The Summer Essentials

It might be officially fall now, but before getting onto the lovely symptoms that the change of seasons gives me, I thought I would catch up on the products I loved throughout this hot and humid Summer we had. I’m one of those girls who adores fall, but before I get onto those seasonal-central products, let’s do a roundup of warm weather favourites:

Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Cleansing Balm ($28 US | 103 mL)

I did not need to add another cleanser to my cleanser rotation this summer, but I couldn’t resist picking this one up. I might have only worn makeup a handful of times over the season, but I really appreciated how well this cleansing balm broke down my tenacious sunscreen. It has the ease of being housed in a tube — and isn’t impossible to squeeze out — and is fragrance free so it doesn’t upset my skin or sensitive eyeballs and breaks everything down like a dream. It actually easily removed waterproof mascara, which I so very rarely use, mainly out of the fear of having to remove it . The fatty acids its enriched with also add to the soothed, comforted feel it leaves behind.

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk for Sensitive Skin SPF 50 PA++++ ($43.69 CAD | 60 mL)

In such a hot and muggy summer and since doing yoga five times per week, — at least a few of which I get super sweaty during — I’ve come to appreciate this velvety liquid sunscreen. It’s a combination sunscreen, featuring zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Uvinol A Plus, Tinosorb S and Uvinul T 150, and has great photostability and reliability in independent testing, all without irritating my skin in the way that chemical filters tend to. It has that velvety finish that everyone enjoys but without irritating and over-drying my skin out with drying alcohol and has the most minute white cast that dissipates on its own and reapplies nicely. The sunscreen isn’t drying when layered on top of other skincare and I enjoyed how the sunscreen felt on my skin in the heat and sweat and that it doesn’t run into my eyeballs and make me cry painful tears.

Dr Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence ($37.89 CAD | 150 mL)

Essences are a weird skincare product; I love them but they are weird. They either are super-watery products that you pat into the skin immediately after washing (think a first essence) or are a variation on the serum theme, with a real focus on a single or a few key ingredients. This one falls into the latter group and my lord, is it moisturizing. It contains your usual glycerin, green tea extract and water, saccharomyces ferment filtrate, sunflower seed oil, centella asiatica and ceramide np. It has a really interesting kind of biphase texture that turns from the tea-coloured liquid to a calming milk. In my experience, it’s a soothing, calming, hydrating and moisturizing dream. I loved it in the hot and humid weather and I’m sure I’ll be ready to express my eternal devotion to it in cooler temperatures. In the summer, I used it as a serum underneath moisturizer or on its own when I was feeling lazier, and I know I’ll be happily piling it under anything in following months…

Ion 9 Row Silicone Brush ($17.39 CAD)

Even dealing with quite frankly the most ridiculous humidity this summer and starting working out five times week and getting sweaty, I’ve actually probably gotten to the best place with my wavy curls this summer that I maybe ever had. A big part of this is attaining good wash day results after using the denman-esque brush to coil my hair and form curl clumps and spirals that last. Most wash days I use this brush to form spirals and enhance my curl pattern with a curl cream, before scrunching with a gel. This brush has definitely helped me achieve tousled, fluffy loose curls.

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle ($35.99 CAD | 237 mL)

The first half of the season, I think I exclusively used this as my gel, which is why I actually ended up converting to the jumbo sized bottle. It’s one of those gels that offers medium flexible hold and is actually curl enhancing and clumping by its own right. I get the best results by applying it to my hair after removing excess water with a microfibre towel first and get a slight cast that disappears on its own post drying or diffusing. It’s a glycerin-heavy gel but it performs well enough in humidity if you don’t mind the fluffy look, probably because it’s moisturizing with babassu oil, sorbitol, linseeds, avocado oil and shea butter. Basically the film-forming humectants and oils it contains make it perform well in heat and humidity. This gel has given me some of my most juiciest spirals and clumps and plenty of curl compliments, with its odd custard-y texture.

Pattern Beauty Curl Gel ($32 CAD | 289.8 mL)

Towards the end of the summer, I got the opportunity to try this highly acclaimed gel through FabFitFun and I couldn’t resist giving it a go basically the second the box arrived. I will note that it worked as well on my long loose curls as it does for the tighter types that it was certainly created for. It’s a cream gel kind of texture with medium hold and is very moisturizing. It helps to clump curls together but didn’t weigh my hair down by any means, which makes sense because I think it was intended for big airy but defined curls, rather than a flatter more helmet-y controlled kind of curl. It’s another glycerin heavy gel with aloe, coconut oil, castor oil, wheat amino acids and hydrolyzed silk. It offers maybe medium hold but leaves the curls defined, soft and easily refreshed days later.

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum ($85 CAD | 10 mL)

I was not doing a whole lot of perfume during the season, as it was just so hot and humid and I was doing so much swimming that it seemed like a moot point. I tended to only reach for perfume for evenings or the rare actual occasions and I found myself reaching for this expensive perfume. Now, I was happy to be able to try the private blend in this smaller spray, as they are majorly expensive but it is the perfect warm boozy spicy vanilla that doesn’t actually read masculine. It lasts for weeks on clothing and forever on the skin without being headache-y. I can only imagine liking it more in cooler weather.

Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer and Daytime Eye Cream ($37 CAD | 6 mL)

While it has been rare for me to wear makeup at all in the season, I did reach for this concealer basically every time that I did. It’s hydrating, has good ingredients, creases incredibly minimally and does not highlight texture or dryness. The mica it contains provides some light reflection, the arnica should theoretically be soothing, the caffeine is brightening and anti-inflammatory and the peptide it contains, sodium hyaluronate and squalane are lovely things for my generally dehydrated and flaky skin. It’s great underneath the eyes, with a full face of makeup or minimal makeup and buffed wherever you need it for a foundation-free face. I will say the colours run incredibly yellow and the first shade I bought (3.5W) could easily make me look jaundiced; the second time around, I went for 1.5C, which was lighter and was marketed as having pink undertones, which works wonderfully under my eyes and on the centre of my face. It isn’t actually cool-toned or overly pink though; it’s more neutral warm and slightly yellow …

What products were your standbys this summer?
Maggie, x.

Cold-ish Weather Product Empties Part 2

Originally, this was going to be a second empties post to follow up the one I did earlier on in the winter. However, May is now around the corner and, therefore, it is safe to say that this is more of an end of winter, early spring kind of post. Winter may have made its way into spring — for the most part –, but this doesn’t mean that my skin on just about every surface of my body is not still dry, sensitive and likely flaking. Lets get to the products:

Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Whipped Cleansing Cream ($28 US | 100 mL)

I tried this cream cleanser thanks to FabFitFun and I enjoyed using it. The second ingredient was sweet almond oil and I found it removed makeup ridiculously well and had a thick oil-rich feel to the cream cleanser. It also contained some soothing plant extracts including witch hazel, which my skin tends to find sensitizing at times, amongst chamomile, calendula and centella asiatica. I did enjoy the moisture left after using this soap-free cleanser but found it could kind of sting around the lash line and eye area when used for makeup removal. However, there are few cleansers that don’t do that for me. I liked using this but it’s expensive for what it is and I want to explore other cream cleanser options. It contains fragrance, in case I didn’t make that clear, but it smells mainly of the sweet almond oil and something subtle and spa-like.

Niod Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate ($68 CDN | 15 mL)

I would never have tried this eye serum if I hadn’t gone for the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit but I did enjoy using it, even as an eye cream skeptic with a very sensitive eye area. It was a nice kind of oily serum texture that never stung around my eyes, or seemed to irritate my dry eyes themselves. It helped with mask-related flaking and sensitivity around my eyes but I didn’t notice any sort of wow results. It contains glycerin, niacinamide, yeast extract, a ton of peptides, natural moisturizing factors, antioxidants and soothing ingredients. There was an improvement of hydration I noticed and maybe a minor improvement in my chronic dark circles. I don’t plan on repurchasing immediately as it’s not cheap and will likely experiment with some other eye products in the meantime.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($66 CDN | 28 mL)

Throughout the fall and winter, I developed some eczema around my eyes that never quite went away. Consequently, I’ve been reaching for eye-specific products on the daily and I happily used up this thick fragrance-free balm cream. I’ve had it on the go for over a year — the larger size is actually more economical than you’d expect — and I liked it. It didn’t tend to sting under my eyes, helped with moisture, wasn’t irritating and helped makeup sit nicely, even on my dry and flaky under-eyes. It contains shea butter, avocado oil, hydrogenated castor oil and sodium pca. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to buying again but I’m experimenting with different products at present.

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CDN | 150 mL)

I love a good calming milky toner and I’m not sure whether I prefer Paula’s Choice’s milky toners or this one. Regardless, I have had another bottle of this fragrance-free moisturizing toner ready to go for months. It has a simple but nourishing and soothing formula with glycerin, meadowfoam seed oil and white tea leaf extract. It’s a great product to use after cleansing to add hydration and combat inflammation immediately after cleansing. My skin always feels less sensitized, nourished and plump. It also helps that it never stings on my skin, even when I have active eczema on my face.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Emulsion ($29 CDN | 140 mL)

Despite the fact that I’ve previously loved this traditional lotion-textured hyaluronic acid, I’m not sure I will repurchase again in this form. It’s affordable, coming with a large amount of product, fragrance-free and contains five different forms of hyaluronic acid, along with glycerin, mineral oil, dimethicone and squalane. In the warmer months, it would be possibly enough to serve as a moisturizer during the day, whilst being a fantastic humectant. However, I find that when it’s layered with a bunch of different serums and moisturizers, it tends to pill. I actually ended up using this on my body throughout the cooler months along with on my face to use up. I actually repurchased the traditional liquid form of this product.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($27.99 CDN | 100 mL)

I happily used this gel-textured humectant serum once or twice every day for a good six months. Despite being labelled as an essence, I think it’s thicker than a traditional essence and, instead, is a more gel-textured serum. I would definitely buy again but I’ve ordered the newer dual-chambered formula with niacinamide to try first. It contains 96% snail secretion filtrate in all of its healing and soothing glory, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, arginine and allantoin. This is an amazing humectant serum on irritated skin from wearing a mask, retinoid-abuse and for those suffering from flakiness and dehydration. Using this, my skin was so much more plumped and hydrated and my post inflammatory redness from breakouts seems to be resolving more quickly from daily use.

Caudalie Vinosource Riche Intense Moisture Rescue Cream ($48 CDN | 40 mL)

I’ve been using moisturizers from this range for years and have maybe happily gone through three tubes. It feels like an instant comforting hug in a tube for dry sensitized skin. Weirdly enough, it does contain some synthetic fragrance but never makes my skin sting even when my barrier is the most compromised and when I’ve overdone it the most. It contains squalane, antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil, shea butter, borage seed oil and fatty acids. I have a number of other moisturizers on the go but I don’t want to go without this one. It’s almost impossibly soothing and rich without feeling greasy. This cream is a godsend on sensitized skin with dry flaky patches.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL)

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the pump on this fluffy comforting cream stopped dispensing product this morning. I should have known from how much I relied on this moisturizer in this fall and winter and past experiences with this pump that it would give out without warning. Happily, I bought multiples last time after it went out of stock for a while. It’s soothing on the skin, doesn’t tend to sting, definitely helps with repairing the skin barrier and acts as a lightweight barrier cream for under a mask. Interestingly enough, it’s silicone free and shea butter based with glycerin, omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, ceramides, squalane, sodium hyaluronate and nothing typically sensitizing. It sits well under makeup and sunscreens and offers richness and soothing while still being fairly lightweight. I love this stuff and it’s excellent value for money, even at full price and when I calculate the price into Canadian dollars… This is a product that I wish existed and I knew about in my teenage years. It’s brilliant for when your skin is sore and everything stings.

Cerave Itch Relief Cream ($27.99 CDN | 340g)

My primary eczema sites are my legs and arms, so moisturizing religiously is uber important. I’ve really enjoyed using this thick whipped cream. This rich cream tends to only sting very minimally on areas with broken skin. The texture of the cream is rich but it sinks in quickly and the best feature is that while the cream works to repair the barrier, it features 1% pramoxine hydrochloride to numb the itchiness without irritation. It contains glycerin, petrolatum, shea butter, dimethicone and ceramides. I’ve repurchased it already.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M ($25 CDN | 200 mL)

After I saw the new more eco-conscious cardboard tube packaging, I decided to give this fragrance-free lightweight whipped cream another try. It actually uses citric acid as a preservative, which can be much less irritating than phenoxyethanol and features shea butter, dimethicone, niacinamide, rapeseed oil, vitamin e and extracts with humectant ability. I did find that the cream felt light on the skin to such a degree that I had to use an awful lot of product on my dry body skin and that likely due to the amount of niacinamide, it could sting over more irritated patches. I would use again as a nice everyday moisturizer.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Chia + Flax Seed Coil Custard ($34 CDN | 177 mL)

While it’s called a custard, I found this product a go-to cream with a bit of hold, control and ridiculous clumping. It’s rich but gave good results on my fine mixture of waves and loose curls, helping to hold my spirals together and form in a more controlled fashion. I used this cream every single wash day for months happily and I can confirm, it’s concentrated enough to be worth the money. It contains castor seed oil, fatty alcohols, glycerin, shea butter, rice and keratin amino acids, hydrolyzed quinoa, fermented extracts and a few plant oils. I tend to use this cream paired with a gel but actually does hold up as a single styler. It was an instant repurchase.

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle ($35.99 CDN | 227g)

Over the past six months, I’ve been trying out Curlsmith products and this true loosely-packed soufflé-texture gel has been among my favourites. It’s concentrated enough that it lasted me months — even using it most wash days — and offered medium-flexible hold that casts nicely with medium weight and medium moisture. For a gel, it’s very curl enhancing and encourages my waves to form spirals, even working well as a single styler. I tended to use it to top a gel for multiple day hair that I didn’t have to think too much about. It contains glycerin, babassu oil, irish moss, flaxseed extract, avocado oil and shea butter. I bought a backup before I even let myself finish this gel.

What have you finished up?
Maggie, x.