Skincare Faves of 2018
Hello, soul friends! I have been trying to share more of my own personal journey and what I have learned and am currently learning. Self-care has become pretty popular topic, and I feel that skincare is a big part of my personal self-care. I have often been asked what I use and what I recommend by friends and family. While this may not be a "typical" post for me, I felt like sharing some of my faves and maybe inspire you to do something extra special and nice for yourself at least once a week.
I have decided to share some of my current (and long standing) faves for skin and my own personal self-care routine. My routine ebbs and flows and I don't mind that it isn't quite structured all of the time. There are weeks where I am on it and doing things daily, and other times I go weeks without really doing anything "special" for myself. It's a balance!
Skincare is something I have been passionate about and I have found some amazing powerhouse women who create all-natural and incredible products for overall holistic skin and health.
I would like to share some of my workhorse favorites. Why do I call them workhorses? Because these products pull serious overtime on my poor skin. As with all things, understand what works for you and ask questions.
I have highly sensitive, fair, combination skin. I also suffer from keratosis pilaris on about 75% of my body. I am acne prone (mostly cystic) and have mild rosacea. Knowing these things about my skin has helped me find what works best for me.
Are you too busy to take care of yourself? I completely understand! I work full-time (sometimes even 50 hour weeks at my day job), have clients almost nightly for this business, as well as email and Reiki clients, and have 2 kids (one in high school and one in elementary) and 2 large dogs. My partner travels a lot for work (usually for about 5 weeks at a time) so I am typically left to fend for myself. I have many roles to fulfill. Phew.... I am winded just writing all of that down.
I get it. I really, really, REALLY do!
Self-care can seem like some trivial thing to add to your list of things to do daily, but in making and carving a bit of time out for myself, I feel so much more grounded and connected. It helps me not feel so burnt out so quickly. I have done the holistic route in various things in my life. I have changed how I think, what I eat, who is around me. I have tried everything that was suggested (within reason). I know that when my skin is clear and feels good, I then in turn - feel good!
Self-care doesn't need to cost a lot (or ANY) money, but I know that once I started making an effort on certain things, the better I felt overall. Purchasing local, all-natural, and sustainable things has been an important part of my journey. I also enjoy finding new products that fit into my routine and improve my life, not make it more difficult.
My routine is pretty much the same - with a few exceptions. Cleanse, Tone, Lather myself in oils, and Moisturize. On splurge days (usually Sundays) - I do a face mask. I love clay and sheet masks.
I will also share other things that I do that help me feel less like a hot mess as a person. Remember, self-care and skincare is about you. So do what feels right for you.
Keep reading for some of my current obsessions in skincare! Get comfy, grab a snack, because it is going to be a long one!
The best facial cleansers that I use are gentle and made with non-irritating ingredients. I use them interchangeably as my skin has different needs when the weather is changing and also depending on my cosmetics use. I will state that I only wash my face with a cleanser in the evenings. I do not wash my face with anything but warm water in the mornings.
My absolute fave and day to day one is the Aloe & Avocado Facial Cleanser from Elixirs of Light. I got mine custom made from Elixirs of Light - she added a few ingredients to help with my current skin problems and it has been perfect for my extremely sensitive skin to use daily - without issues.
It is an oil wash, that leaves your skin soft, moisturized, and supple. If you are not accustomed to oil washes, this may take some getting used to. I started using an "oil wash" method in my mid-20s to prevent more wrinkles on my face.
You will see a lot of her products on my list, because Jordan creates amazing and all-natural products that truly help the overall health of my skin. I can also reach out to her with any current issues and have her whip up something that will help me (and my family's) skin and health problems in a natural way.
My second facial cleanser is used when I am wearing makeup, so it can help me remove whatever is left on my skin at the end of the day. It is the Formula 10.0.6 Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser. This is a foamy, soapy wash - so I do not use it daily. I try not to use too many sulfates on my skin due to the sensitive nature of my skin and also in trying to keep it as moisturized as possible.
This is a luscious smelling and gentle cleanser and I have enjoyed that it doesn't break out or dry out my skin too much. A little goes a long way, as it does foam a lot and I use it with a facial brush when I feel I need a deep clean. I only do that about once a month and apply a lot of serums to restore moisture to my skin.
Although it isn't the most natural face cleanser, it is super budget friendly at about $5.99 in my local grocery store. As I stated above, I don't use this daily and typically only wear makeup a handful of times a month, so this is what I use to remove all of the cosmetics from my face before toning and moisturizing.
So this category is a tough one. I have tried and LOVED natural toners for years. But the Thayers brand ones have been exquisite on my skin. I have tried all of the different variations, but the Rose Petal is hands down my fave.
After washing my face (either with water or facial cleanser), I always use a cotton ball soaked in toner. I tone my entire face and neck. The Thayers Witch Hazel toner has Aloe Vera included which makes it feel so hydrating on the skin. It is also very affordable at $6.99. The bottles are large and last a long time.
I also love the Lilac Rose Toner from Binford's All Naturals but it is seasonal and she makes it as she finds the best flowers to work with. I don't have a picture of mine, and her shop is not open at the moment, but she will announce when she is making her magic again. I usually use the Lilac Rose Toner in the morning when I have it and the Thayers at night. Both are amazing and work well.
Serums + Facial Oils
I honestly have no idea when this little bit of advice became a quick habit to add to my routine, but once I started oil cleansing, I realized I was enjoying the benefits from various oils, and I am so blessed that I changed my routine.
My top fave face serums and oils come from Elixirs of Light and Binfords All Naturals. YES. I know - but seriously - their oils have helped my skin get under control, have stopped the clock on aging, and kept my skin supple and soft. When something comes along and just changes the way you do your skin care, then you gotta share that! My face is clearer than ever and my once very persistent cystic acne has calmed down. HALLELOO!
Oh, SNAP - I did a slideshow! Mira!
My current obsessions are the Sunbeam Skin Elixir by Elixirs of Light and the Youth Serum and Caffeine Serum by Binfords All Naturals. I use a mix of the Sunbeam, Youth Serum, and Cystic Acne Blend on my face after toning. I also have used the 24K Gold Serum from Binfords All Natural in the mix. I just use what I have and what works with my skin. Winter is a bit harsher on my skin, so I do tend to be more aware of what I use and how often I do.
The Caffeine Infused Serum is used under my eyes, crows feet (which I don't have, yet), and laugh lines, when I am feeling a little puffy. This stuff smells amazing. Just like a fresh cup of coffee! I also like to mix it up with coffee grounds for an invigorating facial scrub about once every two weeks, then leave it on as a face mask. This can be irritating to the skin, so please know what your skin can handle and what works best for you.
The Cystic Acne Blend by Elixirs of Light has been a life changer for me. This was one of the first oils I ordered from Elixirs of Light to help combat my cystic acne. I used to get 3 or 4 bumps on my face that would take anywhere from 2 to 3 months to completely heal, while also leaving behind a hyper-pigmentated spot on my face. Nothing would help heal up the process, or allow the pain to subside very well.
For the first time in FOREVER, this helped those spots disappear within a month. That is pure magic. And it also prevents more of those angry things from popping up. I also use the Cystic Acne Salve by Elixirs of Light to do more of the heavy lifting when I first get a bad spot.
I love using different things for my undereye area - but I love the Chamomile Eye Salve by Elixirs of Light. It is light, reduces redness, and also is very gentle. My undereye area went through a rough phase before I found her salve. It was dry, red, flaky, and everything irritated it. I tried numerous oils to help it heal and nothing seemed to bring relief. I love using Binfords All Naturals Youth Serum roller and gently apply it to my undereye before bed. The area remains soft and hydrated without feeling heavy. Both of these gals have serious experience and shelf space in my home with their line of products! You can connect with her and find out more about what she is creating on Instagram: @elixirsoflight
I use different oils intermittently, but these are my go-tos and have been in my rotation for about a year now. Both Jordan and Ashley have helped my skin so much with their incredible products. They also will custom blend whatever you need for your skin.
Brujita Skincare is a new addition to my collection, and I was very intrigued so I made a purchase recently and am in love with her products. I have been following her on Instagram for a while, but I am not going to lie here - I am cheap... and didn't want to spend the cash without knowing if the products were going to be good or even usable for me.
Fortunately for me, my BFF had ordered some of her products that she was raving about. We both have similar sensitivities and use similar skincare products, so I jumped in after she gave her stamp of approval. We are picky, yes - but we will invest in good skincare products that deliver the quality we enjoy. It also helped to know that if she didn't have a reaction that I would be good to go!
I ordered the Brujita Skincare Crema and man - is this stuff amazing or que? Had me feeling like a whole snack. She even offers a Vegan version of her Crema. It is a LUXE skin cream that goes on silky and light, while moisturizing me all the way to the Goddess realms. It also smells incredible to me. The fact that it is all natural and gentle is a huge plus. The ingredients all work together very well and a little goes a long way with this moisturizer. I was even rubbing some on my dry feet and dry hands. The results of using this heavenly cream have been pretty amazing! You can find more of her products and connect with her on Instagram: @brujitaskincare
I was using Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream before as it was the only thing that doesn't send my skin into a tailspin - although I do notice more cystic acne flare-ups when I use it regularly. As I am currently trying to break the chemical habits, I am hoping to not have to resort to using it anymore. I still have found it to be one of the best non-scented, light, and creamy moisturizers that does not aggravate my sensitive skin.
So, yes - I do oils and serums and lock it all in with Crema. I am left with a gorgeous glow. I am not sure how makeup application would go over all of this, but I am not big on using cosmetics on the daily. Why waste my good makeup for bad fluorescent lighting? Not me, boo!
Face masks + Scrubs
Like I said above - I usually do face masks and scrubs about once a week - and typically on the weekends while I catch up on RuPaul's Drag Race (all in the name of self-care, ya'll!) and do email readings, update this site, and catch up on funny videos on Facebook. I have found masks from all price ranges and really love trying new formulas and types of masks. I love Korean skincare, and my local CVS (drugstore) has some fun brands that I pick up on occasion - depending on my budget.
Brujita Skincare makes various face masks that are clay based and I decided to purchase the Brujitas Herbs Mask with her Chamomile Hydrosol set. I have used it once so far and loved the gentleness of it. It left my skin refreshed, smooth, and soft. It also reduced the redness on my break out zone. She also does other masks, that I hope to check out soon. Knowing that it is all natural is a big plus for me. And who doesn't want to support and shop small business?
I love buying Moroccan red and European green loose clay to mix up my own masks with. I love using tea tree, jojoba, rose, lavender, and/or frankincense oils (not always all together), as well as ACV or witch hazel to make various masks depending on my skin needs. You can also always just use water to make a thick paste and slather that on. I also love the sample Mud masks by Shea Moisture. I can find them for about $1.99 and you can get about 2 full uses from each sample. They are tingly goodness!
I did purchase a black charcoal peel off mask from the drugstore, but found it to be very drying and too much effort in removing blackheads (although my teenager loves it). I would much rather not cause irritation, so I don't often reach for the peel off type of masks.
A really interesting and fun mask that I picked up from the Korean beauty section at my local drugstore, is the Pore Bubble Mask by JJ Young. - "For squeaky clean skin, the micro-oxygen bubbles within this mask work with charcoal and buffing grains to clean pores and eliminate impurities, leaving behind a bright, fresh complexion." - I found it to tickle A LOT, but loved the finishing result. My face was moisturized, clean, and supple. It is a splurge for me at $16.99 but I have gotten many uses out of the small jar.
Another fun addition have been sheet masks! I usually pick these up at the drugstore, as they are sometimes really cheap and a fun thing to do on the weekend. I have tried various brands and types, although I will say that my favorite have been the moisturizing and firming types. I don't do them often, but I do add them to the rotation about once a month. They look freaky on, and my kids love the ones with animal faces on them. I have found them at all price points but never over $3.99. I usually pop one on for about 15 minutes and enjoy the refreshing serums on my face, then lock it all in with a moisturizer.
As far as facial scrubs go, "my hands down, ultimate favorite, I will never stop raving about it because it is so good" is the Brown Sugar Face Polish from Binfords All Naturals. This has been my road dog scrub since like early 2015. I am that obsessed with it. It is gentle enough to use daily during winter, without drying out or breaking out my skin. I love how it smells and love the beautiful way it just buffs away the dry layer of skin to reveal baby soft skin. It is full of yummy goodness and petals and it just has transformed my skin. You can connect with her and find out when she starts offering items in her shop again on Instagram: @binfords_all_naturals
I have tried other scrubs, but I have found more success with DIY recipes. I also make a quick scrub with Caffeine Infused Oil from Binfords All Naturals and fresh coffee grounds. I make a paste and sometimes add in a bit of raw Shea butter to add in extra moisture. This has been a quick way to scrub my face after washing, and before I tone + moisturize. It leaves my skin so baby soft and fresh looking. I have found that this helps with how my makeup applies, as well. And who doesn't love coffee? I know I do!
My current favorite soap that does not irritate my skin is the Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 Hemp Rose Pure Castile Soap. Is it the most fragrant one? Not compared to conventional soap, but this soap has help heal my skin and doesn't overly dry it out. It is also gentle enough to use on my little ones without irritating their sensitive skin, as well. I switch between natural bar soaps when I find them locally and this all in one type of body wash, depending on how my skin is doing.
When I am very stressed, my skin needs a more gentle routine, so I will be a bit more generous with the moisturizing and what I wash with. I also love the Lavender variety. A little goes a very long way with this soap, and it leaves the skin smooth and without a soapy feel afterwards. I started using this several years ago when I got fed up with my skin condition and wanted to improve it. This wash helped my skin heal externally, as I learn how to heal it internally. I always keep a bottle of this around.
Have you heard of dry brushing before? I heard about it a couple of years ago and didn't give much thought to it. But kept seeing it around. I also recently did a DNA test through 23andMe and found out I have the MTHFR mutation - which essentially means I don't process toxins as well as others. Hence my leaning towards cutting out as many as I can, which I have been doing slowly since my mid-20s. I noticed the difference in how I metabolize things and how they affected me. Dry brushing was suggested as a way to help reduce and remove toxins that my body can't process on it's own.
I also have Keratosis Pilaris, which means my body produces too much keratin, causing little clogged pores all over large areas. For me the worst flareups are on my arms, stomach, back, and legs. About 75% of my bod is covered in these little "goosebumps" at all times. I have had it since I was a little kid and also have hyper-pigmentation, so my scars look like a bunch of dark marks on my pores, or dark freckles (but less cute). It has plagued me so much and was a reason I was bullied by others for years in school. The "chicken skin" appearance is off putting.
Changing my diet, by no longer eating meat, adding a beneficial probiotic, vitamins for my skin, and reducing my dairy and wheat intake has helped my skin heal and it is clearer than it ever has been. I still only wear long sleeves and pants year-round (it is hot af in Texas, ya'll), but I hope to one day be more comfortable with wearing sleeveless or short sleeve items and maybe even dresses.
But dry brushing has done for my skin what scrubs do for my face. Dry brushing is literally what it sounds like. You take a coarser brush, and basically brush your skin before you wash it. I usually start with my extremities and brush in an upward motion and small, gentle circles, brushing away from myself. I don't do it to peel my skin off, and am mindful to be gentle.
It is supposed to help exfoliate, promote better skin overall, and also said to help "detox" your body. I have found it to be really beneficial with my skin condition, and while I don't always remember to do it, I feel much better when I do. I purchased my Ecotools circle dry brush at Ulta Beauty for $6.99 and I prefer the shape and size of it. There are larger and coarser ones, but I got a medium stiff one for dry skin. It has really changed the condition of my skin very quickly.
A lot of these products are a bit pricier than traditional items in your local drugstore, but a little goes a long way. Plus, I get to support small women owned businesses that provide me with all-natural and cruelty-free options for my skincare. I have also seen a vast improvement in the overall health of my skin.
So this is how I take care of my skin currently, that help me continue a quick routine that helps me focus on myself a little bit each day. I see the rewards from putting in the effort. As with all things, do what works for you. I hope you find some new and useful tips here. I would love to hear about your current faves and what you use!
I share my experiences and preferences to hopefully help someone find cruelty-free alternatives. I always try to make sure that I am using natural products and that bring out the best in my skin. Skincare is whole health care, in my opinion. Realizing that face mapping and breakouts happen with certain imbalances has aided my healing journey overall.
Changing my diet and dropping things that trigger my breakouts/flareups has also been instrumental in keeping my face clearer than before. I also try to drink about 3 liters of water daily - yes it is a lot, but I love water. I do not spend more than 15 to 20 mins in the sun, wear protective clothing, and do not smoke or drink. I take daily probiotics, vitamins, and collagen (when I remember). I also try to minimize stress where I can in my life and get enough sleep. Does my skin look like a baby's smooth bottom? Well, no. But it is in much better shape than it was when I turned 30. My goal is to keep it nice and healthy for as long as I can.
The biggest and most important factor for me personally, is that the people who make the items listed above source their ingredients with care, are cruelty-free in their approach, and also will help guide me to find the best matches for my skincare needs, while helping me reduce the number of toxins that I am exposed to.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful and I can't to hear about your faves and your current go-tos. I love trying new products and finding new methods that are effective.
Please know and love yourself for all of yourself and where you are at.
Keep growing, glowing, and going.
I love you. Always. All ways.