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 Jessica! Her mention of the Konjac Sponge is kismet. (See yesterday’s post.) Plus, fall is around the corner and we feel like talking about makeup. This routine has it all.

Name: Jessica

Age: 27

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada but on vacation in PEI

Current weather: sunny but cool… perfect summer weather

Hair: slightly wavy, fine and super thick

Skin: very pale, oily skin with some blemishes but mostly clear

Favourite star or icon from the past: Elizabeth Taylor

In the shower…

I’ve been slowly cleaning up my beauty regimen for the past 2 years and have only started using organic hair products for about 9 months. I have only used Dr. Jones organic shampoo and conditioner and am quite satisfied (I try not to wash my hair more than twice a week). I use an epilator instead of shaving, for water conservation, and regularly get my eyebrows threaded. I just finished a less than entirely clean body wash that I could not resist, as I picked it up at Kualoa Ranch on my travels to Oahu in May. I am only now looking into some really clean but delicious smelling body washes that won’t break the bank. Any suggestions?

Outside the shower…

I cleanse my face every morning with my awesome Konjac charcoal bamboo sponge and with Graydon The Cleanser at night; using May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt every other day before my shower.

I really hate tying up my hair since it gives me severe headaches (curse of super thick hair), but I also hate drying my hair with a blow drier since it damages it. I have started using John Masters citrus detangler to protect my hair from heat damage and when air drying, I love to add some argan oil to my ends. I do not use any other hair product since I really like keeping things simple and minimal. As for my face routine, all I can say is that my Konjac Sponge is the best thing in the world. I have managed to balance my oily skin by cleansing with my Konjac, along with using orange blossom hydrosol as a toner (wanting to now try Stark’s White Willow toner). After toning in the morning, I use Graydon’s The Serum after applying Nurish Organics’ See Spot Run, but if I feel that I need more moisture I use Nurish Organics’ Rejuven-eight Day Cream.

At night, I opt to use argan oil over See Spot Run and One Love Organics’ Skin Savior waterless beauty balm around my eyes for extra moisturization. To cap off my night routine, as lip protection I use Dr. Bronner’s naked lip balm as it stays on all night. Sometimes I also like to treat myself
with manuka honey masks when I feel my skin needs a little change in the routine.

Finishing touches…

I LOVE makeup and adore trying different things. However, I am very picky about the ingredients I use on my skin as I am allergic to peppermint oil. I normally do not wear much makeup (lip balm and concealer), except for when I go out for something significant or special. When I do doll up,   I use Gabriel’s black mascara, Lilly Lolo’s brown eye pencil, Vapour Organics illuminist concealer, Vapour Organics Mesmerize eye colours, Ferro cosmetics mineral foundation and 3X blush (which can be also used to give color to lips) and Dr. Bronner’s naked lip balm. For a dramatic color on my lips I have Korres’ lip butter in a reddish pink, but am looking to finish it up as quickly as possible since I do not find it to be as clean as I would like it to be. I also have Inica’s lip crayon in Blossom, but I do not like the texture on my lips. I would love to get my hands on some Kjaer Weis products, especially the lip tints as I’ve heard really great reviews. I also highlight some key areas of my face with Vapour Organics Halo in Brilliance. I top everything off with Erbaviva’s Jasmine grapefruit deodorant and Tallulah Jane’s Helona mist. I am still looking for the perfect deodorant, but am having some difficulty as I cannot use baking soda and as for perfume, I would love to find something that is more tropical for the summer, yet still affordable!

I am a huge skin care and makeup junky; loving trying out all the new products I can! Living in Canada, however, limits the brands I get to try as I refuse to pay over-the-top prices for shipping for any products. I really really want to try some stuff by Savvy Boheme, Jiva Apoha, La Bella Figura, and Kjaer Weis… I believe that changing up your beauty routine is always a good thing as skin becomes immune to products and stops being so effective over time. I hope you’ve enjoyed my morning/beauty routine!

From Siobhan and Alexandra: Guys, get excited: No More Dirty Looks has its first permanent outside contributor!

You all know her already. Her name is Rebecca Bailey and she’s been beasting in the comments section for ages. As such, she’s become a super important part of this community. We have a hard time imagining the site without her and we (like you) always want more, more, more. So we asked her to start a column.

Here’s why: She’s incredibly knowledgeable and is always quick to help out readers with their conundrums. She’s smart about beauty, and thoughtful about lifestyle, and her candor and insight sort of…keeps us going! When we aren’t sure if a post was too off-topic or weird, there’s Rebecca weighing in thoughtfully. Plus, she’s a product whiz and a DIY woman with so much to share. So please join us in welcoming her.

Here’s her first amazing post, featuring 5 products we have not yet tried—but now want to. She’ll be here every two weeks.

Since childhood, I’ve had sensitive skin. My lips in particular are a mess if I try to use conventional products. Do you want to hear about the pain and the oozing?  No, you don’t. I spent decades thinking I simply could not wear lip color. Enter the NMDL girls and my introduction to truly clean cosmetics. Now, anyone can be sensitive to any ingredient, even clean stuff.

But if the brands I’m about to review are OK for me they will probably be OK for 99% of people.

In addition to being sensitive, I’m super picky about smell/taste/texture, and I like my products to add something nourishing to my skin.  These don’t taste all “lipsticky,” they feel nice on, wear well, and have healthy plant oils, antioxidants and many organic ingredients.  I also like packaging to be both pretty and functional.  Check.

I love my RMS, and I own just about every lip product they make. But the brand has been discussed often here so I wanted to review a few brands that I don’t see much about. Everything I’m covering is super clean, gluten free, and mostly vegan (a couple products have beeswax).  For reference, I have a very pale olive complexion, but I think most of these colors would work for many skin tones.

  1. Real Purity Lipstick Great price ($13), gorgeous and functional packaging, and the color selection is spectacular.  My favorites this time of year are Dusty Mauve and Tangerine. Dusty Mauve is a really unique color with a bit of purple and some luminosity, and it wears longer than any lip color I’ve ever tried.  The shimmer makes it look fairly pale in bright light, but in dim light it looks darker. If, like me, you are both intrigued by and fear orange, then try Tangerine. It is shimmery sheer, subtle and lovely. Into reds? Try Regal Red (looks bright pink on me) and Clover Red (bam! red with a touch of orange). The sample program makes it fun and easy to try them out.
  2. 100% Pure Lip Glaze These are something between a gloss and a lipstick, somewhat shiny but not too much, enough color but not super saturated. Only $15 and adorably packaged, silver-bullet style. This company uses fruit pigments, so their stuff tastes and smells fruity at first, but it wears off to neutral pretty fast. They are local for me so I tried almost everything in their Oakland boutique, and bought Fig. Nice and creamy, kind of gives a little something extra to my natural lip color, with a bit of shine.
  3. 100% Pure Lip Creamsticks These are big, fat pencils with creamy color ($15).  They are dual function, liners or all-over color. I like that you can be precise in application if you keep it sharp. I have Perfect Naked Berry. It’s so pretty.
  4. INIKA Mineral Lipstick This one is more expensive ($27), but I could not resist. I have Tuscan Tales, which is a terra cotta shade I’ve not seen elsewhere.  It’s in a simple, elegant tube, and feels moisturizing even though it has a more matte finish than most lipsticks.  I sense something special here, I think it’s made by fairies.*  I’d love to try more from this brand but I haven’t found a way to do samples yet.
  5. Afterglow Lip Love Lipstick This is another brand that I wish had a good sample program so I could try more colors ($24 for a tube). I bought Autumn, a very pretty auburn red, which I love. I also have Merlot, which is an altogether different thing from the rest on this list. It looks crazy dark in the tube. I find I really must blot with a tissue and then it turns out much like a beet stain, but with more staying power.

Have you tried any lesser known brands that are fabulous?

*I have no actual evidence that it is made by fairies.