hibernation, winterising skin, and some makeup


Skin is feeling drier as the weather gets colder. It’s not dramatic: right now, here in Vancouver the temperature has dropped from around 16-18° C to around about 12-13. Big deal. And it’s currently raining. Skin isn’t getting dried out through dry air, nor through excess indoor heating and massive climactic vatiation between indoors and outdoors. But it does mean that the mid-northern clammy chill has started. Winter is coming…


  • hydrating serums: the best ones, as previously, are cheaper ones containing oatmeal. With serums containing sodium benzoate as a preservative, though, I’ve had minor irritable issues.
    I’ve been having these quite consistently with serums from a certain otherwise much-beloved maker of indie skincare, and I’ve really noticed the difference when split-face testing one very simple serum against similar, and similarly simple, ones containing different preservative systems. Some other ingredients may be involved, such as tamarind seed extract.
    I’ve also noticed that the skin on my face reacts to some aloe vera that uses sodium benzoate as a preservative (Lily of the Desert), but not to aloe straight from the plant or the Aubrey Organics version. Hence the suspicion.
  • aloe vera, used alone: good
  • aloe vera, mixed with an oaty serum: OK but not as good, and the irritation is still there, though less than with the serum alone.
    Provisional conclusion: my skin reacts less with a lower concentration of the irritating ingredient(s), be that the preservative, something else, or a combination of ingredients.
  • aloe vera, mixed 3:1:couple of drops with witch-hazel hydrosol (Garden of Wisdom non-alcoholic version) and glycerin (veggie, this one is from NOW): fecking brilliant.


  • keeping the aloe serum in the fridge, along with aloe vera plain and simple (using it on hair too)
  • removed from fridge and placed in shower, on the ridge at the top of the shower-enclosure
  • shower self; after washing and rinsing face and other areas down to the bosom, while still is still damp and while the shower is still running and nice and warm, apply serum to skin.
  • Apply moisturiser (in my case, oil mix) immediately after, while still in the shower. Do not rinse off. Remains in shower until all ablutions have been performed, one has woken up, and one has had at least a minute of warm-water indulgence. The latter is not just self-indulgent but actively immoral, given planetary water crisis. But one minute is a compromise on the ten minutes I would really lust after …


  • the sodium benzoate issue
  • other irritable factors

Ingredients: Distilled Water, White Tea Extract, Licorice Extract, Tamarind Seed Extract, Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate, Hydrolyzed Oats,  Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate, Hydroxypropyl starch phosphate , Panthenol

Ingredients: Distilled water, Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Tamarind Seed Extract, Propanediol, Hyaluronic Acid, Phospholipids (and) Ubiquinone, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Beta Glucan, Panthenol, Dehydroxanthan gum

Ingredients:  Organic Aloe Vera Juice, distilled water, Green Tea Extract, Tamarindus Indica (Tamarind) Seed Extract, White Tea Extract, Glycerin,  Hydroxypropyl starch phosphate, Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate, Panthenol

Otherwise, I have nothing to report on the beautification-of-the-self. I’ve moved back to using tubing mascara, because it stays on and doesn’t smudge on my glasses. I’d had some smudging of other mascaras on glasses, picking up bits of concealer along the way. Really annoying. I tested out some samples of other mascaras, eyeliners, and eye-area concealers; this was in some cases as part of my human-volunteer testing activities.

The best products have been from Bobbi Brown: part of the Estee Lauder group, so tainted by all their dealings with China; but a company that has always preferred human-subject to animal testing, and who also test finished products on glasses. Not just on glasses alone (you know, bits of glass in a lab) but when worn by real live humans as they go about their real live human business, including moving glasses around, taking them off and on (not often in my case as I am very short-sighted), poking one’s eyes while glasses are on, rubbing skin, pulling faces, etc.

Note that some of their products do contain carmine, not all are vegan-friendly.

Another positive to report is that my tolerance of bismuth oxychloride has increased, from zero to, well, tolerable.

So. Some good stuff from Bobbi Brown, in terms of plain functionality, for the bespectacled:

One of those doe-foot things. Not a million miles from the Laura Mercier Eye Basics, and in very similar packaging. Dot in an “O” around the eye then pat in. All over, including eyelid. Good not just for lightweight dark circles but also eyelid discolouration, of the kind to which pale-skinned thin-skinned persons are prone. Both stay put once dry, with zero transfer to glasses, including the critically annoying transfer via eyelashes batting from skin to lenses.

Comparisons: colours vary, of course. LM’s Linen is quite like (but a little darker and less pink) BB’s Porcelain Bisque. The Bobbi Brown formula is superior, on me anyway: moister, more lightweight, easier and faster to apply. LM in comparison looks heavier on the lids and is drying in the undereye area. BB has an odd and slightly uncanny quality: if you touch the skin, it feels like there’s nothing on it; looks like you’re not wearing anything; yet there is a definite difference between not wearing anything and wearing something. I tested out BB on one eye, nothing on the other; LM vs. nothing; and BB vs. LM.

Note that neither of these will be adequate for serious heavyweight dark circles or discolouration; both brands, and many others, make different concealers for that purpose.

I’m just trying to disguise my “penile-skin” eyelids; skin is so thin you can see every blood vessel, and if I close my eyes and roll them you can see the irises rolling under the lids. On the other hand, makes Hallowe’en costume easy: wear no eye make-up and walk around with my eyes closed, rolling my eyes around.

Like about a bazillion people all over the interwebs, I too can report that apparently I look more awake / lively / less tired / less ill when wearing this. On the other hand: know to avoid such things if you wish to look more tired or ill, say for work-avoidance or sympathy-seeking purposes.

bobbi brown

This, in the shimmer bone (#16) version, is magic. Another of these odd uncanny things: hard to see if you’re wearing anything, very subtle, but lifts your expression, face, especially eyebrows. Using this on the brow-bone. Tools: finger. Adds about ten seconds to makeup and makes a difference

I’ve also tried it out on my nose and cheekbones as a highlighter but am not so convinced on discernable difference there. (It was raining, I was at home on the sofa, it was fun to play with makeup and take photos and then delete them.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.37.08 PM

The next item is one where I might be unpopular because I think it’s as good as the classic gel eyeliner in the pot, and for my own purposes, might be better.

Reasons to prefer the potted version: less expensive per ounce. Fine if you’re just tightlining, less so if you’re applying gubs and gobs of the stuff all over your eyelids.

Reasons to prefer the stick version: easier to use and carry around; “Scotch” only exists in this form and not in the pot; useful for me as I still get eye irritation with a couple of the colours with more red to them, including the main ginger-appropriate brown in the potted version.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.38.23 PM

Last but not least, the current incarnation / new version of the old Perfectly Defined mascara.

Now, you should know that many have complained that it is no substitute or replacement. It’s too long since I used the predecessor to make any useful comment. I thought it was fabulous. I like this one too. It’s a little cloggy straight out the tube when you first get it, but relaxes and chills out about a week later, after which time it is lovely. One of the few buildable tubers, can be layered, very user-friendly. No clumping or flaking, and I’ve not had to use my metal lash comb at all.

It is so damn fast to apply it comes quite close to applying itself. Lashes feel sloft and fluttery, not dry at all (one of the usual complaints about a lot of waterproof mascaras, including the otherwise fluttery Maybelline Full’n’Soft WP; which I can also no longer wear after reformulation a couple of years back).

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.39.45 PM

I feel bad about the products above, but I have to be honest: on me, for me, they work. (Others do too, but these work well, and fast, and stay on.) It feels odd to like enough products from one brand to have a matching set, even if it’s just for the eyes. I’ve resisted that for decades and advocated scepticism for the idea, and disdain for matchy-matchy disorder, for years. I would rather support indie business. I would prefer to spend all my money on products that are as green as humanly possible.

On the other hand:

  • there’s a lot of greenwash around, especially from would-be greener indies
  • finding something that works (so long as it’s not discontinued, waaaaaah) saves money in the long run if it saves you from wasting money on experiments
  • if you have other things to do with your time, like work, you may find value and virtue in reliability: spend your time, energy, and money on better things
  • while the whole EL group does suffer from the taint of dealing with China while they forced the relinquishment of control on animal testing, the company as a whole has also invested both in alternative testing methods (in China and elsewhere) and in diplomatic, strategic negotiations with China. It may be naive of me, but I believe that more good may come from maintaining some channels of communication, rather than none. History may prove me wrong and foolish. There are limits to negotiation. It is possible that some persons, parties, entities should not be negotiated with at all. IS and similar lunatics are still abroad and wrecking places, homes, lives, people, whole environments.
  • and I would rather get on with the application of makeup in double-quick time in the morning, the better to get on with thinking about (and sometimes working on) bigger and more important issues.
    I am not, by the way, a diplomat who deals with IS as an immediate part of everyday work; though the work I do is complicated by tangents and ramifications from such people, what they do and represent, and what can be done to combat such diseased follies and to protect against the spread of their evils.

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