Archive for category Anti-Aging

Green Beauty Regime, Take One – Pai & Stark Skincare

So it’s been almost a month since I started using nearly all green / organic beauty products and guys – it’s been sort of KICKASS.

This could get really rambly, really quick – so I’m gonna jump right in because otherwise we’ll both be here all night.  First, let’s start with the cleansers that have been keeping my skin fresh and clear over the past little while.

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Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm ($40CAD) was the first full-on green purchase I made back in September.  I ordered directly from the brand’s site, as they were having a promo I think, and also picked up my konjac sponge at the same time (though, I don’t use the sponge with the balm because I worry that the thickness of the balm will gunk it up <– obviously not a scientific determination).  I was nervous at first because it smells REALLY GOOD, kinda citrusy (but not in a fake way, in a MMMMMMMmmmm way), and you know how scared I am of fragrance – but, awesomely, I’ve had ZERO problems with this product.  I even took it on a trip to Newfoundland a few weeks ago as both my cleanser and moisturizer (as it is designed to handle both tasks) and was pleasantly surprized at how great my skin was the entire time, which is a feat in itself (travel can be rough on my touchy skin).

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The balm itself is quite lovely – it has a smooth, buttery texture, with little bits of raw cocoa butter that sort of get massaged in with everything else.  Truth be told, I don’t love these little bits, only because they don’t dissolve as fast as I’d like, and sometimes fall in and around my sink – but that’s just me being nitpicky.  In fact, they’re the ONLY thing I don’t love about the balm – everything else is fan-freakin’-tastic :)  You just massage a small amount into the skin, wash it away with a soft cloth, and voila!  Clean skin (that truly does feel clean) which also feels hydrated and cared for.  I use it mainly for this purpose – as a cleanser – and I am exceptionally impressed that this creamy balm removes all traces of makeup, dirt and oil AND hasn’t caused one breakout or reaction.  SOLD.

Ingredients of Stark Cleanse + Hydrate Balm: Shea fruit butter, virgin coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, soybean butter, candelilla wax, camellia seed oil, sweet almond oil, arrowroot powder, orange peel wax, vitamin E, pure essential oils.

Pai’s Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50CAD) was a freebie I received when I put in my Fresh Faced order for a few other Pai goodies late last month.  I wasn’t interested in it as my skin isn’t really dry (as this seemed best suited for), but figured I’d try it out nonetheless.  Winter is coming, after all.  Surprizingly, I quite enjoy it, and similarly to the Stark balm, it’s thick, creamy texture – that feels a bit heavy, like it might not cleanse and then wash away properly – is actually quite effective.  I have been using this as my second cleanse after the Stark balm (also wiping it away with a washcloth), and again, I’ve had no breakouts whatsoever – and in fact my pores are more cleaned out than ever!  Interestingly, it contains castor oil, which in my research I’ve discovered is anti-bacterial and a great humectant (binding water to the skin), and despite being a thicker oil is almost entirely non-comedogenic.  So that’s probably why I haven’t experienced any breakouts!

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Overall, it’s a great gentle cleanser that great for all skin types, even despite it’s thickness.  The only drawback I’ve found is that it doesn’t quite remove tenacious eye makeup – but for that, we have removers, right?

Oh, and it smells divine too – faintly like lemons (I think that’s the geranium in there!) :)

Ingredients of Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser: Organic rose water, water, organic camellia oil, organic castor oil, organic sweet almond oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic shea butter, organic vegetable glycerin, natural vitamin E, corn extract, basil extract, organic lavender oil, organic geranium oil, organic may chang oil, organic rose oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Next up, we have the hydrators.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I still have a few non-organic items I need to get through, but overall these are my go-to items that I have been wearing daily.

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Pai’s Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream ($48CAD) was seriously designed for me.  It’s formulated to clear and rebalance oily and combination skin, and my goodness does it ever do it well!!  This is the perfect day cream for my often ‘glistening’ skin – it absorbs quickly, leaving a velvet-like finish, and I don’t see any shine until nearly the end of the work day (when normally I’d need to blot by about 11am).  It contains Borage oil, a dry oil loaded with antioxidants that is one of the best oils for barrier repair, and which also helps reduce collagen destruction (woot!).

IMG_0496IMG_04972nd picture – after being rubbed in.  No shiny!

It also seems to give me that elusive glow that I’ve been trying to achieve all summer in vain (glowing goes quickly to greasy when you’re an oilier skin type), which is awesome.  Again, I’ve had absolutely NO adverse reactions to this moisturizer – it hydrates perfectly without being too heavy for day, and I haven’t had a single bout of eczema since I started using it.  BAM.   The scent of this one doesn’t blow my socks off – it’s kind of earthy with a slight lemony twist (again, the geranium)- but it’s not offensive in the least so there’s no problem there.  I would (and will) repurchase this in a heartbeat.  That is a rarity ’round these here parts – even great products usually get replaced for shiny new ones – so that’s saying something!

Ingredients of Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream: Purified water, organic jojoba oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic thistle oil, organic borage oil, natural vitamin E, organic vegetable glycerin, corn extract, manuka oil, basil extract, organic geranium oil, organic juniper oil, organic lavender oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Another product that is HIGHLY worth the repurchase is Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($35CAD).  Rosehip oil is a dry oil notorious for its ability to heal and repair the skin; it also contains trans-retinoic acid, which is converted to vitamin A in the skin to boost the healing process.  The function is similar to retinol, but with less irritation.  The oil is supposed to help improve the appearance of scars, sun damage, and fine lines.

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Now let me tell you.  I had two rather large pimples sprout up on my right cheek a few weeks back – they started as tiny clogged pores, and I stupidly tried to squeeze them ~d’oh~.  I was bummed that they were going to leave a scar (as acne usually does for me), especially as I was going to a wedding in a couple weeks.  Well lo and behold, no word of a lie, but not only did those full-on pimples run their course in record time (I’m talking like, three days MAX), but the scars also significantly faded before the day of the wedding – so much so that all I needed to cover them was a bit of foundation.  Truly, I was shocked at how quickly the turnover was, as it usually takes months before my acne scars disappear.  Miracle product?  I’m thinking YES.

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On top of all that fabulosity, I find that this oil is, again, perfect for my oilier skin, and I can use this as my sole hydrator each evening without requiring an additional moisturizer.  It sinks in fairly quickly, and the scent – which to me smells sort of like green tea – dissipates within minutes as well.  And again, no breakouts, only great skin!  What’s not to love?  I haven’t noticed any anti-aging effects yet, but I mean…I don’t really have a lot of ‘aging’ to fix just yet, so…yea.  But overall, I absolutely love this oil and will repurchase in a heartbeat.  And at $35??  Ummmm it’s kinda the cheapest one around guys!

Ingredients of Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil: Organic rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, organic rosa canina (rosehip) fruit extract, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).

So Pai is sort of knocking it out of the park for me.  Both the moisturizer and the oil were also Beauty Award Winners according to Bazaar magazine in 2011.  I usually take those ‘award’ thingys with less than a grain of salt (editors are basically paid to talk up certain products), but turns out in this case the awards were well justified!

As you can order samples from Fresh Faced for $0.75 each, I put in an order a couple weeks ago to try out most of May Lindstrom’s line (quick synopsis: meh on The Youth Dew {which is great – saves me $125!!!}, enjoyed The Cleansing Dirt and The Problem-Solver…but not enough to purchase at the moment), as well as a couple products from One Love Organics (the Easy Does It cleanser is lovely and a multi-tasker for face, body, and hair – I MUST buy for travel; and the Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum is quite nice!).  I love this option, as I can decide just what I want items from my massive list I want to spend my money on….though truth be told I’d kinda like to own one of everything! :D

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I’ve been having such a great time experimenting and trying out new products, more so than I ever have in the past.  It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to just jump right in with something new and not have to worry about how my skin will react.  So far, I haven’t had one set back in all the items I’ve tried, and my skin has honestly never looked or felt better.  Even in circumstances like traveling where I’m not in my usual surroundings (which means, bedsheets washed with fragrance free/dye-free-everything-free detergent; no pets; etc), I’ve found my skin’s resilience has improved ten-fold, and I have hardly had a blip on the radar in terms of skin’s reactivity.  I’m not knocking ‘regular’ products in the least – I think they have some great technology out there, and in some cases are more effective than organic skincare products – but for me, the reduction in inflammation (which additionally can speed up aging) and the freedom to try anything without fear, is an absolute dream.  Plus, I have been having more fun with my skincare rituals that I ever have, and washing and treating my face has never been so enjoyable :)

Aside from the brands I’ve mentioned, are their any other green/organic lines I should be investigating??

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My Summertime Skin Saviors

The past few days have been insanely, impossibly, stinkin’ (on the bus…literally :S) hot.  I mean H.O.T.!!  Tempuratures have soared into the low 30s with a humidex of near 40 degrees since Wednesday, and barely go lower than the mid 20s in the evening.  I don’t like to complain, because before that we had days upon days of rain, but….DUDE.  It’s frickin’ crazy up in here.

Since the sun has been beaming its beautiful yet harmful rays down hard over these last days, sunscreen and skin repair has been heavy on my mind.  Thankfully, even though half of our summer has been spent enduring overcast, rainy skies, I’ve been prepared for the eventual more seasonally-appropriate weather since May, with an arsenal of serious-business sunscreens as well as antioxidant-laden treatments to stave off any damage occurred from those times I do venture out into the heat.  I’m having enormous success with these products so I just have to tell you about them!

Sun Saviors (2)Clockwise from left: Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion Face SPF60, Vichy Capital Soleil Sheer Lotion SPF45 Bare Skin Feel Face and Body, MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel

I have pretty high requirements when it comes to sunscreens.  It needs to be non-greasy (especially for face), fragrance-free, and gentle enough for my sensitive, eczema-prone skin – which often means physical sunscreens, except they generally leave a whitish cast that is super-noticeable on my darker skin, especially once I’m tanned.  These demands don’t seem that serious, but it is a TRIAL to find physical sunscreens that leave a trace behind.  I finally caved this year and picked up two products that do contain chemical sunscreens to avoid this problem, but both are extremely forgiving to my finnicky skin.  Additionally, they are both exceptionally light-feeling and are fragrance free.  The products in question are La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion Face SPF60 ($27CAD), and Vichy’s Capital Soleil Sheer Lotion SPF45 Bare Skin Feel Face and Body ($30CAD).

Vichy and La Roche-Posay sunscreenLa Roche-Posay Anthelios on left; Vichy Capital Soleil on right

Let me just say now how madly in love with these products I am!!  Neither cause any irritation to my skin whatsoever – yahoo!!!!! – and disappear without a trace once rubbed in.  They both have a thin consistency, especially the La Roche-Posay, which is very liquidy and rubs in so easily on my face.  The Vichy product, a new formulation this year, is thicker but still very silky to the touch, and is invisible once rubbed in with zero stickiness or heavy feel.  Both are absolute superstars in my books and I’m really pleased to have discovered them.  I purchased both from Shoppers Drug Mart and managed to score them both on sale too, for around $21CAD.  They aren’t cheap but for me they’re well worth the cost.

Ingredient lists for your reference:

La Roche-Posay Anthelios

La Roche-Posay Anthelios

Vichy Capital Soleil

Vichy Capital Soleil

Next, we have damage control.  I mentioned to you a couple weeks ago that I picked up MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel ($47CAD) and was quite liking it.  The sentiment still stands – this product is awesome!  The texture is VERY thin, and quite watery, so move quickly.  However, one pump will do your whole face and neck, and it sinks in instantly, feeling like I put nothing on.  I love that I can use this every single morning without worrying it might cause excess shine due to the humid, hot weather.

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel

Of course, as it’s preventative with no real treatment, I can’t see the effects of it’s hard work, but it is absolutely one the loveliest products I’ve had the pleasure to use on my oily skin. It is designed to moisturize the skin as well, but I can’t comment on that because my skin isn’t currently dry in the least – so for someone who required extra moisture, this might not be for you.  But for you other oily or normal-combination skins out there, I highly recommend this product if you’re looking to prevent the aging effects of the sun.  I plan on picking up the Antioxidant Spray next!

Ingredient list:

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel

Finally, I make sure that my body is well looked-after.   To resist aging everywhere else, any time I spend a longer than normal time in the sun, I use Clinique’s After Sun Rescue Balm.  This product feels glorious on sun-parched, over-heated skin, and is terrifically soothing if you’ve accidentally gotten a bit of a burn.  The high aloe content and other moisturizing properties help soothe and minimize peeling, and the ingredients boast antioxidants to combat any crazy free-radicals trying to prematurely age you.

Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe (2)

The texture is sort of reminiscent of a gel-cream, and it leaves a bit of a glow behind which absorbs fairly quickly (see photo below) and does not feel sticky at all.  Even on my sensitive skin, this product is exceptional, and I’d use it as an everyday body lotion all summer long if I had the cash (it costs $24CAD, which isn’t horrendous, but its not cheap either).

Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe

Ingredients for reference:

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, PEG-8, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Stearic Acid, Tribehenin, Micrococcus Lysate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Cholesterol, Isostearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lecithin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Sucrose, Polysorbate 60, Tromethamine, Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linoleic Acid, Squalane, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Beta-Sitosteryl Sulfate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hexylene Glycol, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Green 5

I’m really feeling full-on prepared for summer, and I have to say it feels pretty darn good!  I don’t burn easily or often, but I like to think that’s because I take precautions to avoid that happening.  I think that high-powered sunscreens, in conjunction with repairing products, will keep me looking good throughout the summer and beyond (I hope!).

Sun Saviors

Are you prepared for summer? What are your go-to products?

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Skincare and Sunscreen and Polish, Oh My!

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been picking up or receiving packages full of great treats which I’ve thoroughly been enjoying.  At the moment, I’m still in the testing phase for most of the products so no reviews quite yet, but so far everything has been really stellar.  I’ve also purchased a few new nail polishes, and hope to get some pictures up tomorrow!  For now, I’m just going to leave you with a few teaser photos and some quick thoughts.

Skincare

Skincare

Boscia Tsubaki Facial Oil – I picked this up during the Sephora sale in April but just opened it within the last month or so.  Even though the consistency is lighter than my beloved Tarte Maracuja Oil, I find it’s a little more oily somehow so I only need the smallest amount.  Otherwise, it’s quite nice and is a pleasure to use, though I’m not sure it gives me the same results as the Tarte oil.

Boscia Clear Complexion Treatment – Lately I’ve been breaking out here and there, which is very unusual for me.  I attributed it to something going on with my skin so I picked up this natural BHA product to see if it would help clear out my pores.  While it feels really great going on – lightweight and absorbs quickly – and leaves my skin feeling super smooth, I think the real reason for the breakouts was putting coconut oil in my hair every night; I think it was getting on my pillow and clogging my pores a bit. Since I’ve stopped doing that, the breakouts have been clearing up – but who know, could be this product too!

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel – I needed a new antioxidant product and have read a lot of great this about this gel.  It’s excellent for oilier skin, especially in these warmer months, as it absorbs lightning fast with no residue yet still hydrates.  I am already in love with this!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I grabbed this on a whim as I needed to spend $50 to get 20x the bonus points at Shoppers last weekend.  It was on sale for $20 from $27 and I’d been wanting to check it out at some point, so I made the purchase.  I use this during the day when I want my skin to look plump and hydrated without the accompanying greasy look from many other moisturizers.  I can’t tell if this does much else to my skin just yet, but I’m definitely not noticing any issues!

Sunscreens

SunscreenI had to insert a photo of my new VS bikini somehow – I love it so much!  I have a purse, a pair of flats, and now this swimsuit in this neon lime-yellow color….I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Vichy Capital Soleil Mexoryl XL Sheer Lotion SPF45 – this sunscreen is FANTASTIC.  I tend to steer clear of chemical sunscreens due to my eczema, but read a good point somewhere about Vichy and La Roche-Posay being great brands to try for broad spectrum sun protection because they are often formulated for sensitive skin.  Whatever the case, this really is excellent on my fussy skin and I’ve had absolutely no problems or irritation from it whatsoever.  It’s also incredibly lightweight and non-greasy, and doesn’t leave a whitish cast on my skin at all.  It actually makes me want to wear sunscreen all the time.  I adore it!  It’s not cheap at about $27CAD, but it does go on sale (I purchased it for about $18) and it’s well worth the cost.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60 – I just purchased this last weekend along with the Hydraluron, and I haven’t opened it yet as I am *just* finishing my Clinique sunscreen now.  I have tried a sample of this however, and really liked how thin in consistency it was, how easy it spread on my face, and how it doesn’t leave a whitish cast.  I have high hopes for this one!

Polish

Polish

Dior Spring Ball - my first Dior polish!!  I wasn’t interested in these spring polishes at all, until I tried this one on at Sephora a few weeks ago and fell in love.  However, it was sold out everywhere by that time – but I persevered and ordered it online from Sephora (along with two shades of NARS’ Radiant Creamy concealers – which I LOVE).  Unfortunately, I’m a little disappointed in the shade – it’s not as beautiful as I remember, sadly.  But it’s still very pretty and wearable, and I don’t regret the purchase too much.

Essie Come Here! – I have so many polishes in this color vein…but I can’t help myself ~sigh~  I got a hankering for a pretty coral red and felt I *needed* to have one, but I probably have a bunch of shades similar to this.  However, I really do love it and I find this kind of tone works for just about every outfit.  But – NO MORE CORALS.  At least for a little while ;0)

a-England Sleeping Palace – the latest a-England release kind of crept up out of nowhere (as usual), and I ogled the beautiful shades along with everyone else.  I actually have quite a few of the brands polishes, and usually pick up one or two from each collection.  This was the stunner for me – a gorgeous dusty mauve with prismatic shimmer.  It doesn’t feel like a summer shade to me, but come fall I’m going to be all over this.  It’s really quite beautiful!

Zoya Robyn – I saw this on Lakeisha’s blog a couple weeks ago and decided I had to have it.  It looks better on her than I, but I still like it a lot and can’t wait to wear this as a pedi shade.  I had no colors like it at all so I’m pretty happy to add it to the collection.

As you can see, I have a lot of new things on the go!  I’m almost at a skincare utopia which feels pretty damn awesome – I’d just like to get an antioxidant masque (Kahina’s looks/sounds perfect), an exfoliator of some sort (the Pure + Simple Organic Vanilla Cleansing Powder Becca mentioned here is right up my alley), and a cleansing oil (maybe Tatcha’s??) when my Clinique Take the Day Off balm runs out.  In the sunscreen arena, I’m blissfully pleased with Vichy’s offering, and suspect I’ll feel the same about LRP’s too.  The polishes weren’t all ectasy-inducing, but I’m pretty happy with them as well.

What sort of products have you been buying lately?

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Skincare Focus: Getting Your Best Skin!

Despite what my post from last week may indicate, I am trying to shift my focus in cosmetics away from accumulating MORE makeup, and instead opt to purchase better tools and invest in good skincare in 2013.  Aside from a few gaps which I’ve identified here, here and here, I’m aiming to cull back my makeup collection and indulge in my consumerism in a way that feels more justifiable.  As such, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the best routine to adapt to keep my skin looking youthful and as flawless as possible.  As I’ve mentioned before, I really want to incorporate retinol into my regimen, as ensure that I’m using antioxidant-full products to minimize the effects of aging sun damage.  I found a great one-page article in the most recent InStyle magazine (March edition) that explains what to use and when for your best skin.  Here are the main four points, and my suggestions for products to try (after much research!) *Keep in mind I’m merely making suggestions – I’m no doctor and everyone’s skin is different!:

I. Vitamin-A Derivatives (aka Retinoids) – keeps collagen stimulated; use every second night.

Retinol Suggestions

1) Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream with 0.5% Pure Retinol $54US (not sure about CAD prices)

2) Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Serum $78CAD

3) Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original Formula $25CAD

4) Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM $75CAD

II. Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHA’s – glycolic or lactic acid) or Beta-hydroxy Acids (BHA’s – salicylic acid) – prevents wrinkles, combats dulls skin and uneven skin texture through exfoliation; use on opposite nights to retinol.  Interesting note: AHA’s are better for normal to dry skin, while BHA’s are better for oilier or acne-prone skin types, as it can penetrate through oily skin better to exfoliate the pore. Salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory and has mild antibacterial properties.

AHA's & BHA's

1) philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer (BHA’s) $39CAD

2) Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer (AHA’s) $52CAD

3) Neostrata Oil-Free Smoothing Lotion Level 3 (AHA’s) $39CAD

III. Antioxidants (particularly Vitamins C & E) – protect skin from free radicals that cause lines and dullness; use every morning before applying sunscreen (which is also a must!).

Antioxidants

1) Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Power C x 30™ Vitamin C Brightening Serum $105CAD

2) Clinique City Block Sheer Oil Free Daily Face Protector SPF25 $25CAD

3) MD Formulations Moisture Defense Hydrating Gel $46CAD

4) Kate Somerville Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen $45CAD

5) MAC Prep + Prime Skin Brightening Serum $48CAD

IV. Anti-inflammatory Night Moisturizer – soothes skin from any potential irritation via the retinol or AHA/BHA’s; use at night between uses of treatment products.

Night Cream

1) Jurlique Calendula Cream $45CAD

2) Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer$55CAD

3) Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil $55CAD

 

Phew!  This was a lot of work and research you guys!!  I haven’t tried all these (though there are a few I recommend – Kate Somerville’s Quench, Clinique’s City Block, and Tarte’s Maracuja Oil), but I cross-referenced between Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia, Makeup Alley reviews, and Sephora reviews so I hope that’s at least somewhat reassuring that these are decent picks!  *But of course…please don’t come back angry if you try one and it’s crap!

I hope you guys find this post and the recommendations helpful!  Personally I’m thinking of picking up the Neutrogena Healthy Skin lotion, Philosophy Clear Days Ahead moisturizer, and the MAC Prep + Prime serum :D

Do you have any skincare goals this year?

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My Skin Saviors: Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil & Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

So I mentioned in my previous skincare post that my skin has been kicking some serious ass lately.  I think aside from finally figuring out the tricks to dealing with eczema (also mentioned in that post), the two star products in the line-up are my facial cleanser, Consonant’s Organic Foaming Face Wash, and my nighttime facial oil, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil.

Super Skincare (2)

I was gifted the face wash by my aunt, who often buys big blockbuster skincare and makeup bags with a bunch of various products by various brands, via The Shopping Channel :P  Sometimes there are standout items, and sometimes…not so much.  I didn’t end up using the Consonant wash until about 6 months after receiving it, when I ran out of my previous face wash.  Initially, I didn’t think too much of it.  Its a foaming…soap…for the face.  But there is no denying the fact that somehow this product both gently cleanses while absolutely NOT stripping the skin of moisture (due to nourishing botanicals like grapeseed oil), and leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth, and blemish-free (it also contains teatree oil!).

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash (2)

It feels really silky once you rub it into your skin, and dissolves within seconds, which initially made me think it wasn’t cleaning properly.  However, 1-2 pumps of product really does remove all the dirt, oil, and makeup I abuse it with wear daily.  If your makeup is particularly tenacious, it may require a separate makeup remover (I used Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm), but in a pinch this will wash away almost everything without the added step.  It’s even designed to help eliminate uneven skin tone, which is a problem I suffer with, and it’s pH balanced (so no need for toner).  I’m not one to usually stick with one type of product after it’s used up, but I actually will repurchase this – it works and it’s relatively inexpensive at $18CAD.

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Calophyllum Tacamahaca, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Allantoin, Algae, Camellia Sinensis, Salix Alba, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera, Comfrey, Chamomilla Recutita, Symphytum Officinale, Cucumis Sativa, Vaccinium Myrtillus, Saccharum Officinarum, Acer Saccharum, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis, Citrus Medica Limonum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.


Does not contain: Phthalates, Petroleum Ingredients, Sulphates, Silicone, Synthetic Colour, Synthetic Fragrance or Paraben Preservatives.

Tarte Maracuja Oil

The other superstar in my skincare routine has GOT to be, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil ($55CAD).  This was one of the rare impulse buys I make every few months.  I was in Sephora, and as the staff know me there, I asked what was one of the standout must-have products I should try.  No less than THREE SA’s turned me toward the Maracuja Oil (between the ages of 20-50), insisting it had totally changed their skin.  I wasn’t in the market for a moisture product, but what the heck!  I had a $20 coupon to burn in which I needed to spend $50 or more.  DONE.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (2)

I usually steer clear of skincare via brands that are more known for makeup, and especially gimmicky-type products in general.  But honestly, I have been shocked at how much this has improved my skin!  It’s smoother, more even-toned, less oily, more hydrated, and I swear it’s made my pores less noticeable and all but eliminated the small fine lines around my eyes.  Apparently, maracuja oil is chockful of Vitamin C – which aids in brightening and radiance – and essential fatty acids, which are necessary for healthy skin to rebuild and repair itself  It’s also anti-inflammatory, which is ideal for someone like myself with eczema (or if you have sun damage!).  How I use it, is right after washing my face, a put a dropperful in my hand, rub them together to disperse, and then press it into my skin all over my face and neck (this product replaces my nighttime moisturizer).  I don’t know where I got the ‘pressing’ part but I think I heard somewhere that it helps oils penetrate the skin better (and probably a lot more gentle than vigorous rubbing!).  It absorbs a bit slowly, about half an hour to fully penetrate, at which time my skin just feels plump and hydrated and not at all greasy, filmy or sticky (which was a big reason why I did not like argan oil – too heavy!).  Some people have noted a slight smell to the product, but I detect next to none – at least nothing discernible, even if I stick my nose right up to the bottle opening.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (3)See…it’s so thin that it started spreading just from the small droplet on my hand!

The only ingredient in this product is maracuja oil, which contains none of the baddies like parabens or fragrance.

And now for a very revealing photo (after cleansing and applying the oil, sans makeup, with plenty of freckles/moles for your viewing pleasure):

Clean, Bare SkinI’m no model, by any means – but I’m pretty darn happy with how clear my skin is, and how well my pigmentation damage has faded on my forehead!  Too bad about those dark circles…

If you’re in the market for either (or both) a cleanser or hydrator, I highly recommend both of these products, for essentially all skin types except serious problem skin.  Both products are gentle and effective, truly have made such a huge improvement in my skin that I didn’t even realize I was lacking.

What is your absolute must-have skincare product?

You can purchase the Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash here, and the Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil here.

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18 Comments

A Post for When You Want to Post But Not Actually Do the Work (AKA My Current Skincare Regimen)

I’ve got an issue, guys.  I really feel like doing a review/showing swatches of a product, but I don’t want to actually have to do the work.  That’s kind of a problem, right?  And it’s not entirely true…I want to write about the product, but I don’t want to have to take any photos.  If I do a skincare product, I have to take boring shots of the bottle (you bloggers know what I’m taking about – product photos in containers are SO dull to snap :S).  If I feature a makeup product, I like to show face swatches too. I’m not avoiding showing my face, because my face is looking pretty darn good these days.  Seems I’ve found ‘THE‘ regimen for my skin, at long last – even for my body!  …Oh, ok, you want to hear about it?  Hmm… maybe if I do a few collective shots of what I’m using, it won’t be such a snore for me…  …OK!  Right-o!  We’re on ‘er now :)

Take Time Out for Beauty

Let’s work from the bottom up (not literally!).  Every year, I get a mysterious rash-type thing, that is NOT eczema but some sort of dermatitis that no one can explain.  I went for a biopsy last year to get it checked and it came back negative for all of the possible things it could be.  My derm is an idiot who can barely open his eyes (for some reason, he squints constantly – so annoying!), and didn’t offer any other solutions to figuring out the problem, so I have been essentially left to deal with it on my own.  This summer, I got another mystery rash on my arms, big-time (which made swatching impossible), and it was unlike anything I’ve had before.  Of course.  Anyway, when I went to NZ I hoped the fresh, clean air would heal me up, but this was not the case.  However, while there I bought this crazy Eumovate cream and it cleared it up in about two days.  To perfect smoothness.  Heck YES I was excited!  But then I read the fine print that said ‘Do not use for more than 7 consecutive days’ and I knew it was some heavy shit, so I stopped and of course the rash came back – not to the full strength, but nonetheless it still plagued me.

Creams

Speaking of plagued.  I wrote a poem once about my skin issues (seriously guys…it freakin’ drives me NUTS), and titled it ‘Plague’.  Check out the height of my lameness my mad skillz:

What lasting plague upon my house,
My body, mind & soul;
What constancy lives in my heart
That soon shall take it’s toll.
What ravages this skin, yet leaves
No evidence, no trace,
Of how to rid oneself of it,
Will it never erase?
A mystery, the cause of such
Destruction, that has made
A mockery of such a thing
That God so proudly laid.
Too long this body’s suffered so,
Too long without a cure;
Too soon it’s life comes to an end
Of this we can be sure.

Dudes.  I was way serious back in the day.  I wrote poetry all the time, because obviously sad poetry is WAY easier to write than happy stuff.  I did write a few cheerily optimistic poems the last time I was in the groove (about 4 years ago)…maybe sometime I’ll share (or not…this is a beauty blog, after all! :P).

Moving along…

Anyway, when I got home my GP told me that it was good to stop using the hardcore stuff I got in NZ, as it was pretty intense.  He hooked me up with a regular corticosteroid, which I do generally try to avoid but figured I had to do something, and BAM!  Problem fixed.  See, with eczema you have to treat that shit first…I kept trying all these plain creams to make it heal on it’s own, but that’s just silly.  I used the prescription for about five days and haven’t had to use it since.  Once I got my skin back to normal, THEN I could manage it with preventative measures.  Which are:

- Shower at night: This way you rinse away all the bad crap that comes in contact with your skin throughout the day, and your moisturizer has a better chance of absorbing and keeping your skin hydrated.

- Wash with a soap-free, fragrance-free cleanser: Anything that lathers is generally NOT a friend of those with eczema.  I’ve been using a body wash by Hugo Naturals that has vegetable glycerin and a natural surfactant derived from coconut and it’s been lovely and gentle on my skin.  You do NOT want to strip any of your precious natural oils!  You need those!

- Go for the heaviest creams you can tolerate: Right now I’m using Haus of Gloi’s Pumpkin Butter ($9US for 6oz)  in Aether (non-scent), and I am in fucking love.  Sorry for the potty mouth but seriously that is how good this stuff is!  It has a natural odor that I’m not quite sure I would call ‘pumpkin’y’, but its nice and for someone who has renounced almost all use of anything fragranced*, this is very exciting.  It also contains shea butter as the second ingredient, which is pretty much the holy grail of hydrators for dry skin.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Another good option (though pricey) is Kiehl’s Creme de Corps ($37.50CAD for 250mL).

*Steering clear of fragrance is also very important.  Even take note of your shampoo/conditioner/hair styling products.  I’m using a fragrance-free shampoo and low-fragrance conditioner (it’s the last ingredient on the list), and a non-fragranced hair oil – the end.  I swear it helps!

- Reapply often: This is why I go through SO many creams and lotions, but it’s worth it if my skin stays hydrated – it keeps your moisture barrier intact and therefore less irritating things from the outside world can penetrate the skin and cause flare-ups and problems.  I keep a moisturizer by the bed, at work, in my purses…its a constant job.  But totally worth it!

Body Care

And that’s essentially it, for body!  I do nothing else and I don’t need to.  Scrubs are abrasive and therefore can exacerbate the problem (though I did just order a Bubbling Scrub sample size from Haus of Gloi…because I just can’t help myself), so I wash, pat dry, hydrate, the end.  And my body is loving me right now :)  PRAISE THE SKIN GODS!!

As for the face – which has also been darn near glorious over the past month – here’s what I’ve been using/the routine I’ve been following:

Morning -

1. Splash face with water, pat dry then swipe Shiseido’s Pureness Balancing Softener all over skin

2. Apply Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer to dry areas of face (for me, its around the mouth)

3. Apply Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment around orbital area

4. Apply Clinique Even Better Lotion SPF20 all over face & neck

When I wear foundation, which I almost don’t have to right now, I wear the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder, which actually doesn’t dry my skin out, even in this cold weather, and almost allows me to skip powder altogether on my slightly oily skin (as it’s mattifying and oil-free). It doesn’t contain fragrance or any other funny business I usual avoid.

I will note that I’m careful with any blushes/bronzers I use – the Chanel, Benefit, and Burberry blush I have all have fragrance, so I try to use them sparingly.  NARS powder blush contain lanolin, which I’m allergic to and which is very unfortunate as I have 5 shades.  So, they get used semi-infrequently as well.  But, I find as long as I’m not wearing them every day, things are alright.

Facial Skincare - AM

In the evening, here’s how I roll:

1. Remove makeup with Boscia’s Make Up Break Up Cleansing Oil (which I *just* finished tonight and will be replacing with Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm)

2. Wash face with Consonant’s Organic Foaming Face Wash

3. Apply Derma-E’s Vitamin A Wrinkle Treatment Moisturizing Gel all over face & neck

4. Apply 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream around orbital area

5. Wait 5 minutes, then pat Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil into face and neck (review forthcoming, because this stuff is GOLD!)

058

The end.  That’s it!  It’s not a long process, and the results have been really good.  I think the biggest thing is keeping my skin MORE hydrated as opposed to trying to always control the oiliness.  Not washing my face in the morning, combined with using two hydrators (spot treating in the AM and all over at night), has actually not made me more oily but has lessened how shiny I get throughout the day, and my eczema is nearly non-existent – all that’s left is slight pigmentation scarring from when it wasn’t under control.  I also think that for once, following a regimen and using the same products every day has had a huge hand in keeping my skin happy.  Changing it up all the time leaves it in a constant upheaval; I was doing it for the ‘right reasons’ – trying to use up products – but it was causing me grief overall.  So YAY to getting my shit together!

There are still a few tweaks I want to make here and there, especially with respect to anti-aging – I still want to try a retinol product (I want to use up the Derma-E Vitamin A gel first before I purchase one), and I plan on replacing the almost-finished Shiseido Softener with one of Bioderma’s miscellar waters – but otherwise I think I’m good!  When the time comes to buy replacement products, I’ll be sure to do my homework.

I know that this process will not be helpful for some of you – not everyone has my tempermental skin – but I find that when I’m looking online for solutions to my eczema problems, there’s not much around except the usual treatments.  And since it’s wintertime for many of us, some of the same logic applies in terms of keeping the skin hydrated, so hopefully not all is lost!  Stay tuned for my post on the Tarte oil though, truly – it’s absolutely wonderful and I think everyone can use it! :)

How involved in your skincare routine?  Do you have finnicky skin?  What is the difference maker for you?

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17 Comments

Taking Retinol Baby-Steps with Derma-E’s Vitamin A Wrinkle Treatment Moisturizing Gel

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me go on about wanting to incorporate a retinol product into my skincare regime by now…but I just have so many other serums and treatments kicking around I haven’t felt justified in spending the big bucks to pick one up just yet!  However, I did swipe a wallet-friendly *lite* version back in July – Derma-E’s Vitamin A Wrinkle Treatment Moisturizing Gel.  Vitamin A is the basis of retinol, however, this isn’t ‘true’ retinol but sort of the entry-level version (more on that in a minute).  I thought with the nature of my finicky skin it would be wise to start small and work up to the hard stuff, and for $14CAD (for 220mL) at Shoppers this seemed like a good bet!  But does it work??

First of all, the product claims to be a “refreshing formula that helps diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles” and through the vitamin A it will “enhance skin’s youthful appearance.”  On top of that, its supposed to be a “fast-absorbing water-based gel great for oily or blemish-prone skin, and leaves skin feeling soft, supple and smooth.”  ALSO, you’ll be pleased to know it’s cruelty-free, paraben-free, and eco-friendly, and is oil-free, which is majorly appealing in the crazy humid weather we had this summer.  Sounds all sorts of awesome, eh?

I used this product at night for about a month and it did leave my oilier skin hydrated without feeling greasy at all – though it didn’t seem to do much else.  While vitamin A is the second ingredient after water, in this form (retinyl palmitate), it’s not actually retinol – which means that it doesn’t stimulate cell turnover or exfoliate the skin.  Because it’s much less aggressive than retinol, however, it can be a great option for those with sensitive skin (me) as in high concentrations like this, it still can plump the skin and increase collagen production.  As I only used it for a shorter period of time (as my skin has been freaky everywhere pretty much all of August for no reason, which means – back to super-basics), I may not have given it a fair chance to ‘wow’ me.

Rubbed into the skin

All in all, once my skin chills out, I’m definitely give this another shot – if nothing else its a nice moisturizer for sensitive, oily skin and absorbs quickly so you can use it under makeup, too.  And the bottle is HUGE for the price, so this will last ages!  The only actual concern I have is that the last ingredients note ‘natural and fragrant oils,’ of which I’m wary – but I seemed to have no problems while using it so until I do I will just be aware.

Have you tried any retinol or vitamin A products that you can suggest?  What is your ultimate ‘good skin’ potion?

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