The Weekly Skincare Treatments

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Today I’m here bringing you the last instalment of my May series creatively titled “skincare series” but rest assured, I’m going to make an effort to write more frequent skincare-themed posts in the future… I know I already have gone on and on and on again about treatments but this post was an essential one as I felt the need to separate the less frequent treatments that I’ve stuck to using on a regular basis. And coincidentally all of these treatments fall into the mask category, by the way.

I figured that I would begin with the most frequently used offering, The Body Shop Aloe Protective Restoring Mask ($22 CDN) that I happily slather on my face in the place of my regular moisturizer 2-3 times weekly. This is a treatment that aims to soothe and deeply hydrate the skin, differing from the usual treatments that tend to be a wee bit harsher in order to pull the skin into order. The mask is intensely hydrating, calming, soothing and all that jazz but the remarkable thing is that the mask doesn’t feel heavy or uncomfortable on the skin and it doesn’t disappear a few hours later, either.

The following three masks all fit under the clarifying clay-based umbrella variety and I alternate between the three (but go for the Kiehl’s offering the least often), slapping one of the trio on about once a week or perhaps twice if my skin is in need of extra help in the congestion department. I was tempted not to include the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque ($27 CDN) as it fades into the background in comparison to the Clinique offering and doesn’t offer any additional benefits; I’ve had this one for ages and I’m not sure if I will repurchase but truth be told I do reach for this one and it does the job without irritation. The Clinique Acne Solutions Oil Control Cleansing Mask ($26 CDN) is superior in the sense that it’s just as gentle and congesting but easier to remove and also formulated with salicylic acid in addition to speed the decongesting action further.

The third and final clay mask offering, namely the Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It ($22 CDN) is easily the latest addition but it is one I do enjoy immensely for its hybrid nature as a gentle scrub (containing fruit acids for chemical exfoliation) and standard clay mask. Unlike the other offerings above, this is not one of those masks that you leave on for a good ten minutes but instead is left on the skin for three or four in order to achieve the decongesting purifying effects of the clay-based formula. The ever-so-slightly abrasive (but quite gentle) texture of the scrub (from the diatomaceus earth) leaves the surface of the skin gently exfoliated along with the brightening effect produced by the acids. Unfortunately this one does contain a bit of fragrance (but it doesn’t irritate the skin) which gives it that nice minty scent but even on my dry skin, this is not problematic in the least. None of these masks are drying in my opinion and although this one is marketed for much oilier skin than I possess, it does not dry out the skin in any shape or form and in some ways can help with the hydration situation with its ability to refine texture. It should go without saying that all of these are free of drying alcohols that tend to creep up on the ingredients list on treatments of this variety

What are your favourite treatments – I’d love some recs! Have you tried any of these!

Maggie, x.

Morning Skincare Routine

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I’ve been hesitant about doing this but at the same time I’ve wanted to share the precise routine that I’ve stuck to that has improved my skin and in real life, non beauty-obsessive individuals have asked me about my routine so I figured it was time to get over the challenge of articulating a routine that differs slightly depending on the day of the week and the condition of my skin at the moment. I went on about my skin and skincare thoughts in the first post of this series last week here if you happen to be curious but I have dry sensitive skin with texture and brightness concerns and a side order of mild acne in short and here is my two minute morning routine…

Before I found easy gentle cleansers like the affordable Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanse($11-12 CDN) that gently cleanse the skin with minimal effort, washing away with a splash of water without leaving the skin stripped or irritated in some way, I wasn’t a believer in washing my face in the morning but now that I have, I can’t bring myself to turn back as my skin is far clearer.

Once-or-perhaps-twice per week, when I’m tempted I go for the extremely gentle salicylic-acid-based chemical exfoliant, namely the underrated — and way superior to the dreadful offerings in the three step formulation — Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion ($16 CDN). With only 0.5% strength salicylic acid, this “toner” provides the gentlest chemical exfoliation and I tend to go for this when my skin is a little congested in areas — not too rare of an occasion, if I’m honest.

Being interested in the wonders of a serum as of late, I’ve recently added the La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Localized Redness Serum ($35 CDN)into the morning skincare dash and so far I’m pleased with the soothing and hydrating power of this lightweight gel-like textured serum. I don’t have rosacea, so I can’t report on that front but this does help calm the skin, redness included.

Although there’s no SPF or anything of the sort that would confine this moisturizer to use in the morning, I tend to go for the lovely REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream ($54 CDN) that offers that essential soothing action with lightweight fast-absorbing hydration. But I still wouldn’t rank it above the Caudalie that I do not own at the moment but went on and on about last year for good reason, if you know what I mean.

Because I live in a cooler climate and have extraordinary issues with the whole sunscreen shebang – I’m allergic to most chemical sunscreens – I do that naughty thing and only wear SPF if I’m going to be spending the day outdoors in the sun and true to its name, the Avene High Protection Mineral Cream SPF 50 ($30 CDN)delivers. Like all mineral sunscreens, this one does bring a bit of a white cast and because of this the cream is tinted and pulls slightly pink-y on me (but not too terribly) but this remains the gentlest and most-effective sunscreen I’ve tried to date, never burning the eyes to boot. It has a hydrating texture that isn’t the most lightweight so on occasion I’ll skip on either the serum or moisturizer, as there’s no need for excess product.

It’s not life changing or anything of the sort but it hydrates my lips and works nicely under lipsticks so the EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm in Summer Fruit ($4 CDN) has my seal of approval. The texture isn’t overly slippy so it fares well under lip products and the scent doesn’t bother me like most fruit scents – if you ask me, it smells like authentic peaches.

What are your go-to products in your morning skincare routine?

Maggie, x.

 

Additions to the Skincare Routine

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So here I am, as promised, delivering another installment in the creatively-titled ‘skincare series’. Gradually I began making drastic changes to my skincare routine about a year ago but ever since the initial changes I’ve been rather consistent with my morning and evening skincare routine with results that I can’t complain about by any stretch of the imagination. However as one reaches the end of skincare products and is a beauty addict such as I am, some products are purchased and switched in for others and the rare additions are added to the routine, having made the cut.

Not too long ago, I featured the newly-acquired Boots no7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser($12 CDN) when I confessed my accidental shopping sins. While it is a new addition to the routine, I picked it up to replace the Cleansing Balm from the same line that I actually finished up after loads of use because the formulation was similar and I was curious. As expected, this offering that presumably is created to imitate the oh-so-popular Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish – that I’ve never tried – without the fragrant essential oils seems to be just as nice, rich and soothing whilst removing makeup effectively with a washcloth but it comes with 50 mls of extra product and is housed in the practical pump packaging. The following two products received mention in mere passing in contrast here to the cleanser that I’ve discussed before in some detail.

This purchase was induced by the brand being available at a 20% discount but truly I was interested in adding a serum with all of the benefits they seem to be toted as providing that could be used once or twice daily and the La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Localized Redness Serum ($35 CDN) seemed to fit the bill without having irritating alcohol or stuff of that sort. While I don’t suffer from rosacea, I do suffer from redness and all-around skin irritation and this doesn’t have any sort of life-altering ingredients but this glycerin-based serum has proven to be gentle, soothing and hydrating and it has been a valuable addition to the routine. Unlike my serum love, the Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright, this can be used daily, evening and night and I have been doing so. The pump packaging of the serum is also to die for especially if you’re particularly concerned with keeping ingredients stable and avoiding contamination.

With some legitimate sadness and regret, I’ve noted that my beloved brightening and smoothing treatment/serum, Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright has been running dangerously low and I was not ready to be without an effective AHA chemical exfoliant in my routine somehow I ended up at the cash register with the smaller size of the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($14 CDN)it’s funny how that happens. However, I’ve been impressed to say the least — not only are these alcohol-free AHA-filled cotton pads fairly affordable, they are extremely concentrated yet gentle with their abundant aloe-leaf juice and I’m able to report that they provide the adequate results of a brightening resurfacing chemical exfoliant – and they are so concentrated that I’ve been able to get two uses off of one pad, using both sides individually. The exact percent of the acid doesn’t appear anywhere (that I can find) but I assure you that its concentrated without being irritating in the least. I can see why everyone seems to be holding these pads in high regard but I’m not ready to offer any definite conclusions yet…

Have you tried any of these products? What have you added to your routine as of late?

Maggie, x.

 

 

 

My Skincare Saviors

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Tuesday’s post covered a description of my skin and what in my experience is essential for caring for the skin so I’ll spare you the long ramble; I already shared my general advice for skincare so I thought it was about time to discuss my specific hero skincare products. I’ve already said this last post but thanks to these products in particular, my skin is the clearest it has ever been in terms of texture and brightness and is the least red as well.

Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion ($16)
I’m a wee bit passionate about the chemical exfoliants and this is why it is completely rational – for me – to include multiple products in this category here and to be honest, I was tempted to include one more but I tried my best to narrow it down… This offering remains one of my favourites and in constant although I haven’t mentioned it as much in light of my discovery of more intensive chemical exfoliants. This offering might look just like another clarifying lotion within the Clinique 3 Step System but unlike those belonging to the system, this one does not include any irritating alcohol or anything of the sort and is not the strongest BHA, as its only 0.5 % – because of this it is a gentle acidic toner for everyday use. It did not have crazy results overnight but after consistent use, it really has helped with the overall texture and clarity of my skin. It never irritates my extremely sensitive skin and if anything actually reduces irritation and inflammation.

Indeed Laboratories Pepta-Bright Intense Brightening Treatment ($40)
This is the other chemical exfoliant that I attribute to the improvement of my skin but this one contains AHA’s and is more concentrated, focusing intensively on brightness along with texture. Unlike the acidic toner, this one is more of a concentrated treatment so I tend to use it less often, say four times a week at night — while there aren’t instant results with this, this cream-serum over the span of a few months of continuous use radically improved the brightness, evenness and texture of my skin. The cream texture actually is impressively hydrating on its own — I tend to follow with something but I don’t have to, which is impressive and it doesn’t have irritating ingredients or fragrance within it. I adore this serum and I wrote much more on it here when I reviewed it.

Organic Rosehip Oil                                                                                                                                                                                                 While my product is produced by the brand By Nature, I don’t think that the brand is significant in any shape or form as it’s just a pure oil. This oil does what its hyped to do, nourishing and deeply hydrating the skin with its non-greasy dry oil texture, soothes and calms the skin while helping to fade hyperpigmentation and promoting overall clarity. Also, I find when I have a blemish coming up underneath the skin, if I apply this on the area, it not only goes away much sooner but it also doesn’t leave any angry marks or other sources of irritation — this sounds kind of strange but it is true. However, I should mention that the oil has sort of a brassy tinge so if you’re wearing it during the day you probably should be wearing something on top.

Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer Daily Hydrator ($45 CDN)                                                                                                                               While I’m not quite ready to classify this moisturizer as holy grail or anything of that declarative sort, I must admit that this rich moisturizing treatment that remains lightweight and at the same time contains skin-soothing ingredients such as squalane and chamomile is impressive. While doing the above things in a practical pump container with a sufficient amount of product, it protects the skin against the elements and can quickly get my skin out of that cycle of irritation, itchiness and flaking. And it’s fragrance-free which is a nice change of pace.

Neutrogena Ultra-Gentle Daily Cleanser ($10-12 CDN)                                                                                                                    To be honest, it was rather difficult to chose whether to include this cleanser or the extremely similar Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser but ended up going for this offering because while it wasn’t quite as creamy and as hydrating, this gentle fragrance-free cleanser also has the ability to remove makeup completely. This cleanser never leaves my skin feeling stripped and is a lightweight creamy-gel kind of texture – similar to Cetaphil but notably superior in my opinion – and is the perfect cleanser to go in for the second cleanse at nighttime – or first for that matter – but it’s a great one for the mornings as it applies and rinses without the aid of a washcloth with ease.

Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm ($11 CDN)                                                                                                                                 This appears to be another one of those products that I actually have evidence of my adoration of here in review form. To be honest, I’ve actually just finished this product – after using it daily for a good ten months – and have moved onto the very similar Hot Cloth Cleanser from the same line but regardless, this nourishing and creamy cleanser removes makeup like a dream and leaves the skin soothed but cleansed like no other. I wouldn’t actually describe it as a balm cleanser but rather as a rich cream; I’m not complaining though, here. I occasionally use it in the mornings as well but this is my go-to cleanser for the first cleanse at nighttime to remove the bulk of my makeup gently.

The Body Shop Aloe Protective Restoring Mask ($22 CDN)                                                                                                               When I discovered this product a few months back, it was a riskier purchase as I tend to be skeptical of stores like The Body Shop as they tend to overload their products with fragrance and call them skincare but as I stated in an earlier post here, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is this moisturizing mask packed with the soothing and healing aloe, it doesn’t contain any sort of fragrance or irritating ingredients either. This might not be the most groundbreaking moisture mask in existence, simply loaded with calming aloe that truly nourishes the skin but it does what it sets out to, calming down the skin overnight, adding intensive hydration without feeling overly heavy on the skin. And the next day, you wake up with brighter more radiant skin. I’ll warn you, though, this is the first moisture mask that I’ve tried so I haven’t really got anything concrete to compare it to.

What are your top skincare saviors?

Maggie, x.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skincare Thoughts & Tidbits

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At a certain point I’ve had to accept that I am becoming yet another beauty blogging cliche rather than struggling to write the most unique post ever, taking ages and ages to do so but somehow ending up with the most incomprehensible post that you have possibly ever viewed yourself, you realize that taking your individualism to that extreme while blogging is ever-so-slightly insane. I would compare this to essay writing – I’m an arts student so nothing practical here – when you begin university where you’re so convinced of your underlying deep understanding that you have not been taught that you’re missing the entire point of the task at hand. Abstract: it’s important to keep your writing unique and tailored to you but write what you want to write not based on what novel blogging ideas you can chalk up that have never been done before with possible good reason. ‘Where is this going?’, you might be thinking — I often find myself asking the same question… — but I assure you that my tangent had some sort of underlying purpose; I have to do that horribly cliched beauty blogger thing where I complain about my skin being extremely problematic when it does not necessarily look all that bad. In my defense, the skin I have now is easily the best skin I’ve had since I turned thirteen and developed visible pimple-producing oil glands but this is a result of learning how to look after my skin with its unique preferences and dislikes and more currently, my high-fat and low sugar/carb/wheat diet that I’ve switched onto to deal with my troublesome fructose sensitivity.

With skincare it is definitely true that everyone’s skin reacts differently to ingredients and that even those suffering from similar skincare concerns may have completely different reactions to the same products, there are general rules to stick by in terms of ingredients and the like so I figured I would show mine. I have extremely sensitive and fragile skin — not sensitive in the way that it breaks out from everything, as the only thing I’ve had a serious reaction breakout to is the Cetaphil eczema-care line strangely enough – that is easily irritated and can tolerate very few ingredients but still has concerns that need to be addressed. I’ve always had a mild case of acne (on my face) that conveniently (joking…) is of hormonal origin and cannot be shaken with antibiotics and that gets red and irritated easily with most products on the market that can aim to help my skincare concerns. My body skin is more of my concern as I’ve suffered from severe acne on my back that is completely resistant to any medication whilst erupting in those itchy eczema patches that plague my skin all over. My skin is dull, dehydrated and constantly dehydrated with a few pimples on my face constantly and tiny bumps underneath my skin that will eventually turned to clogged pores, on the drier side of things, is prone to redness and reacts horrifically to most chemical sunscreens, any sort of sulfate in a cleanser and any sort of drying alcohols. Oh, and any sort of abrasion is a no-no even though the uneven texture of my skin is problematic so if I can use a scrub it has to be as gentle as nappy cream for a baby’s bottom — don’t know where that came from. I figured I would show this snapshot of my bare-face on the less-pleasing of average days (due to hormonal issues) about five or six hours after washing and the like without makeup. Yes, the only place my face seems to produce shine is on my forehead which I would classify as normal… just in case you were skeptical about the shine situation.

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I promise this lengthy rant/description of my skin is worthwhile to get through to hear about my staples. As a recap — or rather, a thesis or overarching narrative of sorts — I have skin that is in need of treatment but has very low tolerance for any sort of harsh or irritating ingredients. And because I feel the need to rant about this yet again, natural ingredients are not any less harsh on the skin than artificial ones so the solution is not to go for more ‘natural brands’ such as Lush etc. that feel the need to boast about how great their natural ingredients are when in fact they are filled with natural occurring alcohol and natural occurring but still irritating fragrance. I may have strong feelings on the whole natural products debate but there are great natural products in my opinion but it is not necessarily the best product ever simply because its ‘natural’. So the introduction for this post is probably lengthier than this post needs to be but I felt that it was a necessary precursor to articulating the supremacy of these elements. And in the future I’ll probably refer to this post or link to this one when describing my skin so you won’t all be subjected to this long rant again. Here goes…

1. Go for gentle yet effective cleansing: Whenever I have makeup on I do a double cleanse with a washcloth but more than this, I make sure to use the gentlest cleansers that I can find, avoiding any sort of foaming action, drying alcohols obviously or any sort of harsh detergents such as sulfates. While I’m intolerant to these sulfates, they are problematic for everyone I assume as they further irritate the skin and leave it in a fragile state that makes it particularly prone for the barrier to be compensated and privy to blemishes of a variety of kinds. And more than that, this can do wonders to reduce redness. Lately I’ve heard a variety claim that after not washing their face in the morning, the quality of their skin has vastly improved and I used to agree with this but since finding the gentlest of cleansers to use in the morning, my skin is clearer than ever with any redness.

2. Avoid additional irritants: While I definitely can agree with the statement that everyone’s skin can react differently to ingredients and frequently do so some commonly-known irritants may or may not have a negative impact on your skin but there are some that are universally good to avoid or at the very least limit- drying alcohols as I’ve said before, fragrance regardless of its origin, etc. Although I’m not 100% in agreement with her verdict on the ingredients and efficacy of all products, Paula Begon of Paula’s Choice provides an especially helpful analysis of ingredients and efficacy of a variety of skincare products, serving as particularly helpful to indicate irritants as well as beneficial ingredients (i.e. antioxidants)

3. Look f0r soothing nourishment: Regardless of your skin type/condition or what kind of product you’re getting the nourishment from, – whether it be an oil, serum, mask, moisturizer etc. – universally we all benefit from this kind of nourishment. This is crucial for easily irritated and blemish-susceptible skin like mine but is an important concern all around. It improves the general quality of the skin and compensates from makeup removal, the use of treatments on the skin and the impact of weather on the skin. This leads very easily onto the next point…

4. Make use of gentle but effective treatments: Now what treatments you might search after should be guided by your specific skincare concerns, the use of products to aid in these concerns effectively without aggravating the skin is essential. Some of these treatments might include retinol for anti-aging purposes and the like, salicylic acid/benzyl peroxide, sulfur etc. for treating blemish concerns, skin lighteners or chemical exfoliants for brightness concerns, etc.

5. Adequate exfoliation: While this step does tend to overlap quite a bit with treatments in my book as I have the kind of skin that is quite intolerant to physical exfoliants (i.e. scrubs) but requires frequent gentle chemical exfoliation to help with brightness, texture and clarity, regardless of your concerns exfoliating your skin frequently enough but not too frequently is crucial. For some a physical exfoliator is fine but others like myself prefer chemical ones, so it does depend on preference but I gather that for many a combination of the two is most successful. Chemical exfoliants are generally classified into Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids and Beta-Hydroxy-Acids – the former exfoliates the surface of the skin and the latter can exfoliate beneath the surface and into the pore – and work to eliminate excess skin cells and unblock the pores, triggering cell renewal in a way, rather than just smoothing out the surface of the skin through abrasion.

I have to say that diet does play a degree but is not the sole factor in the quality of the skin, in my view, as nutrients inside the body impact the skin additionally but other than eating a balanced diet, food concerns and intolerances can be different for everyone – however, I hear milk, sugar and gluten are common ones. For instance, after drastically lowering the fructose (sugar) and carbohydrates (particularly wheat) in my diet which are both known to be inflammatory, I have noted a reduction in the inflammation of my skin, but skincare has made more of a difference in my humble opinion. I’m not an expert on skincare by any means but I do read up on it frequently due to my interest in it so I hope these tidbits of mine are helpful. I’d love to know if these basic steps work for others like they do for me or if there are other crucial considerations that I seem to be missing! Oh, and just as a heads up this is merely the first post in a series of posts on skincare that I’m planning to produce at the moment?

Maggie, x.