Category Archives: Facial Products

My Post-TSW Skincare Routine

Please excuse the very long absence from the blog world.  I have been meaning to make a post-TSW skincare routine post for a while, and then just kept putting it off.  In all reality, this blog will probably have posts that are way fewer and farther between, since now (OH HAPPY DAY) I don’t need to keep documenting progress of my skin, because I am healed and back to normal!  But, I am still here reading the blogs of others with TSW, and still here to give support and encouragement or just answer questions on TSW, skin, eczema, or life in general 🙂

So what do I use these days for general moisturizing, cleansing, skincare, etc?

BODY:

COCONUT OIL

If I want to use some type of moisturizer on my legs and body, coconut oil is really the only thing I use these days. I like the idea of using something completely natural and smelling like a tropical island. Some days I forget or just don’t want to be all greasy, and then use no body moisturizer at all… I don’t think coconut oil is a dealbreaker, now my body’s skin seems to retain oils whether I remember to moisturize it or not!

If I have any little bumps or tiny rashy spots on my legs, I use the lovely Calendulis cream from The Eczema Company.

If I have any little bumps or tiny rashy spots on my legs, I use the lovely Calendulis cream from The Eczema Company.

FACE (nighttime):

I wash my face once a day (at night) with Paula's Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser.  I used this cleanser all through my TSW days too.  It is very gentle and mild and leaves my skin feeling refreshed and clean.

I wash my face once a day (at night) with Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser. I used this cleanser all through my TSW days too. It is very gentle and mild and leaves my skin feeling refreshed and clean.

After I wash my face, it is time to exfoliate to get rid of any dull skin.  In general, I use Paula's Choice BHA (beta hydroxy acids) exfoliant.  I have tried both AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHA, but for me personally, I think I prefer the BHA's effects better.    Sometimes I will switch it up and exfoliate by giving my face a gentle scrub with very finely ground oatmeal.  Chemical exfoliants are best NOT used in TSW...they will sting.  Using oatmeal very gently is okay, and is a nice natural idea for healthy skin too!

After I wash my face, it is time to exfoliate to get rid of any dull skin. In general, I use Paula’s Choice BHA (beta hydroxy acids) exfoliant. I have tried both AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHA, but for me personally, I think I prefer the BHA’s effects better. Sometimes I will switch it up and exfoliate by giving my face a gentle scrub with very finely ground oatmeal. Chemical exfoliants are best NOT used in TSW…they will sting. Using oatmeal very gently is okay, and is a nice natural idea for healthy skin too!

After exfoliating for the night, I use an antioxidant serum, again from Paula's Choice.  I used this through TSW as well and it never stung or gave me any bad effects.  I dab this gently under my eyes and then on other areas prone to eventually show aging, like my forehead and smile lines.

After exfoliating for the night, I use an antioxidant serum, again from Paula’s Choice. I used this through TSW as well and it never stung or gave me any bad effects. I dab this gently under my eyes and then on other areas prone to eventually show aging, like my forehead and smile lines.

Lastly for my nighttime routine, I use grapeseed oil as a moisturizer, putting a few drops of it over my face.

Lastly for my nighttime routine, I use grapeseed oil as a moisturizer, putting a few drops of it over my face.

 

FACE (morning):

I don't wash my face again in the morning... I don't feel like I need to, since it's not like it got dirty in the night with me sleeping.  I splash water on my face and sometimes gently go over it with a washcloth.  Then I use the Antioxidant Serum again around my eyes, and a few drops of grapeseed oil.  My moisturizer every day is Vanicream SPF Sport 35 sunscreen.  This is the best sunscreen hands down - I used it through TSW and it was one of the few things that never made my skin burn or sting.  It goes on smoothly and keeps my skin feeling moisturized all day without being greasy or oily... plus I'm protecting myself from the aging effects of the sun!

I don’t wash my face again in the morning… I don’t feel like I need to, since it’s not like it got dirty in the night with me sleeping. I splash water on my face and sometimes gently go over it with a washcloth. Then I use the Antioxidant Serum again around my eyes, and a few drops of grapeseed oil. My moisturizer every day is Vanicream SPF Sport 35 sunscreen. This is the best sunscreen hands down – I used it through TSW and it was one of the few things that never made my skin burn or sting. It goes on smoothly and keeps my skin feeling moisturized all day without being greasy or oily… plus I’m protecting myself from the aging effects of the sun!

Makeup wise, I LOVE LOVE LOVE these Tarte SmolderEyes eyeliners.  They come in a bunch of colors and they literally do stay on all day and are smudgeproof.  I have sweated heavily in them, and yes, they did fade a little, but still remained intact... very impressed.  I usually line my lower lid in a brown or purple, and sometimes line the upper lid too if I'm feeling fancy.

Makeup wise, I LOVE LOVE LOVE these Tarte SmolderEyes eyeliners. They come in a bunch of colors and they literally do stay on all day and are smudgeproof. I have sweated heavily in them, and yes, they did fade a little, but still remained intact… very impressed. I usually line my lower lid in a brown or purple, and sometimes line the upper lid too if I’m feeling fancy.

I wrote a whole post on this stuff because it's that good.  Tarte Amazonian Clay mascara is wonderful and comes off easily with makeup remover or (my preference) grapeseed oil.  It's not technically waterproof, but I've sweated heavily in it without it smearing.  Two coats of this and I look awake and ready to greet the day!

Tarte Amazonian Clay mascara is wonderful and comes off easily with makeup remover or (my preference) grapeseed oil. It’s not technically waterproof, but I’ve sweated heavily in it without it smearing. Two coats of this and I look awake and ready to greet the day!

So clearly, two of my favorite (and skin-friendly!) brands are Paula’s Choice and Tarte, and I know I’ve mentioned both of these brands in other posts on my blog.  I was not compensated in any way for promoting these, I just think they are two wonderful brands that are gentle on skin and free from irritating ingredients like added fragrances, etc.

One thing that I was really worried about with post-TSW skin was that my skin would be healed, but would be exquisitely sensitive to everything, more so than before.  I am very pleased to note that the ‘sensitivity’ of my skin seems to be what it was before I ever used steroids.  I guess I could truly test it with something I reacted badly to, previously, like aloe…. but since I’ve found a routine that works so well for me, I’m sticking to it.  🙂  If you’re out there still trucking through TSW… have hope!  There is light on the other side!  Normal skin awaits!

 

 

 

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Makeup Review: Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

Having an allergy/sensitivity to both Beeswax and Aloe Vera makes it VERY challenging to find mascara, as I’ve recently found.  Almost every single mascara has at least one of these ingredients, if not both.  Having found a great (non waterproof) one from Tarte, I then set out on the virtual world of the internet for my next challenge – finding a mascara that not only had no beeswax or aloe, but was also waterproof.  The Tarte one is pretty water-resistant and has held up perfectly through vigorous exercise where I was only sweating lightly, but for really sweat-crazy activities, I didn’t want to chance it.

This took me literally days of research (not all at one time though).  There are a lot of mascaras without beeswax that I found, often classified under “vegan mascaras” for those that don’t want to use animal products in their makeup.  But they all had aloe.

Googling “mascara without beeswax or aloe” did not help either.  Apparently it must not be too common to be super sensitive to both of these, because this Google search completely ignored the word “WITHOUT” in my search, and brought up many lovely mascaras WITH aloe.

So I had to do this the difficult way.  Pore through many mascaras and read the ingredients.  When I set out to buy a new beauty product, I almost always try the website Beautypedia.com.  This site has reviews of many, many makeup (and skincare) brands and will give thorough product ratings.  I take these ratings with a grain of salt, as something may be rated highly but have ingredients I don’t want (i.e., parabens or fragrance).  However, the Tarte Concealer and Mascara that I currently use were both rated highly and did not disappoint.

I started by filtering through the reviews on Beautypedia and looking at only the waterproof mascaras that were rated highly, and then cross-referencing other sites like Beauty.com to find out all the ingredients.  The whole while, I’m writing down notes for mascaras that look promising, crossing them out as I go when I find they have aloe.  Having no luck there, I decided to then just look at every waterproof mascara on Beauty.com.  I don’t list this laborious process to bore my blog readers, but rather to emphasize that when you have sensitive skin/eczema, you cannot just purchase the latest new makeup item, it all requires careful research, and maybe my research will benefit someone else out there that’s looking for the same thing.

Finally…. I found it!   Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat is a clear formula that “instantly waterproofs any mascara”.  No aloe, no beeswax, no parabens, no fragrance, and no need to have separate mascaras on hand – you can use your favorite mascara and just waterproof it on days or occasions when you need to.  I bought mine from Beauty.com using the link above.lash genius waterproof top coat

I tried it two days in a row, and although I didn’t put it through a HUGE sweat-fest, just incline walking, cardio machines, and strength training, I was very pleased.  No flaking or raccoon eye, no “crunchy” feel on my eyelashes and it didn’t really affect the look of my existing mascara either.  My only critique is it sticks the lashes together a little bit so they’re a bit less lush and full.

Current rating: 4 out of 5.  If it stays completely waterproof through an hour of kickboxing (where I emerge completely soaked in sweat), I will up that to 4.5 out of 5!

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Five Favorite Things, Part 1

First off, I want to thank everyone in the blog-o-sphere for all the traffic, support, and nice comments as of late.  I am still sorting through all the “likes” in my inbox and checking out new blogs from people who have stopped by!

I have a lot of subjects that I want to write posts about as of late, but today’s post is just going to be kind of a random smattering of Five Favorite Things that I am loving as of late.  Things that are small but enhance my life in some way.  I intend on doing more installments of “Five Favorite Things” maybe every month.

In no particular order:

1. BAKING SODA.  baking soda I just recently discovered the tip of adding baking soda to a bath to help stop the itching of eczema.  I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before!  I’m pleased to note that since the whole aloe-rash debacle, my face has stayed reasonably presentable with maybe just a few minor dry or red patches here and there sometimes.  (I believe this is directly linked to what I eat, as I put the same products on my face every day and I don’t think it’s due to a topical contact dermatitis.  For example, I flared up a tiny bit after eating four sour-cream-and-onion chips from a friend at work, too late realizing my apparent sensitivity to things in the onion and garlic and aloe family).  However, my body, namely my legs and torso, has been very rashy and itchy.   Protopic is slowly working which is good, though.  And the Baking Soda has been excellent at helping me to not itch at bath-time!  I just add about 2 tbsp or a small handful to running water (along with some finely ground oatmeal) and it is very helpful.

2. cocoon sweater Cocoon Sweater from Target.  I love these so much that I have one in three different colors – and I might even go get more.  I am always looking for clothing that strikes the balance between being reasonably stylish yet comfy, and this fits the bill.  They are VERY soft.   They are  incredibly versatile – right now I am wearing one at work over a plain brightly colored t-shirt and a multi-strand beaded necklace and I look and feel pulled-together.  Yet, on the weekend, I can wear the same sweater over a graphic tee and with jeans and be more casual.

3. Blistex 5 star Blistex 5-Star Lip Protection.  After finding that I was sensitive to aloe and beeswax, and having had a negative reaction with shea butter as well, it was pretty darn tough to try and find a lip balm with sunscreen that had none of these ingredients.  Oh yeah, and I didn’t want anything that was flavored, either.  AND I didn’t want to shell out a lot of money for a specialty lip balm online.   Regular Chapstick does fit the bill, but it has only SPF 4.  I like to exercise outside (running and biking) frequently so I like to use more SPF for those times.  I was very pleased to find this product at my local drugstore.  It has SPF 30 and just a very faint, pleasing flavor that’s kind of vanilla-y.  It is long lasting and makes my lips feel protected in the cold!

4. Beauty Rush lip gloss In the same vein with another good product for lips – Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Lip Gloss.  I went through and purged all old lip glosses from other brands, because most of them have beeswax or potentially irritating ingredients like peppermint or citrus-derived ingredients.  This gloss has none of those, has a pretty mild flavor/smell, is very long lasting, and feels nice – not gloppy or sticky.  I’ve worn it for three days straight so far with no issues of irritation!

5. stash tea Stash Tea!  I like the ritual of drinking something warm, especially in the winter.  Since I pretty much gave up coffee, I have developed a deep love and appreciation for tea.  As I work at my desk right now, I have four different kinds to choose from!  But I have to say that Stash Tea is my new favorite.  I am currently enjoying trying the flavors in my Superfruits Sampler, and their Licorice Spice tea is also incredible.

 

What are some of your random little favorite things as of late that bring a bit of joy to your life?  🙂

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Food on Face (or, Natural Remedies from your kitchen cupboard)

One time, (probably when browsing skincare and eczema stuff online), I read someone say, “Never put anything on your face that you wouldn’t eat”.  Do I agree with this?  Not necessarily.  Certainly I agree with staying away from harmful chemicals, but there are topical things that can really help that I would NOT pour down my throat.

However, I’ve tried some ‘natural’ (meaning edible) things in recent times for my skin.  Here are my personal reviews of a few ‘remedies’:

white sugarSUGAR.  I tried this in conjunction with honey, making a sort of scrub for the face.  I think that sugar crystals are way too abrasive to use on sensitive skin, even if it IS dry and flaky.  Using a washcloth very gently is likely a better alternative.  However, if you have real dry lips, making a little scrub with sugar and some type of oil HAS worked well for me.

 

 

 

HoneyHONEY.  I read online somewhat recently about using a honey and oatmeal mask.  How it was so great for the skin, etc etc.  I mixed up oatmeal and honey and applied it….. and then my skin began to tingle and burn a little.  I don’t notice any allergy or side effects when eating honey, although it’s not like I tend to eat it straight, just if it’s IN things like cereals.  I didn’t note that the honey did anything for my skin.  And of course, after this honey face mask experiment, I found out I was sensitive/allergic to something in beeswax, i.e. bee propolis, so I connected this to why the honey mask made my skin feel so unsettled and promptly tried to stop eating anything with honey as well.  But, you might have better effects when trying it.

 

 

 

Braggs vinegarVINEGAR.  I wrote about my experience with this a while back and how applying straight vinegar to already irritated skin is exquisitely painful.  Then I tried diluting it with water (about 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1/4 cup of water).  It does seem to mildly soothe itching and it did not make my skin any worse.  But, I got tired of smelling like a giant pickle and having my husband avoid hugging me.

 

 

 

olive oilOLIVE OIL.  Really any kind of oil is a great and cheap makeup remover.  After my favorite Almay makeup remover pads were found to have aloe vera when I read the ingredient list, I stopped using them and switched to using olive oil, and later grapeseed oil to remove makeup at night.  Excellent for removing makeup.  You can put it on a Q-tip if you’re trying to remove eyeliner.  I also tried using olive oil to wash my face (look online for tips…. usually they say to use 1 part castor oil to 3 parts olive oil – the castor oil is supposed to draw out impurities), but I didn’t have any castor oil.  I appreciate the feel of moist skin as much as any dry-skin afflicted person, but this left an uncomfortably greasy feeling.  I also tried olive oil as an overall face moisturizer…. but to be honest, I felt like it was suffocating my skin.  And, this might be coincidental, (as I couldn’t pinpoint ANYTHING with my wildly fluctuating skin at the time), but when I stopped using olive oil as a moisturizer… my skin got a lot clearer and softer.  My theory was that it was preventing my skin from making its own moisture.

GRAPESEED OIL.  So now this is the only oil that I use on my face.  I use it as a makeup remover and I also use it under my moisturizer.  I use it on my body too after I get out of the shower or bath.  I love this stuff and you can read more about it in my current skincare routine post.

OatmealOATMEAL.  This is my super great winner out of all natural remedies.  Not only do I eat oatmeal every morning, but I gently wash my face with it morning and night!  (At night, I first wash with a very gentle Paula’s Choice cleanser).  You can put oatmeal in a food processor and make very fine ground oat dust, which is what I do.  You can also use quick oats in a pinch, but it’s messier in the bathroom and can clog up the sink.  I also put  a handful of the dust in my bathwater.  This has been WONDERFUL at soothing any flares and my face felt very soft and soothed afterwards.

Are there any other natural remedies I have missed?  I’ve also read about yogurt masks, but since dairy doesn’t seem to like my skin when I eat it, I’m reticent to put it ON my skin.

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Protopic, Paranoia, and Obsession

After my recent rash flare, the dermatologist prescribed two things.  The first ointment, mometasone furoate, is a medium strength topical steroid.  I was instructed to ONLY use this for 1-2 weeks at absolute MAX since usually it is not used on the face.  Then I was instructed to switch over to the other ointment once the initial rash had cleared up.

This second ointment is called Protopic.

  Protopic (tacrolimus) is not a steroid, but instead modulates the immune system so it doesn’t react to the things that are causing the rash or eczema.  It comes in either 0.03% or 0.1% concentration.  You can read more about all the science-y stuff online, but in short, it’s been used quite successfully and without the side effects of steroids, like thinning the skin or becoming dependent on them.

I’ve used Protopic before a few years ago, but I kind of forgot about it until I was prescribed it again this most recent time.  My memory is murky, but as I recall the last time, it worked very well.  However, I forgot about the ONE, GLARING, side effect of Protopic.  Reading the literature that comes with the package, this is the most prominent side effect experienced by people who use this medication.

Protopic, at least for the few initial times it is applied, causes a burning/itching/tingling/warming sensation.  It’s nothing too crazy, and it doesn’t happen initially, but it is very unsettling if you aren’t expecting it.  One, you may start thinking you’re allergic to Protopic (which you probably aren’t).  Two, you will want to start scratching the very sites that you’re trying to heal.

Also, even if you put it on, and then get past the slight burning sensation, anything warm on the area seems to “activate” the burning all over again (like if you have warm air on the area, or if you are rubbing other creams on it).

This (for me at least) starts causing a sort of paranoia.  If my face feels burning and uncomfortable, I immediately conclude that it MUST have some kind of nasty rash flaring up all over again.  This then causes an obsession with looking in mirrors, just to be sure that my face is looking okay.  I spent most of the last two months with  crappy-looking skin thanks to my rashes and flares, so I am still not used to seeing skin that looks closer to normal.

Eventually though, after a few applications, the skin ‘gets used to’ Protopic, and the sensations die down.  This is how I will get through the first few applications and deal with the unpleasant feeling on my skin:

  • I mentally prepare myself for the fact that this might burn and itch.  I mentally steel myself NOT to itch or rub the area further and to practice self-control!
  • Or, I mentally permit myself to itch ONE small area.  This is always an area that no one will see, like my stomach, hip, or legs.  I tell myself that if the burning is too much and I MUST itch, I can itch this area ONLY.  (And actually, the Protopic works well enough where I usually don’t do any apparent damage by itching).
  • I mix the Protopic with an equal amount of Vaseline, then put it on.  (A dermatologist recommended this to me after I complained about the burning sensation).  This helps to ‘temper’ the medication and lessen the sensation.  You can then gradually work up to the full amount of Protopic with no Vaseline.  If the burning is really bad, maybe you use 3 parts Vaseline to 1 part Protopic and then slowly increase.
  • I avoid any hot sensations right after putting on the Protopic.  No hot air like blow dryers or heaters, no hot beverages, etc if you’ve put it on your face.  The area under my nose flares up sometimes, and it drove me absolutely crazy to have the warm air from my own nostrils blowing on it and making it feel uncomfortably warm.
  • COLD sensations can help!  For example, this weekend after putting the Protopic on a few parts of my face, I was feeling the burn a few hours later.  Going outside in the winter weather for a run really helped, as it cooled off my face and took my mind off the sensations.

Overall though, I know this is a good non-steroidal medication, and I am going to stick through the side effects and continue using it as needed.

Has anyone else out there used Protopic?  What were your experiences with it, and did you also feel the “burning” side effect?  Do you feel that it was helpful for your eczema?

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Current Skincare Routine

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m very grateful to have figured out some skin sensitivities (aloe and beeswax) and have moved forward with eradicating any offending products and adhering to a pretty simple skincare routine, which so far has worked well at keeping my skin looking good!

In the past, I have definitely been guilty of switching from product to product or trying new things that I thought would help… sometimes multiple things at once.  I think that if you have sensitive skin or eczema, this actually works against you, as it makes it very difficult to figure out anything topical that could be causing or aggravating the problem.  For example, I was cycling between two moisturizers with sunscreen – one had aloe, and one did not.  The aloe seemed to have a delayed reaction (I wouldn’t break out right away when I applied it) so for a while, I honestly thought the OTHER moisturizer was the problem and stopped using it.  In hindsight, this was a bad idea since my skin did not like the aloe!

Here is my current routine, using only a few products:

NIGHTTIME:

Remove any makeup with Grapeseed Oil (I really don’t wear much makeup currently, only mascara and a tiny bit of eyeliner smudged on the lower lashes just to darken them up, so this goes fast).

1. Wash face with Paula’s Choice Resist Hydrating Cleanser.

(Ingredients: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient thickener), Decyl Glucoside (cleansing agent), Glycerin (skin-identical ingredient), PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate (cleansing agent/emulsifier), PPG-20 Methyl Glucose Ether, Methyl Gluceth-20 (skin-conditioning agents),Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol (thickeners), Polyacrylamide (binding agent), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (soothing agent), Sapindus Mukurossi (Soapberry) Peel Extract (foaming agent), Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate (cleansing agent), C13-14 Isoparaffin (thickener), Laureth-7 (emulsifier), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol (preservatives).

COMMENTS: Okay, I know this seems like a lot of ingredients.  But, I do like how Paula (of Paula’s Choice) always breaks down exactly what the ingredients are for, and this works well at making my skin feel nice and clean without feeling OVERLY scrubbed or too tight and dry.  I thought, at one point, about switching to Cetaphil, but here is an article that made me think differently.  Plus I try to avoid SLS and parabens in my skincare whenever possible anyway.

 

 

2. Oatmeal scrub.  I have a plastic container of ground oats (kind of a powder) in the bathroom.  You can make oat ‘powder’ too by putting oats in a food processor.  You CAN use quick oats just by themselves, but that makes more of a mess and tends to clog the bathroom drain!

I measure out about 1/8 cup of oat powder, mix this with about 1/4 cup of warm water, let it sit for a bit, and then gently rub the oat powder over my face, then rinse.  I can’t say enough about using oatmeal for sensitive skin – it is one of the cheapest and BEST remedies I’ve found.  This very gently exfoliates while leaving my skin feeling very soft and moisturized.  You can also use the oat powder in the bathtub to help with body eczema or sensitive skin.

3. After rinsing off the oatmeal, I gently pat my face dry with a soft towel, but not COMPLETELY dry – leaving the skin still damp so that my next step, Grapeseed Oil, will help ‘seal’ in some of that moisture.  I use Aura Cacia brand of Grapeseed Oil as it’s very pure and minimally processed.  This is what it notes on the bottle:

Light, absorbent grapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds of wine grapes and contains an excellent balance of skin-supporting compounds, including oleic, linoleic, palmitic and stearic fatty acids. Grapeseed oil restores balance and firmness to combination and oily skin.

I’ve tried other kinds of oils from olive oil to sweet almond, to jojoba and coconut, but this one is my favorite.  Grapeseed oil has no smell and a nice, light texture.  I consider myself to have somewhat of combination skin, and it does NOT make me break out.  If anything, it helps with breakouts, as putting the grapeseed oil on a few acne bumps made them completely clear up in a few days.

4. Because it is fall/winter in the Midwest, my skin needs more hydration than just grapeseed oil and needs one more step to ‘seal’ in moisture.  Vanicream is a very basic moisturizer that was first recommended to me by a dermatologist about a year ago, and was recommended again at my last visit last week.

Ingredients: Water (Purified), White Petrolatum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Sorbitol Solution, Propylene Glycol, Simethicone, Glyceryl Monostearate, Polyethylene Glycol Monostearate, Sorbic Acid (A Preservative), BHT

Even though Petrolatum is one of the first ingredients, this does a great job of moisturizing without clogging my pores (It promises to be non-comedogenic on the package).  They do make a Vanicream Light (same ingredients, just a different mix of them so that it is not as heavy of a cream) and might be something I’ll switch to in the summer when my skin is less dry.

There are just two other things in my night time routine.  One, if my lips are feeling dry, I put a light coat of Vaseline on them before going to bed.  I used to use Aquaphor, but then figured why not use Vaseline as it has just one ingredient (whereas Aquaphor has a few ingredients, namely lanolin, which people can be sensitive to).  Two, in the colder months, I sleep with a humidifier right by my bed.  I think that this helps to keep my skin moist among all the dry winter air and then the dry heat inside.

DAYTIME ROUTINE:

My day routine upon waking up is pretty similar to my nighttime routine.  I only use the oatmeal scrub to refresh my face in the morning – no need to actually wash my face again, since I went to bed with a clean face.  I hold credence to the idea that people with sensitive skin shouldn’t over-wash, as this strips the natural oils out of the skin.

Then I do the pat dry and Grapeseed Oil again, and my daytime moisturizer is also from Vanicream, but contains different ingredients and sunscreen.  You can’t find this in stores (at least I can’t), so I get this from drugstore.com.  I would definitely recommend checking out the other products from this company (Psico.com) if you have sensitive skin.  They have other things like shave cream, hairspray, bath oil, etc. that are pretty much as safe as possible for sensitive skin.

Ingredients:
Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide (8%), Octinoxate (7.5%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Purified), Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Tridecyl Neopentanoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl/PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyethylene, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, PEG 30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Vitamin E, Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane

COMMENTS: I do think that SPF 35 is a bit overkill for a daily moisturizer, especially as I’m inside most of the day in these months.  However, the company does not make a sunscreen, with, say SPF 15, which is what I would prefer (I’ve written to them to suggest this).  Regardless, I find this to go on very smoothly, have zero odor, work great at holding in the moisture from the Grapeseed oil, and keep my face feeling moisturized all day.  I WILL say that the oil plus this makes my face really shiny and ‘greasy’ looking at first, but I just put this on with adequate time to let it sink in a little before I leave the house.

I’m planning to strictly adhere to this routine for a few weeks or more before I even think of introducing any new products.  And if I DO try anything new, I will try it one at a time!

What are some of your favorite or tried-and-true products in your skincare routine??

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Mascara Review – gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara by Tarte

‘Tis time for another mascara review!  After my most recent mascara purchase left me underwhelmed, I decided to try another one from the Tarte line.  Also, in light of my recent findings that I appear to get dermatitis from both aloe and beeswax, it was super good news that this next mascara has neither.  Seriously, it is next to impossible to find a mascara that doesn’t have either of these.

My Review on gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara by Tarte:

(Let me also add the disclaimer here that I am in no way paid by any companies to review products.  I buy this stuff out of my own pocket as it’s pure trial and error for me with finding high quality products.  These are solely my opinions and I post them in the hopes that they will help other people with sensitive skin that want to make good choices for their makeup.)

Cost: I got this at my local ULTA store for $19.  Yeah, it’s more than twice the price of a drugstore mascara, but I have no issue with paying more for a product if it performs well AND won’t irritate my skin.

So first off the packaging again is very cute… It’s like a wood-grain tube (it’s probably made of plastic since it’s so smooth, but it certainly LOOKS like wood) with quite a skinny brush.

When I first saw the skinny brush, I was a little concerned that this would not fare well, since the brush is about the same thickness as the one in Lights, Camera, Splashes.

 

However, I read DOZENS of reviews before buying this, and this appears to be the highest-reviewed mascara that Tarte makes.  People were giving it 5 stars and pleading with Tarte to never stop making it.

After applying it – I understood the hype!

One coat (after eyelash curler) will give you beautifully long and separated lashes.  If I was going to be SUPER critical, I would say maybe it could hold a curl a little better, but maybe that’s just my eyelashes’ problem for being stick straight.

TWO coats, after eyelash curler initially and after the first coat (which is what I prefer), will give you even more beautiful lashes as the second coat ‘bulks’ them up a little more and helps to hold in that curl.

It does not clump in the least and it gives a gorgeous look as the brush grabs and coats every lash.  I also didn’t have the problem of getting mascara smear on my eyelid while applying it.

I wore it all day and it never flaked or smudged.  Then I put it through more of a test the following day – I went for a 90 minute bike ride with my husband.  Given, I didn’t actually sweat, since it was cold out, but there was plenty of wind and sometimes my eyes watering a little if I was biking really fast.  Still perfection when I came home.

I also tried touching my eyelashes and pulling at them a little to see if the mascara would come off… barely any flaking!  It stays on so well!

This stuff is not waterproof, so I want to see how it performs on, say, a really sweaty run or bout of kickboxing, but I still love this and I’m so glad I found it!

AND, it removes very easily (I use an oil to remove makeup, i.e., olive oil or grapeseed oil) and had no problem getting it off.  My lashes actually felt healthier afterward too.

My verdict – 5 stars!  GO OUT AND BUY!  🙂

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Allergic Reaction to Beeswax?

After recently finding a wonderfully written and informative dermatology blog (zizaidermatology.wordpress.com), one of the first posts I read was about the author struggling through a rash around the mouth and discovering an allergy to beeswax (http://zizaidermatology.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/am-i-allergic-to-beeswax/), specifically the Bee Propolis that occurs in the wax.

This post couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as I think beeswax might be a big trigger for some of my own current skin issues.

I recently purchased two Badger Balm products because I was looking for 1. a good lip balm, and 2. a good soothing natural moisturizer for the spots on my face that get really dry.  I purchased the Creamy Cocoa lip balm, and the Badger Balm Baby Balm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I diligently read online reviews, and read nothing but good stuff about these things.  And I thought, “Yay!  Beeswax is all natural.  This should be good!”

When I put on the cocoa butter lip balm, my lips felt a little tingly and itchy.  Nothing really major, but it just wasn’t as pleasant as I anticipated.  So, after one use, I put it away and thought maybe I would try it again later on.

Then I moved on to the Baby Balm.  It’s only got 5 ingredients, all natural things, but it’s primarily composed of beeswax.  I did do a patch test on a dry spot on my knuckle – no ill effects the next day, so I figured I was good to apply the stuff to some of my facial rashes before bed to heal and soften them.

This is what happened (I’m tilting my  head back in these pictures so that the rash can be fully seen):

This is the rash I’ve been dealing with on my neck. This is the “BEFORE” picture – it’s flared, but it’s not too bad and red and it can be easily covered with concealer if needed. It has very clear borders and is pretty much right in the center.

This is the same neck rash the morning after having applied the Baby Balm (with beeswax as the main ingredient). Terribly red and flared!

I don’t have a Before and After picture of my face available to post, but let’s just say the results were about the same.  This was two days ago and my face is still recovering.  I look like I have very unhealthy skin and I feel about the same.  People at work are giving me concerned looks and asking me if I am okay.  So.  Judging by this experience, I do not react well to beeswax.  Which then got me thinking.  A LOT of mascaras contain beeswax.  You need something waxy in it to get it to stick to the lashes.  I went online and checked the ingredients for my current Almay Get up and Grow mascara.  Yup, beeswax.  Swell.

Which THEN got me thinking about when these rashes around my eyes and on my face all started.  Things began with a little spot under my left eye that started around July of 2011, and then gradually got worse over my face in the last, oh, maybe 6 months or so.  It was really weird, because I don’t remember changing any of my facial products, but all of a sudden it was like my skin became extremely sensitive and I couldn’t use my previous moisturizers AT ALL.  I can’t remember exactly when, but one day when I went to the store to buy mascara, my normal type was out (I used to use Almay Triple Effect – which incidentally does NOT have beeswax), so I got this Get up and Grow stuff instead.  I have to wonder if these events coincided.

(And, okay, I know mascara and makeup in general is not the best thing for sensitive skin.  I know this.  This is why I read reviews and ingredients like a hawk, try and search out non-irritating products, and wear quite minimal makeup.  I gotta at least look human at work, as I’ve tried to do NO makeup and was sick of the stares and comments, so I just wear mascara and concealer right now.)

Today’s evening activities will involve a trip to the store for a new, NON-BEESWAX-USING mascara.  I’m either going back to the Almay Triple Effect, or trying a new Tarte one (gifted Amazonian Clay mascara, which uses rice bran wax, carnauba wax, and candelilla wax instead of beeswax).  It is HARD to find a mascara with out beeswax, but I’m making the switch tonight and hoping this will eventually clear up a lot of my problems!

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Mascara Review – Lights, Camera, Splashes by Tarte

I was almost out of my Almay Get Up and Grow waterproof mascara, and wanted to try a new mascara, one without parabens (the Almay one does have parabens).  Although I’ve had wicked flares come and go around my eyes lately, they are also on other portions of my face and neck, so I didn’t think that my mascara could be causing them (I could be wrong, though).

Having had such good success with Tarte Maracuja Concealer, I purchased what seemed like the most apt choice of mascara for me from the Tarte line – Lights, Camera, Splashes waterproof mascara, since I wanted something waterproof so I don’t get raccoon eye when exercising.  I am HUGE on reading online reviews, and things looked pretty favorable for this.  I have brown hair, but not super dark eyelashes, and they’re quite long, but they’re also very faint and fine, so I really feel I NEED mascara to look reasonably awake and it would be weird for me to leave the house without it on.

Here is a picture of it:  (very cute tube packaging!) and the ingredient list.  Tarte touts this mascara as being free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate.

Water/aqua/eau, oryza sativa (rice) bran wax, cyclopentasiloxane, hydrogenated stearyl olive esters, stearic acid, cera carnauba/copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax/cire de carnauba, alcohol, triethanolamine, candelilla cera/euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax/cire de candelilla, acacia senegal gum, panthenol, VP/VA copolymer, phenoxyethanol, polyvinyl alcohol, aminomethyl, propanediol, chlorphenesin, ascorbyl palmitate, iron oxides (CI 77499)

My unbiased unfettered opinion is this:  I am going to need to return this stuff.  😦

I expect a GOOD mascara to thicken, lengthen, and hold a curl (after using the eyelash curler).  This Tarte mascara lengthens, but doesn’t thicken and didn’t seem to hold a curl.  So (after 2 coats), I ended up with long, yet very thin and straight lashes.  I didn’t care for the look as it was too subtle.

Then, yeah, it’s waterproof, so I didn’t expect it to magically slide right off, but it was TOUGH to remove!  With my Almay stuff, I can use olive oil and it comes off neatly.  The stuff barely budged with olive oil.  I had to pull out some Almay makeup remover pads (that I had stopped using, as I thought they were contributing to the irritation on my face) just to get it all off.  When all was said and done, I’m pretty sure that I’m missing a couple eyelashes more than normal.

I guess if you already have pretty thick and buxom eyelashes, this would be good, but it just did not work for me.

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In Search of the Elusive Perfect Moisturizer

The problem with having sensitive skin on your face is that a lot of creams and treatments for sensitive skin are very emollient and can clog your pores.  It’s assumed that sensitive skin automatically equals dry skin.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really sure whether I would be classified as having sensitive dry skin, or having combination skin that is sensitive.  I’ve always imagined typical ‘dry’ skin as skin that is parched, flaky, tight, and never, ever gets breakouts or clogged pores because it’s just too dry.  However, while this often describes the overall state of my facial skin (especially in the harsh fall/winter weather here in the Midwest, where you’re either subjected to cold winds outside or really drying heat pumped in when you’re inside), I do still get clogged pores or even acne from time to time.

Last week, I started slathering Aveeno Eczema Care cream all over my face at night to try and soothe my redness and irritation.  It’s got oatmeal and ceramides, which are good stuff, but it also has petrolatum way up there on the ingredient list, and it really is not suitable as a face cream.  I kind of knew this as I was putting it on, but I figured I’d rather have acne than rashes any day.

I ended up getting a couple hard bumps of cystic acne that were painful, deep under the skin, and in one case, very, very obvious.  I got one on my forehead that was raised and about the size of a quarter.  It was so obnoxious that my own dear brother (who has also been afflicted with allergies, asthma, and eczema during his life – although he has asthma a lot worse than me, and I have MUCH more struggle with eczema than him) asked me, “What happened to your forehead?  Did you get stung by a bee or something?”

So.  It’s extremely difficult to find a moisturizer that is not only emollient for my dry patches, but soothing and non-irritating for my rashes, and also will not clog my pores.  Add to the list that I will not use something with parabens, fragrance, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, shea butter, methylchloroizolithazone (I think I butchered the spelling of that, but it’s close), DMDM hydantoin, and a couple other ingredients that I can’t remember right now but I would know them if I saw them on an ingredients list.  Of course, I want to avoid petrolatum/petroleum as well, so that my pores don’t get clogged, and I would also like to stay away from coconut oil ingredients, as I started getting a rash when I used coconut oil on my legs for a while.

You wouldn’t believe the number of moisturizers out there that LOOK promising, but contain one or more of the above ingredients.  At night, I’ve been using natural oils as moisturizers, like olive oil, grapeseed oil, or sweet almond oil.  However, the problem with these is that I think they end up rubbing off into my pillow as I thrash and turn in the night (very restless sleeper I am) and I wake up with a dry face.  I also feel that these oils just kind of sit on the surface of the skin and don’t really sink in.  I need something that will get absorbed and actually improve the feeling and look of my skin when I wake up.  Any suggestions???

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