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Beauty Notes: Skincare (The Kindly One)
by The Kindly One

I have a couple of common skin complaints - slightly oily skin, dark undereyes - but the main thrust of my skincare routine is preventing and soothing skin irritation. I have extremely sensitive skin that will not tolerate a good number of fairly common skincare and cosmetics ingredients. Here's a list of my current skin sensitivities:

  • silica
  • kaolin
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • sulfa products
  • carmine (in certain eyeshadows)
  • witch hazel
  • fragrance

Additionally, my skin doesn't tolerate abrasives, heat, and extreme cold and, when I'm really stressed, gets irritated by exercise. Any of the above irritants can cause my skin to break out into a bright red, painful rash. Despite this, I generally enjoy good skin due to spending a lot of time and money to figure out what works and what doesn't. The following products work to help me maintain good skin and prevent painful irritation.

The sensitivities I've listed are all classic symptoms of rosacea. Though I haven't been diagnosed with it, I've been told my skin is in a state of pre-rosacea (similar to being pre-diabetic - onset of disease can occur in the absence of preventative health measures). As such, I use Finacea to prevent the full onset of rosacea. Finacea works as an anti-inflammatory agent to keep skin calm and is only available by prescription.


Bizarrely enough, I can tolerate prescription-strength retinoids with ease. I've used Tazorac for years, and it is Tazorac - not Finacea - that I credit for my good skin. Tazorac gives my skin an even tone and texture, increases vibrancy, and inhibits some oil production. The effect it has is subtle. No bells, no whistles, simply good skin. If I go off it for a few days, I always see an immediate effect the next time I use it - my skin will be brighter, clearer, and have a more even texture.


I get puffy eyes if I don't get enough sleep or drink too much liquid right before bed. MAC Fast Response Eye Cream works fairly well to depuff the eyes, better than anything else I've tried. What I particularly like about the product is that it dries quickly - ten seconds and I can apply my makeup over it. It also deposits a really nice, smooth texture, making eye makeup application a snap.


Having extremely fair skin, sunscreen isn't an option for me. This is really no problem. I'm so conscientious, I've worn sunscreen every day since I was fifteen. (Vain, too, but it's the conscientiousness that enabled such persistence.) Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, SPF 30 is hands down the best facial sunscreen I've tried. It's the single formula specifically formulated for skin that hasn't pilled on me, with or without makeup, and it's extemely gentle. It has such a smooth texture on the skin I've never had trouble applying makeup over it, although I generally use a primer anyway. A word of caution: Be sure to go for the sensitive skin formulation, as I've found that the regular version pills.


Although I mostly keep redness and irritation at bay, I find that using products containing squalene/squalane really work to help keep my skin calm. Derived from vegetable oils, including olive oil, squalene and squalane are very light, emollient oils that moisturize and sooth my skin. With squalane as one of the main ingredients, Boots Expert Anti-Redness Serum is one of the best products I've found to use. The squalane essentially works as a lightweight barrier for my skin, keeping the moisture in and harsh irritants out. As with Tazarac, should I go without this for a few days, I will see an immediate improvement in my skin's tone and clarity the next time I use it. This works well not only as a day-to-day product, but also on those occasions when my skin is aggravated. As soon as I use this product, my skin immediately feels calmer and less painful, and with the squalane barrier in place, heals much faster.

Never one to leave an inch of skin unprotected, my lip balm of choice is Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50. The texture of this lip balm is fairly standard - moderately emollient and sheer with a little bit of weight. I'm a fan of this particular lip balm because it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, a feat not often accomplished in a drugstore lip balm. I also appreciate how sheer it is, having found other comparable lip balms quite heavy and occlusive.

Though it's the fundamentals that can make or break a good skincare routine, I am much more relaxed about them than I am other, more specific products. I've found that there are a variety of very good, basic skincare products that don't break the bank and generally work just as well as any of the others in the bunch.


More important than any particular cleanser is the method of cleaning. If you slap cleanser on just to immediately take it off, it's not going to do the job, regardless of whether you use Shu Uemura or Cetaphil. If, however, you take your time and spend a good thirty seconds minimum rubbing or scrubbing away, you will reap the benefits of judicious cleansing, regardless of cleanser (excepting the very worst). With that in mind, I usually have a couple of very basic, decent cleansers on hand, alternating out Juice Organics Brightening Cleanser and Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser . Both cleansers do the job, cleaning without stripping and leaving no makeup on my face, though sometimes I use a separate eye makeup remover for all the mascara I wear. Neither product has irritated my skin, and despite the claim of one to be "organic," I don't find the Juice Organics cleanser to be any gentler or less effective than the Neutrogena.


I am just as casual about moisturizers as I am cleansers. With all the very specific products I use, my treatment and prevention needs are fulfilled. All I really need moisturizers to do is moisturize without irritating. For that reason, I have the very gentle, very basic La Roche-Posay Toleriane Soothing Protective Care and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture, Sensitive Skin on rotation. In terms of hydration, the two are nearly identical products. Both deliver light, gentle hydration and, more than anything, serve as yet another barrier to protect my skin. The difference is in quality of formulation. The Neutrogena moisturizer very obviously contains more fillers than La Roche-Posay, feeling less substantive on the skin. Regardless, it's still a good, basic formulation for the summer, leaving Toleriane to provide slightly richer hydration and protection in the winter.

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10/21/2009 [1]

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