Beauty Day in the US, celebrating mindfully created products that feature ethically sourced ingredients and take both human and environmental health into account. But with no official definition in place, the term ‘clean beauty’ brings with it a sense of ambiguity – and a whole lot of questions. Does sacrificing synthetics impact their effectiveness? Is clean beauty as elitist as the rest of the wellness industry? And does it only cater to goop-reading, yoga-practising, ashwagandha-taking vegans?

Unanswered questions translate to myths that need to be debunked, so we turned to three different experts for their insights: Lorraine Dallmeier (CEO of organic cosmetic science school Formula Botanica), Mukta Purain (founder of clean beauty platform MissPalettable), and Deepica Mutyala (founder of clean beauty brand Live Tinted). Listen in.

Myth 1: Clean Beauty Is Preservative-Free

LD: “Well, that’s clearly not the case because a preservative is necessary to make a safe and stable product. When I first got into natural beauty, everyone was all about avoiding preservatives, claiming they’re dangerous and carcinogenic. But it has calmed down a lot, which is a good thing. We’ve played a big role in that by going out there and saying that not only can preservation protect your formulation and your customer, but it can also be done safely because there are lots of naturally derived preservatives on the market now. But it’s absolutely okay if you don’t want to work with preservatives. You just have to stick with anhydrase products, which don’t contain water – oils, butters, balms, that sort of thing. You’re limiting yourself in the formulations that you can make, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

MP: “It comes down to shelf life – if a product is free of preservatives, it means that it’s really natural and has to be used almost immediately. But in general, it’s impossible to create a preservative-free product with a shelf life of two years. There are a lot of misconceptions around preservatives – whether it’s in beauty, food, or anything else. And they get a bad rap, most of which stems from packaged food. But the difference here is that no one is going to buy a moisturiser with a three-week shelf life. The one exception is things like bar soaps and solid shampoo, which don’t need preservatives because they’re dry. But as soon as you have any form of liquid in your product, you need preservatives – otherwise it will spoil.”

DM: “Not true – a lot of people equate clean beauty with preservative-free beauty because of parabens. Historically, parabens were one of the key ingredients that clean beauty standards avoided, but it really doesn’t mean clean beauty is free of preservatives. The reality is that you need preservatives in your makeup and skincare to avoid bacterial growth and degradation over time.”

clean beauty brand products

Myth 2: Clean Beauty Isn’t Fun

LD: “Our mantra is that everyone can and should formulate because it’s fun, easy, and empowering. It’s a bit like learning how to cook. One of my colleagues wanted to formulate for the first time, and I suggested he try out a lip balm kit. He’s got two kids – they’re six and eight – and they did it together. They made it and labelled it and gifted some to their grandmothers. Everyone was just blown away by these lip balms. They still use them. And they were like, ‘When can we do this again?’ Anyone can do this, and it’s so much fun, so I think clean beauty is actually a ton of fun.”

MP: “Clean beauty started off very organic, very wholesome – it was for people who had sensitive skin and wasn’t as fun at first. But things have changed. Technology has advanced, formulations have advanced. In the past, you had founders who were slightly older creating such brands, but a lot of them these days are millennials. They’re trying to create brands that are both conscious and connect with the kind of lifestyles they live so the colours are a lot more pigmented, the branding is so much more vibrant – and this is just the beginning. Take Bouclème, a hair care brand that we carry on MissPalettable. Hair care isn’t really that exciting, right? But its packaging is bright, the social media pages are full of curly hair influencers, it’s very real. At the same time, its bottles are made of sugarcane waste.”

DM: “A complete myth! Our Huestick and Hueglow are super fun. What is the definition of fun anyway? It’s different for everyone. You have to think about who your target consumer is and what they want. Do they want fun makeup or makeup that works overtime? Creating fun clean products if possible. It just requires a little bit more work to bring the formula to life because the laboratory you work with may not want to experiment as much, and there could be higher costs involved – but that’s the burden of the company, not the consumer. So absolutely, making fun products is possible, it might just require more patience. The industry is moving towards the clean beauty standard, and that means the innovations are coming. It is the responsibility of the brand to figure it out.”

clean beauty cosmetics

Myth 3: Clean Beauty Isn’t Effective

LD: “What’s interesting is that we have to define what ‘effective’ means. The beauty industry has been telling us that we don’t look right, we don’t smell right, we aren’t right for a while now. It tells us to erase the sands of time and halt the aging process – something you can’t do when you use natural. And yet what’s happened as a result of the indie beauty movement taking off is that big brands have started to research all these botanical extracts, so I don’t agree that clean beauty is ineffective because a lot of the high-performance extracts that we use can be derived from plants. We can keep our skin healthy and clean and glowing with botanical ingredients, so again, it’s a myth that has been put out there, sadly.”

MP: “Before the term ‘clean beauty’ came about, it was natural and organic. And are natural and organic versions more effective than mainstream products? I’m not sure. But clean beauty is broader in the sense that it’s about formulations that do not contain harmful chemicals. There’s a spectrum – some clean beauty brands claim that there are no chemicals in their products, which is a lie because everything is a chemical. At the same time, you’ve got brands that are more balanced, every ingredient in their formulations serving a function. It all comes down to the person behind the brand. Deepica, for example, created the Huestick because South Asians have dark circles. That’s where I feel clean beauty brands are a lot more effective; there’s a passion and a reason behind them.”

DM: “Another myth. What is the definition of effective? Are we talking really long wearing power or breathability? Being a clean beauty brand is redefining the meaning of some of these words. Are we going to be able to match the performance of those liquid lipsticks with 24-hour claims right out of the box? Maybe not. It’s reasonable to think that they are formulated with ingredients that are on the clean beauty ban list. On the other hand, effectiveness might mean breathability, and one of the things we’ve learnt in this post-pandemic world is that people want wearable makeup that lets their skin breathe – that itself is considered effective.”

Skin Care Routine

Myth 4: Clean Beauty Isn’t Inclusive

LD: “It’s an important point because clean beauty can be a little non-inclusive. For starters, it tends to operate in skincare. Hair care is harder since it contains a lot more water and therefore needs more stabilisation. We’re seeing some awesome indie brands that cater to curly and coily hair types, but they’re in the minority. Indie makeup is still quite rare because making cosmetics with natural pigments that aren’t derived from a lab is hard as well. And again, you have the issue with different skin tones that aren’t catered for because you have a teeny tiny budget and launch with only a few products. The other thing is clean beauty can be quite pricey because, obviously, you’re not pumping your products full of water and stabilisers, which is what the big brands are doing – and that pushes up your cost and retail price. It can lock some people out of the marketplace. There’s a lot of work to do at all levels.”

MP: “Let’s take Bouclème as an example again. It’s huge on inclusivity because its products cater to a population that was hardly considered before. Personally, I don’t agree that clean beauty isn’t inclusive
because a lot of clean beauty brands were created as a result of their founders feeling excluded by mainstream brands. Michele Scott-Lynch started Bouclème because she and her children have curly hair, and she just couldn’t find products that worked. She also wanted her brand to have a conscience, so it’s paraben-free, sulfate-free, and vegan. Skincare is still most inclusive because you’re dealing with skin types, not skin tones. I mean, it’s only recently – after the likes of Fenty Beauty and Huda Beauty – that we’re starting to see some inclusivity in makeup. It’s happening because the founders of these brands are people of colour themselves, and the same thing is carrying over into clean beauty.”

DM: “False! Live Tinted’s mission is to bring clean, vegan, and cruelty-free products that work on all skin tones. We are here to dispel such myths. For some reason, there’s this mindset that if something is clean, it doesn’t show up on your skin. The reality is that you can make products that are pigmented and work on deeper skin tones, yet are clean. Take our award-winning Huestick, for example. One of the things that was very important was to make a buildable formula because different people have different layers of dark circles and dark spots that they want to cover, which is what makes our products truly inclusive. This myth mainly comes from the fact that there aren’t that many clean brands focused on the BIPOC consumer. And that’s where Live Tinted comes in. It doesn’t mean clean inclusive beauty cannot be done. It just means there is room for brands like ours to grow.”

Lifestyle Overhaul

Myth 5: Clean Beauty Requires a Lifestyle Overhaul

LD: “I disagree, clean beauty should be for anyone who wants to participate. Some can be very purist about it, but you’re going to alienate people that way. The one thing that everyone should embrace, however, is sustainable beauty. That’s a far bigger issue. Literally no one talks about consumption because the beauty industry is set up to encourage infinite economic growth with finite resources. And it doesn’t work because we only have one planet. The average woman has 16 beauty products on her bathroom shelf, so I once asked the Sustainability Director of Shiseido how the brand is encouraging people to use fewer products and she admitted to feeling stumped. I don’t think it matters if you’re clean or not, vegan or not. What matters is how sustainable our beauty habits are – that goes for the brands making them and the people buying them.”

MP: “No, that’s not true. Clean beauty is becoming increasingly inclusive, but you exclude people by saying it’s only intended for vegans or vegetarians. Suddenly, you’re clean-shaming people. It comes
down to a personal choice. When you take an interest in clean beauty, you’re already thinking about taking a more conscious approach. It’s because you’re taking a step back and examining your life. But it’s
got nothing to do with going vegan or practising yoga or anything like that – it’s more about you internally. And such things take time. I mean, you’re not going to become this extremely conscious minimalist overnight. I feel like the first step is acknowledging it, then slowly adjusting your choices over a period of time. Even having one vegetarian meal a day is a start.”

DM: “A lot of the clean beauty conversations revolve around ingredients, but sustainability is also a major component. It’s not about solving that problem alone and on day one. However, if we collectively take small steps towards that goal, it will have a massive impact now and an even bigger one in the future. Does it mean you need to throw away all your products and only buy clean? No. What you can do as a consumer is find products that work for you and the environment – playing with new products is part of the fun anyway. Look at our Huestick Multisticks – you can create an entire look with only one product! You shouldn’t have to overhaul your lifestyle. Instead, you should feel proud and excited to make small changes that can have a big impact on you and the planet.”

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Best Natural and Organic Sunscreens

3 All-Natural Sunscreens You Need This Summer

Your skincare arsenal deserves an upgrade.

Sun exposure is one of the biggest causes of premature skin ageing there is, so it’s vital to have good sunscreen products in your skincare line-up. But what if you’re trying to avoid traditional sunscreens that contain lots of nasty chemicals?

Thankfully, there are lots of new sunscreens that don’t use harsh chemicals and still offer great protection from the sun. Add that to their anti-ageing properties, loads of antioxidants, and fast-absorbing formulations as well as being organic, vegan, and reef-friendly (with recycled, reusable, or refillable packaging), and these everyday beach buddies are not only great for your skin, but also the environment. The Gaggler videographer Emma Brain tested three hot sunscreens to see which shone through as the best sun protection of the bunch.

Watch the Video: All Three Sunscreens Put to the Test

Ixora Ultimate Protection Sunscreen (SPF 40)

Need to Know:

Protects from harmful UV rays and contains concentrated amounts of Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, which is a natural SPF that’s also high in antioxidants, nourishing the skin as well as protecting it.

Key Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Naturally derived Zinc oxide, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Extract, Buriti Oil.

Ixora Ultimate Protection Sunscreen, PRP AED 199, available at ixoraworld.com

Soleil Toujours Mineral Sunscreen Glow (SPF 30)

Need to Know:

A mineral sunscreen that offers antioxidants, moisturising, nourishing, and anti-ageing properties, it offers UV protection whilst giving the skin a subtle glow. Light enough for everyday use.

Key Ingredients:

The EcoSunComplex contains red algae, vitamin C ester, vitamin E, and bisabolol. Also contains green tea leaf extract.

Soleil Toujours Mineral Sunscreen Glow Spf 30, PRP AED 176, available at mispalettable.com

SunKiss Unscented (SPF 30)

Need to Know:

Great for use on both the body and face, this mineral-based sunscreen with powerful antioxidants protects from DNA-damaging sun exposure. Good for all ages and skin types, and fragrance free.

Key Ingredients:

Shea Butter and Jojoba whipped together with Red Raspberry Seed Oil. Non-nano Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

Sunkiss Unscented Spf 30 Suncare, PRP AED 160, available at sunkissme.com

Want The Gaggler to review more products?
Get in touch via our Instagram page, and let us know which products you want us to put to the test. 

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skincare essentials dubai

Are Face Masks Essential for Skincare?

This is your Face Masks 101.

Face masks have been around for thousands of years. Cleopatra was known to use Dead Sea mud, and some Egyptians even used crocodile dung masks that allegedly gave a youthful appearance (thank goodness those days are over). But do you really need to add face masks to your skincare routine?

Here’s the Lowdown

Face masks are not completely necessary and will not dramatically improve your skin overnight. However, they can be beneficial in many other ways. They don’t offer long-term benefits, but can certainly offer short-term benefits such as reducing inflammation, oiliness, breakouts, skin tightening, and hydration. I recommend incorporating them once a week to continue improving your skin health and texture. If you have an event to attend, they are great for prepping your skin for an amazing glow!

More importantly, taking time out for yourself to put on your favourite face mask improves your mood and can be great for your mental health. You are more likely to do something relaxing while putting on a face mask such as taking a bath, watching a movie, or taking a nap. Who can say no to some good old self-care? 

Types of Masks

Sheet Masks 

These masks are usually filled with hyaluronic acid, green tea, and aloe vera to give your skin an extra boost of hydration, calm, and soothe.

Clay Masks 

Clay masks draw out impurities and usually contain kaolin, which is oil-absorbing and wound healing – great for oily/breakout-prone skin!

DIY Masks

Proceed with caution when doing DIY face masks. Avoid lemon juice and aspirin, and stick to more calming ingredients such as yoghurt and aloe vera as they are usually safe to use. Just be aware of any allergies you may have. If you like experimenting with at-home face masks, then definitely try this DIY mask!

I am a lover of multi-masking. My skin is dehydrated, oily, breakout-prone, and I have post-inflammatory skin pigmentation so I like to use two masks at once. You can even layer or sleep in some of these masks! Here are some of my favourites.

My Favourite Face Masks 

For Oily/Breakout-Prone Skin

Tri Biobotanical Revival Masque, Environ

Tri Biobotanical Revival Masque, Environ

I love the consistency of this mask – it’s creamy rather than clay, so if you want something a little richer, this one is a great choice as it gives amazing results.

Benefits: Hydrates, soothes, replenishes, and detoxifies skin

Contains: Lactic acid, salicylic acid, mandelic acid, and tea tree leaf oil 

Tip: This is a great multi-mask product. If you suffer from blackheads, I would recommend using this as a treatment in those areas and multi-mask with a different mask of your choice. This mask also contains lactic and mandelic acid, which are exfoliating ingredients known as AHAs, so I would avoid exfoliating beforehand as this could cause dryness/flakiness and irritation depending on your skin. 

Clarifying Clay Mineral Mask, ESPA 

This mask is great because it’s not only a face mask, but it’s also great for us as a spot treatment. If you have a pimple, but don’t want to apply the entire mask, you can just put some on the area and leave it on. It is non-drying so, unlike some clay masks, it won’t leave your skin feeling dry afterward. Plus, it’s surprisingly hydrating.

Benefits: Balances excess oils, purifies the skin, soothes, and hydrates

Contains: Rose geranium, kaolin, rose damascena, and marshmallow 

Tip: I would sleep in it when spot treating as it draws out the impurities and helps to reduce the size of the pimple and inflammation.

For Sensitive Skin or Hydration

Ultimate Recovery Bio-Cellulose Mask , Medik8

Benefits: Decongests skin, clears breakouts, and reduces inflammation 

Contains: Hyaluronic acid, rockweed algae extract, and zinc 

Brightening Sheet Masque, ZO

This is a quick and easy mask to use, and is perfect for dehydrated skin, which makes it great for travel, especially on or after a flight due to the dehydration your skin goes through while flying.

Benefits:

  • Replenishes hydration and prevents water loss
  • Provides antioxidant benefits
  • Calms and soothes

Contains: Aloe vera, green tea, and panthenol

Tip: Both the Medik8 and ZO sheet masks can be put in the fridge for a cooling and soothing effect. This is especially great for sunburn or post-professional laser, micro-needling, or peel treatments (make sure to check with your practitioner first, though).

For Combating Ageing or Pigmentation

Dynamic Resurfacing Gel Mask, Elemis

I love the cooling and light-tingling sensation of this mask, and this favourite is one that I always go back to.

Benefits:

  • Improves skins texture
  • Twice-weekly treatment targets uneven skin texture and light scarring
  • Reveals smoother, more radiant skin in less than 10 minutes

Contains: Amazonian acerola cherry, white truffle, and amino acids

Tip: This is a great post-holiday treatment to reduce dark spots and renew skin.

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40 Powerful Quotes to Celebrate Your Inner Beauty

Beauty inspiration from the inside out.

We all have moments when we don’t feel our best. Maybe you had a bad day at work or didn’t get the result you wanted. When these things happen, it’s easy to start focusing on our outer appearance and how it doesn’t measure up to your expectations. What if I tell you to consider this: instead of trying to change how you look on the outside, you can refocus your mindset by celebrating your inner beauty.

But how specifically can you channel your inner gorgeousness? Start by accepting compliments graciously. Instead of downplaying a compliment or shrugging it off, confidently smile and say, “Thank you!” This helps you see the positive things that others see in you and reinforces your self-worth. 

Another way to increase self-confidence is by practising positive affirmations. These can be short statements like “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy”. Repeating these phrases to yourself daily can help train your brain to focus on the positive and ignore negative self-talk. Finally, don’t be afraid to show your inner beauty to the world! Do whatever makes you feel confident – the more you exude inner beauty, the more others will see it.

Inner beauty is about self-confidence and being empowered. It’s about knowing your worth and being proud of who you are! In a world where beauty is often defined by what’s on the outside, it’s refreshing to read quotes that celebrate the beauty of your inner self. Here, we’ve collected 40 of our favourite quotes to help you appreciate your unique beauty. Whether you’re dealing with insecurities or need a little boost of confidence, they will remind you that true beauty comes from within.

  1. “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes.” – Sophia Loren
  2. “Adornment, what a science! Beauty, what a weapon! Modesty, what elegance!” – Coco Chanel
  3. “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn
  4. “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” – Khalil Gibran
  5. “To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are.” – Ellen DeGeneres

  1. “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  2. “Beauty is about enhancing what you have. Let yourself shine through.” – Janelle Monae
  3. “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  4. Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
  5. “A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.” – Anne Roiphe

  1. “The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.” – Audrey Hepburn
  2. “What you do, the way you think makes you beautiful.” – Scott Westerfeld
  3. “I’m convinced that inner beauty radiates from within, making someone even more attractive.” – Ellen DeGeneres
  4. “Inner beauty should be the most important part of improving one’s self.” – Priscilla Presley
  5. “I think the definition of beauty is somebody who’s comfortable in their own skin and celebrates that they’re unique and different.” – Drew Barrymore

  1. “The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one’s own – even more, one’s own, for that has been put in our care, and we are responsible for its preservation.” – Katherine Anne Porter
  2. “Outer beauty turns the head, but inner beauty turns the heart.” – Helen J. Russell
  3. “Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of one who sees.” – Rumi
  4. “True beauty resides within a good heart, not in superficial things like hair, makeup, or clothes.” – Unknown
  5. “Inner beauty, too, needs occasionally to be told it is beautiful.” – Robert Brault

  1. “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, the place in which love resides.” – Audrey Hepburn
  2. “Beauty is not about having a pretty face. It is about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart, and most importantly a pretty soul.” – Unknown
  3. “Beauty shouldn’t be about changing yourself to achieve an ideal or be more socially acceptable. Real beauty, the interesting, truly pleasing kind, is about honoring the beauty within you and without you. It’s about knowing that someone else’s definition of pretty has no hold over you.” – Golda Poretsky
  4. “Beauty lies not in a flawless complexion but in the stories that are told by each transitioning line on a woman’s face.” – Alyscia Cunningham
  5. To me, beauty is natural beauty. If you’re naturally yourself, you’re beautiful.” – Young MA

  1. “Natural beauty really entices men. They will tell you this time and time again, and studies consistently prove it.” – Helen Fisher
  2. “To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.” – Eleanor Catton
  3. “Beauty is not something you buy; instead, beauty is what lies within.” – Byron Pulsifer
  4. “I love natural beauty, and I think it’s your best look, but I think makeup as an artist is so transformative.” – Marina and the Diamonds
  5. “Being natural is incredibly empowering for women because it’s just who you are. You’re embracing all the beautiful things about you from your head to your toes. Because when you mask so much of your natural beauty, people don’t get to see that.” – Rozonda Thomas

  1. “Beauty is the illumination of your soul.” – John O’Donohue
  2. “Outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates.” – Kate Angell
  3. “A pure heart is superlatively rare and even more attractive.” – J. S. B. Morse
  4. “Inner beauty, too, needs occasionally to be told it is beautiful.” – Robert Brault
  5. “We see the beauty within and cannot say no.” – Dave Eggers

  1. “True beauty is when someone radiates that they like themselves.” – Aimee Mullins
  2. “Our hearts are drunk with a beauty our eyes could never see.” – George W. Russell
  3. “Beauty lives with kindness.” – William Shakespeare
  4. “Beauty is not something you buy; instead, beauty is what lies within.” – Byron Pulsifer
  5. “Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.” – John Ray
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UAE Local Beauty Products

10 Local Beauty Products We (Still) Swear By

You don’t have to look far for these must-haves.

Looking for beauty products to add to your ever-evolving collection? Look no further. The UAE is home to several brands that offer a wide range of products to keep your hair, skin, and makeup in check this summer – and beyond. Here, we share our picks of the 10 best products by locally based brands.

KJ Serums Triology Fresh Vitamin C Serum

Kathryn Jones established her business following a longstanding career in the UK under the biopharmaceutical sector. With her thorough background and passion for skincare, she launched KJ Serums to bring effective products to the market using unique ingredients and special formulations. The Triology Day serum is packed with amazing ingredients such as pure L-ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and ferulic acid, all proven to combat ageing, damage from UV rays, and hyperpigmentation.

Find it here.

KJ Serums Triology Fresh Vitamin C Serum
Source: @kjserums

Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Foundation

Launched by makeup artist and award-winning beauty blogger Huda Kattan, Huda Beauty has cemented itself as one of the world’s most popular makeup brands today. Hailed as “a filter in a bottle”, the brand’s liquid foundation has become a staple in every makeup enthusiast’s kit. It offers 24-hour coverage, a luminous finish, and a fragrance-free formulation.

Find it here.

Huda Beauty
Source: Sephora UAE

Shirley Conlon Organics Rose Hip Oil

Specially formulated with UAE residents in mind, Shirley Conlon Organics produces luxury skincare products that perfectly adapt to heat and humidity. The brand’s signature Rose Hip Oil is a weightless blend of botanicals and antioxidants that promotes anti-ageing, reduces the appearance of scars, and repairs the skin from sun damage, effectively giving the skin a healthy natural glow.

Find it here.

Shirley Conlon Organics Rose Hip Oil
Source: Shirley Conlon Organics

Nina Ubhi False Eyelashes in Poppy

Aiming to inspire makeup junkies with her unique approach to beauty, founder Nina Ubhi started her brand with the mission to create products that enhance natural features. Part of The Classic Collection, the false lashes in Poppy give the eyes a soft and natural look without weighing the lids down.

Find it here.

Nina Ubhi False Eyelashes in Poppy
Source: Watsons UAE

Glossy Makeup Ombre Brush Collection

Professional makeup artist and founder Natasha Zaki launched Glossy Makeup in response to the market’s lack of beautiful, yet affordable beauty products. The Ombre Brush Collection is specifically designed to aid its users in creating a flawless makeup look. It’s also completely vegan and shed-free!

Find it here.

Glossy Makeup Ombre Brush Collection
Source: Glossy Makeup

IZIL Nutritive Oil for Dry & Dull Hair

Rooted in founder Mouna Abassy’s Moroccan heritage, IZIL aims to showcase the beauty rituals perfected by Moroccan women for centuries through its bespoke products. The Nutritive Oil is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish dry and dull hair, keeping it soft and shiny throughout the day.

Find it here.

IZIL Nutritive Oil for Dry & Dull Hair
Source: IZIL

Kayali Citrus | 08

Founded by sisters Huda and Mona Kattan, Kayali fragrances are inspired by the rich culture and sophistication of the Middle East. The Citrus | 08 puts a twist on your typical fragrance, combining Italian bergamot, pink grapefruit, rose centifolia, musk, and oakmoss for its key notes. It’s the perfect scent for those who want to emulate casual elegance and youthful freshness.

Find it here.

Kayali Citrus | 08
Source: Kayali

Shiffa Sweetness Body Polish 

Shiffa started when Dr. Lamees created the brand’s famous Pregnancy Body Oil out of personal necessity. Today, the brand takes pride in being the only luxury organic skincare brand established by a doctor expert in healing science. The Sweetness Body Polish gently exfoliates the skin, effectively giving it a soft and refined texture. On top of that, the luxurious oils infused in this body polish hydrate and nourish the skin for a healthy, youthful glow.

Find it here

Shiffa Sweetness Body Polish 
Source: Shiffa

Herbal Essentials Himalayan Micellar Water

Brand founder and managing director Aly Rahimtoola launched the brand in hopes of providing the market with beauty products that make the skin look good and feel good. Formulated with 95% natural ingredients, the Himalayan Micellar Water provides the skin a thorough cleanse without stripping it of its natural oils and hydration. If you have sensitive skin, you might just want to check out this award-winning product.

Find it here.

Herbal Essentials Himalayan Micellar Water
Source: Herbal Essentials

The Dubai Dolls Boss Babe Face Mist

Priya Judge and Gayatri Sagar have always been committed to providing “cruelty-free beauty with a purpose”. They firmly believe in using ingredients that promote natural beauty, and it is highly evident through their product releases. The Boss Babe Face Mist is a versatile addition to any skincare routine as it can even out skin texture and reduce skin irritation without the use of fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. 

Find it here.

The Dubai Dolls Boss Babe Face Mist
Source: The Dubai Dolls
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Guide to Clean Beauty

The Debate Around Clean Beauty Continues…

Is it all just a marketing ploy?

If you’re like me, you may care deeply about what goes into and onto your body – especially if you think sustainability is important and want to improve your carbon footprint. If so, the idea of switching to clean beauty might seem like a no-brainer. However, it pays to do a little research before parting with your hard-earned cash.

The clean beauty movement has been gathering momentum for a while now, but there has been a lot of controversy regarding whether or not these beauty products are safe. Brands are switching from ‘toxic’ ingredients to more eco- and health-friendly options, and many of us have already begun the process of finding ‘cleaner’ products for our bodies and homes. But with its ever-growing popularity comes ever-growing criticism, so here, I’m going to delve into all things clean beauty. Read on and be more confident in your choices, make smarter purchases, and ultimately live a healthier lifestyle – with or without clean beauty.

So, What Is Clean Beauty? 

Each brand has its own definition of what clean beauty means for them as there is no one agreed-upon definition. For example, here are two brands’ visions of what clean beauty is.

Clean Beauty Box says: “Clean Beauty is defined by products that are mindfully created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. Clean Beauty products include ingredients ethically sourced and are made with the health of our bodies and the environment in mind.”

Goop claims: “Clean, for us, means that a product that is made without a long (and ever-evolving) list of ingredients linked to harmful health effects, which can range from hormone disruption and cancer to plain old skin irritation. To name a few of the offenders we avoid: parabens, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, synthetic fragrance, BHT, and BHA.” 

The consensus is that clean beauty refers to products that are non-toxic, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Contrary to what you might think, it does not necessarily mean the product has to be natural, organic, or green. The idea is that your product is rid of ingredients that are allegedly harmful to your health. 

Clean and Dirty ingredients

If a product contains what clean beauty brands consider to be ‘toxic’ or harmful to human health,  it’s classed as dirty, and each brand has a different dirty list. One example of a ‘dirty list’ includes:

  • Parabens 
  • SLES, SLS, ALS
  • Petrolatum
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Siloxanes
  • Synthetic Fragrance
  • Triclosan
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phthalates

According to Michelle Wong (a cosmetic chemist, beauty scientist, and ingredient myth debunker), there is no such thing as a clean or dirty ingredient – what truly matters is exposure. Exposure depends on how much of an ingredient you have in the product, how much you use, and how you use the product. She explains quite simply that “clean beauty is basically telling you to never drink water in case you drown”. 

A lot of clean beauty brands may disagree with Michelle Wong. Brands like Goop or Clean Beauty Box have a great concept, much like other clean beauty brands. However, their marketing could scaremonger consumers and leave many of them worried about whether a product is ‘clean’ or not. A silver lining of this, though, is that consumers are now looking at ingredients and understanding how to be more eco-friendly

A Complete Guide to Clean Beauty

My Take on Clean Beauty  

Overall, clean beauty has a great concept and is paving the way for a more eco-friendly future for beauty. At the same time, there is little scientific evidence to support their ‘non-toxic’ claims, and thus I can’t say that I am truly on board with the movement.

My question to the clean beauty industry is, if such ingredients are considered ‘toxic’, then how are they legal? It’s not new for companies to start looking at what they are putting into their products, so why would such reputable companies – some with 30+ years of research and thousands of clinical trials – not consider the risk of the ingredients they use? Other things to keep in mind include that no toxicology reports have been done to support the evidence that clean beauty brands claim. Additionally, ‘clean beauty’ is not a regulated term and, as explained before, it has inconsistencies in its meaning. 

It’s true that people want cleaner formulas and that there is a huge demand for them. So, if that is what you want from your product or if you already use clean beauty brands that you love, then continue to use what works for you! Just remember that nothing is guaranteed to be risk-free, so don’t be fearful of using your favourite products because they aren’t considered ‘clean’. The entire product doesn’t need to be labelled clean or dirty.  

I do champion brands that help to fight climate change and, if clean beauty brands can commit, that’s great! However, beauty may not necessarily be the path you need to take to be greener. You can always go back to the basics and consume less, use refillable products, and buy brands that create change to contribute to a sustainable future.

What should you know before searching for the right product?

1. Educate yourself

Research product ingredients and consider science-backed evidence on whether that ingredient is good or not. If like me, you’re an ingredient buff, this website is your best friend! You can research any ingredient and it gives you an easy-to-read explanation. You can even type in your product and an ingredient, and it will tell you if your product contains ingredients you don’t want in there. 

2. Everything is a chemical

All matter is chemical, so don’t fear the word!

3. Don’t be guilt-tripped 

Don’t buy into clean beauty purely out of guilt as it is eco-friendly. Instead, look at what steps you can take to be more sustainable and choose products based on your needs – whether it’s a clean beauty brand or not.

My Beauty Brand Recommendation: 

I use products that work for me and I don’t fear that my products aren’t ‘clean’ as I have done my research and trust the brands I use. However, if I had to choose a clean beauty brand, I would choose Versed

Versed

Some of its pros include: 

  • Simple packaging
  • Refill pouches
  • Budget-friendly
  • Biodegradable formulas

Plus, I love how its website offers a skincare quiz where, instead of searching blindly, you can be guided to the right products for you. Below, I recommend two other brands if you want to make a change and become more eco-friendly. And if you want even more suggestions, visit earth.org, which has published a list of the best sustainable beauty brands in the industry.

Lush

Lush

What I love about Lush is its fun, quirky packaging and vision to leave the world a lusher place. Some of the other pros include:

  • Fighting animal testing
  • Charitable donations and encouraging customers to support donations through sales of certain products
  • 50% of products have zero packaging, this is what Lush considers to be ‘naked’

BYBI

BYBI

I like that BYBI is very similar to Lush, is pro-planet, and wants to make a change as its ingredients don’t come at a cost to our planet. Other pros:

  • It considers the harvesting process, source location, transport, and packaging
  • It uses upcycled ingredients in over 50% of the products
  • The packaging comes with a free returns labels so you can return it to be sterilised and reused
  • It transports everything using electric vehicles 
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Fast Sunburn Cures

5 Foolproof Products to Heal Sunburn – Fast

Here’s how to soothe the redness.

“Feel the burn” may be one of your exercise goals, but it’s a different story when it comes to your skincare goals. Lazy days by the water shouldn’t lead to painful evenings nursing lobster-pink skin. Sun damage, particularly when consistently inflicted, is the leading cause of premature ageing – not to mention the fact that melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer out there. As important as it is to protect your skin every single day, the sun can sometimes sneak up on you, leaving you sore and peeling. Here are five products to help you heal sun-damaged skin, fast.

Sephora Aloe Vera Face Mask

A cooling face mask will give an instant hit of hydration while soothing pain and reducing peeling. Try this aloe vera face mask by Sephora while lying in a cool bath and enjoy the chilly sensation.

Aloe Vera Face Mask, Sephora

Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe

The good news here is that the best ingredient is free and in abundance in the UAE thanks to Mother Nature. Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory and cooling agent that helps soothe and moisturise sunburnt skin. Just pick a few leaves from the garden, trim the edges and spiky bits, scrape the fresh gel from inside, and apply it to the affected areas. For a less sticky solution, use an aloe vera-rich aftersun product like this one from Clinique.

After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe, Clinique

Evian Brumisateur Facial Spray

Rehydrating your body as quickly and as much as possible is very important after sun exposure. Drink more water and use rehydrating products such as the always-popular Evian Brumisateur Facial Spray for a quick spritz of moisture.

Brumisateur Facial Spray, Evian

Korres Greek Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel

After being cooled, soothed, and hydrated, sun-exposed skin needs to be regenerated and looked after with care. A simple home remedy is to slather on Greek yoghurt – its anti-inflammatory properties help skin heal. For a less messy alternative, try this gel-based product by Korres.

Greek Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel, Korres

Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream

Ideally, you should avoid covering up your redness with makeup as it will dry out your skin and act as an irritant. BB creams such as the Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream are the best solution if you need to tone it down for a night out or an important meeting. It’s great for all skin types and is versatile enough to moisturise and smooth dehydrated skin, prime and perfect the surface, camouflage and colour-correct skin tone, and protect against the sun.

Perfect Hydrating BB Cream, Shiseido 

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Lightweight Moisturisers For The Summer

7 Lightweight Moisturisers Perfect for the Summer

It’s time to adapt your skincare routine.

Every skincare enthusiast knows that the trick to keeping cool and hydrated in the summer is to find the perfect products for your skin. If you constantly find yourself sweating in this heat, you might be thinking that getting rid of your skincare routine altogether is a no-brainer, but experts firmly state that moisturising and sunscreen application are non-negotiables for healthy, glowy skin – you just have to find the right ones. To help you achieve your #skingoals, we’ve rounded up our top picks of the best lightweight moisturisers for summer.

Bioderma Sébium Mat Control

Not a fan of oily skin days? This option from French brand Bioderma not only hydrates the skin, but also keeps it matte for at least eight hours. It’s the perfect choice for girls-on-the-go who don’t have the time for constant makeup retouches. It’s light and smoothes skin textures, making it a great moisturiser for whether you want to go au naturel or full glam.

Find it here.

Source: Bioderma UAE

Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream

Every gal wants a product that can do it all. This moisturiser from Kiehl’s is formulated to hydrate, soften, and improve the skin’s texture – no matter the skin type. Its main ingredient calendula is best known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, sure to aid the skin’s natural healing and hydration process. Achieve a healthy glow and pair it with your favorite sunscreen without that heavy, sticky feeling.

Find it here

Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream

Source: Kiehl’s UAE

Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream

The beauty world just can’t get enough of K-beauty. If you’re keen to hop on the glass skin trend yourself, try out this moisturiser from Innisfree. It’s a gel-type cream that hydrates and calms skin irritation, leaving you free of unwanted redness. Enhance your skin’s natural radiance without ever feeling heavy or greasy through the day. 

Find it here

Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream

Source: Innisfree UAE Official Website

Tatcha The Water Cream

This moisturiser from Tatcha has been a holy grail for a lot of skincare junkies for years. It comes as no surprise – this water-based moisturiser is packed with powerhouse ingredients that promote hydration, anti-ageing, and pore-tightening. Upon application, you’ll achieve instant hydration without barely feeling anything on. It gives your skin a shine-free glow that’s perfect for both makeup and no-makeup days. 

Find it here

Source: Glamazle

Sukin Facial Moisturiser

Want a good moisturiser that doesn’t break the bank? Try this one from Sukin. It’s rich with ingredients such as rosehip, avocado, sesame seed, and jojoba oils, all of which are widely known for hydration and nourishment. It’s light, vegan, and available in a sensitive skin variation. 

Find it here.

Source: Life Pharmacy

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

True to its name, this moisturising cream from Neutrogena offers that extra boost of hydration, keeping you looking fresh around the clock. It’s an oil-free formula that features hyaluronic acid, a popular active ingredient that will rid your skin of dullness and dehydration. It’s also non-comedogenic, making it the ideal product for Dubai’s hot summer months.

Find it here.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Source: Carrefour UAE

No7 Early Defence Day Cream

Another drugstore entry on this list is the light cream from No7. Perfect for those with normal to combination skin, this moisturiser provides Double Defence technology that hydrates and protects the skin from UV rays and pollution. It also contains SPF15 and is completely kind to sensitive skin thanks to its hypo-allergenic properties.

Find it here.

No7 Early Defence Day Cream
Source: Boots UAE
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Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Are Reef-Safe Sunscreens Really Coral-Friendly?

Check out these truly harmless options.

The first rule about buying reef-safe sunscreens is to ignore any labelling claims (including logos) such as “marine-safe”, “marine-friendly”, and “coral-reef safe”. Why? Because there is no agreed definition on what coral reef-safe sunscreens are. In fact, less than 10 countries have taken any action in protecting coral reefs from controversial sunscreen ingredients, and less-than-scrupulous manufacturers use such labels as vacuous marketing terms as there is no law preventing them from doing otherwise. 

What Are Coral Reefs?

Corals are living organisms that join each other to form coral reefs that can stretch hundreds of miles (think: the Great Barrier Reef in Australia). They have also often been described as the “rainforests of the seas”. What coral reefs contribute to our ecosystem and economy is hard to appreciate.

The Environmental Protection Agency (an American government agency) estimates that coral reefs contribute to at least 25% of all marine life. These delicate ecosystems are vital to the survival of at least half a billion people globally through food, coastal protection, and supporting local economies (through fishing and tourism). And with #OnlyOneEarth – the theme of World Environment Day 2022 – calling for transformative action on a global scale, the time to protect them is now.

Modern-Day Threats to Coral Reefs

It’s unsurprising that coral reef sites (such as in Australia or Hawaii) are also very popular tourist destinations. However, there are several threats to coral reefs including pollution, rising ocean temperatures (via global warming), and the acidification of oceans. Corals derive their beautiful colour from algae that they hold and, when stressed, they expel their algae. This leads to coral bleaching, which can kill them.  

Modern-Day Threats to Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs and Your Sunscreen

Sunscreens contain ingredients called UV filters that are designed to filter out specific UV rays to prevent the skin from getting affected by some of the damaging effects of these rays. In most countries, only specific ingredients are permitted as filters. The most controversial filters are:

  • Oxybenzone (or Benzophenone-3) 
  • Octinoxate (or Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)
  • Octocrylene 
  • Avobenzone (or Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane)

Hawaii specifically bans all four ingredients. A 2015 study by a group of scientists, including a US government body and Dr Downs of Haereticus Lab (HEL), found that Oxybenzone was highly toxic to juvenile corals in four ways:

  • Inducing coral bleaching (which can lead to their death) 
  • Damaging DNA (which can prevent them from reproducing)
  • Acting as an endocrine disruptor 
  • Causing juvenile coral to become deformed

Octinoxate pretty much has the same effect. Avobenzone and Octocrylene were only recently banned by Hawaii (with final measures coming in 2023) and the state government notes that these chemicals can not only affect corals, but also disrupt human hormones. Octocrylene can also degrade into a carcinogen.

Other Ingredients You Should Look for in Sunscreens

The HEL laboratory lists out 11 ingredients that it suggests you look for in sunscreens and other personal care products. The most relevant are:

  • Parabens
  • Oxybenzone
  • Nano Zinc
  • Titanium Dioxide

Note that ingredients such as Parabenzoic Acid and Methylbenzylidene Camphor that are listed are not found in most sunscreens anyway. Both Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are commonly referred to as “mineral” sunscreens in the USA. Mineral sunscreens tend to sit on top of the skin and leave a not-so-flattering white cast. Nano or micro-sized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide sunscreens have smaller particle sizes and, therefore, do not leave a white cast and are increasing in popularity. A US government study indicates that, at high concentrations, they can be damaging to aquatic life – not just corals. But further research needs to be carried out to confirm the specific impact on corals. Specifically, Nano Zinc Oxide – also called Coated Zinc Oxide – can accelerate coral bleaching. 

Where Does That Leave Us?

Not many countries ban sunscreen ingredients, and most cannot police every sunscreen bottle that tourists bring into the country. Therefore, it really is up to you and me to do the responsible thing. That means opting for non-Nano Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide sunscreens.

Which Sunscreens Should You Use?

My primary criterion for selecting a sun cream is how harmless it is for corals and marine life. I’ve gone through each ingredient label andpersonally tried products, arriving at these top three sunscreens: 

1. Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30, REN CLEAN SKINCARE

This is a 22% Zinc Oxide sunscreen and, while it is not cheap at a price tag of AED 120, it comes with the benefit of blending in without leaving a white cast and not smelling like chalk.

REN CLEAN SKINCAR

2. SPF30 Sunscreen 100% Mineral Uv Filters, THE INKEY LIST

When this sunscreen first came out, the brand touted it as being the price of a coffee. I find that to be quite a disservice to this decent tinted sunscreen, with the only caveat being that it smells like chalk.

THE INKEY LIST

3.  Mineral Uv Filters SPF30 With Antioxidants, THE ORDINARY

For a normal Zinc Oxide sunscreen, this is of excellent value. My only issue with it is that you have to double cleanse because once it’s on, it really does not want to be removed!   

THE ORDINARY
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