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. 

 

Skincare 101: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHA exfoliators

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)?

I know. You hear the word acid and you immediately think of an evil, acid-wielding villain from Batman.

No fear. Acids, specifically alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), are derived from fruit and dairy, and in my opinion, offer the best way to exfoliate the skin.

They typically come in a mask or serum form, and are sometimes called ‘fruit acids’. Rather than ‘mechanically’ loosening dead skin cells (typical of an exfoliating scrub), AHAs work to shed dead skin cells by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds them together.

This may sound harsh, but in most cases (such as with lactic acid) AHAs can be fairly gentle and moisturizing. I particularly like them for treating acne since there is no physical abrasion (unlike a scrub) that could potential rupture pimples, spread bacteria, and over stimulate already red and inflamed skin. AHAs are also fantastic for clearing up congestion (black heads and white heads), brightening complexions, and lightening scars and dark spots.

Here are some common types:

Lactic acid: derived from corn or dairy products. This is considered a fairly gentle acid, and is good for most skin types; it’s also a natural humectant (meaning it retains moisture) and is therefore hydrating to the skin. This is my AHA of choice, and I am in LOVE with Pure + Simple’s Lactic Acid. I use it 2-3 times per week either all over my face, or just in spots that are prone to congestion.

Malic acid: most commonly derived from apples. It is less irritating than citric and glycolic acid, and is also a natural humectant.

Citric acid: derived from citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit, and oranges. Excellent for brightening, and targeting age spots and scars.

Glycolic acid: most commonly derived from sugar cane. It has a small molecular structure that enables it to penetrates deep into the skin. However, it can be highly irritating and drying if used incorrectly, or too regularly.

Home care products will always have a higher pH level (aka less acidic) and contain a lower concentration of acid than professional use, however you should look for something with at least a 5% acid concentration and a pH between 3.5-4 for the product to be effective.

A little tingle is good . . . but a burning sensation is not so good!

VERY IMPORTANT: Always follow product instructions, avoid over use, immediately follow up with a moisturizer, and diligently wear sunscreen; as is the case with any exfoliation!!! If you’ve never used AHA products before, start with 1 application per week to avoid irritation and then gradually increase to 2-3 times per week.

When in doubt, consult a professional skin care therapist, esthetician, or dermatologist.

Have a question? Just ask! Write in the comments section below, or connect with me through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Pure + Simple Facial Experience

Have you ever had a facial? A precious hour chiseled out of your hectic schedule with nothing to do but relax in a dimly lit room with soft ambient music while your tired, stressed skin is revitalized and you are lulled into another world through a series of massages. . .

Not your experience? I suggest you get a new facialist!

Pure + Simple Yorkville location (41 Avenue Road) photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple

Pure + Simple Yorkville location – 41 Avenue Road (photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple)

My ‘go-to’ spa is Pure + Simple, and if you are looking for the experience I described above, go here! I have been a Pure + Simple follower for a while (some of their products were actually my ‘gateway’ into natural beauty years ago) but it had been a while since my last visit. After interviewing co-owner, Kristen Ma about her own beauty rituals, I was generously invited to the Yorkville location to experience the Urban Renewal Facial.

Inside the Yorkville spa (photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple)

Inside the Yorkville spa (photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple)

This deluxe facial is designed to combat dehydration and revitalize skin with the help of TWO masks during treatment. Do you know what that means?? More time for massage while your masks set. The treatment includes a hand, foot, and scalp massage.

Pure + Simple treatment room (photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple)

Pure + Simple treatment room (photo: courtesy of Pure + Simple)

Going in I thought my skin was in pretty good shape –I mean come on –I tout the importance of hydration and proper skin treatment practically everyday. Sure enough though, I was told that my skin was dehydrated which was promoting the persistent comedones (clogged pores) around my mouth and chin area (call me a keener, but I was hoping for an A+). The extraction process manually released the clogged pores and the hydrating masks and serums injected my cells with new life. No exaggeration: I actually noticed a huge change in the texture and appearance of my skin.

After the treatment, my homework included adding a hydrating serum into my routine. I received the Pure + Simple Hydration Serum to use at home, which I have been using religiously ever since, and have seen great results. It really has maintained the boost of hydration I received during my facial and has helped to keep the clogged pores at bay.

This serum is scentless and feels a lot like water –so much so that you may question the purpose in using it. Do not be fooled! The aloe, kelp and other active ingredients are exactly what your cells need to remain well hydrated. Moving into the winter I may try a richer serum, but for the summer months this one did the trick.

As I hope you know, I only like to promote places and products that I truly love and this is one of those places! My friends and family can attest to this, and I now have them all hooked on Pure + Simple facials, even my husband!

And guess what? It just so happens that the Urban Renewal Facial is currently on special! Until September 30, receive the facial for $85 instead of the regular $105. . . you can thank me later. 🙂