Product Review: The Ordinary 30% AHA + 2% BHA Peeling Solution

BOO! Nope, it’s not your friend’s gory Halloween makeup, it’s The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA peeling solution! I posted a picture of myself on Facebook and immediately got questions on PRP (or the vampire facial), getting into a fight with a cheese grater, a chimney sweep and my favorite – my husband proclaiming he did not inflict any damage to his wife. Take a look at my goofy face. For many reasons it’s a little frightening.Ordinary_30

The Ordinary is a great little company that has taken the beauty market by storm. Anything but ordinary, they make really good, straightforward products that are both effective and very affordable. It’s a great way to inexpensively try things you’ve never heard of before like HA spheres and squalene. They’ve also recently been incorporated at Sephora, which is an interesting play for them to bring in lower cost options but goes to show you they’ve been making enough noise in the industry for the big players to notice.

A quick intro to acids

Acids are the absolute most essential part to my skincare routine and I suggest that Readhead readers incorporate them as well.  My skin both loves it, and requires it. I have dehydrated oily skin.  Think of the dehydrated skin as saran wrap over oil.  If you don’t get that layer off, the oil gets trapped in my large pores and breakout city. For drier skins, they may be too delicate for harsh scrubs and a lack of cell turnover can produce dull, crepey skin.

The main thing to know about acids is they fall into basically two camps – AHA (or alpha hydroxy acids) or BHA (beta hydroxy acids). AHAs are great at removing the “glue” that holds the top layers of skin together.  They will brighten and tighten.  Common names are glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids and come in formulations from 7-75%.  They are great for resurfacing, treating sun damage and fine lines. BHAs are generally lower percentages, with most functioning properly at 2%.  They bypass sebum (aka oil) to get into the pore to unclog them and are generally a form of salicylic acid. You can see some peeling at higher percentages, but this is more of a getting down and dirty type of acid vs. the AHA which will show immediate brightening effects.  Rest assured though, they are both acids and require careful use and SPF!

The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA

As mentioned above, it should make sense to you then why formulation in The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA has a much AHA higher percentage than the BHA.  But, it’s great that this formulation includes both. especially for skin types like mine – read anything other than very sensitive or reactive.  I would also like to throw out there that if you don’t plan on a good SPF/hat/shade game, then please skip this.  Not only will you undo any of the benefits, but you’ll also make your skin more photosensitive.

Ingredients:

Here’s the ingredients from The Ordinary’s site: Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

You’ll see the AHAs glycolic, tactic and tartaric and citric acids listed which help get to that 30% formulation. Salicylic acid is the BHA.  Then you’ve got a host of hydrators and soothers like sodium hyaluronate, sodium hydroxide, glycerin and what gives this stuff it’s signature (and frightening) blood-red color is the Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf extract.

Packaging and Application:

This states, and I agree, that this is for seasoned skincare folks who know how to use and can tolerate high percentages of acids. It comes in a bottle with a dropper.  No frills, but looks clean and in line with the Ordinary’s slightly hipster anti-packaging flare. I started with a clean, dry face and put a few drops on my hands and then slathered it on.

The reddish-pink color was a bit shocking but I have to admit that I appreciated that you could easily see where you put the peel on.  I then patted in a few extra goes on my forehead, nose, chin and cheeks which need some extra de-clogging. You’ll see that is the more streaky areas from the picture. I let it sit for 10 minutes; it was very simple to use and didn’t require extra steps or tools. I can dig that.

Result

I am very acclimated to OTC acids and I could feel this one.  It certainly wasn’t unbearable, but I could feel it.  Definitely do not use this with any open cuts, acne, after sun exposure or recent exfoliation.

I rinsed it off and voila! My face was tight, bright and shiny.  Here’s my face again with no filter and no makeup…or hair styling for that matter.  See Readhead readers, there’s nothing but keepin’ it real here.Ordinary_30after

You’ll see I’ve got a nice glow customary of AHA peels.  My pores were temporarily diminished and the majority were clean.  I have two stubborn blackheads that didn’t budge though, unfortunately.

I decided to wait a couple of days to review this to see what happened.  My skin felt somewhat dry, but did not visibly flake. That ultra bright glow did fade but as the days went by my skin was still brighter than previous.  My one caveat to that was that I broke out in tiny white heads in a few places.  Since you’ve read my pimple puzzle post I knew that this was caused by some irritation from this peel.  They weren’t ragers, but they popped up and came to a head very quickly. I had read some reviews from others that this happened to. I don’t believe in purging, especially my skin since I’m not starting a skincare routine from scratch, so I chalked this up to irritation. For those who have sensitive skin, you may want to patch test first. I would also caution using this on your neck or your chest area without patch testing as these areas are typically more sensitive and delicate than your facial skin.

Final assessment

This did what a mask of this type should do.  It was kind of fun to use in the process as well!  The ingredients are good and YOU CANNOT BEAT THE PRICE.  It’s a whopping $7.20 compared to the $80 that my beloved Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial retails for.

It’s got a lot going for it, and now that I’m basically back to being a poor college student (more on that in another post) I think this is a great option for budget-seekers. Where it does fall down for me though, is the irritation. For someone of my skin type it is missing that extra blend of luxuriousness like the Babyfacial which left me with similar results, no irritation and missing that feeling of dry “if you rubbed your finger over my skin it would sound like Tupperware” skin afterwards.

When you’re talking $8 vs. $80 though, you’re willing to forego some things.  I’d recommend this one, but with a cautionary note.  It’s high powered and makes no excuses. It lacks overall availability like a drugstore product, but you can easily order it online or stop by Sephora or another Ordinary shop.

Overall: 4/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging:  5/5

 

Have you used The Ordinary products? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: Dr. Jart Dermaclear Trans-foam Clay Trio

As someone who loves Korean skincare, I’m definitely a Dr. Jart fan.  My love with the brand started when my skin went haywire and still needed protection, so I tried the Dr. Jart Premium Beauty Balm.  With all the options in my arsenal, this is the one I still use today. Pretty impressive coming from a beauty junkie!

When I see a new (to me anyway) Dr. Jart product comes on the market and it addresses exactly what I need, I snag it.  It was winter time and my skin was angry.  Between flying back and forth between Cincinnati and New York, an absolutely brutal winter, and those pesky pimples that I assessed via my trusty way thus figuring they were caused by dehydration and bacteria while using a scarf to literally cover my face.  A straight up clay mask was too dehydrating, and ding! Dr. Jart to the rescue.

What it is

Dr. Jart’s Dermaclear Trans-Foam Clay Trio is pretty darn descriptive of what it is.  You get a package with three different tubes – pink, white and green – that are in essence still a clay mask that busts through oil and debris in your skin, but targeted to different needs.  The pink is moisturizing, white is clarifying, and green is calming.  I’ll take that, that, and that.

Packaging

These three flexible metal tubes (think toothpaste) come in a see-through plastic box with a sturdy piece at the bottom where all three caps rest into.  This would help them stand up if needed.  I liked that it kept them separated and easy to know which one I was pulling out, but the “stand” did get stuck and was hard for me to pull the tubes out the first few times.  I also liked the toothpaste-like tubing which would make sure you could get the last drop out.

Much like most of Dr. Jart’s products, the look is a clean and clinical.  All three tubes are white with silver and black lettering.  The differentiation between pink, gray and white is very subtle on the label, reminding me of those pastel chalky buttery mints you get.  If you weren’t paying attention, they could easily get confused.

Application

Since I was breaking out, I tried the white (or clarifying) one first. I squeezed it onto my fingers and low and behold.  Trans-foam clay was exactly what it felt like.  It was substantial, yet airy.  It almost felt like liquid styrofoam. Not gel-like, not mud-like, not granular, not pasty…just…airy and foamy clay.

I squeezed out about the length of the tip of my pointer finger. It held it’s shape, but spread easily bordering between clay and soap.  Such a strange consistency!  I put it all over my face, tapping it in areas where gunk tends to accumulate and let it sit. The smell was somewhere between clay and Dr. Jart’s signature herbal scents.

It dried down, but not to an uncomfortable dryness that can happen with clay. I could still move my face without it feeling like it was cracking and tugging. There was no tingle.  I didn’t see hoards of oil pouring out of my face.  What was this stuff doing?  I had no idea.

I washed it off and the consistency changed to almost a thick, moisturizing yet foamy face wash.  It took me some extra rinses to get it all off.  Once I finished my skin was clean, but not squeaky clean.  My skin looked clear, but it didn’t blast through my blackheads on my nose.  Hmm.  Could Dr. Jart be letting me down?

Final Assessment

I used these a few more times, and while I can’t say that I felt a noticeable difference between the colors (although the pink did have a different smell), they were “nice.”  They certainly didn’t hurt my skin, but I didn’t see miracles happening either.

However, what I found as an AMAZING way to use them, is after working out.  I tend to break out because my gigantic pores clog so easily.  Now, after a good run I come home and slap some of this on and let it dry.  This gets in my open pores with sweat and grime and pulls it out gently before I hop into the shower where I can rinse it off and use my trusty CeraVe SA.  I can use this multiple times per week which is great.  A straight up clay mask, or ones with acids would be too harsh to do this frequently.  I’ve noticed a marked improvement from when I wasn’t using this, especially where my jaw meets my neck.  I’ve been plagued with pesky pimples in this area for a few years now.  Finally!

Would I buy these again?  If I’m on a health kick, or in the summer when I have the potential for sweat and sunscreen to wreak havoc on me, then I probably would.  But, it’s not something, at least at this point, that I feel I couldn’t live without.  If you’re someone who suffers from breaking out due to sweating and you have sensitive skin, this might be a great alternative for you.

At $35 for three tubes it’s not a budget buster, but if you had to make some choices in your beauty routine, this is one I think you can do without.  Sorry, Dr. Jart, one of the first products you make that’s not HG for me.

Overall: 3.5/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 4/5

Do you have a product from Dr. Jart that you love?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Product Review: Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer

Does this describe you?

Hate the effort of putting on lotion but loathe dry skin?

Easily get cold when getting out of the shower so you rush to the finish line sans adding back needed moisture?

Use lotion but just never feel like you have enough moisture afterwards?

Although embarrassed by your snaky scaly self, you somehow do nothing about it?

Hate the feel or smell of lotion?

Think lotion is just for women?

Introducing your new best friend and my favorite product I’ve stumbled upon in 2018 – Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer

What it is

Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer is a silky, non-sticky feeling lotion (boom! #5) jam packed with additional emollient moisturizers and oils (bang! #3) that you use IN the shower (ca-chow! #2) that allows you to quickly slather it on (bye Felicia! #1 and #4) and makes your skin soft like a well-oiled cabana girl (or boy) plus smell like a tropical coconut paradise that is both appropriate for men and women (I got 99 problems but #5 or #6 ain’t one).  The technology in this is slightly different than the other in-shower lotions I’ve tried which instruct you to use during your shower and wash off, like an extra-moisturizing body wash.

This in-shower moisturizer is used after you turn your shower off and while you’re still wet.  Then, you just simply pat dry.  It works by entering your pores while they are open from the steam, and the oils trapping moisture into the skin.

Not having to stand in my bathroom freezing your coconuts off while slathering lotion on? Now THIS I can get on board with.

Packaging

The packaging comes in a soft blue plastic bottle, similar to what you’d experience with any body wash.  The bottle tapers to a wider bottom which also has the flip-top lid.  This provides a sturdy base to keep it from tipping over and eliminates any need for shaking to get the product out.  It looks appropriate for a man or woman’s shower.  The blue although pale, does not come across as overly masculine and there’s no flowery imagery which shouts girl-power.  It’s edges are rounded and although no frills packaging, it was well-thought out and is nice for the category. It’s a utility product which easily blends in with all your shower basics.

Application

When I squeezed the lotion out, it was a consistency you’d expect.  It’s a lotion, but much more oil-based.  It’s thinner, but not runny.  The creamy color also has some transparency to it. I put about a silver dollar-sized dollop in my left hand, and then scooped a little here and there to place on my arms, legs, stomach, chest, and back area so that it was evenly spread.  Next, I got to work rubbing it in everywhere.  My hands slid around like I was putting oil on, but there was no sticky/oily/tacky feel.  It was almost as if it dissipated into water.

I lathered myself up for about 30 seconds, making sure to pay special attention to my knees, elbows and decollete area which tend to get dry.  It too so little time that I hadn’t begun to freeze in the shower yet and ta-dah!  I was finished.

I purchased the coconut which caused some apprehension on my end.  I do not like overly sweet or sugary smells.  This was great.  It smelled like coconut oil without the sugar and reminded me of being at the beach getting a tan (without the fake Banana Boat waft).  It also wasn’t overpowering that it would interfere with other stronger scents.

The first time I tried it, I wiped myself down after the shower.  I then tried it again with patting, and this seemed to work better, allowing the moisturizer to remain a bit longer and penetrate deeper.

Overall

If you can’t tell by my review, I absolutely love this product.  I find myself touching my shoulders and my decollete which have been blasted by the sun over the years and they are soft as a baby’s behind.  It’s not going to solve all the dry skin problems (please don’t use this on your face), but if you’re like me who’s shower water is may be heated by nuclear reactors and ANYTHING better will be an improvement, this is a great option.  If you’re already using great products, this will also help kick it up a notch.

For 10 oz. at $5.59 on Amazon or availability in just about any drugstore which always carry sales, you can’t beat the price and convenience on this product. Ulta typically has buy one get one half off sales, so I plan to stock up.

I highly recommend that men and women alike give this one a try! I’m rating this one as a Certified ReadHead Best!

Overall: 5/5 

*Certified ReadHead Best 

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

Have an in-shower moisturizer or lotion you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Tips for layering products

These days there are so many products out there.  Add in getting older or troubled skin and you end up having a bed time routine that rivals painting the Sistine Chapel.

I believe that effective multi-taskers which give you everything you need in one or two steps is like a unicorn that will never be found.  Buy really good products that target what you’re solving for, and layer ’em up.

What actually seems like a straightforward idea is the cause for much confusion.  How do you know what to put on first? Readhead to the rescue!

Getting Started

There are two really great ways that can help you remember how, and which products, layer well and in which order.  One, determining what the individual products are supposed to do and two, the consistency or viscosity of those products.  Read on for more.

Step 1: Determine what the individual products are supposed to do

You’ve got targeted serums high in actives?  Those should go closest to your skin so they can get in there and do their job.  As you layer, the ones closest to your skin are generally more concentrated.  You’ll want your acids, retinoids and peptide powerhouses to be slathered on before your heavier products.

Concentrated serums —> moisturizers —> protectants

Make sure to check out ingredients that play well together and during certain times of the day, and those that don’t.  For instance, vitamin C helps with photoaging and is best used during the day.  Retinoids can make skin photosensitive and may have negative effects if used during the day, especially without a proven form of SPF.  Others, like glycolic acids and salicylic acid work beautifully together to remove and declog layers of the skin but can be irritating to those with a compromised skin barrier or sensitive skin.

It can seem like your local beauty associate is selling you up the creek by suggesting different products for a day and night routine, but if you’ve got the resources (read time and money) you should tailor those routines as much as possible for the most efficacy.  Be aware of products that are high in ‘ones (i.e. silicones) that have a silky or waxy slip as they create a barrier that may be harder for other actives products to break through.  Use those towards the end.

Step 2: Feel the viscosity to know what goes first to last

This trick rings tried and true for me if I get a new product and I’m not quite sure where it fits in the continuum.  The more watery (and usually clear) your product is, the closer to the front of the line it should go.  As products get more occlusive (meaning thicker and sealing down) less and less of the goodies will be able to penetrate it.  For example, my Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is straight like water.  That goes on first.  My retinoid is a slightly thicker watery gel consistency.  The SkinMedica TNS product I use is slightly thicker and my moisturizer the thickest.  Easy!

How long do you wait between steps?

Ideally, you’d want to give each layer 5-10 minutes of dry-time if you can spare.  With busy schedules I say as long as you give time between the different viscosities, you’re OK to speed up using a few products together.

What about oils?

This one is up for debate and tricks even the savviest of skincare connoisseurs, however if you think about the science of oil, it makes sense that oils should be the LAST piece to the puzzle (except for SPF).  If you think of the old term “oil and water” you know that they don’t really mix.  Moisturizers, although made of oils, are meant to hydrate the skin and generally contain water-friendly ingredients, including hyaluronic acid which helps to draw water into the skin.

If you put oil on first, then a moisturizer, your oil is working to keep anything water-friendly out.  By using oil afterwards, it seals the moisturizer in by repelling it until it’s absorbed, and then the oil continues to hydrate. And there you have it, Readhead readers.  Moisturizer first, oil last.

How many steps do you have in your routine? Drop us a line in the comments.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Five tips you should start today if you want to look younger

Google “tips to look younger” and you’ll see a million different tips and tricks. 75% of them will follow the same mantra – drink water, use SPF, get sleep, don’t smoke, don’t sunbathe…the list goes on and on.  Those are absolutely things that you should be doing that will certainly aid in at least preserving what you have.  I’ll take it a step further to talk about some other ideas you might not have thought of.

  1. Take 3 minutes to look at the sky (or ceiling) per day.

A weird little suggestion, eh?  No, it’s nothing philosophical although taking a break throughout the day can have it’s benefits.  Too often we are sitting staring down at things – our computer, phones and tablets. There is actually a thing called “smartphone face” or “tech-neck.” Doctors and experts (which I am not!) are saying that due to our constant frowning, looking down and faces stern with concentration, we are giving ourselves wrinkles and a sagging lower face faster than ever before.

Try it for yourself.  Put your finger under your chin and look at your phone.  You’re smashing your face and chin by constantly looking down.  You’re also causing your neck muscles and ligaments to shorten, which can pull your lower cheeks and neck down and loosen elasticity at an accelerated rate.  Scary?  Absolutely.  The fix? Make sure you take a break and stretch your neck muscles throughout the day.  Taking a break will also pull you away from constantly squinting of frowning at your computer.

2. Invest in a good razor….for your face

The secret, unspoken “s” word.  Shaving your face. I may have just ruined the mental image for men everywhere who believe that women are born like a hairless cat in all the places we choose to be.  Not the case. Call it dermaplaning or whatever fancy name you want so as to not let on that you are, infact, shaving your face, but it can do wonders for your skin.

A professional dermatologist or esthetician will take a little scalpel-like razor to your whole face to remove dead skin cells.  In the process, it also removes peach fuzz and leaves a bright, glowing and smooth canvas.  I say to save your money and talk to a guy friend who won’t spill your secret (or just check out reviews) and invest in a run-of-the-mill razor.  By regularly shaving your face, you remove the top layer of dead skin and encourage skin cell turnover while removing any peach fuzz that can impede on a great foundation finish.

As we age, hormones change which can create more of those whiskers than we care to admit, and our skin gets drier while shedding itself less.  This type of exfoliation will help give you a smooth, bright complexion and will help your skincare products get deeper into the dermis. Make sure to use a base so that you aren’t tugging or causing irritation to your skin, and follow up with a good BHA to get into the pore to keep from ingrown hairs or infections.

3. Ditch the eyeliner under your eyes

As we age, we develop fine lines around our eyes and a general lacking of elasticity in our skin.  The skin around the eye is one of the most delicate of the body, and generally is the first area to see the signs of aging.  This also means that eyelids can start to become hooded when once we had big, round, youthful eyes. Knowing this, we can use optical illusions to help stave off the look of aging as much as we can.  Lining your eyes underneath draws the visual down, and especially if you’re also lining at the top, closes in your eyes emphasizing sagging, circles or puffiness.

The goal is to make the eyes feel lifted and wide.  If you like to line your eyes, stick to the top with a sultry smudge at the outter corners to give some dimension or a cute flick of a winged cat eye. If you absolutely can’t forego it, try a light eye shadow that gives you some lining capability but is soft and reflects light.  Be careful to choose a neutral color with light relecting properties but steer clear of metallics or glitter which can have the opposite effect. Applying these products to the top-only also applies to mascara.  Unless you’re going for a specific dramatic look, adding mascara to your bottom lashes creates the opportunity for black smudges throughout the day which make you look tired and can settle into fine lines.  Using a white pencil to tight line your eyes can also help brighten the whites of your eyes and make them look more open, awake and youthful.

4. Invest in a good hair stylist

I love people watching at the airport because I see some of the most stylish women roll through.  Two things I notice about a really well put-together woman of any age is a trendy yet age-appropriate hair style and clothes that reflect a classic style with a flavor of trendiness – meaning that it’s not trying too hard .

There are so many amazing choices these days with color and products and my favorite…the tools. It’s worth spending the $10-20 more for a hair cut or color for someone who really knows what they’re doing and for your type of hair.  If someone doesn’t break out a pair of thinning shears on me, I wonder how they graduated hair school.  I’m still paying for an ill-fated cut from 8 months ago. You just cannot cut my hair properly without them. Someone who can give you texture and a playfulness that fits your personality, while looking refined just has that extra set of confident polish to them.

Don’t underestimate a good stylist.  They are not all created equal, NOR do they cut all types of hair with the same expertise.  If you like someone’s hair that is like yours, snatch ’em up.

5. Lotion & lip balm are like American Express.  Don’t leave home without it

This one is where I should listen to my own advice.  I cannot stress how important lotion is and yet I despise the whole process so much it’s laughable. As we grow older our weight tends to fluctuate.  Our skin stops shedding and rejuvenating itself. All of our past sins are starting to show themselves.  This is when fine lines around the lips reveal their evil ways all of a sudden when your lipstick bleeds for the first time, or you ate too much turkey on Thanksgiving and your love handle starts to itch.  It’s because…it’s dry skin…stretching.  Which can cause stretch marks and skin that’s just flat out tired of bouncing back.  You can read about my rubber band analogy here.

This is where the ounce of prevention quote comes into play.  Ladies and gents in your late teens and 20s?  Fall in love with moisturizing your whole body.  Hands, feet, lips, you name it.  A good workout routine, some leafy greens and fruits, and a healthy obsession with your favorite moisturizer and you’ll maintain beautiful skin well past your peers.

Find something that was interesting or have a tip of your own? Drop us a line in the comments.

Why I don’t wear makeup to work everyday. And it’s not what you think

Makeup and skincare is a beautiful thing.  It’s something that I love (clearly, since I’m devoting my precious little free time to proclaiming to anyone who will listen to me how awesome it is).  As much as I love makeup, I also shy away from it.  Why you ask?  It’s pretty simple.

Yes, not wearing makeup saves money and time, but it’s not really about that for me.  It’s more of a philosophy.  When you grow up with skin that turns on you at any second, you make conscious choices – almost negotiations – before you layer up on the next product. A sort of quid pro quo, Clarice – ok that was a little creepy but if my skin had a voice it would be something that would instill a bit of fear of the unknown.  I just know if I wear that amazing full-coverage foundation that makes me look airbrushed that I’ll pay the next week with breakouts.  Constantly curling and adding 5 coats of mascara will eventually cause my lashes to be brittle and break.  So, because my level of effort to keep my skin calm caused me to make some choices, I developed a new relationship with makeup that is purely serving a need want of self expression.

Doing so became my own beautiful thing.  If I don’t feel like enhancing myself that day, I don’t.  I don’t know if my work friends appreciate my down to earth vibe when I show up with no makeup on (is she sick?) but it does something for me physically – by letting my skin calm down – and emotionally.  It forces me to be comfortable in my own skin and almost always creates this subtle approachable vibe.  I run the same meetings, and talk to the same people. I may have a rager on my forehead, and speaking of, let’s talk about that cowlick that looks like it’s thinning…but I am still there just like I always am to get *ish done.

Why am I posting about this?  Because tis the season where people get down in that dark cold place of the holidays.  Where you start folding in, instead of branching out.  And it’s true that you are just beautiful the way you are.  This amazing thing happens to me when I haven’t worn mascara in a while.  I decide to curl my lashes and do my thing and BOOM I feel like Adriana Lima. I cover up my redness with a great primer and foundation and wow…I look flawless – cha- ching! I fill my eyebrows in and it’s me against the world.  But I don’t need it to feel like me. It’s the same face I was staring at but I got used to the done-up drag that becomes routine. I got rid of half my gadgets and extras. I realized that people don’t really care.  And if they do, well, they probably aren’t my cup o’ probiotic & protein infused tea.

So I challenge you this wintry season to focus on the things that helps your skin heal and thrive.  Try a few days or weeks without the full face of makeup and see how you feel.  Go up and talk to a stranger at the bar when you just would NEVER if your hair and lip liner wasn’t tip top.  You’ll be surprised how liberated you’ll feel (so many guys loathe lipstick anyway) and when you decide you want to do you and pamper yourself up to the hilt you’ll just know you look so. dang. fine.

Don’t believe me on the benefits? Check out what this writer at Cosmo had to say.

What do you think? Could you do a makeup-free challenge? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Product Review: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum

Here at ReadHead, we’re just a tad bit (a lot) nerdy about science in skincare.  I will start this post off with saying three things right off the bat before you read on: 1) this is clinically proven to work 2) you will never get over the sticker shock 3) there are some funky ingredients.  Ok now that that is settled, read on!

SkinMedica is a physician-only skincare line – meaning you have to get it from a place that is licensed like a dermatologist, medical spa or plastic surgeon’s office.  Their products contain top-of-the-line ingredients, and a price tag to boot.  Their #1 flagship ingredient is TNS, which I’ll talk about more in a second.  This line, and TNS Essential Serum in particular, is well known, top-rated and a part of the daily skincare routine by just about any certified dermatologist/plastic surgeon/medispa professional out there.

The science behind SkinMedica’s TNS

Major contributors to both intrinsic (meaning the actual aging process we all go through as part of our biology) and extrinsic (meaning things like diet, improper care and damage that humans expose themselves to) aging are splotchiness and freckling, wrinkles and loss of collagen.  You can read my post about drinking collagen to learn more about the role and effects of losing collagen here in my blog.

SkinMedica has done research that founded and brought to the commercial pharmaceutical landscape the importance of stem cell and human growth factors into topical skincare.  TNS includes a patented and to some, shocking and confusing ingredient called Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media.   This ingredient, which is sourced from discarded neonatal tissue (i.e. foreskins…and here’s usually where the confusion/shock/intrigue/distain sets in) is housed in chambered solutions that allow it to function and generate as our natural bodies would.  This growth factor and other cytokins mimic the skin’s natural production of elastin and collagen synthesis to promote younger-looking skin over time.

As also stated in my post about collagen, there is speculation on how much penetration these molecules have due to their large size.  There is agreement that it can penetrate pores and hair follicles, but that they function at their best after skin has been compromised i.e. microneedling, a strong peel, or laser, to get deeper and get more of the benefits of the technology.

Unlike many skincare products out there, this one has been proven in multiple clinical studies, and as mentioned, is THE choice for doctors and specialists to have access to just about anything in the world to choose from.

If you want to learn more about growth factors and clinical studies, you can find sourced information from the NIH here.

Ingredients

This SkinMedica product dispenses in a dual chamber, so that you get two different “sets” of product that you mix together.

I’ve already mentioned the Human Conditioned Fibroblast Media which is the differentiator in this product, but it also has an impressive array of vitamins and extracts.

Here’s the info from SkinMedica’s website:

Chamber 1:

TNS Recover Complex – Human Fibroblast conditioned media. A physiologically balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized growth factor blend that helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture.

Chamber 2:

APS Corrective Complex made up of peptides and antioxidants like green tea, vitamin E, alpha-arbutin and hyaluronic acid.

Full list of ingredients: Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Unsaponifiables, Alpha-Arbutin, Isoceteth-20, Arachidyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Ergothioneine, Hydrolyzed Sericin, Phospholipids, Ubiquinone, Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Leaf Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Aminobutyric Acid, Phytosterols, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Squalene, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax (Oryza Sativa Cera), Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steareth-10, Steareth-20, Butylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Parfum/Fragrance, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Coumarin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Isoeugenol

Packaging & Application

The packaging that this bottle comes in is top notch.  It’s a presentation, as it should be with a $280 MSRP price tag. It has SkinMedica’s signature taupey-gray color with the silver chromatic lettering.  While the box it comes in is substantial, I wouldn’t call it or the bottle the product comes in as beautiful.  SkinMedica wouldn’t compete with a Lancôme or other products that spend a lot on marketing and packaging.  It’s straight-forward and appropriate, but you know you aren’t paying for a beauty bottle on your counter.  I care more about the science than the look of packaging, so that doesn’t bother me.  But, if you like to be delighted with your packages, this one may leave you wanting more.

The chambers are also a bit annoying.  Over time, the two products can misfire so that you get more of one product vs. another.  I end up having to store it upside down, or forcefully tap it on it’s top to get the chambers to work properly.

I dispense a shockingly strange color of white and bright orange onto the back of my hand, dollop them around a bit to mix them up, ad put it on my skin.  I’m a terrible baker, but I envision when you use a spatula device to layer in whipped egg whites – scoop and flip gently. The look, nor the smell will take you anywhere close to organic or botanical.  It’s a kick you in the ass real-deal “if you don’t like it oh well” type of thing.  It smelled to me like whatever chemicals they use in a Port-o-Potty.  I can’t even make that sound any more refreshing.  I’d turn my head and “whiff.”  Not my favorite. At all.

But dammit if it doesn’t work, and then you have to suck it up on the painful price tag, it’s faulty mechanics and it’s awful smell because your face glows, your skin is tighter and your wrinkles less.  And such is life.

Final Assessment

This is a supreme luxury treatment and is right for the right type of consumer.  This is prime for someone in your 30s or 40s (who can afford it) before you start to see the full signs of aging.  This is a bit overkill for anyone younger.  I’d suggest a drugstore or Sephora-like buy of the beautycare basics an exfoliant, moisturizer, retinoid and sunscreen for that age range.

There are other products that will do great things for your skin.  But, they won’t do great things like this.  Growth factors are the future of pharmaceuticals, but they also have their risks.  It’s new and groundbreaking, but it is also not tested over time.  I also maintain that no topical product is a replacement for surgery or injections, so you have to be realistic about what it can do for you.

For now I’m going to hold my breath and wait until my local spa has it on sale.  For $281 MSRP for one oz, that is a bit of like breathing in smelling salts (or Port-o-Potty chemicals) and feeling like you need to go o confession each time you press “buy.” But I’ll give it a ReadHead best and save my pennies to purchase this little dose of the fountain of youth.

Consumer warning: this is a product that is certified to be sold at licensed skincare professionals only.  You buy at your own risk from Amazon and other sellers.  In my opinion the savings is not worth the risk.

Overall: 5/5

*Certified ReadHead Best

Packaging: 3/5

Price: $$$$$

Have you used SkinMedica TNS? Drop us a line in the comments.

What Drinking Collagen For 30 Days Changed For Me (Part 2)

I wrote in a previous post about the benefits of collagen and that I was going to put it to the test in a 30 and 90-day recap.  I purchased Vital Protein’s Collagen Protein Peptides because it seemed quick, somewhat affordable, and had the backings of pro athletic teams and Jennifer Anniston – and who doesn’t want to look like her.

I made my teal blue and white plastic tub my BFF at work for the last 30ish days.  It became a bit of a talking point while making my coffee or typing away.  “What cha doing there?” says a co-worker.  “Drinking your lunch again?” says my boss (she’s awesome and acknowledges my beauty quirks without raising too much of an eyebrow).  “Oh ya know, just injecting my triple espresso Americano with protein collagen powder from cows.  It’s totally normal.”

For a little over 30 days consistently I mixed my one scoop of extremely fine milled powder into my kick-me-in-the-ass coffee.  It left a little bit of a sticky, sandy feel that seemed to find my fingers and lingered in the back of my throat that took a few days to get used to.  I don’t even notice it now.  That’s how I went about my every morning except one time when I got fancy and tried it in a cold ultra smoothie (that I was in fact drinking as my lunch).  It turned into a gelatinous blob of what I can only think of wet Plaster of Paris mixed with mucus would consist of.  One unsuspecting gulp of that concoction that barely made it through my straw literally caused my gag reflex to fire. I grossed everyone out around me by fishing it out of my smoothie with the straw and flicking it into garbage can. Plink. Plink. ::shudders::

I give Vital Proteins credit.  I went this route because I loathe every other protein shake that I’ve tried.  They are either gritty, have some sort of fake taste to it, or require a degree in blender college + an investment that would surely dip into my Sephora stash for the fruit just to make it bearable.  Isn’t that just more calories??? Pass.

Other than the sandy stickiness, there was no detectable taste.  It was easy to mix right at my desk.  I thought the portion size was a bit ridiculous when I saw my $40 jug was only 14 servings but I ended up only doing one scoop once a day vs. two multiple times a day and still have plenty left.

The Verdict

I’m only about 30 days in, and I don’t believe in overnight miracles.  The protein powder is said to help with hair, skin, joints and nails.  I take supplements already that address these, so I honestly didn’t see a difference that I could attribute to this powder.  I started walking more and felt like I had rocks in my joints, so although I will chalk that up to age and overdoing it, it certainly didn’t make me feel like a gazelle.

I also didn’t turn into Benjamin Button overnight, so I’m left wondering what this supposed miracle in a bottle is really supposed to do for me.  However, I will say that I no longer had my pangs of needing protein STAT! which was the reason I started the process in the first place.  The fact that I see this difference leads me to believe there’s something there, and since that was a huge annoyance for me (plus it was clearly something my body was telling me I needed to give it) I’ll keep with it.

For those who don’t have such an extensive skincare routine as I do, or maybe don’t take other supplements that address hair, skin and nails (I will attest that the ones I take do work) then you might see a difference.  I’m only 30 days in, and am looking forward to seeing if there is any accelerated change when I check in at the 90 day mark.

So far would I suggest it? If you’re into supplements and you’re a health optimizer, then sure.  It certainly isn’t hurting anything.  If you’re like me and have had trouble finding ways to incorporate protein, I’d also say it’s a nice alternative.  The jury is still out though, on if this really lives up to the hype of being a beauty benefit.  Vital Proteins has full stars from over 120 reviewers, so unless there’s something shady there, they are making believers.  I have yet to be sold.

Check back in for the 90 day review!

 

 

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.