The Alternative: Eve Lom Cleanser feat Omorovicza & Ren

Cleansing balms are renowned for their ability to gently remove all makeup, especially waterproof makeup while imparting moisture to skin. Cleansing balms are also good for all skin types as the oils decongest pores, and hydrate skin.

Eve Lom’s signature namesake Cleanser ($80) is a staple in most beauty editors’ regimen. It is often regarded as one of the first high-end bi-phase cleansers and Intothegloss calls the process “an experience”. The Cleanser is actually a cleansing balm with chamomile, clove, and eucalyptus oil and cocoa butter. Like all cleansing balms, it is applied to dry skin after being heated through rubbing your hands together with the balm to turn it into a loose oil. 

Its cult following sings the praises of how skin just glows and feels soft after the first use. However green beauty fans shy away due to it’s less than stellar formula which includes: a base of mineral oil, PEGs, Phenoxyethanol, Parabens, and Aluminum.

Thankfully there are now cleaner options for cleansing balms.

Omorovicza’s Thermal Cleansing Balm ($102) is quickly winning over beauty editors and clean fans alike. The dark hue is created by Hungarian Moor Mud and the base of the balm uses Apricot Seed Oil and Jojoba Oil instead of pore-clogging mineral oil, and is free from parabens and PEGs. Although significantly cleaner, this formula does contain iffy ingredients including Phenoxyethanol. 

The balm breaks up quite easily and rapidly once heated in hands and quickly goes to work in much the same way as the Eve Lom Cleanser. However the cleaner ingredients leave skin feeling fresher and glowing for longer. Definitely upgrade!

For beauty on a more limited budget, try Ren’s No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm ($48) which is actually a tri-phase balm as it forms a milky emulsion once in contact with water (no need for muslin cloth like the first two). It uses similarly luxurious ingredients as the other two products on this list at a fraction of the price: the luxurious rose scent and chamomile sooth skin while Sweet Almond Oil and Shea butter pull out pore cloggers and moisturize skin. 

As a bonus, you do not need a muslin cloth to remove extra product because the formula is designed to rinse off clearly. For some this is a convenience however, I must admit part of me is not at ease with the feeling that I am letting my skin absorb emulsifiers all day by leaving a bit sitting on my face with the oils. 

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Alternate Universe: Cetaphil

I’ve decided to do a series on tumblr called “Alternate Universe” where I will discuss the holy grail products that editors and beauty junkies have come to know (often on a first name basis), then provide a relatively cleaner alternative, and in some instances provide a clean, budget alternative so everyone has an option. To start, let’s tackling Cetaphil.

Product: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Price: $9


Claim to fame: The $9 drugstore cleanser is heralded as the #1 dermatologist prescribed brand in the US, known for it’s gentle, non-irritating formula suitable for even the most sensitive skin. It is non-alkaline, non-comedogenic, and fragrance free. And it promises to soften as it cleans.

Iffy: The simple formula has 8 ingredients: including 2 alcohols, SLS, and 3 parabens. Take out the number 1 ingredient, water, and you’re left with propylene Glycol, an alcohol used in skin conditioning.

Cleaner High End Alternative
 

Product: Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel
Price: $32

Why it’s similar: A gentle, pure cleansing gel similar in consistency and effectiveness to Cetaphil. Also known to sooth and soften skin while similar gentle foaming action removes dirt and debris. Creates a more luxurious, spa like experience due to higher grade of ingredients including rose petals, aloe, and lactic acid. Incredibly calming, soothing, and gentle.

Iffy: Main difference is this is scented with natural rose essential oils and 100% natural parfum – so do check for sensitivity issues. Ingredients list contains Phenoxyethanol, which can be just as bad as parabens.

Cleaner Economic Alternative

Product: Mychelle Pure Harmony Cleanser
Price: $11


Why it’s similar: Formulated for sensitive skin with a lightly foaming formula that gentle washes away impurities without causing irritation. It might be just slightly more expensive than Cetaphil but for the $2 difference, you get these types of wonderful nutritious ingredients: Sea Buckthorn, Barberry Fig, Green Tea, and Honeysuckle.


Iffy: There are a few alcohol ingredients in here. Some of the chemicals including 
 Dicaprylyl Ether and Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, are actually low risk emollients/conditioners according to Environmental Working Group, so it seems pretty solid!

May Lindstrom: The Clean Dirt

Happy 2013 everybody! It is fitting that I start off the blog with a review of one of my favorite beauty brands: May Lindstrom Skin. I admit and am okay with the fact that a lot of the time with skincare brands, the message is very important to me and I can say of all the brands sold at Spirit Beauty Lounge, her entry was the one that got me most excited.

May Lindstrom is a model who has developed a line of 4 products: The Clean Dirt, The Problem Solver, The Youth Dew, and The Good Stuff. The Clean Dirt is her answer to a cleanser and after reading rave reviews from green beauties including Spirit Demerson herself who calls this her favorite facial cleanser, I knew I had to get my hands on this product!
 

The Clean Dirt comes in a miron glass bottle with a chic label strip at the bottom. The bottle is 6.76 oz/ 200 ml (question: do powders fall under the 3oz limit with the TSA?), and is topped with a cap. The cleanser comes as a powder which is a first for me as I’m not that used to products I have to mix. It reminds me a little of the wasabi powder that you add water to turn into a paste, which I just can’t ever seem to mix right and always ends up being over watered. 

The powder is made of clays, salts, and spices which claim to encourage blood flow and increase cell turnover for soft, refined skin.

I used a dropper to add water since I didn’t want to overdo it and have product go to waste, and I highly recommend this application method so you can control the consistency. Upon adding water, you notice immediately that it foams and becomes moussey in texture with some grittiness. This is a very cool effect that also helps the paste apply easily. 

Upon application, I immediately felt a warm tingling sensation. It smelled really delicious and reminded me of cinnamon cookie dough, due to the spices. Upon washing off, I noticed my skin did indeed feel cleaner and fresher. I do not think congestion will be an issue for people who use this cleanser as its drying power really does suction out a lot of the stuff inside pores. 

With that said, I have to say, I cannot use this daily. The description for this product online says it’s a daily exfoliating/microdermabrasion for your skin but I feel it is a little too rough. The grittiness of the paste mixed with the spices left my skin fragile and resulted in redness along my forehead and dry patches along my cheeks. I think it is too active for sensitive skin due to the spices (spices are a key irritant in a lot of skincare preparations, which is why I’m a little surprised that there are so many spices in this ‘daily’ cleanser), and the scrub texture. I think I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of physicial exfoliators and my reason is that it tends to be too much, our skin just doesn’t need that much ‘abrasion’ and it can actually tear delicate skin. Using this, I really feel like I had to stock up on repairing balms and increase the dosage of facial oils to make my skin not feel so raw. 

The Clean Dirts ingredient list is as follows:

white halloysite clay,
red moroccan rhassoul clay, 
red alaea sea salt, 
ascorbic acid (vitamin c), 
sodium bicarbonate, 
althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*,
rosa centifolia (pink rose)*, 
calendula officinalis (calendula) flower*, 
cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, 
myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, 
syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, 
curcuma longa (turmeric)*, 
zingiber officinale (ginger)*, 
vanilla planifolia bean*, 
theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**. 

There are just so many spices in here! I wish May would have cut back a bit and added a few more soothing ingredients along with the Pink Rose, Calendula, and Mashmallow Root because the scrubby texture is enough ‘action’ for most skin types. 

Overall, I’m a little confused by the May Lindstrom girl. Whereas Tata Harper is better suited for those with normal-dry skin, I feel like no consumer can use just May Lindstrom products because the 4 products are for different people. The Clean Dirt Cleanser is for those who do not have sensitive skin and perhaps those who have oilier complexions. The Problem Solver Mask is definitely not for those with sensitive skin and is for those who are blemish prone. The Youth Dew on the other hand is really a heavier facial oil that is better suited for dry skin, while The Good Stuff Body Oil is suitable for any skin type. The thing is, when I use key products by Tata, Kahina, Intelligent Nutrients, & YULI, I can imagine what kind of skin type the founders have by the products they use and then figure out which products in their line would work for me by comparison, I can’t figure out if May Lindstrom has extremely combination skin or if her products are truly a little extreme.

All said, The Clean Dirt feels like the most fun you can have with skincare. The foaming action, the tingling sensation all feel like a creative science experiment only you’re applying it to your face. I actually look forward to using this product because I like watching the powder fizz and the scent is amazing. For a clean product, this is very imaginative and has given me interest in raw powder products that previously I would not have tried. I just wish they would dial it back a bit and maybe create something more calming and healing for people with sensitive skin. 

Available at Spirit Beauty Lounge for $60 

Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser

                             

Most of the cleansers I use are very very gentle or suitable for more mature skin although I myself have combination skin that can break out. The reason I typically use gentle cleansers is because I learned that my skin is extremely sensitive. It is easy for cleansers to strip my skin or make it red/irritated. But lately my skin started looking dull and I knew I wasn’t exfoliating the dead skin off as frequently as I should.

I really wanted something that was more of a chemical exfoliant rather than a physical scrub, and I knew I wanted to try something from a clean brand. Enter Suki. I had seen Suki at Whole Foods before, right next to Dr.Hauschka but never really paid too much attention. It wasn’t until my friend sang their praises that I decided to look into the line. Suki calls itself the “ first & only synthetic-free skincare solution that truly integrates advanced technology with clinically-proven results.” I did my research and discovered that their Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser is one of their most popular products and decided this is the perfect product to try out!

The reason I was so curious to try this product, besides great reviews, is because the ingredients are all very clean AND it uses natural sugar as both the physicial and chemical exfoliator. Sugar provides a buffing effect that melts away upon contact with water, and the acids in sugar then gentle exfoliate dead skin cells. Here is the full ingredients list:

sucrose (sugar), potassium cocoate, oryza sativa (rice) powder, cymbopogon flesuosus (lemongrass) oil, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) extract & squalene, citrus aurantifolia dulcis (orange) peel extract, ascophyllum nodosum (seaweed) extract, *aroma/fragrance, limonene, linalool, geraniol
 
*component of 100% pure essential oils

Potassium cocoate is the 2nd ingredient listed and it is a coconut derived potassium salt used in cosmetics to cause the foaming action. It is listed on EWG as a relatively “low concern” chemical so I’m fine with it being used in that large quantity. Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol are chemicals you may often see especially from natural skincare companies. They are chemicals of plant origin used for fragrance. Limonene is extracted from citrus origin, Linalool is usually from lavender, mint, etc. and Geraniol is from Geranium. These can cause irritation in some people and Limonene is capable of oxidizing quickly unless there is a stabilizer. The aroma is composed of 100% pure essential oils which is great, usually I’d like to see which oils are used but since my main concerns with EOs have to do with plants that cause photosensitivity, this wasn’t too big of a deal since the entire product contains multiple ingredients that can cause photosensitivity. If it wasn’t clear from my last sentence, this is a product that should only be used at night, and per Suki’s instructions, no more than 3 times per week.

The product itself looks and feels very much like a soft, dried scrub. It is kind of airy and not dense. The product smells like lemon and reminded me the lemon drops. Upon washing I noticed that the scrubbing exfoliators typically melted away within 5-10 seconds, leaving almost a viscous gel that was significantly more gentle. The lemon scent stayed during the entire process but did give way to something that smelled like ginger. If you leave it on your face for a bit longer than you would a typical cleanser, you can really feel the product clear out the pores.

I was surprised at how effective this cleanser was, my skin felt clear, clean, but not stripped. I noticed that the area around my nose was a little red but also spotless. I don’t think it was too harsh but I could feel it working. Overall, I see why this is one of their best sellers, it is a delight to use: the scent is heavenly (I even snuck in a taste and yes, it tastes just like lemon candy), the results are spectacular, and I genuinely look forward to using this at night. The only cons are: this should really only be used at night due to the photosensitivity issue and my product came with not as much product as I thought based on the pictures. The picture you see above was one I took after my 2nd time using it, and I don’t use a lot – so I’m just a little bit disappointed there wasn’t more product in the jar. One thing to note, Suki does not recommend this product for those who have active cystic acne, and I can understand why – it would just irritate already unbalanced skin, but for everyone else this is a wonderful product to exfoliate skin.

The Cleansers

My quest for the perfect cleanser has been all but a lost cause. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably have to switch between 3:
1. Hydrating but calming (boring) cleanser
2. One that REALLY cleans and makes skin feel obvious improvement
3. One that exfoliates without damaging my sensitive skin

I’ve also been on a quest to clean up my skincare routine. Lately I’ve realized that the more pure and clean my products, the better my skin looks and responds.

Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser ($50, Spirit Beauty Lounge)

A very light, moisturizing, floral-scented cream cleanser from Tata Harper, a brand that prides itself on nontoxic products. The refreshing cleanser is perfect for those days where you just didn’t wear much make up and don’t need something strong. It leaves skin soft, and hydrated. The floral scent is divine and the feel is amazing. It isn’t Clarisonic friendly in that I couldn’t really get a rich lather out of it, but I don’t really mind. It is choke full of active ingredients and I don’t know how much these do in general for cleansers, but I LOVE thinking about how much good I’m doing for my skin.

Although it is only 1.7oz, you only need 1 pump each time so it lasts a while. I am usually very picky with cleansers and this one seems to be good enough for a repeat.

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Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser ($56, Kahina)

When we first got samples of Kahina at work I didn’t know what to make of it. I wasn’t sure if it was one of those pure oil cleansers because I had read that Kahina is known for their Argan Oil products. When I saw the sleek black bottle with the drawing scribbled on it, I couldn’t say no to trying it out. The product just feels incredibly high end from the weight to the colors, it just feels and looks wonderful on my bathroom counter. The cleanser comes out as a very fluid gel that smells very natural in a good way, not overwhelming. This is the cleanser I use when my skin just needs to be nurtured whether it is from a rough weather day or a long day – the fatty acids just sooth my skin. The product itself is 100% natural and 78% organic which fits into my clean skin routine.

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Omorovicza Gentle Buffing Cleanser ($75, Neiman Marcus)

I’ve gone through a gamut of exfoliating cleansers and chemical exfoliants proved too “rough” for me, while physical exfoliants often contained granules that were entirely too large to not do any damage. Then I found Omorovicza through work. Omorovicza is a high-end, natural line from Hungary which uses ‘time tested’ actives such as thermal spring water and diathomaceous earth. The bottle is very lovely. The cream inside had a very faint, flowery scent. I noticed that my skin was left very soft, so as an exfoliant it worked. The granules were not big and were very gentle which was very important to me. The mineral delivery system, a Omorovicza patent, helps deliver minerals down to the finest layers of skin for plumper, radiant skin. So far I’ve noticed that it leaves my skin feeling soft yet hydrated which no other exfoliant has done before.

What are your favorite cleansers?