my MUA reviews: moisturisers (2009-10)

(See also previous post.)

A-Derma – Exoméga Emollient Balm  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 9/20/2010 12:01:00 PM
h60_1762936.JPG.jpg

Very good fairly simple emollient balm. Feels very like Exomega Cream: the main difference is that the Cream contains cyclomethicone, whereas the Balm doesn’t and has dimethicone instead. Main actives: (water), mineral oil, shea butter, glycerin, dimethicone, evening primrose oil, squalane, oat stem extract, assorted standard emollients… Claims its useful operational parts are “Rhealba Oat Plantlets extract” and “Filaxérine–combining an original filaggrin-inducing agent and Omega 6 essential fatty acids–and vitmain B3.”
Can be used all over, face and body; I prefer the more fluid Lotion version on larger expanses of body (or indeed various other lotions, such as Shi Kai Borage Dry Skin Therapy). I tried Exomega out on the face and throat, but it’s too heavy and shea-heavy on my skin; staying with A-Derma’s basic Skin Cream over a couple of drops of safflower & jojoba oil. The Ex would be worth a try on seriously dry facial skin, though.
The Exomega Balm, like the Skin Care Cream, works nicely on patches of flaky dry skin: apply a thin layer, don’t rub in, leave it to absorb.
Unscented, cruelty-free, sustainably-produced, decently ethical company. Here in Canada, in London Drugs. Costs around CAD 18.00-28.00 for 200 ml. No parabens (but does have other preservatives, not to worry).
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, PEG-12, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Niacinamide, 10-Hydroxydecenoic Acid, Avena Sativa (Oat) leaf/stem extract, Benzoic Acid, BHT, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Laureth-7, Maltodextrin, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, Sodium Acetate, Tocopherol.

A-Derma – Epithéliale A.H. Repair Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 9/20/2010 11:42:00 AM

h60_1762912.PNG.png

A fairly simple barrier repair cream. Sensitive-friendly, unfragranced. Principal actives: (water), shea butter, glycerin, squalane, cyclomethicone, some standard emollients, oat flour and oil, hyaluronic acid. Full ingredients at end of review.
It’s now allergy season plus eczema and general skin unhappiness are back full force, this being a stressful time of the year on the work front. I bought this for all-over use (on flaky patches), which have actually settled down nicely and fast between this and Exoméga.
Not much to describe: a fairly lightweight cream, white, in a tube. Easy to apply. Sinks in fast, keeps skin moist, soothes irritation, sticks down the flakes, calms itching, and my scaly patches just WENT, very fast indeed.
Also worth looking into if you don’t want to use mineral oil-based products, for whatever reason: this is one of the very few proper barrier repair creams that not only isn’t mainly mineral oil or petrolatum, but contains none. (Having said that, straight-up mineral oil and Vaseline still inhabit our “emergency skin disaster” boc..)
Try it if you like shea butter but have difficulties with application–so easy to over-apply, migrates, and on me anyway neat shea turns the rest of my face into zit central.
The great news about Epithéliale: not only is it a good (albeit slightly pricey) face cream, it’s a stonkingly brilliant (and cheap!) eye cream.
UPDATE (11/2010): good as a top-up cream on dry areas on face, now we’re into cold dry weather.
Fragrance-free, cruelty-free, sustainably-produced, decently ethical company (Pierre Fabre group). Costs around CAD 17.50 – 22.00 for 40 ml, in drugstores here plus available online.
INGREDIENTS:
Water, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), glyceryl stearate, hexylene glycol, glycerin, squalane, cyclomethicone, avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, stearic acid, avena sativa (oat) kernel oil, batyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, dimethiconol, methylparaben, propylparaben, retinol, sodium hyaluronate, tocopheryl acetate, triethanolamine

AnneMarie Börlind – LL Regeneration eye cream  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 9/6/2010 4:33:00 PM
h60_1751436.PNG.png

Good eye cream for dry-ish skin. A light but dense cream-gel, easy to apply and pat in. Concentrated, so little is needed: less than the usual grain of rice, more like a lentil-sized dab for both eyes. Soothing, hydrating, moisturising.
Firms up/fills in dehydration lines very fast; calming in the morning, and also works nicely overnight: in the morning the undereye area was smooth, plump without being puffy. I don’t have much in the way of wrinkling (and not too bothered by them) or bags or dark circles, so can’t comment on superpowers there. As others have reported, the feel, finish, and end result are like some of the priciest eye creams on the market–I was curious, so did some testing.
No irritation, including when this migrates into eyes. Works well under makeup (though I usually have sunscreen on top).
There is some fragrance, but it’s barely detectable. Main operative ingredients: water, shea butter, jojoba oil; corn and soybean oils, beeswax, plus other emollients; various firming plant extracts such as cornflower, eyebright, horse chestnut; soothing stuff like calendula/marigold and chamomile; plant sterols, carrot extract; vitamins A, C, and E. Not exactly exciting or ground-breaking, and fairly common ingredients: but this is probably the best shea-butter-based eye cream I’ve used, for rapid delivery of the shea butter in what for me is an ideal texture; though one could produce something similar by whipping up shea butter with water or aloe vera juice and jojoba oil.
I do also use shea butter on dry patches, including around the eyes, but even a teeny dab can take a long time to sink in. Haven’t needed to use it since starting using the LL cream.
Con: the packaging–unless you like small glass jars. I decanted my sample into an old Muji plastic flip-cap travel tube.
Cruelty-free, though not vegan (beeswax). In stores at CAD55.00 for 30 ml.; also seen online in the $25-30 range, plus shipping. Which is pretty decent compared to higher-end and online green-boutique eye creams (in the $40+/15-20 ml range). Or my other favourites: Clarins Special Eye Balm, $45/20 ml; Avène Soothing, $24-27/10 ml; Nuxe is still slightly cheaper, but less moist; Dr.Hauschka, Trilogy, etc. And, even, drugstore and cheaper health-food store eye creams ($18-20+/15 ml)–given ingredients, effectiveness, and concentration. Available from Whole Foods, Capers, and many health-food stores.
UPDATE: didn’t buy full size–was hit by seasonal allergies and eczema, changed skincare accordingly, and discovered another marvellous (and much cheaper) thing that works nicely as an eye cream, and like the Borlind is also shea-butter based: A-Derma Epithéliale A.H. cream.
INGREDIENTS: Aqua/Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sorbitol, Stearic Acid, Behenyl Alcohol, Glycerol Stearate, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sucrose Cocoate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Lauryl Lactate, Cera Alba/Beeswax, Panthenol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrogenated Cocoglycerides, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Bisabolol, Acacia Dealbata Leaf Wax, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterol, Phytantriol, Retinyl Palmitate, Aroma (Fragrance), Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Pyridoxine Tripalmitate, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, Tocopherol, Hydrogenated Palm Glyceride, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Lecithin

A-Derma – Dermalibour Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 7/5/2010 5:32:00 PM
h60_1688735.JPG.jpg

This is the best zinc oxide cream I’ve used. An anti-bacterial repair cream, protective, soothing. Fragrance-free and lanolin-free. Unlike, well, nearly every other zinc oxide cream on the market. Also contains copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, and the A-Derma special oaty goodness.
It’s in an aluminium tube. The stuff itself is white, creamy, thick, concentrated. Like any other zinc oxide cream. Apply in similar manner: either rub in, or apply a thin layer (if on irritated fragile skin).
Uses: nappy/diaper-rash cream (especially if you’re avoiding lavender), barrier repair cream, topical dabs on zits or other bits of unhapoy/damaged skin, as a mask on irritation (leave on, rinse off eventually), post-procedure repair.
Bonus use, my daily one: Very good as an underarm deodorant, in my “deodowitch”–this + potassium alum spray (a.k.a. crystal rock, mineral deodorant) + dusting powder (one with bicarbonate of soda and clay).
Costs around CAD20.00 for a 50 ml tube. Cruelty-free. There’s also a stick version, that’s super-solid but does contain lanolin.
INGREDIENTS (cream): Aqua, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Zinc Oxide, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Propylene Glycol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour (Avena Sativa Flour), PEG-22 / Dodecyl Glycol Copolymer, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil (Avena Sativa Kernel Oil), Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate.
INGREDIENTS (stick, 8g): Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Lanolin, Isopropyl Palmitate, Ozokerite, Castor Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Zinc Oxide, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Cetyl Esters, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Titanium Dioxide, Aqua, Copper Sulfate, Propylparaben, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trimethoxycaprylylsilane, Zinc Sulfate.

Aubrey Organics – Lumessence Rejuvenating Eye Cream  lippies2.gif gingerrama on 6/30/2010 9:19:00 PM
h60_830550.JPG.jpg

Like the reviewer below (filmoyster), I was attracted by the ingredients: oat protein, rose hip oil, aloe vera, primrose and camellia oils, shea butter, vitamins a, c, and e. Cruelty-free, vegan, and the price is respectable.
Unlike the previous reviewer, though, I liked the pump dispenser and found it easy to use. It is a bit big and clunky, but not a jar.
Lumessence is a pale yellowish-with-hint-of-peach serum-gel; needs to be shaken before use. Applies easily and spreads well, sinks in fast. Little is needed as it’s quite concentrated.
So far, so good.
Immediate results: none. No miracles. That is normal.
Left on overnight, results the next morning: the eyelid to browbone area felt fine and moisturised, much the same as with any other eye cream I’ve used (not counting the ones that irritated eyelids). Outer corners and undereye were a different story. Dry, puffy underneath and in the inner corner, baggy foldy lines there too, and dehydration crinkly lines with redness in outer corner area.
Not good. Problem solved with cool compresses and one of my trusty minimalist regular eye creams.
No idea what the cause and process were; this stuff seems to work for others, and at least I didn’t have a full-on allergic reaction. Maybe the lavender water–though not that much in here, there is a slight scent but very very little.
Costs around CAD25.00-35.00, USD20.00-25.00. Available in health-food stores and online. Note that the AO Men’s Rejuvenating Eye Cream is identical: some stores have it but not Lumessence.
INGREDIENTS: Hydrolyzed wheat protein, avena sativa (oat) protein extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, glycerin, lavandula angustifolia (organic lavender) flower extract, aqua, laminaria digitata (laminaria) extract, rosa rubiginosa (organic Rosa Mosqueta) seed oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil, aloe barbadensis (aloe) leaf extract, oenothera biennis (organic primrose) oil, camellia japonica (camellia) oil, phospholipids (moisturizing, humectant & vitamin liposomes), tocopherol (vitamin E), sodium PCA, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate, butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter), retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C), arginine, glycine, lysine, proline, xanthan gum, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, alcohol denat., tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, beta-carotene.
*Denotes Organic. *Organically grown and processed in accordance with US National Organic Programme administered by US Dept of Agriculture.**Moisturising , Humectant and Vitamin.

Derma E – Pycnogenol and Hyaluronic Acid Eye Creme  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 6/28/2010 6:15:00 PM
h60_1682561.JPG.jpg

Very good basic eye cream; comparable to my long-term favourite, Avène Soothing Eye Cream. Very very very nearly as good. Like it, it contains hyaluronic acid and is fragrance free. Otherwise little to report: gentle, nothing dramatic. Then again, on skincare I’m not a fan of drama; sensitive skin cane be quite dramatic enough at the best of times, needs no encouragement.
The Pyc is a light white gel-cream. In a tube. Easy to apply: pat on and into skin with one of your weaker fingers, ex. ring-finger. Keeps skin moist. No migration into eyes to report. Skin is left nice, calm, smooth the next morning (I’m using this in the morning and at night, in its current test-period). No swelling: definitely not too rich; then again, no dehydration lines either, so it’s moist enough. Very good effects in the undereye area, which can be puffy with the wrong creams.
Cruelty-free, and around USD15.00-19.00 / CAD21.00-24.00 for a 14g tube. That makes it a very good alternative to the Avène Soothing, if you’re looking to save money and/or avoiding petrochemicals for environmental reasons. It’s the closest second-best I’ve found.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Panthenol, Ascorbyl Palmitate (C-Ester), Pinus Pinaster (Pycnogenol) Bark Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

Derma E – Vitamin E 12,000 IU Moisturizing Creme  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 6/28/2010 6:01:00 PM
h60_1682553.JPG.jpg

Full name: Vitamin E 12,000 IU Crème.
This is a splendid basic moisturizer. Skin here: sensitive, irritable. No fancy actives. No silicones (in case that’s something you’re looking for), no petrochemical derivatives, and no parabens (though it does stil have decent preservatives. Just basic well-tolerated stuff: principal agents are safflower, sesame, sunflower, and avocado oils. Some fragrance, but inoffensive, slight, fades, and fine as in no reactions.
The E is one of the oldest “greener” products around, and the first item launched by Derma E in the 1960s. It’s as much a classic as Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, and has quite similar main ingredients and feel. It is also very very very like another cheap but fabulous moisturizer: Desert Essence Essential Daily Moisturizer. Which is slightly cheaper than the E.
Comes in a jar. Light feel, sinks nicely into skin fast, and moisturises. That’s really all i’m looking for, so I’m happy. Also, no irritation or reactions to report, which is the other thing I’d be interested in. Want something fancy? More fashionable? Experimental? Look elsewhere. Clear skin, clear conscience, healthy finances? Try this: cruelty-free, costs around USD12.50 / CAD15.00 for 113 g.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Glycerin, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Panthenol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Allantoin, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Natural and Fragrant Oils.

Avène – Tolérance Extrême Anti-irritating Soothing Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 2/20/2010 11:31:00 PM

I actually only got the Tolérance because my local supplier was out of Avène Skin Recovery Cream, but had a big display of this newfangled stuff; I’d last met the Tolérance some years ago, when it was used on me in a hospital. Rapid summary: new packaging, lower price, little change to the cream itself. It’s a splendid piece of 21st-century minimalist gorgeousness.
Skin here: sensitive, reactive, irritable. Also thin a.k.a. physically fragile. My usual face creams are Avène Skin Soothing Cream / Crème pour peaux intolérantes, A-Derma Skin Cream, and Avène TriXéra Emollient Balm. Which one I use depends on skin and weather conditions. Mixed in with oil, or with the oil underneath as a serum. Oil blend: 1/3 mineral, 1/4 safflower or sunflower, 1/4 sweet almond, topped up with jojoba and a little hazelnut. Or 1/2 mineral : 1/2 safflower or sunflower when skin is very reactive.
Anyhoo. On with the review proper.
Tolérance extrême is a very minimal cream, meant for intensive use to repair the skin; on sensitive skin, it can actually be used for quite a long time as a regular moisturiser (oops, the secret’s out). Mostly Avène thermal/spring water; plus glycerin, mineral oil, squalane, safflower oil, cyclomethicone (full ingredients at end of review, all nine of them). It’s pale and interesting. Feels creamier than the SRC, not as unctuous as TriXéra. Melts into skin and keeps it moist. No reactions. Quite the opposite: soothing (needed after misjudged sunscreen experiment).
Tolérance extrême used to be packaged in a set of little plastic vial-tubes. It’s now been repackaged* in a 50 ml tube (inside a cardboard box) with a special new D.E.F.I. (Device Exclusive Formula Intact) closure system, so that–between that and the manufacture in sterile conditions–it needs no preservatives. It’s superficially a double nozzle under a cap (it’s more sophisticated than that inside); it lets cream out, but nothing in. The formula has changed slightly: same ingredients, slightly different order: squalane, cyclomethicone, and sodium carbomer have each moved up a place.
This is new on the shelves here in Canada, though the innovation seems to have been announced a few months back–there’s a good piece on it from 09/2009, complete with a nice picture showing just how cunning a contraption this fancy new cap is, over at http://www.premiumbeautynews.com/Laboratoires-Avene-present-D-E-F-I,1202 [you night have to click “continue” for the link to become active…] Actually, if you’e into cunning devices, it would be worth buying a tube of this stuff just to take it apart to play with.
Currently CAD 34.50 for 50 ml. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. And not just for the D.E.F.I. I’ll be keeping the TriXéra around for dry patches, hands, and colder weather; but I prefer the Tolérance to SRC: moister, less is needed, and cheaper. My only other comment is that there should be more creams like this out there, and less of the crap with unnecessary junk in it (that’s so often expensive and ruins one’s skin, necessitating further expenditure to make it all better again). This stuff is so basic you could make something like it at home: but you’d have to do so in daily batches, so Avène still has the edge with the sterile manufacturing and packaging environment, and the sterile closure system … There’s also an accompanying cleanser (not tried, am happy with current cleanser thank you very much).
INGREDIENTS: Avène thermal water 57%; glycerin; mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum); squalane; carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil; cyclomethicone; glyceryl stearate; sodium carbomer; titanium dioxide.
No perfume, no preservatives, no emulsifier, no alcohol. Hypoallergenic, non comedogenic, sterile, physiological (i.e. same as skin) pH.
*The fonts on the packaging have also changed for the better: now everything’s in a nice sans-serif, clearer and with more rounded characters than previously. The logo hasn’t changed, but the pink freeform swirl is smaller and more restrained than before.

Unrefined Shea Butter  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 2/7/2010 6:24:00 PM

HANDS, FEET, ELBOWS, KNEES … HEAD TO TOE
The version used was Alaffia fair trade West African unrefined shea butter, which comes in a screw-top jar, bought in Whole Foods. I’ve seen several brands around the place over the years.
This is a very thick waxy solid butter, but once rubbed and warmed between the hands and finger-tips, melts into a finer texture and can be dotted and patted gently into skin. I’ve been using it for the following purposes, hence the cross-listing of this review. Most of them actually correspond to how good old-fashioned Vaseline can be used, worth knowing if you’ve got that to hand but no shea:
(1) ROUGH BITS: scoop out a larger quantity, rub into hands, feet, elbows, knees. Can also be mixed with other things, whipped up in blender, turned into a lotion-esque texture, applied elsewhere, etc., etc. Over to you and the limits of human creativity on that: see also the many, many useful posts on the Green and Skincare boards, on shea butter, its many uses, and DIY recipes using it.
(2) LIP BALM: makes sense given how many lip balms are based on this stuff… Very little needed. If surplus, pat the rest around the eyes (on/outside the eye socket bone, concentrated on the under eye and corner).
(3) EYE CREAM: I reckoned it might be worth another try, as I’d used various shea-based solid balms when experimenting with them as alternatives to regular eye cream.* As with lips, very little is needed. Results around eyes: skin is, well, soft and smooth. I don’t have much in the way of proper wrinkles, and I’m not too bothered about them anyway; more an issue with skin drying out during the day.** Importantly, no irritation or slippage into eyes overnight. Delighted. I’ve noticed no discernible difference between using the shea alone and using it on top of the remains of my old eye cream (Nuxe Contour des yeux prodigieux).
During the day, there’s an Issue: incompatibility with a lot of eye make-up. Resolved by having a layer of Clarins eye SPF cream on top, and using waterproof sealant on mascara anyway (Clarins Double Fix).
(4) FACE: Some swear by shea butter as a face moisturiser. Alas, not here: I can’t use it on rest of face as a regular moisturiser: skin starts going red and bumpy while I’m applying it. But a teeny bit is OK on drier parts of face, so long as it’s on top of regular moisturiser (or oil at night).
INGREDIENTS: unrefined shea butter. Note that some butters are fragranced, which might or might not be a good thing, depending: good on feet, for example.
* results of that experiment: balms worked fine for the basic purpose of moisturising; I’m looking to sunscreen for damage prevention, and not fussed about the appearance of “I’ve-lived-a-life/hey, I’m a real live human being” lines. Lip balms worked as well as those intended for the eye (ex. Dr.Hauschka), but while cheaper and similar main ingredients–and shea butter as main active–many were flavoured and scented. With a few exceptions or ones that were more OK.
**I do have wrinkles when producing facial expressions, and damn it, I’m not going to stop laughing and/or lead an unstimulating life just so as to avoid expression lines…

Weleda – Baby Calendula Diaper Care  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 2/7/2010 3:02:00 AM
h60_1536627.JPG.jpg

UPDATE [07/2010]: moved over to A-Derma’s Dermalibour cream. Fragrance-free, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients (as far as I can see, anyway, and more so than this), and nicer to my armpits. It’s more expensive, though, being marketed in part as a heavy-hitting repair cream.
Best “greener” zinc oxide cream I’ve found. There are several others around, but all smell–to my nose–very strongly of lavender. Which I don’t like (quite aside from cytotoxity issues etc.) This one doesn’t: just plain old chamomile and marigold. And it’s plain and simple on the ingredients too, with a good healthy 12% ZnO.
My other favourite zinc oxide cream (here in Canada) that’s easily available in B&MS: Zincofax fragrance-free. Call it, well, an unfragranced version of this, but based on mineral oil and petrolatum rather than beeswax, sweet almond oil, and sesame seed oil.
While the Weleda cream is petrochemical-free, mainly plant-based, and cruelty-free (and from a very respectably ethical company), it’s not vegan. The only vegan ones I’ve found have contained lavender. Other than Dermalibour, which contains no animal ingredients, is cruelty-free, but not actively marketed as vegan…
The Weleda comes in a tube with a screw-cap lid. Unlike the more usual plastic tubs for other ZnO creams.
Uses: this is a white pasty thick cream, for topical application. Main use: on infant posteriors. Handy for adults on any rashes, skin irritations, low-grade zits, general soothing and healing and bug-combatting. Good on some kinds of eczematic patches too (if caught before they get to the dry, flaky, fragile stage). Great for deodorizing armpits: first thing in the morning I’m using this or the Zincofax, a layer of Lafe’s Unscented Spray Deodorant (basically potassium alum/mineral salt), and then a layer of Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder (corn starch, bicarbonate of soda, clay). Lasts pong-free all day, there’s just a hint of subtle not unpleasant muskiness in the evening: but none of that sour milk tone of, well, deodorizing failure… and the powder absorbs most of the actual sweat.
Be careful on face: some people are less tolerant of lanolin, though it’s usually fine–and, indeed, the ingredients in this kind of minimalist unguent are low-comedogenicity and low-irritation. I’ve put this stuff on a 4 for that reason; mild lanolin issues here.
Recommended for anyone looking for a ZnO cream that doesn’t overpower you with the lavender, or for an alternative to the usual drugstore ones. Though more expensive than them, it’s still a much more decent price than any other similar product found in my local Whole Foods and similar. Costs around CAD 12.00-14.00 for 81g.
INGREDIENTS: Active Ingredients
Zinc Oxide 12%.*****
Inactive Ingredients
Beeswax, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Calendula Flower Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Linoleate, Hectorite, Lanolin, Limonene, Linalool, Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Water.
* from natural essential oils

Zincofax  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 2/7/2010 2:50:00 AM
h60_1536628.GIF.gif

Zinc oxide cream. Of the diaper-/nappy-rash variety. Many kinds are available, including pharmacy generics. This one happens to be the main one available here in Canada, and the only one I’ve found thus far in drugstores that’s cheap, fragrance-free, and contains the minimum of other ingredients. (I particularly dislike lavender, and nearly all of them are lavender-scented–to at least some degree–like Sudocrem. Even the “nice green” ones. Weleda diaper cream is about the least offensive, smelling of chamomile and marigold.)
Available in a fragrance-free version (mine), the usual lavender-scented one, and an extra-strength (40% ZnO) that’s also lavender-scented. All are in small plastic tubs and I’ve also seen a smaller (50g?) tube. The fragrance-free is in a 130g one, plain jane packaging.
Uses & pros: this is a white pasty thick cream, for topical application. Main use: on infant posteriors. Handy for adults on any rashes, skin irritations, low-grade zits, general soothing and healing and bug-combatting. Good on some kinds of eczematic patches too (if caught before they get to the dry, flaky, fragile stage). Great for armpits: I’m using this, a layer of Lafe’s Unscented Spray Deodorant (basically potassium alum/mineral salt), and a layer of Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder (corn starch, bicarbonate of soda, clay).
Cons/caveats: Be careful on face: some people are less tolerant of lanolin, though it’s usually fine–and, indeed, the ingredients in this kind of minimalist unguent are low-comedogenicity and low-irritation. A 4 from me, as mild lanolin issue; Dermalibour is better on me, but pricier.
Costs around CAD 9.00 for 130 g. Slightly more expensive than the other drugstore and supermarket zinc oxide creams I’ve found here (but minus the scent); several times cheaper than the health-food/eco store ones. Weleda Baby Calendula Diaper Care (12% ZnO) is the nearest I’ve found to a good “greener” one that doesn’t reek of lavender, is readily obtainable, and doesn’t break the bank (CAD 12.00-14.00/81g); and it’s still not vegan (lanolin, beeswax). The only vegan ones I’ve found have contained lavender. Other than Dermalibour, which contains no animal ingredients, is cruelty-free, but not actively marketed as vegan…
INGREDIENTS: 15% zinc oxide + Lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum.

A-Derma Skin Care Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 12/31/2009 2:29:00 AM
h60_1496424.JPG.jpg

(A-Derma – Crème de soin au lait d’avoine Rhealba – visage et corps)
Joint favourite cream, on super-irritated skin, even once in full eczematic mode (the other is Clinique DDML).
Excellent basic moisturiser, for use all over. Part of A-Derma’s Irritated Skin range. Contains their specially-selected Rhealba Oats; otherwise, a straight-forward emollient cream, containing petrolatum, cyclomethicone, glycerin, and bisabolol; feels like a slightly lighter version of Avène’s TriXéra balm. Great stuff on sensitive, thin, physically fragile, and irritable skin. I tend to use this straight-up on dry patches (ex. feet, elbows), and either over a thin layer of, or mixed in with, a few drops of oil on the face, neck, and throat. (Current face oil: safflower & jojoba mixed 4:1.)
It’s a creamy-coloured cream. Fairly thick. Unscented. Moisturises and soothes. Which is all I was really looking for – having the kind of skin that’s either placid, with boring simple things like this; or in a state of shock and disaster, with anything complicated and/or fashionable. OK, except when fashion tends towards the simple. Then it gets complicated. But this sort of cream transcends the vagaries of fashion: it’s a classic, a monument to minimalist chic; and so long as gorgeous healthy skin in good condition continues to be in style, this kind of beautiful cream will do so too.
Not tested on animals (same goes for other brands and products in the Pierre Fabre stable – ex. Avène, Klorane). Around GBP/EUR 10.00-14.00, CAD 18.00 for a 150 ml tube. Squat and squeezy plastic tube, recyclable, design improved recently (09/2010): screw-cap replaced by a larger flip-top, and the tube now stands on its end more convincingly.
A-Derma also make various other creams – all featuring the Rhealba oat business. This cream is in their most straight-forward basic range. For a step up, there’s the Exomega range for “atopic and very dry skin” with added shea butter and omega-6 (evening primrose oil for the most part), the Sensiphase “sensitive skin” facial range, and Epithéliale “damaged skin” hyaluronic acid barrier creams. For a mineral-oil-free version, I’d recommend Allergenics Emollient Cream – currently only available in the UK and Ireland (or online from there).
INGREDIENTS: Water (aqua), Petrolatum, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-12, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour (Avena Sativa), Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Stearic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Bisabolol, Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide. 

Weleda – Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 12/9/2009 12:15:00 PM
h60_1480109.JPG.jpg

Lovely smooth fast-absorbed hand cream. As smooth as the siliconey ones. Less scented than the sea buckthorn one (citrus fragrance); this one smells of, well, pomegranate and spiciness. Fabulous ingredients: sesame, sunflower, and pomegranate seed oils; shea butter; and avocado and olive oils (a.k.a. the unsaponifiable part). Stuffed full of antioxidants; no idea if that’s actually doing anything to my skin, but my hands feel soft and pleasant.
Hands stay fairly moist, without any greasiness. Fine, dryish, irritable skin here. For comparison: my other regular hand creams are ShiKai borage and Nuxe’s Rêve de miel. When back in in the UK & Ireland, I’d used Allergenics cream, and Lavera Basis and Neutral hand creams. In colder and drier conditions, Weleda Calendula Baby Cream (similar effect to Skin Food but less smell and cheaper), good old Nivea in the blue tin; and straight shea butter in the evening.
Costs around CAD 14-15 for a 50 ml tube, USD 13. No animal testing, good general company ethics.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Extract, Ruscus Aculeatus (Butcher’s Broom) Root Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Petal Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Coumarin*.

Avène – Trixéra Emollient Balm  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 9/26/2009 8:38:00 PM
h60_1287896.JPG.jpg

The denser companion to Avène’s TriXéra+Sélectiose Emollient Cream (the more recent versions also have this sélectiose stuff, though the old stuff was also perfectly good).
It seems initially like a very rich, dense balm, that looks like it needs to be rubbed in. Can be used that way on hands, feet and so on. Good on eczema patches on the insides of joints – my original use for it.
But there’s a trick to this stuff: mix with two drops of oil, and lo! you have a more fluid cream, suitable for face, neck, and throat. Oils used here: mix of jojoba, safflower, sunflower, and sweet almond, with a little mineral. I used to use the TriXéra+ Emollient Cream (pump-bottle), but swtiched over to the Balm-mixed-with-oil as it produces a similar texture, but without the Cream’s coconut oil that was producing some clogs (in combination with DHC Cleansing Oil – excessive olive oil the culprit there); a swap to GoW cleansing oil and the TriXéra Balm seems to have sorted things out. Another moisturiser that worked well being Desert Essence Daily Essential (except the jar melted in accident with an iron). I’d been using the Essence mixed with oil, and decided to try that approach with some leftover Balm in the cupboard as a last resort before going shopping for more.
In the regular non-oiled way, the Balm can be used on dry patches all over: this is one of the creams I’ve used to keep occasional mild eczema under control, for years. On very dry skin, and some forms of eczema etc., the A-Derma range (made by the same parent company) is excellent too: similar ingredients plus a lot of oats: think Aveeno but better-performing and cruelty-free. The basic “Crème de soin” / Skin Care Cream in the “Irritated skin” range is slightly thicker than TriXéra Baume, but the nearest equivalent.
Like TriXéra Emollient Cream, there’s no paraben preservatives, no fragrance, and it’s composed mainly of Avène spring water, a plant-derived lipidic trio (ceramides, linoleic and gamma-linolenic fatty acids, and phytosterols – from safflower, coconut, evening primrose, and soybean oils), and mineral oil, plus glycine and sélectiose.*
Costs around EUR 13.00-15.00 / CAD 27.00-29.00 for a 200 ml tube. The tube stands on its end and has a flip-cap that can be a little stiff, but does stay well closed with no leakage. While a pump might be more handy, the squeezability of the tube means one does get every last drop.
INGREDIENTS: Avene Aqua, Paraffinum liquidum, glycerin, cyclomethicone, PEG-12, glyceryl stearate, oenothera biennis oil, PEG-100 stearate, myreth-3 myristate, polyacrylate-13, benzoic acid, BHT, chlorphenesin, disodium EDTA, glycine, glycine soja, pentylrhamnosides, phenoxyethanol, polyisobutene, polysorbate-20, sodium hydroxide, Aqua.
* = the pentylrhamnosides, a patented anti-irritant – more info at http://www.wikipatents.com/ca/2544107.html

Nuxe – CONTOUR DES YEUX PRODIGIEUX   lippies4.gif gingerrama on 8/24/2009 3:17:00 PM
h60_1385648.PNG.png

UPDATE (06/2010): good but not great. Keeps skin fairly moist, can migrate into them at night, skin isn’t always that well hydrated in the morning (some dehydration lines, solved by applying more moisturiser…). Back to Clarins Special Eye Balm. Down to 4 lippies
Decent straight-forward eye cream: not too light (drying), not too rich and heavy (milia), no irritation. Moistens the eye area immediately, and keeps it that way through the day and overnight. No migration, and indeed seems to help with the morning puffiness-congestion I get with seasonal allergies.
It’s a cream-gel, and easy to apply. The packaging should have 6 lippies for practicality and convenience – air-tight pump, works a dream, good dosage.
Main actives: green tea; chamomile and cornflower extracts; borage, rose, and hazelnut oils; vitamins A and E; sunflower and castor oils. Some fragrance, but very light indeed, and no issues with it here (and I’m usually pretty sensitive…). Does have some silicone and parabens, so do have a look at the full ingredients for these and any other more specific ingredient worries.
Costs around EUR 20.00 / CAD 27.50 for 15 ml. Works out cheaper than my other usuals (Avène Soothing, Clarins Baume “Spécial”). Cruelty-free.
My only complaint is that it’s got “anti-ageing” all over the bottle. But that’s a packaging and marketing/rhetorical issue, rather than one to do with actual functionality.
INGREDIENTS: Aqua,propylene glycol, centaurea cyanus (centaurea cyanus flower water), corylus avellana (hazel seed oil), c14-22 alkyl alcohols, rosa moschata (rosa moschata oil), borago officinalis (borago officinalis seed oil), tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate, dimethicone, c12-20 glucosides, phenoxyethanol, myristylalcohol, acrylamides copolymer, butylene glycol, c13-14 isoparaffin, parfum (fragance), retinyl palmitate, polysorbate 85, helianthus annuus (sunflower seed oil), myristyl glucoside, tetrasodium edta, methylparaben, rosemarinus officinalus (rosemary leaf oil), anthemis nobilis (anthemis nobilis flower extract), sodium dehydroacetate, carbomer, peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil (huile de ricin), hydroxyethylcellulose, ethylparaben, butylparaben, citric acid, propylparaben, isobutylparaben

Desert Essence – Daily Essential Moisturizer  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 8/24/2009 2:30:00 PM
h60_1335358.JPG.jpg

[Review updated 06/2010.] Lovely cream at a lovely price. Joins my other long-term favourites: A-Derma Skin Cream, Avène Tolérance extrème and TriXéra Balm.
I was sniffing around for possible replacements for my regular moisturiser. Found this, partly thanks to the MUA Top Picks for my age-group. It’s minimal (the sensitive Gingerrama likes minimal), cheap (ditto), and fairly easy to find (greener shops and even some standard ones).
This is a plain facial moisturising cream. Mainly safflower, jojoba, and sesame oils; plus aloe vera. Little scent from the rose geranium: a very faint whiff of pleasant creaminess, then nothing.
Application: echoing the advice of others below, apply to damp skin (using Avène water spray here). Easy to apply – sinks in nicely.
In evenings, I’m mixing in a little oil too: one drop of the current blend that doubles up as cleansing oil and in-shower body oil. Some combination and permutation of sunflower, safflower, sweet almond, and jojoba oils. Have also used rice bran and grapeseed (too light and drying). Sometimes mineral oil too, though trying to get off it for environmental reasons. I’ve found all these oils to be very good on fragile, irritable skin that’s prone to dry bits and oily bits if unbalanced; plus good on the nose, preferring unscented oils due to sneezy tendencies.
In the mornings, one it’s on and in, followed by sunscreen. Which applies just fine (a silicone-based coated micro zinc oxide one; minimal again…).
The Daily Essential is deceptively light: retains moisture well overnight, no dryness or tugging the next morning. The overall effect is most satisfying: feels comfortable a.k.a. normalised, no dry or oily patches, no irritated bits, matte-dry to the touch (as opposed to damp-greasy), but smooth, sleek, plump and well-fed … Recommended!
Only issue (update, end 09/2009): jar suffered disaster in freak iron-related accident. Yes, plastic melts. I’m sure others don’t need such warnings.
[UPDATE: 03/2010] Used again, less successful in cooler drier weather; usually fine, but sometimes irritates. Still keeping this for warmer weather, as it’s a great combination of moisturising and mattifying.
Costs CAD8.00-10.00 for a 120 ml plastic jar. A couple of lippies off on the packaging, but nothing that can’t be solved by decanting it into a wide-necked flip-top tube. Cruelty-free.
UPDATE (06/2010): This being reformulated, but fear not, only in a minor way (see further down). Not yet seen in the shops; thanks to candigirl72 for the information. Changes: no paraben preservatives, addition of propanediol, stearic acid, gluconolactone sodium hydroxide, sodium benzoate (preservative). NB the current Desert Essence cream is very very like Derma E’s classic Vitamin E 12,000 IU Deep Moisturizing Crème (see further below for ing.), one of their original products some decades ago. The Derma E’s around USD 12.50 / CAD15.00 for 113 g.
2009 INGREDIENTS (from jar – NB slightly different from the ingredients listed on Desert Essence’s website and at top of this MUA product page): Purified Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil, Cetyl Palmitate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (from vegetable source), Methylparaben, Essential Oil of Geranium Maculatum.
2010 REVISED VERSION INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glyceryl Stearate (Vegetable Derived), Stearic Acid (Vegetable Derived), Cetyl Palmitate (Plant Derived), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Vegetable Derived), Propanediol (Corn Derived), Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Glycerin (Plant Derived), Gluconolactone, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Geranium Maculatum Oil (Plant Derived)
COMPARISON: DERMA E VITAMIN E MOISTURIZING CRÈME: Water (Aqua), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Glycerin, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Panthenol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Allantoin, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Natural and Fragrant Oils.

Hydrocortisone Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 8/5/2009 7:47:00 PM

A.k.a. corticosteroid cream. For topical application, as opposed to the version for oral administration. This is a review for a number of non-prescription, over-the-counter pharmacy own-brand creams, as well as branded versions. They tend to be more or less the same; strengths vary from 0.5 to 2.5%, roughly; stronger available on prescription.
Main use: calming skin irritation due to allergic (over-)reaction. As an immunosuppressant. For further information on how this all works, a good start would be the “cortisol” entries in Wikipedia and on medical sites c/o Google. For further information on side-effects and contra-indications, look up “corticosteroid.”
Uses: on skin, to calm a range of skin irritations. Spots / zits that might be all manner of things, and easily blanket-labelled as “acne”. Insect bites. Apply to the affected area only (i.e. not all over you face/head/self), only a teeny dot, in a very thin layer. Pat in. Some recommend rubbing it in, but this may or may not possible depending on how irritated the skin is. It is usually recommended that hydrocortisone cream be used for a short time only, as an emergency treatment, due to the side-effects from long-term steroid use (NB this is different from taking tonnes of body-building type steroids!).
Other ingredients may include white soft paraffin, cetostearyl alcohol, liquid paraffin – and other waxes and emollients – and water.

Clarins – Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care SPF 30  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 7/24/2009 3:08:00 PM
h60_925522.JPG.jpg

Very good SPF for the eye area (though using face sunscreen on top, around the eyes, in more demanding weather or climes). I’ve been returning to it over the years, so it probably counts as a regular by now. Basically, it’s TiO2 in a silicone base with some antioxidants, glycerin, and then rose, pea, guajava/candle bush, brewer’s yeast, plane tree bark, olive leaf, and baobab extracts. The result is a fine-textured lightweight cream. Fragrance-free. Easy to apply.
Pros: Yes, there are a couple of other specific s/s out there for the eye area. This is the best one I’ve found, because it does the following:
— It feels like an eye cream: moistening, softening, but non-greasy and good under eye makeup. Easy to put on: dot on, dab around, pat in. Method: clean self, apply face moisturiser and eye cream, then have a coffee, then apply the Sun Wrinkle Control and a face sunscreen, then any makeup.
— It’s a decent sunscreen:* my skin only tolerates physical/mineral s/s, irritated by nearly all the part-chemical/part-physical ones tried thus far, and some physical-only s/s can be drying around the eyes. Not this one.
— It doesn’t irritate, at all, ever; if it does migrate into eyes, I don’t feel it. Fine on sensitive skin.
— Seems to help – or at least not hinder, unlike some other eye-creams and sunscreens – with wind-borne allergens (spring pollen, autumn spores). Possibly simply because it doesn’t irritate if it runs into weepy eyes, and because it keeps surrounding skin soothed and smoothed, no matter how much you’re screwing your eyes up (and weeping).
— makeup applies smoothly and holds well; no slipping and creasing. While many other sunscreens are fine in the eye area, not all can thus be combined with makeup.
— slight brightening effect as slightly whitening. Subtle, but definitely there (testing one eye with, one without). I can sometimes even manage to go out without putting anything else on my eyelids to conceal the blood vessels, freckles, etc. (very thin skin, everything shows through). Cor blimey. Not that I’m completely weird about this sort of thing or anything, honest…
—BONUS [update: 07/2010]: this is best stuff I’ve found for subtle undereye concealing. That is, directly under the eye–not just in the corner by the nose and blue circles there–that area of slightly fattier tissue (compared to the corner by the nose) that’s prone to puffiness and dehydration wrinkles. On me anyway. And that combination always confuses me. Allergy medication helps too, mind you: but all concealers I’ve tried out there have ended up emphasizing and adding lines. So count this a concealer too.
— cheaper than any other comparable eye-area sunscreen on the market, and the generous 20 ml tube lasts a good 6 months or so, used daily.
Cons:
—in normal weather conditions, in terms of straightforward functionality it is no better than plain old regular face sunscreen. Many (of the better) face sunscreens are fine around the eyes. Indeed, that’s a good test of how good a s/s is. Ex. Blue Lizard Baby or Sensitive SPF 30, Vanicream SPF 30. If you’re not using any eyelid makeup, or just mascara, or mascara and tightlining, there’s no reason not to just use a decent regular sunscreen instead. While the Clarins is still the best specific eye-area sunscreen I’ve ever used, if doing minimal to no makeup, Cliniderm SPF 45 works nearly as well, including as a makeup base, and Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30 in the outer corner-area.
— just TiO2: covers UVB and most of UVA, but not all of the latter. Low PPD.The addition of ZnO would help on the UVA front, though ZnO alone can be drying. If you can tolerate non-physical a.k.a. chemical sunscreens, there are more protective options out there.
— it’s more expensive than most non-eye sunscreens, and a lot more than my current replacement for it, Cliniderm SPF 45 (TiO2 and ZnO, CAD25.00 / 75 ml vs. CAD31.00 / 20 ml).
Costs in the region of EUR 26.00-36.00, CAD 26.00-33.00, depending where purchased. No added fragrance. Like all Clarins stuff, cruelty-free.
INGREDIENTS: aqua, cyclopentasiloxane, titanium dioxide, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, polyglyceryl-3 polymethylsilxyethyl dimethicone, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, aluminum hydroxide, stearic acid, sodium chloride, peg/ppg-20/15 dimethicone, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, caprylyl glycol, tocopheryl acetate, ethylparaben, disodium edta, methylparaben, mannitol, glycerin, rosa centifolia flower extract, cyclodextrin, pisum sativum extract, cassia alata leaf extract, faex extract, phenoxyethanol, dextrin, platanus occidentalis bark extract, olea europaea leaf extract, hydrolyzed adansonia digitata extract, geraniol, citronellol.
* To be honest, I’m more worried about burning, damage, dread diseases and death than about wrinkles. I think of them as Visible Signs of Expression and Experience. Marks of Wisdom. Distinguishing Features: making one a distinct individual, and one of distinction. Of course, ask me again in ten years’ time, or twenty …

Avène – skin recovery cream (US name: cream for intolerant skin)  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 7/1/2009 7:39:00 AM
h60_1098743.JPG.jpg

Great cream on slightly dry, delicate (= physically thin), sensitive skin. Also listed here on MUA as “skin recovery cream” – same stuff, simply a case of alternative translations and versions. FR “Crème pour peaux intolérantes”, and been called that for donkeys’ years, ; the version sold in Europe from at least 2006 is called “Skin Recovery Cream” in the English on the label. So if you see the “cream for intolerant skin” version, and it’s cheaper, and not expired, get it!
A slightly gel-like cream, texture to do with high Avène spring water content (67%).* It melts into skin nicely, keeps skin fairly moist, and gives it a lovely fine supple feel. About as anti-allergic and pro-sensitive as you can get (except, say, Avène’s Tolériane and the like – mainly used in hospitals and otherwise post-surgery). The ingredient list is a thing of minimalist beauty. Uncomplicated. Simple, even. No fragrance or parabens, not tested on animals, but well tested on sensitive humans.
Been using this from time to time for years when skin was very upset. Deserves a 6. Utterly reliable. Unexciting, but when one has sensitive skin, “exciting” means interesting and dramatic reactions. Give me unexciting any day.
More recently, I returned to it for cystic acne on chin, followed by witch-hazel aqueous solution. I’d previously been careful with skincare products, due to reactive skin. The Gingerrama skin gets dry but also gets annoyed when overloaded with too much complication, I’ve worked out. Now on a “back to basics” regime, skin looks better than it did with more sophisticated products.
Current use: at night (Avène TriXéra emollient cream & sunscreen during the day); or if skin is upset, I just use this all the time.
Costs EUR 13.00-16.50; GBP 10.50; USD 23.00. For 40 ml/1.35 fl. oz.
INGREDIENTS (both the SRC and CIS versions): Avène thermal spring water – mineral oil – cyclomethicone – butylene glycol – glycerin – glyceryl stearate – squalane – benzoic acid – carbomer – chlorphenesin – phenoxyethanol – tetrasodium edta – triethanolamine.
* I know, it sounds weird that water, that most basic of things, could make a difference. Avene’s site (if link not working, click on “continue”) provides further info on the water itself, and there does seem to have been some research done on it. Also joyous tales from happy ex-eczematics etc.

Clarins – Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 6/22/2009 9:19:00 AM
h60_1286228.JPG.jpg

Beautiful very simple non-silicone serum, works wonders on upset skin. One of the very few scented products I can use on my face (sensitive, reactive, irritable skin here), even though it includes several common irritants, inc. two (lavender and mint) of my most frequent ones. Weird. Main ingredients: olive squalane; soybean, avocado, lavender, mint, oregano, and sunflower oils; liquorice extract; and vitamin A (in the form of retinyl palmitate).
It’s not cheap – around EUR 45.00 – 55.00 for 15 ml – but concentrated, and lasts a long time as little is needed. Like the rest of the Clarins Gentle range (the ones with the pink-peach lids), it’s not meant to be used everyday but more as a short-term “SOS” treatment, and “in synergy” with the rest of the range (a.k.a. “ka-ching” for the cash registers). Having said that, this serum can actually be used nightly over quite a long time … I’ve used the range from time to time over the decades, and this is the one thing in it that I return to i.e. buy again; the Gentle moisturisers are good, but not a patch on the gentlest (and much cheaper) products from Avène.
Excellent packaging: solid plastic, pump top.
To use: in the evening, clean face, leave damp or spritz with water, apply one pumpfull to palm of hand, rub hands together and sort of pat over face, then massage in a little. Feels oily-silky (unsurprising, given the ingredients). Light and watery – it will try to slip through fingers. Smells pleasant; as is often the case with Clarins, a clever and interesting balance of scents; definitely not a simple lavender/mint/oregano. Then apply light “safe” moisturiser (Avène Skin Recovery here, on such Scar Skin Days). Results: soothed skin, especially the next morning; irritation and inflammation greatly reduced; skin smooth and pleasant the next morning.
I don’t use this regularly, but returned to it recently when skin was being very irritable around the nose, due to a combination of seasonal allergies plus air-travel. Works a treat, will also see very soon if it helps with upcoming long-distance travel.
Better feel and finish than other serums I’d used (ex. Paula’s Choice Antioxidant) or tried out (errm, many … I have a bad counter-testing-habit … most recently: Estee Lauder, Shiseido, some of the more expensive Clarins ones and their face oils); and a much better feel in the morning. I often use a mix of sweet almond and rosehip oils as a serum in the evening; lovely but clogging if used nightly. No such issues with this Repair Concentrate – quite the contrary. It’s only a 4 rather than a 5, though, as neither strictly necessary nor life-changing.
Like all Clarins products, no animal testing but plenty testing on humans.
INGREDIENTS (from box): SQUALANE – CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE – CETEARYL ETHYLHEXANOATE – STEARYL HEPTANOATE – XIMENIA AMERICANA – GLYCINE SOJA – PERSEA GRATISSIMA – BATYL ALCOHOL – LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA – MENTHA ARVENSIS – ORIGANUM MAJORANA – PHOSPHOLIPIDS – RETINYL PALMITATE – HELIANTHUS ANNUUS – GLYCERRHETINIC ACID – BHT – LINALOOL – LIMONENE.

Avène – Trixéra Emollient Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 5/13/2009 6:07:00 AM
h60_1287895.JPG.jpg

I admit that I’ve been using this for ages – and the new version (“TriXéra + Sélectiose”) for the last year or so. So it’s very bad of me not to have reviewed it yet.
TriXéra is a basic emollient cream for sensitive skin. No fragrance, minimal ingredients, no parabens or other preservatives – hence should be used fairly fast. Contains mainly Avène spring water, a plant-derived lipidic trio (ceramides, linoleic and gamma-linolenic fatty acids, and phytosterols – from safflower, coconut, evening primrose, and soybean oils), and mineral oil, plus glycine and sélectiose.* Basic, but still a little more sophisticated than cold creams or other even simpler mineral-oil, glycerin, and water concoctions.
One word of warning: if you have a known sensitivity to coconut oil and some/all of its derivatives, do be wary and at least test out before purchase. Though there’s little enough – the main ingredients being the water, safflower oil, and mineral oil.
The Cream is between a lotion and a cream in texture, and applies and sinks in very well. There’s also a TriXéra balm for drier skin; on very very dry skin, maybe try their Cold Cream, or the Crèmes nutritives compensatrices (scented, though), or A-Derma (made by the same parent company; fragrance-free, with lots of oats and other goodies). I was using TriXéra Cream mainly as a body lotion, for years, off and on (on top of oil after shower). And hand-cream.
More recently, also on the neck and throat area; most recently, on the face. It is meant for face and body, after all. It feels very like the Hydrance face creams on the skin – in texture, between the Light and the Rich, but minus the scent. It’s also a lot cheaper (about the same price for 400 ml as the Hydrance is for 40). The trick is to use it differently for different purposes: a very small blob on the face, rubbed between hands, spread evenly, and massaged in gently but thoroughly. A more substantial dollop for body parts, and can be left to its own devices to absorb.
One word of warning: some clogging may occur on face (observed after several months’ use), I reckon the coconut oil. But still fine on drier areas of face, and on rest of body.
Skin here: thin, fragile, irritable; tendency to dry patches and to spots if upset. Usual previous moisturisers: Clinique DDML or Avène Skin Recovery Cream, usually with sweet almond oil mixed in; recently also Weleda Almond Moisture Cream (the lighter of the two they do – lovely but fiendishly expensive), and Avène Hydrance Optimale Light (but not moist enough, smell getting to me, and can’t move over to the Rich as I get spots from shea butter, sigh).
So this is now a one-bottle one-stop wonder in the bathroom. It can also be used as a cream cleanser, by the way, and is decent at removing sunscreen (but follow up with regular cleanser, i.e. double-cleanse). The only other cream I’ve found that does as much is Allergenics Emollient Cream (only available in the UK and Ireland, sorry); it has the advantage that it can also be used as an eye cream, but is pricier.
Costs around EUR 13.00-15.00 for the 200 ml tube, or (recommended if you’re using this as a body-lotion and general-purpose multi-tasker) EUR 17.50-21.00 / CAD 36.00 for the 400 ml pump bottle. Like all Avène products, and others from the Pierre Fabre group, no animal testing but very high standards of sensitive-human lab testing.
INGREDIENTS: Water • Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil • Mineral Oil • Glycerin • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil • Polysorbate 60 • Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil• Sorbitan Stearate • Cetyl Esters • Dimethicone • Benzoic Acid • BHT • Carbomer • Chlorphenesin • Disodium EDTA • Glycine • Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil • Pentylrhamnosides • Phenoxyethanol • Sodium Hydroxide
* = the pentylrhamnosides, a patented anti-irritant – more info at http://www.wikipatents.com/ca/2544107.html

Avène – Light hydrating cream, for normal to combo sensitive skin  lippies3.gif gingerrama on 4/18/2009 6:14:00 AM
h60_1263983.JPG.jpg

UPDATE (05/2009): Used prior to going over to Avène TriXéra+ Emollient Cream. Loved the Hydrance Optimale to start with. Then the scent niggled, I tried out TriXéra (my usual general non-face moisturiser), and preferred it. I’d still suggest the Hydrance Optimale range as worth a try.
Full name from the thing itself:
Hydrance Optimale Légère
Crème hydratante peaux sensibles normales à mixtes
Light hydrating cream Normal to combination sensitive skin.
There are four Hydrance Optimale creams: this one, a “riche” one (for dry to very dry skin), and “UV” versions of both (SPF 20: octinoxate/octocrylene/Tinsorb S). I’ve also tried the rich (irritated, too much shea butter), but not the SPF (contains a sunscreen that triggers allergic reactions on me). Full ingredients of all four versions at end of review.
They all contain quite a lot of Avène water (marvellous stuff, and I’m a sceptical sort of person), plus a lipid complex (based around safflower and soybean oils), glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and the bio-mimetic “lipomucin” (imitating mucin and lipcalin in the lacrimal film on the eye) to distribute the main ingredients, and help/aim to restore and “dynamise” (ulp! superpowers?) the hydrolipidic barrier. One generally well-tolerated silicone (cyclomethicone), no parabens.
All four have some fragrance; at first OK, then may have irritated or contributed to irriation; and Avène does manage to produce unscented stuff too, after all.
A basic moisturiser for normal skin. Basic: doesn’t claim to do anything fancy, nor to give you the secret of eternal youth, but aims to do good things for your moisture barrier and general skin condition. Skin type here: thin, fragile, irritation-prone; likes the simpler things in life, and gets indigestion from richer, fancier, more sophisticated refinements. When happy, skin is normal.
Standards of comparison: Using Avène Skin Recovery Cream for ages (life-saver on very upset and irritable skin), alternating with Clinique DDML (similar feel to the Light Hydrating) and Weleda Almond Moisture Cream (love, but don’t love the price; their Intensive is nice too, but denser, better in more extreme weather). When skin drier, mixing in some sweet almond oil with the usual moisturiser.
The Light Hydrating feels like the Skin Recovery: light cream-gel, not much is needed, rub between fingers and spread over face. Sinks in very fast. No reactions, and skin feels nice and good: calm, comfortable, smooth.More hydrating than Skin Recovery, without adding more moisture through more oil, it’s more hydrating, in terms of retaining what moisture there is in the skin. Identical feel to the DDML (using one on one side of face, the other on the other).
This sort of lighter cream is great on oilier or warmer days, but I do prefer a bit more moisture usually. Not keen on the “Rich” version as it smells stronger than the “Light” and has the addition of mineral oil, coconut-derived emollients, and shea butter (to which latter my skin reacts). I found a happy medium, though: TriXéra is between the two in texture, unscented, and massively cheaper (*cough* about a tenth of the price, and I use it all over).
Thumbs up. The 3-for-2 deal at Boots means it works out around GBP/EUR 13.00 per 40 ml tube; usually EUR 20.00; and more in North America. Basically, the same results as the DDML and minus the mineral oil; were I in the US, though, I’d use the (considerably cheaper) DDML given identical results…
As with other Avène products (and those of the parent Pierre Fabre group), no animal testing.
INGREDIENTS: Water • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride • Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil • Cyclomethicone • Sucrose Stearate • Glycerin • Butylene Glycol • Sucrose Distearate • Polymethyl Methacrylate • Benzoic Acid • Beta Sitosterol • BHT • Carbomer • Chlorphenesin • Disodium EDTA • Fragrance • Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract • Hydrogenated Coco Glycerides • Lecithin • Phenoxyethanol • Poloxamer 188 • Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate • Sodium Hydroxide
INGREDIENTS (RICHE): Water • Mineral Oil • Glycerin • PPG-15 Stearyl Ether • Cyclomethicone • Cetearyl Alcohol • Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil • Glyceryl Stearate • PEG-100 Stearate • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter • Cetearyl Glucoside • Benzoic Acid • Beta Sitosterol • BHT • C13-14 Isoparaffin • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride • Chlorphenesin • Disodium EDTA • Fragrance • Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract • Hydrogenated Coco Glycerides • Laureth-7 • Phenoxyethanol • Poloxamer 188 • Polyacrylamide • Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate • Sodium Hydroxide • Xanthan Gum
INGREDIENTS (LIGHT +UV): Water • Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate • Octocrylene • Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine • Cyclomethicone • Aluminium Starch Octenylsuccinate • Polymethyl Methacrylate • Potassium Cetyl Phosphate • Benzoic Acid • Beta Sitosterol • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride • Carbomer • Chlorphenesin • Disodium EDTA • Fragrance • Glycerin • Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract • Hydrogenated Coco Glycerides • Lecithin • Phenoxyethanol • Poloxamer 188 • Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate • Sodium Hydroxide • Tocopheryl Glucoside • Xanthan Gum
INGREDIENTS (RICHE +UV): Water • Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate • Cetearyl Isononanoate • Cyclomethicone • Octocrylene • Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine • C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate • Glycerin • Polymethyl Methacrylate • Potassium Cetyl Phosphate • Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil • Glyceryl Stearate • Stearyl Alcohol • Benzoic Acid • Beta Sitosterol • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride • Chlorphenesin • Disodium EDTA • Fragrance • Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract • Hydrogenated Coco Glycerides • Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer • Lecithin • Phenoxyethanol • Poloxamer 188 • Polysorbate 60 • Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate • Sodium Hydroxide • Squalane • Tocopheryl Gluc..

Clarins – Eye Contour Baume  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 3/14/2009 10:17:00 AM
h60_1962265.JPG.jpg

This was my first proper grown-up eye cream, used off and on through my 20s (the other being Clinique All About Eyes). A lightweight gel/cream, and one of Clarins’ classic skincare basics; not changed, or not much, in decades. So it’s tried and tested and much loved; but there are also many other products on the market that are rather like this and cheaper (ex. UK/Ireland – Simple Kind To Eyes Soothing eye cream and – US – gel/creams by Kiss My Face, Beauty Without Cruelty, and Aubrey’s Organics).
The feel and end result are a little like Clinique All About Eyes: the Clarins is more creamy, but the light-reflecting particles similarly smoothe out fine lines. I did find the AAE would sometimes creep into eyes and irritate a little (just a little, not dramatic); this never happened with any of the Clarins creams I’d used or tried.
One practical tip: don’t rub the cream between finger-tips before applying, it sort of separates. Dot straight onto skin, and dab around from there.
Of the other Clarins basics, the Eye Contour Gel is super-light and refreshing (good to keep in the ‘fridge over summer), and the “Special” Eye Contour Balm is more moisturising and slightly denser, whilst remaining lightweight (and it’s one of my favourite eye creams).
I probably wouldn’t return to the Balm now, simply because my skin is drier and needs more moisture than this provides. Otherwise, the Balm is perfectly good: nice texture, easy to apply, sinks in. Also may be interesting if you’re looking for a “more ethical” eye cream – Clarins are cruelty-free, and this cream (unlike the “Special”) contains no mineral oil. It does, however, contain glycerin, shea butter, mica, rose extract, inulin, and wheat protein. Some fragrance from the rose (very little).
Costs around EUR 26.00-36.00 for a 20 ml tube.
INGREDIENTS: aqua, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, octyldodecanol, glycerin, butyrospermum parkii butter, propylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, mica, cetearyl glucoside, ethylhexylglycerin, rosa centifolia flower extract, stearoyl inulin, barium sulfate, sodium hydroxide, titanium dioxide, phenoxyethanol, ethylparaben, methylparaben, glyceryl acrylate/acrylic acid copolymer, hydrolyzed wheat protein, disodium edta, sodium citrate, peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil, bht, geraniol, citronellol.

Clarins – Special Eye Contour Balm  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 3/14/2009 10:04:00 AM
h60_1227463.JPG.jpg

“Special” Eye Contour Balm is a good eye cream for sensitive skin and eyes. It’s the most moisturising of Clarins’ basic eye range; there is also an Eye Contour Gel (very light, refreshing in the morning) and a non-special Eye Contour Balm (used in my 20s, need more moisture now).
The Special is a light cream, unscented, and very easy to use. Mineral oil- and glycerin-based,* with dimethicone and mica, as well as aloe vera, chamomile extract, borage seed oil, inulin, wheatgerm oil and wheat protein, ginkgo, vit. C and E. Like all Clarins stuff, not tested on animals.
A rice-grain (risotto/pudding, not long-grain) sized dab is enough. One of the best textures I’ve found: creamy, can be warmed between fingers, easy to dot on and pat in, neither liquid and runny, nor heavy or greasy, sinks in fast, anything else applies smoothly on top.
I’m not actually looking for much, or miracles, with eye creams. Not irritating or drying out skin, not irritating eyes if it migrates, not migrating in the first place (or: not noticeably), being moisturising but not greasy. Not being too rich (milia, irritation). Working well under sunscreen and makeup: no pilling, balling, weird interactions. I’ve used quite a few in my time, as well as normal facial moisturisers and balms, from which I prefer a light cream/gel.
Good: as good, on the moisturising (and dehydration-line-plumpling) front, as my favourite: Avène Soothing. About the same price per gram, but I use less of the Special as it’s more concentrated. So in the long run it works out cheaper. And very good under other eye stuff like concealer.
Clarins does have more sophisticated products (the Advanced Extra-Firming and Super-Restorative ranges), with newer formulations and ingredients, but the Baumes are classics–been around for a long time (decades?)–so yes, the ingredients list will look like a lot of other eye creams out there, including cheaper ones. There’s something about the finished Great Work as a whole, though, that is different, works, and has me coming back to it.
Adding: I tested the Special against a sample of the Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate for a week. Better effects with the Special: foremost, more moisturising. The TEC is CAD82.00 for 15 ml, and the Special is 53.00 for 20: less than half the price.
Costs around EUR26.00-36.00 / CAD53.00 for 20 ml. A tube lasts for several months at least (and longer than the non-special Baume, as I used more of that on each application, and had to reapply during the day).
INGREDIENTS: aqua, paraffinum liquidum, paraffin, glyceryl stearate se, aloe barbadensis, sorbitol, stearyl alcohol, bisabolol, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol, stearoyl inulin, mica, barium sulfate, methylparaben, borago officinalis, titanium dioxide, tocopheryl acetate, triclosan, triticum vulgare, ginkgo biloba, glyceryl oleate, disodium edta, chlorhexidine digluconate, butylparaben, ethylparaben, hydrolyzed wheat protein, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ascorbyl palmitate, tocopherol, chlorphenesis, sodium benzoate, citirc acid.
* On mineral-oil based skincare and cosmetic products: My skin is one of those that loves mineral oil. I have not yet found more sustainable alternatives that produces the same results (especially as avoiding palm oil, often used as an alternative but with very few exceptions extremely environmentally damaging, re. de-rainforest-ation). On the eco-front, as mineral oil is a byproduct from leftovers of the petroleum industry, it’s lower impact than the 101 plastics that constitute everyday life, and in a different order of magnitude from petrol/gas proper (of which I consume little, as I don’t drive; my direct consumption is limited to public transport and other forms of mass transit).

Mineral Oil  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 3/14/2009 5:53:00 AM

A.k.a. Paraffinum liquidum. Excellent moisturiser and make-up remover. I use it as an in-shower body oil; not usually on my face, though I have done if nothing else was to hand.
Mineral is one of the lightest (molecular weight) oils, high tolerance for sensitive skin, with low irritation and comedogenicity ratings. Used in hospitals on infants and the elderly, which says a lot; I used lots of it when a scaly flaky eczematic child. Forms a barrier on the skin, preventing moisture loss. It’s a permeable barrier: air does get in and out, and a bit of water too (ex. one sweats). No, it’s not like wrapping yourself in cling-film and suffocating … Stable, won’t go off or go rancid. Useful, cheap, but doesn’t contain any antioxidants and omega fatty acids and the like; but then again, mineral oil mixes well with other lighter-weight oils: ex. at the moment I’m using a 50/50 mix of mineral and sunflower. Hence also why it’s in so many creams and potions and lotions.
NB: mineral oil IS NOT IDENTICAL WITH baby oil. Baby oil is usually mineral-oil based, but contains many other things too (notably a usually ambiguous “fragrance”). If you have used a branded baby oil and been unhappy, try straight-up mineral oil (or as close as you can get): can often be found in that source of many secret treasures, the laxatives section of drugstores/pharmacies. If in doubt, ask a pharmacist. You can also get straight-up unadulterated mineral oil online from the likes of GoW.
NBB: mineral oil IS NATURAL AND ORGANIC. It’s a hydrocarbon, dammit; comes from the bountiful bosom of Mother Earth, via squished animal remains (dinosaurs, often – how much more exciting and exotic can you get?), c/o oil (a.k.a. crude oil, petroleum). This DOES NOT MEAN it’s the same stuff as petrol/gasoline – same source, different extraction and processing, different end result. Parallels: raw eggs and the myriad dishes that can be made from them; the castor bean, from which you get both the cosmetically- and medically-useful castor oil and the toxin ricin.
NBBB: Yes, it’s “unnatural” and “synthesized/synthetic/artificial” in that the hand of man has been involved in its production – but that’s true of almost every skincare/cosmetic in existence. OK, unless you give yourself a facial by accidentally falling face-first into some mud. But anything else involves some human intervention and an activity of making (= what “synthesis” and “artifice” mean): extraction or collection of raw material, some process of transformation, maybe some mixing, eventually putting it into a container. Whether that’s with a mortar and pestle, or a woman in the kitchen, or The Man in a lab: and approving of one of these more than the others is not a question of natural vs. synthetic
Yes, there are other questions surrounding mineral oil:
— attitudes (mainly subjective, gut-reaction?) towards Men In White Coats (ulp, there’s women too, sorry);
— personal stance on Big Industry vs. Small and Local;
— decisions not to use animal-derived products (however remotely and accidentally said beasts turned into raw materials);
— squeamishness: not putting anything on your face you wouldn’t want to eat, usually. The nearer the mouth and eyes, the more particular one might be. This is very common and (in anthropological and psychological terms) completely normal.
— using sustainable and environmentally-friendly products, so avoiding anything associated with the petrochemical industry.
These are all real and valid issues, and to do with the “goodness” of mineral oil. But that’s a different “good” from mineral oil working or not.
Personally, on the ethical front, I’m gradually phasing out mineral oil (also using sunflower, and alternating DDML/Weleda Almond), whilst taking into account thin, fragile, irritable skin – so little works on it – that was why I’d been using mineral oil in the first place. But one must surely be able to balance vanity (errm, and basic health) with using more sustainable products: greater good of the world and its ever-shrinking future vs. conceitedness and egotism …

Weleda – Almond Face Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 3/10/2009 9:57:00 AM
h60_1947124.PNG.png

Please note: this product does not exist. Or doesn’t exist any more, at any rate – and hasn’t for some time (see end of review for further information).
This review is for the two existing moisturizers from this range: Weleda Almond Moisture Cream and Weleda Almond Intensive Facial Cream.
[UPDATE 04/2011: since at least 2010, these are now called, respectively, Almond Soothing Facial Lotion and Almond Soothing Facial Cream. There are MUA product entries for both these items, aside from this present one*.]
Weleda’s Almond line is aimed at sensitive skin. Containing mainly, well, sweet almond oil. No added fragrant essential oils – unlike Weleda’s Rose and Iris ranges, and many (most?) other “greener” companies’ skincare products. Minimal formulae. It’s taken a while, but I’ve figured out that I have the kind of sensitive (fragile, irritable) skin that is happiest with a minimalist approach.
There are two Almond moisturisers: a lotion (previously Moisture Cream,) and a cream (previously Intensive Facial Cream). Similar ingredients (see end of review), main difference seems to be texture.
The lotion (Moisture) version is lighter, more fluid, applies like a dream, and sinks in fast. The cream (Intensive) is thicker, needs to be rubbed in, and feels more sticky-greasy. Better on drier skin.
There are also a Cleansing Lotion, Facial Oil, and Facial Mask in the range. All the products carry a faint scent of almond – milky, comforting, and not too sweet, more like frangipani / Italian almond-based pastries. It fades fast. Prices for the Creams: around GBP/EUR 8.00-12.00 or USD 22.00 for 30 ml. Aluminium tube (can be squeezed then rolled down) lasts 3 to 4 months.
UPDATE: Grumpy. Price keeps going up. I used to be able to buy Weleda with my pocket-money when I was a teenager. What’s with the world??? Now hitting department-store prices! I would still buy this again – it’s good – and it keeps its 5 lippie status – but currently favouring the cheaper (and as good) Avène skin recovery cream and Tolérance extrême, and Clinique DDML.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: … and back again, to the Almond Soothing Lotion, then (skin drier) the Cream. Good stuff, calming on skin, does its job without any fuss.
INGREDIENTS: WELEDA ALMOND MOISTURE CREAM: Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond), Alcohol*, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Beeswax, Prunus Domestica (Plum), Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid.
INGREDIENTS: WELEDA ALMOND INTENSIVE FACIAL CREAM: Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond), Alcohol**, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Hydrolyzed Beeswax, Prunus Domestica, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid.
* this present product page comprises, for the most part, reviews for the Cream, with some for the Lotion, and some–like this one–for both, having been written at a time of ambiguous naming; dark, confusing, and ancient times indeed
** Q. Why do some Weleda products contain alcohol?
A. In homeopathic remedies and tinctures, alcohol is traditionally used to draw out the vital life forces of a plant to create a botanical extract in a specific concentration. Alcohol is also used as a natural preservative in our formulations. Weleda uses organic grain alcohol, which is naturally derived from fermented plant sugars. We do not use Methyl or Propyl alcohol—also known as rubbing alcohol.
(from the Weleda USA website)
On the existence or otherwise of this product: Sorry, still doesn’t exist. My information is from the following sources – click “continue” to activate the hyperlinks:
The Weleda International “gateway” page”
the main Almond Range page at the Weleda US site
Weleda UK site
Weleda sites in German (for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) – being a Swiss-based company, and from my experience of living in Germany, their newer products hit shops in these countries first:
Weleda Germany
Austria
Switzerland

Weleda – Almond Soothing Facial Lotion  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 3/10/2009 9:39:00 AM
h60_1947131.PNG.png

Full name: Weleda Almond Soothing Lotion (2010-11). This product used to be called Almond Moisture Cream.
Weleda’s Almond line is aimed at sensitive skin. Containing mainly, well, sweet almond oil. No added fragrant essential oils – unlike Weleda’s Rose and Iris ranges, and many (most?) other “greener” companies’ skincare products. Minimal formulae: full ingredients for this one at end of review. It’s taken a while, but I’ve figured out that I have the kind of sensitive (fragile, irritable) skin that is happiest with a minimalist approach.
Weleda make two Almond moisturisers: this lotion (previously called “Almond Moisture Cream”), and a richer cream (Almond Soothing Facial Cream, previously called “Almond Intensive Facial Cream”). There are also (at the time of writing) MUA product entries for cream, and for “Almond Facial Cream” (a mix of reviews for the cream, for this, and for both). Same ingredients (almond oil, glycerin, beeswax, plum oil, lactic acid), main difference seems to be texture.
This lotion version is lighter, more fluid, applies like a dream, and sinks in fast. Faint scent of almond – milky, comforting, and not too sweet, more like frangipani / Italian almond-based pastries. It fades in about a minute. The cream, on the other hand, is thicker, needs to be rubbed in, and feels more sticky-greasy. More beeswax, less glycerin. Probably better on drier skin.
I’ve been using the Lotion in the mornings, and an oil at night like a serum (a couple of drops: have done this various oils, including the Weleda Almond one). Also adding a drop of oil to moisturiser in the morning, depending on weather and skin dryness.
My one CON (and hence knocking this down from 5 to 4 lippies) is that I can’t use it for any length of time: at some point between a few days and a couple of weeks, skin starts to feel dry when using this stuff. Can be remedied, to some extent (i.e. so that you can actually finish the tube), by mixing in some oil. And/or using the Weleda in alternation with something else; I did this a couple of years ago with DDML. But the Almond just doesn’t cut it as a 100% reliable, dependable, daily moisturiser.
Results from the lotion: No irritation. No dryness. No oiliness. Skin feels lovely, smooth, that mythical “normal,” restored to a balanced state. It really is wonderful to be able to ignore your skin – just forget about it – not have it reminding you it’s there and irritable, grumping at you constantly.*
Recommended–at least to try–for skin happy with lighter-molecular-weight oils that score low on the irritation and comedogenicity scales. And if (this is my case) your skin is very happy indeed with mineral oil (neat, or in products), but you’re starting to feel iffy and guilty about its environmental impact, and looking to replace it with sustainable plant-source alternatives as far as possible (in my case, working first on reduction before all-out replacement).
Packaging: aluminium tube. Some don’t like it. I just squeeze and roll. When you get to the end, cut the tube and decant the remainder to a small plastic jar.
Price: about EUR/GBP 8.00-10.00 / USD 22.00 for 30 ml. (Sorry, USA – but balances out us Europeans paying twice your prices for most things …) Lasts 3 to 4 months.
UPDATE: Grumpy. Price keeps going up. I used to be able to buy Weleda with my pocket-money when I was a teenager. What’s with the world??? Now hitting department-store prices! I would still buy this again – it’s good – and it keeps its 5 lippie status – but currently favouring the cheaper (and as good) Avène skin repair cream, Tolérance extrême, and Clinique DDML.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: still love this stuff–moved back over to it again, still alternating with DDML but gradually cutting my use of it (and, thus, small quantity of petroleum by-product dependency and industry support…). The Weleda is very mild and inoffensive, which can be quite a rare thing, especially in the greener end of the market: Weleda proves that earth-friendly and human-friendly don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
INGREDIENTS:
Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Alcohol**, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Glycerin, Hydrolysed Beeswax, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid.
INGREDIENTS (cream version, previously known as “Intensive Facial Cream”):
Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Hydrolyzed Beeswax, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid.
* There may of course be other intervening factors, to be fair – health, diet, state of mind, other products used (see notepad), sleep – but my skin isn’t so contented and tough that it doesn’t still object, kicking and screaming, if I experiment with something unsuitable. Skin basically thin/fragile, irritable, prone to dry patches and spots if unhappy, cystic acne if upset/stress.
** Q. Why do some Weleda products contain alcohol?
A. In homeopathic remedies and tinctures, alcohol is traditionally used to draw out the vital life forces of a plant to create a botanical extract in a specific concentration. Alcohol is also used as a natural preservative in our formulations. Weleda uses organic grain alcohol, which is naturally derived from fermented plant sugars. We do not use Methyl or Propyl alcohol—also known as rubbing alcohol.
(from the Weleda USA website)

Weleda – Calendula Baby Lotion  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 2/20/2009 5:19:00 AM
h60_1801679.JPG.jpg

Using occasionally as a special sensory treat in the evening – including, very occasionally, as a facial moisturiser. Yes indeedy. Somewhat similar in texture, composition, and effect to Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion. I’ve been coming back to the Calendula Lotion off and on for years as a body lotion (like others here, I’m not a baby nor do I have one, but have thin sensitive skin that appreciates many baby products).
The Calendula Lotion moisturises without being greasy – though you do need to massage it in a little, gently – causes no irritation (on me, NB), and skin stays smooth and supple. That’s actually all I want: just to keep skin in good condition, and knowing that lighter simpler things work better on it thus far, through the years of experimenting on myself (and due expense).
The scent is glorious (mainly chamomile and calendula). Try before you buy, these things being personal. I happen to find it pleasant and soothing in the evening – but would be a bit much first thing in the morning; hence using this off and on in the evening.
Costs around GBP/EUR 7.00 – 9.00 or USD 13.00 for 200 ml.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Alcohol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Oleate, Calendula Officinalis Extract, Sodium Beeswax, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Geraniol*.
* from natural essential oils (i.e. naturally present in the essential oils).

Nivea – Creme  lippies1.gif gingerrama on 1/11/2009 2:47:00 PM
h60_1155066.JPG.jpg

Instantly recognizable, as it’s in a darkish blue container that just says “Nivea Creme.” A design classic. There are several sizes of tub – some plastic, some metal – and a medium-small tube. It’s cheap (even if you’re importing it from afar: most of your costs will be shipping and duties, the product itself is peanuts). A big tin will last you forever, and not go off: I’ve never used up a tin, only ever lost it or given it away.
The cream is white and creamy, quite thick. Needs to be rubbed in: it won’t just absorb on its own. It is scented, I think entirely with essential oils – and it does smell lovely and reassuring: milky, vanilla, orange, lavender, chamomile – and that archetypal “baby” scent. Maybe this smells pleasantly of baby because so many babies wear this, and it’s such an old cream that many other baby products smell like it?
4 lippies as a body cream, 1 as a facial moisturiser: It’s a classic for a reason: excellent on very dry patches, soothing, non-irritating. Excellent on feet, especially the heels. On elbows and knees. Occasionally on hands, though I found it too thick, and have several other hand-creams that (a) are easier to apply and (b) keep working for at least as long. I’ve bought it again many times over the decades for body purpose, and would never buy it for the face, as I’d never use this as a regular moisturiser. I have only ever used this on my face when in the Alps, for sticking on a layer to act as a barrier between your skin, a balaclava, and Arctic temperatures (I’d do the same with my hands, but with gloves).
I guess it would be worth trying on exceptionally dry, cracked skin. Same goes for many other creams that might more usually be deployed on hands, feet, and elbows? Or maybe as a temporary mask (i.e. wash it off after however long, 10 min or whatever). But hey, it’s entirely up to you what you do with it, as it’s your cream after all!
I’ve used Nivea Blue since I was a kid, in Europe, as it was the regular, easily available, cheap, non-irritating *body* cream on the European market. Later – and recently – mainly just used on feet. And on burns. The sort of thing you keep in your cupboard, just in case: along with first-aid stuff. And that’s the case for most people I know in Europe who have it: and for many of us, we also like it because the smell recalls childhood.
To be honest, outside the US and MUA it isn’t very common for this to be used on the face. Speaking from having bought and used this when living in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the UK; and when staying in Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, and Spain. So I’ve seen where it is placed in shops (and which shops) and how other people use it, and have some experience of how it’s talked about and, well, its general cultural perception.
I tried to think of a hypothetical reversal of the situation. A US equivalent, that’s cheap and standard for body use, AND that we don’t have here in Europe; I guess something like Gold Bond, Aquaphor, or Curel occupies the same ecological niche (and the price is more like the CVS version…)? Sorry, but that’s the approximate level of it here! Not to knock it, mind you: it’s still a classic.
And don’t shoot me if this now creates European lusts for American basics … but surely half the attaction is the lure of the exotic and less than readily available?
INGREDIENTS (European version): Water, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Glycerin, Lanolin Alcohol (Eucerit, TM), Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Parfum, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol.

Clinique – Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 1/10/2009 10:32:00 AM
h60_809885.JPG.jpg

UPDATE [02/2011]: Dry patches. Eczema. Back on this, when other marvels have failed me. Unrestrained 5 lippies. Currently using it after washing (Everyday Shea unscented body wash), toner (witch-hazel hydrosol), serum (rosehip seed oil). Mixing a couple of drops of oil in with the DDML if/as needed.
Yes, it’s yellow. It’s basic. It’s certainly old-fashioned, in that it contains nothing new-fangled.* But then again, it contains little that can irritate the sensitive-skinned amongst us.**
I used this through my 20s, and it worked. Nothing spectacular – but my skin (otherwise sensitive, fragile, irritable, intolerant, prone to bouts of dryness and spottiness…) felt fine and was basically normal. Now, that might not be enough for many people, but in my case that was fantastic.
Then I decided to experiment. Some calamities ensued. I followed fashion. My face followed suit, in its own way, expressing intense disapproval. Stability was attained with Avène Skin Recovery. Then some wisecrack decided it was time for a major price hoick, and it was back to square one: sniffing around for a suitable alternative, preferably cheaper.
I came across a sample of the old DDML. I tried it out again. And it’s still fantastic. A small squeeze does face and neck. Absorbs fast, leaves skin nice and smooth and comfortable. Looks lovely, feels it too. Lasts well all day. In drier and/or colder weather I mix in a couple of drops of oil (mineral, sunflower, safflower, etc.–more on NP).
Even in the normal shops here, the price is on a par with many other comparable moisturisers (minimal ingredient list, no fragrance, none of my other known irritants). EUR 42.00 for the 125 ml version (the pump is worth the extra few euros/bucks/quid), or EUR 30.00 for the 100 ml M-Lotion, the men’s version that’s identical (squeezy tube). Cheaper in the UK and as usual half the price in the US: 125 ml for USD 24.00, and the supersized 200 ml for USD 35.00. If you’re outside North America, worth stocking up on in airport shopping, as a compromise.
Fashion be damned. Give me gorgeous skin instead anyday: anyway, that’s all that anyone sees – your face doesn’t state what cream it’s using, how fancy it is, and how much it cost you. (Mind you, that kind of public declaration could be quite amusing.) Give it a try: if it suits you, you’ve found a moisturiser that lasts ages, is a decent price, is easy to find. Never mind fashionable, when you find (or, in my case, rediscover) a classic.
ALTERNATIVES
If you’re looking for a “greener” and cheaper version minus mineral oil–though mineral oil is good on skin (see more elsewhere), isn’t necessarily being the least green option available (quite the contrary), and there are more important ways to green one’s life: eat vegetarian, recycle, reduce energy and petrol/gasoline consumption–but hey, here’s some viable options:
1. Desert Essence Essential Daily Moisturizing Cream (slight scent)
2. Derma E Vitamine E 12,000 IU Moisturizung Crème
3. Jason vitamin E cream.
4. Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion (lighter, drier than DDML) or Cream (slightly heavier); these also contain lactic acid, so not quite as minimal.
The following do contain petrochemical derivatives and silicones, but no colours and different preservatives (more or less):
5. A-Derma Skin Care Cream
6. Avène Skin Recovery Cream/Cream for Intolerant Skin, Tolérance Extrême cream.
7. AvèneTriXéra+ Sélectiose emollient cream or balm: more moist
Clinique, by the way, don’t test on animals and were one of the first mainstream/big companied to be PETA et al. approved–like the whole of its parent group Estee Lauder (inc. Origins, Prescriptives, Lab Series, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Aveda, Darphin, Bumble & Bumble, good skin, Ojon,…
INGREDIENTS: Water, Mineral oil, Sesame oil, Propylene glycol, Tea-stearate, Gylceryl stearate, Lanolin alcohol, Petrolatum, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Yellow 5 (ci 19140), Yellow 6 (ci 15985), Red 33 (ci 17200).
* That might or might not have any scientific evidence to its working, putting to one side any weight of tradition and individual anecdotal accounts (ex. many topically-applied antioxidants).
** Where to start? Various oils; retin-A things; AHA and BHA.

Care to reply?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s