Skincare Sunday | The Cold/Allergies/Sleep-Deprived Routine

As I write this post, I’m sitting beside my well-loved bottle of artificial tears and a heaping glass of water (with loads of ice) because I have a major case of allergies and I’m exhausted. From what I’ve gathered, many of us are sick, tired and suffering from allergies so I thought I’d share my pampering skincare routine for helping when we’re under the weather and our skin definitely shows it. I’ll remind you here that my skin is dry and dehydrated for the most part, with a tendency to get eczema whenever it gets upset or the weather changes.

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1. Gentle Cream Cleanser

I used the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser ($18 US) to remove the residual skincare products from the night before and whatever grime was on my face. My skin was dehydrated with my allergies and change of season, as I think many people experience, so a gentle cream cleanser is essential.

2.Hydrating Toner or Essence

This is one of the occasions where I think incorporating one of these products makes the greatest difference. When your skin is dehydrated and a bit irritated, adding back those essential substances that make your skin glowy and hydrated immediately after cleansing helps. I used one of my favourites, the Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US), which definitely helped calm my skin, adding back essential fatty acids to restore the skin barrier along with some antioxidants.

3.Azelaic Acid

Depending on your skin care concerns and the state of your skin, this could be replaced with a more traditional chemical exfoliant; after all, the verdicts still out whether or not azelaic acid performs technically as a chemical exfoliant. Because I live in Canada where azelaic acid isn’t available over the counter, I actually used Finacea, a prescription only product. It’s anti-inflammatory activity keeps my skin the most calmed, clear, bright and radiant that my skin has ever been.

4. A Powerhouse Serum

This step will differ depending on your skin concerns, but you want it to be gentle and loaded with beneficial ingredients. I went with Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum ($59) because it has a gorgeous milky texture and soothes the skin while brightening, with niacinamide, squalene and liquorice root extract.

5.A Facial Oil

There’s something about the extra antioxidant boost from applying a plant oil that makes the skin look better. I’ve been reaching for The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil ($4.20).

6. An Eye Cream

I normally believe that eye creams and overpriced an unnecessary but when you’re suffering through a cold or allergies, you can typically use something a bit extra in the under the eye area, but it needs to be gentle. My pick was the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($39).

7. A Good Moisturizer

This seems like such a blah heading but it’s all I could come up with. This will have sun protection in it, if you’re going the routine during the day (and got your life together before 5 pm unlike me) and will perhaps be a little richer in the evening. Because my skin is so thirsty, I slathered on the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask ($35) but I’m sure this would entirely be too heavy for someone who is not on the drier end of the spectrum. This step is going to depend heavily upon your skin type.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

The Review | Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream ($75 CDN/1.69 ounces) claims to be “a retro-style moisturizer that rescues dry, dull skin while slowly delivering a steady dose of barrier moisture throughout the day and night” and I surprisingly find myself saying that the moisturizer achieves what it claims. I did first try out this product in a sample size from a value set and found myself purchasing the full size because of the calming and comforting action it provided. The one thing I will say about the claims is that I question any topical moisturizer kind of product that can ‘firm’ the skin’s appearance because of how difficult it is to firm the skin and how subjective this claim is, as it’s talking about the skin’s appearance. However, the moisturizer does help to rehabilitate the skin’s appearance and adds brightness that can be lost when the skin is dry and irritated. It also does provide moisture that does not dissipate quickly, containing the six African oil that the formula boasts about.


In terms of packaging, the airless pump is excellent – from a hygiene and ingredient stability standpoint – and you can’t dislike the simple aesthetics of the lilac and white design, but I’m not sure I love it quite enough to want to part with $75 CDN to quickly repurchase it. My general recommendation would be to consider giving the cream a shot if you’re struggling with persistent dryness and sensitivity, especially if a thick whipped texture appeals. If thick butters can clog you, I’d probably stand far away from this but it’s excellent when dealing with conditions such as retinoid-induced dermatitis and extreme weather changes.

Ingredients:Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Isopropyl Isostearate, Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Glycine Soja Meal/Malt Extract/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate (Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate), Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetearyl Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Ximenia Americana Seedate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Ceteareth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin


Now let’s get down to the ingredients. It’s fragrance and irritant free, consisting of emollients, glycerin, antioxidant and fatty-acid-rich plant oils and barrier-repairing ingredients. The brand is cruelty-free as a whole and in all honesty, I’ve been unable to get a clear answer whether or not this particular product is vegan.  Now lets get to the rundown of the other ingredients: It starts off with the water-binding agent, glycerin, that’s a skin-identical and repairing substance that’s essential for barrier repair. Many of the ten first ingredients are emollients which is why I primarily would only recommend this cream for a drier skin that tolerates thicker butter consistencies without clogging. The formula is laden with fatty acids  and contains a decent amount of the antioxidant rich green tea oil, that has specific evidence of being calming and reducing irritation. There are a myriad of other antioxidant-rich plant oils in the formula, also.  It contains a specific plant extract called plantar lanceolate leaf extract, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties and is believed to increase the speed of healing. Another notable ingredient is a hyaluronic acid cross polymer, which also serves to increase the hydration of the skin.

Any thoughts on Drunk Elephant?
Maggie, x.
P.S. I purchased mine from Sephora but it’s also available from the Drunk Elephant website. Currently the brand is only available in North America but it has an upcoming UK launch.

The Review | Aroma Actives Omega Rich Facial Oil

I really really am sorry about how I dropped off of the face of the earth this month. There were papers, exams and holiday season work craziness that prevented me from being able to do anything other than survive. I might have bit off a bit more than one can chew. Regardless, I’m coming at you today with a review of a facial oil. I’m kind of ridiculously into facial oils – it doesn’t matter what season it is, but I will admit that I’m particularly into them in dry winter weather – so when I had the opportunity to try the Aroma Actives Skincare Omega Rich Facial Oil ($28/15 mLs) through work I was all kinds of excited.

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The Aroma Actives line is the more affordable (but still marketed as natural line), created by Geraldine Howard, the creator of the well-known luxury brand, Aromatherapy Associates. And as you would expect, her products are loaded with essential oils, which essentially (hahahahah) is my only issue with the product. I don’t mind a few essential oils in moderation, but I find this facial oil slightly too irritating on my sensitive skin, because of how many known irritating essential oils feature heavily into the product. Namely, these are the Wood Oil, Patchouli Oil, Ylang Ylang Flower Oil and the Bitter Orange Oil.

I will admit that the essential oils do contribute to a lovely herbal scent – that reminds me so much of an Aveda Salon Spa – and the lightweight but nourishing texture of the oil is appealing, but given that I reach for an oil for their hydrating slash healing properties, anti-inflammatory action, soothing properties and antioxidants this fails to reach my expectations. After all, any sort of irritation from overly fragrant and possibly problematic oils is opposed to the purpose of oils in my routine as I find it irritating, which causes inflammation.

Ingredients:Prunus Persica (Peach) Kernel Oil, Cinnamomum Camphora Linalooliferum (Ho) Wood Oil, Borago Officinalis (Starflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil, Ximenia Americana Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Isoeugenol, Limonene, Linalool.

With all this in mind, however, if you are a fan of essential oils and do not find that even the most fragrant ones cause a reaction in your skin, I might suggest giving this one a try. The formula is really sophisticated, nourishing while being lightweight and provides a luxurious experience without breaking the bank.

What are your thoughts on facial oils?
Maggie, x.

The Review| Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Lotion SPF 30

I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Lotion SPF 30 ($28/2 ounces) on an almost daily basis for months now, but it’s really in the aftermath of suffering through a cold and dealing with very dehydrated skin in the fall that I’ve appreciated  this extremely hydrating mineral-based SPF moisturizer so very much. It does not have the lightest texture and some might regard it as slightly greasy, but its ability to provide gentle mineral based protection without drying out the skin and instead, providing so much hydration that a separate moisturizer is not required beforehand. Essentially, it’s impressive because it manages to fulfill my expectations of a moisturizer, along with a gentle SPF product that my skin can tolerate within a single product.

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Product Ingredients:
Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 3.85%, Zinc Oxide 3.12% (mineral sunscreens). Other Ingredients: Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (thickener), Isononyl Isononanoate (skin conditioning agent), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil (non-fragrant emollient plant oil), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient thickeners), PEG-100 Stearate (emollient thickeners), Cyclopentasiloxane (silicone slip agent), Butylene Glycol (slip agents), Pentylene Glycol (slip agents), Cetearyl Alcohol (thickening agent), Dimethicone (silicone slip agent), VP/Eicosene Copolymer (film-forming agent), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols (antioxidant fatty acid), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (anti-irritants), Glycerin (skin-identical/repairing ingredient), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-repairing ingredients), Allantoin (anti-irritants), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydrogenated Lecithin (cell-communicating ingredient), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (stabilized vitamin C/antioxidant), Superoxide Dismutase (antioxidant), Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10/antioxidant), Ceramide NG, Methicone (silicone slip agent), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (cell-communicating ingredient) , PEG-10 Dimethicone – (silicone thickener), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient/skin-repairing ingredient), Tribehenin (skin conditioning agent), PEG-10 Phytosterol (emulsifier), Sorbitan Stearate (emulsifier), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (thickeners), Alumina (thickening/opacifying agents) , Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Aluminum Stearate (thickening/opacifying agents), Xanthan Gum (thickeners), Caprylyl Glycol (preservatives), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin-conditioning agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

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It adds instant hydration that suits those who suffer from dry patches and generally dry-slash-dehydrated skin and it does not have an overly thick texture, as might be problematic if you suffer with clogged pores or breakouts along with dryness concerns. It has a lotion texture and a white cast, as expected, but it’s relatively sheer and blends into my fair skin with ease – and is minor compared to other physical sunscreens that are not tinted to conceal the cast. I do love how it instantly calms and soothes the skin, while preventing from further damage and irritation from the sun, with SPF and antioxidants. It’s an excellent one for under makeup in terms of making it apply smoothly without highlighting drier patches, but on any sort of oilier areas, it can create some shine throughout the day.

As with all Paula’s Choice products, – in my experience, at least – the Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion does what it sets out and claims to do, replenishing “dry, sensitive skin” and ensuring “a healthy barrier function while protecting from daily sun damage with gentle mineral sunscreens” and is “loaded with potent antioxidants, skin-identical ceramics and cell-communicating peptides to restore and help maintain healthy, radiant skin”. The standout ingredients include the high concentration of apricot kernel oil for combatting inflammation, the barrier-repairing sodium hyaluronate, the anti-irritant allantoin and a cocktail of different antioxidants, to name a few. Especially for those on the more sensitive end of the spectrum, I would recommend this mineral based SPF moisturizer, if you’re on the dry to very dry end of the spectrum. I think it might be too heavy duty for normal skin, but I can’t be completely certain…

Thoughts?
Maggie, x.

A Skincare Update

Perhaps I was a little too ambitious with believing that I could get back to the 3-4 times a week posting schedule, while finishing up my degree and working twenty hours a week. Well, anyways I’ve been meaning to do a complimentary post to my morning skincare routine from this Summer, but I’ve realized that enough has changed that an update would make sense before moving onto the evening routine. My thoughts and philosophy on skincare haven’t changed, nor have my opinions on my favourite products but I’ve run out of certain previous staples and have been using others in the rotation… I will warn you, though, that this post will be more than a little Paula’s Choice heavy.

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First off, I’ve been more consistent with my use of the Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster ($48), every single morning before moisturizer, rather than just applied on alternating evenings. And even though I was feeling pretty great about my skin as a whole, I swear I’ve seen improvement from adding a few drops of the antioxidant serum in terms of skin clarity, brightness and texture.

After I ran out of the two moisturizers that had been in my rotation, I took the opportunity to order the Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream ($32) a month or so back and I’ve been using it on a nightly basis with pleasure. It does contain retinol in a decent concentration, but I find that I can use it on top of my topical Retinoid, along with a plethora of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients – including anti-inflammatory plant oils, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Although its touted as an anti-aging moisturizer, the ingredients do work wonders on younger skin to combat irritation and inflammation, while preventing signs of aging and the like. It does contain petrolatum and plant oils, however, so it does not have the lightest feel, but I wouldn’t call it particularly heavy. It just has a thicker, emollient texture that might not be suitable for those who have issues with clogged pores and any sort of oiliness. I do find it intensely soothing and hydrating overnight and also suitable for use underneath the eyes. It’s been a real saviour as it’s gotten a whole lot drier and colder here and my skin has gotten majorly dry as I’ve been suffering through a wretched cold.

To be completely honest, I’ve switched the moisturizer up on occasion with the Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Multi-Correcting Cream ($92) that I received a sample size of in my Fall Luxe Box, even though I know that the jar packaging ensures that essentially any beneficial antioxidants will become unstable and that the ingredients aren’t impressive to begin with. I kind of just enjoy the soothing cream-gel texture and the light scent – that is not good for the skin. I will not be purchasing this, though, I assure you.

With the same aforementioned order, I’ve added the Paula’s Choice Clear Acne Body Spray ($24) into my daily (morning) chemical exfoliation, alternated with my usual Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment for increased pore-declogging and anti-inflammatory action – but this is its secondary function, as I’m using it to deal with unsightly body breakouts. I enjoy just how light it is without drying or irritating my skin and how it adds something extra to my regular AHA-based regime.

Thanks to my work, I’ve had the opportunity to sample two different products from the seemingly luxe essential-oil based line, Aroma Actives, and while I’ve been trying them out for about a month, they haven’t firmly found a place in my routine – nor have I completely decided my feelings on them. The Aroma Actives Omega Rich Facial Oil ($28) is definitely an indulgent oil that smells delightful and feels delightful on the skin, bringing increased radiance and all that facial oils do for a decent price, but it does only come with 15 mLs and when my skin is at its most sensitive, I find the ylang ylang essential oil content slightly irritating. But it’s still lovely.  I’ve also been adding the Aroma Actives Perfecting Day Serum ($24) to my regime on occasion with pleasure. I love the high rosehip oil content and how its enriched with these extracts in higher concentrations, along with how soothing and lightweight it is on the skin – I’m just not seeing phenomenal results.

Have any skincare recs for me?
Maggie, x.

The Acquisitions | Another Paula’s Choice Order

I believe that I’ve already mentioned that I recently started a new job and since I received my first couple of paychecks and all, I’ve bought more than a few things – and four of those things were from a Paula’s Choice order that I made, so today I’m going to type on about it. It does indeed include a few of those products that I’ve been continuously featuring in my wishlist posts, which does excite me to no end.

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Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster ($48 US/ 0.67 ounces)

With my first foray into Paula’s Choice back in March, I received a lovely trial size of this potent vitamin C serum and I fell in love with it because of the almost instant smoothing and brightening results. I was heartbroken when I found myself without this a month or so back to such a degree that I was motivated to place this order when the company was offering a nice promotion – simply for the sake of this product. With its potent dose of vitamin c, this lightweight serum works as an antioxidant, fighting against all forms of environmental damage – including sun damage (alongside your SPF) – and helps to add serious radiance to dull skin, smooth the texture, help to diminish uneven skin tone and increase overall clarity. I tend to use it on its own every second night but it can be mixed into another product, and I’ve been incorporating it into my daytime routine for optimal effectiveness.

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Lotion SPF 30 ($28 US/ 2 ounces)

My skin does not tolerate chemical sunscreen well in the least but I tend to find mineral formulas heavy and drying, so I tried this hydrating moisturizing sunscreen formula as a sample with my last order and was pleasantly surprised – it manages to provide adequate mineral protection without that bothersome texture, significant white cast while actually providing tons of hydration and soothing action to the skin. I definitely am very impressed with this antioxidant rich formula.

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Toner ($20/ 6.4 ounces)

Since watching the Paula’s Choice videos and learning more about their products and general skincare philosophy in the past couple of months, I’ve wanted to try one of their milky toners, as they supposedly added weightless hydration – which I’m always looking for – along with some calming action. Let me tell you, I’ve been converted – I adore how light but nourishing this toner is and I love how it gives a healthy dose of antioxidants along with nourishing oils with a featherlight texture. I imagine these would be ideal for more combination skins too because they add hydration without that heavy feel…

Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless 2% BHA Body Treatment ($25/ 7 ounces)

It has been mentioned before that since my early teenage years, I’ve struggled with body acne and while I’ve definitely managed to reduce the severity of the breakouts, it remains a concern. I’ve also mentioned before that I’m prone to eczema and find it difficult to tolerate potent treatments because they are irritating and/or drying. However, after having such success with using BHAs to prevent and treat my milder acne on my face without irritation, I was tempted to try out this antioxidant-rich BHA body lotion. I’ll keep you posted on my results but at least so far I haven’t experienced any irritation. This is also supposed to be great for treating KP and general dry skin.

As for samples, I chose the PC Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask, the PC Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment and the PC Skin Recovery Cleanser, so if you’re curious I could provide my thoughts on these.

Have you tried Paula’s Choice?
Maggie, x.

 

The Review | Lush Ultrabland Cleanser

Long time no post, huh? It appears that I’ve taken a bit of a break but this was merely accidental – I’ve had an extraordinarily busy and exhausting week or so, I was without my laptop for a few days in (vain) hopes of a battery replacement and somehow I never quite got back into the swing of things. Well, on this fine Canada Day I thought I would bring out a review of one of those products that I’ve been loving in my busy and exhausted state to luxuriously cleanse the skin and melt off makeup with relative ease, the Lush Ultrabland Cleanser ($16.95-$29.95).

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I’m skeptical of natural products because they have the potential and tendency (in my experience) to be questionable for the skin and don’t seem to have to do anything else – performing well does not seem to be a requirement, along with being formulated with natural ingredients. Ultrabland comes in two different sizes, the perfectly adequate 45 grams (as shown above) and a generous 100 grams, and the beeswax-based cleanser boasts being able to remove the toughest of makeup while still being non-irritating. It’s definitely successful as its aims in my experience, although the second ingredient (rose water) has the potential to irritate the skin because its a naturally fragrant ingredient, which is something to consider. It removes makeup along with the best of them, decimating tenacious foundations and eyeliners with ease but doesn’t quite remove every last bit of mascara upon the first attempt all of the time.

Ingredients: Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Rose Water (Rosa centifolia) , Beeswax (Cera alba) , Honey (Mel) , Fresh Iris Extract (Iris florentina) , Glycerine , Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) , Tincture of Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) , Methylparaben , Propylparaben .

It’s definitely a true cleansing balm, enough so that I’m aware of this with being my first foray into these nourishing and soothing thick balms – and I’m loving it. It’s a therapeutic experience applying the smallest amount on my fingertips and then massaging the buttery product into my skin and on my eyelids and not just because of the pleasant almond oil and rose scent. Unfortunately, it’s balmy enough that it does not emulsify to rinse cleanly – in other words, this requires a washcloth for removal and won’t be for you if you hate any sort of residue. I love the little bit of hydration and soothing factor that the teensiest bit of residue leaves on my dry skin but I’m aware that it’s not for everyone. The balm agrees with my sensitive skin and hasn’t lead to any sort of irritation, bump or breakout and offers that indulgence that balms provide with a relatively low price tag. I’m partial to how this product doesn’t promise anything miraculous and therefore is able to deliver on its claims. In a nutshell, I would recommend Lush’s Ultrabland in two scenarios: if you’re eager to try a balm cleanser without spending a fortune or if you are a fan of natural products.

What’s your favourite cleanser?
Maggie, x.