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Help! Steph’s Skincare Woes

We get it. Going clean is full of challenges. It can be frustrating and disheartening to have the best intentions but the worst results. Our hearts go out to Steph, a reader who wrote in seeking your advice. Take a look at her letter:

“I think I’m probably the only person in this community who, since going natural, organic, and “clean” with everything from diet to cosmetics and skincare products, has reacted badly and not actually seen an improvement. It leaves me feeling so deflated because in the beginning I was so excited to move into this world of clean beauty and sift through my products and routine to find better, healthier alternatives for myself.

I started by visiting a naturopath and then consequently, coming off of birth control (I’d been on Nuva Ring for the past couple of years) and even though I was never on birth control to help with acne, when I finally came off it, my skin went haywire. I got horrible cystic acne, redness and horrible inflammation—my skin was brutal.

Ever since then I’ve been fighting against my skin and my body and more symptoms have come up. I now have a near constant flaking scalp, flaking skin, itchiness, and my face is still a mess. I have lost so much confidence and feel myself getting more and more depressed over this.

I have pretty much tried everything—you name it—diet changes (gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, etc.); changing all my products—haircare, skincare, makeup, etc.; supplements (specialized for hormones, zinc, vitamins a-d, omega 3s); I’ve visited doctors, aestheticians, nutritionists, anything and everything! I’m now writing to you because as I said in the beginning of my email I feel like I’m the only person who since changing everything has gone from okay to worse!

I don’t want to go back to using items that have so many chemicals, so many things I cannot pronounce. Your book and the wonderful community at NMDL is so enlightening and amazing to read. I’m just hoping that maybe someone could offer any suggestions for anything else that I may not have heard or known about or have any similar situations they went through themselves. I would really appreciate any feedback you and this lovely community may have!”

We know that health and skin issues are very personal and it can be difficult to get to the root cause. We’re interested in knowing whether you’ve had a similar experience. What worked for you? Did you give up your clean routine? Let’s show Steph some love and support!

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?

We could play in this reader’s makeup bag and skincare collection all day long. So many fantastic choices. Enjoy!

Name: Charissa

Age: 35

Hometown: Singapore

Weather: Summer all year round, very humid and these days, hazy and muggy too…

Hair: Naturally straight but permed once a year, black, fine and long
Skin:  Combination, with dehydration lines from use of harsh acne treatment in the past, tends toward congestion and dullness but otherwise.. I’m pretty happy with it now!

Star of the past: No favourites, really, but let’s go with Dita Von Teese (who isn’t from the past).  I just saw a video of her teaching about the Art of Seduction on Into The Gloss and it made me laugh out loud :)

The night before in the Shower…

My showers are really short and sharp.  I wash my hair about twice a week (for most people living in Singapore, that would be totally gross), but it took a long time for me to get here.  I went through greasy days of looking like I lived in the streets, until I got pregnant and then BAM!  I suddenly had normal hair!  Since then, my oily scalp has been more or less normal.  Barring my postpartum “bangs” which are all my baby hairs growing out, I quite like my hair now.  Oh, sorry forgot —so I use Yarok’s shampoo and usually no conditioner because my hair doesn’t seem to need it.  But if I feel like I have some extra time, I’ll use Yarok’s conditioner (weird smell, though) or the Marigold conditioner from an Australian brand called Perfect Potion.  This is my dream conditioner — it detangles, makes my hair soft but not limp.  I’ve recently also purchased an ACV hair rinse from The All Natural Face (a company I am new to, but very excited about) and it makes my hair very soft too!

For my body, I use Dr. Wood’s Castile soap in Lavender with some scrubby gloves.  Once every two weeks, I’ve now started using this crazy amazing mitt by Dermasuri.  I kept reading about these Korean spas and Turkish Hammans where they would scrub your skin right off.  Well, I thought that was a brilliant idea and found this mitt in a local beauty shop called Beauty Candy.  It’s awesome.  Is it crazy to like seeing my skin fall off in the shower?  Probably, but I like it!

Outside the Shower…

I only moisturize when I exfoliate with my Dermasuri.  Right now, I use either a sample of Osmia Organics’s Night oil, or my Acure Lemongrass moisturizer.  Osmia smells lovely, but it might be just a tad heavy for our weather.  Today, I tried Tata Harper’s Revitalising Body Oil at Beauty Candy and it feels pretty good.  So, maybe.  But I tend not to spend on body lotions or oils because I hardly use them, and thankfully, don’t seem to need them too often!

For my face, if I’m wearing makeup, I’ll take it off with pure coconut oil or jojoba oil and a washcloth.  Then do a second cleanse with Blissoma’s Mild Rice Cleanser.  Every 2 or 3 days I’ll use May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt instead for the second cleanse.  This stuff really makes a difference to how quickly my oils absorb.

Then, I’ll spritz a little rose-geranium hydrosol from Mountain Rose Herbs, or Tata Harper’s Floral Essence (sample… almost gone… sad).  If I have any breakouts, I will apply a thin layer of Blissoma’s Smooth A+ serum.  Otherwise, I will use just a drop of my latest obsession… Skin Owl’s Clary Sage Argan Infusion.  This stuff is like nothing I’ve ever used.  It is lush, super hydrating, smells so so good, and absorbs like a dream.  But I live in Asia, after all, so a drop is all I need.  Then I’ll use Osmia’s Spot Treatment (heaven-sent) on any breakouts.

In the morning…

My daughter, who’s nearly 14 months old, will wake me up and we nurse.  I tried oil pulling with coconut oil for a few weeks, but one morning I actually sneezed before I could get to the bathroom in time.  This may be an over-share, but basically that “hazmat” oil (according to some oil pulling literature) got all over everywhere and that pretty much turned me off for awhile.  Moving on.

Then I’ll run off to brush my teeth with Tom of Maine’s toothpaste, or whatever I managed to buy off iherb, and wash my face with Blissoma’s Mild Rice Facial Cleanser.  This is my second bottle and it still smells so gorgeous.  I have a bottle of Pollen & Wax’s Apollo cleanser on its way, and I’m excited to try that!  If I woke up particularly greasy that morning, I’ll use a bit of my Dr Alkaitis cleanser instead.    I also have a bottle of George’s Aloe Spray on its way from iherb.  Then I’ll spread a thin layer of La Bella Figura’s Modern Radiance Concentrate all over my face.  This stuff is amazing.  No, seriously.  If you have any discoloration or acne scars etc. that you want gone, you need this.  And because the texture is so light yet hydrating, I could actually just get away with using this alone.

However, because I’m a recovering product junkie, I will also use a single drop of my other latest discovery — Skin Owl’s Geranium Argan Infusion.   It is as amazing as its Clary Sage counterpart.  And Annie, the founder of Skin Owl, is lovely.  If I’m going out that day, I will also use another drop of my other dream facial oil, La Bella Figura’s Daily Elements Defense Oil.  This light, hydrating oil smells so great (I’m all about the smell) and I feel so protected.  I mean, it’s all in the name right??

After that, I’m basically racing to the kitchen to make myself a big ol’ cup of coffee.  I long to be one of you ladies who drink caffeine-free herbal tea or lemon water in the morning, but without my coffee, I. Just. Can’t.

Finishing Touches…

If I’m going out that day, I’ll use Soapwalla’s deodorant.  I’ve tried a few but this is the only one so far that works for me.  I’d prefer a stick applicator, but this is ok for now.  I’m also looking at Meow Meow Tweet, Schmidt’s, and after the post by you NMDL ladies, the R. L. Linden one.

I love makeup.  But I don’t usually look like I use a lot of it.  My basic routine if I was going to the supermarket or pick my son from preschool, it’s usually concealer, blush and lipbalm.  I now use The All Natural Face’s cream foundation in Almond Goddess as a concealer — works really well, and I only need a tiny bit.  Pop that under my eyes, around my nose and on any discoloration.  Some days, I use RMS’s Uncover up in 22 instead.  As for blush, I have Vapour’s Torch, and RMS Beauty’s Smile.  I alternate the two, depending on my mood but I find Vapour’s slightly more natural for my coloring.  If I remember, I’ll dust a little RMS Un-Powder on my T-Zone.  As for lipbalm, I have Hurraw! in Chai, Sierra Bees Honey Lipbalm, and Burt’s Bees in several colours.  I also have a couple from French Girl Organics on Etsy.  But recently, I’ve been enjoying Tata Harper’s Be Adored.

If I want to be slightly fancier, I will use RMS’s Living Luminizer.  Then I might use a little eyeshadow — RMS’s solar is my favorite, or Magnetic, or one of the many I have from Silk Naturals.  I honestly prefer cream shadows because I worry about breathing in some bits when I use the loose minerals, but creams just don’t hold up very well in our weather.  I also have Studio 78’s eyeshadow in Art Gallery (a nice, deep navy) but I reserve that for when I want to do a smokey eye.  Navy makes me look fairer.  My brows are permanently colored and I also have a thin line colored on my upper lids so I can skip brow makeup and eyeliner.

I’ve only recently started using lipstick, and it’s only because I discovered Ilia Beauty.  Their lip conditioners are out of this world.  I have Bang Bang, Arabian Nights and Blossom Lady.  I’m also looking at Shell Shock and Voila, which is one of their lipsticks.  I’ve never used lipsticks before Ilia, but that doesn’t mean I don’t buy them.  I will settle on something, then proceed to store them on my beauty shelf and never ever use them.  My lips are naturally very red and with most lipsticks I look like I’m in drag.  I’d like to use glosses again some day… but I’m trying to exercise some self-control here.

So this sounds like a lot but my typical makeup routine takes about 10 minutes.  And I can do this while my little ones play catch with something in my makeup pouch.  Ha!

As for perfume, I have just splurged on Tata Harper’s Anti Irritability Treatment.  I hankered after it for nearly 2 years, and finally purchased it because I just feel it’s one of the very few natural perfumes that last on my skin and don’t morph into a weird after-smell.  (Shh… I also have La Bella Figura’s Travel Therapy on its way).

Quick question: When was the last time USPS delivered you something other than credit card bills and catalogs you never signed up for? We thought so. Which is why we want to introduce you to (or remind you about) our special little boxes from Quarterly: delightful surprises in the mail, chosen for you, by us.

Simply: Quarterly is a subscription service not unlike a magazine, except that instead of getting words and pictures printed on paper, you get awesome stuff.

And just like a magazine, you don’t know in advance exactly what’s going to be in each issue, but you subscribe because you like the people who put it together and/or you think you’re going to enjoy what you receive. That’s how the No More Dirty Looks Quarterly boxes work: 4 times a year (for $50/quarter), you get a box of goodies (and no, it’s not a pile of those tiny sample packets companies give away free) along with a letter from us explaining what’s so great about the products and why we chose them.

Above you can see what was in our last box: shampoo and conditioner from the insanely amazing Rahua (plus samples), a beautiful hair brush, our favorite dry shampoo of all time. What’s in NDL010? We’re not telling, but…

You can enter below for a chance to win a box for free because we’re doing a giveaway!

The details: From now until midnight on Thursday, April 10 (like when the clock changes over from the 9th to the 10th), you can enter to win your very own NMDL10 NMDL09 box from Quarterly Co.! Enter below with your Facebook account or email address. You’ve got a few options for how to enter, but the more that you complete, the more chances you’ll have to win. We’ll select one winner after the contest ends and we’ll notify you here on the blog so check back here on Thursday to see if you’re our lucky winner! (No purchase necessary, obvs.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Happy Friday Deal From Clementine Fields!

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It’s spring time y’all, which means re-upping on seasonal favorites and trying new lipstick colors. Pretty much anything that helps shed that winter skin you’ve been living in would be welcome, right? Clementine Fields is here to help with an awesome Friday Deal!

Clementine Fields is giving 15% off all orders over $50 now through Sunday at midnight ET. Just enter the promo code NMDL to receive your special offer!

Clementine Fields carries some of the most premium names in green beauty. In fact, their collection is crazy good. Plus, they’re based in Toronto! Canadian readers rejoice—this one’s for you! Don’t worry, they ship to the United States and elsewhere, too.

So what do you want to try? What lines are you excited about from their collection?