Branching out from my usual sources

I’m a big Sephora fan, no doubt. I’ve also enjoyed shopping for beauty products at Nordstrom, and of course I get some of my stuff from EDS and my hippie-dippier ingredients from Mountain Rose and Nature’s Gift. But lately I’ve found that shopping at bigger retailers is surprisingly un-scary! I was eyeing my go-to eye cream online, and there were no good shipping deals from the manufacturer’s site or QVC where they often sell their stuff. But Amazon had a great deal! I emailed the seller just to be sure, and they confirmed that it was a fresh shipment, too. So I went for it and was very pleased with the price point. (Go here if you want a similarly great deal.)

And just last month, on a trip to Texas, I lent a friend some Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction pads to calm her breakout—her skin had freaked out in the humid Dallas climate. She loved them so much she asked me for a referral, and when I Googled them, the Amazon price was way lower than the Sephora price! AND the Amazon shipping was free.

Look, some of you lovelies know I used to work for Amazon. But I worked in Kindle, and thought of them primarily as a tech company plus a place to, like, research for the best headphones and flash drives. I don’t actually order through them all that often for more “normal” items. But I’m totally going to start checking them for skincare deals, and I’ll be watching my lil’ widget to see what kinds of products it starts suggesting. (If it doesn’t get smarter soon I’ll have to hard-code it to offer y’all up beauty deals.) I think as my tastes mainstream a bit more, I’ll start to find better and better deals from the big A.

And lest it not be said, those complexion pads are GREAT for acne, and also help with wrinkles and age spots! Just be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll get mad flaky and dry—you may wanna start with the sensitive formula and work your way up to the full thing.


EDITED TO ADD: I actually received a totally gross-looking shipment of these pads. The top foil was punctured and the product was clearly contaminated, even though it’s largely alcohol based. However, I wrote the seller to complain and they immediately refunded my money, without me having to harass them or send the product back or anything. I was then able to salvage what seems to be clean and safe to use product—it really was just the top seal that was disgusting. So overall, even though I wouldn’t expect it to show up like that from Sephora, I had a good skincare shopping experience with this Amazon seller, so I’ll be trying that out again soon for sunblock.

Borrowing from Bare Escentuals

I recently caught wind of the Rare Minerals acne-fighting mineral powder concealer by Bare Escentuals, and now I see that it’s been voted a Sephora best-of.

I’ve always wanted to avoid anything by BE, since they are notorious for including the chemical bismuth oxychloride in their formulations.  (Many people are quite allergic to bismuth, and it causes a rash-like reaction that takes ages to clear up.  I’m not eager to find out whether I should count myself in those ranks or not!)  And bismuth aside, this stuff definitely has some other ingredients (like dimethicone) that would aggravate my breakouts.

However, the idea of making a powder concealer that contains acne-fighting ingredients definitely intrigues me.  I’ve been trying to figure out a good BHA solution for ages and ages, and concealers that help dry up and bust blemishes definitely appeal to me.  And since my problem with salicylic acid was always figuring out how to get it to dissolve in a liquid base, the idea of being able to leave it in its powdered form is a definite bonus!

I’m going to try this out with my Everyday Minerals concealer set.  I’ll mix the shades that best match my skin for covering blemishes, and I’ll add a few drops of manuka essential oil (gentler than BE’s tea tree oil, and less stinky), and a bit of powdered salicylic acid.  I may also try adding some powdered zinc oxide, both for extra sun protection and for its soothing properties.  (I just have to make sure it doesn’t lighten the mix too much.)

If I can track some down, I might also add powdered sulphur, since that’s the acne-fighting ingredient that always shows me great results on individual blemishes.  However, sulphur’s smell really turns my stomach, so it may be worth while to leave that out of the mix.  It looks like I’ll be making up to four different batches to test this idea out, so I’ll post updates soon.  Thanks for the great idea, BE!

D I Why?

I’ve been working on a DIY beta hydroxy solution that doesn’t contain any alcohol, and I pestered the chemist over at The Personal Formulator about solubility, and they were pretty informative:

Salicylic acid is only slightly soluble in water, one gram dissolves in 460mL water. To incorporate salicylic acid to a formulation, the following methods can be used:

1) it can be added to the oil phase of the emulsion and heated to 80-85C

2) it can be added to a water phase containing sodium phosphate, borax, alkali acetates or citrates to increase its solubility in water

3) it can be combined with a glycol, such as propylene glycol

Since I’m not gung-ho about using borax, glycols or any other unnecessary chemicals, I went ahead and tried to dissolve it in oil alone. However, the crystals seem to re-crystalize once the oil returns to room temperature. I’ve been shaking the solution vigorously and applying it anyway, and I haven’t had any problems — but I’m just not convinced it works well.

Blast it, I wish I knew more about solubility and other basic chemistry concepts! Next time, I’ll be trying to add it to a lecithin-emulsified solution to see if that helps. If any other skincare gurus have ideas, please share them!

Beta Hydroxy Standstill

I’ve been wanting to add a good beta hydroxy acid product to my regime, but I’m having a lot of trouble finding the right one. I’ve read before that salicylic acid (the main BHA in cosmetic formulations) is only soluble in alcohol or oil, and I’m not interested in using alcohol-infused products on my sensitive and dryness-prone skin.

So of course, I started keeping an eye out for BHA products that were oil-based instead… but I haven’t found a single one. Nearly every BHA product out there is chock-full of harsh alcohol that this picky complexion just won’t tolerate.

One BHA product I found which doesn’t seem to contain large amounts of either alcohol OR oil is Juice Beauty’s Blemish Clearing Serum. However, this stuff is weaker than I’d like at only 1% salicylic acid, and the texture is kind of unbearable. It goes on incredibly sticky and the sticky feeling never really leaves you.

So my search has continued. I was thrilled when I found Devita’s Acne Solution Pads, since they claimed to be 3% salicylic acid but completely alcohol free, which is obviously a rare find.

I was a little skeptical, since I’d read those solubility claims elsewhere, and since I know witch hazel (the main ingredient in these puppies) can often be chock-full of alcohol even if it isn’t listed in the ingredients. But I figured that since they make a specific point of calling out the glaring absence of alcohol, then these must be safe.

And boy, was I wrong. I opened up the jar, and one whiff nearly knocked me out. These pads CLEARLY contain alcohol, and quite a lot of it — I haven’t been able to use them on my face at all. (I still use them to exfoliate after trimming my bikini area or shaving my underarms, because the BHA helps prevent ingrown hairs. But I had intended to use them on my face, and this is simply not an option.) Normally, being the consumer-hound that I am, I’d be more frustrated that these products are using deceptive marketing. But instead, I’m just still focused on finding a dang BHA product that I can use!

Years ago, I had used Aveda’s Botanical Kinetic Exfoliant, so I looked into going back to that stuff. But my older and now wiser self noticed that this stuff also has a high witch hazel and alcohol content, so that’s out (now that I know better). It would seem that everything in a toner-like consistency is completely off the table as far as alcohol concerns go. Continue reading “Beta Hydroxy Standstill”