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My Story & Routine in Detail

My Story & Routine in Detail Part I

Morning Part 1:

  • Cleanser: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser. It’s employs a few gentle detergents as well as some thickeners and anti-irritants such as sunflower oil and stearic acid, giving it a milky texture that lathers very nicely, without making the skin feel parched. The inclusion of these thickeners allows this to easily remove makeup as the oils will bind to the oils on my face, while the surfactants (detergents) present will sweep them all away. It’s also relatively inexpensive, especially when I buy the large size, and when it is on sale. The only reason why I don’t use an even more inexpensive cleanser from the drugstore is simply because one, I want Paula to continue offering the excellent review site Beautypedia for free as well as continue formulating outstanding, moderately priced, skin care products and two, because I use so many products from the line that it’s just easier to pick up everything from one location. It’s kind of like why many people choose to shop at Sephora or Ulta. The packaging was recently changed, but the formulation itself remains the same, which is a relief.
  • Toner: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing TonerThis contains high amounts of niacinamide, which is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and treats hyperpigmentation. This also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory chamomile and the antioxidant burdock root. There are also numerous excellent water-binding agents and humectants such as glycerin, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, sodium PCA, and numerous ceramides. There are also low amounts of vitamin C. It has quite a viscous texture for a toner and prevents water loss well. As the first line of defense (literally), against the environment, this knocks it out of the park. It’s calming, hydrating, and beautifully smooth. I’m very impressed with all of Paula’s Choice toners because they incorporate ingredients that other brands reserve for their serums and moisturizers. While they may be less effective in liquid form, due to higher chances of oxidation, that fact is unknown and debatable since water sometimes enhances penetration. The packaging was recently changed, but the formulation itself remains the same, which is a relief.
  • Treatment: Paula’s Choice Clear Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution. Since my skin is more oily than dry and of course acne-prone, I tend to favor salicylic acid over glycolic or lactic acid for daily use. I picked this product because it employs a fluid vehicle, which allows for rapid absorption, penetration, and integration into the skin. Since salicylic acid needs a low pH environment to function properly, the more quickly it is distributed throughout skin, the less chance it has of being deactivated by the skin’s natural tendency of returning to its normal pH. Think homeostasis. The Paula’s Choice product, which contains 2% salicylic acid at a pH of 3.2, is reserved for days when I’m staying indoors, since this formulation doesn’t work very well under sunscreen and/or foundation. When I go out, I just don’t apply hydroxy acid product. Please note that this toner/treatment is the exact same product as the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. They only differ in terms of packaging.
  • Lip Moisturizer: MAC Lip Conditioner in a Tube. This is reserved for days when I’m indoors, since it doesn’t have SPF in it, and because it has a relatively high amount of retinyl palmitate, although whether or not the amount converted to trans-retinoic acid or tretinoin (brand name = Retin-A) has any meaningful effect on the skin, is debatable. However, it does contain other beneficial ingredients like vitamins C and E, as well as some fantastic emollients like petrolatum, shea butter, squalane, and the sweet almond, avocado, wheat germ, and castor oils. Finally, it has a sizeable amount of the epidermal barrier component cholesterol. Some of the various oils also mimic the lipid contents of the skin, which all translates to this being an excellent treatment for dry, chapped lips. I also love that this has a matte finish, though it never becomes completely dry to the touch. Please note that exfoliation is also necessary for beautiful, smooth lips. However, because there are so few layers of skin on the lips, I don’t use chemical exfoliants on them. I just scrub them a little when I take a shower.


  • Lip Moisturizer with SPF: Jack Black Black Tea and Blackberry Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25. Its primary ingredient is shea butter, which I prefer over petrolatum because not only does it function as an emollient, it’s also a source of antioxidants, some of which are found in green tea, such as epigallocatechin gallate. That may very well be the reason why this product also lists “green tea leaf extract” as one of its ingredients. Thought it is unclear what specific ingredient is present, I am sure that you’re getting additional antioxidant protection, which is never a bad thing! This also contains some moisturizing black currant seed oil and vitamin E. As to how well this product protects against the sun… it performs adequately. With 3% avobenzone and 7.5% oxtinoxate, this provides mediocre protection against the sun since octocrylene isn’t present to stabilize and enhance the efficacy of avobenzone. Furthermore, there has been (limited) research suggesting that oxtinoxate degrades avobenzone and causes it to become increasingly unstable when exposed to sunlight. Fortunately, because lip products are reapplied constantly, at least in my case, I find this product to be satisfactory and definitely fit for “duty.”
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About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


10 thoughts on “My Story & Routine in Detail Part I

  1. Do you get any tingling or cooling sensation from the Jack Black balm? I was given the Original (natural mint & shea butter) one and I tried it but I get that cooling sensation (not really tingling)–which is irritation, right?

    Posted by Lisa | March 3, 2012, 10:07 am
    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes I have tried the original version and hated it haha! That’s the reason why I use the blackberry and tea one. Not to mention that the blackberry has some extracts that function as antioxidants, which further protect the skin from UV-induced damage. Right not, Sephora.com says that it’s out of stock… so I’m not sure if it was a limited edition item and whether or not it’s coming back soon. I hope it is. If not, well I have about 5 backups. :)

      The original version, which contains the natural mint essential oil, contains anywhere from 40%-90% menthol, depending on the specific species used. Menthol, as you probably know from my routine review for Mia, is one of the most potent irritants. Yes, it does provide a cooling sensation, but it’s detrimental to the skin due to protein denaturation.

      As always, I’m glad to read and respond to your comments!

      Posted by John | March 3, 2012, 7:26 pm
      • Heh that’s what I thought., but I wanted to check the facts with you. I used it once and then wiped it off and put on something else–I cringe a little whenever I see people commenting “Oh, I like the tingle when I put it on” (and there are tons of “plumping” products these days that have that menthol-laced tingle). When you really think about it, what else could it be but a form of irritation? And it isn’t really a comfortable (or, to me, pleasant) sensation either; it’s just novel, and makes you think it’s doing something.

        Posted by Lisa | March 6, 2012, 8:28 am
      • I think I’ll try the blackberry & tea one though. It’s a little sad that it’s probably the only good one, since grapefruit, ginger, lemon, and lavender are all potential irritants.

        Posted by Lisa | March 6, 2012, 8:35 am
  2. i just found your blog through temptalia and i’m hooked! i’ve read everthing so far and i have to say you’re doing an excellent job! thanks for creating this blog!
    i’m also a huge fan of paula’s choice, i’ve been using her products for maybe 2 years now and my skin improved so so much!
    i’m curious with one thing in this post, you say “Please note that the PC toner is the exact same product as the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.” so is there any particular reason you use one instead of the other? price? quantity? i use the 2% BHA so i was just wandering…
    thank you again! and keep up the good work, i’ll be following every post!
    (english isn’t my first language so sorry if there are too many mistakes)

    Posted by Ana | November 26, 2011, 8:52 am
    • Hey thanks for commenting!

      Yeah, the only reason why I prefer the CLEAR version is due to the packaging! Since Paula recently changed the packaging on the Skin Perfecting line, I don’t know what the packaging for the line is like. But the ingredients, quantities, and prices are the same for these two products. Make sure to check out my older posts too while you’re waiting for the new ones! xD

      Posted by John | November 26, 2011, 9:59 am

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