Not too long ago my skin was feeling pretty down in the dumps.
I told you guys all about it and the comments poured in with recommendations and kind words. (You’re the best, did you know?)
The problem: A combination of deep exhaustion, season change, and some serious laziness around self care in the skincare department. As I write this on the eve of a monthlong yoga retreat, I can almost taste all the fresh air and deep breathing that lay ahead. And I know my skin is going to thank me.
But I’m happy to report that even with stress working against me this past month, I was able to get some glow going again. You guys had great advice. Here’s what worked for me!
1. May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt (+ Honey Mud): We’re obviously a little obsessed with Miss May lately. But I swear, on the same day that I told you guys about my skin woes I went straight to her site and reupped on Clean Dirt. Rotating between that and the new honey mud this past month has completely brought back some life to my skin.
2. Juice Beauty CC Cream: I’m gonna be honest, I was pretty skeptical about this CC stuff. But this product is completely off the hook. I had used it a few times and liked it. But Nicolle inspired me with her comments to really do it every day. The results are unbelievable. Not only does it instantly help fake a great glow, it nourishes the skin (really, I can feel it) and seems to be improving it with time. The major added bonus: I’m finally wearing sunscreen on my face every day. Something I should have been doing for years but could never get into. Now I look forward to it!
3. Cosmedix Rescue Balm: I told you about this balm a little while back, and some of you (ok, and me) were a little wary of the brand’s whole vibe. Others among you swore by it. Alas, I still love the stuff. It’s intensely moisturizing and it makes my skin instantly look dewy. I even use it like a more mellow daytime highlighter sometimes on my cheekbones and lips. It also smells like fresh-picked cherries, so there’s that.
4. Vitaforce Green Smoothies: Many of you guys told me to get my green on, and did I ever. I got back on the smoothies pretty hard after that post and I spiked them with Vitaforce for serious added punch. Here’s the fave smoothie recipe at my house: Lots of spinach, almond milk, 1/4 frozen banana, some peanut or almond butter, chocolate protein powder (the really pure stuff, with like three ingredients—chocolate, wei, and stevia—the others sketch me out). Tastes better than a milk shake and within a few days these helped put some health back in my cheeks.
Because this topic never really gets old, share: What are you doing to glow these days?
I have a problem.
My skin’s in a funk. It doesn’t look exactly bad. I’m not broken out, and there’s no one problem area that I can point to. It just doesn’t have a glow going. It looks like tired skin, not happy skin.
Unfortunately, I think this is a tired-on-the-inside kind of problem, because for the most part I follow my own advice: I get plenty of sleep, and I eat well and I’ve been really regular about exercise and back on the yoga train for real. I work like a dog, of course, but on the weekend I always try to take one day where I completely chill and often get a massage.
But what I’m realizing is that when you’re tired on the inside—in that way where you just need a real vacation and to forget about work and Syria for a while—one weekend of pampering isn’t gonna cut it on its own. At least not for me. So, either I need a way to fake it, or a recommendation so awesome and effective that it knocks my skin out of its funk.
So, let’s hear it. What works for you? Do you drink green juice all day? Do you meditate on joy? Is it luminizer, or is it lasers? What’s your secret weapon when you want to get your glow on?
I will say that May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt was doing it for me. So I’m going to re-up on that stat. The great news for this girl is that I only need to solve this problem for a month because…
Come mid-October, my retreat from the world is coming in a big way! I am off to do a yoga teacher training, a longtime dream that I’m finally realizing. Now, I’m kind of banking on that giving me my natural glow back. But a girl has to live in the now, right? Help!
Is there anything more exciting than discovering a new product you love?
The other day Siobhan, Susannah and I were talking about this electrifying process and we came to the conclusion that NMDL basically lives and breathes on discovering new brands and products. Even if we also like to write about random stuff like why meditation is going to make you a better person, and how chia seeds absolutely can go in your coffee… At the end of the day product recommendations are the bones of what we do.
Which is great because since writing the book the natch beauty biz has been BOOMING. I have more boxes sitting in my entrance than I know what to do with. It drives my husband up a wall, but I don’t even like opening them if I’m not ready to: smell, read ingredients, and decide if the product is worth of trying. Many don’t even make it past the nose test!
When I think about it, it’s actually kind of wild how many of our staples are still from the original tribe (you know, RMS, Kahina, Intelligent Nutrients…) There’s a special voodoo to creating the perfect product, something like creating the perfect dish—and it’s just not everyone who can cook. (Bless your hearts for trying, though.) Don’t even get us started on packaging.
Not that we haven’t made new incredible discoveries since then. I mean, Studio 78, Ilia, Acure, Marie Veronique Organics, and May Lindstrom (the last, PS, is cooking up a new product right now that you guys are gonna lose your freaking minds over).
But who else is out there, that we just don’t know about yet? Where’s the next Rosemarie Swift, making magic in her kitchen, or already selling her product overseas… We must find her!
That’s where you come in. So, two questions:
1. Other than popping by here, what’s your product discovery process?Friends, other blogs, a store in your city?
2. What products have you found and love—in any category—that we just aren’t talking about here? We take a lot of joy in introducing smaller brands to more folks, so don’t keep secrets.
Or maybe, gasp, you are making your own beauty products? Tell us about them, or email us and send some samples through…
I promise the boxes always get opened eventually! x
Hometown: Midland Park, NJ but currently in southern California
Hair: shoulder length, naturally wavy but frizzy, color treated blonde.
Skin: aging, combination
Starlet: When I was not into toxic free beauty it was Marilyn Monroe. Now that I am into healthy products, I love Francoise Hardy for her simple style and seemingly effortless beauty. She’s gorgeous as a young woman and has aged well.
Brush teeth with Tom’s of Maine whitening toothpaste. Some gentle stretches, coffee with coconut milk, Brown Rice bread with coconut oil and a little organic Peanut Butter. If I have time I drink my coffee while watching the previous nights BRAVO TV show. I have to ease into my day, I’m not a morning person. If I have pimples, I apply May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver and leave it on for forty minutes.
In the shower…
Oh how times have changed. Before going natural, I was using all kinds of random products that I received to review on my beauty site Hello Dollface. Now I keep it super simple with Osmia Organics Black Clay facial soap for my face. I use a muslin cloth sprinkled with lavender oil to gently remove the face oil or serum from the night before. On my body I either use Osmia Organics Milky Rose soap, or Dr. Woods black soap. I wash my hair with Acure Organics Shampoo and follow up with their conditioner.
Out of the shower…
I apply Skin & Bones Luxurious Moisturizer. I love the scent of this and use it sparingly! I apply The Honest Company sunscreen on my arms, neck and chest. For the face, I use Marie Veronique’s Everyday Coverage Spf 30, followed by Pur Minerals Dark Spot Corrector and if I need extra help, I dab on Vapour Organic foundation (I like the liquid one). I cover dark eye circles with Afterglow Eye Treatment Concealer. Additional eye cream (from Acure Organics) as needed.
For blush, I love W3ll People Universalist color stick and RMS Beauty Lip 2 Cheek. Sometimes I use one from Tarte but that’s not as clean as I’d like it to be. Eyes are lined with W3ll People black eyeliner. Eyeshadow is BareMinerals—recently I’ve been using their new READY palette. I never leave home without mascara! A good natural one is Zuzu Luxe, it works so well! So does 100% Pure.
For lips, I like the strawberry gloss from Bee Naturals or lipstick from DeVita, Red Apple or Afterglow.
I use Trader Joe’s deodorant with a little baking soda over my arm pits which do an A+ job of keeping me sweat and smell free. I keep the baking soda in a round container, sprinkle in lavender or rose essential oil and apply with a kabuki brush.
Back when I was oblivious to the toxins in personal care products, I’d liberally spray perfume. Now I have a natural sandalwood fragrance I dab on pulse points. I also like Ava Anderson’s perfume oil, Joy.
I use the curly girl method of doing my hair—dab with a cotton tee shirt, allow to air dry a little. I spray in some Acure Leave-in Conditioner, blow dry a little then add John Masters Dry Hair Nourisher and De-frizzer. I haven’t found an all natural hairspray yet so I use Redken.
It sounds like a lot but I can be out the door in about thirty minutes! You should see my night time routine…
Thank you Cindy and thank you readers for responding to our call for more routines! We have more great ones the way!
I have sensitive skin. What does that mean to me? I react to all kinds of things, from synthetic scents, to old-style preservatives like parabens and phenoxyethanol, to the purest essential oils. There’s often no telling what I’ll react to, or exactly what will happen. It might be a burning or itching, with or without visible inflammation. It might look like acne, or a rash. The reaction may happen within moments of using a product, or take a few days of consistent use to appear. How do I deal? I look for the cleanest, simplest products I can, and typically prefer fragrance-free, mild formulas, especially for things that go on my face. I follow my nose, which is to say that if I don’t like the way something smells, there’s an increased chance I’ll react to it poorly. Add to all this I’m struggling with hormones, and “mature” skin that tends toward dry.
So why would I be testing products that, when I first examined the ingredients, scared the crap out of me? Well, it’s partly the sexy reviews here and here, partly the trust developed in another product from one line, and mostly that I was having some unexplained and unpleasant skin issues in spite of the care I take with products.
I’m not going to suggest that you sensitive types immediately start using essential oils or strong smelling, warming herbs. If you are sensitive and completely satisfied with using few and mild products for your skin, stick with that! But if you aren’t satisfied, you can fairly safely try some new things. The results may surprise you.
Rule #1: Don’t put the new product on your face first thing. I try out new things on a less sensitive area, like the back of my hands. If that’s okay I’ll go to my inner arm, chest or back. Then if I can graduate to facial application, I do the least sensitive areas of my face first. If you have notably more sensitive times based on your hormonal cycle, mind that when experimenting.
Rule #2: Don’t overdo it. Just because you can successfully exfoliate with a scented scrub one day doesn’t mean you should repeat it too often. Read the instructions on the package, modify for caution as you see fit, and even ask a brand rep for advice with your specific skin issue.
Rule #3: Don’t just start whipping random oils or herbs up into a concoction and slapping it on sensitive skin. Do your research if you want to DIY. Better yet, start with something from one of the wonderful alchemists out there making clean products. While I still appreciate a simple formulation, I am now a big believer in the balance an expert can achieve with a complex ingredient list.
These are the products that first inspired me to stray from my mostly mild, fragrance-free ways:
H.G.O. Lab Neroli Face Oil: I have to say, this oil just impresses the hell out of me. I’ve long been a fan of Hope Gillerman’s Stress Remedy, and this oil makes me a true believer in her genius. Neroli is one of the few flowery scents I like, but I know from my own experiments just how hard it is to balance. This blend, which includes skin-pampering oils like helichrysum, carrot seed, and meadowfoam, is amazeballs! I was looking for something to leave on a blemish or a sketchy hormonal patch of skin overnight, when clay is just too drying for frequent use and nothing else is cutting it. This product has contributed to greater balance in my skin and more consistent moisture levels. It’s healing for distressed or blemished areas, which there are far fewer of since I’ve been using this. I was using the Neroli Oil twice a day, but right now I’m using 4-5 drops only at night along with a hydrosol and other oils. If you have normal to oily skin, you may not need any additional moisture, though I always recommend a hydrosol. This product goes a long way – I estimate 2-4 months depending on usage. ($26/8 ml)
May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver and The Clean Dirt: I had an internal “yikes” when I first read the ingredients list on these. Combined with the scrubbiness of clays, the warming herbs and cacao frighten a sensitive girl. But I couldn’t let it go. I kept going back to reviews and thinking about how wonderful they must smell (they do). A weird, unexplained itchy-rashy-acne thing that was wrecking my chest pre-tank top season had to be dealt with, so I was ready to take the leap. These have been the key to returning my skin to health. By the time the current heat wave rolled around, I was ready for scoop necks and spaghetti straps. I use both products as treatments, each about once a week. Precisely how and how often you use them can be adjusted according to your needs. The Problem Solver is more intense and takes a bigger time commitment to use. The Clean Dirt, used as a treatment, needs only a few minutes to work. I do use them on my face, but I avoid altogether the super sensitive area around my mouth. I use a very gentle circular motion to massage as I rinse, which I do in the shower because these babies are pretty messy. I love May’s treatment brush so much I’m now using it with my own little ceramic cup for all my clay-type masks. Brilliant. May is a doll and I’ve loved her suggestions of using soothing oils after treatment and using honey on days when not using Dirt or Problem Solver. I still need to try mixing the Clean Dirt with coconut oil! I’ve been using them over a month on chest, back, neck and face. At this rate they should each last at least 4 months, but it will depend how you use them of course. ($90/250 ml and $60/200ml)
If you aren’t too exhausted from reading this long post, tell us – do you dare try such things on your sensitive skin? Sensitive or not, have you used these products?