Beauty Topic: Post Earth Day-inspired beauty picks for sensitive skin

In honor of our recently celebrated Earth Day, I wanted to tackle a question that seems to come up every now and then: “if I use all-natural bath and beauty products, then I’ll be healthier, right”? Well, if you are a severe allergy sufferer, then that may not be the case. While there is a significant amount of solid research that shows skin and hair absolutely utilize naturally-based products better, I caution everyone to do their research on what’s INSIDE the product first rather than just buying into the marketing that makes you feel the “need” to get it. For example, if you suffer from allergic reactions to bee stings (like carrying around an Epi-pen just in case), then you should most likely avoid any bee-based products that feature royal jelly, beeswax and honey. It’s not that those products are bad in any way, but it’s more of a personal responsibility to ensure that you don’t end up in the emergency room for a reaction because you had to try the latest bee-sting beauty trend. Same for those with shellfish allergies – it’s best to avoid marine or ocean-based beauty and bath products, as iodine naturally found in algae (a common antioxidant ingredient) could trigger reactions. Similarly for products containing herbal extracts. I feel bad for my family members and friends who feel that the first few days of Spring come with a bit of anxiety – swollen eyes, itchy skin and constant sneezing is not a fun way to spend a bright sunny day outdoors when the pollen count is high. My advice is to research and balance your approach if you want to use more natural beauty products, but don’t want to add additional suffering from allergies and hyper-sensitive skin reactions.

There are plenty of great brands out that offer deeply researched and effective formulas, and have Earth-friendly business practices. But unfortunately many of the “natural” brands are charging a premium for commonly known natural ingredients, which can make it difficult to use regularly. Case in point, some of the very best natural ingredients for beauty (coconut oil, witch hazel, olive oil, Epsom salts) can come right from your pantry or grocery store, without crazy price tags attached to them.

Why are allergies such a concern in beauty products? Because your skin absorbs what is put on top of it. Plain and simple. And your allergies can be dramatically affected based on what products you choose to use, as your skin cells react with and utilize a product’s ingredients. You’ll notice that many products recommended by dermatologists or skincare clinics don’t tout “natural” claims. Estée Lauder, for instance, figured that out decades ago when she founded Clinique as a means to help women with allergies still achieve their beauty goals by being conscious of allergy-tested formulations.

But how do you figure out what to use, and start using more natural-based beauty in your daily regimen? Best thing is to write down what you know you are allergic to or have had reaction to. This will help you weed out the brands, simply by understanding their product claims. (Bees and marine ingredients, for example) The other advice I have is to look at the brands that have trusted formulas, and are sold at retailers that have dedicated categories for natural products. ULTA, Whole Foods, and Amazon all have categories you can search through to find brands and products you want to try. My last piece of advice is NOT to worry about getting natural-based products because they simply smell good. Synthetic fragrances are the first allergen I avoid in a product, and sadly are used in some “natural” brands to make the scent even more noticeable or potent. If you want a naturally-scented product, look for those that have essential oil blends as their fragrance – these oils will provide more benefit to you in addition to smelling great.

I’ll admit I don’t have a bee or a shellfish allergy, but I have a lot of pollen allergies. Plus, I have hyper-sensitive skin that easily reacts to extremely active essential oils, like peppermint. Below are a just a few of my favorite natural-based products (clockwise), based on my known allergies and product-selecting criteria:

1) Witch Hazel – This natural extract is a key ingredient in a ton of beauty products, and often makes up the main ingredient in toners. But the best thing is the real stuff, without any added oils or scents. Used daily after cleansing, this extract is known for soothing and combating everything from irritation, bug bites, acne, inflammation, sores, and blisters. Plus, it removes any remaining traces of cleanser, makeup, dirt and oil. For around $5 and under, it’s one of the best products to use for sensitive skin. 

2) Goddess Garden Organics Baby Sunscreen Stick – It’s very important to replace your sunscreen to ensure it hasn’t expired. And it’s even more important to not use synthetic sunscreens, as those often cause reactions or rashes. What I really like about this is that it’s waterproof, broad-spectrum SPF 30, and is scent-free. Plus, it uses micronized physical sunscreens of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, so it goes on sheer, not chalky white. Use on ears, noses, cheeks, forehead and chests – or also on the lips in a pinch.

3) Eco Lips Zinc Sunscreen SPF 15 Lip Balm – natural zinc is a much safer alternative to chemically-based sunscreens. You are much less likely to develop a reaction by using a physical sunscreen, such as zinc or titanium dioxide. This formula is awesome, since I like and can tolerate the natural mint flavoring, but also love the hydrating blend of cocoa butter and coconut oil. It’s great for men and women, since skin cancer is a concern for all ages and genders. I keep this in my bag year round, and especially in the summer months when my sailing season starts up.

4) Burt’s Bees lip gloss and lip stick – not only are these beauty-award winning (2016 Allure Best of Beauty for the lipstick) and feature a beautiful range of shades, but the formulas are amazing. My favorite shades are Blush Basin (lipstick) and Rosy Dawn (lipgloss), as they are great everyday pinky-peach neutrals. I love how the gloss glides on with a hint of shimmer but is not sticky, and the lipstick gives an opaque, satin finish while still hydrating. Both are 100% natural, feature a blend of beeswax and other oils, plus are long-wearing. If you are looking for high performance yet natural-based ingredient formulas, then make these your go-to.

5) Aveeno Ultra-calming nourishing night cream – for a drugstore brand, Aveeno delivers great formulas that utilize oats, which is a fantastic ingredient for hyper-sensitive skin. This night cream also contains feverfew, which calms redness. I really like this product when my skin feels overstressed and delicate. 

6) Shea Moisture African Black Soap Body Wash and Sacha Inchi Oil Omega 3, 6, 9 Rescue Body Lotion – these two products are my absolute favorite from this brand. Shea Moisture is an impressive company, by providing naturally-based formulas that are high-performing, and yet very reasonably priced. I’ve raved about their African Black Soap formula before, which is fantastic for men and women, especially coming into summer. African Black Soap uses charcoal to naturally deodorize, and oats to soothe and calm irritated skin. Have a sunburn? Then use this body wash to care for skin, while not using irritating detergents and fragrances found in most commercial body washes. The Omega 3,6,9 lotion is also fantastic for soothing raw or dry, cracked skin. The scent is subtle, and comes from natural blends of essential oils. Omega 3, 6, 9 are essential fatty acids that help with skin health, by repairing and protecting the moisture barrier naturally found in skin cells. What I liked about this brand is that they don’t heavily scent their products, and deliver value through powerfully effective products.

7) Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner – with a formula that is 99.9% natural, this is one of the original products in the Burt’s Bees skincare lineup, and is a great option for very dry and sensitive skin types. Rosewater has been used for centuries in skincare and bath products, due to it’s mildly astringent and soothing properties. It’s great for skin that is stressed, showing early signs of aging, or in need of extra-special soothing care. Both men and women can benefit, especially men who suffer from razor-burn. Use daily after cleansing, and prior to moisturizing.

8) Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value fragrance-free hand soap – this is a great alternative to harsh and anti-bacterial hand soaps for use in your home. Contrary to popular belief, anti-bacterial ingredients aren’t the best for your daily use, and can often cause rash and irritation. Also, with the amount of hand-washing that you normally do, it’s best to choose something that truly deep cleans gently, rather than creates potential reactions. This product is free of parabens, lanolin, preservatives and other ingredients that be irritating.

These are just a few of my favorites, and the reasons why behind them due to their benefits and formulas. Biggest tip is to check the ingredients of any product, and also research the brand’s business practices if you are conscious about Earth-friendly practices. I’m in process of testing some other brands, so I’ll check back with my reviews of those soon. Cheers!

© 2017 28daysbeauty




Beauty Haul Review: IT Cosmetics 

I’ve known about IT Cosmetics for a while, and I decided to try some of their higher rated top picks. IT Cosmetics reminds me a lot of Clinique, and is even more highly-concentrated and high-performing. Developed by a former news anchor, who suffered from Rosacea, this line is developed with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to offer a full line of skincare and makeup. Sensitive skins can comfortably wear the products with sunscreen too, as all of the sunscreens are physical and not chemical. So, in short, I had to try them out for myself and report back after 30 days of daily use.

One thing to note right away is that this makeup is best for that “no-makeup makeup” look. This line doesn’t really offer the standout, bold shades like Urban Decay, Kat Von D or Smashbox – think bright blues, vibrant greens or shimmery purples. If you want a natural, everyday go-to makeup look, then give this a try. 

What I chose (pictured above) I was actually able to use as a full-face everyday. The Bye Bye Concealer is super concentrated, and I was able to get fantastic coverage to even out tone and shadows/dark spots. I decided to then layer the Bye Bye Pores powder over that, and forgo foundation. Neither of these products contain sunscreen, so just note you’ll need to cover off on that with your moisturizer. I used my Cargo Magic Brush to buff in the powder after applying concealer, and was immediately happy with an even tone and finish. My combination skin felt comfortable – the powder has an anti-aging collagen and vitamin formula, and I noticed it kept my skin feeling great without any irritation that I’ve had before from loose powders.

Next up, the Radiance Vitality Disc – this is the workhorse of the group. This combines contouring, strobing and blush all in one – and it makes your skin look amazing. It’s got the slightest hint of shimmer, which applies almost like a sheer sheen. The champagne highlighter makes for a beautiful eyeshadow, and the matte bronzer blends very easily. The blush is a very pretty peachy pink, and looks like a natural glow on skin. I was super impressed by how well the colors and powders lasted all day, and gave me a completely natural-but-polished look. 

Lastly, the Hello Lashes 5-in-1 mascara was the one product I was somewhat a bit less than excited about over the 30 days. I appreciate the technology of the formula – it contains a lash enhancing serum to increase volume and length. The brush has silicone bristles with a ball end, which is great for individually lifting and separating lashes for added definition. To me, it just didn’t perform above and beyond my e.l.f. Mineral Infused mascara – which gives high impact effects immediately. However, if you are concerned about thinning lashes, or a formula that contains a lash-building treatment, then you may like this formula. I am impressed that it didn’t flake or smudge, and came off easily with my makeup wipes.

Overall, I really like this line and especially recommend it for sensitive skin. I’m also loving how my skin feels after using the brand, so I’ll definitely be looking at their assortment for more products to try. 

© 28daysbeauty 2016

Beauty Topic: body washes for sensitive skin

The summer always gives us the chance to show more skin than we normally would, and it’s also the time where a host of skincare issues on our bodies can also occur. These issues could involve back or chest acne, sunburn, irritation from bug bites or allergies, and dryness from too much fun in the pool. A lot of people (women in particular) will spend a ton of money on their facial skincare, but neglect to also care for their bodies in the same way. Unfortunately, this will then result in fine lines, irritations, discoloration, and other imperfections on shoulders, arms, legs, and other often visible body areas.

For body soap and body washes, the other common culprit for skin issues is added synthetic fragrance, or too “active allergens” of ingredients. Body soap and body washes are often marketed to deodorize or scent the body, as the general consensus is that we want to smell good (well, obviously)! But these fragrances and “deodorizing” properties often create allergies or skin irritations that can morph into conditions like acne, dermatitis, or dryness. 

The solution? Focus on bath and body products that are meant for sensitive skin care – you will reap the benefits by having less irritation, and smoother, healthier skin. Here’s two of my favorite picks for body washes and soap:

1) Dove Sensitive Skin formula bar soap – yup, this soap that has been around seemingly forever is my go-to bar soap for any time of the year. It has one of the lowest toxicity ratings per the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep database, and it’s always proven to me to soothe irritations yet deeply clean the skin. Another plus? This soap makes a fantastic shaving cream – it’s super frothy and creamy! The formula is very moisturizing, unscented, and is a great choice for any skin type. 

black soap, dove sensitive bar soap, body wash
my two fave body washes for sensitive skin!

2) African Black Soap – many of you may not have heard about this type of soap before. A quick history: it’s actually one of the oldest known soap formulas still in use today, and is considered somewhat medicinal. This type of soap (my two favorite brands are from Shea Moisture and Coastal Scents) is an awesome choice for sensitive body skin types that also suffer from back or chest acne, oiliness, or need a deodorizing quality. Black Soap is made from a process that is very natural, and includes charcoal – which absorbs impurities, excess oils, and odors from the skin. The formula also has a naturally soothing aroma and it’s perfect for men or women. My husband loves the liquid form of Black Soap, as it makes a great body wash. 

Soothed and properly moisturized skin will also be naturally able to age gracefully. You can also use your treatment serums on your body where needed to address concerns of discoloration, fine lines and acne. With the right body washes and treatments, your body skin will glow! 

© 2015 28daysbeauty