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The Winter Skincare Blues Part 1: The Face

The Winter Skincare Blues Part 1: The Face

This is Part 1 of a three-part skincare series focusing on face and body skincare routines.  This article will focus on face, another will focus specifically on face masks and the final will focus on body skincare.  It may be helpful for anyone battling severe dry skin issues.

A Little Background

I am obsessed with skincare.  I find my friends regularly consulting me on skincare.  And I spend an alarming amount of money on skincare.  It's a guilty pleasure that I can fool myself with, because I tell myself it's for medical reasons!

In the past 18 months, my skin is the best it has been in my life.  And it has taken a lot of effort to get here.

Recently someone asked me to write a post about my skincare routine.  I'm a little ashamed, to be honest.  Please keep in mind that I do have a skin condition and that there are many products that are probably completely okay for your skin, that I just cannot use.  When I put something on my skin and feel the familiar burning feeling, I know I'm going to have a patch that will take a couple of weeks, if not months to get rid of.  Ugh!

Any of you that know me from childhood might remember how awful my skin can be.  I had awful, bleeding eczema as a child, because, it's hard to convince a kid not to scratch.  When I was a kid, my parents would wrap my skin in bandages before bed because I would scratch so much in my sleep I would bleed.  

I've been prescribed every skin cream known-to-man and eventually in my mid-twenties, when I was experiencing eczema over my entire body, I finally went to a proper dermotologist.  

The Doctor's Opinion

To be honest, at first I didn't love him.  He wasn't Captain Bedside-Manner.  But he sat down, and gave it to me straight.

Firstly, he told me that I was being prescribed stronger and stronger medications that have two main side effects that I don't want:

1) Thinning of the skin.  And he was absolutely correct, after years of using these creams on my hands, I can't tell you how often I cut my fingers open on pens at work.  wtf, right?

2) Rosacea.  Apparently, this was a side effect of the new, very strong cream I was using.  He told me not to ever use it on my face, for this reason.  And he told me that skin redness can be triggered easily when using the cream and drinking alcohol, and the effects may be permanent.  This, I did also experience.

The man knew what was up!

He told me that I immediately need to stop using everything with any sort of scent on my skin. No more scented soaps, laundry detergents, lotions or bubble baths!  Bye, bye Bath and Bodyworks.  And he told me I should check out a brand called La Roche Posay.  He handed me a pamphlet for the brand, told me to change everything and to come back in 3 months, but only if I had followed his advice.  He continued to see me in 3 month intervals for a couple of years.  Yes, my skin was that awful.

The man changed my life, my daily comfort level, how well I was sleeping, my physical appearance and my confidence level.  

A couple of years ago, I lost my health insurance at work.  And since my prescription creams (of which I was using 3) can cost up to $200 CAD for a 30g tube, I figure the cash is just as well spent on prevention.  I could easily be spending up to $400 a month on these prescriptions.

My Current Skincare Routine

I would consider myself to have combination skin.  Obviously I have issues wth severe dryness.  But I haven't escaped zits on my face and body, and some unsightly face blackheads.  And while I know I'm "only" in my 30s, I'm getting some fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead.  So lately, I have been focusing on anti-aging as well.  My routine focuses on those issues.


Let's get started! Where possible, I will link to a page you can purchase each product or check out the price and reviews.

I usually use La Roche Posay or Avene face creams.  In the summer and spring I use the regular versions, such as the La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra, which retails for $34 CAD at Shoppers Drug Mart.  In the winter I switch to the "Riche" versions, which are a thicker consistency for my extra patchy skin.

When I'll be exposed to a lot of sun, or when I travel to hot places, I use the Anthelios XL Melt-In Cream SPF 60 in replace of the moisturizers listed above.  It retails for $29 CAD at Shoppers Drug Mart.  You really should be using SPF every day.  I'd recommend at least choosing a foundation with SPF.

Please note that Avene is a French skincare luxury line.  Aveno is a drugstore brand.  They are different.

I would suggest investing in an exfoliator.  Those really into make-up will tell you that it reduces "texture" on your skin and makes your make up go one more smoothly.  True.  It'll also help prevent clogged pores and zits.  If you have eczema, I wouldn't recommend using a harsh exfoliator all over.  I use the La Roche Posay version in the creases of my nose and on my chin about once a week.  It retails for $19.50 CAD at Shoppers Drug Mart and usually lasts me at least a year.  I used to get the worst zits in the creases of my nose before I started exfoliating.

You may also wish to invest in an electric exfoliating tool.  The Foreo Luna and the Clarisonic are the most famous ones on the market.  I chose the Luna for two reasons: 1) It's made of silicon and easier to clean than the bristles on the Clarisonic and feels more hygienic to me. 2) The silicone would be more gentle on my face than bristles.  

I really love the Luna.  You can immediately feel the difference it makes on your skin.  And pimples have noticeably decreased on my face.

The Luna normally goes on sale around Christmas.  The regular size is $199 CAD at regular price.  If you want to save some cash, there are now mini versions of the Luna.  It charges by usb and is waterproof.  I try to use it for 30 seconds a day in the shower, but to be honest, I use it every few days.

I also attribute my reduced pimples to my Beauty Blender.  I apply most of my make up by using this dampened sponge.  I wash it quickly after each use with gentle soap and water.  Therefore it's completely clean each day and mostly bacteria free.  Because, let's be honest with each other, we don't wash our brushes every day.  I've tried knock off versions, and sadly no other brand makes the cut.  No one is ever able to replicate the bouncy texture of the Beauty Blender.  This retails for $28 CAD at Sephora or Nordstrom.

Lately I’ve been alternating between two face washes.  I have been enjoying Checks and Balances from Origins which retails for $26.50 at www.sephora.ca (although many things from that brand do not agree with my skin!).  I find it leaves my face squeaky clean, and is particularly good for make up and oil removal.  However, when I need extra moisture, I’ve recently started using Peter Thomas Roth’s 24k Gold Luxury Cleansing Butter, which retails for $68 CAD at www.sephora.ca.   It’s gentle, effective at removing makeup and leaves a nice, moist barrier on your skin.  A little goes a long way, so this should last you a long while (if you’re scared off by the price tag!).  I am recently obsessed with the PTR 24k Gold line, and I’ll talk more about it in future facemask and makeup posts.  The 24k Gold line has face tightening and anti aging properties that I have been loving.

When I travel, I sometimes use BioDerma face wipes.  They are the only face wipes that I have ever used that do not sting my skin and are effective at removing makeup.  I have no alternative to suggest!  These retail for about $15 CAD for a package at Shoppers Drug Mart.

My nighttime routine involves washing my face, applying a generous amount of moisturizer and then applying a face serum.  Right now I’m using the Boca Tsubaki Beauty Oil.  But, to be honest, I only have it because it came for free with my Luna a year ago.  A little goes a long way, so I suspect I will have this for a long time.  I'll probably switch to La Roche Posay when this is done.  If needed, you can also add 1 or 2 drops of face serum to a liquid foundation.  Be careful about applying too much under or in foundation, as it will make your make up slide off.

My nighttime routine (and sometimes my daytime routine) also involves adding an eye cream as of late.  As I previously mentioned, I've been noticing fine lines around my eyes.  After trying several eye creams that did not agree with my skin (including Origins and Bobbi Brown), I've been using a La Roche Posay Redermic Anti Aging Concentrate.  It's expensive, and it hurts my heart a little to pay $46 CAD for a small tube.

Today's Runner Up

After La Roche Posay and Avene, I do find the brand Roc a pretty good third option.  It is usually slightly less expensive than the aforementioned and is also sold at Shoppers Drug Mart.  I particularly enjoy their eye makeup remover, as I find La Roche Posay's to be too gentle to actually remove make up.  I have also used their moisturizers and sunscreens in the past with success.  

My dermatologist told me that someone with severe skin issues would have more luck with La Roche Posay than Roc, and clearly he has been right about other things, so I'm taking his advice.

Some Final Advice

At most high end beauty stores, including Shopper Drug Mart Beauty Boutique, Sephora and Nordstrom, you can ask for a sample of whatever product you wish.  I always do this before purchasing something more than $25.  Also, I always ask for enough sample to try the product 2-3 times, to give you a good feel for how it works with your skin.

Save your receipt, if you don't enjoy the product, you can return it, even if you have used it.  That is one of the perks of buying high end products.  However, if you're returning something to a Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique, you must return it to the specific store in which you bought it.

If you're buying expensive products at Shoppers Drug Mart, make sure you have an Optimum Points card and shop on a 20x the points day.  Shoppers Drug Mart has perhaps the best points program of any Canadian retailer.  Points will add up very quickly if you only shop on points days.  They usually have one at least every other week.  They also have special points spend days, where you'll get additional dollars to spend if you use your points on a particular day.  They usually host these very few months.  Watch your local flyer.

Am I ridiculous?  Probably?  But my dermatologist would be so impressed if he saw me today!

The Winter Skincare Blues Part 2: Masking

The Winter Skincare Blues Part 2: Masking

Settling Back in After Months on the Road

Settling Back in After Months on the Road