Monday, 27 April 2015

Cheat Sheet - When to use natural, when to reach for the chemicals


Before you read on - when I use the below terms I take them to mean:
Chemical-led: products that contain non-'natural' ingredients - anything.
Natural-led: products that would make the 'natural' consumer happy - may contain some non-natural ingredients, but the main bulk is natural.
Organic-led: would be endorsed by the green brigade and Gywneth. 
And remember - nearly everything is technically a chemical, including water. It's how a product is marketed that makes the distinction.

One of my most-asked questions re ingredients is 'Is it natural?' and my answer is always 'Yes, if that's what you want.'

If you look closely at Instagram pictures of my routines that I've been sharing for a few months, you'll notice a pattern. I invariably tail end with natural-led products - and sandwich a lovely chemical serum in the middle.

See above for example, a Tata Harper sandwich with a Vichy and Kate Somerville filling.

This is by no means set in stone.


Exhibit B above: Clinique to massacre my makeup. That's what they should have called this product by the way, 'Massacre'. Or 'Destroyer'. I digress. Clinique removes makeup, followed by a natural-led Oskia and finished with organic-led May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon. But before May Lindstrom, comes Sunday Riley Luna. That's not made of apples y'all. In the best way.


Exhibit C above: The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser - proper organic here - no faffing about - Sjal to finish, which is natural-led but by no means 'green' and chemical-led Kate Somerville Mega C serum in the middle.

Why do I do it this way?

Predominantly because:

The best eye makeup removers invariably contain chemicals - case in point: Bioderma, Nars, Clarins and Charlotte Tilbury. That's removing surface junk so it's no problem for me personally...if you want to go natural you can go down the almond oil route, but I find that a tad heavy for my baggy eyelids and the residue can make them puffy.
Second Cleansers/skin cleanser are at some point going to used for facial massage, so I steer towards good oils/milk ingredients for that. Not always, but in general/most of the time. 
Acid toners/Essences are by their very definition, chemical-led. Lovely.
Eye creams can be either, although I would probably go natural-led if your only concern was dryness/dehydration and chemical for everything else. 
Serums for me are nearly always chemical-led. Here's why: if you are out of your 20's and have lived any kind of life (I mean 'any', I'm not being facetious) you will have signs of ageing on your skin. And I'm sorry, but at a certain point, if you want to reverse those signs of ageing, you need to embrace the chemical. You, for 'green' reasons, may decide against that. That's 100% your prerogative obviously. But, for example, I have yet to meet a 'green, organic' product that can actually reverse sun damage, pigmentation and scarring as well as chemical-led retinoids. As much as people harp on about rosehip oil for scarring, it has nothing, nothing on retinoids available on prescription. It may be marketed as 'a natural alternative to retinol', but in reality that means that the proof has to be in the pudding, and they are just very, very different ingredients. See also: peptides. 
Your serum is the product that will penetrate the most - it's the most 'active' product that you use. It's where you should embrace the chemical and be a bit more spendy.


Again, as in the above picture, there are days where I reach for something organic in the serum department - usually when I want to get my glow on, really hydrate or if I am using a particularly silicone-heavy moisturiser. Which leads me to:
Moisturisers are probably the category where I mix it up the most. I love organic/natural-led hydrating, soothing moisturisers. I like how the majority (not all) of them are under makeup and I tend to use them on days where I am applying self-tan afterwards. The lack of silicone makes for better tanning. :)
If however, I feel my face needs some oomph and a little kick, I would probably use something hi-tech. For example: a Kate Somerville/Zelens serum under a Tata Harper moisturiser works a treat. Likewise, a Tata Harper serum under a Zelens/Kate Somerville moisturiser is also a good plan. Those three brands are probably the only ones where I would use both their serum and moisturiser together without an issue, but not very often. I like to mix it up a little.

The reason I invariably mix up the final two stages is silicone. A silicone serum, followed by a silicone moisturiser, followed by either SPF and/or a silicone primer makes for the higher possibility of 'rolling'. And I hate it when my products 'roll', it makes me feel dirty and like I have to do my entire routine again. Weird maybe, but that's just me. You have to do you.






60 comments:

  1. So now I just really want a self-tan cheat sheet! What do you use? How do you order it in your routine?

    Personally, never been clear on why anyone cares so much about so-called 'natural.' Surely efficacy is what we pay for, non? Some things are natural - like, say, cow dung - but you won't catch me putting it on my face. So many 'natural' ingredients can be irritating, too. I think it's time to move past the unthinking preference for 'natural.'

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    1. She posted some time ago that she uses (or used) Clarins liquid bronze self tanning on her face/neck. I've got it and like it quite a bit! Very subtle.

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  2. What a fabulous cheat sheet!! I'd not actually thought about how the mix works together like that till I read this. I'm all for the chemicals at 46. I am like you in the sense that my money goes more on the serum and I like them with all the goodies in and I tend to mix it up with the moisturisers. I've also become a huge fan of glycolic since reading your blog and boy has it made a difference to my skin, and it wasn't bad before!
    I would love to see a cheat sheet on menopausal skin care as I'm sure that's not far down the road and ready to pounce and I wanna be ready for it!!

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  3. Great post as always Caroline. What kind of natural-led eyecream would you suggest as my main concern is very dry undereyes. I've tried Kiels creamy avocado treatment and the Estee Lauder eye serum but no joy for my very dry skin at 23 :'( Any suggestions would be really appreciated, thank you in advance! X

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    1. I have dry undereyes too. Not natural-led but Clinique All About Eyes Rich is great. I've found the rich version to be more moisturizing than Kiehl's avocado eye cream.

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    2. Me too! Not found anything that helps! Would love a few suggestions.

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    3. Emu Oil Well Moisturising Eye Cream is very good :)

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    4. I use Antipodes Kiwi Seed Oil eye cream and I love it!

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  4. Thank you for another fabulous entry!!!!! I am 53 and I am, sorry, all for the chemichals.... As long as they work, keep them coming!!!! You have opened my eyes to a whole new world and I can only say Thank you!!!! From the bottom of my heart!! I started following you some four or five weeks ago, and what a difference in my skin! I would only need a tiny piece of advice. I live in Sweden and I can't get hold of Sunday Riley Luna. Can you recommend another good Retinol serum? Would Paula's Choice 1% do? Txs again!!!!

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    Replies
    1. If you want a hard-hitting retinoid, you'll have to get a prescription.

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  5. Great cheat sheet. I would always prefer natural / organic but I'm afraid my vanity cares a little less and therefore if I can't find an organic / natural solution then bring on the chemicals. I would love a top 10 (or 30 - the more the better as some that you use are more US) of serums from you. I find the problem that at 34 I'm very much thinking about anti-ageing but rather sadly still having to think about spots. I really have to avoid silicones so a bit of detail like "this is a great anti ageing serum and would be low risk to break you out" kind of info would be great. I'm totally selfish like that but I'm sure you could include other info too :-) Also, I'm still a little confused by oils, such as Luna or MV organics Rose oil, I think I always thought these were instead of a serum but from your pictures it seems like you would still use a serum before these so a bit of spelling out with that would be wonderful too.

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  6. Please do a top 10 on serums!! Please please pleaaaaaseeeeee!��
    Joana E

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  7. oh, I hate that siliconey-feeling! Great to make a nice surface to put make up on top of, but otherwise I am not fond of an excessively siliconey smoothness!

    Since reading this blog I've experimented more with my skincare (I am getting into mid-30s now and I'm happy to use 'chemicals' that get the job done!), but I'm having problems finding products that don't irritate my skin.

    Are there any 'entry-level' serums or eye-creams that might be good for someone like me? My routine thus far has been pretty no-frills.

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  8. And retinols - plsssssssssssss! Xxx

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  9. And retinols - please...... X

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  10. Serum top 10 please! You rock hard!!! Xx

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  11. I have acne across both cheeks and the scars last weeks. I am currently using Emma hardie cleansing balm followed by pixi woo glow tonic with a Sunday Riley Artemis serum and kate Somerville Goat milk. Is this too chemical heavy? I would do anything to reduce the scarring red dots all across my face!

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    1. Hi Caroline :)

      Firstly - THANK YOU for an amazing online resource for all things skincare.

      I am also an acne/scar sufferer. I am 24 and very healthy in general - little dairy, no alcohol or cigarettes, sleep well, eat loads of greens etc. (if we ignore the weekly binges on Marks and Spencers Extremely Chocolately Shortbread biscuits...ahem). I take cod liver oil supplements 3x 1000mg and that seems to help my skin look 'plumper' and healthier after all the chemicals I have used on my face in the past. *starts plot to spank all my past dermatologists*

      I have a question for you or anybody on here who might pitch in with their two cents :)
      I live in France so have great access to cool brands. Currently started using a mask and toner from Ducray's Keracnyl range as well as their Melascreen dark spot treatment. They all contain glycolic acid/azelaic acid but I was wondering if I should get Skinceuticals retinol 1% to use as well? Would you recomend using both glycolic acid and retinol at the same time? (I have a cheap but hopefully cheerful day cream by Garnier which is spf 30 which I started using when the weather warmed up).

      The alternative product I was thinking of was Liquid Gold. My skin is prone to big ass cysts but is resilient as anything to tough treatments. I am just not sure how to tackle acne scars (I have heavys carring under my jawline and ice picks I am ignoring on my cheeks) anymore.

      Any help would be so, so appreciated.

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    2. Hi Bird Tales! You might want to try YULI Skincare's Cell Perfecto PM. You can check out my review here: http://www.charmystique.com/2014/07/yuli-skincare-review-cell-perfecto-pm-panacea-elixir-pure-mask.html

      It's the only thing which's worked on superficial (red marks) and deeper scars (icepick/boxcar) on my face. Pretty amazing stuff! Using it with Life Flo Health Retinol cream, which you can find on iHerb (http://www.iherb.com/life-flo-health-retinol-a-1-advanced-revitalization-cream-1-7-oz-50-ml/29793?rcode=lbc461) helps me see results faster too. I also use Biologique Recherche's P50 to exfoliate. Hope this helps you!

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    3. Hi Bird Tales! You might want to try YULI Skincare's Cell Perfecto PM. You can check out my review here.

      It's the only thing which's worked on superficial (red marks) and deep (icepick/boxcar) scars on my face. Pretty amazing stuff! Using it with Life Flo Health Retinol cream, which you can find on iHerb helps me see results faster too. I also use Biologique Recherche's P50 to exfoliate. Hope this helps you!

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  12. What do you mean Caroline by "rolling"?
    I like natural, but if I wanted something to really work, I'd never buy natural. Bring on the chemicals. Salycilic acid toning has been a saviour for me. Having said that, jojoba oil for cleansing works nicely for me at times.

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    1. It's when you apply one silicone product over top another and instead of laying into the skin the products rolls into a ball and falls off looking like dead skin. It's gross.

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  13. Hi Caroline, thanks for the post. How do I know if a product contains silicione? Does it appear as "silicone" on ghe inci list? Would love a review of the Zelens serum. And what are your thoughts on the Lancome Genifique serum?

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    1. Not the Lady Hirons obs,but if you dont mind me answering... any silicones byproducts will have -cone or -one at the end. Eg: dimethicone.

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    2. Some silicones are not occlusive and do not stay on the skin. Cyclopentasiloxane is a popular cone that evaporates away. You'll find it in foundations, serums, leave-in haircare products.

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    3. Silicone containing products end in an "-one" such as dimethicone.

      My skin can handle some silicone, and others not at all. For example, I, too, enjoy Kate Somerville Products (I think I might give her Goat Milk moisturizer a go again) but Quench broke me out repeatedly.

      Thanks so much for turning me on to Tata Harper products. Love!!

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  14. Thanks so much for all the info. Very much appreciated. I have a question about bioeffect egf? Is it a chemical & should I moisturise after? I feel like I need a moisturiser but am sure I read that a moisturiser will lessen the effect. If it is chemical I could maybe team it up with liz earle superskin? Thanks again :)

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  15. I just purchased the Luna oil and it has made some difference in my skin. But my acne is still not 100% good and I was wondering if there is a serum that would work under the oil at night? Thank you

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  16. Thanks yet again for explaining something in a christal clear way, that then enables us to make our individual choices.
    Personally I use natural and organic for hair and body and don't eat any rubbish whatsoever... But for my 45+ Face? Bring on the high-tech!!!

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  17. Really interesting! Thank you. I'm intrigued to know your opinion on mixing 'natural' products with 'chemical'. I work in the beauty industry with two very different brands of skincare and get frustrated when I hear people saying that mixing different ranges is 'bad' for your skin. I'm sure many people are sucked in to the sales hype that using products in the same range have better results. I know this is true to a certain extent but personally I see better results in my own skin when I mix and match my products depending on how my skin feels! Would love to hear your wisdom on this :)

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  18. How would I know if something is silicone-based? Should I then only use silicone-based makeup with silicone-based moisturizers, for example?

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  19. Hi, I an not Caroline obviously but I use Good Genes over Luna. see Carolines recent review of Good Genes. it has really helped with my skin. Sunday Rioey says to put Luna on and leave for five minutes then to put Good Genes on top. Luna is different from her other oils which you have to put on last. Hope this helps.

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    1. I need to try this. I just bought Luna and have been using good genes. I'm baby stepping my way to using both together. I will follow these directions. Thank you!

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  20. Hi Caroline,

    I was wondering if you could recommend a cleanser for acne-prone, sensitive skin (but with dry cheeks). I don't feel my current cleanser is up to scratch. I currently use coconut oil to remove my make-up, but my second-cleanse cleanser is pretty pants to be honest. I am 21 and on a student budget so not anything bank-breaking.

    Thanks

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    1. How high is the threshold for student budget? If you're looking for 1st cleanser under 10$, I think soap and glory has a hot cloth one thats divine. Thebodyshop has both cleansing oil, butter and gel; each is awesome in their own way.

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    2. I think Caroline said in one of her recent videos that the Body Shop cleanser isn't great for spots. I remember because I have spots and I also have the cleanser. Argghh...

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    3. About £20 for a cleanser probably?

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    4. Also meant to say I find Lush Ultrabland a nice budget option.

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    5. Hi Jennifer, not Caroline but I have sensitive combination skin and my favourite second cleanser is Body Shop's Calming Aloe. It's a cleansing milk that gets my skin properly clean without irritating it or worsening any breakouts, and it doesn't make my dry spots feel tight either. Not expensive and TBS often have a buy one get one half price offer on!

      ~El

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    6. I have tried camomile from the body shop and it just doesn't agree with my skin, neither does the good things purifying cleanser. I want something non-foaming and gentle but that is going to do a proper clean too. I was thinking of trying the soap and glory ultimeit but not sure how this would go for acne-prone sensitive skin. I use mask of magnaminty from lush once a week and it's fab, maybe I will give ultrabland a try.

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    7. I love Acure Organics SuperFruit + Chlorella Growth Cleanser. Affordable and won't dry out acne-prone or sensitive skin. I'm pretty sure you can find it in the stores but if not Spirit Beauty Lounge and iHerb carries it.

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  21. I discovered this brand other day called SW basics. It only has five ingredients or less which, most of their products have essential oils or other oils like, Almond oil and other natural ingredients. How well would you say products like that work and if it is worth trying? Their products are mostly oil base or dry based.

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  22. Caroline, I have a scar on the inside of my arm. #kittyseldon got me pretty good with a scratch a few months ago. I've been putting Shea Butter on it. From your post can I put Luna on it!?!?

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  23. hi caroline. thanks for the information.can you please post a top 10 serum? thank you.

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  24. Do you still use Hydraluron? I don't seem to spot it often in your Instagram posts. I hate 'rolling' too, it does feel dirty!

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  25. Ugh! I know that ~roll~ feeling. I HATE IT! That's what I get when I use Origins Ginzing with La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra fluid..so sadly I can't really use that moisturizer if I'm going out =/

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  26. Ohhh... thank you very much for this post! Personally, I have nothing bad to say about both sides, but just like any other purchase I made I'd like to know what I'm buying. Too many chemical names I dont recognize irks me, and make me wary.

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  27. What are your thoughts on the Pai Blemish Serum? I am 17 and looking for something to help my problem skin. Thanks Caroline! xx

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    1. I think The Lady Hirons has a post (or part of a post ) concerning teenage skin?

      Considering that it might be hormone related, taking stock of your dietary habit might help more than slew of serums.

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  28. Well thank you Caroline! This was exactly what I had been looking for. I have long been an organics only type of girl, but as my thirties are nearing (28 at the moment) even I have to admit that organic isn't always best. Even though saying that feels a bit like it did to start eating meat again after ten years of vegetarianism.

    BTW, how do you know when glycolic doesn't suit your skin? I started acid toning last week with REN (up until now been a convert to Dr Hauschka (yes, I know...) with the alcohol based toner and no night cream etc) and have noticed some dry blotches near my chin. Does this mean I should shelve the glycolic? (Full disclosure: I am also pregnant, late first trimester, and have a seven-month-old daughter, so hormones are all over the place)

    Thanks again for this post! And for all of your posts.

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    1. You're drying out because you don't use night cream. That's Dr Hauschka's mantra and one I don't agree with. Get some cream on your face! Also: Ren toner isn't really an acid toner. Pick another! ;) x

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    2. Thank you ever so much for the reply! And I have also started using a night cream/oil, still the dryness. But could be due to the hormones (I also have atopic dermatitis, which always flares up when pregnant (I say always, as this is my fourth pregnancy despite having only one child)).

      And oh! I thought the REN toner qualified as an acid with the glycolic etc. Clarins' acid toner is not available in my country, but the Clinique mild one is. So may have to go for that one.

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  29. I keep reading about how formulators are finding it very difficult to create products with natural ingredients that are as effective as synthetic, preferably keeping the materials cost in check as well. The reason they are using them is mostly marketing. Nothing against 'green', sustainable ingredients. At least it's easy to formulate gluten free cosmetics because that does not require changing any formulas ;)

    Is mineral oil synthetic? It comes from the ground and at one time it was vegetation.

    Caprylic triglyceride is great and it's in everything. Comes from coconut oil but the end ingredient will be the same whether the original coconut was organic or not. It's very much a manufactured product but from a natural source.

    Salicylic acid can be obtained from willow bark but it's chemically identical to synthetic; both are the same 2-hydroxybenzoic acid. Synthetic BHA is cheap as chips.

    Glycolic acid can be derived from sugar but it's usually man-made because again you have a chemically identical ingredient and it's much more economical to do it that way.

    Hyaluronic acid is produced via bacterial fermentation, no one makes if from cocks' combs any more. That is pretty natural, right, and yet it's a human-made manufacturing process.

    There are natural retinoids, actually. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/

    In the end I absolutely agree. People have preferences for all kinds of reasons but those who want to use all-natural products will lose out on efficacy or money or both when it comes to some ingredients.

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  30. The body shop have discontinued the nutriganics cleansing gel. Devo.

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  31. Brilliant! Thanks for being so thorough and adding the pictures to help illustrate.

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  32. Aloha Carolina! What are your thoughts on the Suki skincare line? I combine it with Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna in the evening and use it alone during the day (well I do use tiny amount of GG in the day, as well) I love their acne purifying oil and balancing oil, but I don't find a lot of reviews on it.

    Much Aloha!

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  33. Aloha Caroline! Thoughts on the Suki Skincare line? I combine it with Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna at night and I use the Suki Acne Clarifying and then Balancing Oil in the day with a tiny bit of GG (overkill maybe on GG). It's helped with my acne. My biggest struggle at 42 is a occasional acne and dark circles and under eye dryness. Mahalo!

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  34. Hi Caroline, I'm 26 and starting to take my skin care more seriously. Would love to see a blog post about beauty products for the 20-30's and advise on routines... I popped in to Pixie and bought the Pixie Glow Tonic today, my first acid toner and very excited. Thank you! x

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  35. Not weird at all. I hate balling. Your face feels like it needs a good wash! Silicone and spf. Grr

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  36. Caroline, I just wanted to tell you (Im from Chile thats why my writting can be a little strange!!) that my skin is completely changed after I´ve followed the advices posted on your great blog. Im very grateful and I honestly think that you are a genious. Not only because of your knoledge on skincare but the way you transmit your experience and thoughts to others is inspiring.
    Im a 31 year old sporty working mom of two babies and I will continue reading your blog and watching you on youtube because you really help people like me. Thanks!

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