skincare updates

Not so much "teaching granny to suck eggs" as children and grand-children: educational poster for schoolkids aged 3-7

Good news first: MUA’s Icaria has a blog!

Bad news: I’ll spare you the tales of woe: skin’s been unhappy of late. Work, stress, work-stress, more work, the extra work that happens in my job at this sort of time of year, less sleep, more need for sleep: it’s all added up and taken its toll.

Skin, my very good and close friend, has rebelled. Has made its feelings known: enough is enough.

There’s been pre-eczema. Less tolerance than usual of things applied to poor old skin. Eczema. Flakiness. Itching. Dryness and fragility, especially on the hands. Some grottier bits and pieces, now scabby. Anyway: to cut a long story short: I did say I’d spare you the details. Seen one, seen ’em all.

Some results:

OUT šŸ˜¦

  • aloe vera extracts: haven’t tried the actual plant in years, though I’d used the juice on burns and suchlike in around about 2006. But extracts are out: as suggested by self-experimentation, confirmed by quick visit to local doctor.
  • the usual suspects on the allergic etc. front, as applied to skin: ragweed and associates, apparently I’m to try to avoid chamomile. I hadn’t intentionally been avoiding it, but then again, haven’t used anything containing it in a while
  • plus my usual list: sodium lauryl sulfate, most-to-all fragrance, alcohol, palm and soybean oils, formaledehydenous preservatives. Bog-standard list for bog-standard sensitive skin, nothing interesting to report there
  • that boring stuff includes: diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone; though I note that diazolidinyl urea seems to be OK on me in low dose, as only one element of a preservative system; ex. Blue Lizard sensitive sunscreen and (mostly) ShiKai borage dry skin remedy face & eye creams
  • plus enough cinnamon relatives to make it a general rule to avoid most things with “cinnam-” in the name (though I’ll check just in case). Derivatives of cinnamic acid: ex. sourced from cinnamon, balsam, edelweiss, shea; in unrefined raw shea butter, perhaps its most interesting aspect: those cinnamate estersā€”triterpene cinnamates especially lupeol cinnamateā€”that act as sunscreens (chemically related to octyl methoxycinnamate, a.k.a. octinoxate, being one of those chemical sunscreens my skin reacts to).
  • though the Much Feared, Loathed, and Despised parabens are cool with my skin, as is phenoxyethanol.


  • cleansers, moisturisers, hair stuff, and deodorants containing aloe vera: major PITA. I first noticed the Impending Eczematic Doom on my neck and scalp, and armpits. So the first items to go (experimentally) were my otherwise-beloved, fragrance-free, previously safe as houses everyday routine stuff: Avalon Organics Olive & Grapeseed shampoo & conditioner and Lafe’s deodorant (spray). I weep on the latter: I’d added some EOs to it before–the ones I’m usually OK with; bought some more of the spray and used it in its naked unscented state: still not good. The other Lafe’s ones either don’t have potassium alum (the solid), or have gooey horrid stuff and never dry (the roll-on), and all have aloe vera.

Did I mention this was a major pain? Next time you’re in a granolemporium like Whole Foods, see how many skin-cleaners, moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, and deodorants you can find (we’re not even going into makeup) that DO NOT CONTAIN

  • fragrance, however lovely, including essential oils. (Good news is: rose and sandalood are still cool, as is whatever’s in Pacifica Mediterranean Fig perfume solid.)
  • aloe vera: juice, powdered extract, extract, dissolved into water, etc.
  • chamomile: powdered buds, other extracts, etc.

You won’t even get past the first two.

Most “green” stuff contains at least some essential oils. Most of these essential oils are ones that are a seriously bad idea on my skin and/or coming anywhere near to up my nose. I’m generalizing; there are a fair few companies that are more sensitive-friendly, and more of them all the time. Yes, I’m deeply sceptical of homeopathy, aromatherapy, ayurveda, balancing my chakras, and all that. Why? Simple: irritation, larger-scale allergic reactions, damaged skin, and PAIN are unmistakable. Right in front of you, under you nose, staring you in the face, evidence, proof: might even count as “she blinded me with science” as it’s so very damn visible.

Almost every liquid cleanser on the green market, and almost all shampoos and conditioners, have aloe vera of some form in the base. The main exceptions are the fragrance-free ranges from Earth Science, Whole Foods 365 own-brand, and Curelle (Canadian): for the first two, the conditioner is nice (but ES is a teensy bit dulling on my hair), the shampoo is not. Curelle is on the list of things to try. The ESĀ  shampoo is a really fun texture of gel: nothing like regression-therapy to relax in the bathroom. But it slips and squidges all over the place: I’d forgotten quite how, well, different it is to use. Also, it doesn’t clean hair and scalp very well: this isn’t an issue of foaminess (I’m used to that kind of green stuff), but of actually doing the job. Avalon Organics shampoo does actually clean hair really well: probably the best “green clean” I’ve used. But itches, bumps, and scabs on scalp: not living with them. OK, the ES is manageable for a short time, about 4 washes maximum: by the fourth wash, hair is greasy at the roots before the end of day one.

UPDATE: Free & Clear shampoo (sold as Cliniderm in Canada; same stuff, made by PSI co.). More on that further down.

Moisturisers, sunscreens: meh, not an issue: my current ones are fine.

Deodorants: well, here’s where things have improved since I first went over to the good old Lafe’s. There’s a fair number of crystal rock deodorants around, including some that fit my ingredient criteria. I’m testing them out (yay for exciting hobbies and ways to spend small amounts of money!). So far, Kiss My Face Liquid Rock roll-on looked nice from the ingredients on the back

Aqua, Potasssium Alum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Salix Alba (Willow Bark Extract/Extrait d’ecorse de saule), Usnea Barbata (Lichen Extract/Extrait de lichen), Sodium Phytate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate

but sucked in practice: never dried. My suspicion is that it “really works” and you “enjoy effective all day protection,” “fresh and confident all day” because your armpits are so wet that you either apply menstrual pads underneath them, or resign yourself to your fate, abandon your plans, and go spend the day in a nice swimming-pool with poolside bar: thus remaining protected from sweaty armpits but still wet. I should have noticed the absence on the labels and marketeering of the word “dry.” Best one at the moment: back to Lafe’s and their actual solid rock. I’m just going to have to get my act together enough to stop being so lazy about wetting it and applying it to the pits. It’s not that much effort, after all…

UPDATE: see the deodowich (2): some amazing crystal magic labels

IN šŸ™‚

So, the current stuff: all unscented apart from the scent and the lip SPF; all cruelty-free. I can live without some of the items below, and often do: the core stuff’s in bold:

face and body, in shower in morning

about the most basic one on the market. Same as Free & Clear, but smaller bottle and higher price. I’ve found some online purveyors of Free & Clear in the bigger bottle (it’s 50% more), but shipping then hurts. Found a couple of places where the shipping is slightly less painful if you order some more, so there’s considerable quantities of it coming my way. Fingers crossed that the lovely people of Canadian Customs don’t end up holding me and my family to ransom for the stuff, then robbing me blind, and if I’m really lucky, forcing me to go out to collect them in person, with multiple pieces of ID to a dive in the butt-end of nowhere, preferably in one of our more folklorique mugging areas, which will of course also take hours in evening traffic. Bastards.
Back to the shampoo, though: great stuf. Little is needed–very little; cleans super-well, without stripping hair. I do a first rapid approximate rough wash (under 30 seconds), then a second main one. Hair and scalp clean, scalp feels fine a.k.a. NORMAL.

I’ve been alternating between this and EARTH SCIENCE fragrance-free one: would like to prefer the ES (*cough* cheaper *cough* I’m stingy), but it isn’t as good: hair is drier, more tangle-prone, duller, also greases up faster. Nope, I’m not applying conditioner to the roots: just lengths of hair… I’m also doing a pre-wash condition (long hair, dry down the lengths).
Good: performs well, as well as any other good conditioner, at the task of detangling hair, leaving it smooth, fairly shiny; not greasy or flat, not dry or flyaway or staticky or bushily mad; and no irritation on any skin touched by conditioned hair (i.e. back of neck and back). I was pleasantly surprised: I’d last used this stuff a long time ago and disliked it then. The packaging is, I admit, offputting too. But heck, my hair looks pretty damn nice.

mixing a couple of drops into conditioner. It’s been OK in contact with neck and scalp (when rinsing hair), unlike olive and avocado oils, which recently have not.

eye makeup remover; shaving armpits; and at end of shower, body moisturiser and some patted onto face

Garden of Wisdom hydrosol, no alcohol; used on face as 2-in-1 sketchy lazy cleanser/toner combo many evenings, and for general soothing purposes otherwise

used like a sort of serum (vit. C and mild precursor form of vit. A) on face and around eyes

regular moisturiser, for face, around eyes, and pretty much anywhere else all over. I’ve also been using A-DERMA SKIN CARE CREAM but have a slight preference for CeraVe right now for regulating skin moisture very well all day long including moves from heating inside to cool outside, and back again, and again, etc.

lips, eye area


usual face sunscreen / face sunscreen for colder drier days and also eye-area sunscreen

BURNOUT LIP SUNSCREEN SPF 30+, coconut flavour

layer 1 of The Deodowich; thanks to “avironneur” for recommending that ZnO cream: my usual is A-DERMA DERMALIBOUR, but I finished my last tube and had a tube of the Rite-Aid to experiment with.

the solid lump of rock. Plus water.


Leonardo da Vinci: someone who knew more first-hand about physiology (inc. skin), from first principles and plain reasoning, than any jumped-up teeny twentyish spoiled-brat dimbo Valley-Girl-speaking cosmestheticianistologist in Ugghhhh boots 500 years later:

La SemplicitĆ  ĆØ l’estrema perfezione.

Generations. Improvements. Higher standards of living, well-being, diet, health. Less war, violent death, and living in terror (in many places: and if you’ll allow be a tangent: that would be recent Good News item no. 2, on the Burmese front). Technological and medical revolutions. Free public education, inc. for females of the species, in most parts of the world, for generations. Public libraries. The internet.

And yet: why aren’t there more shampoos like Cliniderm out there? Why is that so different and special? Why isn’t it the norm?

An alternative approach, with thanks to Google for assisting lateral-thinking searches. Bless ’em: you couldn’t make something like this up if you tried. I see a charming feelgood movie in the making: nostalgic, neither verisimilitudinous nor realistic, with misty fragrant cinematography, and quite possibly starring Ashley Judd:

allergy warning: contains feathers, dust, pollen, etc.

We see a beautiful future for your skinā€¦ Naturally!

Treat yourself to Beautiful Skin with Luxurious Textures and the Exquisite, Subtle Fragrances from the Most Precious Essential Oils. The marriage of Ancestral Remedies with the latest in Skin Care Science, make up the Clairvoyant Beauty Line.

At Clairvoyant Beauty we want to nurture your skin to radiant health. We believe that every woman has a natural, inborn glamour ā€“ the kind that comes from self-confidence. The glamour that arises from kindness, and self-acceptance and putting others at ease. The glamour that comes with natural beauty. We celebrate that.

Great care has been taken to find Natural and Organic ingredients from the purest and most powerful plants: wildcrafted botanicals using calming Lavender, skin-softening Rose, sensory-transporting Jasmine and astringent Hibiscus Flower. Cucumber and Aloe Vera Juices heal, and DMAE rebuilds. The list goes on. We reach back to ancestral healing remedies, and marry them with the latest in anti-aging science, to create products that will restore your skin to its most beautiful and balanced state.

We realize that your skin has continual changing needs, so we created products that can be used in any combination, for any skin type. Build a personalized skincare ā€œwardrobeā€ to balance your complexion needs from day to day.

From Who is Clairvoyant Beauty? (names have been edited out here below):

[The] Founder and Principal owner of Clairvoyant Beauty LLC, is a former actress, Rice University graduate, and Art Historian, who has always had an obsession with skin care. When she was a young girl, she spent hours in the kitchen down in Texas, with her beloved grandmother […] creating natural skin treatments out of herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables – all organic and fresh from the farmers’ market.

[She] took this wisdom with her when she moved to an organic farm in the Hudson River Valley in Upstate New York where she found space to reinvent herself, even learning to fly and becoming a private pilot! Living the healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle up in the country inspired her to revisit, improve upon, and create new skin care treatments, with the spirit of [her grandmother] always near, and guiding her.

The name Clairvoyant Beauty came to her in a flash. She and her grandmother were always very psychically connected. The name seemed to fit. [The Founder and Principal Owner] wanted women to tune in and be clairvoyant – ‘to see beyond the range of ordinary perception’ (which is the definition of clairvoyance) when thinking about their skin care; To realize that each woman is uniquely beautiful on this Earth, and to celebrate and nurture that Beauty, naturally….

(that definition supplied on the What is Clairvoyant Beauty? page, c/o Merriam Webster)

a humingbird: psychopomp, psychic messenger, symbolic representation of clairvoyance? or a small duck taking off from a stylised small pond?

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