New year, new items: What’s in my beauty bag

Happy new year to all the ReadHead readers!  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year to the day that I’ve written my first post.  A big thank you to all who have supported my passion project.  If you’ve learned something new or tried something you liked, I’d love to hear it through the comments!

As a skincare fanatic, I try a lot of different items.  My goal is to give it to you straight, and to show you that more money doesn’t always mean better – but sometimes it does.

I took a look at the things that continue to be my staples over time, whether it be my other items didn’t continue to work for me anymore, or I found something to replace it.

If the new year means new you, here my go-to items to give you some inspo for your own makeup and skincare routine.  Happy reading!

Skincare items I can’t live without (everyday routine):

Cerave SA Renewing Face Wash – has ceramides, niacinamide and hydrators, plus removes all my makeup and has a kick of BHA to keep my pores clean and has a friendly drugstore price.

L’Oreal Hydrafresh Toner – while there may be options with better ingredients (i.e. sans denatured alcohol) this one boasts 99% alcohol free, is hydrating and you can’t beat the drugstore price & availability. It helps to remove any traces of dirt and makeup, is refreshing and has added BHA to help with clog-prone skin.

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum – is perfect for someone with skin like me – clog and milia prone (ultra rich eye creams are a no-go), anti-aging and reducing puffiness.  Luckily dark circles aren’t a problem for me (yet) but the ferulic acid will help.  This is a gel serum so it won’t be ultra hydrating if that is important to you. Pro tip: If puffiness is something you struggle with, put this in the fridge to get some extra benefit!

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Treatment – much like the above, it has fantastic ingredients that help to brighten, protect and refine skin, and is gentle yet effective.  I have other retinol products that pack a bigger punch (Peter Thomas Roth 3% for example), but I can use this consistently and layer with other acids with no irritation, and notice brighter, clearer skin.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum – I did a ReadHead 2 Head on this vs. Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma (which continues to be my most reviewed post on ReadHead).  I recommend reading it if you’re new to vitamin C.  The vitamin C and additional layer of ferulic acid helps to give an extra layer of sun protection (key for someone with fair skin and correcting sun damage) while destroying free radicals and helping the skin function at its healthiest.

SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum – this is my ultra splurge item which utilizes growth hormones and antioxidants to trick older skin into think it’s a younger version of itself. This helps to regenerate new, healthy and less wrinkled skin.  It’s not surgery (nor should you expect the same result), but it’s one of the best topical cosmeceuticals on the market with clinical trials to boot.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Serum – a nice AHA acid that I alternate at night with my retinoids to keep my dead skin and clogged pores at bay. If I start getting little pimples, this removes the top layer of skin and away they go.

Neutrogena’s 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment – this is my ride or die BHA serum that I use when I’m needing an extra dose of pore cleaning and Neutrogena discontinued it.  I have absolutely no earthly idea why as this has a cult following that may have some feeling one would need to pry whatever’s left on the market from their cold, dead hands.  I think it’s because it worked so well people didn’t need their products anymore! Anytime I can find this, I snatch it up and use it like it’s as precious as 24 carat gold.

Belif’s the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb – this has become my HG moisturizer.  Calming, hydrating, basic and effective.  It leaves my skin feeling awesomely dewey and minus the clogged pores of overly heavy/silicone feeling.

Dr. Jart Premium BB 45++ – the last step in my skincare routine, this is similar to foundation but has amazing ingredients, helps to cover redness and has an awesome amount of SPF in  it.  Talk about a multi-tasker!

Obagi Professional-C Sunscreen – I use sometimes under my Dr. Jart, or on days when I’m going makeup free.  It has vitamin E and the most stable form of vitamin C, l-ascorbic acid.  I like this formulation, but I received it for free from a promotion.  I like that it leaves me matte, but I wouldn’t say it’s an HG.  Great ingredients, and a good finish for oily-skinned folks who don’t want to layer makeup on as I find that it does pill up.

Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator – great lash conditioner which helps lashes grow by keeping them healthy.  I put this on at night (and not under mascara like it says you can do). It won’t compare to a Latisse or other lash growth items on the market, but it will help keep hairs conditioned and strong – plus you can’t beat the drugstore price!

Nature’s Bounty Hair Skin & Nails + Alive Whole Food Energizer  + Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Powder – these supplements/powders help to give me the added amino acids, proteins, and goodies I need like B vitamins, biotin, collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin to boost my beauty routine from the inside and give me a little pep in my step.  The combination of these help my hair grow strong and my nails like a weed.

Just for fun (rev up that routine!):

There’s the steps that I take as an avid skincare connoisseur with skin that changes like the weather.  If you notice there’s a lot of de-clogging, brightening and exfoliating happening here.

If you’re new to the game don’t get overwhelmed – any steps beyond what you’re doing will bring improvements and take these slow.  You don’t need top of the line either, you just need to know helpful ingredients.  But, if you’re in the prime anti-aging years, it may be worth it to give your beauty counter a boost. And, if dry-like-the-Sahara skin is your concern (different than dehydrated) you may need to incorporate some extra moisture here.

I hope you got excited to try something new!  Have a favorite routine? Drop us a line in a comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Acne or Rosacea Sufferer? Meet Azelaic Acid

A long time acne and mild rosacea sufferer, I considered myself to be pretty in the know about all things pimple-plastering.  Whether it be due to new beauty contenders like Deciem’s The Ordinary or because old becomes new and people always need something groundbreaking to talk about, my eyes and ears caught wind of a new acid I had never heard of.  Fights acne…acts as an antiseptic…decreases effects of rosacea…and it was like the record scratched and all things came to a halt in my life.  What the what?  I (and now you) MUST KNOW MORE.

What is it?

Azelaic acid is a naturally-occurring acid that comes from yeast, barley and wheat.  Typically found in a white powder, this powerful acid is a triple threat to skin issues due to bacteria-fighting benefits reminiscent of benzoyl peroxide and anti-inflammatory properties similar salicylic acid.  Fellow rosacea suffers often get bumps and redness, so the mix of these two could be quite impressive while also cutting down irritation with a multi-functional product.  It is also said to possess skin lightening properties which could be an alternative to (albeit not as effective) as hydroquinone which is quite the controversial lightening ingredient depending on who you talk to and has been banned in many countries due to its adverse effects. <— check your lightening products for this ingredient if this is important to you.

Unlike alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic that help to slough off the top layers of the skin by breaking up the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together so that new skin can emerge, azelaic acid does exfoliate, but think of it as a gunk buster that gets into the follicles and pores to clear out and kill the things that cause moderate to severe acne – Finacea is one of it’s more well-known prescription-strength topicals.

As a natural redhead, I have been working for what seems to be a lifetime to gain as much of a clean slate as I can, but my skin just likes to remind me that I am not worthy.  I freckle if I even think of the word sun, my pimples hang around FOREVER and cause PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) after they’ve left for months, and my cheeks have a pink flush to them that is thank goodness mild, but still exacerbated by just about anything.  Many of you ReadHead readers with sensitive or fair skin may be experiencing the same.  Look for products that contain azelaic acid and watch it work wonders.   It may just be the missing piece to your acne-free, glowing complexion.

The Ordinary’s Azelaic 10% Suspension is currently in route to my door and cost me $8 + shipping.  I’ll be tearing into that packaging like a kid on Christmas.

Have you used azelaic acid before?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Product Review: CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser

Of all the beauty products in my arsenal, the one I am happy to pluck from the drugstore shelves and will never be convinced of a need to do otherwise is a facial cleanser.  There are literally thousands out there shouting from the rooftops about this ingredient and that, but the reality is that all you need is to get a good formulation appropriate to your skin type (dry, dehydrated, oily, congested) that can tackle the appropriate amount of dirt and makeup removal from your face while not stripping your skin and causing irritation.  A face wash stays in contact with your skin for less than one minute, so all those fancy ingredients don’t have the time or strength to do much of anything miraculous. Save your money on those pricey cleansers!

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser has been my go-to and permanent staple to my beauty routine for about two years.  I found out about it as a loyal CeraVe fan (their products contain excellent ingredients and technology for the money and convenience) and because I needed something a bit more heavy duty on makeup removal than their hydrating version.  My skin is also sensitive, so I needed something gentle enough not totally strip my skin and to keep it balanced.

What is it?

This one is going to be targeted to those who are combination/oily and are clog-prone. It is also a good option for a transition cleanser for those who get more oily in the summer time, or when you need a heavier-duty formula to combat that super SPF.

It does not contain dyes or fragrance (yay for sensitive skin), foams up which is an indicator that it’s going to break through oil and grease, and includes salicylic acid which lightly exfoliates and penetrates pores to clean them out and also gives it it’s namesake.  The description on Ulta’s website does a nice job of summing it up:

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser exfoliates and detoxifies to remove dirt and oil while softening and smoothing skin. Unlike some exfoliating cleansers, CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser does not contain harsh beads or grains and is gentle on skin. It better prepares skin for essential hydration by helping to slough off dead skin cells while cleansing. And, like all CeraVe products, it hydrates and helps restore skin’s protective barrier.

Benefits:

  • Developed with dermatologists
  • Detoxifies and exfoliates to remove dirt and oil
  • Salicylic acid softens and smooths skin
  • Three essential ceramides help repair the skin barrier
  • Enriched with antioxidant vitamin D
  • Gentle and non-drying
  • Non-comedogenic and non-irritating
  • Fragrance free

Ingredients:

What I like about CeraVe products is that they include an impressive array of ingredients that benefit the skin barrier – glycerin, niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  Together these help to nourish and protect the top layer of your skin that keeps moisture in and bad things out. I guarantee you won’t find a better-priced option with all the goodies in there like this one.

Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Niacinamide, Gluconolactone, Sodium Methylcocoyl Taurate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Salicylic Acid, Ceramide 6-11, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol Sodium Benzoate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholecalciferol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide

Application:

I found that one whole squirt was too much, so I do about a half.  It comes out in a clear watery-gel like consistency with no smell and no gritty particles. I rub it in the palms of my hands with some water and it begins to suds up into a rich soapy lather.  I then rub it around in circles on my face making sure to spend extra time in my trouble areas – on and around my nose, forehead, and chin.  I do rub this on my eye makeup and luckily don’t have to tug much for it to be effective.  I do double-cleanse because I’m so clog-prone and get oily throughout the day, but those of you who don’t have those problems or don’t wear heavy makeup should be OK with one pass.

I wash my face and it feels clean but not squeaky clean.  Just a pleasant clean with a good foundation for my serums and moisturizers.  There’s not leftover residue, however this stuff does get pretty sudsy so if you do too much you can feel like you have to keep rinsing to get it all off.

Packaging:

This is a nice frosted clear plastic pump bottle.  It closes easily for travel, and I’ve never had a problem with it leaking.  It always pumps out what I expect it to, and stands up sturdily in the shower.  No frills, but nice for the category.

Overall:

Overall I love this cleanser because it does what it’s meant to do, at an affordable price, and conveniently available at almost any drugstore.  It has better ingredients than what you’ll find in most, and it’s a reliable formulation that helps keep my pores clean while being appropriate for my aging (cry face) skin. Whether or not the ceramides, SA and HAs actually can get deep down to do what they’re meant to do, I really don’t care.  Even if it’s a little bit, it helps.  And if it doesn’t, the product still works appropriately and I’m not counting the dollar signs after each wash watching the formula go down the drain.

It’s sensitive enough for me to use after peels, and I use it on my face, neck, chest and upper shoulder/back area with no issues.  All places I can break out (blegh).

If you’re in the market for a new cleanser because you find yourself seeing a lot of leftovers when you tone, or were oily and need something that will help with acne that doesn’t feel like a tingling nightmare on your face, this is one I highly recommend.  I’m going to take off .5 stars though, because I do have to double cleanse.

Overall: 4.5/5

Packaging: 5/5

Price: $$$$$

Have a CeraVe product you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

The Perturbing Pimple Puzzle

Ah.  The formidable adversary.  The smallest thing that can ruin your day.  The tiny spot in just the right nook or cranny that causes you mental and physical pain.  It shouts at everyone you come in contact with.  “LOOK AT ME!” I’m talking about….the pimple.

If I know about one thing, it’s the pimple, or pimples to be more accurate.  I have spent enough money to feed a small country on trying to solve for them and is largely the reason why I have such a passion for skin care.  I am not a dermatologist, but I am a life-long acne sufferer so I hope that my trials and tribulations over the years help to save you some dough and heartache.

To the pimple popper.

We all know that at it’s most basic term, a zit (formal term is comedone) is when dirt, skin cells, oil and bacteria get trapped inside the pore.  Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, and heals itself. That sentence right there is very important.  That is how zits work.  Notice I didn’t say “Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, you scrub at it like hell with a facial brush, pick at it for days before you just can’t take it anymore and dig your nails in to pop it, then slather on tooth paste to dry it out, cover it up with 10 lbs of concealer and heals itself.” The #1 hardest rules of pimples is that you should never pop them.  Ohhhhh but it’s just so satisfying to do.  TRUST ME I know.  But you can’t.  Sit on those hands darlings because doing so will cause way more harm than good.

Here’s 5 reasons to fight the urge to pop those pesky pimples:

  1. Our hands or instruments are full of bacteria.  An open comedome can get severely infected.
  2. Causing irritation can prolong the healing process, not to mention make that pimple look angry and worse.
  3. Your skin can become scarred, which can be permanent.
  4. Popping a pimple can occur both on top and/or under the skin, causing the infection to spread to healthy skin.
  5. You can cause other harm like bruising or the dreaded squiggly red or purple broken capillaries that never go away. <— hate.

What your pimples are trying to tell you.

There are all sorts of pimple types.  Since I’ve been at this for quite a while I have learned how to tell what’s going on by what my pimples look like, and pick the appropriate treatment.

  • Scenario #1: Red pimples that crop up suddenly and quickly become a white head, usually after a heavy makeup day or wearing something I got out of the closet (i.e. a scarf).
    • Assessment: Likely bacteria that got trapped in the pore.
    • Fix: something with bacteria-fighting properties like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, sulfur and salicylic acid to get into the pore.  Also a reminder on why it’s important to wash your face every night, and to be sure to wash the pillowcase and makeup brushes which are all very likely culprits.
  • Scenario #2: Small pimples that look more like a rash and make the skin texture look rough, or lumps.
    • Assessment: Likely a skin care or makeup product that caused irritation or clogged my pores.
    • Fix: Discontinue the product and go back to basics while my skin calms down. Less is more here, and the trick is to let your skin heal itself.  Patch testing and not introducing more than one new product at a time, and checking the product’s ingredient labels for known acne triggers with this website will help.
  • Scenario #3: Break-out city that take a long time to become a white head, if ever, especially around my chin.
    • Assessment: Hormonal acne usually manifests itself in the chin area and can show up with your hormone levels change.
    • Fix: This can be helped with birth control pills, or other hormone regulators.  Talk to your doctor.
  • Scenario #4: Consistent acne not caused by products or bacteria and does not respond to topical acne medications
    • Assessment: Could be related to something going on internally like a vitamin deficiency, diet high in fats/dairy, too much biotin, or internal infection
    • Fix: This one is best handled by a dermatologist.  If you have changed your diet and you’re still breaking out, you may need prescription-strength acne medication like Accutane or antibiotics.
  • Scenario #5: Blackheads or whiteheads + dull-looking skin
    • Assessment: Likely caused by congestion due to slow skin cell turnover, trapping debris in the pore
    • Fix: Exfoliators – AHA or BHA acids, physical scrubs – to remove the top layers of the skin to help skin breathe and acne-fighters reach deep into the skin.

For the occasional bumps or lumps, these assessments and fixes ring true time and time again. To ReadHead readers, I hope you found some helpful tips that will bring you confidence and believe in SkinLove again.

Have a product you swear by or scenario you’ve come across?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

Product Review: Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque

Full disclosure, I have only used this a few times, so I will come back and update it once I’ve used the whole tube. But, I’ve used a lot of masks in my day and do think that the initial use is worth the review.

I bought this mask because of all the skin care steps, a mask is the one I probably lack on using enough and the ingredients were impressive. I am prone to clogged pores and milia (those little white bumps you get) due to my large pores yet dehydrated skin that produces and traps oil or heavy products, so I’m always on the hunt for something that is either a miracle worker or fits well into my current routine. Enter Dermalogica’s Charcoal Rescue Masque.

Texture – This goes on as a smooth, yet grainy mask due to the physical exfoliating properties in it. Unlike a mud mask, or other clay masks, I did not get an immediate cooling sensation with this one. It spread easily, and came out of the tube in the appropriate amounts. It went on as a sort of wet(ish) grainy mask that is a mud green color.

Ingredients – wow, wow, wow my acne-prone skin did one of those double takes when you see someone too hot to be real.  Lots of clays to pull out the gunk (kaolin and bentonite), lactic and mandelic acid and physical exfoliators to tackle that glow, acne fighters like witch hazel, charcoal, volcanic ash, sulfur and tea tree oil…I mean…drool.

Full list of ingredients here:

Water/Aqua/Eau, Kaolin, Bentonite, Maris Limus (Sea Silt) Extract, Sulfur, Lactic Acid, Niacinamide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Butylene Glycol, Mandelic Acid, Calcium Sulfate, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Charcoal Powder, Volcanic Ash, Peumus Boldus Leaf Extract, Phytic Acid, Naringenin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Panthenyl Triacetate, Glycerin, Galactoarabinan, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxyethanol.

Application – was easy. I used about a quarter size to cover my face. My skin is feeling winter dry, so I only applied it to my T zone area. I made sure to be gentle when putting it on due to the exfoliators in there. It covered adequately, not too thin and not goopy.

Experience – it took about 10 min for it to really start to dry down. It dried to a light, sandy green and once it started drying felt really tight. Although I have sensitive skin, I am well acclimated in physical and chemical exfoliators, so I did not get a tingle that was of any intensity and my face did not turn red, but I would caution anyone with very sensitive or dry skin against using this, at least for any extended period of time.

Washing it off – unlike some of the other masks that I’ve used, this was fairly easy to get off. I appreciated the physical exfoliators and liked that this product included a lot of things I needed in one. My face looked smooth and evened out. Blackheads were less but not completed decreased.

To Sum It Up: This is not a mask that you’ll feel pampered using. It’s a POWER WORKER to get all dirt and grime out of your face.  It certainly doesn’t feel luxurious, but hey, if you’re blasting through my acne problems, who cares. The ingredients are known to be effective, and smell. The sulfur smell (think rotten eggs) wasn’t intense to me when I put it on, but it did linger all night. You might not want to use this one before a romantic night! I used a rather heavy duty moisturizer last night, but my t-zone area feels dry/tight today, a little roughed up albeit squeaky clean. Those with oily skin may want to use this a few times a week, but for me, this is no more than 1 x per week or after a heavy makeup day.

I’m very impressed with the heavy-duty ingredients in this one mask and would highly recommend it.

Overall Rating – 4/5

Price$$$$$

Packaging – 4/5