Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beauty Review! The Skincare Edition (lengthy!)

In the 20+ years I have been aware of the need to care for my skin properly, it seems like I have spent the entire time searching for the "holy grail" or "secret treasure" of products that will bestow glory and beauty. Whether it's the savage jungle of the drug store or the wild, untamed savannah of the department store beauty counter, my quest to find that perfect elixir continues.

On my journey, I have encountered ferocious beasts that ravage my skin! I have stumbled upon gentle creatures who bless my skin with a glow that would rival the moon!

I have invested time, comfort, and money for my skin. In this adventure of skincare, I have learned a few things: stick to the products that work, avoid the "flash in the pan" trends, and just because it's costs a penny, doesn't mean it will work! Also, on your quest you may have to tackle a few hurdles before striking it rich ("rich" meaning happy skin!)

Nevertheless, I would like to share with you my latest reviews for amazing products along with a product that left me with skin drier than the Sahara.

Let's start with the treasures!

Alba Botanica Sea Algae Enyzme Facial Scrub ($10.79 USD)
My skin is very sensitive so I really need to be careful when it comes to exfoliation. I normally exfoliate twice a week to help keep my oily skin clear and free of blackheads (if that's possible! Ha!) This scrub by Alba is amazing. It scrubs without irritation and its grains feel uniform and as a result, it polishes my skin evenly without scratching.

This scrub also has a little tingle as I scrub. This sensation is mild and not painful. I exfoliate in the shower and when I pat my skin dry, it feels smooth and soft. Like most scrubs, do not use them while using AHAs/BHAs nor immediately before or after facial waxing!

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17.00 USD)
I found out about Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion from a fellow classmate in graduate school about 10 years ago. I have been using it off and on ever since.  However, as of last summer, I rediscovered it again at Ulta Beauty and have been applying it nightly to newly forming pimples.

The lotion has two parts, a clear, yellow-tinged liquid and a pink sediment that sits on the bottom. To properly use this lotion, you cannot shake it! The two layers are meant to stay separated! Simply insert a clean cotton swab into the pink layer and apply to acne after cleansing skin. Moreover, this product is intended to be worn overnight whilst sleeping.

The lotion is better-suited for drying out pimples before they get a chance to get bigger. I have discovered that this lotion works wonders on pimples that are just forming. However, on larger, full-blown acne, the lotion will help somewhat shrink them but the results are not as stellar as when breakouts are new. In the morning, be sure to cleanse the remains of the drying lotion off completely!

Elemis Daily Redness Relief ($79.00 USD)

I have been using Elemis products since I had my first cruise spa treatment back in October 2001. Elemis is a skincare line from the UK. Their products have a focus on essential oils and quality ingredients. The line is pricey but most of their products I have used (except for the Tri-Enzyme Range (too strong!) have proven their worth.

Elemis Daily Redness Relief is great for reducing redness, irritation caused by harsh skincare products, exposure from the cold, rosacea, and post-waxing redness.

I have rosacea on my cheeks. It is a heredity-based condition that can worsen with age if not properly treated. The rosacea looks like new pimples forming on my face that never seem to develop or go away. I hate it! This condition can get aggravated whenever I ski (cold exposure), eat spicy food, get sick, or use skincare that is too rough! My skin is also very sensitive so I need to take extra special care to keep it calm.

After cleansing my skin in the morning and at night, I apply a tiny amount of Elemis Daily Redness on my cheeks and chin. This lotion is light and feels smooth. It does not add moisture so if your skin is dry you will need to apply a moisturizer on top. Just be sure to wait 15-20 minutes before doing so to ensure the redness cream's effectiveness.

Even though this cream (1.7 ounces or 50 ml) is expensive, I only use a tiny amount so one tube will last a long time!

Avalon Organics Daily Moisturizer "Lavender Renewal and Vitality for Sensitive Skin" ($16.95 USD)

I discovered this lovely gal when I lived in the high country of Colorado for a couple of months back in late 2008. As I have stated previously, my skin is very oily and sensitive. In a most climates, I need only a mattifying cream like La Therapie Creme Control or Elemis Daily Shine Control. But, in the dry mountain air of the Colorado Rockies, even my greasy skin gets dry!

While shopping at a local pharmacy one day, I stumbled upon this lavender-scented cream and upon seeing "sensitive" written on the jar, I decided to give it a try. And I am so glad I did!! The cream is light and feels weightless on. The scent is gorgeous and not heavy or cloying! The cream truly smells like real lavender and not some perfumey, fake lavender rip off!

This moisturizer does not clog my pores and/or cause breakouts. I use only a small amount and I apply it in sections to prevent using too much. When I apply my foundation, my skin looks smooth and I see no dry patches.

The only thing I do not like about this is the packaging. I wish it came in a squeeze tube instead of a jar. I do not like putting my fingers in the cream. Even though I wash my hands before doing my skincare routine, I worry about sanitation. In addition, whenever I travel, the cream tends to get sloshed around in the jar. As a result, cream gets on the inside of the lid and I have to scoop it back into the container.

Now that I have reviewed these fabulous finds, the time has come to review  a product so sinister and sneaky it needs to be put on a no-fly list!

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector B.B Cream in Light/Medium ($12.99 USD)

After reading about the recent "Beauty Balms" or "Blemish Balms" trend in skincare, I felt intrigued to try them. MAC Cosmetics has one and so does Clinique, Boscia, Boots, and Clarins. For those who do not know what a BB cream is, it is touted as a "all-in-one" skin perfector that offers hydration, skincare benefits, tinted moisturizer, and usually an SPF for protection.

On the Garnier website, they describe their BB cream as such:
"Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector is a miracle all-in-one product with immediate results you can see and feel. Skin is instantly airbrushed, beautifully smooth and even. Its light-weight and comfortable texture blends perfectly into skin. This all-in-one formula combines intense moisturizing skincare with Vitamin C + Mineral Pigments for instant miracle skin transformation: Evens skin's tone and complexion. Blurs imperfections (like blotchiness and fine lines). Boosts radiance. Moisturizes for 24-hours. Protects with SPF 15 UVA/UVB sunscreen against the harmful effects of the sun - the no. 1 cause of skin aging."

To start, the Garnier BB cream only comes in two shades; Light/Medium and Medium/Dark. I purchased the lighter shade and when I applied it to my cleansed skin, my face looked almost 'two foundation shades too dark.' Moreover, my skin had a slightly orange cast. Not good. However, if I applied the cream in small sections (one at a time), my skin looked more like its natural self.

For a week, I used this cream and it was great. All I had to do was simply cleanse my face and apply a pea-size amount of the cream, do my eye makeup, apply a little concealer where needed, set with powder, apply red lipstick, and go! My face looked flawless and smooth. When I used MAC Prep and Prime Finishing Powder, the slightly orange look was diffused away!

But while I was driving to my parents' house last weekend, my skin felt a little tight. I touched my face and felt a dry patch on my right cheek. Me? A Dry patch? Miss "Walking Oil Slick?!" Wha???????

When I looked in the mirror of my mother's powder room later that afternoon, I saw dry patches around the corners of my mouth and there was a field of flakes on my forehead! Honey, there were so many flakes on my face, the Corn Flakes in the kitchen pantry were feeling overshadowed and outdone!

Needless to say, I stopped using the BB cream and went back to my normal routine. My face is still a tiny bit dry but nothing like it was before. I am not sure what specifically caused my face to react but I know that I will never use that cream again. Maybe it will work better for someone else.

So, on your quest for skincare gold, what products have been good and/or bad for you girls?


  1. I have super sensitive skin, and the best thing I've found in just the plain noxema

    1. I have never used Noxema but I love the scent! Is it a cleanser or a type of cold cream that requires you to cleanse afterwards?

    2. I think it's just a cleanser? I've never done more than wiping it off, and a quick rinse and it's never been a problem for me

  2. I enjoyed this post, I've always been the same way when it comes to searching for that holy grail product!

    My skin is also very sensitive and prone to oiliness and breakouts. The one product that I have purchased again and again has been cold cream; I was a loyal Ponds user until they changed the formula (and my skin reacted very badly to the changed ingredients.) Now I use Albolene, and my skin is very happy with it! I've been testing out a couple of other products from a company called Silk Naturals over the past few weeks with good success, and will post a review of my own very soon.

    1. Thanks for the comments! I adore Ponds too! I go back and forth between Ponds and MAC Cleanse Off Oil as my makeup remover. I use the Ponds that is packaged with the green lid and I have no trouble. I also have used the store brand "Care One" and that is good for me too! No irritation!

  3. Jitterbugdoll, I have never used either, so I don't know this personally, but I've heard some people say that some store brand versions of Ponds is like the "old" formula

    1. I like the store brand "Care One" cold cream and you are right, it is very much like the original version!

  4. Betty2Tone, it's true that the store brands were basically the "original" formula of Ponds--but wouldn't you know it, the ones at CVS and Walgreens were eventually changed too! Albolene is quite basic and also unscented (which is an added benefit, even though I like the fragrance of Ponds). I'm hoping they don't change the formula any time soon!

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