Sunday, March 27, 2011

Life with Eczema

I never knew what eczema was until a year ago. What I thought was normal itchy winter skin quickly turned into  raw red angry itchy eczema skin. After the diagnosis, I became a tad depressed. Every time I looked in the mirror my body was red and dry and itchy. I have never been so uncomfortable and depressed at the same time. Knowing there is no cure for eczema, I turned my depression to anger. I told myself "I will not let this depress me or ruin my day. I will treat it somehow!"

So that started my quest of buying every product in the market that was sold as a miracle cure or snake oil. According to my dermatologist, my eczema is a tad harder to treat due to the severity/non-severity of it. This means the light steroid medication does not work on me and the sever steroid creams are too strong. After much research, I realized I could not depend on medication along. As anyone can tell you steroids are never good to use for an extended period of time. One of the side effects is that it will thin out your skin. There was a point when I would bend my back and my entire back felt like there were thousands of paper cuts.

After spending hundreds of dollars on these products, I have finally been able to figure out a regimen that worked for me. I still have occasional breakouts and when that happens I use the steroid cream (only on affected spots).

In the mornings I take a quick shower in luke warm water for 30 seconds. No soap. Just want to hydrate the skin.

While still wet, I apply medication as needed. Then, with damp skin, I apply Cutemol. My dermo suggested I use this because my skin was so dry and flaky that NOTHING helped. I mean even if you poor pure oil on me and I have tried, I would become dry again in 1 hour. Cutemol traps moisture on your skin and prevents skin from getting dry. It's a very pasty texture so your body needs to be moist in order to spread it easily. Make sure to spread lotion in one direction or risk rubbing lots of extra skin off.

At night I take a quick shower (no shower should last longer than 15 minutes and I have super long and thick hair) for 15 minutes.

I have used everything from Aveeno (every version, even for babies) to Dove. This is the only body wash that worked for me. It doesn't smell that great but I was never one for fragrance soaps. With this body wash, my skin actually did not become super dry or itchy 2 minutes out of the shower. 

Apply medication as needed. 

After trying olive oil, jojoba oil, vitamin e oil, calendula oil, lavender oil and etc, this is the most moisturizing oil out on the market. I use this on damp skin. This has a light nutty smell but not offensive in anyway. 

After the argan oil, I spread this shea butter on my body. Again, lightly nutty scent. This comes in a grainy texture so it's best to rub it in the palms of your hands and spread it on your body while your skin is still damp from argan oil. 

Depending on the weather (winter vs summer), I might end up putting Aquaphor on my skin right before bed. All the creams in the world won't matter if there is no barrier between the moisture and the dry air. Aquaphor seals in the moisture on your skin. It is the most greasy thing I have ever used but it works. I usually use it at night since it takes awhile for it to skin into your skin and dry. Trying to put on skinny jeans with aquaphor on your legs can be the most annoying and exhausting thing EVER. 

I hope this post helps some eczema sufferer out there! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 35

Last month I started using the Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream.  I discovered it randomly when I was at the Shiseido counter at Saks to ask about men's face cream with SPF (btw did you know Shiseido launched men's products?).  They didn't have anything for men with sun protection, but the SA told me about this new sunscreen.  It's supposed to be the city version of the Ultimate Sun Protection Cream (the blue one, which comes in SPF 55 and SPF 38).  At the counter, I tested a few drops of the Urban sunscreen and the Ultimate sunscreen, and the SA pointed out that the Urban version is supposedly lighter and that you don't need an oil cleanser to remove it either.

The packaging is identifical in size and shape as the Ultimate version, just different coloring.  While I thought it was less creamy and more smooth as I tested it out on the back of my hand at the counter, in applying it to my face it was almost the same consistency as the Ultimate.  I don't really think it's too different than the Ultimate, except that its a tad smoother and requires slightly less effort to rub into the skin.  (However, I think less tugging on the skin is probably better in the long-run, as the skin sags with age.)  In fact, I actually think that the Urban version is slightly more greasy than the Ultimate version. 

I think I will continue to purchase the Ultimate sunscreen when I run out of this one.  While I like the Urban, the Ultimate gives me a better finish.  Both apply great under makeup, make a good base (especially if you like the slightly dewey look), and offers a good amount of sun protection. It's probably worth getting a sample of both to see which one suits your skin better.  Somehow the original version just works better for me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

L'Oreal Sublime Mousse Hair Dye

Since the start of the recession, I've pretty much been dying my hair on my own, trying all sorts (semi permanent, permanent) and brands of dyes.  My personal favorite is Perfect 10 by Clairol, which I find to be the "healthiest" for my hair, as it does the least amount of damage, in my opinion.  However, anyone who colors their own hair knows how challenging it can be, especially if you have long hair, large quantity of hair, etc. to reach each strand from root to tip, AND the underside of the hair (lol, you know what I mean), in order to get uniform color throughout. 

I've been noticing alot more ads in magazines lately for DIY mousse hair dye kits, and of course I had to try it.  I picked up the L'Oreal Sublime Mousse in Pure Medium Brown (I had black hair) to test out.  What sold me was the speed and accuracy of the product; it's supposed to be really easy to apply, pretty much like shampoo.  This was the fastest application in my experience as a self-dyer, and I probably finished (from the time I opened the box until I started the clock) within 10-15 minutes.  You mix the two liquids together in the larger container, put on the cap, swirl it around (do not shake), squirt a few "test" squirts to get the foam started, and apply.  Once you coat your hair, massage your head to get the dye throughout, and wait 30 minutes before washing it out.  The dye also washed out of my hair within two minutes, which was also amazingly fast. 

While I love how quickly and "accurately" I was able to dye my hair at home, despite the 30 minute wait time, I don't know if I can give an accurate review due to the resulting color.  Since I have been dying my hair a natural black for the last year, a la Kim Kardashian, the color didn't really show up as I had anticipated.  For the record I have naturally dark dark brown hair, and the one inch or so of dark dark brown hair is now just dark brown, while the majority of my then black hair is very dark brown.  I don't necessarily blame this on the dye, since you're supposed to go only up to 2 shades outside of your current hair color, whether its natural or dyed, and I went for something out of the range, so I'm not surprised at my results.  As far as the quality of my hair, I feel that it is slightly drier, also expected, but not really noticeable and it doesn't cling together when my hair is wet. 

I think I will continue to try different mousse dyes, maybe the John Frieda one next. Maybe ill go for a medium brown again next time around, and will do another review in a month or so.  Overall I am very happy with this new technology.

Btw, this is random, but I also think hair dye kits have the BEST and most moisturizing deep conditioning hair treatments ever! I especially like the Perfect 10 hair treatment.