Montréal had yet another snow fall in the last couple of days, meaning winter is still making itself comfortably languid in this part of the world. All these months of winter weather has changed my skin into a dysfunctional and irritable mess. I usually have the oily, shiny type and moisturizing lotion was something I used strictly below the chin. But come December, I was digging through my medicine cabinet for something to control my flaky, peeling visage. This winter I even started to experience frequent rashes and other forms of skin irritation from exposing myself to -40°C temperature. My skin demanded attention; it became red, taut, and even sported a matte texture for once. My usual grooming regimen needed an overhaul.
I admit that I already am a skincare junkie. I read news and articles concerning skincare like the way you hope your broker keeps tabs on your mutual funds. My Internet bookmark is set to various beauty sites and I peruse Sephora almost like the way Terry Richardson picks his young models — ravenous and wide-eyed though perhaps I am more restrained. I regularly scan the flyers for my local drugstores so that I know when there are sales and deals for my usual lotions and serums, leaving me no excuse for ever running low on eye cream.
This may seem odd to some people since I keep my makeup to a minimum and seem accepting of many so-called imperfections on my skin: freckles, acne, and pores so huge I could probably stock an emergency supply of water jugs for the apocalypse. I accept that I do not have “perfect” skin and even dismiss such an objective though yes, I do drink the Kool Aid of the beauty myth. That said, I do enjoy many grooming rituals, even the artistic nature of makeup, and I want to feel confident and look presentable. However, that is hard to do when my face has been invaded by an army of red bumps and blisters that the wonders of makeup can only partially address.
Hence, this winter, I stored away my soaps and scrubs, and looked for something mild and soothing. I had a couple of thoughts on how to go about restoring my skin to a less angry state, which included some measures by two of my friends involving products meant for nursing mothers and their babies (i.e. slathering on nipple cream and lotion for eczema on baby skin — they swear by it!). Well, those options were at the back of my mind, but I decided to try some alternative options first while being as economical as possible.
First thing: skin cleanser. I needed a new cleanser instead of my usual Clinique soap for acne-prone skin — which is huge, priced fair, and lasts forever, so I will get back to it once the winter is over. I had tried Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser in the past, which is apparently recommended by many dermatologists, and is available at drugstores. However, I felt odd about the way my skin felt went it was being cleansed as Cetaphil is a thick, non-foaming lotion.
I had heard about micellar water for cleansing sensitive skin and removing makeup, and Jean Coutu happened to have a sale on Bioderma’s version called Sensibio H20. So I bought a bottle which is 250 mL (8 fluid ounces) so an ample amount, and thought that at the very least it could replace my eye makeup remover of which I was running low. Micellar water looks and feels just like water, but applied to a cotton ball or pad, dissolves makeup and cleanses the skin without stripping it. It is refreshing and light, and definitely the best eye makeup remover that I used (even waterproof mascara!), but I definitely like the feeling of splashing water on my face when cleansing.
Which brought me to St. Ives Moisturizing Olive Cleanser, which I bought on sale at Pharmaprix (Shopper’s Drug Mart for anglophone Canada). I already use St. Ives products, specifically their scrubs with salicylic acid, which are awesome and well priced, and great for my usual oily complexion. The third ingredient in this cleanser is olive oil after water and sodium sulfate, and I can attest to that the cleanser is moisturizing while leaving a clean feeling on your skin. This cleanser was definitely a winner for my dry winter skin.
I also happened to have a sample of Josie Maran’s Argan Cleansing Oil which, at first, sounds like an oxymoron. Oil? To clean your skin? Well, that is what I first thought too. But I had this sample, and I heard so much about argan oil and the uses for skin and hair, so I thought I would give this a go. It has a nice, subtle scent (almost like candy, honestly), and you pool a small amount of the oil on your hands before spreading it all over your face. Then you add some water to the face to create a small foam to wash away the cleanser from the skin. It is very mild, and as a dry oil, does not actually feel oily, and I surprisingly liked it. A small amount goes a long way, as the small sample (15 mL/1.2 fluid ounces) is still kicking around my washroom sink.
Additionally, I took out this package of 3D face masks that I received as a gift from Korea, from a Korean cosmetics company interestingly named “Too Cool For School” (picture at top). The cosmetics chain is insane — they have the most random assortment of skincare and makeup that is a pleasant version of culture shock. I went into an outlet in the Myeondong area of Seoul, South Korea when I was visiting the country a few years ago and the wacky products and their names just made the place a smaller, dizzying version of Sephora. I did not buy anything for myself during my visit few years ago, but since then I received as a gift a pack of moisturizing 3D face masks, which are best described as tissue paper shaped like your face (with holes in the eye area and a jutting portion for the nose) and drenched in moisturizing solution. These 3D face masks come in individual packages and feel super refreshing on the skin. I sported these masks during these winter months, and the moisturizing formula was definitely welcomed by my skin.
In addition to cleansing and mask-ing, I of course have been vigilant about applying moisturizing lotion everywhere but especially the irritated skin on my face. I went back to using Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, a staple amongst many women’s skin care regimen, as it is plain, non-irritating, and deeply comforting on the skin. And of course I made it a habit of applying moisturizing lotion on the skin while it is damp, right after cleansing, so that the skin locks in the emollients of the lotion.
Although the skin on my face and neck were the most highly irritable parts of me, I also made sure to pay attention to the rest of my body and in particular my hands. I am a sucker for hand lotion, I keep lotion everywhere and have bottles of hand lotion in my purses and bags. (The Onion even had a news article earlier this month with the title, Area Woman Unable to Go Half Hour Without Moisturizing Some Part of Herself. That is me!) But especially in the winter, I am mindful of keeping sanitary with all the germs and illnesses everyone is festering, so I keep a hand sanitizer around too. Well, I was super happy to discover Gold Bond Hand Sanitizing Moisturizer which cuts down on the number of little bottles I keep in my bags, and the number of steps in keeping clean and moisturized. The lotion contains benzethonium chloride, which is an anti-microbial agent, and carries a subtle, clean scent. This is definitely another happy discovery I made this winter.
So after I incorporated these new products and grooming rituals into my skin care regimen, my skin definitely started to become less angry and needy, and the rashes soon subsided. I was relieved, and I have kept cleansing with the St. Ives Olive Cleanser and using the Bioderma for makeup removal, with the occasional use of the Josie Maran Cleansing Oil when I am feeling a bit more fancy. It is nice to see skin that is not flaming red! But I do expect to continue this regimen for another month or so, or at least until the snow melts permanently here in Montréal.
Is spring starting to pop up where you are? Or will it be a long winter for you as well? Any skin saving favourites that you want to share? Wishing everyone happy skin and weather. Keep warm and stay moisturized!