S.O.S. Skincare

My skin has been unhappy with me lately. I’ve had a dermatitis flare up, a mild sunburn, a couple of zits, and an allergic reaction on my hands. Ugh. Thankfully, I have certain products in my stash that I reach for when things go awry. With the current state of my skin, the seasons transitioning, and the Sephora VIB sale starting today, it seemed like a good time to talk you through my S.O.S. skincare for several issues: sensitivity, dehydration, congestion, uneven texture and breakouts, dry/cracked hands, sore lips, and all-around great products for everything in between.

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Sensitivity

I’ve raved a lot lately about the Good Things manuka honey cream cleanser, and for good reason. The tube I just finished saw me through a pregnancy and my first Minnesota winter. Needless to say, my skin was sometimes sensitive, and this cleanser was just what I needed.

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It’s smooth and creamy with a light, inoffensive scent. It feels so relaxing on my skin. A little bit goes a long way. It’s very inexpensive. The only con is that it isn’t readily available in the U.S. I have purchased from T.J. Maxx/Marshall’s for around $5. Keep your eyes peeled for it! And do yourself a favor and cut the tube when it’s running low to make sure you get every little bit out 🙂

Dehydration

Unfortunately my skin is regularly dehydrated. (If you’re not sure how to tell if your skin is dehydrated, read this.) This is also a regular problem when I travel. I’m out of my favorite hydrating serum so I can’t feature it. But I also rely on hydrating sheet masks and facial mists. Both are necessary when you travel. I spritz myself during a flight or a day inside the house when the heat is on. I have a lot of mists and enjoy experimenting with new ones, but if you’re just looking for basic hydration, the Caudalie grape water fits the bill and is inexpensive. It has almost no scent if you’re sensitive to smells.

I’m not a huge sheet mask user generally, but a hydrating sheet mask after a long flight is brilliant. These from Farmacy are a go-to. When in doubt, look for one with hyaluronic acid.

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Congestion

If my skin is congested, my favorite purifying mask is the Himalayan charcoal mask from The Body Shop. It has a tingly feeling when you first apply, which I enjoy. It’s a bit messy with chunks to physically exfoliate when you remove it, but I love it anyway. It’s the most effective mask I’ve tried at clearing up congestion and it leaves my skin soft and smooth. I’m about to finish this jar and already have a new one waiting.

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Uneven Texture/Break Outs

This category piggybacks off the last category a bit, but when I notice uneven texture, I know it’s time to bring in the big guns: Sunday Riley Good Genes. This is a cult product for a reason. I’ve found that using it 1-2 times per week is the right amount of acid exfoliation for my skin, and it always delivers when I need results. If I go too long without using it, it shows. Constant vigilance!

Thankfully, I am not acne-prone but I get zits just like the next guy/gal. I reach for Sunday Riley’s UFO to spot treat any blemishes and it diminishes them overnight. If you’re more acne-prone, use this all over your face regularly to prevent and treat.

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Honorable mention goes to La Roche-Posay Serozinc. It’s a pain to find in the U.S., but the zinc sulfate in the spray definitely helps calm blemishes.

Dry/Cracked Hands

I’m not sure if my hands are unusually dry or what, but if I don’t apply hand cream after every time I wash my hands, they get dry and uncomfortable and will quickly start cracking. This is an issue in the summer as much as the winter, but it’s also hard during the season changes when I may think I don’t need to wear gloves anymore but the wind is still a bit chilly.

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There are a lot of hand creams I enjoy, but my favorites are the various scented shea butter hand creams from L’Occitane and the Caudalie hand and nail cream. L’Occitane ones are great because they’re very moisturizing and come in lots of fun scents and purse-friendly sizes. I particularly love this little rose one from their recent collaboration with Rifle Paper Company.

The Caudalie hand cream is not quite as thick as the L’Occitane ones, but still very moisturizing. It has a light, refreshing, somewhat floral/somewhat fruity scent that is hard to describe. I just wish it came in a larger size!

Sore Lips

I recently used a potted lip balm that totally dried out my lips. Enter Lanolips! This lip treatment is thick but not goopy and it really works. Bonus points that it smells like lemonaid. 🙂 If you suffer from chapped lips, give this a try.

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All-Around All Stars

These last couple of products kind of do everything so I didn’t want to pigeon-hole them into any one category.

Everyone in my family uses Skincando combat ready balm. My husband applies for shaving irritation. I use it on my preschooler when his cheeks are wind-burned. I applied it on the dermatitis flare up on my eyelid (both under and over makeup). I use it under my nose when it’s sore from blowing it. It soothes sunburn. You name it, combat ready balm will heal it. I remember Sara from Skincando posting on Instagram once about a client using it to heal sores on her hands from chemo. (She named the balm based on its popularity with our soldiers whose skin was taking a beating while in combat in the Middle East.) We gave a jar to everyone in our family this past Christmas. I truly can’t say enough good things about it.

 

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Lastly, the one and only May Lindstrom blue cocoon. This is the most expensive skincare/beauty item I own so I don’t include it in this list lightly, but it’s truly amazing. May was the first to use blue tansy and she uses only the best. The smell of this balm-to-oil product is divine. It will transport you. Part of using this is being able to inhale that scent and soothe your mind as well as your body. But the stuff delivers, too. I would use this for many of the same reasons as Combat Ready Balm, except I don’t share it 😉 It works very well on sunburn or other irritation. It was formulated for the most sensitive of skins so it will soothe any issue and I think anyone could benefit from it.

I store mine in the fridge to extend its life. I just finished a jar in February that had lasted me a year and a half. This new jar is sitting pretty until I finish up another balm but I  miss it in my life already.

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So there we have it. The problem solvers. What are your skincare S.O.S. products?

(None of the links are affiliate links; I just want you to be able to find these products.)

 

March Empties!

It’s that time again – March empties! Sorry I’m a little behind this month 😉 One of the reasons I started this blog was to have space to review my monthly empties, so tuck in!

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I will review by category. And as you know if you follow along on Instagram, this year I’ve also been tracking the value of my monthly empties. This does not mean what I paid for a specific item. Some things are part of a set, gifts with purchase, etc. which would make it very hard to determine what I actually paid. But I like having this idea of value, even if the totals can get embarrassingly high…

First up, skincare and a lone haircare product:

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— Good Things manuka honey cream cleanser – I raved about this recently in a #oneemptyonenewbie post. Someone on Instagram introduced me to this and I found it for about $6 at TJ Maxx. It was undervalued in my stash when we lived in southern California, but I learned the value of a soothing cream cleanser over the last several months. Between pregnancy and a Minnesota winter, my skin was dry and sensitive. This cleanser was so soothing on irritated skin. Thankfully I have two backups thanks to a kind friend 🙂 Did I mention this is $6? If you see it at TJ Maxx/Marshall’s, grab it! It’s available on Amazon but since it isn’t sold by Amazon, I, personally, wouldn’t trust it.

— Leahlani citrus + citrine toner – Both of Leah’s toners are absolutely lovely. They will transport you to a tropical paradise. Actually, all of her products do that 😉 I think I prefer the scent of the Bohemian Ruby toner, which I finished quite a while ago and, if memory serves, smelled more fruity and less floral than this one (although the names would indicate the opposite). I’ve finished a few Leahlani treats recently so I think an order is forthcoming. Value = $46

— Dr. Jart ceramidin cream – I think I tried this sample during the wrong time of year.  I had just finished a rich Zelens moisturizer, which I was mixing with a pump of marula oil, and this didn’t feel like enough. I think I would like it during warmer months, though. Maybe I’ll be able to get another sample and try again since I know a lot of people who love it. Value = $4.80

— Amika nourishing mask* – I used this in place of a regular conditioner and really enjoyed it. My hair felt silky smooth after I got out of the shower. I have several similar products to get through or I would repurchase. Value = $12

— Fresh lotus youth preserve face cream – This has a nice mid-weight and silky texture. It has the same lovely cucumber smell as the soy face cleanser. Value = $17

Next up, body care:

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— Lush Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner – I love this stuff. It smells incredible and feels luxuriously rich on the skin. It isn’t sufficient to protect my skin in the winter, but it helps, and I feel fancy when I use it 😉 I’m using a Hempz in-shower body conditioner at the moment and it is not the same…. Sigh. Value = $6.83

— Kiehl’s creme de corps whipped body butter in grapefruit – They aren’t kidding when they call this stuff whipped butter. It had both the color and texture of butter, which kind of weirded me out. It didn’t smell too much like grapefruit, either. I know the regular creme de corps is a cult Kiehl’s product but I didn’t much care for this. (The grapefruit scent in Disney packaging was a holiday limited edition product but I’ve linked the currently available version.) Value = $39

— L’Occitane shea foot cream – I get minis of these from time to time. They’re nice for dry winter feet, but I don’t personally believe you need a separate foot cream. Value = $2

— Caudalie divine oil – A nice, multi-purpose dry oil. It has a “more mature” scent, shall we say? But I like it. It isn’t the most moisturizing oil ever, but it’s hard to find one that is moisturizing enough alone for MN winter. Value = $7.35

— Caudalie hand and nail cream – One of my all-time fav hand creams. It’s not as thick as the L’Occitane shea butter ones (which I also love) but still moisturizing and not greasy, and it absorbs quickly. It has a refreshing slightly fruity, slightly floral scent. I don’t know what grapes smell like, but if this is it, they smell great! 😉 I wish they sold larger sizes! Value = $15

— Jo Malone blackberry and bay shower oil packet – Blackberry and bay isn’t my favorite Jo Malone scent, but the consistency of the shower oil was very luxurious. It reminded me of the L’Occitane almond shower oil – a shower staple for me. I would consider purchasing in a different scent.

Lastly, makeup:

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— Stila huge extreme lash mascara – One of my favorite mega volumizing mascaras. It’s hard for me to find a volumizing mascara that doesn’t smudge on my oily eye area and this is one of the few that doesn’t. I always jump at a chance to pick up a mini. This one seemed to dry out a little quickly, though. Value = $12

— Vapour Beauty illusionist concealer – The consistency was too firm to be used under the eyes, which is the primary purpose of a concealer for me. You would have to warm up the product first with your finger or else it would pull and tug when I tried to apply it. I only tried that a few times before deciding the delicate skin under my eyes was more important. It worked just fine for blemishes so I kept it in my purse in case I needed to touch up during the day, but I rarely used it. I’ll stick with non “green” concealers in the future. Value = $24

— Farmacy lip bloom in citrus lemongrass – These have been discontinued, but since they’re still available on Farmacy’s website I will warn you against them. This dried out my lips so badly. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it. After about two weeks of trying to make it work, I decided to throw in the towel. The citrus lemongrass smelled nice, though. Value = $16

— Skincando Combat Ready lip balm –  I LOVE combat ready balm. The lip balm, not so much. It was a stiffer texture and I didn’t find it very moisturizing. Value = $10

— Fresh sugar lip treatment in Rose (mini) –  I love the Fresh lip balms. They’re very soft and feel so nice on. They have lots of colors, including several everyday ones that provide just enough color. This rose shade falls into that category and seems to be the most common in gifts with purchases, gift sets, etc. I have others. I will repurchase. Value = $12

— Kevin Aucoin the celestial skin liquid illuminator sample packet in Candlelight – This gave off a nice effect as an illuminating makeup primer, but the shade Candlelight was too dark for my fair/light complexion and I believe it’s the lightest shade he makes.

— Fiona Stiles eyebrow pencil – I got this super cheap when Ulta stopped carrying Fiona Stiles’ line and I don’t believe you can buy her makeup anymore. It was pretty Meh anyway. Value = $16

— Marc Jacobs hi-shine lip lacquer (mini) in Allow Me – I’m not a big lip gloss girl, but I enjoyed this formula. It wasn’t sticky or tacky. I didn’t think it was “high shine,” despite the name. This shade had some shimmer in it, but it didn’t translate to the lips. I would explore other shades since there are lots in the range. Value = $10

— Jouer liquid highlighter – I honestly can’t really review this. It’s very old and I pulled it out recently to see if it still worked and it didn’t; it has dried up. I don’t love the click stick type packaging so I wouldn’t repurchase for that reason alone. Value = $24

 

Total value of March empties = $278.98!

Well, there we are! Thanks for getting all the way to the bottom 🙂 Have you used any of these products? If so, I’d love to know your thoughts!

*Gifted by Influenster

L’Oreal Colour Riche Shine Lipsticks: Review and Swatches

I recently finished up a YSL rouge volupte shine lipstick – a lovely shiny lipstick with just the right amount of color for everyday that has, sadly, been discontinued. YSL replaced this line with the tint in balm range. Before spending $34 on a tinted balm I thought I would look elsewhere for a replacement. Since L’Oreal owns YSL I wondered if L’Oreal had anything similar for a fraction of the price. Enter their new colour riche shine lipsticks!

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I picked up four of them. Although I didn’t find a color match for my old YSL lipstick, I have been enjoying these. I chose three more neutral shades and then a red. There are quite a few bright and bold choices in the line, which features 16 colors.  The formula is creamy and the finish is shiny, as the name says.

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(Top to Bottom: 918 Polished Tango, 908 Sparkling Rose, 906 Burnished Blush, 924 Enamel Red)

Sparkling Rose is particularly subtle on my lips, whereas Enamel Red packs a punch and even left a stain (both on my lips and on my arm). thumb_IMG_8153_1024

(From top L going clockwise: Sparkling Rose, Burnished Blush, Enamel Red, Polished Tango)

Burnished Blush is more mauve and Polished Tango is more pink, but as you can see, those two shades are particularly similar on my lips — more so than I would’ve guessed from the bullets.

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These obviously don’t have the luxe packaging of the YSL lipstick or that wonderful YSL scent. They also have more saturated color than the YSL tint in balms, so I can’t call them dupes. These are, nevertheless, a good drug store find.  Do you have any suggestions for a less expensive version of the YSL tint in balms?

I purchased my L’Oreal lipsticks from Ulta, but I’m sure Target and drug stores have them, too. The retail price is $9.99 but you can always find a promo or coupon to get them cheaper. Ulta was doing a buy 2 get 1 free promo on L’Oreal makeup plus a $3.50 off a $15 purchase coupon when I got mine.

 

Pixi vs. Aerin: Rose Cream Cleansers

Let’s have a battle of the rose cream cleansers, shall we?

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I’ve been on a cream cleanser kick lately. A cream cleanser feels so soothing and refreshing on dry or sensitized skin. Thanks to the Minnesota winter, my skin has been both. I also love rose. A rose cream cleanser is perfect for me! I have two options to share with you from Pixi and Aerin.

First, the Pixi: $18 for 4.57 ounces. This is currently sold out on Pixi’s site, but I picked mine up at Target.

This feels like a mud cream cleanser; although I have not tried Pixi’s glow mud cleanser, I imagine this is a similar texture. This does not smell like rose. It has an earthier scent that I cannot really compare to anything else. It is pleasant, though, and not overpowering. The cleanser feels nice and not drying, as mud cleansers can sometimes be. The texture is too thick to spread on dry skin, but with a little water, it works beautifully.

Kudos to Pixi for including the full ingredients list on the website, but here it is for ease of reference:

Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower Seed Oil), Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Water/Aqua/Eau, Diatomaceous Earth/Solum Diatomeae/Terre de Diatomees, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Montmorillonite, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Squalene, Xanthan Gum, Kaolin, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Disodium EDTA, Rosa Gallica Flower Powder, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flowers Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Cupressus Sempervirens Leaf/Nut/Stem Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Mica, BHT, Linalool.

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(Pixi rose cream cleanser on the left; Aerin rose cream cleanser on the right)

The second option is from Aerin: $35 for 4.2 ounces. This is available from Aerin’s website and several department stores. I purchased mine from Nordstrom.

The texture of the Aerin cleanser is thinner and more silky. It is thin enough to apply  directly to dry skin. It does smell like rose, but the scent is sort of powdery and light.

Consistent with my experience with Estee Lauder companies, the Aerin website gives no information about ingredients. They are also not listed on the cleansers itself, only on the box. The ingredients are:

Water/Aqua/Eau, Isohexadecane, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Triethylhexanoin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Butylene Glycol, Butrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Sucrose Cocoate, PEG-100 Stearate, Sucrose, PEG-5 Soy Sterol, Paeonia Suffruticosa (Peony) Root Extract, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Liimnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Rosa Canina (Rose) Fruit Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower water, Linoleic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caffeine, Cholesterol, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG-150 Distearate, Carbomer, Jojoba Wax PEG-120 Esters, Potassium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfum), Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Red 4 (CI 14700), Red 33 (CI 17200), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

 

I’m enjoying both cleansers. If you actually want a rose scent, I would direct you to the Aerin option. If you are simply looking for a cream cleanser, or want a cruelty free or budget option, go with the Pixi.

Are there other cream cleansers that should be on my radar?