Remember when Siobhan lamented that we hadn’t covered the ARCONA line yet? And how, as clean-beauty bloggers, we need to jump on that train? Well, here it is: the first in a series of reviews about the products I’m now going to refer to as amaze-balls.
I was introduced to the line by a fellow beauty blogger when I was looking for an anti-aging serum for my highly reactive, acne-prone skin. I’d tried other night serums that promised to refresh and renew, but most of the time, I woke up with a red, itchy face or a blemish the size of small island in some weird place (eyelid, anyone?).
Upon her rec, I ordered ARCONA’s Gentle Solution, the sensitive skin version of its nighttime treatment. I was in love with the product’s packaging immediately – the silver bottle looks pretty classy in my medicine cabinet. But to really put it to the test, I had to actually put it on my face.
After one night, I was hooked. Three small blemishes I’d seen forming on my forehead the night before had completely disappeared the morning after my first Gentle Solution application. It hydrated my skin with no need for additional moisturizer. I looked fresh-faced even though it was one of those mornings when my body would’ve thanked me for a few more ZZZZZs.
Over time, my love hasn’t waned. It’s the one and only product I’ve ever used that I don’t think I’ll ever turn my back on because I can see it work every other day (you’re only supposed to use it every other night to give your skin a break – I also like that philosophy). It smells like a candied berry, soaks in quickly and honestly leaves my skin better looking than any other product I’ve tried. And, you know how some anti-aging serums/creams (especially dirty ones, mind you) bleach your towels if you accidentally wipe any excess product on them? Not this baby. I think my towels might be softer after meeting the Gentle Solution.
Other home runs from ARCONA:
- Booster Defense Serum: After trying for months to calm my skin and repair some damage from acne scars, adding this morning skin booster changed my skin’s texture and helped prevent breakouts.
- Cranberry Firming Gel: A really lovely, lightweight but incredibly moisturizing day and nighttime gel. It’s like a tall drink of water for my skin, especially in the winter. Bonus: Lemon and cranberry extracts help clear up breakouts.
- Raspberry Clarifying Bar: I never, ever, never, ever thought I’d buy a bar of cleanser with which to wash my face. But this one, man, this one is amazing. Smells lovely, is really concentrated so it takes off makeup like a pro AND it uses fruit enzymes to unclog skin and reduce inflammation and redness. Score.
Are there any other ARCONA products we should know about or try? Anyone else having the same love affair with the line that we are?
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?
Meet Sarah—she’s super pale, like her favorite star, but suffers from the sensitive skin that often accompanies a porcelain complexion. Among her woes: looking too young for her age. Hmmm, Sarah, we’re not crying for ya there! But we do want to know your tricks…
Age: 28 (with the misfortune [truly!] of looking 18 [I say misfortune because until people hear that I am 28, there is an unfortunate tendency to lecture me as if I have never experienced the "real world."]
Before the bath…
In the bath…
Outside the bath…
Wow, great routine (and lifestyle). We’re super intrigued by the DIY sunscreen—anybody else made their own? What else here have you tried?
Here’s the latest from GOOD:
Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.
Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.
So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” in the slideshow for tips that will matter most for winter skin.
Illustrations by Brianna Harden