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 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!

I’m about to write a pretty girly how-to makeup post. It would almost warrant a YouTube video—if it weren’t simple enough for a monkey!

Two completely random events conspired last week for me to come up with a whole new makeup look (just when I thought I’d tried it all). 1) A 100-degree heat wave hit Los Angeles for two days putting the entire city in a sweat. And 2) I ran out of my favorite dirty mascara.

And so, the look that I’m calling “night-for-day face” was born. All you need are two products that you likely already have: bronzer (or blush if you don’t do bronzer) and a pencil eyeliner. It’s night-for-day because I like to wear eyeliner (with mascara) and bronzer for evenings out in the summer. But, while the eyeliner gives this look a touch of evening edge, it’s so light that it passes as polished without being too much for daytime wear.

The absolute best part about this face though? It’s 100% weather-and-activity-proof. There’s no leaks or smudges or runs. And it’s really really easy to reapply during the day. Also, it’s super liberating to not wear mascara but still have a little eye happening! Here’s what I do.

Prep: I’ve been using the Marie Veronique face oil, which smells and feels amazing. (Would I pay the $110 for it? Nope, probably not, but I got this bottle gifted.) The oil really helps the bronzer apply nicely though your usual moisturizer will likely do the trick. My skin has been pretty clear lately so (knock on wood), I’ve been using minimal concealer.

Apply: Bronzer with my finger (love the studio 78 one) under my cheekbones and slightly up around the contour of the bone. A tiny bit along the bridge of my nose as well as my eyebrow bone. Then I very lightly line the inside of my eye with a black pencil (Jane Iredale or HoneyBee Gardens). Very very lightly though, so that it’s more of a translucent gray than black if that makes sense. If you go too dark without mascara your eye will look small, but somehow that doesn’t happen if you do the line barely there.

That’s it! You can add some lip gloss or a touch of color on the lip, but the trick is light touch with everything or else you just look made up.

What have you been doing with your makeup these days??

A good mascara is hard to find, as everyone who’s dabbled in clean cosmetics can tell you. It’s difficult enough to find a good dirty one, which is why when you do, you get all “you can pry it from my cold dead hands” about it.

It’s without question the one thing clean girls admit to “cheating” with—and I did too, for the longest. Until I found these two.

Last week, we started the conversation and I was reminded that I’ve been completely holding out on you! I’ve been using—and loving—two mascaras for months now without writing a proper review of either.  We also want to mention—though we can’t name names—that some of our favorite brands are also working on their own mascaras, so stay tuned for that.

For now, here’s the criteria a mascara must meet for me to love it and use it daily—instead of the Dior Show I still have lying around:

• It can’t run down my face when I cry or walk on windy streets

• It can’t run down my face when I don’t cry (which, yes, obvious, but anyone who’s tried lots of natural mascara knows this is not something you can take for granted)

• It can’t be too clumpy

• But it has to be thick enough

• The wand has to be awesome

• It has to last at least from morning till I get off work (I am of the opinion that reapplying for night is perfectly reasonable)

I’m happy to say that two—TWO!—mascaras make the cut.

The first, which I’ve mentioned before, is from 100% Pure. I have the navy and the black, and I use whichever is closest to the top of my makeup bag. I find it looks best if I apply Jane Iredale’s lash extender first, because the mascara itself is on the thinner side. The Jane bulks it up, which is a look I like, especially since my lashes are so pale, and so are my eyebrows. The wand is rigid, and goes on easily, without clumps. It doesn’t flake or melt, it doesn’t wear off or sting if it gets in my eyes, and the only times I’ve had any raccoon issues are when I wear it to yoga. I think it’s absurd to expect makeup to last through a workout, so in those instances it’s more of a “Why didn’t you wash your face before class, dummy?” as opposed to an “I can’t believe my mascara ran when I was dripping with sweat!”

The other one, from Honeybee Gardens, was brand new to me, and was introduced to me by our friend Shirley at W3LL People. She gave me one as a gift when I was in Austin, and I was blown away! The wand is more like the Dior ones I love: Thick and bristly, giving a nice heavy coat. It separates my lashes and lasts as long on me as 100% Pure does. I also just love the packaging: I find it attractive and look forward to putting it on. For night time, I like two coats of this, without the primer. It’s thick enough that I don’t need the Jane underneath. One coat is pretty for day, too. (It  contains phenoxyethanol, and I can live with that, for the simple reason that it’s otherwise clean and a great mascara is very, very hard to find.)

Have you tried either?

Here are the complete ingredient lists for both:

100% Pure ingredients: Organic Green Tea, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Honey Beeswax, Contains All or some of the following Pigments: Blackberry, Blueberry, Black Tea, Grape Skin, Pomegranate, Acai Berry, Boysenberry, Blackcurrant and Raspberry, Oat Protein, Wheat Protein, Provitamin B5, Seaweed Powder, Coconut Stearic acid, Mica (for shimmer in the Blackberry and Blueberry), Cocoa Butter, Pearl Powder, Rice Powder, Cacao Powder and Powdered Coffee Beans, Lavender Honey, Extracts of Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender and Golden Seal

Honeybee Gardens ingredients: purified water, vegetable glycerin, beeswax, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, vegetable glyceryl stearate, lecithin, vegetable stearic acid, safflower oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil (and) aloe barbadensis leaf extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, silica, cellulose gum, tocopherol, xanthan gum, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, phenoxyethanol. May contain: mica, iron oxide (CI 77499, 77491, 77492), titanium dioxide (CI 77891).

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