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Build. Review. Improve. Repeat*. - (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

* Only if you need to. If it's not broken, try not to fix it - (・◡・;).

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helga runs on lots of love,
and coffee - ☕

Hi, there - (ᵔ◡ᵔ)ノ゙. cynthia, from helga here.

I hope you're enjoying using helga as much as I love working on helga.

If so, consider downloading the app. Alongside access to additional skincare tools (such as an m.o. (skincare routine) builder, and a Skin Cycle), after the first 7 days of using the app, you can support helga for free by watching a single ad that will unlock helga for the day.

If you'd like to continue supporting helga, consider buying me a coffee. Each coffee helps me to continue actively working on helga's development and maintenance, and get the occasional coffee as well - (ᵔ◡ᵔ).

Til the next one, happy exploring.

- cynthia, from helga

If you need some help with helga, you can send me a DM on Instagram or Reddit and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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Ingredients

A product which includes ingredients which are known to address your particular skin concerns are usually a best start. Select a stat to learn more about the product's ingredients.

avb Stats
avb Stats

avb Stats

helga's code for acids, vitamins, and botanicals, with acids being a composite of AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, and HAs.

Here's a quick guide on how you read them:

Simplified4 / 0 / 84 acids, 0 vitamins and 8 botanicalsThis could mean the product has a combination of different acids, or it has 4 forms of the same acid (for example, Hyaluronic Acid - as with [sunscree] Abib's Sedum hyaluron sunscreen, Protection tube), as shown below.Expanded(abphs) / v / b(0 | 0 | 0 | 4) / 0 / 84 acids (0 AHAs, 0 BHAs, 0 PHAs, 4 HAs),
0 vitamins and 8 botanicals


Although you may find a product with an avb Stat of 0 / 0 / 0 it might still be worth giving it a look. (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

Punch Card stats
Punch Card stats

Punch Card Stats

A quick glance of which skin concerns a product can address according to the ingredients known to address those specific skin concerns.

Here's a list of the skin concerns we list on the Punch Card Stats:

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Identical ingredients

A product which includes ingredients which are known to address your particular skin concerns are usually a best start. Select a stat to learn more about the product's ingredients.

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Sun protection

Ideal for comparing sunscreens or moisturisers which include SPF, and have a UVA protection rating. We recommend SPF 30+ and higher as you're likely to get the most sun protection.

SPF rating
SPF rating

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a numerical rating system that indicates how effectively a product protects your skin from the sun's (harmful) ultraviolet (UV) rays, specifically UVB rays, which are the primary cause of sunburn.

To protect against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper and contribute to wrinkles and premature aging, look for "broad spectrum" on your sunscreen label. This will ensure protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

A note about numbers: Higher SPF generally translates to greater protection. While SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 offers 97% protection, and SPF 50 reaches 98%.

However, SPF is not a perfect shield - no sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.

A word about SPF 15: Is IT enough?

Sun exposure
- Limited exposure: If you'll be outside for short periods (20-30 minutes) with minimal sun exposure (like walking to your car on a cloudy day), SPF 15 might offer basic protection.
- Extended exposure: However, for longer periods or higher sun intensity (like spending time at the beach on a sunny day), SPF 15 is not sufficient. It's recommended to use SPF 30 or higher for these situations.

Skin type
- Less pigmented skin: Individuals with less pigmented skin tones are generally more susceptible to sun damage and require higher SPF protection (SPF 30 or higher) even for minimal sun exposure.
- Deep pigmented skin tones: Individuals with deep pigmented skin tones typically have more melanin, which offers some natural protection against UV rays. However, sun protection is still crucial, and using SPF 15 or higher is recommended, especially for extended sun exposure.

helga's Recommendation

- You see the sun? Wear your sunscreen.
- You don't seen the sun, but it's day-time? Weare your sunscreen? (UV rays can penetrate clouds.)
- Concerned about acne, hyperpigmenation, wrinkles and fine lines, and everything in between? Wear your sunscreen - (。•̀ᴗ-)✧.

P.S. Reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming or sweating. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and avoid the peak hours of sunlight (10 am to 4 pm) whenever possible.

UVA protection rating
UVA protection rating

UVA protection rating

Unlike SPF, which focuses solely on UVB rays, UVA protection rating focuses on the effectiveness of a product against UVA rays.

Compared to UVB rays, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for:

Premature aging: UVA rays contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of skin firmness.

Skin cancer: While not the primary cause, UVA rays also play a role in the development of skin cancer.

Tanning: UVA rays are the primary cause of tanning, which is the body's attempt to protect itself from UV damage. However, tanning is a sign of skin damage and does not provide lasting protection.

The 5-star system
The UVA protection rating system (used in some regions like Europe and Australia) uses 1 to 5 stars.

5 stars represent the highest level of UVA protection, while 1 star indicates the least.

No UVA protection rating?
Your skincare product doesn't have a UVA protection rating? If it says it's broad spectrum then it can also offer protection against UVA rays.

helga's Recommendation

Aim for 4 or 5 stars for optimal protection.

P.S.: Even broad-spectrum sunscreens aren't perfect. Follow sun safety practices like seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and reapplying sunscreen regularly, regardless of the UVA protection rating.

Formulation preferences

A list of types of ingredients that have been shown to exhibit some sensitivity in some people.

helga's thoughts: Just because a particular ingredient type isn't in the formulation doesn't make it any better than another product that does include that particular ingredient type. Think of this as a guideline for people with known sensitivity towards these sort of ingredient types.

Fragrance
Fragrance

Fragrance

Fragrance is an umbrella term which refers to any natural or synthetic substance or substances used solely to impart an odor to a cosmetic product.

It was developed to protect a company's proprietary perfume blend or trade secrets under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966.

Although it is used to impart a pleasant smell or mask odours, with prolonged us, people can become sensitised to it and develop an allergy.

helga's Recommendation

If you've noticed skin irritation when using products which contain fragrance (and you can definitively attribute the irritation to the fragrance in the product), switching to a fragrance-free alternative might be a good idea.

Whether you're sure or not, consider consulting your dermatologist if using products with fragrance is a concern.

Alcohol
Alcohol

Alcohol

Alcohol-free or no alcohol: These cosmetic labels describe skincare products that do not contain ethyl alcohol which is considered drying and irritating.

The extent to which it can be drying or irritating is dependent on the amount used within the skincare product i.e., the higher up it appears on an ingredients list, the more likely it will be drying and irritating.

However, skincare products labelled "alcohol free" or "no alcohol" may contain other alcohols, namely fatty alcohols.

These are a group of alcohols whose effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol. Some fatty alcohols can act as emollients (stearyl alcohol) or humectants (propylene glycol) which are beneficial in maintaining the skin barrier.

helga's Recommendation

If you've noticed skin irritation when using products which contain alcohol (and you can definitively attribute the irritation to the alcohol in the product), switching to a alcohol-free alternative might be a good idea.

Whether you're sure or not, consider consulting your dermatologist if using products with alcohol is a concern.

SLS
SLS

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)

SLS - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate - is a surfactant which is deemed safe to use by a number of regulatory bodies (FDA, Cosmetics Toiletries & Fragrances Association and The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development).

However, SLS has been identified as a skin irritant if left on skin for prolonged periods of time. It is unlikely to cause irritation when used in rinse-off products, but because of it's potential irritancy, it may be unsuitable for people with sensitve skin or skin conditions such as rosacea or psoriasis.

Note: Sodium Laurly Sulfate is different from Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) which is derived from SLS through a process called ethoxylation and because of this is gentler on skin than its predecessor, SLS.

helga's Recommendation

If you've noticed skin irritation when using products which contain SLS (and you can definitively attribute the irritation to the SLS in the product), switching to a SLS-free alternative might be a good idea.

Whether you're sure or not, consider consulting your dermatologist if using products with SLS is a concern.

Parabens
Parabens

Parabens

Parabens are (broad-spectrum) preservatives deemed safe to use by the FDA and European Union's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.

Compared to other preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone (MIT), they are less allergenic and provide skincare products with shelf lives as long as 2 years.

However, a small study that found parabens in the tissue of breast tumors sparked concerns that there could be an association between parabens and breast cancer.

This study has been broadly discredited and the author has mentioned there is no claim made in the manuscript that the presence of parabens had caused the breast cancer.

In addition, according to "Parabens Toxicology", a 2019 review of the literature, no study of parabens has concluded that they contribute to hormone disruption, breast cancer or skin cancer in humans.

The crux: using skincare products which contain parabens is a highly likely safer alternative compared to other preservatives.

helga's Recommendation

If you've noticed skin irritation when using products which contain parabens (and you can definitively attribute the irritation to the parabens in the product), switching to a parabens-free alternative might be a good idea.

Whether you're sure or not, consider consulting your dermatologist if using products with parabens is a concern.

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About

About helga

Hi, there - (ᵔ◡ᵔ)ノ゙. cynthia, from helga here.

I'm a software engineer/human experience researcher and I've been building helga for a minute now, and it all started with the first pimple I experienced in high school (more on this another time), and my not knowing anything - not even a sliver (。T ω T。) - about skincare. Owing to my not-so-blissful ignorance, a number of unfortunate misadventures transpired, and at the end of the tunnel, and some 10000+ lines of code later, there was helga.

The big ideas are 1. may you happily skincare and may your skin care - for tis season we must glow, and for all seasons we must glow - and 2. may your finding your possible-next-fav skincare be easier, and more fun than it's been in a while - there's a lot out there, each with a promise, each asking for our coins. Using helga, I hope we can discover better possible choices.

Til the next one, happy exploring.

- cynthia, from helga

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helga runs on lots of love,
and coffee - ☕

Hi, there - (ᵔ◡ᵔ)ノ゙. cynthia, from helga here.

I hope you're enjoying using helga as much as I love working on helga.

If so, consider downloading the app. Alongside access to additional skincare tools (such as an m.o. (skincare routine) builder, and a Skin Cycle), after the first 7 days of using the app, you can support helga for free by watching a single ad that will unlock helga for the day.

If you'd like to continue supporting helga, consider buying me a coffee. Each coffee helps me to continue actively working on helga's development and maintenance, and get the occasional coffee as well - (ᵔ◡ᵔ).

Til the next one, happy exploring.

- cynthia, from helga

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