my MUA reviews: moisturisers (2011)

As with the previous post: Mix of products intended (by their manufacturers, or marketing & sales departments) at the face, and ones intended for areas below the head. Some are eye creams, some are “special targeted treatments,” serums, general-purpose balms. A few years’ worth, in reverse chronological order. First posted on MUA (and still there; I put up all new reviews there first). For more on moisturisers, see moisturiser (face)moisturiser (face): eyes and lipsmoisturiser (body), and current affairs.

 

NOW Solutions 100% pure & natural rose hip seed oil  rated 5 of 5gingerrama on 10/19/2011 4:16:00 PM

Favourite rosehip oil, and the one I’ve repurchased many times over the last couple of years.
I’ve used RHO off and on for about five years; twice daily for around about the last two years. Skin here: sensitive, dryish, prone to irritation breakouts (or, irritation as expressed as a breakout–first place is the thin skin around the nose). Used various brands. Applying it like a serum, after washing, to damp skin. About 2-3 drops for face, a similar amount for neck and throat, and a drop patted in around the eyes. More than that–can feel greasy. Then moisturiser and sunscreen on top in the morning. Evening: usually nothing over it unless my skin is really parched.
What’s the point of the stuff?
It’s a lightweight oil, easily absorbed. RHO varies enormously from brand to brand; many can be quite dry. Still, nowhere near as dry as something like grapeseed. The NOW RHO is at the less-dry end of the spectrum. Like any oil, it will moisturise. It’s fairly well-tolerated on quite a range of skin types and conditions. Not all, no guarantees, YMMV, do research reviews and other online resources to see if it seems likely to suit *your* very individual skin.
Main point of the stuff: antioxidants, especially retinol, plus essential fatty acids. Very high in vitamin C and A; A as retinol: the only plant-sourced oil to contain vit A, otherwise found in many animal fats, like fish oils. Useful for dealing with photodamage, retinol helping with cell regeneration/turnover, collagen renewal, elastin levels. Great if you can’t use any other forms of vitamin A without massive skin reaction. General skin food: linoleic acid or omega-6, and linolenic acid or omega-3: good for moisture, repair, soothing and smoothing, especially on more sensitive and eczematic skin.
Can be eaten too–or drunk in the form of rosehip tea–indeed, as many benefits from ingestion as from topical application (if not more).
Effects and results:
Skin smoother, more even, firm.
No irritation, feels soothed. May be increasing skin resilience (and may “toughen” it up slightly–in the case of thin fragile skin, this is a great thing)
Helps moisture levels (in my case, in combination with moisturiser and sunscreen on top).
May help reduce scarring; also used for stretch-marks.
Main types of RHO:
1. Unrefined, cold-pressed, made from the whole fruit: : most RHO on the market is this type, from cheap (Garden of Wisdom etc.) to very expensive (Trilogy etc.).
2. Unrefined, cold-pressed, seeds only: ex. Melvita
3. Unrefined, whole-fruit, but different manufacturing process, CO2 extraction: ex. Pai Organics
4. Unrefined, CO2 extraction, seed only: ex. A’Kin
5. Refined, seed only, like the NOW one.
+ see the MUA reviews in “unlisted brand” for “rosehip seed oil” for some brand comparisons.
Pros and cons:
Oil extracted from the whole fruit (vs. just the seed) = more sterols and carotenoids, compared to seed-only. But: YMMV on skin tolerance. And goes off very fast, cos of that squashed fruit part of it… Needs refrigeration and, even refrigerated, to be used up fast. If not, if it goes off, watch out for bacteria and mould (and applying them to skin). Also, on that antioxidant business? As with anything else, most of the research has been done on ingestion rather than topical application, and, roughly speaking, you’ll get most benefits from consuming the stuff rather than slapping it on skin.
CO2 extraction vs. cold-pressing: more stable, doesn’t oxidise, kills all bugs dead, longer life. Better solution if you’re going the whole-fruit route. But: expensive.
Refined from seed: same benefits as CO2 extraction, better-tolerated on sensitive skin, longer-lasting, and cheaper.
If you’ve had issues with RHO before, try this. Should be +/- odourless. Very light yellowish shade, nearly colourless. I’ve found NOW to be pretty regularly available in health-food stores and online. Some bottles smell slightly of rosemary; not to worry, doesn’t seem to make any difference. A mystery to me, as this stuff claims to contain nothing besides RHO & refinement usually entails less odour.
Cost: CAD 10.50 / 1 oz (30 ml), online from USD 4.00 / 1 oz (not including shipping costs). I’ve put this as a 2 for price, though relative to other RHO, it’s more like a 1.
Packaging: amber glass bottle (good), silly dropper and screw-cap (crap). I replaced the top with a pump-dispenser. Minimises air getting in, can be held in one hand, minimises risk of dropping glass bottle on floor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that sort of thing regularly.
INGREDIENTS: refined rose hip oil (rosa mosqueta)

Shi Kai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Eye Cream  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 8/3/2011 5:38:00 PM

Thoroughly good eye cream, recommended for the sensitive, thin, fragile, and dryish of skin. Contains borage (starflower) oil, which is high in EFA and GLA, and good on eczema and some other irritating skin conditions. Being what led me (eczematic, irritable) to the borage dry skin remedy range in the first place.
Other main active moisturising ingredients: water, jojoba oil, glycerin, shea butter, cyclomethicone. Cruelty-free, fragrance-free.
It’s a deceptively lightweight lotion-cream. Fluid, without being runny and watery. Easy to apply: the squeezy plastic tube being nice and practical (no great shakes on pretty packaging, but probably also part of the branding: this is functional stuff). Squeeze a dab out on to a finger-tip, rub that finger-tip against another one from the other hand, dab around eyes plus a little bit on eyelids, pat and press in. Sinks in well and fast. Retains moisture very well: this is noticeable when using the stuff overnight.
Application: I’ve been using this morning and evening for a few months now. Applied to damp skin, on top of a dab of rosehip oil. Morning: followed by sunscreen. If skin is very desiccated, or in dry weather: followed by a layer of something stronger: shea butter, lip balm (Badger unscented is good for this: mainly olive & castor oils, beeswax), a heavier cream. Other things would do much the same job–butters, waxes, petroleum jelly, etc.
Now, I should explain that I’m not asking much of an eye cream, or indeed any other cream that I use / repurpose around the eyes. Just to hydrate and moisturise, keep moisture there, stay where it’s put, not interfere with sunscreen or makeup, and not irritate. If it must insist on running into eyes–there’s no need, but migration does often happen overnight–I don’t mind so long as I don’t notice.
I’ve also used a number of other products in that same borage range, and tried them out on various parts of anatomy. The hand cream works around the eyes too, as a richer cream, usually overnight as it’s not great under makeup (used it last winter, feels much the same as my beloved old Allergenics emollient balm). The unscented original-formula lotion is tolerable around the eyes, though never really quite sinks in: no great shakes. The 24 Hour Face Cream was not good around the eyes: odd combination of feeling greasy then feeling too dry. Weird, as its ingredients are very like those in the eye cream version–minus the liquorice and cucumber extracts, plus some avocado oil–so there I was thinking that it would be a real deal, twice the size of tube for a similar price…
Comparable eye creams: the texture is very like Avène’s soothing eye cream; the Boots, Superdrug, and Simple basic eye creams; Derma E pycnogenol one, Trilogy, Dr.Hauschka, Clarins Baume and Baume Spécial, and a bunch of others. The effect is more moisturising: overnight, as good as much heavier creams (Clarins total eye contour thingie, Börlind LL Regeneration, etc.).
Cost: peanuts. USD 10.00-15.00 for 0.5 oz / 15 ml. Available in some US drugstores and supermarkets, otherwise online. Canada: not seen in shops here, I’ve bought it online; check Google for current best prices inc. shipping.
INGREDIENTS: Water, Borage (Borago Officinalis) Seed Oil, Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii) Fruit, Tocopherol Acetate, Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus) Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclomethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (licorice root extract), Diazolidinyl Urea, Ethylhexylglycerin 

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 7/13/2011 2:59:00 PM

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This is one of the two rosehip oils that I used regularly; the other is NOW (refined, cheap). The Pai one is unrefined, organic, soil-association certified (UK organic standard). Made from the whole fruit rather than just the seed, which provides higher levels of antioxidants. Unlike most oils on the market, it’s not cold-pressed, but CO2-extracted: more stable, doesn’t oxidise, kills all bugs dead, longer life. Contains some vit. E for extra antioxidant effect and as a preservative; derived from sunflower seeds rather than wheatgerm, reducing the probability of reactions (folks with wheat allergies) to a minimum.

I’ve used RHO off and on for about five years, twice daily for about the last two; currently using the Pai or NOW. Skin here: sensitive, dryish, prone to irritation breakouts (or, irritation as expressed as a breakout–first place is the thin skin around the nose).

It’s a lightweight–quite dry–oil, easily absorbed. About the same texture as hazelnut oil. Orange, more viscous than refined oil, less so (and less dense, heavy-feeling) than other unrefined whole-fruit oils.

Smells like rosehip tea; like other rosehip oils, there’s an earthy-nutty-fruity note, not pungently sweet, and not rankly fish though there may be some fishiness to the scent, as is often the case with omega fatty acids (borage and evening primrose have this nose-note too). If the oil smells like “high” fish, like such a fish, it’s off.

Application: like a serum, after washing, to damp skin. Like many RHOs, the Pai is in a glass dropper-bottle; in this case, a clear slightly frosted bottle, with a white top. Drop oil out into palm of (clean) other hand, then either rub palms together and pat into skin using both whole hands, or else dip fingers into little pool of oil in palm, rub finger-tips of both hands together, and use them to dot on the oil. Use about 2-3 drops for face, a similar amount for neck and throat, and a drop patted on and pressed in around the eyes. More than that, and it can feel greasy. Then moisturiser and sunscreen on top in the morning. Evening: usually nothing over it, unless my skin is really parched.

Like any oil, RHO (of any sort) will moisturise. It’s fairly well-tolerated on quite a range of skin types and conditions. Not all, YMMV, do research reviews and other online resources to see if it seems likely to sit *your* very individual skin; if in doubt, I’d recommend starting with a cheap refined one–most reliable I’ve found on sensitive skin.
Main point of RHO: antioxidants, especially accessible retinol, plus essential fatty acids. Very high in vitamin C and A (as retinol; the only plant-sourced oil to contain vit A, which you’ll otherwise find in many animal fats, ex. fish oils). Useful for dealing with photodamage, retinol helping with cell regeneration/turnover, collagen renewal, elastin levels. Given that I can’t use any other forms of vitamin A without massive skin reaction, this stuff is a godsend. General skin food: linoleic acid or omega-6, and linolenic acid or omega-3: good for moisture, repair, soothing and smoothing, especially on more sensitive and eczematic skin. Oil extracted from the whole fruit (vs just the seed) is supposed to have twice the sterols and five times the carotenoids.

Effects and results:
—Skin smoother, more even, firm.
—No irritation, indeed feels soothed.
—May be increasing skin resilience (and may “toughen” it up slightly–in the case of thin fragile skin, this is a great thing)
—Helps moisture levels (in my case, in combination with moisturiser and sunscreen on top).
—May help reduce scarring; can also used for stretch-marks.

Price: CAD34.21 / USD35.00 / GBP20.00 / EUR24.00 for 1 oz.=30 ml (+ shipping); available in some boutiquey places and online, Pai’s own site being the cheapest (taking shipping costs into account), and has fabulous customer service (not affiliated: just one very impressed customer).
A’Kin (and various others in Australia and New Zealand) uses the same CO2-extraction process, but just the seeds rather than the whole fruit. Pricier than Pai, similar prices to Trilogy (plus shipping costs).
While it’s more expensive than the cheapest oils around that tick all the same boxes except the processing one, I do think it’s worth the difference: once a cold-pressed oil has been shipped out here to the wild west, and/or sat on a shelf for some time in between, it’s got a very short lifespan; many have already gone rancid by the time I’ve opened them, and others will typically last 2 weeks at most, even refrigerated. Having had some rather unpleasant reactions to off oils, I’d rather avoid that–better for the wallet too.

INGREDIENTS: co2 extracted rosehip fruit oil*, co2 extracted rosehip seed oil*, natural vitamin e
*Certified Organic. Soil Association Certified. Suitable for Vegans

evanhealy – Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum  lippies2.gif gingerrama on 7/10/2011 3:52:00 PM

Tested out samples of both versions, thanks to a generous MUAer; I’m afraid that, while the packaging and scent are exquisite, these are a no for me.

There are two versions of the Evan Healy Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum–to give it its full name. Both have rosehip seed oil as a main ingredient, but note that this is not rosehip oil plain and simple. Both also contain carrot seed oil (another decent source of vitamin A), and some essential oils (which have aromatherapeutic claims: up to you on that business). Neither version worked as well on my skin as rosehip oil does; indeed, the Blue version set off allergic sneezing (that would be the lavender).

The Blue version also contains blue chamomile, immortelle, and lavender essential oils. All add scent (alas, I’m quite allergic to lavender); blue (German) chamomile and immortelle (everlasting) are decent soothers & anti-inflammatory; my skin’s fine with them.

The Rose version also contains geranium, rosewood, and sandalwood EOs; adding scent. Does nothing for me, and as a sensitive-skinned and -nosed person, I prefer unscented skincare anyway and see no need to add EOs willy-nilly. Tougher hides may beg leave to differ, and those with different approaches to the use and abuse of scent in everyday life may well delight in the added scent… this just isn’t my thing, and I’d advise caution to any other sensitive, irritable folks out there.
If you like the sound of these scents, and know they’re fine on your skin, and indeed maybe prefer your products to be scented: go for it!

PRICE: USD 24.95 / 0.5 fl oz (15 ml), plus shipping. Note for comparison that plain organic unrefined rosehip seed oil is available from various places online from around USD 5.00-7.00 / 1 fl oz (i.e. between 1/8 and 1/10 of the price), and if you really wanted the scent, you could add that and make up your own version for considerably less.

INGREDIENTS:
Blue: Rose hip seed oil (Rosa canina seed); essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia maillette), blue chamomile (Matricaria recutica), immortelle (Helichrysum italicum), carrot seed (Daucus carota), and vitamin E (tocopherol).
Rose: Rose hip seed oil (Rosa canina seed); essential oils of rose geranium (Pelargonium roseum asperum), rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), carrot seed (Daucus carota), sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) Australia, and vitamin E (tocopherol).

Rosehip seed oil  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 7/9/2011 8:16:00 PM

Used off and on for about five years; twice daily for around about the last two years. Skin here: sensitive, dryish, prone to irritation breakouts (or, irritation as expressed as a breakout–first place is the thin skin around the nose). Used various brands along the way; see further down for specifics. Applying it like a serum, after washing, to damp skin. About 2-3 drops for face, a similar amount for neck and throat, and a drop patted in around the eyes. More than that, and it can feel greasy. Then moisturiser and sunscreen on top in the morning. Evening: usually nothing over it, unless my skin is really parched.

What’s the point of the stuff?
It’s a lightweight oil, easily absorbed. Like any oil, it will moisturise. It’s fairly well-tolerated on quite a range of skin types and conditions. Not all, YMMV, do research reviews and other online resources to see if it seems likely to sit *your* very individual skin.

Main point: antioxidants, especially retinol, plus essential fatty acids. Very high in vitamin C and A (as retinol; the only plant-sourced oil to contain vit A, which you’ll otherwise find in many animal fats, ex. fish oils). Useful for dealing with photodamage, retinol helping with cell regeneration/turnover, collagen renewal, elastin levels. Given that I can’t use any other forms of vitamin A without massive skin reaction, this stuff is a godsend. General skin food: linoleic acid or omega-6, and linolenic acid or omega-3: good for moisture, repair, soothing and smoothing, especially on more sensitive and eczematic skin. Oil extracted from the whole fruit (vs just the seed), is supposed to have twice the sterols and five times the carotenoids.

Can be eaten too–or drunk in the form of rosehip tea–indeed, as many benefits from ingestion as from topical application (if not more).

Effects and results:
Skin smoother, more even, firm.
No irritation, indeed feels soothed. May be increasing skin resilience (and may “toughen” it up slightly–in the case of thin fragile skin, this is a great thing)
Helps moisture levels (in my case, in combination with moisturiser and sunscreen on top).
May help reduce scarring; also used for stretch-marks.

1. Refined: what I prefer: better-tolerated on sensitive skin, longer-lasting, and cheaper. If you’ve had issues with RHO before, try this. Should be more or less odourless. A very light yellowish shade, nearly colourless.
—NOW brand, bought in Whole Foods: some bottles smell slightly of rosemary; not to worry, doesn’t seem to make any difference (it’s the preservative).

2. Unrefined, cold-pressed, and made from whole fruit: NBBB YMMV. Short shelf-life, goes off quickly (it’ll smell and skin will , should be kept refrigerated; warm the requisite small quantity between hands before use. Best to buy little and often from a supplier with a rapid turnover; resist the temptation to buy greater quantities even though they’re a lower price by volume… Be careful buying online, especially at warmer times of year, as the oil is so, well, fragile that it can be damaged through temperature changes (especially higher ones) in transit. As is normal, to be fair, unless it’s being transported like a biological specimen, which would render the cost prohibitive.

Should smell slightly earthy-nutty-fruity, not pungently sweet, and not rankly fish though there may be some fishiness to the scent, as is often the case with omega fatty acids (borage and evening primrose have this nose-note too). Colours range from deep amber to near-red, most are in the orange range. Textures vary: some are heavier.

Some folks may prefer to have completely utterly pure oil with no preservatives. Unfortunately, this is hard to juggle with the oil’s fragility, even if buying very little–say, weekly. If that’s your cup of tea (same goes for organic/not), check with manufacturers before ordering.

—Garden of Wisdom, Mountain Rose Herbs, Lotioncrafter, some Etsy sellers (online: prices vary considerably): cheapest. But short shelf-life.
—Some other more widely-available ones: but beware breakouts, short life and rapid rancidity, and costing USD20.00 – 40.00 – and even more!!! per ounce: Aubrey Organics, Neal’s Yard, Kosmea, Primavera, Sukin, Trilogy, various Etsy sellers, etc.
—Of these, the most easily findable ones are Trilogy–in some boutiquey places and online–& Aubrey Organics–in health-food/eco-stores (also online), cheaper than Trilogy.

3. Unrefined, whole-fruit, but different manufacturing process–CO2 extraction:
—Pai (online, some boutiques): more expensive, but longer life, more stable, doesn’t oxidise. Orange, more viscous than refined, less so (and less dense, heavy-feeling) than other unrefined whole-fruit oils. Contains some vit. E (sunflower) for extra antioxidant effect and as a preservative. Smells like rosehip tea. This is the only unrefined (and organic, etc.) one that I’ve found tolerable and can use longer-term. That’s my skin, not the oil 🙂

4. Not tried (not sold here, US shipping doubles price), good reviews:
—Melvita: organic cold-pressed seed oil +vit. E
—A’Kin uses the same CO2-extraction process, but just he seeds rather than the whole fruit. Similar prices to Trilogy (plus shipping costs). +Lots from other cos. in Australia & New Zealand.

Sample prices:
—NOW (refined): CAD 10.50 / 1 oz (30 ml), online from USD 4.00 / 1 oz (not including shipping costs).
—GoW etc. (unrefined, online): USD 5.65 / 1 oz.
—Pai (unrefined, online): USD 35.00 / 1 oz.
If it’s plain unrefined cold-pressed–most RHO sold is–and costs more than that, you’re being ripped off +/or paying for packaging. Beware organic-washing: ex. GoW are organic yet still keep price decent. Organic may be worth choosing for ethical reasons (environment) but no evidence for any difference in topical application to skin.

Dr. Hauschka – Eye Solace  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 4/24/2011 4:04:00 PM

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This is a watery lotion, containing various herbal extracts (eyebright, fennel seed, woundwort, chamomile, tea, rose-petal oil). Available in a 50 ml pack (ten plastic vials) or, slightly more expensive by volume, single 5 ml vials. The latter are useful for travel, or as I did, for trying the stuff out.
Intended use: shake vial, twist off top, empty out content onto 2 cotton pads.* The box comes with ten of them–they’re basically thick-ish cotton wool pads. Apply wet compresses to eyes. Sit back and relax for ten minutes.
How I use it: shake vial, apply a few drops to fingertips–this is slightly tricky and requires dexterity–then pat into skin around eyes: under, around, lids. That enables one to get, by my count, four uses out of a vial; that’s two days’ worth, morning and evening.
Benefits: mainly from the eyebright solution: soothes, revives, refreshes, calms irritation and inflammation.
Quibble/grumble: in the field of soothing ten-minute eye-masks, one can achieve a similar effect with several massively monumentally cheaper alternative methods. The application of anything cool and wet to the eye area: will constrict blood vessels, move them away from the skin surface, physically reduce inflammation. And feel nice and cooling and calming. Some examples:
—water: out a tap, out of a bottle, fancier spray-can versions (I like Avène for this)
—tea-bags, run under cool water then squeezed out. With added benefits of caffeine. I often use a mix of black and chamomile tea, in reusable bags (those little muslin ones, often sold in delis and cookery shops–often intended for single-use, for stews and wine-mulling), as 10-minute eye masks.
—eyebright solution, and assorted other decoctions (chamomile, rose-flower, etc.).
So why did I buy this Eye Solace, and why will I buy it again: not as a mask, but for use as a solution dabbed around the eyes. Its first and principal ingredient is eyebright extract in aqueous solution; and in allergy season, one of the only substances that blinkingwell works on my eyes is eyebright. Used two ways. I have some precious eye drops, that are fiendishly expensive here, and which I stock up on every time I’m back in Europe; likewise for eyebright solution for application to the eye area, rather than the eyes themselves. I used this solution all the time in Europe, where even the Weleda version is pretty cheap. (I do use it on compresses occasionally, if allergies are very very bad.)
It’s been difficult, however, to find plain simple sterile eyebright solution here in Vancouver, and what (little) is available is at an astonishingly outrageous price. Even though Dr.Hauschka stuff is very expensive–especially here, after all the shipping and customs charges–the Eye Solace is still the cheapest way to buy a water/eyebright solution in Vancouver. As a temporary stop-gap measure.**
The price? For 50 ml (10 x 5 ml), USD 33.00, CAD 38.00 plus tax. For one 5 ml vial, CAD 5.00. Like other DrH stuff, cruelty-free, and these ones are vegan.
INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua, Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract,Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Alcohol, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria/German Chamomile) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea) Leaf Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil (Rose Essential Oil)
* For this Eye Solace stuff, you can use any cotton-wool pads, or other cotton cloths of the right weave and texture. If I were to use it as an eye-mask, as intended by Dr.Hauschka, I’d use my DIY reusable cotton pads: made out of old cotton jersey underwear; each pad used once, then put in laundry; I made a stack of them, and just wash them all at the end of the week–used for makeup removal and any other usual cotton-wool pad purpose.
** This is an interrim solution. There’s a fair number available of eyebright supplements to take orally; they’re not liquid extract and you can’t apply them to the eye area (being ground-up plant in a capsule). They’re not exactly cheap, but would work out a lot cheaper than Dr.H if one were to open up (a) capsule(s) and use the contents to make up an eyebright decoction, cool it, and keep it in the refrigerator. The experimental stage would include testing out quantities, concentrations, and brewing times.
EXCEPT THAT: needs to be sterile; and eyebright can do damage if not used or prepared properly. So for the time being, seeing as how I don’t have a lab at home, nor the time (or money) to set one up properly… it’ll be this Eye Solace stuff for me. PM me of course if you find a cheaper solution to the solution problem, either available here in Vancouver or online in Canada (or online in the US, so long as the shipping charges and import duties aren’t insane).

Dr. Hauschka – Eye Contour Day Balm  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 4/19/2011 1:47:00 PM

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Warning: will wax eloquent about, well, wax. This stuff is actually actively good. I am surprised, shocked, bemused, and mystified.* I’d dismissed Dr.H’s balm out of hand for years as just overhyped repackaged lipbalm. I’ve used lipbalms as undereye creams, including the Dr.H one; and I’ve been using straight-up shea butter for some time.
I should add, though, that I’m not convinced this stuff works better than shea butter; which is cheaper (my usual=L’Occitane refined).
What was I thinking? Decided to try this out, on a whim. Splurging a refund (once I’d done virtuous things like upping monthly charity donations for the next year, and treated myself to some fancier-than-usual chocolate). Skin in good condition at the moment, been stable for a while, so I reckoned it was time to play around and risk messing it up. I started the experiment just before blossom/pollen season struck, so I’ve also been able to see how this new stuff coped with challenging circumstances.
The Eye Contour Day Balm is a waxy balm in a pot. 10g worth. Very little is needed: rub between fingertips, pat around the eye–underneath, orbital bone, round to the outer corners, any other dry areas–then pat in. Texture-wise, slightly lighter and finer than shea butter, though without being drier (ex. compare grapeseed oil to olive). Sinks in fast. Doesn’t need to be topped up during the day.
I’m using the Eye Contour over rosehip seed oil; during the day, under sunscreen. I rarely wear makeup under my eyes, but when I do (a concealer) it sits well on top. Mascara doesn’t migrate (though I’m using waterproof anyway, so not usually an issue). Disobeying Dr. H’s finger-wagging, using this morning and night: though just a teeny tiny bit at night, and slightly more in the morning. My skin is dry, dries out at night, and definitely needs at least some moisture then (yes, I’ve tried the full rhythmic thingie; did not work for me, sorry).
Results to report: no irritation, no clogs, no milia. Skin is moist. Skin is very comfortable. No issues with stuff migrating into eyes, even overnight, and resulting in irritation, swelling, soreness, stinging, etc. But this was also true of other eye creams, and of shea butter, which is considerably cheaper.
Huge pro: those crusty bits I usually get under my left eye–no idea why this hits one eye worse than they other–in allergy/hayfever season ARE NOT THERE. Gone. What usually happens: my eyes water and my skin (around the eyes) gets itchy; then eyes water over skin right under the eyes; liquid dries to crust; this then gets red and itchy, and pulls on the surrounding skin, then dries out more and gets flaky. So on a bad day there’s irritation and inflammation and dryness, then the same again layered on top. I’d tried plenty balms to try to get round this problem, including good old Vaseline, and this stuff works the best so far. In that I am crust and flake free. I also take antihistamines and wear sunglasses at this time of year. Otherwise, I love spring, I do.
Eczema had returned a while back, then calmed down, and my eyelids are still a little flaky. Any emollient does at least a temporary patch-job of sticking down the flakies. Eye Contour did that too, but then when I washed my face–being careful as usual not to rip off flaky bits (raw skin is neither visually pleasing not pleasant to live with)–found the flakes are more than temporarily stuck down. This didn’t happen overnight; difference observed after three nights.
Another pro, some might call it major: Little undereye lines are gone. Yes, I try not to obsess, but I am vain and I don’t like seeing those little lines… though they would appear to be dehydration lines, I’m guessing, as they wouldn’t disappear this fast (or at all) with just a topical emollient, if they were permanent wrinkles. Only solutions for them being the classics of retinaldehydes and surgery. But: these lines are gone. Skin just feels smooth and comfortable. Not greasy, but normal. That is very welcome at any time, and particularly at this time of year.
Packaging: small pot/jar with screw-top lid. Really the only way of dispensing thick waxy balms, to the best of my knowledge. Hygiene quibbles? Wash your hands before poking finger into it.
Cons (jar aside): other things (ex. shea butter) do the same job as well and are cheaper. I’m not sufficiently convinced to swear that I’d buy the Dr.H balm religiously. Indeed (update: 2011-05) broke jar when travelling, have replaced it with a return to shea butter.
CAD45.00-50.00 depending on supplier. Like all Dr.H stuff, cruelty-free. Not vegan, due to the beeswax. The little pot should last a good long time. While pricey, it’s a lot cheaper than doctor appointments, prescriptions, and the expense of experimenting with stuff that doesn’t work. Count me a hesitant convert, albeit remaining sceptical and suspicious, and a convert for all the wrong reasons: pragmatic and rational, rather than belief.**
INGREDIENTS: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Oil, Beeswax/Cera Flava, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Hypericum Perforatum (St. John’swort) Extract, Silk/Serica Powder, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil), Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Eugenol, Farnesol, Lecithin.
* Emphasizing: I don’t mystify easily: being a sceptical sort, capable of reading ingredient lists, and having some scientific knowledge and basic training…
** Rhythmic, bio-rhythmic, biodynamic, and other holistic assorted beliefs and practices and cultivation and production methods

Garden of Wisdom – Oat Enriched Facial Serum  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 4/6/2011 5:02:00 PM
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On my 2nd bottle: have been using this off and on for a little over 2 months, so enough time to have ascertained that it doesn’t do any harm and seems to do some good–or at least contribute to good. So it’s time to review.
This is an odourless water-based serum; various sorts of oat in colloidal solution, plus seamollient, honey, preservative. Full product information here
http://www.gardenofwisdom.com/catalog/item/7023619/7061952.htm
and, for comparison, GoW’s full list of “Healing and Soothing Products”
(you may need to click “continue” to activate links).
How to use: on skin, as GoW wisely say, in the water-stage of your skincare. Needs a good shake before use. I use it on face, eye area, neck, throat down to bosom. Either applying it mixed with witch-hazel hydrosol after washing, or patting a couple of drops in after the witch (all this followed by rosehip oil, DDML, shea butter or vaseline on dry patches and undereye+corners area, sunscreen in day). I’ve also been using it locally on other eczematic areas–insides of wrists and other joints. And using it when flying: none of my usual combination of breakouts and cracky dryness during and afterwards.
Skin type here: thin, fragile, irritable, reactive, off-and-on eczematic, sensitive; slightly dry.
I first tried this out as I’d been using a lot of A-Derma products (oat-based) and they were becoming hard to find locally; so I looked around for other oat-based things. The search became more necessary as my skin was going into more eczematic mode, and oaty stuff is on my list of Things That Help (oatmeal baths for starters). Eczema return possibly triggered and more certainly exacerbated by increase in stress over last few months–bereavement, work, less sleep, more conferences, several more international trips half-way round the world, cumulative jet-lag that must surely be going to kick in with a vengeance any day now.
Results to report: zero irritation; soothing; skin moist; eczema under control, as of time of writing pretty much gone. Now, I can’t in all honesty and scientific exactitude blame this serum: but it’s part of a set of products that are working well and doing good. I did try not using it, and while I didn’t shrivel up and die, I did notice that skin felt better–more comfortable, smoother, sleeker–when using it. So it gets an unreserved thumbs up.
Available from Garden of Wisdom online. Cruelty-free. $19.30 for 1 oz, $6.05 for a 0.25 oz mini, good for trying out or travel, plus shipping (reasonable, and superb customer service). Honest price for what it is, given the ingredients and that this kind of serum is tricky to make. The only comparable product I’ve found–minimalist formula, no extra unnecessary fluff, decent company, fair prices–is Silk Naturals’ oatmeal serum (cheaper, thicker, but has sea kelp). A-Derma also has a water-based oaty spray.
INGREDIENTS: Distilled Water – Seamollient – Fermented Oat Extract – Oat Beta Glucans – Honey – Cromoist [hydrolyzed oats] – Panthenol B-5 – Co2 Oat Extract – Optiphen
Silk Naturals Oatmeal Hydrating Serum, for comparison: $9.95/2oz or $1.00/5ml. INGREDIENTS: Distilled Water, White Tea Extract, Licorice Extract, Tamarind Seed Extract, Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate, Hydrolyzed Oats, Sodium PCA, Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Panthenol
A-Derma Epithéliale spray, for comparison (NB info found online, not seen in the flesh): €10.00-12.00 / 75 ml. INGREDIENTS: Aqua, Dimethyl Ether, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Avena Sativa (oat) kernel oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Panthenol, Propylene Glycol, Retinyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben.

A-Derma Sensiphase Eye Cream  lippies4.gif gingerrama on 4/6/2011 3:46:00 PM
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Original name: A-Derma (=company) Sensiphase Crème apaisante contour des yeux. Peaux sensibles et réactives.
Decent basic bland light unscented eye gel-cream: no irritation, somewhat hydrating, nice and soothing on reactive skin. Does more or less what it says on the packet–suited to the fine, fragile, often very sensitive eye-area skin; (might) diminishes sensitivity/reactivity; soothes feelings of discomfort; (unsure) decongests, (yes) hydrates, provides suppleness and softness. Same pH as tears (so doesn’t sting if runs into eyes). No perfume or alcohol. Tested (as per EU standards) under dermatologist and ophthalmologist supervision, inc. on contact-lens wearers. Otherwise not much to write home about.
Rough comparison: Rather like the Avène soothing eye cream, but more watery and with slightly different ingredients: no squalane and TEA, but with oat extracts. Same parent company (Pierre Fabre).
I’ve been generous in giving this a 4–hesitated: more like a 3.5, bonus for being inoffensive. I would buy it again, at a pinch, but just not very impressed. Might be moist enough on its own for oilier or “younger” (ahem) skins, or can be layered with other things around the eyes. There are several other eye creams out there that look and feel similar: the Avène one, a bunch from Clarins, Simple, the Body Shop, and (UK & Ireland) Boots, Superdrug, supermarket own-brands. I’ve found a regular face cream works at least as well, having tested out side by side; currently taking a layering approach to eye cream, works better than any single eye cream I’ve found so far.*
Available in pharmacies etc. in the EU and Québec, rarely seen elsewhere, otherwise online. Costs around €10-15 / 15 ml tube (+shipping). Cruelty-free, but well tested on sensitive humans.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum) , PEG – 12, Sucrose Stearate, Phenyl Trimethicone Hydrolyzed Oats, Methyl Gluceth – 20, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Propylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate.
* Current (2011-04) régime:
1. clean skin
2. witch-hazel hydrosol all over (face, eyes), leaving skin damp
3. rosehip seed oil especially in undereye area, applied like serum
4. moisturiser all over (Clinique DDML)
5. shea butter on lips and eye area (under eyes, corners) plus any other dry patches
6. sunscreen: Vanicream SPF 60 (the regular face one) around eyes, other sunscreen elsewhere.
If drier or being eczematic, I may tweak:
–add a couple of drops of oil between 3. and 4. (mineral, sunflower, safflower, jojoba, almond, borage–especially borage if eczematic)
–add layer of Garden of Wisdom oat serum between 2. and 3.

L’Occitane – 100% Pure Shea Butter  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 2/28/2011 3:59:00 PM

Excellent general-purpose balm, for use on any dry areas: use as you would any other all-purpose balm or Vaseline. Also: best eye cream I’ve used in quite a while.
This is an unscented refined shea butter, with a smooth creamy texture, white, packaged in a tin. There are two regular tin sizes (and occasional specials etc.): very small, and very large. I’d recommend the very small one for starters, then moving up to the big one (and decanting into the small one for carrying around during the day). L’Occitane also make tinted versions for lips and scented ones for hands and body, aside from the plethora of shea-based face, body, hand, foot, and hair products. The Mom & Baby balm is also strongly recommended, is slightly cheaper, and is easier to work with. Their shea butter is fair trade, and was–to the best of my knowledge–the first such cooperative / collaborative shea butter available in Europe, decades ago; around about the same time as The Body Shop started similar supply arrangements.
No, this is not the same stuff as unrefined all-natural virgin etc. shea butter, the kind that is a yellowy-browny colour, in blocks and slabs. And is much cheaper, and regularly available in health-food stores (Whole Foods etc.) and markets, often directly from suppliers in West Africa. There’s a lot to be said for direct trade, and for that kind of shea butter.
But the two are not interchangeable: depends on your skin. I can use the unrefined variety on hands, feet, elbows, knees, and especially as a cuticle cream. It’s absolutely brilliant there, even when my skin is very dry. But it’s been a disaster on my face, especially around the eyes and on lips: irritation. It’s also been no good on dry flaky eczema patches (insides of wrists and other joints, neck): there again, the refined one produces no reactions whereas the unrefined one exacerbates the red bumpy aspect of my eczema.
Now, I’m in my late 30s, and starting to get more laugh-lines, under-eye wrinkles, and general signs of expression and life (if not necessarily wisdom); as well as noticeably drier undereye. Some blueness underneath (thin skin) and some bagginess if not enough sleep (more sleep and applying frozen peas in the morning seem to sort that out!).
The other big plus about L’Occitane’s refined shea butter is that it’s nothing short of amazing around the eyes. Using it usually at night, sometimes also in the morning if the weather’s dry/drying. It leaves that very fine thin skin lovely, smooth, moist the next morning; and it’s the best thing I’ve used around my eyes so far. Application: on clean damp skin, I pat in a drop or two of rosehip seed oil, then a tiny amount of my regular face moisturiser, then a dab of the shea butter. Scooped out–very little is needed–and rubbed between finger-tips to warm it, then smoothed over skin and patted in. I just apply it n the under-eye area: from the inner corners by the nose, round to the temples, staying within the orbital bone / socket area: right up to the lash-line, but not down to the cheek-bones.
No irritation, no migratory breakouts on cheeks, no movement into eyes (or at least no blurry vision or other discernible traces). During the day, I’m not wearing much in the way of makeup: sunscreen on top, and no interference with mascara and undereye concealer to report.
I’ve also used it as a lip-balm, especially in dry cold weather.
I’m still using the unrefined shea butter too, but just on dry body parts; and L’Occitane’s refined one for eyes and lips, and eczema patches. (NB my eczema isn’t very bad right now, mainly under control, but can worsen fast; skin in general is fine/structurally thin, fragile, sensitive, irritable, slightly dry–basically the classic redhead state of affairs…)
Cruelty-free, fair trade, recyclable aluminium tin. Costs CAD10.00 / USD9.00 / EUR5.00 / GBP5.50 for 8 ml and CAD45.00 / USD39.00 / EUR27.50 / GBP 24.00 for 150 ml. I’ve found that one small tin, used daily on eyes and lips, lasts at least 6 months; this makes it a bargain buy compared to eye-creams of similar texture (and often based on shea butter anyway).

Weleda – Everon Cold Cream  lippies5.gif gingerrama on 1/11/2011 10:13:00 PM
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This is now called COLD CREAM–used to be called Everon Face Balm (and Cold Cream in many parts of Europe).
One of Weleda’s best products: a splendid cream for use on any and all exposed skin in cold weather, and as a rich night moisturiser. Makes an excellent hand-cream: as good as Skin Food or the baby Calendula face balm (both of which contain lanolin–so if you’re avoiding it, try the Cold Cream?), better than their creams labelled as hand creams, and less scented than any of the above.
Can also be used (like any other heavier cream) on the face, neck, etc. as an extra layer of protection when braving sub-zero temperatures. (Their other outstanding thing, IMHE, is also well-suited to winter weather: the lovely Everon Lip Balm.)
I’ve also used it on my face, year-round, for extra moisture on dry patches.
Minimalist stuff: it’s mainly the sweet almond oil and beeswax that are doing the work. Smells mild, slightly like a less sweet version of Turkish delight (that would be rose oil at a guess).
Costs around CAD14-18, USD 15-17 for a 30 ml tube. I knocked a lippie off (on packaging) for the cap: a flip-top would be better than the current screw-on version. As with other Weleda products, cruelty-free, ethically sourced, sustainably produced. Not vegan (beeswax).
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Oil, Beeswax (Cera Flava), Glyceryl Linoleate, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Hectorite, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*.
* from natural essential oils

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