Healthy Skin Test #2: Oil Balance

How Healthy is your skin? Take the Oil Balance Test! |

This is the second part of my healthy skin video series where I show you three simple tests that you can take to determine your skin’s health. If you missed the first video, check it out!

Oil Balance

Have you ever complained about having oily skin? How about an oily T-zone while your cheeks are dry and flaky? Maybe you just have an oily forehead and chin?

Here’s the deal: we need oil on our skin.

Oil is the skin’s last line of defence. It protects the skin from the heat and the cold (keeping moisture locked in!). It protects our skin from bacteria and pollution, AND oil also helps keep wrinkles at bay!

The amount of oil your pores naturally secrete differs from person to person.

How you choose to control your body’s natural oil secretions can further affect how much it produces.

Watch the video to see how how balanced your oils are and what you can do to fix it!

Note: In the video, I didn’t clearly explain why you use oil to balance oil. This is mostly in the case where your skin is either not producing enough oil (so it needs extra help protecting itself), or it’s been stripped of it’s natural oils. This leaves the skin unprotected, susceptible to dehydration (see the first video) and producing too much oil. In cases like this, often the cheeks (which are naturally less oily) are dry and flaky, while the T-zone is excessively oily. By avoiding harsh and over-drying products, and by applying an oil after your moisturizer, it will signal to your body that the skin now has enough oil so it does not need to over compensate and produce more. 

Let me help you!

Need some custom advice? Book a skin care consultation with me and receive a personalized plan with specific product recommendations and a step by step approach to achieving your skin goals!

Treat Sensitive Skin and Rosacea with Pai Skincare


Pai Skincare Instant Calm Line | Do you have sensitive skin?

You’re not alone. Many people have sensitive skin . . . or at least think they do.

The fact is, sensitivities are usually brought on by heat and trauma, and while some people are more predisposed to redness and irritation, sensitive skin can often be managed or avoided.

Lifestyle (diet, stress, etc.), too much sun, and years of using harsh ingredients can lead to skin sensitivities.

There’s good news though.

By consistently using nourishing and gentle products that rebuild and strengthen the skin’s barrier function (in other words, the skin’s ability to protect itself), you don’t have to live with sensitivities and irritation!

Enter Pai Skincare!

Pai is a UK based natural brand that specializes in products for sensitive skin. It’s a product line I often recommend to my clients to treat rosacea and sensitivities.

(Just to be clear, rosacea, unlike many other skin irritations, is in fact a diagnosed inflammatory skin condition that technically does not have a cure. In severe cases, rosacea appears as permanent flushing on the cheeks and nose, and can be accompanied by stinging, heat, and even papules [pimple like bumps]). Rosacea can be managed naturally though through a proper skincare regime in conjunction with lifestyle choices that reduce inflammation in the body (speak to your holistic practitioner about internal treatments!).

As a Skin Care Therapist I often look for products that have simple ingredients (my clients need to know what goes in their skincare!), products that don’t contain ‘triggers’*, and of course products that feel great on the skin. Pai covers all of that. Even with the higher price point (products range from $40-$100), the quality of ingredients and performance of the products are worth the investment.

*Pai products avoid many of the common sensitizing”trigger ingredients” such as alcohol, witch hazel, eucalyptus, peppermint and menthol.

Pai’s Instant Calm line is particularly awesome for those with highly irritated, inflamed skin, and for those managing rosacea.

Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser | The Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($56) feels so creamy and nourishing that it barely feels like a cleanser, yet still leaves the skin clean and refreshed! It’s designed to be removed with a soft muslin cloth (included with the cleanser) that gently exfoliates at the same time. One of the main ingredients, Camellia oil, is known to help protect and nourish the skin. This incredible oil is packed full of Omega 3 and Vitamins A, B, & E, and has been used in Japan for centuries as a skin cleanser and conditioner.

Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream

The Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream ($66) is one of Pai’s “hero” products. It feels rich enough to soothe irritated itchy skin, but not too thick that it feels overly heavy. This cream contains german chamomile extract which is full of matricine and chamazulene that soothe irritation and redness. Rosehip (which you’ll read more about below) is also a star ingredient and works to promote skin regeneration and healing. (By the way, even though this cream is labelled a “day” cream, it’s perfectly good use it at night!)

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil | Rosehip BioRegenerate oil ($40) is by far one of the best quality rosehip oils I have found on the market. The rich reddish-orange colour definitely hints at it’s purity and high concentration of nutrients, which come from including both the rosehip fruit and seed into the formula.

When using this oil, you may find your skin takes on a bit of an organ-y tone immediately after, but it will absorb in and won’t stain your skin. Regardless, I always recommend using it at night. Rosehip is one of my all-time favourite oils. It can do wonders to heal and strengthen the skin. It contains high concentrations of vitamin A, carotenoids, and omegas to renew, condition, and promote an even skin-tone.

Use products with these ingredients!

  • chamomile, calendula
  • rosehip extract, oil
  • camellia seed oil
  • jojoba oil
  • vitamin E
  • evening primrose oil
  • coconut oil (not recommended for acne prone skin)
  • antioxidants such as pomegranate
  • oats

Avoid products with these ingredients!

  • sodium laurel sulfate
  • ethyl alcohol
  • salicylic acid
  • benzoyl peroxides
  • petroleum
  • certain essential oils (such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon)
  • high doses of vitamin C, glycolic acid, AHAs, and ginseng

Need help managing sensitive skin and rosacea? Book a skin care consult or facial with me!

Product Review: Holistic Vanity Acne Care Line

Holistic Vanity Acne Care Last week I wrote about 3 amazing acne fighting ingredients to look for in skincare . . .  which was motivated by my recent trial of the new Holistic Vanity Acne Care line.

A couple of months ago when the fantastic folk at Pure + Simple sent me their newest products from their sister line, Holistic Vanity, I was super excited at the prospect of finding an acne care line that actually works!

I was skeptical though on HOW well these products would work, because acne is such a finicky thing. That’s why I have spent the last two months testing the goods.

In perfect timing, I happened to have a stress-induced breakout (mainly cysts on my chin). I also  happened to have a small bottle of exfoliating gel (a mix of glycolic, salicylic, and kojic acid) from my recent days training in medical esthetics. All of this set up the perfect acne-busting experiment.

I first spent some time using the acid on my breakouts (don’t try this at home!!). At night I would apply this potent acid cocktail on each pimple. Each morning I could see that the angry red bumps had slightly decreased in size and were less red. But I also noticed that the skin around my breakouts looked dry and a bit blotchy. It certainly did not look ‘healthy and clear’.

After a week or so of using the acid, I saw some improvement with the breakouts, but my skin had turned from dry and blotchy, to red and slightly raw (as I said, don’t do this at home!!).

What I learned: This cocktail of acids may temporarily reduce breakouts and pigmentation, but will damage your skin in the long term.

Next, I turned to the Holistic Vanity products. “Lucky” for me I had another bout of stress induced acne . . . I know, I’m working on it . . . anyhow it gave me the perfect canvas to test the products. I used the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Mud Turmeric Lotion during the day, and all four products (including the Black Mud Cleanser and Black Cumin Oil) in the evening. Each morning, just like with the acid, I found that my pimples were less red and slightly smaller. But my skin also felt super moisturized and actually glowed! (Despite the red spots still being there).

Cystic acne does not go away over night and so I did not expect this miracle, however the products helped significantly reduce redness, and slowly reduced the size of the cysts without drying or flaking.

Purifying Black Mud Cleanser, 100 ml $28

Purifying Black Mud Cleanser, 100 ml $28

Balancing Black Mud Tumeric Lotion, 100ml $50

Balancing Black Mud Turmeric Lotion, 100ml $50

The superstars for me are the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Cumin Oil. The tonic feels so clarifying and refreshing (especially if your breakouts cause pain, like mine), but is not drying. I would not recommend the Tonic for all skin types though, especially if you tend to be very dry. In this case, just dab the tonic directly onto the pimples.

Amti-Bac Pine Mint Skin Tonic, 100ml $26 & Clarifying Black Cumin Oil, 100ml $43

Anti-Bac Pine Mint Skin Tonic, 100ml $26 – Clarifying Black Cumin Oil, 100ml $43

The Black Cumin Oil is incredibly nourishing, anti-inflammatory (and yes smells faintly of cumin), but does not clog pores. At first I found that the oil to be quite stimulating (in other words may cause temporary redness), but I’m also quite quite religious about facial massage and spend a lot of time massaging it in. By the morning though, any redness was gone and my skin felt so plump and supple.

Black cumin oil can cause photo-sensitivity (although this one is mixed with Babassu oil to reduce the risk) but it’s best used at night. And always wear sunscreen during the day (which you should be doing anyway!!).

For anyone who has been struggling to find a skincare line that combats breakouts, but is not drying (in fact hydrates and makes skin glow!), then I highly recommend this product line. If you are only going to buy 1 or 2 products, I recommend the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Cumin Oil.

If you do try it out, let me know what you think! I always love hearing your comments!


Three Amazing Acne Fighting Ingredients

Whole Foods for Beauty

Acne Care

At the first sign of a breakout, we often go on the attack and use the strongest, most ferocious weapons we have. This may temporarily dry out pimples, but harsh treatments will also wreak havoc on our skin by causing dehydration, flaking, more redness ,and permanent damage.

When treating any breakouts, gentle is always the best solution.

I know this goes against what the ‘Clean and Clear’ commercials want to make us believe, but trust me on this.

Avoid these ingredients in your acne care products:

Alcohol: Found in most toners and astringents, alcohol will only strip the skin of its natural oils (signalling to the body to produce more!). It will also cause dehydration and make the skin more susceptible to bacteria.

Salicylic acid: This is the most common ingredient recommended for fighting acne, but it’s often far too harsh for the skin, and is most often found in alcohol solutions. Note: it’s also an absolute no, no for women who are pregnant!

Benzoyl Peroxide: This is a common ingredient found in topical creams prescribed for acne by dermatologists. It’s also another ingredient that’s too harsh for the skin and will result in irritated, flaky, and dehydrated skin. If this (and other harsh ingredients like this) are the only things that seems to clear up your breakouts, then you should probably look internally. Seek out a naturopathic doctor to help identify the problem that is most often deeper than what’s on the surface.

For the topical treatment of acne, look for ingredients that are naturally anti-septic (but not drying), anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and nourishing.

Skincare oil
Use these ingredients in your acne care products:

Black Mud: Earthen ingredients like mud and clay are incredible for drawing out impurities and absorbing oil. Black mud specifically, which is extracted from the Dead Sea, is extremely rich in minerals which helps to detoxify and purify the skin.

Pine: Naturally fights fungal and viral infections, boosts the skin’s immunity, and reduces redness.

Black Cumin Seed Oil: Naturally anti-inflammatory and clarifying. This oil has black been used for centuries. It’s ideal for re-balancing oil production and helps prevent against breakouts caused by bacterial infections.

When it comes to skincare, I never want anyone to feel tied to one specific product or brand. That’s why I like to educate on ingredients, first and foremost, so that you can pick and choose products based on the ingredients you know work for your skin. That said, I am super excited to say that all of these ingredients can be found in the Holistic Vanity Acne Care line, which is a line I have always loved and supported.

I particularly love the fact that Holistic Vanity is one of the first to introduce these incredible ingredients into a full acne care line. Read my review here.