Raise your hand if you have no experience with acne. That’s what I thought, which is why I gave a little cry of shock when we got an email from a reader who has no experience with breakouts but is now battling acne thanks to her pregnancy hormones. A few weeks ago we asked you to weigh in on how to fight dry skin during pregnancy. We know you must have some insight here, too. Here is sweet Sarah’s note:
It sounds like Sarah is doing an incredible job taking care of herself and her little bean. I’d love to know what her skincare routine looks like. Even though her skin has always been agreeable no matter what she’s done, it could be that her routine isn’t able to address this kind of thing. While it’s true that most of the discussion on this site about hormonal acne has occurred in different contexts — quitting the pill, etc. — some of the same things might help when hormones rage thanks to pregnancy. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve only had puppies… that’s where you come in.
What do you think? Should Sarah just expect her skin to act out as long as she’s pregnant? Are there steps she can take that will help normalize her skin while pregnant?
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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?
If you find yourself envious of the weather description in Ash’s routine, join the club. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying this fun routine!
Geography: California Valley
Current Weather: Early spring, 66 degrees during the day
Skin: When I used to use the wrong products on my skin it was all of the following: dry, oily, acne-prone, sensitive. Now I’ve finally figured out what works on my skin and it is NORMAL!
Hair: Fine but thick, brunette, 8 months into growing out a pixie and it is ear-length. A few months out from finally being done trimming the nape!! (Former pixie-goers, you know exactly what I’m talking about)
Favorite Star From the Past: Helen Mirren—a star from the past AND the present! J I love her wit and bold attitude.
I’ve been a long-time follower of the NMDL blog and have always wanted to submit a daily routine, but I was never 100% happy with the products I was using and I didn’t want to endorse something that could end up causing strife for someone else! Finally, though, I have figured out what works on my face and I hope this routine helps others going through similar frustrations!
I’m growing out my hair after having it very cropped (shaved on the sides and back!) for a long time. It’s a slow, agonizing process. Lately I’ve been trying oil conditioning treatments to help speed up the growth. I have no idea if it helps or not, but it seems to make my hair shiny so at least there’s that! I use Nubian Heritage Tamanu scalp treatment + a tablespoon of castor oil. I massage that onto my scalp + ends once every two weeks or so and leave it on for about an hour before showering. For shampoo, I alternate between Nubian Heritage Evoo and Moringa Repair and Extend Shampoo and Acure Lemongrass and Argan Stem Cell line. I follow up with the Acure Lemongrass conditioner. After, I dry my hair with this small, super-absorbent terry-cloth like towel. It’s actually a backpacking towel that I got from REI about 10 years ago, but it works well to dry my hair without producing frizz! I read a tip awhile ago that said rubbing your hair dry with a regular bath towel will create static. So far the backpacking towel works! It (air) dries nice and smoothly and I don’t even need any hair serum/oils.
I brush my teeth with Theraneem Neem Toothpaste—one of the only ones I could find that didn’t contain any SLS, baking soda (erodes enamel), and carrageenan (carcinogen).
For my face- I keep it simple. After years of trying dozens of (clean) serums, oils, moisturizers recommended here on NMDL I’ve found that my skin is happiest when left alone. Even the most basic of serums seems to tip it off balance. So in the morning I splash a little bit of water on my face to give it a quick rinse, and then spritz it with Honeygirl Organics Facial Toner. I found it at Whole Foods when I was looking for basically “fancy water” to give a little boost to my skin in the morning. This contains literally only filtered water, propolis, rose essence and neroli. I love it.
I don’t use sunscreen anymore because that was causing 90% of my problems. I’ve tried every brand recommended here on NMDL with varying effects (i.e John Masters was a 10/10 disaster) but ultimately everything breaks me out. Zinc oxide in any form is not my friend. Lately I’ve been trying to just use good sense when it comes to the sun—limit exposure between 10am-3pm, and if I have to be out during those hours I use a giant felt hat. I got this one for Christmas. I still use zinc products on my body, just nothing on my face.
I have heredity dark circles so in the morning I will swipe on some Cowgirl Dirt Concealer in Natural Light. It’s light coverage only, but it doesn’t dry cakey. I used to have to dab it on pimples and other redness on my face but now that I’ve stopped using sunblock I don’t have to—there’s nothing to cover up. I have a few leftover faint pink spots from past zits but I just leave them be.
If I have time I might also use a highlighter on my eyelids and inner corners. I tried the RMS luminizer but coconut oil on any part of my face causes issues so I’m back to using my not so clean Smashbox Eye-Beam. If I’m going out at night, I might do a cat-eye with my Stila Smudge Pot in Gray. I haven’t had luck with clean eye liners. I have fairly thick eyebrows so I usually glide on a bit of Great Lash in Clear to keep them tamed.
At night I cleanse with Elizabeth Dehn/One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil. It is the most perfect face cleanser I have ever used. After washing, my face is not dry, not oily—just right. Having that perfect balance is the main reason why I don’t have to follow up with oils or lotions. For exfoliation (this also seems to be important to keep the breakouts at bay) I alternate between using Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask in the evening or Osmia Organics Protein Exfoliation. The red sandalwood in the Osmia exfoliator is divine.
Food-wise I eat mostly plant-based. After being vegan for 4 years, then vegetarian, I’m now a 90% vegetarian (or “flexi”, I guess). I had to introduce some meat products back in because of some scary G.I. issues. After spending a year in the hospital, I decided enough was enough. Eating a few servings of local, free-range poultry has alleviated all my problems. My skin also improved. I take Vitamin D and Iron capsules once or twice a week or so.
After years of frustration, it’s good to be at a place where I finally love my skin. If you are having persistent breakouts I think it’s worth it to try going back to basics to see if that alleviates your problems: a super gentle cleanser (highly recommend One Love Vitamin B), a “fancy water” spray for hydration, and no oils/lotions. Give it 2-3 months to see a difference.
For the winter, I’ve made the switch from my holy grail cleanser to oil cleansing. By far, my favorite oil for that purpose is coconut. I know some of you don’t use coconut oil on your face due to breakouts, but my face loves the stuff. There’s an immediate “Ahhhhhhhh” when I put it on. And it does a smashing job of cleansing.
This year, I decided to add some healing EOs to my coconut oil cleanse experience. I discovered a new product from an old favorite brand, plus had a major DIY success.
Evan Healy Coconut Cream Cleanser: This is a very high quality oil, super smooth and with a cream-like texture. With the sweet orange, vetiver, and neroli essential oils, the scent is just dreamy. I have to admit I find it a little pricey for what it is (more than $30 for just under 2 oz). I know Evan Healy uses the highest quality ingredients, but it’s a pretty simple mix. I’ll probably buy it again at some point, but it definitely inspired me to try a DIY.
DIY Coconut Cream Cleanser: For this, I used my favorite coconut oil that I get from Whole Foods, International Harvest’s Lanka Sun Organic Coconut Oil. This stuff is super creamy. I melted it down in pyrex measuring cup in a pan of heated water on the stove, very slowly heating and stirring with a bamboo spatula. Once the oil was thoroughly melted (but not overheated), I stirred in Hope Gillerman’s Neroli Oil (about 1/3 bottle to nearly 3 oz coconut oil). So I guess since I’m using Hope’s blend, this is only semi-DIY. I love the HG Neroli, but I hadn’t used it in a while, and was thrilled to find a new way to incorporate it into my routine. I poured the mix into some glass jars and set them in the freezer until they solidified. This step is really important – if it cools too slowly it can get grainy. It will still perform, but I just prefer the luxurious feel of a super smooth product. And it smells like heaven. You can do this with any EOs you like, or even add some different carrier oils (that will change the texture, so be willing to experiment). Even if you prefer plain coconut oil, I still recommend doing the melting and freezing if you want a creamy texture.
Are you a coconut oil fan? Would you rather buy a product like this, or DIY?
We couldn’t be more excited to share this Makeup Monday with you. It’s from one of the amazing women behind La Bella Figura!
Name: Victoria Fantauzzi
Where I Live: Chicago, IL
My relationship with makeup: I have really toned down my use. I used to wear A LOT of makeup when I was younger. My sister and I were those bad Catholic school girls that would sneak eyeliner and lipstick in our backpacks to paint on as soon as school was over. I looked like the Latina version of Avril Lavigne with the heavy raccoon liner. These days I don’t wear as much on a daily basis, but I definitely like a dramatic look for nighttime. I believe that beautiful skin is more important and makes makeup look better on. So less is now more effective.
Here’s what’s in my makeup bag:
This is a new makeup bag because last month I accidentally left my makeup bag in a hotel room in Toronto and lost some things. I’m slowly restocking a few things.
Lips: I don’t wear lipstick during the day and definitely not while I’m working in the studio, but when I do I like a stain and not full on waxy lipstick. Both Kjaer Weis in Goddess and RMS in Diaboloque are fantastic as you can wear a little for a pretty bitten look or layer it on for a nighttime going out look. I also like to dab a little Diabolique on my cheeks, which is very pretty on bronzed skin. You can fake it with a little bronzer. Recently, I’ve been crazy about the Bite Beauty lip crayons because they really hydrate my lips and feel light, plus the colors are nicely pigmented and there are so many to choose from. Quince is my favorite. I don’t care for glosses too much with the exception of Revolution Organics Freedom Red, which is the best lipgloss I’ve ever tried and not gooey at all. For lip balms you can’t go wrong with creamy SW Basics in cocoa or the Hurraw balms, which I have in every scent and flavor. Love those!
Concealer: I’ve been a fan of the RMS concealer in 33 for a while, but now I’m loving one from Studio 78 Paris in Moonlight. Now, neither of these match my Mediterranean olive complexion so I use one to blend under my eyes and the other I use on areas that aren’t so perfect, then I apply a little bronzer right over and I’m set. If I’m having bad sleep sometimes I’ll use the Josie Maran argan concealer crayon for under the eye area because it provides a deeper coverage.
Cheeks: Again, Kjaer Weis wins with their creamy cheek color as a bronzer in Desired Glow. I just purchased the RMS Buriti bronzer, but haven’t really had a chance to try it out, so we’ll see. For a pop of color, I haven’t found anything as amazing as Revolution Organics Freedom Glow in Blushed. Sadly, that was lost and it’s sold out everywhere. It made me so happy.
Eyeshadow: I am prone to earth colors for the eyes. I love nudes or cocoa rich browns. Right now I’m obsessed with Tea Time by Studio 78 Paris, which is a repurchase since it was lost. It is a silky pressed eyeshadow that applies smoothly with a fluffy brush and it isn’t too purple-y. For anyone with brown eyes it’s elegant, makes your eyes pop and looks amazing. I like to wear it with a little gold eyeliner.
Skin Care: It’s so important to set makeup with a great mist so I use our Jardin de Fleurs Skin Revitalizer, which also contains hyaluronic acid so skin holds in moisture. Makeup doesn’t look good on dry, flaky skin so I use our Barbary Fig Renewal Serum as a primer because it contains broccoli seed oil and it gives skin that silicone smoothness without being too slippery and zero toxicity.
Scent: I love almost all the perfume blends by Aftelier so when I want to mix it up from my own creations I like Tango or Wildflowers, otherwise I wear our Travel Therapy as a perfume or Buenos Aires so much that even my young niece recognizes that scent as mine.
Extras: Leighton Denny 3 Free nail color in Golden Girl. I carry it around because I always think I’m going to get my nails done, but I never do. A cheap and not clean eyeliner pen I picked up from CVS (Please someone fill me in on a clean eyeliner pen!) and Blum Naturals face towelettes in organic chamomile, they come in handy for air travel.
This fall Victoria and Karen from La Bella Figura will host A Night For Green Beauty 2014 in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for details. We want to see all of you there!