Best Cleansers of 2011 (thus far…)

I had a steady stream of cleansers sent my way lately which were quickly adding up, so over the past few months I’d use a different one for a full 7 days, twice a day to get a real feel for how it worked and how my skin responded. They didn’t all make the cut of course, but I did find several I really liked based on the following:

  • Completely cleans skin and removes makeup
  • Has a unique spin
  • Smells good (one was excluded just because it smelled like old lady)
  • Doesn’t dry or strip the skin
  • No irritation or breakouts caused

So here we go, the first batch of cleansers I’m loving in 2011.

Kosmea Clarifying Facial Wash

It’s not only the intoxicating rose scent that makes me love this Clarifying Facial Wash, it’s the feeling it gives my face after using it that I call squeaky soft because although it removes all impurities, there isn’t a hint of tightness once my skin dries. $32

Caudalie Cleansing Water

Now you have no excuse not to remove your makeup nightly. Caudalie’s Cleansing Water is one of the best I’ve used to really remove the day using a quick, gentle solution of Grape Extract and Plant Glycerin. Soak a cotton pad with the water and with just a few swipes, you’ll have a sparkling clean face that even the most sensitive skin can tolerate. $26

Sensai Silky Purifying Creamy Soap

Sensai’s Soap in a tube is such a hit that Saks wouldn’t let you buy more than 6 a month. I can understand why – the travel size I received will probably outlast most of my standard sized cleansers. It’s so rich and dense that just a dab produces a hearty foam nabbing dirt and makeup, and leaving behind a really soft moisture finish. $50

Bioelements All Things Pure Cleanser

A good clay cleanser is hard to find. I like Bioelements‘ version because of the amount of organic aloe it mixes in with the clay to soothe and calm the skin. It’s the first clay-based cleanser I’ve used that would be suitable to all skin types, and it’s definitely ‘green’ girl approved with mostly natural and organic ingredients. $35

Kate Sommerville Detox Daily Cleanser

Facialist-to-the-stars Kate Somerville formulated her Daily Detox Cleanser for those who struggle with breakouts but also want some anti-aging benefits. In short, it’s not a harsh cleanser that will strip the hell out of troubled skin. Daily Detox gives you the foam you want for slightly oily and inflamed skin while also helping to lighten acne scars using Phytic Acid and also stabilize oil production. $32

Wei Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser

Yes I know I’m slightly obsessed with all things Rose, but this is a perfect example of a great cleanser that didn’t just use the scent to brand the product – Rose Flower Infusion is its first ingredient. I found it to be surprisingly thorough and one of my favorites of the bunch because of its light and easy ability to cleanse and leave the skin looking bright and glowy. $32

L’Oreal Go 360 Clean Deep Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

I tried several drugstore offerings in this batch, some I’ll review for my blog for Walmart.com, but I thought this one was special and had universal appeal. 360 for sensitive skin is a soap-free, gentle cleanser that washes away clean without leaving a trace of irritating residue. $7

Zap Breakouts on Sensitive Skin; Eau Thermale Avéne Cicalfate

Eau Thermale Avéne call themselves the experts in sensitive skin since 1743. Their Hydrotherapy Center in France has been home to over 300 studies based on the efficacy of their thermal spring water that flows around the property, known for its soothing and healing benefits which is the basis for the line. My aesthetician, Tjaden (of The Skin Studio in Wash Park) introduced me to Cicalfate a while back because of how it gently heals compromised skin while maintaining its overall health.

When I start to feel a breakout coming on, my first inclination is to reach for something that will blast the inflammation and bring it down quickly, which often leads to a longer healing time because of the flaking and redness that soon follow. Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream is meant to heal breakouts, burns, scrapes, diaper rash, and even irritation caused by laser skin treatments by speeding up the skin’s ability to heal itself and also reducing subsequent scaring. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties make it perfect for gently diminishing breakouts while leaving the skin in a pristine state.

You may not have heard of this popular line, but it’s everywhere. You’ll find it in spas and dermatologist’s offices, but also in select retail stores and of course online at one of my very favorite sites to buy beauty on the web, Drugstore.com.

Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream

At-Home Peels for Better Skin

I got a peel done once from a professional, it was $150 and didn’t do anything. Soon after that I began dabbling in the wonders of at-home DIY peels to slough off the top layer of skin when I’m starting to look dull and sluggish. What better time than fall to revive the skin that the sun damaged while you were basking in it all summer long. Here are a few peels I’ve tried that are sure to get your skin back to a brighter state.

I’m a huge fan of Glycolic acid, I’ve used it daily in various forms for years because of its ability to turnover skin without making you as sun-sensitive as its rivals. I love Glytone, they have a full collection of effective skin care for face and body that works like crazy to improve all sorts of skin problems while maintaining the skin’s ph so the irritation is minimal. You can use a thin layer of Mini Peel Gel up to a few times a week for 10 minutes to see brighter, clearer, tighter skin almost immediately without redness, irritation, or downtime. It’s a perfect compliment to your current regimen.

Your skin will look like it has just taken a deep breath of fresh air when you use The Oxygen Peel. Philosophy uses an oxygen foam to infuse the skin and give it an instant noticeable radiance. It’s the perfect treat pre-event or for when you haven’t been getting enough rest and your skin can tell the tale. 

Cane + Austin have simplified their line into two jars, one meant for skin with acne and the other for wrinkling and pigmentation issues. These glycolic-soaked Treatment Pads work as a daily retexturizer  to help peel back the layers of wrinkled, uneven skin to reveal a brighter look. It’s a gentle, daily way to ease into better skin over time.

You don’t have to completely desecrate your skin to get some positive changes, at-home peels like these are genus because you can get some great results while keeping your skin in tact.

Pore-Clogging Ingredients

My super fantastic and talented aesthetician Tjaden Lotito of the Skin Studio in Wash Park here in Denver found this incredible new line that’s specifically for acne. It’s called Face Reality which I haven’t tried so I can’t vouch for the products themselves, but she did share with me a listing they have of pore-clogging ingredients.

If you tend to breakout or have sensitive skin and can’t seem to figure out what to avoid that could be making it worse, here is their master list of top skin offenders that could make the problem worse.

Click to enlarge

Click HERE to see the list on their site, and HERE to learn about their line for breakout-prone skin.

Solutions For Breakout-Prone Skin

I can’t relate to people with constantly clear, perfect skin – so annoying. My skin is a constant roller coaster ride, sometimes clear, sometimes a mess, but I’m always careful about what I use because I know it has the potential to erupt ay any given moment.  I’ve gotten to try out a few lines just for breakouts recently with some success, here are the 3 I’ve used that really work.

I was really excited to try REN’s new ClearCalm, the first line I’ve seen for breakout-prone skin from a line that’s both advanced and natural. They favor Willow Bark, Zinc, Calcium Carbonate, and essential oils with their own Global Protection Complex to calm inflamed skin and clear it up without drying it out.  I’m obsessed with their Anti-Blemish Clay Cleanser even though it’s non-foaming because it coats using French Clay and Manuka Honey to gently pull out debris and leave skin so clean and soft, I often skip the toner.

Average price $30, Sold exclusively at Sephora stores (or online) in the U.S

Dr Murad’s Clean Scene is a new teen-focused line of antioxidant-rich and paraben-free skin basics to get skin on the right track before major breakouts occur. It’s not filled with skin-drying ingredients (although it is meant to chase acne away), it’s a first step into a more grownup skin care routine. I like Begging For Balance, an oil-free moisturizer for all skin types that doesn’t leave a shiny finish behind. I’ve been recommending it to adults who have the occasional flare-up because it’s a great daily moisturizer that gently keeps skin clear.

Average price $20, Sold at Sephora and Sephora.com

There’s another Dr. developed skincare line that really hones in on skin problems and offers up solid solutions. You’ll find the top breakout-fighters from Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare if you search for products under ‘acne’ on their site, which also highlights  products that are Cruelty Free, Paraben/ Sulfate/ Phthlate Free, and which are Vegan. They’re really big on easy solutions like their All-In-One Cleanser with Toner and their brilliant EZ4U Towelettes which act as a cleanser, toner, wrinkle fighter, and light moisturizer all in one moistened wipe. Throw them in your gym bag and use them post-workout to prevent breakouts caused by sweating.

Average price $30, DGskincare.com, Sephora and Sephora.com

Post-Summer Skin Savers

Here we are back to work and (hopefully) relaxed from the long Labor Day weekend! As the weather changes, I get more and more emails about skincare. Since basking in the sun can do a number on the skin, I have a few fixes to cure post-summertime skin problems.

Soaking up the sun can trigger oil production making skin greasier than ever. Calm inflamed skin and chase away shine with Erno Laszlo’s  fantastic Antioxidant Mattifying Complex, a hydrator/treatment that nourishes the skin with gentle hydration while matting out shine and protecting with SPF 15. This is a fantastic solution for women (and men) who have out of control oily skin because its gentle hydration encourages skin to normalize and produce less oil over time.

It’s all fun and games in the sun until you realize those rays have left their mark on your skin. DERMAdoctor has a treatment to fade away sun damage without using hydraquinone. It’s a brightener called Immaculate Correction and it even fades  stubborn melasma.

Wind, sun, and the overall neglect of the skin can lead to a nagging dullness that’s easy to spot and hard to lick. White Recovery Pure Vitamin C Intense Brightening Serum from Shu Uemura has an all-star line up of potent ingredients to banish dark spots, and give tired skin a youthful glow.

That super thin skin around your eyes is among the first to show age, largely due to squinting in the sun. Don’t forget to always wear your shades outside and use an eye cream to un-do damage like Liftactiv Retinol HA Eyes from Vichy which contains vitamins, retinol, and hyaluronic acid to reduce wrinkles and boost hydration.