Products to Soothe the Skin

‘Tis the season for grilling out, a bevy of fresh produce at the farmers market, and painted toenails. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for allergies. Pollen is swirling in the air, dust balls and mold have been collecting all winter, and your sinuses and skin might be paying the price. My skin has been irritated lately, which inspired me to research natural remedies for itchy skin. Allergies are especially tricky because it’s difficult to isolate what is causing the discomfort. It could be a combination of foods and environmental exposures, such as pollen or animal dander. If your skin feels like it needs to be cooled down, I would recommend a regimen that includes aloe, oatmeal, tea tree oil, and Vitamin E, which all work to soothe your skin. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite products here: 1. Nature’s Gate Aloe Vera body wash ($7.49 at is a cooling gel body wash with a slightly bubble gum scent that leaves your skin feeling clean and cool. Turn down the water temperature and watch the redness of your skin start to fade. 2. St. Ive’s Oatmeal & Shea Butter body moisturizer ($5.89 at CVS) nourishes and restores hydration to your dry skin. It’s light in texture and smell and is perfect for dry patches of skin around your elbows. 3. derma e Tea Tree and E Oil ($12.50 at is perfect for soothing itchy hives or bug bites. Tea tree has a strong smell similar to eucalyptus and can be a bit overpowering, but is tempered by the soothing Vitamin E Oil. Use a cotton ball to dab it onto affected areas before bed and feel the tingly, cooling feeling settle into your skin as you drift into sleep.

Have you found any natural remedies to work for your allergies?

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Cool as a Cucumber


Leave it to DC to jump from 40 degrees and overcast over the weekend straight to 80 degrees and sunshine today. Rapid fluctuations in weather leave my skin feeling confused, but fortunately I had booked a Sunday afternoon free mini facial at Origins. I like to make appointments about once a season so I can spend some one-on-one time with a consultant going over any new concerns and of course trying out some new products. Origins consultants are always so friendly and professional, helpful without laying on the guilt trip. This time I met with Lindsay, who picked out some products that she thought I’d like to play with. Although I am a faithful user of Origins GinZing eye cream, Lindsay recommended I try Eye Doctor, available at Origins for $32. This cucumber-based eye cream is extremely gentle, and is perfect for when your eyes are feeling a little dry  and puffy after a long night out (nothing will dehydrate your skin like alcohol) or a weekend of walking around in the early spring cold air. It’s more than just soothing though–Eye Doctor also has ginseng in it, giving your eyes a kick of energy while nourishing at the same time. The scent has light, earthy undertones from the cucumber. Imagine if cucumber spa water came in cream form. Now imagine gently caressing your eyes with this cucumber spa water cream. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? While GinZing will wake you up, Eye Doctor will cool your eyes down after a long day and restore the moisture to the delicate skin in the area above and below. I also learned this trick–let eye doctor chill in the fridge while you are at work, and you’ll come home to an even more refreshing DIY cucumber spa treatment.

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Got a Face of the Mondays?

One of the keys to surviving the work week, other than scheduling in a happy hour at a place you’ve been dying to try, is fooling yourself into looking forward to Monday. Of course, there is no getting around some things. The train to work is still going to be crowded. The spreadsheet is still going to make your head swim. The artificial lighting above your cubicle will not have magically transformed over the weekend to a soft white that is easier on your eyes. Which makes it essential that you find some small way to treat yourself Monday night. Some weeks I make Monday my yoga night. After a busy weekend of cleaning, errands, and catching up with friends, I find this the perfect way to just be still, and regain energy for the week ahead. Occasionally I like to do a little shopping on Monday nights, avoiding the tiring weekend crowds. Tonight, I made a big batch of fusili with herbed ricotta with fresh basil, onions, black olives, and tomatoes so I can look forward to lunch for the next couple of days–even if it is at my desk.

I’m also treating myself to an Origins mask tonight. They have so many to choose from, but I decided on their Drink Up 10 minute mask, available at for $21. This mask is perfect for when your face is feeling a little dry and uneven. It’s silky smooth going on, and I tend to be generous on my cheekbones where I experience the most dryness. The fragrance is delicious–a blend of plants and fruits, with apricot and citrus and a hint of rose standing out the most to me. 10 minutes (just the right amount of time to read a few pages of your current book, make a cup of tea, or send an e-card to a friend that you’ve been thinking about) is all you need before gently rinsing.

What will you do to treat yourself on Monday nights?

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Skinsational Product of the Week: Origins White Tea Cleanser

Each week, I’ll highlight a “skinsational” skin care product that you absolutely need to know about. I mentioned in my last post how I struggle with dry skin throughout the winter. While Jergens was the solution for my hands, I consulted with the experts at Origins to find out what I was doing wrong on my face. Origins is one of my very favorite skin care lines. Not only are their products incredibly effective, but they are also  affordable. They are an earth-friendly company that is committed to keeping all those hard-to-pronounce harsh chemicals out of their products, and I always find their employees to be very knowledgeable about products without being too pushy about buying.

Last time I went in for a consultation, the expert explained that the current moisturizer I was using was too harsh for the dry winter months. She instead suggested that I turn to the “A Perfect World” line and start my cleansing routine with the white tea cleanser ($20 for a 5 oz tube). While this cleanser doesn’t foam up as much as I would like, it is very gentle while still giving you that clean, fresh sensation. Another thing I love about the A Perfect World line is that the white tea is an antioxidant, so I visualize myself putting a protective layer on my skin each morning before going out the door. While I love to start my morning with a cup of hazelnut, I am thinking about making to switch the white tea a couple mornings a week. According to this msnbc article, white tea is even more effective in fighting cancer than green tea! Now the question is what type to get. What do you think about Tazo’s White Cucumber? Mmmmmmm.

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Time to put away the winter jacket–but not the moisturizer!

Today is officially the first day of 2011 where if I look closely enough, I can see the faintest sun-induced glow on my arms! What a gorgeous day for a trip to Rock Creek Park. When these days come along in March, you just have to set aside your inside plans and errands and get outside. Laying out in the park today, with the sounds of a group of bbq’ers and a high school lacrosse game drifting toward me, had me dreaming about cherry blossoms and rooftop dinners. But, we can’t get ahead of ourselves jussssst yet. In my home state of Maine, it was almost 70 degrees yesterday, and snowing heavily this morning. And even  in DC, sunny spring days can be tempered by chilling winds. While it might be safe to put away the heavy winter jacket, keep the bottle of dry skin moisturizer on your nightstand–right next to your sunglasses!

This winter was particularly brutal on my hands. Between the weather and the millions of papercuts I somehow get at work, my hands were seriously suffering. Before committing to one product, I like to try out a variety of travel- or sample-size brands and see which one works the best for my skin. (I also just love anything travel sized, and they are great for sticking in your purse.) This winter, I tried out 4 different hand moisturizers for my dry skin. Here is the run-down, from my least favorite to the one that I will apply before bed tonight:

4. Eucerin Calming Creme (Dry Skin Therapy)

I just didn’t find this creme to be very effective for me. It’s also “Fragrance Free,” but I always find that no-fragrance is still a fragrance, and I didn’t particularly like it in this case.

3. Curel Daily Moisture (Original Lotion for Dry Skin)

I find this moisturizer to be a bit watery. If you like an especially light moisturizer, this might be your best option, but when my skin is cracking from the dryness, I tend to gravitate toward ones with a thicker (without being greasier) texture. Also, the fragrance is heavy on the baby powder which could turn up a few noses if you’re applying in your cubicle or on the train home.

2. Neutrogena hand cream (Norwegian Formula)

This hand cream is a bit more expensive and harder to find than the others ($4.99 for a 2 oz tube). That said, I found it to be incrediblhy effective, and it’s true that you only need a small dab for both hands. The original scent is really nice and light. My only issue with it is that it is glycerin-based, leaving my hands feeling slightly greasy after applying. I’ll continue to use this–but mainly on my elbows.

1. Jergens (Ultra Healing)

And the winner is…Jergens!! This dry skin moisturizer healed my dry skin this winter. It’s the perfect texture–light enough that your hands aren’t sliding on your computer mouse or Kindle, but thick enough that you can feel it working.  It might be the high vitamin content that sets this moisturizer apart–it is rich in C, E, and B5. I have a big bottle right next to my bed so I can apply right before hitting the lights each night, and also carry a travel size with me to apply after I wash my hands or before I dig into a stack of papers throughout the day.

Agree or disagree with these rankings? I’d love to hear your thoughts! We can only hope that the spring weather will make this all a moot point before long.