Current Favourites

Recently, my skin has improved. It’s a bit of a miracle and I’m hoping that writing about it here won’t jinx it. *shudder*

Here are my current favourite products that have been really helping my skin and giving me that extra bounce in my step.

  1. Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser  – You know how when you use a cleanser and your skin says “Ahhh” the moment the cleanser touches your skin? This is one of those cleansers. It’s a nice cream texture (I’ve completely sworn off foaming cleansers because a certain Mrs Hirons has convinced me.) and melts into the skin beautifully. I try to find some patience to massage it into my skin slowly. This cleanser is too precious to use as a makeup remover. I use it as a second cleanser, after I’ve removed my makeup. My skin feels all soft and looks glowy once I’ve washed the cleanser off.
  2. Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm – I started off using this beauty balm as a cleanser and while it worked, my friend K told me that I should try it as a mask or a moisturizer. I heeded her advice and gave it a try. All I can say is – Wow. Picture this: your skin is a little bit parched and you want to moisturize it quickly with one product. This is the one to use. As you massage it into your skin – I use a teeny tiny bit – your face just starts to glow. It’s a rich, solid texture that melts in contact with your hand. I use this at night before I sleep as a serum + moisturizer combo and I (usually) wake up with calm, quite clear looking skin.
  3. Aesop Oil Free Facial Hydrating Serum – This serum is quite interesting. My skin, now that it’s no longer oily but more dry/combination drinks it up. I was advised by the sales assistant at the Aesop store here to combine this with their Fabulous Face Oil and then apply it to my skin. The result is soft, hydrated skin. (Are we sensing a trend here?) I use this combination every morning and it keeps my skin hydrated for most of the day.
  4. Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel – In the mornings, I like a light cleanser that is easy to use and wash off. This cleansing gel is really good for that purpose. I’m a bit naughty as I use two pumps, not one, for my face. I find that the cleanser calms my skin a bit, if I have some red spots or clogged pores.
  5. Ole Henriksen Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask – If you’re looking for a mask with a slight zing that also moisturizes the skin a bit, this is a good one. I use it once a week when my skin is looking a bit dull and I have clogged pores (the bane of my life). It reduces any swelling and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.




5 Things

I have updates 🙂 Let’s start with the bad because I’m a pessimist.

  1. My vitamin levels are still messed up. Despite taking prescribed amounts of supplements, I don’t seem to have enough of it in my reserve. So I’ve been prescribed even more supplements. Oh joy. <sarcasm>
  2. As a result of #1, my Doctor has put me on sick leave for a few days. She thinks I need to reduce my stress levels as my magnesium levels have dropped. According to my Doctor, when you’re stressed, you’re draining your magnesium. I’m hoping this time off work will help my health – though it’s a strange feeling to not go to work. My leave starts Monday but I’m still going to go to work that day as I have some loose ends to tie up. I really hope my body heals during this time off.
  3. I have to study Mindfulness. I started out with a book on it but then I got a bit distracted and didn’t continue. But now I have little choice, so let’s see if I can keep at it.
  4. I’m in love with Aesop’s Camelia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream. It’s so soothing and moisturizing that my skin drinks it up. Literally. I apply some, look away from the mirror and look back into the mirror — poof! I cannot tell which part of my face I just moisturized. I usually add a few drops of facial oil with the moisturiser though as my skin has become dry instead of oily. The human body is such a mystery 🙂
  5. I’m in love with Aesop. They recently opened a store in Oslo and I have been dropping by from time to time to find out more about their products, get some samples, try them, *cough* buy them *cough* and then enjoy what I’ve bought. As mentioned above, the Camelia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream is amazing in winter. The Control gel heals pimples without any burning or stinging sensation. It does take time, but the area of the skin where I apply it doesn’t flake or dry out. The pimple usually shrinks after an application or two, and doesn’t scar as much. The Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil is very effective to remove face makeup but I use a separate eye makeup remover. This oil really loosens my face makeup and then I go in with a second cleanser as I’m a huge fan of double cleansing. I’m obsessed with clean skin. If you live in a cold country, the Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment works wonders on dry skin. I apply a generous amount post shower onto my body and my skin doesn’t feel dry at all, despite the sub-zero temperatures here in Norway.

So there you have it. 5 updates from me 🙂

What I do when I get a reaction

Many people say many things about non-cealiac gluten intolerance. The bottom line is that, for me, it is very real. When I accidentally eat gluten, I get a reaction. I say “accidentally” because I have given up gluten completely. Unfortunately, there is something called “cross contamination” in that even if you don’t actually put gluten into your food or order a dish that has wheat or other gluten containing ingredients in it, gluten still sneaks into it. This can be possible when service staff use the same knife to spread butter on both normal bread and gluten free bread, or when sweet potato fries are fried in the same oil as flour battered onion rings, etc.

There are many types of reaction from gluten ingestion. For me, it is pimples and sometimes inflammation. Not that pimples aren’t caused by inflammation but since I’m not a doctor, I’m not the best person to talk about that.

I get whiteheads and really bumpy skin (with clogged pores in them) on both of my cheeks. For some reason, my left cheek is always worse than my right. I also get pimples on my chin and jawline. Sometimes I get pimples on my forehead. As for inflammation, I sometimes get tendonitis in my toe. This was something I struggled with for a few months, a few years ago. Eventually it went away – though my chiropractor couldn’t figure out why I was having pain in my toe. Oh, I also get an inflamed Achilles tendon or a strange muscular pain in my arms or legs.

That’s the nice thing about being slightly healthy – being pain free.

OK, so I have a list of things I do, like my counter-attack for when gluten is irritating my system.

  1. I eat as clean as possible. No processed food, minimal sugar, no new dishes or recipes, no new restaurants, etc. I go back to my safest food options. I also try to avoid large amounts of dairy.
  2. I drink lots of fluids. I try to visualise the fluids washing out the gluten from my system. It’s quite therapeutic 🙂 Basically I drink tons of water, tea (especially chamomile tea as I find it very calming), and sometimes Kefir as I hope the probiotics aids my digestion.
  3. I work from home. A face full of pimples plus dehydrated skin begging to not be covered with makeup is my body’s way of asking for a break. So sometimes, if I don’t have anyone depending on me on a particular day, I work from home so I can keep my face makeup free and let my skin heal.
  4. I use gentle masks and healing oils. There are a few options here. Origins’ Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, Aesop’s Primrose Facial Cleansing Mask, or just plain full-fat yoghurt work very well for me. My reaction lasts for about 5 days typically but with some patience and lots of pampering, I can reduce it to 3 days. I use a good mask, and then apply lots of moisturiser and healing oils to calm my skin down. Some good facial oil options are Pai’s Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil, Aesop’s Fabulous Face Oil, and Fresh’s Seaberry Moisturising Face Oil are some oils that work well for me.
  5. Less is more. I am tempted to slather on as many things as possible to heal my skin instantaneously – but that never works. I end up clogging my pores even more. So I try to be a bit cautious and apply a few drops of facial oil followed with a good moisturiser and then leave my skin alone.

Ultimately, it does heal. And then I try to promise myself that I will not eat whatever dish caused that reaction.

The Skincare Drama

Every time the weather changes, my skin goes haywire. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been working on fixing my skin to a certain extent so I don’t have to pile on foundation and concealer to look a little bit less scary.

We all know acne is downright upsetting, annoying, heartbreaking and just disappointing. So, after 2 months of constantly watching my skin like a hawk, it’s finally getting better. I’ve figured out some of the ingredients in food and skincare products that have been irritating my skin. I know skincare is subjective and varies from person to person but these are what have worked for me so far. My skin is not perfect, but it’s healing and I’ll take this skin condition any day.

There’s a nice quote from Coco Chanel, “Nature gives you the face you have at 20; it is up to you to merit the face you have at 50.” I have no problem looking my age, really. As much as it irritates me that I have to grow older and deal with aches and pains in the future, I’d like to look my age. Not older, for sure.

1. Sulphate free, non-foaming cleansers

I was very inspired by Caroline Hirons who continuously evangelises non-foaming, creamy cleansers. As somebody with combination/oily skin, the most comforting feeling at the end of the day is using a very foamy cleanser to wash every single speck of impurity from my skin. But, I thought I’ll try a balm type of cleanser just to see how my skin reacts. I’ve been alternating with Emma Hardie’s Amazing Face cleanser, REN’s ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser [I think they were trying to see how many “Cs” they can put in a product name], and REN’s No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm. These cleansers are wonderful. They leave my skin feeling moisturized, plump and smooth. I actually look forward to cleansing my face everyday, as cliché as it sounds. When I wear makeup, I wash my face twice. The first round is to melt all the makeup away, and the second round is to actually clean the skin. This is another tip from Mrs Hirons.

2. Using a flannel or a face towel

Sounds very old fashioned, right? To use a flannel or a face towel? Well, it works. I used to get a lot of bumps along my hairline as I think I wasn’t removing my makeup properly around that area. You think your skin is clean until you put a towel on it and then you see all the leftover makeup. *Shudder* I do have to buy quite a few pieces of face towels as I don’t like to re-use the same one for morning and evening. But you only get one face, so might as well invest in it.

3. Using primers without silicone

This one is a bit difficult for me as my favourite primers are chock-full or silicone. I’ve known that my skin doesn’t tolerate silicone very well, but I had less issues with it in Winter, so I went on to use my regular primers in Summer only to notice small, annoying bumps on my cheeks. So I now only use silicone free primers. MAC makes a nice one known as Prep+Prime Natural Radiance. I’ve also noticed that Laura Mercier’s Oil free Foundation Primer has silicone but it’s at a much lower level of the ingredients list (as Dimethicone) unlike my favourite Estee Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer.

4. Completely cutting out Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is just evil – at least for my face. I try very hard to avoid products with mineral oil in it as I get bumps almost immediately. Cystic ones too. *Heartbreak* One of the best foundations I have used is Illamasqua Skin Base. I tested it by chance in Sephora in Seattle last year and the colour match was perfect. I was using it until recently I noticed that there’s mineral oil in it. See ingredients here. I was gutted. The bumps on my skin made so much sense. Sigh, why big companies insist on making face products with mineral oil is beyond me.

5. Completely cutting out Dairy

This one is really difficult for me, because I love Cafe Lattes, cheesecake, etc. But I am also lactose intolerant so I barely eat dairy nowadays. I can’t do sour cream or heavy cream, but I can drink skimmed milk in small amounts most of the time. Now with my skin, I’ve tried to cut out skimmed milk as well. I have soy in my Cafe Lattes and sometimes just completely skip coffee in favour of green tea. It’s difficult but having clear skin is at a higher priority for now.

6. Omega 3 Supplements

I mentioned in my earlier post that I was taking Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend. It’s been two months now and I’m slowly starting to see improvements. My lips are no longer dry or flaky and my skin is clearer. Taking two tablespoons of raw oil post breakfast is a challenge. Especially if you’ve grown up eating delicious food and everything must taste good. But, the pros outweigh the cons, so I force myself to gulp the oil down. Any retching sound is unintentional. Heh 😉

7. Sunscreen

I have a love-hate relationship with sunscreen. I really like using it and am happy to invest the extra time to apply SPF50 before applying my makeup. But my skin hates it. Most of the sunscreen I have seem to break me out. There’s only one sunscreen who is kind to me and that is Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defence SPF 50. It’s quite difficult to get a hold of this product though because the other versions of Kiehl’s sunscreen seem to drive my skin crazy. I get huge pimples and small ones too and they are almost impossible to clear out.

8. Cutting out sugar

I’m sweet tooth. I love sugar. But my body does not. The less sugar I eat, the more patient, less-cranky and tolerant I am. I’ve actually seen a connection between my skin and eating a slice of pecan pie the day before. It’s *that* bad. So, I’ve been reducing my sugar intake. It’s like teaching yourself to eat – again. Reaching for fruit instead of sugary snacks. It’s not easy, but I’ve also read that sugar ages you. So I try to use that as a way to motivate myself to eat less sugar.

9. Alpha-H Liquid Gold

I use this AHA serum to heal acne scars. It works slowly but I do see an improvement. I use it twice a week as a night time treatment. It definitely has reduced the clogs in my pores.

So there you have it. I am not too happy about turning into a health freak, but I don’t want to take antibiotics for my skin, neither do I want to use harsh chemicals to treat my skin. This is the middle ground that I’m starting to discover. I do hope my skin keeps improving 🙂