Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mission Skincare

A few rules to live by:

1) Stop touching your face
2) Use sunscreen and reapply
3) Drink plenty of water
4) Exercise
5) Get enough sleep

It's a mere five things but it seems that my current lifestyle has made it more than a little difficult to follow through on some of them. Call it a New Year's resolution. I was determined to try.

I used to tell my favorite associate at Chanel that I always felt like my skin looked better when I regularly apply makeup. She chalked it up to the skincare ingredients found in many makeup products. However, I think it's simply that when I regularly wear makeup, I really do stick to a routine. Lately, that just hasn't been the case.

Through the winter, my skin had been dry and flaky. Yet I was also suffering from a hormonal breakout that refused to go away. A little research led me to believe that if my good old spot treatment wasn't doing anything, it was necessary for me to employ a regimen that addressed it and improved my skin overall. I wanted to have clear skin that was more even-toned. So I started searching for products that would exfoliate and brighten. Out came the Clarisonic which I had dropped using to about once a month. I had to reintroduce that to my regular routine.

Leafing through the January 2015 issue of Allure magazine, I found a really good starting point for my mission. Reading about the routines that a dermatologist recommended for several women with several different issues (which if I could, I'd address them all), I found a nice list of products that I could try. The trick, I figured, was to know what each product did and how they worked in conjunction with one another. The cost wasn't really an issue but the less expensive options always take priority.

I adopted the exact set that the dermatologist prescribed for brightening skin (only the morning set) since those were the products I most easily located in the stores.

Breakfast is served!

The products I tested are pictured above. From left, the Pond's Luminous Clean Wet Cleansing Towelettes, the Vichy Idéalia Life Serum and the Patricia Wexler M.D. Skin Brightening Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 28. This post is my mini-review of these products.

I've tried the Pond's Luminous Clean Wet Cleansing Towelettes before. I mentioned it in passing when I talked about my simplified skincare routine when I was pregnant and I was using the Pond's Luminous Clean Cream Cleanser. I liked the towelettes but I had a stash of Neutrogena wipes that work really well for makeup removal that I wasn't in the market for wipes. I never thought to use them for cleansing morning skin and these Pond's wipes are lovely for that purpose. The wipes are not abrasive but the material does catch morning after flakes nicely while wiping off excess oil. It feels good and smells good. The product has been difficult to find though. I grabbed a six-month supply at two different Wegman's supermarkets. That seemed to be the only place that still had them in stock. When I run out, I imagine I'd have moved on to a different routine or hopefully found a replacement.

Pond's Luminous Clean Wet Cleansing Towelette

The Vichy serum was not an instant success with me. Initially, I had a problem with the texture. I later decided that it wasn't so much that it was tacky, it was perhaps that I'd put too much on. So I started over, with just one pump and finally decided that one and a half pumps was a more appropriate amount for my face. I dab it on several key spots and then kind of pat it on. Then I rub my hands together and press it on my face to get the serum in. Rubbing stuff in just makes my face hurt so this method of application is what I employ for most things, especially on the cheek area.

Vichy Idéalia Life Serum

I tried to use it in the mornings and found that for winter, it simply wasn't moisturizing enough. I tried it with other moisturizer and sunscreen combos to see if I could up the moisture quotient. When I used it with the La Roche Posay Anthelios SX, it kind of made the moisturizer/sunscreen slip so I was getting it into my eyes. Oh, it hurt! I had a sample of Shiseido's new Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate which instructions said should be applied before your serum and interestingly, that improved everything significantly. I did get more moisture in and it seemed to make the Idéalia serum apply better. Inevitably though, I think I'm going to drop the Idéalia serum. At $39 a bottle, I expected more out of it. I don't think it is doing all that much but fake me into thinking I had a glow with its microshimmer particles. I wonder if it would work better as a makeup primer but I have primers that work perfectly well for me that I'm not inclined to try. And I'm also not particularly fond of its fragrance.

Wexler Brightening Moisturizer transferred to a small jar

The Wexler moisturizer is a bit pricey as well, almost $40 for a jar before tax. It's got some slip to it but has a very thin consistency. It is easy to apply and doesn't take long to absorb. But again, I feel like I'm simply being deceived into thinking I had a glow because it looks a bit greasy on. And not long after application, I felt dry. What gives? SPF 28 is good too but how much of it do I need to apply to truly get the full sun protection it offers? I didn't feel so secure about it as my sunscreen and it wasn't my favorite moisturizer. So after I finish the jar, I will not repurchase.

Looking ahead for possible substitutions, I decided to create some time to plow through several items sitting in my bathroom for ages. There I discovered some Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths. The Cetaphil wipes were a freebie when I purchased the Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 pictured below. They're a good combo. I use a wipe a half hour before I step out to pick up my daughter at school and then I reapply a moisturizing sunscreen.

Here's lunch!

Sometimes, I use La Roche Posay Anthelios SX (reviewed here) which I've always liked. I wish I could get that same texture and finish on a product with higher SPF but so far everything I've tried with higher SPF just doesn't do it. Most of them leave a white film and a lot of them have a runny texture that makes them prone to getting into my eyes. The ones that aren't runny tend to be balms and go on really thick and are hard to remove. They also sometimes clog pores. When this current batch of moisturizers with SPF runs out, hopefully before summer comes around, I'm going to switch to Supergoop! (another item recommended in the magazine) to see if that's any good. I did purchase several other items based on that article and to follow will be a quick review of some cleansers (exfoliators) and moisturizers to try for night time.

On a final note, I think that reapplication is key. I think I was going at the sunscreen three times a day. But I seriously think that made a big difference and made this routine work extra well in making my skin more even-toned, even if I didn't love all the products for superficial reasons here and there. I was only doing SPF 15-28 but applied every few hours, it made such a difference. I could conceivably stick to the Cetaphil wipes and keep searching for a good moisturizing serum and a lovely sunscreen. For daytime, I think it will still be a good routine, even without a serum. My breakouts are gone and my skin is a lot clearer and smoother. I'm pretty happy something is working.

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