Things I Buy: Ole Henriksen

When I was pregnant one of the first things I did was switch out my skincare. Goodbye Retin A and all the other hardcore products that keep my face properly sanded down and presentable. See ya later good skin- or so I thought. After some research I found that AHA’s, lactic acid, and a most natural exfoliating ingredients were safe to use so I looked into Ole Henriksen, a brand I’d been sent to review in the past and always really liked. I remembered their natural-yet-effective spin on skincare so I bought Sheer Transformation for a light moisturizer that would also aid in keeping dark spots away. (Sidebar: there’s no stopping that melasma when it comes on, you just have to wait until after the baby is born to tackle it and let it fade out on its own.)

Fast forward to today when I’m out of nearly everything and need to actually buy things because all of the samples on my desk are for skin types unlike my own. I remembered how much I loved my Ole Henriksen so I headed into Sephora to grab another Sheer Transformation. I had also read great reviews on their Walnut Complexion Scrub ($24) which I tried first on my hand- it’s gritty but not too chunky and foams up so I grabbed a jar of that too. I’ve also wanted to try the Invigorating Night Gel ($45) which is a big fave among Sephora reviewers for keeping pores cleaned out and skin really clear and bright. My Sephora bonus gift was Ole too! Small sized Truth Serum Collagen Booster, Ultimate Lift Eye Gel, Sheer Transformation, and Invigorating Night Gel.

I’m always excited to try some new skincare especially when I already know I’ll love it.

Check out the line HERE at Sephora.com.

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In my car after Sephora- the car is parked of course..

MyChelle

I was able to try some products from MyChelle a while back after I got my face scanned. After learning that I basically have the face of a 90 year old, I took home a bunch of their products so I could return for an ‘after’ scan which unfortunately didn’t happen before I had some laser treatments so we wouldn’t have an accurate look at the changes their products alone made. Sigh. But what did happen (even pre-laser) is that I finally found a natural skincare line that actually works! I love MyChelle; from the packaging, to the product variety, to the way it makes my skin look and feel. Here’s a rundown of what I used, what I liked, and what unfortunately missed the mark.

Cleanser: Apple Brightening

I really liked this cleanser, light and slightly foamy but not overly so. The apple scent was a nice and I used it faithfully until it was totally gone which is really saying something. It also left my skin feeling soft and looking bright without stripping or drying. Biggest downside would be the size- 2.1oz for $13 which seems a little skimpy to me.

Apple Brightening Cleanser

Apple Brightening Cleanser

Mist: Apple Brightening

Ever since I can remember I’ve used a toner. From Sea Breeze to Clinique, I’ve used them all in the name of squeaky clean skin. Though I’m still addicted to that (not really important) step after cleansing, it’s good to give my skin a break and to stop stripping away the moisture it needs. In the morning after cleansing when I know there isn’t any makeup left behind on my already clean skin, I’ll spritz a few sprays of this mist instead of my usual toner on a cotton pad routine. It feels refreshing and adds an extra dose of brightening power in a way that’s as light as water.

Apple Brightening Mist

Apple Brightening Mist

Serums:

Apple Brightening

Hydroquinone is not for me. Too harsh and too many risks involved so it isn’t worth it to use even though uneven skintone drives me crazy. I’ve used this serum on and off for years and I’ve found that it does work. It’s so easy on the skin without the use of harsh chemicals to fade dark spots in a natural way. Compared to hydroquinone, it will take more time so be patient and stick with it, you will see a difference.

Apply Brightening Serum

Apply Brightening Serum

Perfect C Serum 17%:

If you’re using a Vitamin C (and everyone should be in my opinion) look for it in the form of L-Ascorbic, the most effective with the best absorption. Anything else might just be orange scented liquid that smells great but does nothing for the skin. This L-Ascorbic serum doesn’t aggravate or leave skin red so sensitive skin can enjoy using it too.

Perfect C Serum 17%

Perfect C Serum 17%

Moisturizers:

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

I love a zinc-based sunscreen, but this was my least favorite product of the bunch. It was hydrating and the texture was good, but it left a bit of a sticky after feel that I couldn’t get used to. Nothing too terrible, and the feeling did go away eventually but it just wasn’t for me.

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

A friend with similar skin to mine raves about this cream, she said not to let the rich feel steer me from trying it. It’s by far the thickest cream I’ve ever used but also one of the best. It dissolves into the skin and leaves it really soft. Long term its benefits are great; wrinkle relaxing, tightening, and clarifying so that skin looks brighter and younger. At $54 it’s pricier than most of their line, but it’s a price I’d happily pay.

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

Because MyChelle isn’t 100% organic, they can balance some more advanced ingredients with natural ones which makes the line more effective in making changes in the skin. Fewer essential oils also mean fewer irritations for sensitive and acne-prone skin so trust in their speciality lines and give them a shot. You can Skype a skin specialist of theirs, or better yet see if they have a Visia scanner at a store near you so you can get a (free!) before and after of your skin and some product recommendations made just for your specific needs.

Professional Micro Needling and Q&A with Dr. Theresa Pacheco

The search is over! I’ve been looking for a doctor I can trust for about a year to help with my pigmentation and get my skin back to where it was just a few years ago. Having a baby made it worse, I swear my skin aged 5 years from the melasma and hormone stuff that go along with pregnancy. Anyway, I’m almost 7 months post-delivery so I figured now is a good time to explore what my options are as far as a safe (I’m still nursing!) treatment to get my skin back on track.

My facialist Tjaden Lotito couldn’t say enough great things about Dr. Theresa Pacheco. She’s an M.D., professor of Dermatology, and researcher on all things related to aging and damaged skin at the University of Colorado Anchutz campus. She knows the skin and non-surgical treatments as well or better than anyone else you’ll find. I liked her right away, she’s down-to-earth and a wealth of knowledge who isn’t there to sell you on anything (they don’t offer packages and I didn’t see any product lines anywhere), just to educate you on what your options are and offer the least invase way to achieve what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for fluff, frills, and a water with cucumber in your glass sort of experience- this isn’t it as you can see by their website, they’re all about the medical side of skin. It’s exactly what I was hoping for.

Dr. Pacheco

Dr. Pacheco

I walked in to see Dr. Pacheco already knowing what I wanted: Fraxel. The ultimate in laser treatments. I’d researched it, I knew all about it, and wouldn’t accept anything else. Fire the thing up and start zapping, I’m ready to go! After a quick look at my skin she said she could do a laser treatment and loves what lasers do for the skin, but I also had other options. One being a combo laser treatment with levulinic acid that would basically give me new skin but has quite a bit of downtime. The other was medical micro needling (aka Derma Rolling!) Now you know I love me some derma rolling and have one at home that I use. The medical treatment isn’t the same as what you do at home though because her instrument has longer needles to create deeper channels in the skin which forces even more repair and better results. Basically, I go in and have a numbing cream put on my skin for about 20 minutes then she rolls the hell out of my skin poking a zillion little holes in it (yes, there is some bleeding) which tells my body to go and make new skin to heal that damage. By the time I leave, my skin will just be a bit red and swollen like a sunburn, and then over the next few weeks and even months I will see an improvement in overall skin quality especially pigment and even fine lines. I can keep up with the results by using great skincare with my at-home roller a few times a week. After seeing some before and after pictures that were pretty impressive, that’s what I ended up choosing. I’m so exited because the cost of this treatment is so much less than I expected to spend and we’re just doing one for now to see how it goes. It’s so important to see someone whose paycheck isn’t dependent upon selling you a service. If you’re in Colorado, this is where I recommend you go, otherwise check out similar doctors and clinics in your area.

A micro needle aka derma roller.

A micro needle aka derma roller.

She was also nice enough to answer a few questions I sent her way about treating different skin issues. Check out what she has to say, and click HERE to see her services and to make an appointment.

Q. What treatments do you recommend for pigmentation issues?

A. Medical therapy – Vitamin C but only if a proper concentration. Vitamin A’s but only formulated appropriately. Also, a light device/laser  depending on Fitzpatrick Skin Type and whether the pigment is epidermal or dermal to decide if certain light devices or lasers would work. Old fashioned chemical peels also work, but again they need to be properly formatted with the correct ph and free acid (this is my chemistry brain talking).

Sidenote: Right after I saw her I went and bought SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, a proven C serum that all doctors I’ve talked to rave about. Don’t skimp on C serums, many are just a waste of money.

C E Ferulic

Q. What are your favorite ingredients that make the biggest difference in the skin?

A. Vitamin A but only when it’s formulated appropriately.Vitamin C but only if formulated with another antioxidant and a proper concentration. There are many other products that have benefit but it really depends on what difference you want to make in regards to skin health.

Sidenote: I’m using Vivant Exfol-A serum at night. An excellent vitamin A formulation that’s really concentrated and doesn’t make my skin red or flakey like Retin A does. I also use it with my derma roller so it has even better penetration.

vivant

Q. What about treatments for acne?

A. Medical therapy , alpha hydroxyl acids, Vitamin A, and anti-inflammatory agents. Light device/laser, but there is no laser/light device approved for acne treatment and covered by insurance. FDA device approval is very different than FDA pharmaceutical approval. The ‘heat dispersion’ from the devices control active acne lesions (red pustules, cysts, but not black heads and white heads). The no!no!™ skin device was the 1st device on the market that used ‘heat’ to control active acne lesions. Old fashioned chemical peels work, but again they need to be properly formatted with the correct ph and free acid (this is my chemistry brain talking again!)

Sidenote: I reviewed the no!no! years ago when it first came out and I love it for hair removal, I didn’t know I could be using it on my face?! Glycolic acid is awesome and Glytone tells you exactly how much Glycolic (aka Alpha Hydroxyl Acid) you’re getting in each product. I’m using their cleanser and moisturizer.

glytone

I’m hoping to schedule a treatment for next week where I’ll take pictures (maybe a video?) of the treatment and post it along with some before and after pics as the weeks progress. If you have any questions about micro needling or any other skin treatment, leave them in the comment section and I’ll get them answered for you!

MyChelle: NASA Technology, Q&A, and Great Skincare the Natural Way

MyChelle has something other companies wish they had- NASA-grade technology to prove their skincare actually works. VISIA is the imager that gives an in-depth 3D look at your skin’s true condition so their team of professionals can provide some direction as to what products might work best with your skin. Want proof that their line actually work? Come back to a local Whole Foods where they’ll bring the machine by to see exactly how their products have helped your skin by using the imager once again for a side by side look that’s irrefutable. It’s a bold move and one that would only be done by a company so sure of their line’s effectiveness to prove that their natural-based line can stack up against all the rest.

I had a chance to ask Kristine Carey their VP of Marketing a few questions recently about the line and here’s what she had to say.

Me: Can natural products and treatments really be more effective than their mainstream counterparts?

MyChelle: You can see the visual before and afters from using our products that prove positive results that occur both on the surface of the skin and at the cellular level. Our VISIA Complexion Analysis program is our proving ground that MyChelle is effective. We offer a free VISIA Complexion Analysis consultation at Whole Foods Markets in various locations shown HERE.

Me: How does the Apple Brightening Serum stack up to a more mainstream treatment like Hydroquinone for fading dark spots?

MyChelle: The Apple Brightening Serum is Mother Nature’s solution to sun damage. This unique serum is loaded with nutrient dense ingredients including:

• Apple Fruit Cell Culture (PhytoCellTec™), a revolutionary ingredient in skin care that stops chronological aging. This is the first topical product to protect human skin stem cells and delay the natural aging process by maintaining the activity of skin cells.
• Apple Fruit Extract (Applephenon™) is shown to contain ten times the level of polyphenol found in ripe apples which maintains youthful skin. It’s also rich in malic acid to refine and rejuvenate.
• Nonapeptide-1 (Melanostatine®5) is a biomimetic peptide (mimics body’s natural response) shown to reduce hyperpigmentation by preventing activation of tyrosinase and blocking melanin synthesis.

The Apple Brightening Serum is like a two for one deal because not only are you diminishing hyperpigmentation but you are also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.

Hydroquinone on the other hand, is considered the mainstream topical ingredient for inhibiting melanin production and reducing surface spots on the skin. This is not a natural ingredient and it is considered safe by many, but it’s not to MyChelle standards. The Food and Drug Association in September 2006 recommended that products containing hydroquinone be sold only with a prescription due to their opinion that it posed certain health risks (more about that HERE.) MyChelle chooses not to take the risk when there are natural options that are just as effective.

Me: How does the Clear Skin line compare to products like ProActiv?

MyChelle: A daily regimen of cleansing, toning and nourishing is the key to effectively balancing acne-prone skin. An over production of sebum (oil) and lack of proper exfoliation boost the overgrowth of blemish-causing bacteria and oil.

Most blemish treatments on the market today create an unhealthy cycle for the skin that includes episodes of severe dryness followed by periods of extreme oiliness. Harsh chemical ingredients are shutting down the sebaceous glands which ultimately dry out the skin. Once you stop using these products your sebaceous glands rev back up and leave the skin extremely oily congested.

The Clear Skin Teen Anthology is an effective, naturally pure, blemish treatment plan specifically formulated for youthful skin with active ingredients that include 6% Sulphur to draw out bacteria and oil, Zinc Sulfate to heal and protect, and Totarol an anti-viral antioxidant that effectively reduces acne disturbances.

The Clear Skin spot treatment is the perfect product. It will not only help minimize the breakout but it also helps to heal redness and inflammation. This line is easy to use and insures healthy, beautiful skin.

Me: What’s your most popular product?

MyChelle: Our Perfect C Serum with Buddleja Plant Stem Cells because it’s highly effective and provides visible results. It has an advanced formula to protect the skin’s health while combating the signs of aging. A potent 17% dose of clinically proven L-Ascorbic Acid helps to strengthen collagen and improve skin texture. Buddleja Plant Stem Cells protect against photo-damage and oxidative stress through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. L-Ergothioneine boosts cellular energy and helps interrupt the stress that destroys elastin.

Me: I love a good self tanner since I’m SPF obsessed. Tell me about your Del Sol Sunless Tanner.

MyChelle: Del Sol sunless tanner builds a beautiful glow within hours of applying. It’s made with:

• Dihydroxyacetone (Sugar) – A simple carbohydrate that is derived from beets and sugar cane for a sunless tanning action to give the skin a sun kissed glow.
• Erythrulose (Sugar) – A high performance self tanning agent derived from plant keto-sugar that encourages an even, long lasting tanning effect and protects against UV damage while keeping the skin hydrated.

It has a delicate aroma of citrus and smells nothing like the typical sunless tanner smell. It’s so easy to apply and feels light on the skin. You can reapply daily to build deeper color or use as need to maintain a summer glow all year long.

Click HERE to find MyChelle at a store near you.

I’ve Had the Baby, Now I Can Get Back to Looking Normal Again

D-Day came and went and now we have an 8 pound 3 ounce bundle of adorableness that has us totally in love and barely able to concentrate on anything else. So as long as I have some time focused here at my computer (she’s napping) I might as well make good use and let you know what I’ve been cooking up for my skin to get rid of the melasma and its general crappy, dull state. I didn’t think much about melasma since I was faithful to great skincare, but maybe it’s because I was busy being smug about escaping stuff like stretch marks and heartburn that melasma was hardly a worry. Not so lucky. The day before I delivered last week, I was having brunch with my sister who asked only the way sisters can ‘when did that discoloration start?’ Thanks. Better though than my 98 year old grandma in the hospital room remarking about how I ‘still looked pregnant.’ My family keeps my ego in check. Anyhow, even with 2 coats of good coverage, the damage is pretty noticeable especially on my un-Botoxed forehead.

Until I can wrap up this breast feeding thing, I’ll remain un-Botoxed but will start to fight the best (and safest way) I know how. Starting with the big guns. Lasers.

My pregnant sleepless nights were spent perusing nursery ideas on various sites, finding decor on Etsy, and researching the best kind of laser to use for getting my skin back on track. Fraxel remains the gold standard for overall skin rejuvenation including wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and melasma. It takes care of it all in just a few treatments without the horrendous downtime that you’d get from say a peel or other lasers. You will get red – sunburn red – but nothing too disgusting where you have to hide out in your house for a week (not that I’m exactly hitting the town these days). A word to the wise, lasers hurt. When I did some IPL a while back they said it would feel like rubber bands snapping against the skin which was total bullshit, it was more like someone flicking lighted matches at me. Again, totally worth it if it works. And a nice chemical-free way to get my skin heading in the right direction without Botox or chemicals I shouldn’t use because I’d be essentially feeding it to the baby.

I stashed a bottle of Estée Lauder’s Idealist they sent me to review a while back for this very thing after I saw that it was working to fade spotting. It quickly gets rid of all sorts of discolorations on the skin and feels and smells amazing. I’ll use it during the day under my SPF that’s so essential to prevent more damage from happening.

If your skin needs changing, use Vivant. I swear it made a huge difference in my skin years ago when I was faithful to the line (which is hard when trying new things is your job), but everything they have is medical grade and reasonably inexpensive. Their Exfol-A is what I’ll be using for a kick of Vitamin A without having to use Retin A which is set in a cheap cream base that breaks me out every time I try to use it. This serum combines A with Lactic, Uric, and Kojic Acids – all known to fade discolorations and give skin a pretty glow.

I’ve lost so much hair this pregnancy that it’s actually really sad. The combo of my crazy thyriod and the estrogen going out the window after the birth has resulted in literally half of my hair falling out. There were a few times when I would cry after a shower just watching the massive amounts of hair being washed down the drain or combed away. Luckily my stylist Carrie works for Aveda and raves about their new collection for thinning hair called Invati. It’s supposed to reduce hair loss and help to regrow hair using a natural formula and she promised that if I stuck to it that it would work. I hope so. My hair’s my thing, yo.

I’m sure I can use a lot more to try and get myself back to looking somewhat human again, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my routine and not making it more complicated. What am I missing? Tweet me your beauty suggestions for post-baby beauty @HookedOnBeauty

What are BB Creams?

Have you heard about the BB Cream craze? BB Creams (short for blemish balm or beauty balm or beauty base) were first developed for women whose skin was left bruised, raw, and red from lasers and other surgical treatments. These creams were made by doctors to soothe, heal, and protect delicate skin with the added bonus of breakthrough invisible coverage to hide the irritations without having to use any traditional concealers or foundations.  Essentially they’re unique, lightweight coverage creams with sunscreen and other skin benefits built right in. BB Creams are a true marriage of skincare and color – and are often found in the skincare section and not with makeup. They’re traditionally offered as a one-size-fits-all in terms of color using a universal shade that blends into your skin tone perfecting and seamlessly covering redness instead of masking a it the way a foundation does – it reminds me a little of Philosophy’s The Supernatural which gave similar instant results (see my review and photos HERE). You’ll also see some with a PA+, PA++. or PA+++ sunscreen rating (+++ being the best) which tells you how effective the SPF is in guarding against UVA rays – the nasty ones that breakdown collagen and age the skin.

If you like a full coverage foundation you might find that these aren’t enough so use them as a primer to get more skin benefits than what basic silicone formulas provide.They’re really different from anything else out there so go to Sephora where the selection is the best and ask for samples of a few before you commit. I also want to try Lauder’s new BB Cream they’ve incorporated into their Daywear collection which I’ll review separately once I give it a try. For now, here are the 3 I sampled at Sephora and the pros and cons of each.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream $37:

-Pros-

Oily skin can benefit from its mattifying properties.

SPF 30

A good shade (01) that would work for very fair skin tones – the lightest I found.

-Cons-

It was the heaviest of the 3 and it settled into the skin making pores look more noticeable.

No PA rating.

I couldn’t figure out what the added skincare benefits were (what a BB is all about).

Their site refers to it as a ‘weekend makeup’ along the lines of a quick tinted moisturizer, but it’s called a BB. Not sure if it’s a true BB or just marketing.

Its radiance was a little unflattering (at least on my skin) where it bordered shiny instead of healthy.

Overall:

I liked the thick, creamy texture and easy blendability. It’s probably best for those with good skin who favor a tinted moisturizer or quick powder for their daily routine.

Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA ++ $38:

-Pros-

Great skincare benefits (help for fine lines, dryness, and large pores), which is what a BB should offer.

SPF 27 and a PA++ rating

It has a natural formula without parabens, phthalates and other chemicals.

It did give my skin an immediate boost.

Good coverage.

-Cons-

It has these tiny bits of shimmer that, although slight, might not be a fit for oily or mature skin.

Like most BB Creams, the one shade isn’t for very fair or very dark skin tones.

Overall:

This was my favorite and the only true BB of the bunch, it made my skin look better and covered redness well. It’s something I would buy and recommend to those looking for quick and easy coverage.

Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm Multi-Benefit Skin Care Makeup $32:

-Pros-

Shade range; if you have darker skin you’ll have the best luck finding a color to suit you here.

It gave the most coverage of the 3 I tried, almost as much as some foundations.

You’ll get a pretty glow from its finish.

-Cons-

It does contain some vitamins and minerals, but overall it really is more of a quick makeup than a true BB Cream.

No PA rating and an SPF 20, the lowest of the 3.

Overall:

These are along the lines of what you’ll begin to see more and more of – a foundation with a built in primer and less of a BB Cream but marketed as such. It’s not a bad thing since I really liked the look and coverage, but if you want more of the skin treatment this one will leave you wanting more. Best for those who want great coverage from a tinted moisturizer and don’t care as much for the added skincare bonuses.

A few others to consider:

Sephora now carries Dr Jart’s signature BBs which are favorites in Asia where competition is big. Check out their Premium BB SPF 45 PA+++ $39 for more mature skin and the Water Fuse BB PA++ $32 for normal to oily skin. They’re both great for the skin formulated without synthetics and are exactly what BBs are supposed to be – skincare/makeup hybrids.

Garnier launched the first drugstore BB for just $13 that comes in two shades – Light/Medium and Medium/Deep. I’m can’t find its skincare benefits (or SPF), but it’s getting some good reviews for its light, even coverage. Look for it in the skincare aisle, not next to the makeup.

What to look for in a BB Cream:

- Sunscreen, PA ratings are a bonus.

- Vitamins and minerals.

- Enough coverage so you aren’t using concealer or anything else over it (unless you want to use it as a primer).

- Adequate moisture for your skin.

- Added benefits whether it be for skin lightening, acne, moisture, or whatever- find one that’s helping to target what your skin needs most.

For a full listing of the popular Asian formulas, check out THIS article from 08′ before the US versions hit the stores.