Here’s a routine for all our sensitive-skinned readers. Christine has found a natural routine that relies on a good diet, gentle products, and of course some amazing natural makeup. Enjoy!

Name:  Christine

Age:  45 (seriously, where does the time go?)

Hometown:  Minneapolis, MN

Weather:  Cool, beautiful autumn weather.

Skin:  Fair and super sensitive.

Hair: Natural dark blonde, chin length, blunt cut and very, very, (very) fine.

Star:  Not from the past but Cate Blanchett.  She’s talented, beautiful, and I love her overall style.

I wanted to do a morning routine to share what is working for me and maybe help others who may be struggling with reallllly sensitive skin.  About 15 years ago, a dermatologist “diagnosed” me with rosacea and promptly handed me a prescription for antibiotics and Metrogel and sent me on my way.  I really did not think it was healthy to take antibiotics for 3 months (!) so I left the prescriptions unfilled and decided to try and fix my own skin.   I did a lot of research on skin care products and diet to find out what was going on with me.   Since my facial redness completely disappeared after switching to gentle skincare products, I don’t really think I ever had true rosacea.  I do have one or two broken capillaries around my nose, hereditary and probably age-related, but no more overall redness.

My skincare journey began by cutting out parabens and chemical sunscreens.  I saw improvement in my skin just getting rid of those.  Then I found that too many silicones and even titanium dioxide caused my skin to flake no matter how much I moisturized.  Alcohol, used to preserve some natural products (Dr. Hauschka, Lavera) also irritated my skin.  Finally, I found that all essential oils reddened my skin.  So my journey to more natural products has been quite difficult since so many natural products use essential oils.  I still try new products occasionally (and patch test of course), but I almost always react.

With my diet, I tried EVERYTHING to improve my skin and the ONLY thing that made a difference was getting rid of all added sugar (yes, even chocolate).  I tried going vegan for a year, a raw food diet, dairy-free, gluten-free, giving up nightshades, no coffee, eating alkalizing foods, etc.   Only cutting out sugar made any difference in my skin, and honestly, once it’s out of your diet you don’t miss it.   I’ve always eaten healthy whole foods (lots of fruits and vegetables, no processed foods) and I drink lots of water.  I still eat the occasional dessert on special occasions, but I usually see a slight reddening of my face the next day.  I also take a daily probiotic and Vitamin D (drops in a coconut oil base) during the winter.

Sorry for such a long intro, but I think there may be a few other sensitive NMDL readers out there who may be frustrated that the skincare products that work so well for others don’t work for them.  I love reading NMDL for information on healthy living, as well as skincare and makeup, and maybe my routine can help someone else.

In the shower…

I am not a morning person and I need my coffee to get going every day.  Daily morning showers also help wake me up.  Since I work out every day and am blessed with fine hair and an oily scalp, I need to wash it daily.  I’ve tried to wash it less often, but I’ve had no luck with any products or techniques.  My hair is shiny and healthy so I guess it is working for me.  I use the John Masters Bare shampoo.  Many natural shampoos are full of essential oils so I’m very careful as several have irritated my scalp (peppermint oil being the worst offender).  I also never use conditioner since they all weigh my hair down.  I wash my face with a glycerin soap (Whole Foods, unscented).   For the body, I use olive oil soap (right now, Sappo Hill).  My showers are short and I use only lukewarm water.

Outside the shower…

I apply Elave Intense Moisture Surge on my face.  This Irish moisturizer is free of parabens, alcohol, sulfates, dyes, phthalates, lanolin, and fragrance.  I let it sink in and then apply Burn Out sunscreen SPF 30 to my face and neck.   This sunscreen contains only zinc oxide and I love it: it’s moisturizing and I get no white residue from it.  That’s it!  I don’t exfoliate, or use eye creams or serums.  Occasionally though, I will use a few drops of Josie Maran Argan oil or Aura Cacia Macadamia Nut oil at night before I apply my moisturizer.  Although I always (always!) want to try out new products, I know that for me, less is more.   I’ve had this simple routine for years now and my skin looks really great.  It also gets me through Minnesota winters without dry, flaky skin.

On my body, I use the Whole Foods 365 Moisturizing Lotion which is fragrance free.   I’m still using LaVanila deodorant in Lavender Vanilla because it works and is not irritating.  I’d love to try another deodorant but all the essential oils kinda freak me out.   I leave my hair to air dry and spray on Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.  It’s the only styling product I use and I keep rationalizing that since I spray it on my hair, my body’s not absorbing it.  I can’t find another product to give my hair the same texture and fullness that this does.  And since I can’t tolerate essential oils, the natural surf sprays have not worked for me.  (*Any recommendations to replace this would be appreciated!) When my hair is nearly dry, I blow dry upside down for a little more volume.

Finishing touches…

I love wearing makeup and, as a natural blonde, I feel like my features disappear without a little definition.   After my sunscreen, I apply RMS Un-Cover Up where I need it.  I actually mix 11 and 22 to get the right color: 11 on its own is way too yellow for my skin.  I wish RMS would make an “11-C” for cool-toned skin—not everybody has yellow undertones!  I also use the RMS Living Luminizer and RMS in Demure on cheeks.  As much as I love RMS and their minimal ingredients, I can’t use their eyeshadows.  Not only do they not last on me, but they somehow seep into my eyes and then my eyes water all day long.

On my eyelids, I use Mineral Fusion’s Concealer Duo in Cool as a primer.  Then, I line my eyes with Inika’s eyeliner in Graphite, a nice soft pencil which lasts all day on me.  I also use Jane Iredale eyeshadow in Taupe.  It is the best color I’ve found for my green eyes.  I’m still looking for a great natural mascara (isn’t everybody?).  Next up to try is Honeybee Gardens since I like their lipliner.

On my lips, I love Honeybee Gardens lipliner in Zen and RMS Lipshine in Bloom.  Also in rotation are Hurraw’s Coconut lip balm, Hurraw’s Black Cherry Tinted Lip Balm, Lily Lolo lipstick in Love Affair, Suvana Paw Paw and Honey Balm, and Great Barrier Island Bee Co. Manuka Honey Lip Balm.

Luckily, most natural makeup has worked well for me because I am an avid reader of ingredient lists.  I also try to sample everything before I buy it.

Thanks for reading!!

Meet Jamie! She’s a vegetarian of 20 years who loves hot yoga, hot showers, and hot tea. We’re feeling it, especially with the chilly mornings afoot. And hey, you’ve gotta love her icon of choice. After all, we are the dreamers of dreams.

Name: Jamie

Age: 34

City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Current weather: Cool morning, mostly cloudy as is mostly the case in Pittsburgh…there’s a hint of Fall in the air.

Hair: Fine, wavy, long…dirty blonde w/ lighter ends.

Skin: Medium w/ olive undertones and normal to dry type…sprinkle of freckles across the nose.

Favorite star from the past: Mia Farrow circa Rosemary’s Baby OR Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka  – is that allowed!?

I wake up at 7 AM, and it’s never easy for me to get up.  I’m a night owl through and through.  I roll out of bed and turn my phone off.  It’s strategically placed where I have to get out of bed to turn it off or else I’ll snooze forever.  I head downstairs to take a TBSP of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar mixed with aloe vera juice and a bit of water.  The ACV helps to restore the PH in your body, aids in digestion, can clear your skin, and does so much more.  I’m a real fan of Bragg’s, and my husband has gone off of heartburn medication by drinking the vinegar when he has symptoms.  I fill a liter sized water bottle with filtered water that I finish before I leave for work, then I head to the shower and turn the water on.  While I wait for the shower to heat up, I take some time to do a few forward folds and body stretches.  I apply some Jason’s Peppermint No Fluoride Whitening toothpaste on my toothbrush and jump into the overly warm shower.  I know luke water is best, but I like a hot shower even in the summer.

After brushing my teeth, I suds my hair with Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Shampoo.  I’ve tried many natural shampoos, but I like this one best so far, and the lovely scent lingers.  Plus I think that my hair has gotten shinier from it. Next, I lather with Dr. Bronner’s, my absolute favorite and only choice of soap for years, and right now I’m using the lavender.  I also use Sal Suds to clean my house and do laundry, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!  I vary my Bronner’s scents occasionally, but my tried and true favorite is Eucalyptus.  I rinse the shampoo out of my hair and apply the Nubian Heritage EVOO Conditioner on the ends, then clip my hair into a knot to let it soak in.  I quickly shave, and I also run the Clarisonic over my face to get the blood flowing – no soap in the morning unless I feel that I really need it.  At nighttime, I use a bar of African Black Soap, also Nubian Heritage, on my face with the Clarisonic.  I may or may not use a Neti Pot in the shower with Himalayan Institute salt and distilled water – depends on how my sinuses feel on a particular day.  I put a bit of Aura Cacia organic jojoba on my hands and rub it lightly all over my face, neck, chest, hands, and ends of my hair as I rinse the conditioner out for a bit more moisture.

I jump out the shower and towel dry my hair.  Still wet, I apply Shea Moisture Frankincense & Myrrh body lotion or my new favorite moisturizer – straight up coconut oil all over then throw on my robe.  The coconut oil makes my skin super soft, but sometimes I need to get dressed in a hurry, and the lotion will absorb more quickly.  I apply Eminence Bright Skin SPF 30 on my face with a bit of Badger Beauty Balm under my eyes. I spray my arm pits with an alcohol and water solution. This kills any bacteria and really helps with under arm odor during the heat.  I apply Tea Tree & Spearmint Pit Putty under my arms and give credit to Stephanie at Pit Putty for finally showing me a natural deodorant routine that really works.  It even combats odor through my evening hot yoga classes.

My hair is wavy and fine, and I usually just let it air dry year round, and the jojoba from the shower helps to tame the ends.  My make-up routine is not as clean as I want it to be, and it includes too much Bare Minerals product (I’m a sucker for a kit with a full mascara).  I also like to be able to sample product in person. Anyway, I start with Juice SPF 30 tinted moisturizer to my fingertips with a spray of Rose Water to dilute it.  I rub both together in my hands then apply to my face and neck.  The Juice tinted moisturizer gives a dewy glow and very light coverage.  I may be looking for more coverage for fall and welcome suggestions.  Next, I’ll apply the tiniest bit of Amazing Concealer under my eyes – it’s one of my dirty products, but I’ve had the tube forever, and it works wonders on my visible capillaries.  I darken my brows with an Anastasia brow pencil – again, not the cleanest, and I’ll clean that up once it’s gone. I apply a Bare Minerals eyeshadow in Cocoa or Flaunt either to my whole lid or crease in my lid with a touch of Zuzu tobacco eyeliner or the eyeshadow smudged around my eyes.  I throw on a few swipes of Bare Minerals blush to the apples of my cheeks – peek-a-boo is a nice pinky peach pre-fall color.  Occasionally, I’ll use a bit of Wicked bronzer from Sumbody, but I mostly use this for going out in the hollows of my cheeks.  I use Bare Minerals Volumizing mascara (it’s a 2 on EWG)  to my lashes then go get dressed and take my hair out of the towel and finger style it.  Like many of you, I’ve tried organic and more natural mascaras but nothing has stuck.

I head back to my bathroom to curl my lashes, add at dot of RMS uncover under my brows or in the corners of my eyes if I still look tired,  and have a final spritz of Rose Water on my face to set my make-up.  I take the RMS with me, and I throw on Burt’s Bees cherry lip shimmer.  I like the fact that this lip shimmer it makes me look like I just had a popsicle.  I am constantly on the search for a lip product that produces the same color without the carmine.  I keep Badger Sunscreen SPF 30 in my kitchen and apply that to my hands before I head out the door when I think of it.  Oh, I also keep Rose Water w/ a few drops of peppermint essential oil in my desk drawer and use this spray several times daily at the office.  It’s hydrating & super refreshing.  Once I get to work, I can’t live without my cup of Mayan Cocoa Spice Yogi tea, and I heat the water in an electric kettle to avoid the microwave.  Cheers!

Thanks for sharing a lovely fall routine with us, Jamie!

Meet Caitie, a natural beauty blogger who shares our passion for great clean products!

Name: Caitie

Age: 25

Hometown: Toronto, ON, Canada

Current Weather: Moody—hot and humid one day, cool the next.

Hair: Curly and very prone to frizz.  I’ve happily found products that keep it under control, but when I deviate, bad, pouffy things happen!

Skin: Pretty normal.  I struggled with acne until about 21, but since then, my skin has been fairly easygoing.  It can be a little sensitive at times, but generally my biggest skin concerns are pores that I wish were less visible, and a couple fine lines on my forehead.

Icon: I’m not sure I have one!  But, let’s go with Amanda Seyfried.  I don’t see it, but ever since Mamma Mia came out, I regularly have strangers come up to me and tell me how much I look like her.  It’s very strange…

The night before…

I take my makeup off with jojoba oil and then double cleanse with some kind of cleanser.  I’ve been looking for a new one and trying out a few different ones in the meantime, but none seem quite right.  I like Pretty’s Black Tea and Raw Cocoa Cleansing Grains and Weleda’s Soothing Almond Cleansing Lotion, but I’m not convinced either of them gets my skin clean enough to use just it, all the time.  After cleansing, I use a homemade witch hazel toner, and follow with KYI’s Argan + Vitamin C Serum, which is a light oil, but still very hydrating.  I’ve actually noticed an improvement in the lines on my forehead in the two months or so I’ve been using it.  I also use Pure + Simple’s Eye Brightening Cream, which is great for dark circles, but not quite as effective for puffiness.

In the morning…

About once a week, I mix up a homemade clay mask and apply that about 10 minutes before jumping in the shower.  When I remember, I’ll also do a quick dry brush.  On days when I don’t do a mask, I like to use a face scrub in the shower – either Devita’s Gentle Aloe Scrub or Sukin’s Revitalizing Facial Scrub (which contains phenoxyethanol but is otherwise very clean).  Next, I wash my hair with Acure’s Moroccan Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo and leave the matching conditioner on until the very end of my shower.  I change body washes all the time, but right now I’m using Nourish’s Almond Vanilla, which is lovely and creamy, and smells like decadent cake batter.  On shaving days, I use Desert Essence’s Fragrance Free Conditioner, which I hated on my hair, but which works surprisingly well as a shaving cream.

Outside of the shower…

If I don’t deal with my hair while it’s very wet, it frizzes up, so after quickly toweling off, the first thing I do is apply Aura Cacia’s Organic Argan Oil, focusing it mainly on my ends.  Then, I scrunch with either Yarok’s Feed Your Roots Mousse or Intelligent Nutrients’ Styling Gel.  Both control frizz and define my curls, without leaving my hair sticky or crunchy.  Both also have mild scents, which I love since scented hair products usually start to drive me crazy midway through the day.  The Intelligent Nutrients gives a little more hold and makes for better second day hair, but either one is fine day to day.

On my face, I use my homemade witch hazel toner again, followed by Skin Essence’s Nourish Serum/Moisturizer and Pure + Simple’s Eye Brightening Cream.  I also moisturize my body with an unscented lotion.  Right now I’m using Seed’s Nourishing Body Lotion, but my favorite is Acure’s Cocoa Butter + CoQ10.

Finishing Touches…

I enjoy playing around with makeup, but my everyday look is pretty neutral.  Eye shadow varies day to day, but it’s usually a light, shimmery beige or gold on the lid and a medium brown or plum in the crease.  My favorite mascara is Zuzu Luxe’s Onyx, and while I don’t wear liner every day, when I do, it’s a pencil from either Honeybee Gardens or Benecos.  Lips are usually pretty subtle.  I like Badger’s lip balms (particularly the cocoa butter ones), Yes to Carrot’s Tinted Colorbalms, Vapour’s lip glosses, and a recent discovery, Ecco Bella’s FlowerColor lipsticks (Tuscany Rose is my favorite).  Most days I wear a powder foundation, either Honeybee Gardens’ Pressed Mineral Foundation or Lucy Minerals’ Lucy Light Foundation.  For a cream/liquid product, I’m a big fan of The All Natural Face’s Cream Foundation.  I also use Une’s Skin Glow Pencil and Silk Naturals’ Sleep in a Jar Concealer under my eyes.  My blush is usually from one of my homemade pressed palettes, which I made a couple months ago when I was feeling especially adventurous.  I top everything off with Lucy Minerals’ Light Finishing Powder, which blurs fine lines and imperfections and helps my makeup last longer.

Whew, sounds like a lot when you write it all out!  Overall, I’m pretty happy with my routine, but I’m still searching for a perfect cleanser and eye cream.  Any suggestions are very welcome!