Stuff I Buy: Fighting Discoloration Naturally

When will this damn melasma go away? It’s such an uphill battle fighting skin discoloration in the summer, even with an SPF 50 on every day. I’m outside so much that I know I’ll have to wait a few months before another round of lasers to get deeper than any skincare can, but until then I’m hoping a few things I grabbed this week will help get my skin to get back to a more radiant state.

Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

I’ve never heard of this line before and I’m not even sure where it’s sold other than online, but it’s an Amazon.com bestseller with 1,400+ glowing reviews. Oh, and it’s only $23. It’s an organic vitamin c, amino acid blend, and hyaluronic acid serum that people swear gives them more a radiant skin texture. Could it be a big marketing campaign from people within the company leaving false feedback? Sure, it happens on amazon all the time. But there are a ton of verified customers who left great feedback, enough to get my money and see for myself.

oz naturals

Skin Obsession 40% Gycolic Peel

Yet another amazon.com best seller for skin peels, a huge sort of underground category on there for skin. They’re basically professional caliber peels available to the public from companies I’ve never heard of before. Totally legit right? Again, the reviews got me- 400+ singing the praises of how well this peel worked. Basically, I’m using it for my melasma, fine lines, and overall texture which is still not back to normal since my pregnancies. There’s just a dullness and blah to my skin that makes me look tired and probably old which really sucks. The great thing about peels is that the acid (whether it be glycolic, lactic, or whatever) dissolves the waxy layer of oil and dead skin that builds up on your face over time (why consistent exfoliation is key!) and gives that dull, dry, wrinkly look. Once that’s removed you’re left with a fresh layer of new skin that looks more radiant and less lined. Do a ton of research (I’ve looked for over a year) and google around. I was going to go with a peel from THIS line, but after reading several times how they plant positive reviews from within their company I decided it was best to skip it. Just follow their directions to a T which includes knowing how to neutralize the peel once it’s on otherwise you could end up with permanent burns and even scarring.

skin obsession

Éminence Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer

My girl Alexa, an aesthetician to Denver’s who’s who over at the swanky Spa Vital in Cherry Creek has been an Éminence fan for as long as I’ve known her. After my facial today she sold me on their Eight Greens moisturizer which has a thick, almost balm-like texture that dissolved into my skin so completely and left it looking really fresh and hydrated and I didn’t even get that typical afternoon shine. It addresses tone and aging using natural ingredients like yucca, stone crop, and flaxseed. It’s a really cool line with a big upscale spa presence that you can check out HERE if you’ve never heard of it before.

eminence

Éminence Lemon Cleanser

Alexa turned me onto this cleanser like 8 years ago. It’s a cream that doesn’t foam up (which is why I think I quit using it) but now that I’m older, I can finally appreciate a cleanser that cleans without stripping and drying. This one does that and also happens to have the best slightly sweet and tangy lemon scent that I just adore.

eminence lemon cleanser

Next up; more laser research on CO2 vs Fraxel. I think I’ll wait until October so I have a little time. Tweet me your thoughts if you’ve tried either before and had a great result.

How to Get Rid of Those Bumps on the Backs of Your Arms

I’ve found the perfect combo for beating those weird dry bumps on the backs of arms that are especially annoying this time of year when all you want to do in this heat is go sleeveless. It’s all about dry brushing and Fat Girl Slim Arm Candy from bliss.

First things first; you need a dry brush. This is the one I bought on amazon.com which I’ve had for a few years and it’s still in perfect condition. While you start the water to the shower, use this brush to really buff away dry skin on the backs of your arms (I use it all over.) And not just one quick swipe, I’m talking about applying some pressure and going back and forth on your skin until it’s literally red. It is scratchy and a little uncomfortable at first- I won’t lie, but that’s how it has to work to stimulate your lymphatic system and encourage toxins to drain. It increases circulation and helps with things like cellulite, acne, and exfoliation. After the first time doing it, you’ll see that your skin glows and feels softer than it ever has. It’s one of those things that when you get in the habit of doing it, you’ll do it forever. Look into it, it’s a simple way to get your skin looking better.

body brush

After your shower don’t apply anything except for arm candy to the backs of your arms. It’s a super light lotion rich with lactic acid to soften and exfoliate rough skin, and caffeine to reduce redness and even your skintone. It’s not so much of a moisturizer as it is a treatment though, which is good because you don’t want anything super heavy and greasy anyway. The dry brushing removes dead, rough skin so this will penetrate easier and work quickly. You’ll notice a difference in days. It really is the best I’ve tried for this and something I’ll always have on hand.

bliss fat girl slim arm candy

It’s so easy! Give it a try and break out the tank tops, it’s time to show some skin.

Dove: Crème Mousse Body Wash, Pistachio Cream, and the Best Macaroons Ever

I’ve been a fan of Dove’s positive messaging for women since they started their Campaign For Real Beauty 10 years ago showing women with everyday body types posing happily in their underwear. That became a launchpad for a bigger conversation about women and self-esteem which they still continue today. Although we always used their white bar soap growing up, I haven’t used much from the line outside of their deodorant (I just bought THIS scent and I love it) so it was basically like Christmas morning when I got a package from them last week which was essentially a spa in a box.

First I opened this amazingly fluffy Sferra robe which I want to wear every single day all day long which was inside a little foot soaking tub with a sweet smelling candle. Then I opened a completely amazing grooming kit filled with things I need and never replace, and then I saw the Ladurée pistachio macaroons!! At this point I was sitting on the floor in my new robe eating these iconic macaroons that I’ve always read about and never thought I’d try (I’m pretty serious about my sugar..) while my daughter was running around the house with a mint green mouth yelling ‘more macaroons!’ a word she didn’t know 5 minutes prior with her finger knuckle-deep in the candle.  Honestly they could’ve snuck a Black Mamba in the bottom of the box and I wouldn’t have cared.

But they didn’t.

Luckily they sent along their 3 new Créme Mousse Body Washes and a Purely Pampering Pistacio Cream Body Wash and Beauty Bars. The packaging, the scents, the creamy foamy amazingness that I knew was inside these bottles was so over the top intoxicating that as soon as the girls were down for the night I brought each bottle into the shower to try em’ out.

My shower routine has become pretty boring recently. I used to have candy colored bottles lined up all along my tub filled with soaps, scrubs, and treatments that I’d rub on depending on what I thought needed a boost. Now just my hair care and a bar of soap remains of my overly-simplified routine. I know I don’t have the time for a body mud spa treatment or whatever, but I’ve been ignoring my consistently dry skin and razor burn that returned after I had Everly since a strange side effect when I’m pregnant is really smooth, moisturized skin along with a lack of body hair so I only needed to shave my legs once every few weeks or so. These two things for me were the true miracles of pregnancy that I missed immediately after giving birth both times. Now that my skin is back to normal, I need something foamy to cushion the razor from tearing up my legs while also adding some much needed hydration. All of these washes have huge suds and clean scents that make showering just a little nicer. My two faves are the Pistachio Cream Body Wash because the sweet smell has me hooked- it’s something I’ll buy again when it’s out. I’ve also been using the Exfoliating wash with the loofa because I’m testing a few self tanning lotions every day. I know that this helps with an even application and an even fade, two important factors for the self tanner to look natural.

Even though you’ll find that these washes are sold without macaroons (something they really need to reconsider), you should give them a shot anyway and make a little spa out of your ho-hum shower.

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Here’s my robe, foot soaking tub, and new shower besties.

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There were more macaroons that came in this box. I didn’t have the will power to hold off on eating them long enough to snap a photo of a much prettier looking and fuller box. Notice also the divit in the candle made by a tiny finger.

How to Dermaplane/ Don’t Try This at Home

Dermaplaning. How I love thee.

For those unfamiliar it’s an exfoliating skin treatment performed by facialists that removes tons of dead surface skin (and peach fuzz) using a razor blade. Basically, it’s a hard core face-shave best described by Cheryl over at The Cut who goes into detail of her experience getting the treatment- worth a read if you haven’t had it done. I love it because my face is hairy (I’m Italian what can I say?) and it fully removes that peach fuzz and top layer of skin so well that I obsessively touch my face for about a week after because it’s so soft. It gives a youthful and radiant glow plus your skincare will penetrate and work better not having the dry skin and hair barrier blocking its way. It’s a technique that’s been used for years and it’s so simple and non-invasive. You can usually add it onto any facial for $20 or so, but since I haven’t been to my facialist since forever, I decided to bravely DIY this treatment that’s admittedly best left to the pros.

Now let’s be clear, I really don’t recommend you do this yourself. We’re talking about taking a sharp, medical grade scalpel to your skin that could cut and permanently scar your face. But for me, I felt like after a few quick YouTube vids I could dermaplane with the best of em. (Side note: ever since I learned to roll sushi via YouTube I feel like I’m just a four minute tutorial away from learning anything. I somehow felt like I could repair our broken dryer after watching this video today but eventually called someone who actually knows what they’re doing.)

Anyway.

I was a little nervous getting started but I followed the tips on how to hold the blade at an angle and how lightly to press to a T. I was so gentle that I had to do a few passes to get results but that’s better than going nuts and hacking a chunk of skin off my cheek. Afterward I applied my Vivant Mandelic Acid serum which did sting a little on my sensitized skin (typical) but it was back to normal the following day.

I didn’t take a before and after because I didn’t think to, but the pic below demonstrates pretty typical results immediately after a treatment.

If you’re looking to try dermaplaning at home.. don’t. You really shouldn’t. But if you’re stubborn, stupid, pressed for time, and cheap like me, here’s what I used.

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These blades I bought from Amazon that received glowing recommendations. How could 39 people be wrong?

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It’s a lightweight curved blade with a plastic handle. The ones used by pros have a metal handle where you pop in disposable straight blades after each use. It goes without saying that they are extremely sharp. People in the reviews say they also use them in the kitchen as ultra sharp pairing knives. Let’s hope it wasn’t after they used them to shave the skin and hair off their faces because yuk if so.

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Photo credit: dermistique.com

If you do try it be sure to let me know how it goes but be careful and do your homework. Sharp objects and ignorance do not mix.

Post-Baby Skin Care: What I’ll Be Using to Get Rid of My Melasma (Round 2)

Well here we are, today is the day I’m giving birth to my daughter (Note: of course I’m not writing this in the delivery room, it’s actually the night before) and I’m once again planning my new skincare routine to banish the melasma that reared its ugly head from pretty much day 1 of this pregnancy. I actually think it never went away from the first pregnancy and just kept on building throughout this one. Either way, I’m ready to attack. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with what I think is the best of the best as far as attacking pigment and restoring my skin without using hydroquinone or Botox.

Cleanser:

I was thinking about getting this Pigment Bar from PCA Skin, a medical line that I really like but I nixed the idea and will stick with my cleanser that I love. I’m just not sure how much help a cleanser is in fading dark spotting since it’s only on the skin for a few seconds and the ingredients are washed away. If you’re curious though, check it out- it’s a cool concept and people seem to really like it.

pca skin

Toner:

Hands down, one of the most effective things I’ve ever used on my skin has been Mandelic acid from Vivant, a line sold through skin pros and doctors that is really picking up steam in the industry for its skin-changing ways. Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid extracted from bitter almonds, so it’s a safe alternative to hydroquinone (a skin lightener that really works well, but has safety concerns.) This 9% solution will help to lighten while also making my skin soft enough to allow the serums and creams to penetrate and work that much better.

vivant toner

Serum:

I was a little on the fence about this one so I ordered two and then canceled one. I wanted to get Skinceuticals Phyto + which I ordered from Amazon (before canceling) because of its botanical formula and kojic acid, a known skin lightener. In the end the shaky reviews mixed with the fact that I know Mandelic will definitely work were what swayed my decision to stick with a more potent formula. So I ordered Vivant’s Mandelic 3-in-1 Serum 15% which combines Mandelic with Lactic Acid, a combination that will lighten and brighten my skin without question.

vivant mandelic serum

Retinol:

Can I use a retinol while nursing? My derm thought so and she recommended Afirm, a Retin-A alternitive (sidebar: Terntinoin and Retin-A both break me out because they put the vitamin a into a cheap cream that’s all greasy terrible so I can’t use it anyway) that’s easily absorbed into the skin and gives the same results as a prescription retinoid at a fraction of the cost. A good retinol will diminish wrinkles, fade discoloration, and give better clarity and tone to the skin. Another interesting fact: Retinoids are the only FDA approved treatments for wrinkles. I bought the 3X, formula which amounts to a 0.6% retinol which is their strongest treatment. Again, I’m getting the higher percentage treatments for all of the formulations just because my skin is used to really active stuff.. Start with the 1% just a few times a week if you’re just venturing into the world of retinol, but really if you have wrinkles or discoloration to get rid of this is a really good place to start.

afirm

Antioxidant:

I always use an antioxidant serum during the day to combat further damage (and you should too), so I’ll use Vivant’s Spin Trap serum with vitamins C&E. I’ve used this one in the past and for some reason it seems to keep longer than others, it doesn’t turn that dull color vitamin serums turn after just a few months which means its potency is also in tact.

vivant spin trap

Moisturizer:

I went out on a limb for this one. I’ve never used Nia 24 but I see it everywhere and am fascinated by it since it’s the only niacin-based product I know of. There’s a bunch of research they have on their site (independent from them) showing how niacin heals sun damaged skin and can even play a role in skin cancer prevention. Their signature treatment cream is this Intensive Recovery Complex, pricey at $118 but something I’ve literally looked at buying for years. Because it’s meant specifically for hyperpigment issues, I thought it would fit in perfectly with my whole skin-lightening regimen.

NI005-intensive-recovery

SPF:

Good SPF is key when you’re using an active bunch of products like this. Even in the winter when you don’t think you’re getting sun exposure, you are. I’ve been using Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint as a daily primer and skin perfector. The look and feel is just like a slightly tinted primer that helps to even out skintone pre-foundation. I love Coola’s sunscreens, it’s an organic line that only does suncare so they do it really well. It’s basically a really good SPF disguised as a great makeup primer that will help even out my skin on days when I won’t be wearing foundation (which will be quite often in the coming weeks.)

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Oh- and I’ll be using my Dermaroller to get super maximum penetration and faster results. Read HERE and HERE to catch up on the magical wonders of Dermarolling (aka microneedling) if you missed my past posts on the subject, and keep an eye on Hautelook (get the app) because they often feature them for just $20 or $30.

Are At-Home Chemical Peels a Good Idea?

Tjaden: stop reading this now.

My facialist will kill me for  so much as thinking this thought. I’m an admitted over-zealous skincare fanatic who will try anything once. I’ll scrub, cleanse, exfoliate, peel, dermaroll, botox, and laser everyday of the week if I had the time and tools. (Imagine being able to DIY Botox!! Heaven..) Anyway, this melasma is really kicking my ass this pregnancy (I might post pics at some point as a ‘before’ if I have a good ‘after’ because it sucks that bad), so I’m already plotting my post-delivery skin refresh and I’m thinking about doing it myself. I need something that will really get deep down and kick out the old, damaged skin so I’m considering taking an acid and putting it on my face to burn off layers of skin without really knowing what I’m doing. It sounds crazy, but there are currently over 330 people on Amazon.com who say they have used this peel and not only have skin remaining on their faces, but they say their skin looks brand spankin’ new. Oddly, these reviews are good enough for me even though I can’t even find a damn website for this company! Sketchy right?

Are at-home skin peels a good idea? Should I take the plunge?

tca peel