Top Picks for Sunscreens

best sunscreen skin care product recommendationSummer brings heat waves, watermelon, and fun in the sun. It also brings a lot of questions about sunscreens. I’ve talked about how to pick a sunscreen. Today, I’m sharing some of my top picks with you.

When I look for a sunscreen, I look first for a mineral filter. I prefer physical blocks like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for several reasons. Mineral sunscreens protect your skin from UV damage, and they are also anti-inflammatory. Zinc oxide is the primary ingredient in diaper cream; it’s known to reduce redness and soothe irritation. Mineral sunscreens are also less likely to cause reactions, so I always recommend them for my sensitive or allergic clients. Mineral sunscreens have a tendency to be thicker, so I know that an oily skin type is going to want a lighter texture. Sometimes you’ll need to go a chemical filter in this case. Remember, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use!

True Natural All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30My first pick is the True Natural All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30. I’ve linked to the one for baby, but there are several available. I stumbled onto this one at the drugstore one day, and I’ve recommended it ever since. It has a pure mineral sunscreen, and the rest of the ingredients are a blend of truly natural ingredients. It’s moisturizing enough to be an all-in-one product.

Who will love it: Dry skin types, natural skin types, sensitive skin types

Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40

 

The Clarins UV Plus Day Screen SPF 40 is a classic bestseller, and for good reason. It is super lightweight, but still a 100% mineral sunscreen. It absorbs quickly and can be used over any daytime product, from serums to moisturizers. Clarins claims to be a botanically based line, and that bothers me because they really aren’t. But if you’re looking for a lightweight sunscreen, this does the trick.

Who will love it: Oily skin types, people who want lightweight textures

 

bareMinerals SPF 30I mentioned this one in my summer essentials post, but I’m bringing it up again because I just like it that much. My favorite sunscreen touch-up product is the bareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen. Sunscreens are only effective when used properly, and proper use means regular reapplication. This is a great way to touch up your sunscreen and mattify oiliness without budging your makeup. The brush is softer than most of the other powder sunscreens on the market, so it’s much nicer for sensitive skin.

Who will love it: Makeup wearers who want to reapply, oily skin types

Boscia BB Cream

I really love my BB cream. I’ve been using the Boscia B.B. Cream that features an SPF 27 in a mineral filter. It’s got a tint to it, so you get coverage and complexion evening all in the same step. It also has treatment benefits; it has licorice root extract and arbutin to help with pigmentation. It also has ingredients that act as a skin primer, so it smooths texture and fine lines. I wear mine almost every day. It’s lightly hydrating, but dry skin types will still want to use  a moisturizer.

Who will love it: Girls on the go who still want to look polished

Do you have a favorite sunscreen? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

 

See a product here that you think would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

How To Find The Best Skin Care

It’s the eternal beauty quest… what is the best skin care? Who makes the best moisturizer? What cleanser is best? In mythe best skin care retail sales days, shoppers would come up to me and ask me, “What is the best skin care?” I would quietly ask them to follow me down a dark hallway, past all the other moisturizers. We’d pass the troll that guards the hidden door into a secret room, where there on a table, under a single beam of light, sits one single jar of the only good moisturizer in the store, which I’ve only showed to this customer because they asked for the best. When you use it, you’ll never break out, all your wrinkles will disappear, your checking account will never be empty, and your house will always be clean.

Just kidding.

There’s no troll.

Perfect moisturizers don’t exist. They don’t exist because everyone has a different opinion on what the perfect moisturizer should be like. So the question should not be “What’s the best skin care?” The question should be, “What’s the best skin care for me?” [Tweet this!]

For example, I was helping a client the other day whose primary complaint was that she was breaking out often. I asked her what she was using and she told me she was using a well known brand. I asked if she was using a product targeted for acne, like a treatment serum or even a cleanser, and she said no. She was using products that might be generally good, just not good for her, because they don’t target her primary concern.

So how do you find a skin care product that’s good-for-you? Here are a few tips.

  • Decide what your primary skin care concerns are. This is the magic question. If you could change one thing about your skin, what would it be? If there’s a bunch of things, prioritize your list. You’ll probably be able to treat a few things at once, but you want to make sure that your primary concern will be targeted.
  • Look at peripheral benefits of the skin care products. Do you want paraben-free? Do you want a natural skin care product? Do you want a moisturizer that fights acne and wrinkles?
  • Set a price. Remember that if you want a product that has many specific features, you may need to be willing to spend more. What is most important? It might be nice to be paraben free, but you might not be able to find skin care that fights acne and wrinkles, has no parabens, and is less than $30. You may have to decide which feature is the one that can be sacrificed.
  • Feel it and smell it. Textural differences and fragrances are very important. If you don’t enjoy using the product because it feels greasy or smells funny, you won’t use it. Your skin care is guaranteed to fail if it just sits in a drawer. [Tweet this!]

I want to know. What is most important to you when you buy a moisturizer or other skin care product? Do you make decisions based on price? Ingredients? A friend’s recommendation? Tell me in the comments below!

 

 

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Truth in Advertising: A Look At Natural Skin Care Claims

I’ve been talking about natural skin care recently, and on Monday, I talked about how to tell if a product is really natural. Since natural skin care claims aren’t regulated, it’s up to us to decide what natural means. As I was walking around my local drugstore, buying my 3 million count bottle of allergy medicine, I looked at a few products that made natural claims. Here I’m going to share with you my thought process when I review a skin care product for myself or recommend it for a client.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing LotionI looked at some Aveeno products first. Aveeno can be hit-or-miss to me. Sometimes their ingredient choice disappoints me, so I make sure to check before I buy. The first product was a body moisturizer, the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which claims to moisturize for 24 hours and protect and prevent dry skin. It also claims a unique oatmeal formula, which sounds like natural skin care to me.

The first ingredient I see listed is dimethicone, listed as an active ingredient in the Drug Facts panel. Dimethicone is an ingredient found in many moisturizers, foundation primers, and prescriptions. It Aveeno Daily Moisturizer ingredientsprovides barrier protection and slip. It’s a great ingredient, but I don’t consider it natural. Looking at the inactive ingredients, I see oat flour listed (avena sativa kernel flour). So here is evidence of the unique oatmeal complex.

The next four ingredients could be derived naturally, but they are usually synthetic ingredients. Glycerin can be natural or synthesized as well. We don’t know which it is. Petrolatum is a great ingredient for repairing the barrier function of the skin, but also not something I’d consider natural (even though it does technically come from the earth).

Overall, this product doesn’t meet my standards for natural skin care. A closer look at their packaging only claims active naturals, not entire product naturals, and the oatmeal complex is definitely there. Sneaky, sneaky. The product will be effective as a moisturizer for super dry and potentially irritated skin, but this is a perfect example of a regular product masquerading as a natural skin care product.

 

Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerThe next product I looked at was a newer product from Neutrogena, the Neutrogena Naturals Multivitamin Nourishing Moisturizer. I’ll admit that Neutrogena got one big eye roll from me when I heard about their natural skin care line. I don’t have a problem with Neutrogena in general, but it’s my least favorite of the drug store lines. Clients always tell me that they use Neutrogena for their sensitive skin, and I don’t think it’s all that friendly for sensitive skin. So I had my eye roll ready when I flipped this box over to inspect what Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerNeutrogena was calling “natural.”

I have to admit when I’m wrong. I was impressed with this Neutrogena moisturizer and the integrity of the ingredients. I like that they include the source for all their ingredients, letting us know that they’ve been naturally derived. I do have a couple of complaints though. I wish that they hadn’t included fragrance, which can be seen clearly listed down towards the bottom. Fragrance isn’t a great thing for sensitive skin. This product has taken great lengths to formulate without a bunch of unpopular ingredients (parabens, phthalates, dyes), so I don’t know why you’d then add a fragrance. I also hesitate to call this a “multivitamin” moisturizer, since the only real vitamin I see listed is vitamin E (tocopherol) and some extra botanicals, mostly as the very last ingredients.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Wrinkle MoisturizerThe final product I looked at was a product from Garnier, which I’ve always thought of as a natural skin care line. I use a lot of Garnier hair care, but I hadn’t looked at of one of their skin care products recently. I see the ads for this pro-retinol from nature all the time, so I picked up the Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer with SPF 15 to see what it was all about.

I flipped over the back of the box and the first thing I noticed was the Drug Facts panel with theGarnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, sunscreens sunscreens listed. The three sunscreens listed are all chemical filters. I have mixed feelings about chemical sunscreens, and current research is also mixed. For a natural skin care product, I think that a mineral filter is a better option, since it is both natural and effective.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, ingredientsNext I looked at the inactive ingredients section to see what else is in here. I got about a third of the way down before I spotted my first botanical, argan oil (argania spinosa kernel extract). Since ingredients are listed from the highest percentage to the lowest, this isn’t looking good for a “natural” product. I see some rice protein and some natural fragrance components (linalool). The pro-retinol from nature is the fifth ingredient from the end, which makes me doubt its efficacy. In order to get the benefits of retinol, you need a more significant percentage.

I was surprised and disappointed as I looked at these ingredients. I thought Garnier was supposed to be natural skin care. I mean, all the packaging is green? Yes, I fell for the marketing as well! Another look at the front of the package cleared up my questions. Garnier only claims that the retinol is from nature… not the entire product. We find another normal product capitalizing on a natural trend.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a product expecting it to be natural, only to find out that it was just clever marketing?

 

 

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How To Tell If Your Natural Skin Care Is The Real Deal

how to tell if your skin care is naturalEveryone wants natural skin care these days, and I’ve talked about the fact that there is no regulation for this term before. My readers are savvy skin care shoppers, so I want to help you figure out if a brand is really natural, or just capitalizing on a trend.

Since there is no regulation for the word natural, you must decide what natural skin care means to you. Does it need to be paraben free? Are you simply looking for more botanical ingredients or essential oils? Do you have other ingredients that you want to avoid, like petrochemicals, dyes, or sodium lauryl sulfate? I have my own idea of what natural means, and I’m sharing it here. It starts by flipping over the box and looking at the ingredients.

  • High percentage of natural ingredients and botanical extracts. When you look at the ingredients, do you see a large number of botanicals? Are there only a few words that look like chemicals? Some of those chemically looking words can still be derived from natural sources, so you may want to look them up in a ingredients dictionary like A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.
  • Low to no synthetic preservatives. Skin care products must be preserved some way. There’s really no way around it. Mostly what I’m looking for here is how many preservatives are they using? If they’re using six parabens, I doubt their commitment to being a natural skin care line.
  • No synthetic fragrance. This can be hard to figure out from the ingredient list since even a certain amount of essential oils must be listed as perfume. Your nose will tell you if the product smells like botanical ingredients or a bottle of perfume. When you check the ingredients, does the product smell like the oils and botanicals listed? Beware the product that smells like nothing. Every ingredient, especially botanicals, has a scent. If your product smells like nothing, that may mean that something, like a masking fragrance, has been added to remove or neutralize an unpleasant smell.
  • No synthetic dyes. Check the ingredients list. See anything that looks like Red 40 or Blue 9? Again, I doubt just how natural that natural skin care is if there are dyes.
  • Corporate transparency. I like to see companies openly sharing their practices. It is still marketing, but I respect companies that are willing to pull back the curtain and let us look behind the scenes. I was recently browsing the Tata Harper website, and I noticed that they offer percentages of the organic ingredients for each product. Ren Skincare lists where they derive some of their ingredients that look more like chemicals, which is also helpful if you have allergies. If you’re gung-ho to use the most natural skin care possible, call the company and ask about their ingredients. If they won’t answer all your questions, they may not be as natural as they claim.

You’ll need to make your own decisions about what you want in your skin care and what you consider natural. My goal is to put enough information out there to help you make your own informed decisions.

 

 

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What I’m Loving Now: Astara Green Papaya Nutrient Mask

Astara Green Papaya Nutrient MaskI had been under some stress recently. Since my job requires my skin to glow, I have to lean on some of my own cheats to fake a full night’s sleep. One of my favorite go-to problem solvers is the Astara Green Papaya Nutrient Mask.

I’ve loved this mask since the first time I tried it. It does a bit of everything, so it’s really great for all skin types. It has a little enzyme from papaya which helps to gently exfoliate and smooth the texture of the skin. It also has vitamin C to revive your glow and chamomile to soothe and reduce redness. It smells amazing as well, with some aromatherapy thrown in to calm your mind.

Astara is a brand that considers themselves natural. They pride themselves on using organic and even raw ingredients. And since I encourage my readers to make their own decisions about whether a line is truly natural, a quick look at the ingredient list confirms that almost all the ingredients are botanical extracts.

Tell me what you think in the comments! What masks do you love when your skin is looking a little dull?

 Think this product would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

Getting Real About Natural Skin Care

what does natural mean for skin care?Natural skin care is all the rage. It seems every time I turn around, there’s another brand launching a natural line. Unfortunately, this term is not regulated. There is no agency that checks to see if every product that claims to be natural fits any particular guidelines. So how do you know what is natural skin care and what is not? Let’s get real about it.

Natural can really mean anything. Some popular features of natural skin care products are that they are paraben free or fragrance free. Many natural skin care products use a higher concentration of botanical ingredients. This could mean a few extra botanical extracts added to a preexisting formula, or it could mean that the majority of the ingredients are botanical. Again, there is no regulation about what natural means.

Natural does not guarantee anything. It does not mean that it is organic. It also does not mean that it is mostly natural or botanical. It also doesn’t guarantee that the ingredient is good for your skin, even if it is natural. Mineral oil can technically be natural, as can water. It definitely doesn’t mean that the product is automatically better for sensitive skin.

This confusing term means that you need to be an extra savvy consumer. It means that you need to decide what natural skin care means to you. [Tweet this!] Do you worry about preservatives? Do you want a large percentage of natural ingredients? What about fragrance? You may find it helpful to invest in a cosmetics ingredients dictionary to look up some common ingredients. My favorite dictionary is A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.

The key to the truth about a product lies in flipping over the package and reading the ingredients list. What is on that list? The rule that you shouldn’t eat anything you can’t pronounce is great for food, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to skin care. Many ingredients that are good for the skin are difficult to pronounce, and some companies get tricky by putting the Latin name for a botanical on the list. It takes work to decipher. If natural skin care is important for you, it should be worth it.

There are many reputable natural brands that make great skin care. There are tons of natural skin care products that I love. The great thing about the current skin care market is that you have plenty of options for whatever you want. I only want to help you find what is most important for you.

 

 

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Behind the Buzz

marketing buzzwords for skin careThe buzz in the beauty industry can completely overwhelming these days. Every product screams at you from the shelves. So how do you know what is just beauty buzz and what you should be buying into?

Natural

So many brands are claiming to be natural, but unfortunately, there is absolutely no regulatory body that oversees this claim. Any line with botanical extracts can claim to be natural these days. It’s up to you to decide what you consider to be natural. Do you mean preservative free? Free of synthetic fragrance? Free of synthetic ingredients all together? When I look for a natural product, I look for the majority of the ingredients to be botanically derived and for a product that is free of synthetic dyes, perfumes, and preservatives.

Oil Free

Oil-free is just what it says- free of all oils, even botanical oils. Oil-free is best for super oily skin types. But ultimately you should be shopping by texture. Super oily skins need light weight lotions. Combination skin types can use more medium-weight lotions or creams, depending on the time of year. Dry skins can comfortably use a heavier cream. Even acne-prone skins can benefit from some oils, since not all acne occurs on super oily skin. I generally recommend avoiding mineral oils, which can lead to clogging. Botanical oils are healthy for many skin types and don’t necessarily need to be avoided.

Fragrance Free

This is one of the most confusing aspects of beauty products. Technically this means that there are no synthetic fragrances added to the product. It’s helpful if you are one of the many people who are allergic to synthetic perfumes. This may not mean that the product smells like nothing. Every ingredient in the product has a natural scent to it, so the final product will smell like the blend of those ingredients. Some products that don’t use additional fragrance can smell medicinal or unpleasant in some way (does anyone else remember the Perricone products circa 2006? Phew!). Here’s where it gets super tricky. Many products that smell like nothing have actually added a masking fragrance to neutralize an otherwise unpleasant smell, and that product can still be labeled fragrance free. So check your ingredients well if fragrance is a concern for you. In natural products, it can be even more complicated. If a company uses a certain number of essential oils, they must label it as fragrance on the ingredient list even if the essential oils are used for therapeutic benefits. It’s a lot to take in, and again there are not many regulations for this term and how it’s used. In this case, I ignore the packaging and use my nose. If it smells like a bottle of perfume, I skip the product. If the product is botanically based, I check the ingredients and see if they have essential oils listed.

Follow me on Twitter where I tweet about the buzz words I see under the hashtag #beautybuzz. And leave me a note in the comments about any beauty buzz you’d like me to decipher.

 

 

Speak your mind! What beauty buzz do you hear? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

Natural Skin Care, Naturally Better?

natural organic skin care, sensitive skin care With the surge of interest in organic food, there has also been more interest in organic and natural skin care. But many healthy foods have a health halo; they appear healthy, but they aren’t any better than regular junk food. Skin care products can hide behind the same guise. Like those foods, natural skin care products may not always be the best choice for you.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is better for sensitive skin.

Botanicals can often be more stimulating. Highly concentrated essential oils can overstimulate reactive skins. Ingredients can vary from batch to batch as seasons and farming conditions change. Some reactive skin types can’t handle these changes; they need more consistency.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is not as harsh.

Salicylic acid is derived from the botanical willow bark. Glycolic acid is derived from sugar. Apricot scrubs are completely natural and still incredibly aggressive. Sometimes, your sensitive skin can tolerate a natural form of an ingredient better. Sometimes it can’t tolerate an ingredient in any form. You may just have to experiment.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is less likely to cause allergic reactions.

You can be allergic to any ingredient, even natural ones. Poison ivy is completely natural and sometimes even organic, but you still don’t want to rub it on your face. Additionally, highly allergic skin types may find that the long lists of active ingredients make it difficult to narrow down specific ingredient reactions. They may find a simple list easier to navigate.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is more effective.

Natural skin care products can be incredibly effective. So can clinical skin care ingredients. It just depends on the condition of your skin and the results you desire. Some skin concerns, like acne, can respond well to natural ingredients like willow bark or tea tree oil. More persistent acne may need prescriptions like Retin-A or clindamycin. Your need changes just like your health. You may be able to avoid catching the flu by eating leafy greens and sleeping well, but once you’re sick, you might really need some Nyquil.

Health Halo: Natural skin care products are better for pregnancy.

Essential oils abound in natural skin care products, and they may be too stimulating for the sensitivities that can sometimes arise with pregnancy. There are also differing opinions on what essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy. As a rule, I advise women to avoid hydroquinone, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. Defer to your doctor for any other ingredients.

I really love natural skin care products. I love the light fragrance of the essential oils, the lack of synthetic preservatives and fillers. In fact, I prefer many natural ingredients. But I love the results I get with clinical products, and my skin also looks its best when I mix in ingredients like retinoids. Don’t choose natural skin care over clinical simply for the health halo. [Tweet this!] The best part about the skin care business is that you have plenty of options. What do you choose?

 

 

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