Tag Archives: paula’s choice

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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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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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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Bothersome Bothers

I tried to write a whole big post the other day, but WordPress was being weird and would not upload my photos, and then swallowed my post.

My skin is going kind of haywire lately and I really am not sure what to do.  I have had a few sneaking suspicions ranging from the plausible (I’ve been using a sunscreen moisturizer over the past few months and maybe the sunscreen is just too strong for my skin – even though it’s zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – the sunscreen ingredients recommended for sensitive skin)  to the possible, but perhaps impractical (My car has had a busted A/C system for about a year, and smells funny and chemical-y – wondering if the coolant fumes or whatever they are, are ravaging my skin). 

I have multiple areas that WILL NOT HEAL, and now they are flaring up.  They are super random areas, too.  (Right inner thigh.  Armpits.  Patch on back of neck.  Patch under chin. Patch by left eyebrow.  Patch under nose.  Spot under eye.  Right middle finger knuckles).    In addition to this, I’ve acquired some lovely blotchy red patches that come and go –  on my forehead and around my eyes that are not itchy nor dry, just red and unsightly.  In addition to the other patches on my face, I am certainly looking and feeling very special (sarcasm).

So, there are some things I am going to do or have been doing.

  1. This is the most recent topical skin medication that I was prescribed.  I could write an entire post about skin creams, and I might, but let us just note that Protopic, Desonide, and Momentasone are all creams I have used that are not satisfactory in one way or another.  Elidel, now I can’t really tell a difference if it works or not.  It is supposed to act as an immunosuppressant to stop your skin’s immune reaction, rather than a steroid cream.  Therefore you don’t get the nasty steroid side effects like skin lightening and thinning.  When I use this on itchy patches, it seems to help a little bit, but never really cures anything.  There are also patches on my face that, while red, flaky, and dry, are not usually itchy.  I am theorizing that I should not over-medicate, and therefore I’m only using Elidel on portions that REALLY DO itch.

2. I have been researching naturopathic dermatologists.  There aren’t really any near me, and the ones I found seem to be just overall naturopaths and not necessarily focused on dermatology.  I have been feeling for months like I am ‘imbalanced’- just a gut feeling.  More on that in another post.  I eat an extremely decent, near-vegan diet.  I don’t think it’s my diet, or if it is, something is blocking vitamins and/or minerals from doing their job so my skin can’t heal.  Conventional dermatologists don’t do anything but try and hand out creams, and I am tired of creams.

3. I got some new PSICO creams to try from Drugstore.com, since they are not sold in stores.  I was usin Vanicream, but it has petroleum jelly and I am still on the fence about using that.  Vaniply has dimethicone and no petroleum, but has about the same texture as petroleum jelly, without the long-lasting shine but still moisturization.  I find it very good.  Vitec Vitamin E lotion has a thinner texture and is not as thick.  I also got the sport sunscreen but have not tried it yet.

 

 

 

 

 

4. I’ve stopped using ALL my Paula’s Choice products except for the cleanser, which has always been very mild and nicely cleansing for me.

 

I had a whole routine going with Paula’s Choice a few months ago, having purchased the entire gamut of skincare (cleanser, toner, serum, exfoliant, moisturizer).  For a few weeks, I had the most beautiful skin (for me, at least).  I was writing the company a letter of praise and rejoicing, for goodness sake!  Then, things went south, the exfoliant dried me out, and I started phasing them back out JUST IN CASE it’s these products causing my ballistic skin.  The only other product I was using up until a few days ago was the moisturizer with sunscreen, but I stopped with that.

  • So my current skincare routine is as follows:
  • * Wash face with Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Hydrating Cleanser, using washcloth to very gently exfoliate any flaky spots.
  • * Elidel (if needed) over any true, itchy eczema spots.
  • * Rub pure olive oil into any troublesome dry spots as a base for the lotion and extra layer of moisturizing.
    * Layer of Vitec Vitamin E Lotion over face.
    * Layer of Vaniply ointment over trouble spots.
    * If doing this in the morning, utilize concealer (Origins Quick, Hide! Concealer) over any trouble spots.  Now.  It’s a vicious cycle because, I know that wearing makeup over trouble spots is probably not as good as letting them fly free.  This is a very highly rated makeup by Beautypedia and has a simple, paraben-free formula.  I think this is about one of the best working concealers I could use for eczema.  Plus, it covers decently without creasing and lasts a long time.  That being said, I cannot let my face go into the workplace sans concealer at this point, as much as I would like to.  My GOAL is to not need ANY concealer!!

Please, skin.  Get better soon.  I’m tired of obsessing over you!

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