Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter skincare hit list

I have been trying out so many products this winter to combat very dry skin and to help heal a scar. Many of these products are not new but all have earned a place in this posting for efficacy and value.
On the left is the one and only Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, simply the best cleansing water you can buy. I've tried several others and none are as efficient at swiping away all traces of makeup and dirt as this one. Unscented and non-irritating since it's designed for sensitive skin, go get one at your nearby Shoppers and see why it's one of the world's most popular cleansers.
Next to it is a bottle of Bio-Oil, a skin oil that can be used topically anywhere, notably to help with scarring, stretch marks, discolouration and general hydration and healing. The apricot-hued oil is very light and can be used as a face serum for those with extra-dry skin. It is highly scented, but makes my skin and scar area feel so comfortable that I don't mind, the scent isn't overly artificial, in fact I quite it.

Right next to the original was this Shoppers' in-house Life Brand Vitaderm skin oil, an obvious dupe for the product above. While priced a dollar less than the original, it is also a nice light hydrating oil, also scented, but a bit more perfumey than the original Bio-Oil. I can't tell much of a difference performance-wise, so your preference of scent may decide for you.

One thing I can say for certain is that I find both brands' packaging of these oils to be vexing. My solution is to carefully decant the product into clean mini spray bottles for body and rollerball dispensers for face, nails, etc. Even small clean bottles with a dropper lid would be preferable to either one of the packages these products are sold in. 

Continuing on my scar-treating journey, I bought Bioderma's Cicabio Soothing Repairing Cream, and it feels incredibly light and almost disappears into skin without being oily or tacky. It has no scent and has a fine-tip applicator that makes it easy to precisely place the cream where needed. After a bit of research I found out that many people use this product on their face with great results, for irritation, eczema and to hydrate skin overnight. I'll give this cream a few months before I decide if it's a skincare essential or not. For $15.99 at Shoppers, it wasn't a huge risk to take from a brand that I already love.

Now to address the scourge of winter, the dreaded dry elbows. If you have dark skin, the problem is often compounded by ashiness and discolouration. My elbows sometimes get so dry that if I don't tend to them they can get hard and flaky and eventually the skin cracks and breaks, like really sorry-ass heels do if severely neglected. What I'm saying is that I needed something industrial-strength to provide long-lasting hydration to my rough, scaly elbows, knees and ankles, that wasn't so greasy that fabrics cling uncomfortably. Well this Cerave Moisturizing Cream may seem basic, but when all others failed, this one really made my skin start to heal. This thick, unscented formula is so rich that it continues to hydrate even after a hand wash, a sure sign that your cream is an effective emollient. For less than $10 at Shoppers especially if you catch it on sale, this cream is a boon to dry skin at a drugstore price.

How absolutely brilliant, I love the story of one of the best beauty vloggers (NikkiTutorials ) discovering that this Nivea Men's After Shave Balm for Sensitive Skin works stupendously as a face primer under or mixed with other products when she forgot to pack moisturizer when travelling with her guy. The mild scent fades quickly and the light, silky texture is a revelation. Put away your expensive primers and thick goopy chafing creams, THIS is the product you want as your next primer. For about $11CAD or less when on sale and readily available at stores everywhere, you should give it a try. I could insert a rant here about how much more women are willing to pay for the same things that are sold to men, how we pay a premium for packaging and marketing when something like this works even better than so many luxury brands' offerings, but I'll let it rest for a minute while I admire the impeccable complexion I got from this after shave balm...

It may not be a surprise to learn that I cannot bring myself to splurge hundreds of dollars on one of the numerous 'facial cleansing systems' that have been flooding the market for the last few years. My reasons are many, first among them is the fact that I already have a 'facial cleaning system' that is sublime and works perfectly: MY HANDS. Never mind about sonic pulses and micro-vibrations and forget about spinning brushes that accumulate germs and bacteria, for $5.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart, this handy facial cleansing brush by in-house beauty brand Quo is as gentle and effective as I need it to be, without power cords or charging time, no on/off switch required. I think it causes the user to be more mindful about how much pressure is exerted on the face's delicate skin while cleansing than the spendy electric versions. This sweet little Quo Silicone Pore Refiner is a quick and easy way to clean your face, is gentle enough to use daily and allows fair-to-mediocre cleansers to work just fine, thanks to the effectiveness of the silicone bristles on the cleaning pad.
They cleverly made the other side a handle to help keep your grip on it when your fingers are slippery with products. I suspect this may also be a miracle to use as a makeup brush cleaning tool, as it mimics the scrub pad that comes in my favourite Sephora solid brush cleanser, but the bristles on this one may well scrub and cleanse soapy brush heads with maximum efficiency. I'll test it out and let you know if it works in an upcoming post.

Talk about relief! This fantastic duo is the perfect remedy for my flaky dry face. I've never needed to exfoliate so desperately as I do this winter, and some of my usual standards just weren't working for me. This Hydrating Day Crème with hyaluronic acid contained a sizeable bonus container of the very Microdermabrasion Scrub I wanted to try, and I just ran out of daytime facial moisturizer, so finding this at my local natural grocery store was awesome. This face scrub is not kidding around, with a very fine pumice-like texture that doesn't dissolve when wet, so you can really get a good scrub on with moistened fingertips. When rinsed away, skin feels sloughed, bright and supple without tightness or irritation.
The Day Crème is light enough to wear under makeup but rich enough to hydrate my skin for hours. I slather it onto problem areas and leave a thick layer to sink in while I rub it in everywhere else, like a mini instant moisture mask; I'm amazed how readily my face drinks it in by the time I smooth my whole face over, and the natural scent is light and pleasant. I love that I found two excellent products from a brand that is green and ethical.

Repairing chapped winter lips requires something more than a buttery or glossy slick of oily balm; this is when I want lipbalm to be more waxy and thick enough to stay on for a while. When I want to protect my lips as well as heal them, I seek out this Weleda Everon Lip Balm. It's unflavoured and matte with a faint rose scent that I love, which comes from the precious rose petal wax it contains, among other impeccable ingredients. No wonder it's Brad Pitt's favourite lip balm. I usually find these at higher-end organic grocery stores in the toiletries aisle or by the checkouts.
While on the subject of natural skincare, here is my current favourite sunscreen for body, by Alba Botanica. This Sunscreen Spray Lotion for Kids has a mineral SPF 40, is non-toxic and doesn't make my dark skin ghostly-grey or greasy. It also doesn't reek, a problem I have with many other sunscreens. The spray bottle is my top choice for convenience to apply it to self or others, it gets the job done quickly and you're able to spray yourself solo in hard-to-reach places. It's long-lasting and water-resistant, an all around great sunscreen for the whole family. Alba Botanica is available all over the place but I picked mine up at my local organic grocery.

Hall of fame cleansers for makeup brushes (and people!):
Back row, L to R: Dr. Woods Shea Vision Pure Black Soap with Organic Shea Butter; Dr. Bronners Lavender Pure-Castile Liquid Soap; Life Brand Isopropyl Alcohol 99%USP (which I use to spot-clean smaller brushes between washings)
Front row, L to R: Dr. Bronners Almond Pure-Castile Liquid Soap; Dr. Bronners Rose Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

I try to treat my makeup brushes as well as I'd treat my hair, so I lightly condition brushes once in a while to prevent bristles from becoming brittle over time. Be sure to rinse all residue out of your beauty tools no matter what you're doing, or you'll be smearing whatever is left in them all over your face, eyes and mouth.

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