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This time of year always does a number on my skin. When wedding season, graduation season, and allergy season collide, my normally clear complexion takes a nosedive into rocky territory and then plateaus for the next few months. I don’t know if I owe my skin’s downslide to the climatic changes that accompany the onset of summer or if it’s the constant travel that monopolizes every single weekend from April to June. Nothing helps puffy eyes (the hallmark of hay fever) like back-to-back trips and sleepless nights in unfamiliar surroundings! Needless to say, it has taken a tumultuous run of trial and error to arrive at a definitive list of what’s working for me right now.
Around this same time last year, a bad bout of dermatitis drove me into hiding for fear that the five-alarm fire ravaging my face would scare off small children. About a month ago, an identical rash of inflammation set up shop just south of my mouth and didn’t show any signs of decamping. Based on what I learned from my last round of dermatitis, I steered clear of creams containing petrolatum, isopropyl myristate, and corticosteroids. By avoiding comedogenic oils and synthetics, I kept full-blown breakouts at bay. But I couldn’t forego moisturizer altogether because the inflamed area was dry and flaky, begging for nourishment.
Among all the natural creams and balms I tried – including Olive’s Organic Botanicals Facial Replenisher Moisturizer (too heavy) and Tilvee Age Defying Cream (too light) – I finally found something just right. Pomega5 Healing Cream ($85) soothed the irritated areas and patched up the flaky mess around my mouth. The eggshell-hued cream absorbed instantly and deeply without any greasy aftermath. Its hydrating power is surprising since it exits the airless pump as a relatively lightweight, fluffy cream. Even though it didn’t remove the redness entirely, it took the edge off my rough skin tone and tempered the rash.
Thanks to Pomega5’s Healing Cream, I have a smooth canvas to apply Luka Mineral Cosmetics Nearly Naked tinted moisturizer ($40). I have never gotten along with foundation in the past, but this liquid mineral moisturizer blurs brown spots and blemishes without a foundation’s signature cakey feel. It is now my go-to makeup product whenever my skin looks less than perfect. I squeeze out a pea-sized dollop on my fingertip and spread it over my forehead, cheeks, and chin to camouflage redness and unevenness. I usually top it off with a few strokes of powder/bronzer and dabs of concealer on the stubborn blemishes, but often all I need is Nearly Naked.
Both Nearly Naked and Pomega5 Healing Cream are excellent travel companions and have recently joined me on trips up and down the East Coast. Another favorite TSA-friendly cosmetic sidekick is L’uvalla’s Age-Defying Day/Night Cream ($49). If I coat my face in this earthy cream before bedtime, I sleep better and wake up with a glowing complexion. Having stayed loyal to this cream on and off for three years (after testing dozens of other creams for TIA), I know that I can count on it to fully hydrate the dry zones of my combination skin and mattify my shiny spots without ever inflicting any weird side effects. The last thing you want when traveling (especially for a big event) is a skin surprise, with no time or recourse to fix it, and L’uvalla makes sure that doesn’t happen.
My eyes, with their crinkled corners and dark shadows, are making sure the world knows that a new decade (the 30s) is closing in. I sometimes look in the mirror and swear that all signs of aging have conspired to cluster around my eyes. Per Mark’s recommendation, I have welcomed a new addition to my eye skincare routine: Skinfinite LOL Eye Serum ($49 in the shop). I don’t typically venture outside the cream category when looking for eye products, since the skin under my eyes is so delicate and dry. But Skinfinite’s Eye Serum glides on easily, softening fine lines and deftly brightening under-eye shadows with the help of peptides and botanicals. I keep it in the refrigerator for an additional cooling effect to bring down puffiness in the early a.m. I then wait for it to dry and apply a light cream, like Terralina’s Eye Cream ($32), which lasts far longer than its half-ounce tube might suggest.
Ever since an awful breakout last year landed me in the dermatologist’s office, I have been diligently swiping my entire face with one to two cotton balls doused in Aqua Glycolic Toner ($16) every night. Whereas some toners are just meant to be splashed on or spritzed, the Aqua Glycolic Toner physically removes a residual layer of grime, dead skin cells, leftover product, etc. Without fail, I am shocked and appalled each time I produce a yellowish-brown cotton ball after cleansing my face. I have yet to discover if this is the holy grail of anti-aging products – as my dermatologist avowed – but I am convinced of its benefits. My pores become clogged less often, and when breakouts do happen, they clear up more quickly. Though it has a slight drying effect, its exfoliating powers have been gradually chipping away at the fine lines and freckles on my forehead. The only downside is that AHAs make the skin susceptible to sunburn, so I need to be extra vigilant about sunscreen.
My go-to daily sunscreen for the past year has been Mango Madness Protect Me Sunblock SPF 30 ($27), which is a lightweight lotion that plays nicely with other products. After dabbing Pomega5 Healing Cream on my punctuated dry patches, I massage Protect Me into my face, adding an extra layer along my hyperpigmentation-speckled hairline. I then top it off with Luka Minerals Nearly Naked to soak up the sunscreen’s shine and double my sun defense thanks to its built-in titanium dioxide.
Long days under the sun call for something more substantial. I apply Alba Botanica Natural Sunblock with Green Tea SPF 45 ($11) all over my face and body if I’m going to be sweating or swimming outside. The water-resistant formula provides broad-spectrum protection and absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy or chalky wake. For my lips, I have become addicted to Trader Johann’s Virtuoso Lip Balm SPF 15 ($3), discovered in an economical three-pack at my local Trader Joe’s grocery store. Instead of just layering a waxy cover over the lips, this silky balm infuses lips with moisture from olive oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter, leaving a refreshing trail of spearmint from essential oil.
Because I’m not allowing my skin to soak up the sun’s harmful rays, I “fake it like I’ve baked it.” If I don’t pretend with a faux tan, I’ll look pale and sickly next to my naturally bronzed friends on beach weekends. Plus, I don’t feel like it’s summer without a touch of color in my fair skin. After sampling countless sunless tanning products, I keep going back to Aviva Organics Face and Body Creme ($29 and $27, respectively). This combo gives me the most effortless, streak-free, sun-kissed look and doesn’t reek of DHA as it goes to work while I sleep. My skin feels nourished from the mostly organic formulas and develops a natural-looking radiance overnight.
Considering my skin’s fickle inclinations during this seasonal transition, a host of new concerns could beset me next month. For now, I’m sticking with what works.
Ingredients in Pomega5 Healing Cream:
Aqua (Water), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Cetyl Alcohol/Glyceryl Stearate Cetearyl Olivate/Sorbitan Olivate (Olive Oil Based Emulsifiers), Cetyl Palmitate/Sorbitan Palmitate/Sorbitan Olivate (Olive Oil Based Emulsifiers), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cera Alba (Beeswax), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum, Ceratonia Siliqua (Locust Bean) Gum, Sucrose, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Inula Britannica (British Yellowhead) Flower Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Medica Vulgaris (Cedrat) Peel Oil, Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Citral*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Isoeugenol*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Eugenol*, Farnesol*. *Natural constituent of essential oil
Ingredients in Luka Mineral Cosmetics Nearly Naked:
Aqua (purifed water), Aloe Barbadensis extract, Glycerin, Coco-Caprate, Kaolin, Titanium Dioxide, Coco-glucaside, Coconut Alcohol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cetearyl Esters, Benzophenone-3, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-40 Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot Kernel) oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) oil, Sodium PCA, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Zea Mays (Corn Starch), Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Lauryl Laurate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Natural Fragrance, Lecithin Alcohol, PEG 25 Shea Butter Glycerides, Ascorbyl Palmitate, (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Saccharomyces/Manganese Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Saccharide Isomerate
Ingredients in L’uvalla Regenerating Age-Defying Day/Night Cream:
Natural Spring Water, Hazel Seed Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Argan Kernel Oil, Castor Seed Oil, Lotus Flower Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil, Rosewood Wood Oil, Rose Geranium Flower Oil, Lavendin Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Cypress Oil, Thyme Oil, Myoinosite, Chlorophyllin-Magnesium Complex, Citric Acid
Ingredients in Alba Botanica Natural Sunblock with Green Tea SPF 45:
Active Ingredients: Homosalate (10%), Octocrylene (10%), Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (7.5%), Ethylhexyl Salicylate (5%), Titanium Dioxide (2%) Inactive Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Ingredient), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Cetearyl Olivate, Polysorbate 60, Silica, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Alcohol (Certified Organic Ingredient), Benzyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citronellol Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3 Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance (Certified Organic Ingredient)
Ingredients in Trader Johann’s Virtuoso Lip Balm SPF 15:
Active ingredients: Octinoxate (7.5%), Oxybenzone (3%)
Inactive ingredients: Organic virgin olive oil, beeswax, organic jojoba oil, tocopherol (vitamin E), essential oil of spearmint, shea butter, rosemary extract, organic comfrey, organic calendula, organic St. John’s Wort
Ingredients in Aviva Organics Face Crème:
Aqua (Water), Organic Rosemarius Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract, Organic Zingiber Officinale (Ginger Root) Extract, Organic Lippia Citriodoro (Lemon Verbena) Leaf Extract, Organic Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Peel) Extract, Organic Rosa Canina (Rose Hips) Fruit Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Cetearyl Glucoside, Dihydroxyacetone, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Caprylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Natural, Glycine, Potassium Sorbate
Ingredients in Aviva Organics Body Crème:
Aqua (Water), Organic Rosemarius Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract, Organic Zingiber Officinale (Ginger Root) Extract, Organic Lippia Citriodoro (Lemon Verbena) Leaf Extract, Organic Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Peel) Extract, Organic Rosa Canina (Rose Hips) Fruit Extract, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Organic Glycine Soja (Soy) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Dihydroxyacetone, Glycerin, Cassava Starch, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Cetearth 20, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Aroma (a blend of Essential Oils), Caprylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Natural, Glycine, Potassium Sorbate