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!
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.
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!!
I’m not one of those girls who’s dreamed of getting married since she was old enough to understand the words “bride” and “groom.” I never fantasized wedding dresses or centerpieces. I didn’t wish for a Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet (sorry, fiancé, if you’re reading this).
But what I did dream about was a legit excuse to buy as many beauty products as I wanted. A reason to try 13 different eye shadows. An excuse to spend three hours searching the Internet for the perfect shade of lip gloss. A reason to splurge a little.
My pending nuptials seem like the perfect excuse. I gave myself a little longer of a leash than usual, and went all out. Here’s a few tips that I learned along the way, plus the products that I think will give me the natural-me-but-better look for my big day.
One thing I don’t want to have to worry about on my wedding day is my makeup melting. In order to stay off the sweaty train, two things are key: a good primer and a layering of different types of makeup.
I start with ARCONA’s Desert Mist, a daily primer and skin protectant. It seals in moisture and helps create a smooth base for all your subsequent blending. I’ve also heard Amala’s Purifying Mattifier is a good one.
- Liquid foundation: I already gave this puppy its due on the blog last week, but I can’t say enough how excited I am to have found 100% Pure Healthy Skin Foundation. It has silky coverage without making me look like I’m in a theatre production of “Cats,” it doesn’t melt off and it doesn’t give me too much of a “glow” (I’m not really a dewy-skin lover). I stipple it on with a Beauty Blender because it’s awesome and works better than a sponge or a brush or my fingers (I’ve tried them all, people) to get even, not-cakey coverage.
- Sticky-ish liquid concealer: I do this concealer from Mineral Fusion* (which comes with two colors so you can mix a custom for your skintone) OVER my foundation. Otherwise the stippling takes it all off.
- Mineral foundation: Something to remember, which will come up later when we talk about eyeshadow—you want to avoid shimmer and glitter and sparkly-ness on your wedding day. They create bounce-back when your photog snaps glamour shots of you and your S.O., which can wreck the images and make you look older than you actually are. And NO ONE wants that. So, the mineral foundation I use is a totally matte one that we’ve recommended on the blog before: Alima Pure. So many colors. So much lovely, soft coverage. It’s the bomb.com. The only thing I’ve ever loved as much as it was Jane Iredale’s PurePressed Foundation, which is a bit pricier.
- Blush: I am NOT a rosy girl. I much prefer a little color in the form of a bronzer (no shimmer) but for the wedding-day, I want to look more polished than usual. So, I went back a tried-and-true matte blush (remember how I said to avoid shimmer? Blush is included here.): Alima Pure Satin Matte Blush in Pink, a literally universally flattering shade.
- Luminizer: Now, I said before shimmer is baaaad. And I stand by that statement… until photos are through. Then I’m going to dab a little of (the best beauty product in the world) RMS’ Living Luminizer in the inner corners of my eyes, down the bridge of my nose and on my cupid’s bow. Glow-ing.
This was where most of my searching, researching and testing happened. I just had a tricky time finding a matte (are you sick of that word yet?) eyeshadow palette that was flattering and contouring enough. So, I mixed my own.
- Eyeshadow: I bought a load of samples from W3LL PEOPLE (thank you to any and all clean lines that offer this service—it is the best thing ever) and ended up finding my perfect shade in a slightly unlikely place—the mineral brow pigment. I use a medium shade on my lid (Matte Taupe) and a darker shade in my crease (Matte Espresso).
- Eyeliner: For all-day wear, liquid liner is your best bet. I haven’t found a clean one that I lurve, so I improvise by creating my own. I do a thin line on my top lid only (don’t want any bleeding under my eyes on my big day) of Jane Iredale’s Eye Pencil in Black Brown. Then, I dip a stiff eyeliner brush in water before dabbing it in Modern Minerals’ loose mineral eyeliner in Cocoa. I gently enhance the Jane Iredale line with this deep chocolate shade, thickening the line a bit.
- Mascara: I looove me some mascara. I already have long, curled lashes (my hair stylist asked me last week if I’d gotten eyelash extensions after I swiped on one coat of black-brown mascara) but I need some additional thickening. To get the look I want, I use two mascaras in sequence: a) 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Dark Chocolate (it actually smells like I’m swiping melted dark chocolate on my lashes, which is just an added bonus to its lengthening power). b) Josie Maran GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara in Pitch Black. This baby thickens and darkens, giving me almost-falsies.
My lips are SENSITIVE, so I’ve tried many a balm, stick, gloss and stain in order to find the perfect one that doesn’t make my lips swell and flake. I also didn’t want one with too much color, as I’m doing a heavier eye than I normally would. In order to get that my-lips-but-better look, I’m using two products:
- Dr. Hauschka’s Lip Liner in Soft, Muted Rose. It’s almost exactly the shade of my natural lips, so I’m only using it to help my real color stay on longer. Creating a base of a stickier substance, like the liner, helps hold color in place (since I’m not jumping on the 14-hour dirty lip color train).
- My holy grail of lip color and gloss: RMS Beauty’s Lip Shine in Bloom. Confession: I own ALL the colors of the Lip Shine. I love them so much – they go on sheer but can be layered for more color. They leave a light stain so even once the gloss wears off, I still have a little color. And Bloom is the perfect shade to make me look super put together on a no-makeup day or enhance my lips for a special occasion (aka, my wedding).
That’s it peeps. Seems like a lot, but I think it’ll all help me feel confident about looking my best on wedding day (t minus three days…). What products did you use for your wedding? What did I miss?
Meet Greta. She has a great 99% clean routine, and a holy-grail cleanser we have yet to try! (Suti, anyone?) But getting rid of dandruff is tricky without Head&Shoulders—any clean alternatives?
Hometown: mid-state, Michigan
Current Weather: It’s summatime weather, which means humidity and chances of both sun and rain.
Hair: Shoulder length and light brown with natural red highlights. It’s fine but thick, naturally straight, and dandruff-y.
Skin: Fair, freckled, and oily in my t-zone. Breakouts are rare – only when I’m hormonal. That wasn’t always the case. I used to have major skin problems and went through years of trial and error with products. The oil cleansing method truly saved my skin.
Starlet: Greta Garbo (okay maybe I’m biased, but she was stunning!)
Before the Shower…
Since the weather has warmed up, I’ve taken to showering at night before bed. I’ve fallen out of my dry brushing habit, so that usually happens once a week. Otherwise, I start by applying a dab of Suti’s Organic Facial Cleanser, and massaging it into my face. I went through Pai Organics’s and Stark Skincare’s cleansers (both made me break out) before I found Suti, and I think this is my holy grail.
In the Shower…
With my face still moist from the cleanser, I step into the shower and let the steam get into my pores while I wash up. I have dandruff, and it’s been very hard for me to transition out of dirty hair products and still be flake-free. I can’t stand the smell of apple cider vinegar, so I only do a rinse but once per week. Right now I’m using Desert Essence Fragrance Free shampoo/conditioner, but it’s heavy on my hair. I’d love to find something else that might work!
After I rinse my hair out, I gently scrub my face with a muslin cloth to remove the cleanser, and then finish by washing my pits, lady bits, and feet with a goat’s milk soap I purchased at our local farmer’s market.
Out of the Shower…
Although Stark’s cleanser didn’t work for me, I’m in love with their White Willow Bark toner and Cypress Oil moisturizer. They smell earthy and calming, and I never feel greasy. If I do have a pimple, I usually put a dab of raw honey on it overnight. I’m also experimenting with homemade creams for the bod, and my favorite is a mix of coconut oil, Shea butter, and olive oil. I don’t think I’ll ever buy body butter from a store again, to be honest.
If I’m showering at night, that’s it! Wait for my hair to air-dry, and then I’m off to bed. My morning routine doesn’t vary much, except I skip the Suti cleanser (assuming I did the night prior), and just splash my face with water . I like a little Simply Divine Botanicals Pack Your Bags They’re Leaving! if my eyes are particularly puffy, and if I’ll be outside, I skip the Cypress Oil and use Josie Maran’s SPF40. My makeup routine is easy for day, usually a swipe of RMS Lip 2 Cheek in Promise, Living Nature Eye Pencil, Josie Maran mascara, and SW Basics’ Cocoa Lip Balm. I’m unhappy with the clean eye shadows I’ve tried (Alima, Vapour, and RMS), so my night look is pretty minimal as well!
I am in love with Tsi-la Organics Fiori D’arancio perfume, so that has been my go-to for scents. Lastly, I am also guilty of using dirty deodorant— Pristine Beauty and Soapwalla irritated my pits, so I am staying away from experimenting with deodorant for now. Looking forward to playing with more clean brands in the future though!
Meet Heather, a working mom with two daughters (and sensitive skin), she still manages to make some DIY products. We love it! We’ve included her inception story below—thanks for sharing it, Heather!
As a working mother with daughters aged 6 and 9, my morning routine is not very relaxing and is usually punctuated by packing lunches and trying to get them out the door to school. On the weekends, I try to take a little more time and like to mix up face and hair treatments in the kitchen. Sometimes my kids get into the act, too, but mostly they just think I’m weird for “putting all that gunk on my face!”
Hometown: New York City
Profession: Art Librarian and blogger at Domaphile.com
Skin: Fair and Sensitive. I have a bit of rosacea, which I control with diet and by using really mild products on my skin. Now that I am in my 40s, I am noticing some changes in my skin and am really glad I have discovered non-chemical ways to deal with them. I also think my daily smoothie habit has done wonders for my skin – you are what you eat, after all!
Hair: Dark, medium length. Straight and fine with very little body (sigh).
Star: Audrey Hepburn
In the shower…
Weekday mornings are a little crazy around here, trying to get everyone out the door, so I often do everything in a rush. I only wash and dry my hair every three days or so and it totally throws a wrench into my morning, so I have to make sure the hair washing falls on a day when I don’t have to take my kids to school. I’ve been experimenting with homemade shampoos, but I haven’t made anything I like as much as the John Master’s Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner, and I usually follow it up with the Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler, also by John Masters. For the body, I use the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap – usually Baby Mild or Peppermint – for both washing and shaving.
Outside the shower…
Once out of the shower, I wash my face. When I am out of Sow Your Wild Oats, I make my own basic face cleanser out of oat flour, almond meal and milk powder. During the week, I mix it into a paste with a little water (or rosewater) and on the weekends, I make a simple mask with raw honey and plain yogurt. I moisturize with a few drops of Nourish & Replenish oil mixed with a bit of water and I try to take a few extra moments to really massage the oil into my face. I then move on to the deodorant and body lotion which I make myself. Right now I am using a winter body cream that is a combination of coconut oil, almond oil and shea butter. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and recipes from Crunchy Betty – she has a great e-book for making products for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
On the days I wash my hair, I towel dry it as much as possible and add a few drops of argan oil. The thing I hate most is drying and styling my hair, but if I don’t I end up looking like Janice from the Electric Mayhem, which motivates me to pick up the hair dryer. My tresses are straight and fine, so I need to use some kind of product to give it a bit of extra body. I have experimented with making my own hair gel using flax seeds, but it is a messy business that involves straining them through a nylon sock, so I have given up on that and use the Giovanni Volumizing Styling Gel instead. I generally use Tom’s to brush my teeth, but have lately been experimenting with making my own toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint stevia. Still working on that one.
I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I love RMS “un-cover up” (thanks to your book), and I like Annette’s practice of mixing her tinted cover-up with John Master’s SPF 30, so I’m going to try that. For my eyes, I use a tiny bit Josie Maran’s liquid liner and Dr. Hauschka’s mascara. I don’t wear shadow unless I am going out at night, and then use a basic palate from Josie Maran. For lips, I just use the Burt’s Bees tinted gloss – my favorite color right now is Fig. My entire makeup application routine takes less than five minutes.
I try to take off my makeup as soon as I get home from work in the evening. I use olive oil or almond oil to remove my eye make up, wash my face with the oat powder or just some plain, raw honey. To moisturize, I use about 6 drops of BYATM oil mixed with a little water. If I have the time, I will try to wash and dry my hair at night so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning.
Good morning everyone! Meet Andreína and her Alaffia…she is a huge fan of this brand! She also has some great tips–check out her DIY mask recipe. She’s a recent transplant to California, and is certainly making the coast even more lovely with her presence. Read on!
In the shower…
Outside the shower…
Thanks, Andre! Happy to hear you are happy :) Anyone else using Alaffia for the hair? Siobhan reviewed one of their conditioners awhile back here.