My three must-haves for dealing with winter skin

Left to right: Make Up For Ever Lip Booster in 01, Rodan + Fields SOOTHE Moisture Replenishing Cream, and Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

Winter is murder on skin—especially my fair, sensitive skin. Just when I think I've almost got it balanced out, colder weather hits, and sometimes it's back to the drawing board. When you find just the right products for you, they're like gold—am I right?

Here are three of my must-haves for staying happily hydrated this season, and they cover the three key problem areas: lips, face, and body.

1) LIPS: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Lip Booster in 01

I briefly mentioned Make Up For Ever's Lip Booster in a favourites post several months ago, and it still holds up! I use it every single day. I used to get uncomfortably chapped lips seasonally. My lips and the skin around them would get raw, red, and uncomfortable. I'd carry traditional, waxy balm with me and re-apply regularly, but I felt like it would just wear off and never really sink into my lips. Lip Booster is totally different. It has a more liquid texture than balm—almost like a thin gloss, but without the high-shine and stickiness. I apply it in the morning, and it sinks into my lips, plumps them up, and keeps them feeling healthy all day. It comes in clear (00) and pink (01). I have the pink, which I love—it adds just a hint of shine and colour, which is all I need most days. I repurchased this recently at the Sephora VIB sale so I'd have a backup when it runs out. It's THAT good.

You can find Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Lip Booster at Sephora for C$29.

2) FACE: Rodan + Fields SOOTHE Moisture Replenishing Cream

I'm always on the hunt for the perfect skincare regimen. My skin is pretty good, but sometimes, balancing my oily nose with the rest of my normal/sensitive/dehydrated face feels impossible. I posted earlier this year about a regimen consisting mostly of Avène products that came as close to ideal as I've ever found.

But is a beauty enthusiast ever really satisfied? No. No, she is not. So when I kept seeing Rodan + Fields pop up (my husband's cousin sells it and swears by it), I thought I'd give it a try. It's pricey, but they offer you your money back if you don't love it within 60 days, so it seemed worth the risk.

I tried the SOOTHE line, which is meant for sensitive skin. I was nervous about not including acne products in my regimen, but I get even fewer breakouts  with this than I did with my Avène products—and I didn't get many! It seems my calmer skin is less acne-prone.

My favourite product in the SOOTHE line is this Moisture Replenishing Cream. Combined with this hydration serum (which I'm currently out of—sob!), it leaves my skin as balanced as it's ever been. I barely need to touch up my makeup mid-day, and my skin looks great. It's pricey, true, but I think it's worth it. I'm on my second tube.

You can find Rodan + Fields SOOTHE Moisture Replenishing Cream online for C$64.

3) BODY: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

I can't get enough of Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, which I reviewed recently. I just repurchased it at the Sephora VIB sale, and I'm so glad I did! It's my favourite body cream, hands-down. I use it all over, and it sinks in beautifully, leaves my skin feeling soft, hydrated and silky-smooth, and smells like Hawaii. Unfortunately for my wallet, I'm not planning to be without it anytime soon.

You can find Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream at Sephora for $57 (full-size, pictured above).

What are your winter skincare must-haves? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: Make Up For Ever's Lip Booster was provided by PR for my consideration. Other products were purchased by Eyeshadow Addict.

The Skincare Line that Changed My Skin: Eau Thermale Avène

Several products from the Eau Thermale Avène line have transformed my skin.

I've always struggled with my skin. If you read this skincare post, you have an inkling of just how much. I mentioned briefly in the post that I had started using some products from Eau Thermale Avène (from here on out, Avène), and the results were promising.

Several months in, I'm fully committed, and probably never going back. I'm hesitant to try new things because my skin is so temperamental. The right skincare is kind of like the right pair of jeans. It's an intensely personal choice, and you really need to go with what makes your butt—er, skin—look and feel its best. No one is exactly the same.

I have a frustrating combination of skin issues. Typically, my breakouts are hormone-related, though breakouts are rare these days, thank goodness. Depending on the skincare I use, my skin can become bumpy and congested. It's also prone to dehydration, and quite sensitive. Fun, right? The trick is to find balance—deal with congestion without stripping the skin of all the good things it needs.

I've noticed two things about most acne solutions: One, they seem better suited to adolescent acne than adult acne. Most teenagers don't deal with the same sensitivity, dehydration, and aging issues than we do. Two, the products are just harsh. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid seem to be the ingredients of choice, and they're just too intense for my fussy skin.

Jessica of Beautezine alerted me to the fact that Avène products fight acne differently, using retinol. The entire line is designed specifically for sensitive skin (YES!), and it's built around water from a thermal spring in France that is perfectly ph balanced. Here is what the website says:

Thermal water originates from a naturally mineralized spring and possesses healing virtues that are highly recommended for therapeutic use.
Its characteristics provide beneficial properties that contribute to the preservation of health and it is recognized as a source of public interest by the French National Academy of Medicine.

French women ARE gorgeous, and dedicated to their skincare, so the claims were intriguing. The idea of a magical spring does sound a little silly, but hey—don't knock it 'til you've tried it, right?

My lovelies, I've tried it, and the results are astounding. My skin rarely breaks out. It glows. It's (fairly) smooth. I still get annoyed by the size of the pores on my nose, but I'm told they're actually not that big. I went for a facial today, and the professional said my skin was in great shape—very smooth, barely congested. (They don't have to say that, right?) I credit Avène. Here's what I use. Note that I'm very intentional about using things from different lines within the brand—in favour of balance, I don't stick to only hydrating products or only acne-fighting products.

Morning

  • I cleanse with any gentle cleanser. I do like this Gentle Milk Cleanser ($23) by Avène, but I'm also a big fan of the Treatment Enzyme Peel by AmorePacific ($66). I'm generally not particularly loyal to specific cleansers. As long as they're gentle and get the makeup off without stripping my skin, I'm happy. After all, you rinse them right off—there's really no need for fancy ingredients, in my opinion. You'll just wash them down the sink.
  • I use the Cleanance MAT Mattifying Toner ($24.50). It gets anything my cleanser might have missed off my skin, and deals with any excess oiliness or congestion without stinging. No alcohol for this girl. Nope.
  • I use a generous amount of one of Avène's star products, the Hydrating Serum ($44). It's got a high concentration of the soothing spring water the line is built around. It's got a simple list of ingredients—basically pure hydration. I love it.
  • I finish with Cleanance EXPERT Emulsion ($28.50), a light moisturizer for acne-prone skin, and Soothing Eye Contour Cream ($24).

Evening

  • I use whatever gentle foaming cleanser I have on hand (see above) to remove my makeup and cleanse the skin. (I find milk cleansers aren't great for removing makeup). I use Bioderma Sensibo to remove eye makeup.
  • I use the Cleanance MAT Mattifying Toner ($24.50).
  • I use the Ole Henricksen Truth Serum for the brightening, anti-aging properties. I've been finding it a bit sting-y lately, so I'm thinking of just using the Avène serum at night.
  • To moisturize, I use TriAcnèal EXPERT Emulsion ($31.50). Besides the hydrating serum, this is my favourite Avène product. it's the magic. It gently treats any acne I might have, and works to remove pigmentation and marks left over from healed pimples.
  • Under the eyes, I use PhysioLift Eyes. It's an anti-aging product that's a little fancier than the Soothing Contour Cream I use in the mornings. It treats puffiness, wrinkles, and dark circles.

As Needed

Whenever I feel I need an extra boost of soothing, calming, or hydration, I spritz my face with Thermal Spring Water, which comes in varying sizes. It's softening, soothing, and refreshing, and unlike the water out of your tap, there's none of of the extra stuff, and it's ph balanced. Do you need it? Probably not. But I enjoy it.

Things I really like about the Avène line

  • The prices aren't crazy. It's a higher-end drugstore brand, and the prices reflect that. Some of the luxury and specialty prices out there are just stupid. Canadian girls, I recommend buying your Avène products at Shoppers. They often have promotions where if you spend between $20 and $75, you get 20X the points. (Make sure you load your coupons every week.) It adds up quickly, and you can end up getting a lot of your skincare for free!
  • Most of the packaging is sterile. The products with pumps are airless, and most of the moisturizers are also designed to keep air out. Even the eye creams come in opaque tubes, which I like—I'm not a fan of pots, which are unsanitary and make active ingredients unstable.
  • It's all designed for sensitive skin. No extra fragrances, and nothing harsh that makes my skin red or angry. I'm grateful.

What's your favourite skincare line? Have you tried anything from Avène? Let me know on social media or in the comments below!

Quick Skincare Review: IQ Natural Clarifying Daily Care Set

IQ Natural Clarifying Trio.

Skincare reviews are hard—mostly because skincare is so personal. Thinking that what works for one person will definitely work for you is like saying, "My friend wears a size-seven shoe, so a size seven should work for me too!" You need to carefully consider your own skin type (talking to a professional can help!) and go with a customized routine that contains, at minimum, a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Feel free to mix and match skincare concerns if you feel you have a variety of needs.

With that in mind, I'll do my best to tell you how this skincare set interacted with MY skin, and you can decide whether it's worth a try!

My skin is really quite fun: I get oily on the nose, but I seem to get dehydrated elsewhere. My skin gets easily irritated and red, AND it's acne-prone. That means I have to try to control shine while staying hydrated, and combat acne without irritating or stripping the rest of my skin. It's a challenge.

When a rep from IQ Natural, a natural skincare company, contacted me and recommended the Natural Clarifying Daily Care Set (travel-sized) for my skin, I figured, "Why not?" My skin has come through a season of nasty breakouts and has calmed down, so I thought it would be safe.

Here are my impressions:

Make sure you're on board with natural ingredients before you give this a try. I've never been committed to natural ingredients, and I'd never used natural skincare before this, so there were a couple of thingsthat I found a little off-putting.

  • One, the scent of the cleanser. I can't quite describe it—a little like medicine, but minus the alcohol. I didn't particularly like it, but fortunately it didn't last.
  • Two, the consistency of the moisturizer. Have you ever made frosting, but added too much milk and had it go too soft? It's kind of like that. I find it sits on the skin longer than other moisturizers I've tried, and takes awhile to absorb. I can only assume this has something to do with the natural ingredients.

I think this will work better on younger, slightly oilier skin. IQ Naturals has a couple of acne lines: One "regular" line, and one for mature skin. I think I'd prefer the mature set. The cleanser in the regular set, while by no means nearly as harsh as most other acne products out there, did leave my skin feeling a bit tight. As a whole, the set was fine, but I feel I need more hydration in my skincare.

This is a nice enough, basic set. Nothing really "wowed" me, but the cleanser removes all gunk and makeup, the toner doesn't sting, and the moisturizer (when it sinks in), leaves my skin feeling reasonably moisturized. The products didn't irritate my skin, and seemed to neither eliminate or irritate/cause breakouts.

Overall: If your skin is normal to oily, you're not sensitive to scents, your acne isn't too severe, and you're committed to natural skincare, consider giving this a try.

Disclosure: These products were provided by PR for my consideration.