Summer moisturizing favourites!

After 2 days of antibiotics, things are starting to look up! So it is with this renewed sense of health (and lack of a throat infection), and with Ezra Levant’s The Source on my TV in the background, that I bring you my favourite moisturizers for summer! I wanted to write about all of my summer favourites, but that would take much longer than even a court reporter’s attention span could handle. These won’t be as detailed as a full-fledged review, but if any of them catch your eye (and have not already been reviewed), let me know! I’ll be glad to do a review for you (and probably will be anyways). Be sure to check in for new entries on other summer favourites!

Alba Botanica’s Coconut Milk Body Cream

CREAMY COCONUT GOODNESS!

It is so rich, thick, and moisturizing! It is the perfect amount of moisture for the warmer months – I haven’t seen dry legs since I started using it! The coconut scent (and the delicious ingredients) makes me go crazy. I’ve been using this daily after my shower since about the beginning of May, and I’ll definitely be buying it again. I fell in love with coconut (the oil, the milk, the scent!) this year, and if you were to look at my collection of moisturizers and perfumes, you could tell.

Origins VitaZing SPF15

What it does is gradually develop a tint, as you moisturize it into your skin, and results in a more even skin tone with a natural glow. I still don’t know if I will buy it again (at $50, it would be great if it also came with some wine and cheese), but I have really grown to love how it makes my skin look. It isn’t heavy enough for me to wear as the sole moisturizer in cooler, dryer months, but in the summer, it is all I need to stay moisturized throughout the day! Another plus: the SPF, and I think I’ve still got several months left of it!

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil

camera couldn't focus - here's a pic fresh from the interwebs

I ordered this from Vitacost a few months ago, and was so glad I did! It is a lightly-scented (kind of orangey?) oil that reportedly helps with acne, rosacea, and other skin ailments. I have used it mainly on my face. Just 2 drops blended into my face, and my skin has become SO soft and does not get as oily in the morning as it used to! It does work for redness (which I have around my nose), especially when combined with other redness reducing products. It’s also great for wounds/cuts. I used it on a cut when I was in New Hampshire, no stinging, and it healed pretty damn quick.

Expect a full-fledged review on Sibu Beauty’s skin care line. I ordered a few things from Vitacost, and Sibu Beauty also sent me some awesome samples. What a joy it has been to test out their products!

And here’s a picture of our dog in his winter gear – oh, we love him so! looks happy, huh? I call this one A Fashionable Defeat.

The Classy Anarchist’s Top Ten List for Clear, Healthy Skin

Here I am! Post-shower, sans-makeup.

Here is my top ten list of things that have worked for me to help improve the quality and clarity in my skin! Friends are always asking me how to improve their skin; while I love helping each one of them individually, I thought a top ten list could help all of my friends and readers at the same time. My philosophy on beauty has always been that you need to work on the inside, and this will reflect on the outside. Who wants to pile on the makeup, when our skin underneath is in such poor shape?  These are just tips from my own experience (no expert here!), and are in no particular order.

1. Wash your face every night before sleep

This removes makeup, bacteria, and excess oil that builds up throughout your day.

2. Learn your skin type

You’ll save money buying products that don’t work for you, and learn what products do work for you, which helps prevent breakouts and flare ups. Often, skin analysis services are available free of charge at spas, and from other skin care experts.

3. Touch your face ONLY when you have clean hands!

If your hands are carrying bacteria, you will transfer it to your face.

4. When you dry your face, gently pat it dry (do not rub) with a CLEAN towel or cloth.

Change your towels and cloths weekly to make sure they aren’t harboring any unwanted bacteria.

5. Take a multivitamin, and an omega fatty acid oil supplement like krill, salmon, or sardine oil every day.

They don’t have to cost that much, and the pay off of adding these supplements to your diet is worth it! Even if you eat a well-rounded diet, a multivitamin can help make sure you get all the nutrients you need. Omega-fatty acids are shown to be great for healthy nails, hair, and skin. In the winter time I double up on the omegas, since my skin can be extremely dry and dehydrated. I tend to keep my eyes open for sales at GNC and natural health food stores. Avoid vitamins and supplements at the drug store; their absorption rate is pretty pitiful.

6. Include one exfoliation treatment and a mask into your weekly routine.

Get rid of those dead skin cells by exfoliating, and treat yourself to a deep cleansing clay mask. Another great type of mask is a papaya enzyme mask, which helps to brighten your complexion, and helps to dissolve dead skin cells. It also smells pretty damned amazing! The masks I use regularly are the Alba Deep Sea Facial Mask, and the Alba Papaya Enzyme Mask. It is extremely easy to make your own face masks – try organic honey, avocado, and blueberries!

7. Do not use body lotions or creams on your face.

Using lotions or creams that are designed for use on your body, and not specifically designed for the face can cause unnecessary breakouts, because of the higher oil content; the skin on the face is also a lot more sensitive than the rest of our body’s, and can tend to be of a different type. For example, my face is on the dehydrated side in the winter, and in the summer it is more balanced, so I don’t need to use as much essential oils when moisturizing. The skin on the rest of my body requires a very basic moisturizing routine that remains the same throughout the entire year, and breakouts on my body are even more rare than on my face. When choosing a moisturizer for your face, make sure it specifies it is a facial moisturizer.

8. Avoid products with certain alcohols that will excessively dry the skin (resulting in you trying to use even more of the product, and your skin drying up even more).

Not all alcohols are horrible for the skin. Alcohols that do nothing but dry out the skin and exacerbate skin problems include: SD Alcohol(also known as Alcohol Denat., or Denatured Alcohol), Isopropyl Alcohol, or Ethyl Alcohol. Alcohols that are fatty alcohols and are not harmful include Stearyl Alcohol, and Cetyl Alcohols. The majority of popular brands of toners (especially) in drug stores — brands like L’Oreal, Garnier, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear —  often contain the harmful types of alcohols to provide the consumer with a “tingling” sensation. This often makes us feel like the product is working, but if you’ve got any problems with dryness, inflammation, redness, or acne, this will most likely make it worse(as it did with me). Some of my friends are able to put pretty much any skin care product on their face, but if they were to switch to a more organic and holistic skin care routine, their skin would probably even more phenomenal.

The bottom line is – these products that contain SD Alcohol and other harmful alcohols strip the skin of its natural oils, and this results in eventual over-production of oils in oilier skin, or under-production in extremely dry skin. The goal of holistic skin care products is to nurture the skin’s natural balance, and to avoid extremely changes in the skin’s natural state. My skin’s dryness has reduced drastically since I began using alcohol-free toners, and toners that contain essential oils. At this point all I use as a “toner” is rose water and lavender water. They help refresh my skin, and they smell amazing too.

If you’d like to check out some toners that I recommend, try Avalon Organics’ Hydrating Toner, or Earth Science’s Aloe Vera Complexion Toner & Freshener. I have used both of these, and find them quite effective for balancing dry skin, and helping with blemishes.

9. Steam your face at least once every 2 weeks, with a towel over your head, hot water and essential oils (depending on your skin type) in a large bowl.

Not only does steaming your face help sweat out dirt and excess oil, it can also be extremely relaxing for the mind. Certain essential oils (like lavender and patchouli, for example) are proven to calm the skin and help with breakouts, but at the same time they are shown to be effective in reducing stress and calming the mind. It takes about ten minutes, and after steaming your pores are open – this is the perfect time for a face mask. If you are dealing with acne problems, steaming with tea tree oil (which has antibacterial properties) is very effective. Oils can be purchased for reasonable prices at health food stores, and since you only use 2-3 drops at most when steaming, they last for quite a long time!

10. For those who wear makeup, make sure you give your makeup brushes a clean (with either unscented soap, or makeup brush shampoo) once every two weeks.

If you don’t clean your brushes, bacteria will build up, and cause breakouts. Especially if you apply makeup to multiple people with the same brushes, you want to try and make sure you aren’t transferring bacteria from one person’s face to another! I use Sephora’s Purifying Brush Shampoo, which is available in a travel size. You only need to use a small amount, and it makes a big difference in how long your brushes last, and the minimizing of breakouts.

There you have it! Everything I recommend to ensure your skin looks and feels its best. The only additional tip I can suggest is to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Dry-skin-winter-blues got you down?

The winter is the most harsh time of year for my skin. As someone who has very dry skin, the cold temperatures and all that come with it bring to my face a chapped, flaky curse that is determined to return with every winter season. I have teenage memories of myself desperately attempting to moisturize extra dry spots with by whatever means necessary — strange potions I found in my mother’s makeup cabinet, water, hand cream. I guess determination was also a gene I had gotten from my mother, because there was no way I was going to settle for a life of horribly dry and patchy skin!

At present, I am 27, and I can say that I’ve figured it out. My skin no longer has that dull, flaky, I-could-be-her-mother look. I have made peace with my dry skin and the products that help it look its best, and now I would like to share that with you.

I’m an avid shopper at Sephora, but for skin care I tend to check out my local health food store (usually The Natural Food Pantry, though I am sure you can find similar products at other health food stores), as their prices tend to be cheaper, but also only stock products that are primarily vegetarian and cruelty-free. I have had the best success with skin care products that range from $10-$30 at health food stores, and anything beyond that price for a cleanser, toner, or even moisturizer is more than you need to spend, in my humble dry-skinned opinion.

I have experimented with several different natural brands, and my favourites are Alba Botanica, and Avalon Organics. Interestingly, they are the same company, but these two brands offer products that are unique to their specific brand. I regularly use products from Alba Botanica and Avalon Organics.

Let’s get product specific here. What do I like from the Alba Botanica brand of products? I have only tried their Hawaiian line, which offers a delightful bunch of tropically scented goodies including a Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser, Hibiscus Facial Toner, Pineapple Enzyme Facial Scrub, Pineapple Enzyme Facial Mask, Aloe and Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer, and others which I have yet to try. In the summer my skin is perfectly content with using the cleanser and even the moisturizer during the day. For winter, I must add some extra, more moisture-intensive products into my regime.

These winter-friendly products reign from the Avalon Organics Lavender line. This line is aimed at those with dry and sensitive skin, so I jumped at the opportunity to try them.

First I tried the Lavender Hydrating Toner. This product was $11.99 at The Natural Food Pantry. I loved this product because it has a soothing “herbally” lavender scent, and it is surprisingly moisturizing for a toner. I noticed my skin felt so smooth after using it.

My most recent purchases from the Lavender line include the Lavender Ultimate Moisture Cream, and the Lavender Facial Cleansing Milk.

Let’s start with the Lavender Facial Cleansing Milk. Avalon Organics’ entire Lavender line promotes Renewal and Vitality, and this product claims it is “optimal cleansing for sensitive skin”. The product description says it is “soap-free, gentle cleansing with moisturizing plant emollients. Calming Licorice Root, Organic Lavender and Arnica protect skin, as Organic Flax and Borage Oils replenish moisture, leaving skin hydrated”. This product is recommended for usage for normal to dry skin types.

To use, I apply 1-2 pumps directly to my face and neck. This product is thicker than a typical gel or liquid cleanser. It comes out almost like a lotion and feels so gentle and creamy on the skin. I massage it into my skin with my hands for about one minutes, and then I wash it off with water, or a gentle cloth. This cleanser comes off easily, so a cloth isn’t required, just warm water. It claims it is perfect for makeup removal, but I prefer to use coconut oil for my mascara, and before cleansing I use makeup removal wipes (currently using the Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes). This helps makeup come off quicker when I follow up with the cleanser, as I don’t feel it removes makeup as well as it claims. After rinsing, my skin is extremely soft, and I love that it is not stripped of moisture or feeling tight and dry. This cleanser was $12.39.

It is also important to tone during the winter to return your skin to its regular PH, and to ready it for a moisturizer. I am currently using the Earth Science Aloe Vera Complexion Toner and Freshener for dry and sensitive skin, which is a lovely addition to anyone’s skin care regime if you want a toner that refreshes without drying and over-tightening your skin. Simply pour a bit onto a cotton pad and massage over your face. This cost me $12.99 at the Natural Food Pantry. I will probably be switching back to the Avalon Organics Hydrating Toner, since I found it to be more moisturizing and soothing for the redness around my nose.

The pride and joy of my dry skin regimen is the Avalon Organics Ultimate Moisture Cream that I mentioned earlier. This cream really lives up to its name! It says it is a “daily or nightly moisturizer made with soothing and calming botanicals”. It is great as a night cream for all skin types, but can be used daily for dry skin. I have been using this day and night, and my skin is no longer flaky, especially in the typical areas around my nose. Even with makeup application over the cream, my skin remains adequately moisturized. Along with all other products in their Lavender line, this product has a light, natural lavender scent. It is extremely relaxing, so if you enjoy lavender I would highly recommend these products for you. Moisturizers often run rather expensive, as I recall the moment a saleswoman at Sephora was trying to convince my mother (who is rather frugal) to spend $75 dollars on a small Philosophy moisturizer that I am sure would be great, I would never spend that much when there are products like the Ultimate Moisture Cream out there. This cost me $18.29 at the Natural Food Pantry, and on Avalon Organics’ website I believe it runs at $20.99. When it comes to a good quality moisturizer, you shouldn’t have to use a ton of product for it to work, so a 2 ounce tub can last 3-6 months, depending on if it is a night cream or for night and day.

These products currently sum up the majority of my winter skin care regime, and I find myself extremely satisfied with them. I hope you take the time to try them and check out this line; they were tremendously helpful for my dry, sensitive, and flaky skin. Feel free to comment and suggest other products that have helped you, and also did not cost a fortune. Thank you for reading!