Archive | February, 2012

Natural Skin Care

29 Feb

As I was out walking in the cold, wet, windy Seattle weather today, I was dreaming of spring, nature, and renewal. I love how many companies are now offering all-natural skin care lines – I want to try every single one. So far, I’ve only really used Korres and Caudalie, both of which I really like. Wondering if any of you are currently using natural or organic lines, and if so, what they are and how you like them?

Along the same lines, when I got home, I found Tarte had posted a link on Facebook  to a blog post regarding best natural beauty products. Enjoy!

Spring Exfoliation! Clarisonic Mia

29 Feb

If you don’t know what a Clarisonic is, then you probably aren’t reading this blog. That said, there’s probably not much I can tell you about the Clarisonic Mia that you don’t already know. Nonetheless, here’s a blurb straight from Clarisonic’s website:

Healthy skin begins with Clarisonic

While cleansing is the first step in any skin care ritual, it is often overlooked.  Typical manual cleansing can leave behind dirt and oil trapped in pores. This build-up can damage the appearance and health of your skin and keep your skin care products from working like they should.

Used and recommended by spas and dermatologists, Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing Systems use a patented sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to gently, yet thoroughly remove 6X more makeup and 2X more dirt and oil than cleansing with your hands alone. Cleaner skin is the first step toward healthier skin. And healthier skin is smoother, more radiant and more beautiful.

If you know what a Sonicare toothbrush is, then you know what a Clarisonic is – just imagine a Sonicare for your face. To be totally honest, I used to use the Clarisonic Classic and never really noticed a lot of difference. After I had an esthetician use a Clarisonic on me recently, however, and recommend I use one at home, I decided to pick up the Mia and try it. It’s smaller, less expensive, and easier to travel with than the Classic. I now use it daily. I mentioned before that my skin has been looking pretty damn good lately, and I don’t know if it’s product, Clarisonic, or ritual that’s doing it, but I’m not going to stop.

If you don’t feel like shelling out the samoleans for a Clarisonic, add it to your Amazon Wishlist and maybe some generous relative will hook you up.

Spring Exfoliation! Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

28 Feb

After yesterday’s sad discovery, today I’m giving you a SULFATE-FREE exfoliator that I absolutely love – Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment.

This exfoliator uses not little scrubber beads, but ENZYMES (?!?) to exfoliate your face. As a result, it doesn’t require a lot of scrubbing – simply smooth the green goo onto your face in the shower, allow it to “work” for 20 – 30 seconds, per the instructions, and rinse off. (Note – according to the company, there are “Scrubbing Microbeads” in the wash, but I have never felt them, so they must be pretty micro.) You will feel a tingly/burning sensation as it works, and may experience some residual redness after rinsing. I have pretty sensitive skin, though, and have had no ill effects after using this two times a week for the past several months. Additionally, I like the smell – it’s kind of a spicy organic odor, like a spiced pumpkin candle or something.

The one thing I note is that some people find it TOO abrasive or drying. I have not had these issues, but given that this exfoliator costs a pretty penny, I do suggest hitting up Sephora for a sample before diving in and buying a whole tube based on my recommendation alone.

Let’s Talk About Sulfates

28 Feb

I know this is Exfoliation Week, and I’m going to get to another of my favorite exfoliants shortly. But after my rude awakening yesterday, I wanted to take a pause to talk about sulfates.

It's exfoliation. For your teeth.

If you do some research on the word “sulfates,” you find a couple of things. One, the Wikipedia entry for sulfates doesn’t actually mention them in a cosmetic sphere at all. Two, there are a LOT of different “sulfates” out there. And three, images like this:

So what the heck are sulfates, what do they do, and should we really be worried about them? Unfortunately, I can only partially answer those questions, but I can provide my insight into the matter.

My first encounter with discussion of sulfates came when I got a keratin smoothing treatment on my hair. Jen from Pinup Salon told me that I needed to use sulfate-free shampoos after the treatment to keep my hair smooth. The reason for this is that the most common sulfate found in shampoos is sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, which is a surfactant that is harsh enough to wash the keratin right out of my hair. Basically, SLS is an abrasive scrubber that gets rid of dirt, oil, and anything else, stripping your hair right down to just the hair itself. There was briefly a big cancer scare regarding SLS, which has subsequently been disproven. What is not disputed, however, is that SLS can cause skin irritation in some individuals, especially when left on for long periods of time. What I found most interesting, however, is that SLS is actually in most commercial toothpastes and has been found to aggravate, and possibly trigger, canker sores. If you’ve never had a canker sore, then just get down on your knees and thank God right now, because you are a lucky em effer. Canker sores are genetic, so if you’re an adult reading this and have never had one, the chances are good you never will. If you’re like me, however, and have suffered from canker sores your entire life, then you know just how awful these mouth lesions are. They’re EXTREMELY painful and can interfere with eating, talking, swallowing, and kissing, to name a few mouth-related activities. I have suffered through monthly canker outbreaks for my entire life – until I read about SLS. I immediately switched to an SLS-free toothpaste (Burt’s Bees makes a great one that still contains fluoride) and VIVA LA DIFFERENCE! I literally would get a cluster of cankers once a month around my period. We’re talking anywhere from 2 – 4 cankers a month. Now I get one every few months at most. I cannot believe this information is not more widely known and disseminated, but let me just say it here once more to make everyone aware:

IF YOU GET CANKER SORES, SWITCH TO AN SLS-FREE TOOTHPASTE LIKE BURT’S BEES. YOU WILL THANK ME LATER.

Okay, so moving on. I switched away from SLS shampoos and toothpastes, and since I knew SLS was causing me mouth misery once a month, I decided to eliminate SLS from my life altogether. I started purging SLS face washes (including one of my favorites, a L’Occitane foaming wash), SLS body washes (more favorites – Philosophy, really?), and any other foamy product that said SLS in the ingredients. Here’s where things get confusing, though. What about ammonium lauryl sulfate, or ALS? Not as bad, just as bad, worse? According to some sources, it’s actually worse than SLS. According to MOST sources, it’s at least just as bad. So ALS has to go, too.

This then begs the question… Are all sulfates bad? If you refer to the first picture I posted above, some people certainly seem to think so. I’ve also noticed a trend when it comes to organic/natural products:

NO SULFATES. Not “No SLS, No ALS.” No sulfates PERIOD.

While in the shower this morning, I carefully read the label on my Estée Lauder face wash, and noticed the ingredient sodium coceth sulfate. I had to do some serious research to find anything viable out about this, and I guess the real concern about this or ANY sulfate is whether it has been contaminated in the ethoxylation process by the potentially hazardous ether of 1,4-Dioxane. Confused yet? I am. In spite of the shunning of all sulfates by some, SkinDeep seems to have little to no information on sodium coceth sulfate, which is some small consolation, I suppose.

After all this research, what conclusion can we really come to? SLS is clearly an irritant – I can tell you that firsthand, based on my canker sore history. Most people seem to agree that ALS is as bad if not worse than SLS. So probably cutting SLS and ALS out of your beauty routine is not a bad idea, as long as it’s feasible for you. More and more companies are releasing sulfate-free products, so your choices are getting better by the day.

But what about other sulfates? The jury’s still out. This is a decision you’re going to have to make for yourself. As for me, I think I’ll finish my Estée Lauder face wash, which has SCS, but pitch my Laura Mercier exfoliator, which contains SLS. And I emailed L’Occitane yesterday to see if they make any sulfate-free face washes, because the ingredient list on their website looks like this:

Seriously? There are more ingredients than that in my tea.

Very helpful, L’Occitane. Very helpful bullsh*t.

Two Fun Beauty Events This Friday at Pinup Salon and Frenchy’s!

27 Feb

Did you know that in ancient Rome, March was the first month of the year? It’s true – it’s why Aries (my sign!) is always listed first in the zodiac. What better month to revamp your beauty routines and start fresh?

Pinup Salon (West Seattle & Ravenna) – the salon I use and also one of my favorite small businesses in Seattle – is hosting a special event for Loyalty Rewards Members ONLY on Friday afternoon/evening. I can bring ONE friend with me, so if you’re interested in more details, please message me privately and we’ll talk. Or you could give Pinup a call, book yourself an appointment, and become a Loyalty Rewards Member yourself, and check out the event on your own. Just remember to tell them Kate sent you. 😀

Frenchy’s Day Spa (Madison Park) is hosting a special introduction to Caudalie products this Friday, open to everyone. For $30, you can get a half-hour Caudalie mini-facial AND that $30 will also be credited towards your purchase of Caudalie products! If you’re not familiar with Caudalie, a lovely, all-natural brand, this is the perfect chance to experience them at a great price! They’re one of my favorites.

I’ll be at Frenchy’s at 3pm and Pinup at 4pm. Hope to see some of you at one or the other!

Spring Exfoliation! Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Face Polish

27 Feb

As we get ready to enter March (my birth month!) I thought I’d do a week of various exfoliants to get you scrubbed, polished, and ready for spring!

I’m starting the week with one of my two favorite facial exfoliators, Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Face Polish. I use this about once or twice a week, alternating with my other favorite, which I’ll review tomorrow. (I exfoliate about every other day.) I like this and the other one so much that, in spite of my otherwise totally Estée Lauder-centric face routine, I have not switched to one of their scrubs because I am SO satisfied.

This exfoliator is gentle and creamy, with soft, round scrubbers. I like how it makes my skin feel clean, soft, and new, but doesn’t feel harsh or make my skin feel “stripped.” It’s lightly fragranced without being too perfumey or overwhelming. While in the process of writing this review, I JUST discovered that this product does indeed contain sulfates (SUPER SAD FACE!), so I guess I will have to phase it out as part of my sulfate-free lifestyle, but if that’s not something that concerns you, I do recommend this exfoliator in all other respects.

Wow what a downer. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this before, but it’s because usually the sulfates are near the top of ingredient lists in soaps, and in this one it’s about halfway down. I think that means it probably has less sulfates than some soaps, but still. BOO.

Gillette Venus Spa Breeze Razor

26 Feb

Just a quick post today while the new puppy (PUPPY!) is napping and I am preparing for a fun brunchy product swap with some of my girlfriends.

This is kind of a weird one, but this razor CHANGED MY LIFE. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it actually did change some things about my life for the better.

The Gillette Venus Spa Breeze Razor is a godsend. I don’t know how no one thought of it before. See the pink bits above and below the blades? Built-in shave gel. That’s right – YOU NEVER HAVE TO BUY SHAVE GEL AGAIN. Besides that, you can now easily shave while standing in the shower without having to race as the shave gel runs off your legs in rivulets.

I’m 6′ tall. Shaving my legs has always been a boondoggle for me. Either I had to run water in the tub and shave seated, balanced on the edge, or find creative positions in the shower (foot propped against wall at waist height, bent over double, etc.) and try to block the shower stream with my back to avoid losing all the shave gel before I even got halfway done one leg. Additionally, we travel a lot, so I was always buying those little travel containers of shave gel to pack in with my liquids, and even the small ones take up half the government-regulated Ziploc baggie. NO MORE! I can now shave standing in the shower with the water beating peacefully on my back, no worries about shaving a naked leg. I can now buy a two-pack of the disposable version of this razor, throw one in my carry on, and not have to worry about remembering or finding space for shave gel.

The only down side: Although Gillette had in 1996 declared a moratorium on animal testing (good work, Gillette!), they have since been bought by Procter & Gamble, which has not taken a stand against animal testing. So, if that’s something that’s important to you (it is to me), you should click the link and ask Procter & Gamble to “adhere to a permanent ‘no animal testing’ policy.”

Otherwise – shave away!