It seems as if this is the time of year for struggle. Sunscreens need to be used all.the.time. Sweating can encourage breakouts/purging behavior. Layers can feel like overkill. If you follow *K-beauty style routine, the balance can get a little weird.
(*K-beauty is a catch-all phrase that can mean products that are mostly “Asian” but even more so, include a philosophy of hydrating layers to nurture the skin)
Every single sunscreen breaks me out. That is the take away for me in the last two years. I’ve tried so many. I give up. Besides the previously mentioned in my other posts “indoor sunscreens”, its a wash for me. Too much sun makes me break out. Too much sweating, too. I just wasn’t meant to be outdoors, and I accept the consequences of the things i have to do to stay protected in spite of it all.
Back in June I had to travel for work. And by travel I mean, driving 10 hours to said destination. The weather called for sunny skies. Wanting to be cool and comfortable, I opted to wear a long flowy maxi dress and big sunglasses. Of course that meant I needed extra sun protection. So I planned it out, picked two sunscreens (one for face, one for bod) and decided that for these purposes, physical sunscreens were my best bet. I slathered good, ya’ll.
I kept track of time and was sure to reapply every 2 hours. I will admit, most of those applications took place while driving. Whatever, it’s not like I was trying to catch a Magnemite while driving.
By the time I arrived at my destination, thanks to some traffic accidents, it was evening and the last couple of hours of the drive I was overwhelmed with obsessive thoughts of getting a shower to get these layers of chalk off my skin.
The next morning when I got into my practically-brand-new car with ALL BLACK interior it looked like a luminol scene from CSI only, instead of blood spatter and fingerprints, it was sunscreen everywhere. On my steering wheel, on the door panel where my arm would rest, on the armrest, on my radio touch screen. It was a mess and I feared that my coworkers might want to have lunch out and I would end up the driver and thus, have to explain what kind of crazy person I was.
On the way home, I just wore more clothes, opted for Biore everywhere that would be exposed and yolo’d it. And alas, my left arm was darker than my right when I got home. You win some and you lose some. The sunscreen struggle is so real.
Now, onto some new discoveries I have made this summer thus far.
Starting with my favorite, *Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Ultimate Hydra Whitening Moisturizer**. This is not a new product but, new to me. I love Dr. Jart’s stuff so I just did a trust fall and bought it.
(*this is one of many names for this product. Mine Just says Water Drop but various listings describe it differently) (**this link is to Sephora which carries this but at an inflated cost as always. I could not find an official Dr. Jart+ site to link to?)
As someone with dry (not dehydrated) skin that cannot tolerate oils (sob) I am constantly trying out new ways to get moisture and hydration into my skin in an effective way. I honestly only expected this to be a light moisturizer before I received it. But that isn’t what it is. It is like a drink of water for my thirsty skin that creates involuntary moaning when applied to my skin.
It dispenses like a light cream but, turns watery as soon as you spread it on your skin. I have no idea what kind of chemical magic takes paces to create this medium but I am all for it. I have been using it after sheet masking and before an emulsion/light moisturizer step. I also have been adding my LJH Propolis Ampoule to it before applying. I really am looking forward to using this in the winter as well. But for the summer, it’s a perfect boost before a light/medium moisturizer and sleeping jelly. (I favor sleeping packs in gel form this time of year). Anyway, I cannot rave about this enough. Cosdna link here.*
(*You can find it on eBay for roughly $25 as well as KoreaDepart and others. But don’t even bother with Amazon or, anywhere that sells it for more than that. Amazon currently has it listed for $69. LOLNO)
Another new thing I have been using that started as a “just for shits and giggles” purchase that turned out to be really nice is the Hanaka Knee and Elbow Brightener Whitening Cream. I don’t really have much elbow trouble thanks to always rubbing extra skin care from my hands on them but, because I work at a computer all day, it can be an issue with elbows always resting on something. I have also been using it on my ankles (because lord knows, these knees have not seen proper usage in ages, innuendo intended) because I have a bad habit of sitting with a foot under me when computing and it makes these super attractive dark spots/callouses. So far, it’s work fabulously for both. It’s a very mousse like texture and I find a little goes a long way. I also purchased this on eBay. Cosdna link here.
(DISCLAIMER: This product and the rest I will be talking about are not “Asian”. Take some deep breathes, we will get it through it together)
A couple blog posts back (or 5, I don’t know) I talked about how I gave up tretinoin or, at least using it daily. I was getting orange peel texture which is apparently a lesser known side effect and I was also just getting really sick of the peeling and other bullshit. I was getting sick of having like 3 good skin days a week because the other 4 were in various stages of adjustment. So, I took it back to what I had done for years, just using it once a week as a treatment more or less. And that helped.
I started running low on my tube and went to call in a refill. Only it had been a year since I saw my derm and they wanted an office visit first. My insurance is a pile of shit, the office is not close to me and my co-pay is $80 for specialists. I reluctantly made an appointment for a month out which in US derm standards, is a goddamn miracle that it was only a month.
While thinking about how absurd this whole process is (I have ranted before about there being really no good reasons for retinoids to be OTC but, I digress) I started looking again at OTC retinol. I picked up some RoC Deep Wrinkle Repair after a bit of googling on various available strengths OTC*.
(*and, having a realistic price-point in mind. There are of course others but, I draw the line at $25 for a 1 oz tube.)
Long story short, I have cancelled my derm appt. For me, the RoC is like getting all the benefits of tret without the bullshit of tret. My skin looks more refined, smooth and moist and with nary a flake. I also (WHY) then bought a little package they are selling that is called RoC Retinol Correxion Wrinkle Resurfacing Max System. I don’t know why though because I probably shouldn’t be using both? IDK. I’ll let you know if my face melts off.
Ok, now onto my favorite new find…
I stumbled onto this brand, Niod via one of the beauty subreddits on Reddit. If you are the type of person as I am who gets super excited about science-y products yet, does not have the capacity to understand it all the time*-you will love this stuff. So far I have only made one purchase but it is very interesting if nothing else. It seems this company is based in Canada. Or the UK. I can’t tell but I think it’s CAN. And while the rest of their line of skincare products is very chemistry-knowledge based, the one they have that is not, I purchased.
(*I don’t consider myself dumb but, I lack the ability to retain chemical information and function on a detailed level. However, I apparently have the ability to retain other random, useless information. I am a good trivia partner!)
Sanskrit Saponins is the name of this product which, tells you exactly nothing about what the product even is. That means, I was on board right away.
It is a throw-back to Ayurveda that is so incredibly unique that I believe this will be something I always keep in my stash. It is a cleanser (although, directions say to remove make-up first) that can also be used as a mask. It smells faintly of yeast (without containing any that I can tell) but does include some plant/extracts of some lesser known Asian plant/trees that are used as cleansing agents that contain no sulfates.
Just to give you an idea of how mind bending some of the product descriptions are, here is the blurb about this cleanser:
yešti Ahead is not further than behind.
True learning is a form of love — it is humble. It respects that to look forward, it must look backward. The few observers of NIOD’s childhood know that NIOD isn’t a brand. It is a force and it has a soul. While NIOD’s genetics are committed to science, its soul is ultimately rooted in learning. Perhaps the only flaw of modern science is that it grows proud and loses respect for our deserving past — but learning stays humble and looks back.
NIOD’s journey will offer respect to our past with a series of formulations informally called yešti. NIOD’s caretakers live with exhausting standards in science. The journey of NIOD’s yešti formulations is not one of a lower standard — it is instead one that allows our collective past an overdue chance to speak.
Um, ya-sure, whatever you say guys.
Anyway, my skin feels good after using it and so that’s what I am going on. I look forward to trying more of their products and have seen lots of rave reviews that had been totally off my radar. Cosdna link here.
In falling down Niod‘s rabbit hole, I found that the parent company is one called Deciem. This appears to be an umbrella of which under it has LOTS of cool looking products. So I also purchased a product from the Hand Chemistry line called Multi-Vitamin 1% Retinol Oil . Obviously this is the type of product that will take a bit to determine what the effects are. Here is what they have to say about it:
HAND CHEMISTRY’s Retinoid Complex brings a next-generation innovation in Vitamin A technology to the world of beauty. Introducing your most effective retinoid compound without a need for prescription, Hand Chemistry’s Retin-Oil Complex is a multi-vitamin dry body oil, which targets scars, stretch marks, aging dehydrated skin, surface irregularities and discolouration, to show a difference to the skin’s surface in just two weeks. Our super dry oil formula helps skin look smoother, and visibly reduces pore size and wrinkles without causing irritation. This innovative complex also includes Vitamin C to help improve collagen production and sun-induced ageing. A unique blend of skin-enhancing Amazonian oils leave a dry and happy protective barrier on the skin’s surface. An oil-derived Deep Sea Algae Complex targets stretch marks. Over time, there is a general improvement in skin’s visible condition and texture.
Sounds good, eh? I am testing it on my boobs and basically,like, everywhere. Because #old.
For the final product I tried from Deciem, I bought and have been using the Grow Gorgeous leave-in treatment called Overnight to Gorgeous Hair Masque. I mean, I am not sure how you pass up a product with a name like that but if you do, you have more restraint than I. Basically you soak your hair with it (on dry hair) then sleep in it. It doesn’t mention you should wrap up your hair. It just says “put a towel on your pillow”. But I’m not tryin’ to have that smear all over my face at night from my pillow so I would advise wrapping it up. So far, I have actually just used it in the daytime. I work from home mostly so, load it up in the morning, leave it in all work day, rinse. It’s really lovely and leaves my hair feeling very silky and moisturized.
While we are talking hair for a moment, I’d like to give a shout-out to a product I have used for a little over a year now that I have not mentioned before.
I found this product on Etsy after taking a vacation a couple years ago and attending a craft fair that included various women selling their DIY inspired hair and body products. It was a marshmallow root hair detangler/leave in product. And let’s be real-I have kinky curly caucasian hair and finding products that suit me is a serious struggle. Like you would not have time for a blog I wrote that centered around my hair-care and product tries. You would die of boredom and I would never stop writing.
As with most curly hair types, we are dry, dry, dry. And that dryness also leads to hair being even more tangle prone than you terribly unlucky* folks with straight hair.
(*we hate you)
Anyway, I loved the spray but could not find a way to get it other than in person which was a bummer and off I went to the interwebs to find a replacement. That’s when I found Asha+Miel‘s store on Etsy. At first glance, this IS a shop that focuses on hair and body care products for women of color. And due to my hair type, I have to always assume any product I use intended for POC may or may not work for me. Just like how hair products not marketed towards POC but who have curly hair, do/do not.
(sidenote: hair care companies-why is this so hard??)
That is how I found Jamaican Black Castor Oil + Marshmallow Root 4-In-One Ultra Conditioner Styling Cream, Detangler for Curls (HA TAKE THAT ASIAN BEAUTY COMPANIES WHO SPECIALIZE IN LONG ASS NAMES) which is absolutely HG for me and I never want to be without it. I pump a few pumps into my wet hair, squish it through, then comb through and it is like a DREAM. Once my curls are arranged, I will sometimes use a couple extra pumps as a styler as well. Second best part? Yea. It totally smells like marshmallows but, can be customized with other scents they offer.
Another bonus I have found for use of this amazing stuff is pre-pool/beach. You have no idea how awful it is to have curly hair at a beach. The saltwater and wind will literally turn your hair into a giant dreadlock before your day is over. So with wet hair, I apply it generously, comb thru and put it up. By the time you are home, just rinse and enjoy soft and tangle free hair.
Welp, that about wraps this blog post up. JFC, this post almost didn’t happen. On my final look before publishing I discovered that somehow my first few paragraphs fucking vanished. There were many clicks of the “undo” button involved. And of brow furrowing. And fantasies of table flipping. This is all to say, I am aware this is a bit of a formatting nightmare. I just cannot work on this any longer and if I don’t hit “publish” now, I never will. #sorrynotsorry.
Do you have summer favorites to share? Something you think I might like? Something new and unique? HMU!
And lastly, my final thought;unrelated yet always a Stan….