Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Searching for a Holy Grail Cleanser

This blog post dedicated to my friend Denise. She's a working gal in the fast pace fashion industry, rising blogger, and an amazing friend/shopping companion. Like most combination skin girls, she's searching for a cleanser that will not just do the job but also balance her oil-prone areas with the dry areas. It's a hard balance to strike.

Combo skin is kind of like living in middle of a post global warming epidermal climate hazard. Parts of your skin (the oily t-zone equator) is the complete opposite to your chin or cheek area (the South Pole). While the t-zone is producing oil like a Exxon Mobile pump, your cheeks are dry like the Mojave Desert. What's a girl to do?

Balance. Balance is what you need and balance is what you shall seek.

Balance your oils to bring your face into a united state.

Here are a couple of options to try:

1. Oil Cleansers - great night time cleanser and make-up remover

Oil cleansers are a great way to break down make-up and emulsify your oils. Oil fights oil contrary to conventional wisdom. Shu uemura has a great anti-oxidant oil cleanser that will remove all make-up including waterproof mascara without over-stripping your skin. The standard Anti-oxidant Fresh Cleansing Oil comes in a green tube; the High-Performance Balancing Cleansing comes in a pink tube for oily/acne-prone skin skin. I have tried both and have not noticed a difference between the two formulations.
Note: Shu uemura oil cleansers contain extracts of mineral oil. It's probably not the best thing to put on acne-prone skin but it won't hurt you either.

2. Foam Cleansers - for that squeaky clean feel

Origin's Checks and Balances Foam Cleanser is great for balancing the dry regions with the oily regions. Broad leaf kelp extract discourages excess oil production while the wheat protein balances and protects dry zones. Note: pretty much anything with kelp, sea weed, marine-plant based substances will help mattify your skin. The plus side about Origin is their 100% organic ingredients free from parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, and synethic fragrances. This cleanser leaves your skin squeaky clean, a little too clean in my opinion, so be sure to follow with toner.

3. Cetaphil - a good bang for your buck

Cetaphil is a trusted brand by dermatologists for decades. The daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin gets the job done for a fraction of department store prices. Though the product does have a kinky chemical smell and contains paraben.

4. Ren - Mayblossom and Blue Cypress Facial Wash
I'm a huge fan of this organic, bio-active based skincare company. "Ren" in Swedish means clean and clean this cleanser does and does well! The balancing formula is especially designed for complexions prone to T-zone oiliness. Blue cypress decongests the skin and minimizes pores while Salicin (a natural derivative of Salicylic Acid) prevents breakouts. Mayblossom is full of flavonoids and anti-oxidants--always good for anti-aging. I just ordered this cleanser on Sephora.com. Ren is a relatively small company so my local Sephora store does not carry it. It is a pricey $32 cleanser but well worth the investment if it works. Fingers crossed. Hopefully the product will reflect the good reviews.

5. Ole Hendrickson On-the-Go Vitamin C cleanser
Like Ren, Ole Hendrickson is a great organic line free from sulfates, petro-chemicals, and GMOs. This cleanser will orange extract gives a Vitamin C boost to your skin. It's super foamy and has a strong citrus scent. Don't use it if you find the scent overempowering. Some people describe it like a orange dishwashing detergent.

Keep in mind that there are many cleansers to try--far too many. I suggest getting a sample if possible and using the product for at least three days, day and night, and observe your skin's reaction. Often cleansers and many skincare products take time to work and deliver the results you want. Your face might turn oily the first time but overtime your skin may balance out, working in accordance with the product. Be patient but don't be afraid to try something and not like it. I don't know how many times I've taken a product back because it wasn't working for my particular skin. Doesn't matter if it's a 5-star rated product. If it's not working for YOU, take it back. I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to your skin.

Lastly, don't forget a toner after washing your face! But that's for another post...

Good luck on your search for the HG cleanser!

Stay balanced and stay clean,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beauty over Safety? How the blind pursuit of beauty can jeopardize your Health.

Most consumers buy cosmetic products without questioning the ingredients, safety, and integrity of the product. I too am guilty of this in the blind pursuit of beauty. In May, Dr. Oz aired an episode on health hazards associated with beauty products and cosmetics. I'll save you the 60 minutes and cover a few key highlights:

  1. SAFETY: All department stores from discount stores to high-end department stores have CONTAMINATED testers and samples. The free samples come with a cost and risk jeopardizing your health. E Coli, Streptoccocus bacteria are found on lipsticks and cosmetic counters. I remember getting a red eye from trying on YSL mascara with a disposable mascara brush at JFK airport. Ladies, if you go to get your make-up done, bring your own mascara! TIP: Go cosmetic shopping on a Thursday to try stuff on. Saturday is the busiest shopping day, more shoppers come through to try stuff on, which means more germs.
  2. INGESTION: Your skin is a sponge. Whatever goes on topically is absorbed into the bloodstream. If a product contain trace amount of toxins, it will be absorbed into your body and accumulate over time. For instance, I noticed a particular anti-cellulite body lotion contains caffeine and Aminopylline. The packaging cautions against using it around the chest area if you suffer from asthma. Absorption of this product may lead to complications with your respiratory system! Definite chuck; I'd rather get cellulite than an asthma attack.

  3. POWDERS: studies show that loose powder and mineral powder, if inhaled, is linked to cancer. It’s an inconvenient truth b/c I love my Laura Mercier mineral powder so much! However, the “buffing motion” that comes with the daily application of mineral powder induces inhaling, consuming, and ingesting Mica, Titanium Dioxide, and Iron Oxide (pulverized ROCK). That's right, you might as well be inhaling ASBESTOS ladies and gentleman. I wil l be switching to liquid foundation from now on.
  4. LIP GLOSS: Did you know the average woman consumes 7 lbs of petroleum oil over 10 years? Shocking! Every time you lick your lips, you are ingesting lip gloss, lip balm, or lipstick. Petroleum oil comes from the mantle and is extracted while drilling for oil. Essentially, you are consuming oil from daily use of lip gloss. I recommend reducing your usage of lip gloss and petroleum heavy products. Save lip gloss and lip stick for special occasions and use organic lip balms with bees wax in place of petroleum oil.

  5. PERFUME: Any product (lotion or toner) with perfume in it furthers collagen breakdown. I looove scents. I get suckered into buying stuff that smells good from Bath and Body Works and The Body Shop. However, anything with perfume breaks down of collagen and speeds up the aging process. It’s a zero game. A trade off. You don’t have to cut out scented body lotion completely (life would far less delicious), but rather, use non-scented facial products.

I have switched to Argan Oil as my 100% organic natural moisturizer. Argan oil is an essential oil from the Argan Tree in Morocco. It balances oil production and moisturizes your skin, hair, and cuticles. No more scented lotions for me!

With knowledge comes power. I will be purging my cosmetics drawer of some dangerous items. It's a small price to pay for saving my healthy and beauty. G' bye Laura Mercier mineral powder and G'byye Shu uemura lavender toning mist! Everything comes with a trade off—sadly the pretties (perfume, powder, gloss) in beauty products aren’t so pretty in the long run.

Stay beautiful and stay safe!

Ciao bella,

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stressful Life: Distressed Skin

A good friend of mine is going into a high-stress, long hours, high-stakes finance job. She's beautiful, smart, and a tough cookie. How does one stay young while working 80-100 hrs a week? Here is a list of items to prevent and fight the onslaught of free radicals, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. NOTE: this post is tailored to tired, distressed, combination to oily skin types

EYE Cream: for when she works till 4am in the morning on those excel sheets

You thought coffee was just for drinking? Wrong. It's also topically good for your skin. Origin's Ginzing Eye Cream is a cup of espresso for your eyes. Really. It contains caffeine, ginseng, and magnolia abstract to depuff and brighten tired eyes. The skin illuminators give the illusion of refreshed eyes so you can pretend you got 8 hrs of sleep instead of 4 hrs. Ditch the Starbucks, invest $29.50 in a jar (about 3-5 months supply) for this eyes rever-upper. Besides, drinking coffee dehydrates your skin and makes you pee like a race horse.

Clinique All Eyes Cream: voted #1 by Allure Magazine's Readers' choice award
This baby does EVERYTHING. This cream is great for night time usage. Its moisture rich botanical formula delivers the hydration tired eyes need.

Garnier Nutritioniste Anti-puff Eye Roller: for majorly bad days when her eyes resemble ET. The rolling ball massages the eyes for better blood circulation. A cool spoon will also do the trick.

Cleansing Wipes: for when she doesn't have time to wash her face before a boardroom meeting

Blum's Tea Tree Oil cleansing wipes are fast, effective, and gentle at removing excess oil, make-up, and sebum (the stuff that produces oil and blackheads). It's great to use in the morning, after the gym, and at night. Can be found at Wholefoods and New Seasons. 100% Organic.

Mattifying Pore Refiner : for when she starts to shine in the afternoon
Oily T-zone? I feel you. Many women think oily skin/t-zone is the bane of their existence. Let me set this straight: OIL IS GOOD FOR YOU! Oil production prevents wrinkles and protects your skin. Shine on the other hand is bad. So, use Dr. Brandt's Pores No More Pore Refiner. Yes, it's a pricey $45 a tube but it WORKS. It instantly mattifies your skin and diminished your pores. Celebrate your oilies ladies, and control the shine!

Midnight Concentrate Night Serum: for when she needs sleep but can't afford to sleep
Khiel's came out with a 99.8% pure essential oil blend. Rubbing in oil onto your skin? Seriously? I was skeptic too. You only need two drops, which instantly absorbs into your skin. The next morning, you wake up to younger, softer skin. Also oil fights oil. It balances/reduces your oil production over night. Give it a try. Ask the Khiel's make-up counter lady for a 10-day sample. You won't regret it.

That's all for now ladies! Cheers to good skin and CONGRATS on the investment banking job Steph! Yes, those two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

Ciao bella,

Blogger Manifesto

After multiple requests from friends for skincare consultations, I’ve decided to create a blog for the everyday woman who wants to have great skin without breaking the bank. Thanks to friends’ encouragement and moral support, here goes my amateur attempt at a blog. Enjoy the ride, dear readers, as this blog evolves in content, style, and layout.

This blog is primarily dedicated to SKINcare SELFcare, common sense living, and any aesthetic inspirations that peak my interest. What’s left will be a hodgepodge of fleeting thoughts and images.

Believe in Skincare:Selfcare

Skincare is a mild obsession of mine—okay, HUGE understatement. I really believe that taking care of your skin is a way of taking care of yourself. Your skin is a reflection of your inner health and beauty so why not preserve and nurture it? A little investment in the early years will pay dividends in the future. Trust me.

Note: this blog will NOT contain product reviews. I find product reviews on beauty blogs to be wayyy too narcissistic. What works for me, might not work for you so why write about how great my skin looks from using blahblah product? Pointless.

Instead, I will be offering overall skincare and lifestyle tips that work for a wide variety of people (kinda like universal healthcare, I mean, skincare).

Cheers to skincare, selfcare!

Until next time--ciao bella,