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.

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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.

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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.

Andalou Naturals Chia + Omega Radiant Skin Polish

There was a time BC (before children) when I’d on occasion wander around the skincare aisles of Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage while I was grocery shopping. I’d look, smell, test, and spray every bottle that caught my eye. It’s these natural, organic, off the beaten path lines that I’ll first browse when it comes to my own skincare whenever I’m out of something. I’ve seen this Andalou line a million times but never bought anything until I saw this Skin Polish which is usually a term for a finer grain scrub versus a traditional exfoliant with larger beads or bits of grit.

Here’s what I love- the finely ground chia seeds are in a rich cleansing aloe base so it feels like a microdermabrasion and it quickly buffs away dry skin and dullness which leaves my skin noticably softer and brighter. I love the natural ingredients like jojoba, flax, vitamins, and walnut powder and the exclusion of GMO’s, Petrochemicals, Phthalates, Sulfates, Synthetic Colors, Dyes, Fragrances, Triclosan, PEG, MEA, TEA, DEA, or Paraben Preservatives which goes for every product they offer.

Online it sells for $15, but I got it for $10. Based on this scrub alone I’m excited to try more- like their BB Cream from their 1000 Roses line, and this Beta Hydroxy cream for pigmentation and skin healing.

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Best Beauty Buys at Trader Joe’s

When Trader Joe’s opened three (!) stores here in Colorado everyone was buzzing- even those who had never stepped foot into one were excited to see what all the hype was about. I knew what I was in for having lived in Arizona and California where I enjoyed all that TJ’s has to offer, but the things I was most excited about weren’t food (or wine..) related at all. It’s the cheap face washes, soaps, lotions, and oils in their concise beauty aisle. Here’s a rundown of a few along with their can’t-beat prices.

Top to bottom, left to right:

Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil: This light castile-like soap cleanses skin and leaves a tingly fresh feeling behind from the tea tree. It’s a great basic cleanser for day and night and all skin types.

Moisturizing Shave Cream: This is one of my favorite shave creams. It’s so rich that a tiny amount goes a long way, this tube will last me several months.

Nourish Spray Sunscreen SPF 50: You can’t do much better than $6 for a big can of SPF 50. You can spray down the whole family all summer long.

100% Pure Jojoba Oil: I LOVE this oil so much that I used to buy several of and bring them back to Colorado whenever we’d visit CA. I don’t know what it is about this body oil but it’s a perfect balance of hydration and slip. You can even rub it on your eyes to pre-cleanse to remove eye makeup or use it on your face. It’s that good.

All-In-One Facial Cleanser: I haven’t used this cleanser but at $6, another great deal.

Coconut Body Butter: I bought this and I’m obsessed. The smell of coconut is intoxicating to me and this has a balanced scent that’s sweet and tropical.  It’s the best bargain I saw, $5 for a body butter that’s normally sold for $20 at other stores. A must-have for sure.

Nourish Oil-Free Antioxidant Moisturizer: A good, lightweight all-purpose moisturizer for those who are looking for something basic and effective.

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Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Oil

You must check out Sebu Beauty and their skincare made with the nutrient rich sea buckthorn berry. I just bought my second bottle of Sea Buckthorn oil from Sprouts today along with their cleanser. I bought my first bottle of the oil a few months back along with the cleansing bar (which is almost gone) and I use them both daily. The oil regulates my skin’s moisture levels and leaves it really glowy- a huge help since the cold weather is sucking the life out of my skin and I don’t always have time to slap on foundation.

Next I’ll order their supplements (I couldn’t find them at Sprouts) which I read are good for hair growth. Mine is still falling out in clumps thanks to my thyroid so anything right now is worth a shot.

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The Skincare Line I’ve Used For 15 Years

One of the most miraculous sights in my bathroom is that of an empty jar. I often get bored or jump from one thing to another when what I’m using isn’t working. But, off and on (more on than off especially with their toner) for 15 years I’ve bought Aqua Glycolic. It was even confirmed by my derm to be one of the best lines on the market- high praise for a simple line priced around $12.

Aqua Glycolic is a hidden gem among drugstore skincare. Best prices I’ve found are at Costco which typically has it all in stock behind the counter in their pharmacy (you don’t need a PX it’s just where it’s kept) but every pharmacy either carries it or will order it for you free of charge. A few tips: I don’t like their creamy cleanser because it feels thin and doesn’t remove makeup. Use the body lotion in place of the cream on your face if you want a higher concentration of glycolic (it’s the same formula), and dilute the toner half and half (or more if you’re sensitive) with witch hazel so you get the benefits of the toner without any drying or irritation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.