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 Toner. This 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.”