Wound Healers: Product reviews of PRATIMA and CV SkinlabsHard as we all may try, it’s impossible to avoid at least occasional blemishes, red spots and general skin wounds (unless you’re Blake Lively. Girl looks like she has perfect skin!). Some of us may fall more solidly into this category than others, but at some point, we all end up seeking relief.

I’ve been battling a small army of skin issues recently, and while nothing I’ve tried has been preventative in the least, I have found a few stand-out products that will gently boost my skin’s resolve, encouraging it to heal itself after a trauma has occurred. Let me tell you about them.

1. PRATIMA Skincare’s Sandalwood Soothing Lotion. All my tried-and-true blemish-fighters have failed me as of late. All the good oils and herbal combos I was using to clear my skin up are waving their white flags at the hormonal cysts, the resilient blackheads and regenerating whiteheads my face is throwing at them. Now, my current skin condition isn’t “acne,” per say—it’s more like my skin is being wounded from the inside out, thanks to some poor liver functioning and possible gluten cross contamination (anyone have any tips here? Me and my naturopath are at our wits end). So I stopped treating it like acne and started using this Sandalwood Soothing Lotion to calm it. Lo and behold, this natural calamine lotion keeps a cyst from coming to a head, relieves pain and itching and reduces redness. It treats bug bites and cuts and burns and makes you breakfast in bed (wouldn’t that be nice?). This is like a first aid kit in a bottle.

2. CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray. I got this a few months ago when I was looking for something to soothe the uber-dry, itchy skin on my face (thanks, #polarvortex). I kind of dismissed it at first because it doesn’t have an uplifting scent like most of the liquids I spray on my face. But then I tried it on a persistent scalp rash and haven’t looked back. It’s like souped-up pure aloe, with water lily, mushroom, turmeric and cucumber, so it calms inflammation, reduces redness and relieves itchiness. I also use it on razor burn and I just bet it would dominate as an after-sun spray.

3. PRATIMA Skincare’s Revitalizing Turmeric Cream. Seeing a trend here? Turmeric is killer at wound-healing, internally and externally. This suuuuper thick cream is a huge treat as an overall facial mask and if you use it as a moisturizer, it decreases redness and dryness over time. The ghee in it also boosts skin’s ability to heal. I’ve been using it as a treatment on popped (yes, I pick when there are whiteheads!) blemishes overnight and it speeds up healing time  by at least two days. Only sorta funky note: It’s intensely yellow and that color lingers on your face. I don’t use it in the morning, under makeup, for that reason. And it bled from my face to my comforter one night. Just use caution.

4. CV Skinlabs Body Repair Lotion. I didn’t mention this before, but this entire line was formulated for cancer/chemotherapy patients. After such treatments, skin is really sensitive and needs calming products that also don’t contain other harmful ingredients. Thus, CV Skinlabs. And thus why the line is so gentle and effective at healing and calming skin. The Body Repair Lotion is practically perfect for right after I’ve shaved my too-dry legs. It helps prevent razor burn + it doesn’t have a scent that requires all other fragrances bow to it. I love that for when I want to layer a body oil on top for an added boost, though the lotion itself is totally enough moisture. This would also dominate as an eczema or after-sun treatment.

So there you have it. When things get red, itchy and bumpy, I turn to these lovelies for some relief. Now tell me: What’s your first-aid-kit-in-a-bottle product?

La Bella FiguraDull. Dry. Parched. Flaky. Un-luminous.

Is anyone else finding that these are the adjectives they’re constantly using to describe their skin? It’s kind of starting to get old. And it’s making me want to give good ol’ Mother Nature a punch in the throat.

Since that’s not possible and since I’d probably feel bad gouging an old lady, I’m trying to remain calm and rely on things I know make my face a little less like sandpaper. Or a blemish-y paper bag. Drinking warm lemon water. Sleeping more. Sweating it out. Eating my leafy greens.

But, even though I know that in the long run all those habits will make my skin better, sometimes I need a little more control. Immediate control—and immediate results.

That’s when I turn to a tried and true brand, from whom I have not tried anything I didn’t love. The two powerhouse products pictured above are just a sample of the results-oriented brand La Bella Figura (remember when I raved about the Modern Radiance Concentrate?). In times of flaky dryness, LBF’s Organic Barbary Seed Fig Oil and the Bio Active Healing Mask have rescued my skin.

One Love Organics' Brand New Day ScrubBefore I went all clean on my old beauty regime’s sorry arse, I hated multipurpose products (it likely has something to do with my innate need for rules and systems and a place for everything). A pot o’ color that I could put on my cheeks AND my lips? No, thank you. A dry powder that could be a daily cleanser or a mask? Someone’s just pulling a marketing trick on me.

Man, was I missing out.

Now that I’ve successfully converted my entire skincare system, I realize the glory, power and holy-grail-ness that comes with a product that can be used multiple ways. Dot a little pink lippy on the apples of my cheeks? Yes, please. Mix my cleanser with a little yogurt or honey to make a mask? Genius!

Such genius is exactly what’s been found in one of my favorite lil scrubs: The Brand New Day scrub from One Love Organics. You may remember the beauty orgasm I’ve gotten from this line before, but let me tell you why this guy deserves a spot on your to-try list.

Exfoliating has always been a bit of a touch-and-go thing for me. Do it too often (or use a Clarisonic) and exponentially increase the number of zits and amount of redness my face answers with. Avoid it for too long and risk dry flakes caking up my foundation and making me look like I’ve attempted a full face of stage makeup for a run to the grocery store. (Tell me you’ve all been through the same thing? Please?)

So, I’ve been hesitant about manual and chemical (fruit) exfoliants in any capacity. I’ve used and loved Arcona’s Brightening Gommage and found that an every other day usage didn’t irritate my skin. While I also love May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt, I abide by Rebecca’s tips for a sensitive-skinned gal, and I don’t use it daily.

Got the background and my trepidation around exfoliants? On to the review: When I opened the Brand New Day scrub, I was immediately in olfactory heaven—the pineapple enzymes make the scent totally intoxicating, and as I once told OLO founder Suzanne, I want to slather myself in it. What’s even better is that those same enzymes make for gentle and super effective exfoliation that’s sensitive enough for the most redness-prone of us.

The organic sweet pea flour that helps create the base of this scrub is also crazy gentle. It’s so gentle that I was initially worried I wouldn’t see a difference after I washed it off (when it makes this lovely, light, gentle foaming consistency that I’m in love with and satisfies my old, dirty self who still thinks anything foam=super clean=better skin). I was totally wrong: My face is brighter and smoother and BETTER after using this. My treatments and oils and moisturizers absorb more easily. My makeup goes on smoother.

But what makes this scrub a powerhouse is the fact that it’s one of those multi-use products I was referring to earlier. Mix it with a little water for a scrub. Switch up the water for yogurt or honey and you’ve got a light mask that brightens and leaves a glow when you wash it off. Oh, and it still foams and exfoliates when you remove the mask. (Maybe you can tell that that’s my favorite part, after the scent.)

Basically, this is an all-around home run of a product. Lovely scent, lovely ingredients, lovely effects. Bonuses: I can use it every day without fear of redness or blemish increases and it travels well (Powder! Cardboard container!).

I’m sure loads of you have tried and loved this baby, so tell us why. Oh, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting BND or OLO yet, you should plan a trip back to our site tomorrow for a little deal… (wink, nudge).

Except for those on the West Coast who experienced “seasonably warm” winter weather, most of us have been trapped in a cycle of blizzards, blustery winds and burrrrrrr. In Minneapolis, we’ve been hunkering down in our snowsuits to battle the below zero temps and -30 degree windchill. Gross.

What all this Polar Vortex stuff translates to is dry, flaky, chapped skin. Inside, we crank the heat, and drain our skin of hydration; outside, we brave the fierce winds and subject our skin to redness, flushing and windburn. So what, pray tell, is a natch girl to do?

One thing I’ve noticed since switching to clean products is that the nature has us covered when it comes to skin-saving moisturizers. Fruits, cold-pressed oils, balms, butters—the green beauty world has so many amazing options to help my skin stay balanced (or recover when I’ve gone overboard with the space heater). Here are a few things, products and gadgets, I’m keeping close until the weather cooperates again.

  1. Marie Veronique Organics Pacific Mist: Green tea is the first AND third ingredient in this hydrating powerhouse. It’s super soothing to my parched and often inflamed skin, plus it has a light floral scent that isn’t overpowering. The sea fennel in it helps skin retain moisture as well, giving me long-term skin improvement. Gotta love something that keeps making your skin better.
  2. The Blue Cocoon by May Lindstrom: After Rebecca raved about this beauty, I knew I had to try it. It seems really thick, so I was hesitant about putting it on my whole face, but it transforms into this lovely, light-but-crazy-hydrating oil when massaged into your skin. I put it on my eyelids and neck too, both morning and night, and it acts as a lovely primer for my foundation as well as gives my skin a soft glow. A little goes a long way, so splurge on this if you have the funds—it’ll last! I gently rub it in while my face is still damp from the Pacific Mist (you’ll use even less, and your skin will look even better).
  3. La Bella Figura Rainforest Hydration Treatment: I didn’t use this thick balm at all the first three months I had it, as I thought it was too heavy for my skin and definitely not for use during warm fall days (it was created for people with SUPER dry skin or in extremely dry climates). Then I noticed my skin acting oddly dry and flaky, due to a low yin and an internal infection, as my naturopath put it. I had a collection of small blemishes that popped practically simultaneously, and then left irritated red marks and circles of flaky skin on my cheek. Foundation got caught in them, making them impossible to conceal. Nothing helped, including gentle exfoliation and my arsenal of creams, butters, serums and oils. Then I remembered my jar of Rainforest Hydration Treatment and almost overnight, my dryness was gone. Eliminated in less than two days. That’s what you call a miracle product, people.
  4. MJ’s Herbals Calendula Salve: I got this as a sample in a Spirit Beauty Lounge order less than a week ago and I’ve already ordered the full sized jar. It’s an amazing, buttery cream by a company known for making safe-for-mommies-and-their-babies products. I’ve been using it on my lips and hands, both chapped by a recent weekend with girlfriends at an adorable, yet drier than dry cabin (seriously—I was applying lip balm every hour at this place and when I came home, my lips were beet red and sore to the touch). My very sensitive lips reject practically every balm you can think of, including straight coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter. Thankfully, they love this calendula and Vitamin E infused salve and now I don’t think I can live without it.
  5. Squalene Oil: I’d never heard of this cold-pressed-from-olives-but-not-olive-oil oil until this fall when a local esthetician with her own clean skincare line introduced it to me. It naturally promotes skin elasticity and cell regeneration and suits all skin types. I haven’t been using it on my face as much as on my cuticles. I rub it in overnight and my dry fingers fade. Genius. (I have a bottle from the local line, which you can’t buy online, but check out this one from Indie Lee if you’re interested).
  6. Crane Blue Drop Humidifier (not pictured): I’ve had this lil guy for a couple of winters, but it wasn’t until I stopped using it that I noticed how much of a difference it makes. On days I don’t fill it up and turn it on before climbing into the sack, I wake up with a dry throat, itchy skin and the tendency to cough. When I keep it filled and turn it on, I wake to fresh, plump skin, and less of a desire to drink a swimming pool (liquor or water-filled).

I know I skipped internal hydrators like hot lemon water, but what are you putting on your skin to keep it from panicking while the weather misbehaves?

Stress Relief

There were lots of things this past holiday season that kind of pushed my anxiety button (full disclosure—it’s not that hard to find. I’m the kind of classic worrier who spends a half hour trying to fall asleep but failing because the next day’s to-do list, and all the ways it won’t get done, is bumbling around in my head). It was the first time I’d ever understood the stereotypical busyness of that time of year: There were countless parties and events to attend, including a host of before-Christmas festivities with my immediate family because my new husband and I were to spend the holi-day visiting his out-of-town family. There was twice the presents to be bought and wrapped, twice the budget to finagle, packing to be done, work projects to complete and travel plans to be made—all with an expected air of merriment and relative calmness. Oh, and did I mention I was going through the third of five rounds of supplements that were meant to kill the low-grade infection that was zapping all my energy and making me sleep at weird times of the day?

Unable to sustain things, I broke down. A few times. In the bathroom. While decorating the Christmas tree. Before work. During work. After work. When my husband moved the wash cloths from their designated place under the kitchen sink. I just couldn’t pull myself together (despite being very deliberate about taking down and alone time, more than even little old introverted me usually needs).

So, I decided I needed a little help to combat my tension, exhaustion, stress and anxiety. Here are the four things that helped me stop worrying, stop feeling overwhelmed and gave me the energy to make it through even that cat commercial from the Animal Humane Society without crying.

  1. Bach’s Rescue Pastilles: Now, there’s a chance that these are just a placebo, but every time I pop one of these black-currant-flavored jellies into my mouth, I feel an almost immediate relief of stress. Its main ingredient, Helianthemum nummularium (or rockrose), is known for giving courage and helping to bring you back to the present. Impatiens glandulifera, another key ingredient, helps when you lose patience with problems (or people), and the inclusion of cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) balances your mind when you feel out of control. I needed all those things.
  2. Alexis Smart Flower Remedies, LifeSaver: We talk a lot about naturopathic medicine and aromatherapy here on NMDL, but we haven’t ventured much into the remedy realm. As a disciple of natural and homeopathic treatments, I’ve tried a few homeopathic remedies in my day (cactus and cancer—yes, cancer—to name a couple), but haven’t had any miraculous, fixed-all-my-problems-from-childhood experiences like you’re sorta supposed to. My money ran out before I could achieve such actualization and though I see a naturopath regularly, I haven’t ventured back into the remedy realm. Then I heard about Alexis Smart, an LA-based practitioner who mixes flower remedies by consult or sells her most popular blends online. I was intrigued because LifeSaver, one of her “Calm” blends, seemed to suite my current stresses perfectly—and unlike homeopathic remedies, floral blends don’t cause a relapse into old symptoms or habits before they start working. After only two weeks of use, I could feel a huge difference in my perspective. I was calmer; I could juggle all my work projects, even when they overlapped. I didn’t snap when my husband used the wrong spatula on our new frying pans. I didn’t lose sleep over our budget. I could take care of myself and not worry when that took all of my energy. The amazing side effects have lasted and continue to improve—and I no longer have a heavy weight on my chest when I examine my to-do list.
  3. La Bella Figura Travel Therapy Mood Booster: I’ve already sung the praises of this little roller-ball, but I seriously am addicted. While I haven’t tested its power on airplane travel, I did use it on the 10+ hour Christmas Eve car ride, and let me tell you, it kept me sane. I think it even made the trip seem faster, if that’s possible. It’s a powerful mood booster, as its name suggests, and it smells divine. I haven’t been this obsessed with a fragrance since my pot of Malibu Barbie solid perfume. And that was when I was 8.
  4. Yoga Studio App for iPad: As any serious yogi will tell you, yoga relaxes. It forces you to become present, to forget about your worries and to breathe. I’ve had this app for a while now and I use it at least four times a week. It has beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of relaxation, strength, combination and flexibility classes, with the option of creating your own flow. Taking a break during my work day for a 30-minute yoga class in my living room changes how I interact with my to-do list. It gives me back control and calm and allows me to de-stress without the cost of a yoga-studio membership.

Your turn: When you’re at your most stressed, what do you turn to to calm down and refocus? What helps you feel less overwhelmed and more prepared to face life?