I am blessed, or cursed, depending on your point of view, with very sensitive skin that I inherited from my maternal grandfather. I can’t wear most synthetic fabrics, wool or any fabric dyed in brown. I can’t wear costume (fake) jewelry because I react badly to the metals. I can’t wear some types of makeup. Whenever I break these rules, I breakout with eczema. Some wines (especially cheap, low quality wines), on rare occasions, have triggered skin rashes too. I assume this is because of the sulfites, but I haven’t confirmed this.
Because of all this, I am very picky about my skincare routine and whenever I find a product that does not cause eczema or a breakout, I record it. There are so few. It is a very fastidious but necessary task. Most high-end brands, and a very high proportion of many well-known mass market products do not suit me. I won’t be pointing them out because my skin is the issue, not their composition. I want to add that all skins are different and react differently to the products I use so don’t use me as a template – test the products samplers out on a small patch of your skin yourself before making any purchases.
Some of my girlfriends do not like Avène, and as you may notice, I use a lot of Avène creams. I know for a fact that these do not cause any rashes or reactions. I am also aware that some of the products that I’m going to list below contain mineral oil or palm oil, which are not deemed by certain skin gurus to be good ingredients. I would avoid them but the products that include them work well with my skin and there are too many products that fail this essential test, so I cannot afford to exclude them in my particular case.
I also drink a lot of tea. I avoid caffeine, desserts, dairy and gluten as much as possible. However, I drink some alcohol and this is high in sugar. I also eat dark chocolate, but I console myself with the vast body of literature that claims this is good for you.
Below are my personal favorite skincare products.
I want to point out that I am not sponsored by any of these products, I receive nothing in return for naming them. I bought and paid for them myself. In every case my choice is one based on a painful process of elimination as a consequence of what I’ve explained above.
I take supplements with my breakfast and these are the supplements I use for my skin (not necessarily all at the same time, or all of the time):
- Solgar Norwegian Cod Liver Oil Softgels: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Cod Liver Oil
- Elteans : Salmon oil, Borage oil, Soya and Carrot oil, Glycerol, Rosemary extracts, E150 Caramel coloring
- Caudalie Vinexpert Dietary Supplements: Nutrition facts / 2 capsules / 4 capsules Total grape extract / 80 mg / 160 mg Grape-seed oil / 240 mg / 480 mg Virgin borage oil / 146 mg / 292 mg Virgin evening primrose oil / 146 mg / 292 mg Protein / 0,008 g / 0,016 g Carbohydrates / 0,29 g / 0,58 g Fat / 0,58 g / 1,16 g
Supplements have been part of my routine for about three years now because they have been prescribed by my doctors to counteract the lack of sun, and thus vitamin D, in Paris. My dermatologist has also insisted that very dry skins are the results of my body’s inability to produce the necessary fatty acids itself; creams can help attenuate symptoms of dry skin but will not help my body create healthy skin in the first place.
I wash my face with the following thermal water spray and I have noticed a significant improvement in my skin comfort, especially in my eyelids.
- Avène Eau Thermale : Avène Aqua, Nitrogen.
Every other day I use the following micellar lotions and have had no eczema reactions as a consequence.
- Bioderma Créaline TS H20 Solution micellaire : Water, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, PEG 410 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ammonium Lactate, Plantago Major Lef Extract, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligo-Saccharides, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Cetrimonium Bromide.
- Caudalie Eau Micellaire Démaquillante : Raisin, Camomille, Glycérine végétale, Menthe, Carvi, Galbanum
- Avène Lotion Micellaire Nettoyante et Démaquillante : Avene Thermal Spring Water (Avene Aqua), Pentylene Glycol, Poloxamer 188, Bisabolol, Cetrimonium Bromide, Disodium edta , Fragrance (Parfum), Peg/Ppg-14/4 Dimethicone, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride
I am currently finishing my first Caudalie beauty elixir. This treatment agrees with my skin and I like its 100% natural perfume.
- Caudalie Eau de Beauté : Aqua (Water), Alcohol*, Citrus Aurantium Amara Flower Water (Bitter Orange), Parfum (Fragrance), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Potassium Alum, Glycerin, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract, Commiphora Myrrha Resin Exract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Oil (Balm Mint), Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Citral, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Farnesol, Bensyl Benzoate, Eugenol.
I finish my facial routine with my all-time favorite moisturizer :
- Avène Tolérance Extrême Crème : Avène Thermal Spring Water (57%), Glycerin, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Squalane, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (Carthamus Tinctorius Oil), Cyclomethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Carbomer, Titanium Dioxide.
Again I proceed to remove my makeup with a cleansing micellar lotions (see MORNING ROUTINE step 3) OR I use :
- Avène XeraCalm AD Cleansing Oil : Avène Thermal Spring Water. Glycerin. PEG-7 Glyceril- Cocoate. Disodium Laureth Sulfosiccunate. Sodium Cocoamphoacetate. PEG-25 Hydrogenated Castor Oil. Ceteareth- 60 Myristyl Glycol PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceril Palmate. Laureth-3. Coco-Glucoside. Aquaphilus Dolomiae Extract. Arginine. Caprylyl Glycol. Citric Acid. Evening Primrose Oil/Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters. Glycine. Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (Oenothera Biennis Oil) Sorbic Acid. Tocopherol.
I am currently using and loving the following face wash :
- Hada Labo’ Tamagohada AHA+BHA : Water, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Lactate, TEA-Cocoyl Alaninate, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glycolic Acid, Salicyclic Acid, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Methylparaben
From time to time, when I think about it, I exfoliate.
- Dermalogica Daily Microfiliant : Microcrystalline Cellulose, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Colloidal Oatmeal, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Allantoin, Papain, Salicylic Acid, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, PCA, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Cyclodextrin, Lauryl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Limonene, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) , Hexylene Glycol.
I may also use a corrective treatment on pimples or on my nose for blackheads:
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Corrective and Unclogging Anti-Imperfection Care : Active Ingredients : Benzoyl Peroxide 5.5% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Isostearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Silica, Carbomer, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates C10 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Epilobium Angustifolium (Canadian Willowherb) Flower, Leaf Stem Extract.
Fight the wrinkles. I am currently finishing my very last tube of Avibon. To be clear, Sanofi Aventis has not stopped the product, but it has not delivered any Avibon to the pharmacies in Paris or in province (otherwise known as outside of Paris and its suburbs in France) in quite some time, and stocks have now run out. I have been to the pharmacy today, and there are no other creams containing Vitamin A.
- Avibon Pommade : pure, pharmacy-grade vitamin A (1,000,000 i.u.), lanolin, polysorbate 80, perfume T 1415.
BODY CREAM ROUTINE
This step is essential and I moisturize whenever possible with one of these creams:
- Bioderma Atoderm Crème Nourishing cream : Water, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Glycerin, Cetearyl, Isononanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Myreth-3 Myristate, Cyclomethicone, Steareth-21, Tocopheryl acetate, Mannitol, Xylithol, Rhamnose, F ructooligosaccharides, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Triethanolamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearid Acid, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkul Acrylate Crosspolumer, Disodium Edta, Carbomer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparabe, Propylparaben, Butylparabe, Ethylparaben.
- Avène XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-replenishing cream : Avene Thermale Spring Water (Avene Aqua), Glycerin, Mineral Oil (paraffinum Liquidum), Cetearyl Alcohol, Oenothera Biennis (evening Primrose) Oil (oenothera Biennis Oil), Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Glucoside, Aquaphilus Dolomiae Extract, Arginine. Carbomer, Evening Primrose Oil/palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters, Glycine, Sodium Hydroxide, Tocopherol, Water (aqua).
- Avène TriXéra+ Selectiose Emollient cream : Water/Eau (Aqua), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (Carthamus Tinctorius), Mineral Oil/Huile Minerale (Paraffinum Liquidum), Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil), Polysorbate 60, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (Oenothera Biennis Oil), Sorbitan Stearate, Cetyl Esters, Dimethicone, Benzoic Acid, BHT, Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Glycine, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract (Glycine Soja Extract), Pentylrhamnosides, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide.
- Cooper Glycérolé d’amidon : I did not find the specific ingredients for this brand, but usually it consists in more than 80% of glycerin, water and corn and rice starch. The absence of wheat starch helps for sensitive people.
- Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque : Water/Aqua/Eau, Kaolin, Bentonite, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silt, Polysorbate 60, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, Magnolia Grandiflora Bark Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Bisabolol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Magnolia Kobus Bark Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Seed Extract, Thujopsis Dolabrata Branch Extract, Montmorillonite, Taraktogenos Kurzii Seed Oil, Naringenin, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Capryloyl Glycine, Leptospermum Scoparium Branch/Leaf Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Palm Glycerides, Potassium Lauroyl Wheat Amino Acids, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Arachidonic Acid, Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Coco-Glucoside, Menthol, Potassium Sorbate, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Disodium EDTA, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947).
I probably spend too much time obsessing about this subject, but it’s more a consequence of my sensitive skin than it is an obsession with aging or how I look. I’ve had some very bad experiences with some products that are otherwise considered to be the best money can buy, and my personal list of products that my skin will tolerate is an ongoing project.
Some people can try any product they like and judge the product based on its effects. I cannot, and as a consequence the products I mention are specific to me – they work for my difficult, hyper-sensitive skin. Maybe, if you have the same problems, some of them will work for you. Either way, I’d love to hear what works for other people, I am always keen to hear about products I haven’t tried.