Wednesday, February 29, 2012


A few months ago, I got a facial at my favorite little day spa, Studio Cie Wellness Spa in Long Beach. I've been going there for awhile, and whenever I can afford it and get a little time to myself, I love to go and get a facial or a massage (during my pregnancy, I got a prenatal massage all the time. I highly recommend prenatal massages! My massage therapist, Sarah, did an amazing job keeping me comfortable. I've been back a few times for relaxation massages with Sarah, but not as often as I'd like. And, she gave us a wonderful one-on-one infant massage class that I really enjoyed. I think Exton did too). All the staff at Studio Cie are wonderful - they treat me like a friend, and the service is perfect.

I've always enjoyed facials and pampering (who doesn't?) and because my skin is kind of dry, sensitive, and prone to bouts of eczema, I've had a few extra issues aside from the scourge of occasional adult acne to deal with. Nothing major, though, and thankfully, aside from some bagginess and dark circles under my eyes (I think we can blame genetics and my baby for that), I seem to be slow on the path to wrinkle (thank god!); though my most recent eczema flare up occurred on my neck, and I think I would trade a few crow's feet for the yucky neck that gave me. I hope it's temporary.

Anyway, now that I'm 40 I'm trying to take my skincare a little more seriously. Thanks to the baby, I've increased my water consumption (breastfeeding is hard work), and I think that's helping a little, too. At that last facial appointment, the aesthetician recommended a new product for me, which I misplaced for awhile, and recently found and started using regularly. I thought I'd write about my experience with it, and some of the other skincare products I've been using lately. I don't really wear makeup, except for the lip gloss when I remember to use it (usually it's just Aquaphor Lip Repair, or this stuff), so I can't really talk about that (for awhile I was wearing Bare Minerals and I really liked it; I just don't have the time to do it now. I liked it because I didn't feel like I was wearing any makeup, which is key for me. It has to be very, very subtle for me to be comfortable, and the stuff I was using was exactly that). I know it can only take 5 minutes to apply the small amount of makeup I would wear, but my morning schedule can't spare 5 minutes. I'm lucky not to be late more often than I already am. And, I would rather sleep and cuddle my baby than be putting on lipstick. I'm sure more talented people than me can manage it, but I just don't care that much about it.

Repechage Essential Oil of Seaweed
This is the product that was recommended to me for my problem areas (eyes and around my mouth) and I'm now addicted to it. It comes in a tiny little bottle, but because you don't need to use very much, it's lasted a long time. I use it as directed (eyes, mouth area) but also on the aforementioned dry skin on my neck. It makes my skin feel silky and it looks smoother and less irritated. It's a little expensive, and sort of feels like a "luxury" product for me, but this stuff totally works.

NovAurora Organic Skin Care
After I had my baby, I had a lot of funky skin issues. Some of this was caused by an infection in my breast (mastitis, pretty nasty) that required surgery. I'm not sure that my doctor ever confirmed this, but I feel that infection caused me to have itchy, red skin (my whole body was affected; I literally looked like a tomato). My doctor prescribed hydrocortisone and Aveeno products, but because I suddenly understood that every product I applied to my body or ingested by mouth would be somehow transferred to my baby (and because I was operating on very little sleep and therefore not 100% rational), I was overly cautious about Johnson & Johnson products and a little freaked out about reports I read about cancer-causing ingredients, especially for the baby. I used the hydrocortisone sparingly, too (which I guess was a total overreaction on my part. I think it would've been OK for the baby to be exposed to it, at least once he hit 6 months). I've never been much impressed by Aveeno. I felt like their products sat on my skin, weren't absorbed very well, and I found them to smell a little...unappealing. And the anti-itch properties they were supposed to have just weren't that impressive to me.

At around the same time, a friend of mine from City Garage started posting on Facebook about her mother's skin care line, NovAurora. I checked it out online, wrote to my friend's mom about some specific problems I was having, and tried some of the products. Again: I fell in love and I'm now addicted to these products. I use the Hand and Body lotion, Soap-Free Cleanser and Skin Smoother, Rejuvenating Face and Eye Cream, Repairing and Toning Lotion, and Jojoba Oil. I like that these products are organic and cruelty free, but I also like that they have zero scent. And being organic makes me feel better, too. Go to the website and read about this company: there's a lot of information there that I can't do justice to. The products have a very nice quality to them - I use the Hand and Body lotion daily, and everywhere. It absorbs perfectly and leaves my skin extremely soft. I feel so confident about this product that I use it on my baby after every bath, and he loves it (okay, maybe he just loves playing with the bottle). In the past, even expensive skin care products (Murad, Dermalogica, etc.) have not been gentle enough to use in my eye area; the Repairing and Toning Lotion is not only gentle and safe for that area, it also addresses my dark circles and puffiness. Let's face it: I don't have a lot of time in the morning to be super careful about not getting stuff in my eyes, but with this product, I don't have to be. I do feel that it is helping me with that problem, too.

I bought the Jojoba on a whim, to try on my dry elbows, and it works great for dry skin, but recently I've started using it on my hair, too. When I cut my hair short in October, I was using the Aveda product that my stylist recommended. I love Aveda products, and this one was really nice (it was Light Elements Texturizing Creme), but because I don't always have the luxury of taking a shower every morning (darn baby! No, actually, our morning routine is easier now that he's getting older), I felt like it was too heavy to use every day. Also, Aveda products are way scented; even if it's natural, sometimes the smell gets a little overwhelming for me. Just a tiny amount of Jojoba in my hair makes it shiny and gives it a little definition without being too sticky or stinky.

Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant
I hate wearing sunscreen. Whatever weird seasonal allergies I'm having, sunscreen always makes it worse. The stuff makes my eyes run. It makes my face itch. I hate it. However, this product does none of that. I can slather it on and I feel nothing, yet I can feel confident knowing that I'm getting SPF 30.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream
Finally my dermatologist recommended something other than Aveeno for my problem skin. At my last appointment, she said that she went to a conference and all the dermatologists there were raving about this stuff. I really like it. I use it after I get out of the shower. Strangely, my eczema has shown up in weird (for me) areas: I used to only get it on the inside of my elbows , but these days it shows up more random areas: my wrist, my neck, my forearms, my right little finger. This stuff helps combat that and is really emollient without being too thick or greasy. It's smooth, and a little goes a long way. I've used that heavy Eucerin cream that feels like paste, and this stuff is nothing like that. It really relieves any itch, and makes red, ugly skin feel and look calm again.

Anyway, there you go. I'm not getting paid for any of these testimonials, I just thought somewhere, someone (some lonely someone...) might be interested. I'm really a pretty low-maintenance kind of gal; I'm pretty natural without being all crunchy-granola about it. I'm trying to be better about choosing products that are eco-friendly, or cruelty-free, but it's most important that they be safe.

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