If you look at my bathroom sink area, it’s pretty much an assembly line of everything I’m immediately testing before bed and in the shower. If it doesn’t work, it’s quickly removed and replaced. Since it’s prime real estate for my product testing, it’s really the best place to check out what I’m loving. Currently:
Essenza soap, Neutrogena’s newest cleansing oil, and Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
1) Essenza Hand Soaps. On the quest to upgrade the small details in a equally small NY apartment, I added Essenza soaps to our bathroom. Well, kinda — although they look fancy with their saturated colors of blues and reds you can find them at the drugstore for less than $4. They are full of pure essential oils, shea butter, aloe, and mild cleansers. The Pomegranate Acai and South Pacific Water (pictured here) smells so good, even our guests have commented on it.
2) Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil. This hasn’t technically hit stores yet (it rolls out in July), but since I got an advance sample, I’ve been using it every day and night. I’ve tried cleansing oils before, sadly not with the best experience. The ones I’ve used were too heavy and actually felt like it was exacerbating some of my skin issues. So I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this one. I’ve been using it for the past week, and I’m so pleasantly surprised on how much I really love it. I apply it to dry skin first, and massage it through and then use water to wipe it off. When you add water, it sort of emulsifies to a milky consistency and rinses off dirt and makeup. I know it seems counterintuitive to use oils if your face is oily (mine is combo), but the oil attracts oil, and I feel like this has been softening my skin without making it feel dry and tight afterwards. Double pluses for not irritating my eyes, AND smelling something like peaches. Note: it’s still a gentle oil, so all this said about how I love it for everyday, it’s not super heavy duty. So if it’s one of those nights you went OD on makeup, try double cleansing (i.e. use this oil first just to get the superficial dirt off, and then follow up with your go-to face wash)
3) Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Tooth Brush. Update on my dental health: I just went in for a cleaning and zero cavities *happy dance*. THIS mechanical toothbrush has been the best one I’ve used in years. The one I had previously was sleek looking (and expensive) but was so rough on my teeth/gums. This one has five cleaning modes (including Gum Care, Polish, and White) that lets you customize it to your liking. And its beyond its years as far as features. Like a glass charging station (meaning you literally have to put it in a glass near its plugged charger instead of hooking the charger up to it directly) and a travel case that you can hook a USB up to charge the brush. Yes, your laptop can charge my toothbrush. Besides all that fancy stuff, it removes 5x more plaque than a regular toothbrush.
It’s not easy testing skin products. Besides it taking time and a million other variables, sometimes you just don’t know what’s making your skin behave (or not). But one thing I have noticed is once I began adding some vitamin C to my skin routine, it unearthed a glow I haven’t seen in a while. Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum used to be the only one I would turn to but I recently discovered Obagi System Professional-C 20% Vitamin C Serum. It’s now my new favorite serum from the bunch. Just a little morning and night made my skin glow which I noticed in a just a couple of weeks.
Vitamin C oils
To extend the life of the Obagi serum though, I started trying new ones to use in between. Jouer Daily Repair Treatment Oil is a little heavier (probably not best for already oily skin types — I use it sparingly). This one doesn’t have straight L-ascorbic acid (the fancy name for vitamin c), but offers its derivative in the form of rose hip oil that helps against hyper pigmentation and stimulates collagen production. It also has a proprietary retinoid that helps fight against wrinkles.
The last one which practically measures up to Obagi’s to me is DermaDoctor’s Kakadu C serum. This one is also the most expensive one from the three, but it does have a lot of skin benefits with its potent does of antioxidants from the from the kakadu plum. A lot of skin products can say they contain vitamin C but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s stabilized. Vitamin C is actually quite unstable, oxidizing once exposed to air. Studies though show that once it’s mixed with ferulic acid (which this one is), it helps to stabilize the vitamin C so you know you’re really reaping the benefits of the ingredient.
If you’re new to serums and oil and not at the point where you’re ready to shell out $50-$100 bucks on a 1 oz serum (like the ones I just mentioned), I just came across some more affordable options. Oil Essentials is a brand I recently was introduced that has lightweight oils that cost only $10.
Their Nourish Seabuckthorn Berry & Borage has vitamin A, C, and E as well as linolenic acid which softens skin. I’ve also been using theirRevitalize Omega 3, 6, 9 when my skin is feeling particularly dry. Its evening primrose oil can be used to reduce skin blemishes. They absorbs quickly in the skin and can be layered over easily with makeup without leaving an oily mess. I definitely still rely on my Obagi and DermaDoctor serums, but these are good baby steps if you’re getting used to the idea of adding serums and oils to your routine.
Neutrogena‘s doing their part to help conserve water: they partnered with Kristen Bell and The Nature Conservancy for a new #WipeForWater campaign. For seven days, Bell has pledged to only clean her face using Neutrogena Naturals wipes [she’s their brand ambassador], saving 35 gallons of water in the process.
The wipes are really gentle (I tried it for the first time last night and it even powered through waterproof eyeliner).
The day after a shoot -- some serious de-caking happening
You can pledge too using #WipeForWater and here’s why you should at least make the effort: for every pledge, Neutrogena Naturals will contribute to the Nature Conservancy to support water conservancy.
We’re basically walking around in the Arctic here in NYC. I think my eardrum froze yesterday. It’s bad. I’ve been loading up on these moisturizers though, so although I’m partially deaf and afraid that even my soul is frozen, at least you can’t tell on my skin.
Winter time saviors
1) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream, $15 – This is like a tall glass of water for your skin. Almost literally, though: this is a water-based gel that’s super lightweight and not sticky. Plus it has skin-plumping hyaluronic acid that gives moisture back to the skin. The olive extract helps protect the skin from moisture loss. It basically locks moisture in your skin. It’s a great first-thing-in-the-morning moisturizer.
2) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, $17 – I think I’ve sang my praises for this to all my friends by now. And I always say the same thing: the medicinal scent is not for everyone (I personally hate it) BUT. BUT. This is the best moisturizer I’ve found for my skin, hands-down. That’s why it’s always in my bag. Before flights, before bed, under my eyes, on my lips, elbows, everywhere. If my skin is ever acting up, I apply this before bed, and my skin is so much softer in the morning. It’s a thicker, gel-based cream that is a tad greasy, and glycerin-ey, but it hydrates my skin like no other.
3) Dove Quench Absolute Shampoo and Conditioner, $7 each – Sooo this is specially formulated for the curly haired — therefore not me, my hair is wavy — but that didn’t stop me from stealing a page from their book. The line is so nourishing for dried out locks, and it smells beautiful — like coconut and happiness.
In more than a few instances, I kept coming across Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay Mask either in the stories I’ve had to edit or other bloggers’ recommendation. I was finally curious enough to go to Whole Foods and pick some up with some apple cider vinegar and try it myself.
Weekly DIY clay mask
The mask itself is a natural calcium bentonite green clay which helps detox and draw out impurities in the skin. When mixed with organic apple cider vinegar (I use this one from Brragg which is raw and unfiltered), it becomes even more powerful. The vinegar has a bunch of alpha hydroxy acids that help to remove dead skin cells to make your complexion more even (it’s great alone to help treat zits and age spots, and even add a ton of shine if used on hair alone).
The mask itself tingles a little and then tightens, and PS, smells DISGUSTING. I mix a teaspoon with a capful of ACV (the mixture should bubble a little), or until the consistency is a little more pastey. If it’s too watery, it won’t go on well, and will take forever to dry. If it’s too solid, it won’t spread well. After you wash it off (about 10 minutes), you might notice your skin a little pink which goes down after a few minutes (make sure you use a gentle moisturizer after! I use Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar). You might notice a few whiteheads too, which is just the toxins being extracted. I’m not sure how sensi-skin types would react to it since it isn’t the most gentle mask, but it is a nice pick-me-up for my combo skin that I use on the weekends or before big events so my makeup goes on smoother. Plus it’s really affordable — I got mine from Whole Foods for $8 (think the ACV was another $7) and a pound will last you for months and months.
The only thing frilly about the newly-launched Don’t Call Me Ma’am line is the packaging. The line consists of eleven products for the face and body that have been created with “ingredients that are good for you (no parabens, sulfates or harsh chemicals), packaging that is good for the earth (it’s 100% recyclable) and attitude that is good for the soul.”
Don't Call Me Ma'am cleanser, toner, and moisturizer
Their products are filled with botanicals and hydrating ingredients. For example, their creamy Wash It Away Cleanser has sunflower and avocado oil, while their toner is a botanical blend with allantoin, and their Face Love moisturizer has jojoba and vitamin E and has been keeping my skin soft during the colder days.
Want to try it yourself? I’m giving away a full-sized set of all three products to ONE BATF reader (valued at $85 total). Do either to enter, both to increase your chances: