So I just returned from a quick trip to New York City—and while it's tough for a beauty editor to whittle down her toiletries into a quart-sized plastic bag on a good day, this time was particularly heart-wrenching. Why? Because I'm testing a new skincare range right now that I am Totally.Obsessed.With. And I just didn't have the space to lug all seven bottles (!) with me.
The fact that I've dedicated myself to following a regimen is a pretty big deal, because as you know, I love to dabble. Facialists are always frustrated with me whenever they ask what I use on my skin, because I can't even tell them. It changes on a daily basis according to what's arrived on my desk, what I discover at the back of my medicine cabinet and frankly, what I feel like giving to my skin, whether it's a lightweight hydrating gel or a moisture-rich leave-on night mask.
The only thing that will keep my ADD brain attached to a regimen is results. And so today I'm going to tell you about not one but two lines that—no lie!—really deliver. But first, a word about whether you actually NEED to use skincare products from the same brand, or if that's just marketing BS...
Do your skincare products have to be from the same brand?
I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is that it depends. Sure, it's nice to have all matching jars to display in your bathroom if you're borderline obsessive-compulsive about such things like I am. And it's obviously a good thing for people who are new to skincare and/or just want a routine that they can follow-on auto-pilot. But for the true skincare junkie (and we're a growing group, thanks to the ability to research this shiz on the Interwebs), the sales pitch about using everything from a single line is met with mucho skepticism. Aren't they just trying to upsell us more prodz than we wanted to buy?
Well, yes and no. It's really no big deal to mix and match your stuff if you're talking about very basic cleansers and moisturizers that are meant to hydrate the skin and not much else. But once you start to add active ingredients, it's a whole different story. Using certain actives at the same time can diminish their effectiveness and can even cause irritation. The main problem ingredients are hydroxy acids (glycolic, salicylic, lactic...) and retinoids (retinol, Retin-A and other vitamin A derivatives). You're not supposed to use them at the same time, even though exfoliating before you apply an active ingredient is generally a good idea, since it improves penetration. It can be difficult to avoid overlap, too, because these days pretty much every skincare item you can buy—moisturizers, serums, toners and even cleansers—has built-in actives. Then there is the whole sun question. Obviously, you need to be applying sun protection anyway, but certain prodz with antioxidants can break down in sunlight if you apply them in the morning, and retinoids are best applied at night since they can make your skin more sun-sensitive.
Gah! It's all so confusing, right? The best advice I can give is to either use a single skincare line OR carefully check the labels on your products to make sure you're only using one active at a time. If you're not sure, try and wait as long as you can before layering products to let the first layer absorb (ideally 10 minutes or more). Or try and check with your derm, if you can. (I've often said that there is a HUGE need for some kind of intermediary skincare consultant who could make home visits to evaluate our products and tell us what to use and when, and what to toss. Come to think of it, that'd be a great idea for makeup, too.)
Anyway, since I am, for maybe the first time in my life, on board with the idea of having a daily regimen, let me tell you about what I've been loving lately.
My current obsession: Miracle10
This line was developed by Canadian plastic surgeon Frank Lista, who has been treating his patients with it since 2005. I know this is going to sound crazy but—for my skin it really has been kind of miraculous.
About a month ago, the Toronto beauty crowd were invited to the Miracle10 "boutique" (at Dr. Lista's plastic surgery centre in Yorkville) and we each had our skin diagnosed before being set up with the appropriate products. You see, what I like about this line is that it's not a one-size-fits-all deal. They've come up with three main groups of skin types, and then within each of those there are two sub-groups—so there are six possible product combinations. Type No. 1 is for normal and maturing skin, Type No. 2 is for acne-prone and oily skin and Type No. 3 is for delicate and dry skin. I was set up with the delicate routine—for "lighter, fairer skin types that are often sensitive to the sun, chemicals, fragrances, dyes, foods, rough fabrics, etc." and "may react with redness, burning and itching to active ingredients." The products claim to not only bring clarity and radiance but actually NORMALIZE the skin so that you can eventually move up to more intensive treatments.
Now, anyone who reads here knows that I swear by cod liver oil for anything skin-related and that it has been absolutely magical for eradicating breakouts and giving my complexion a glow. But despite that, I would still get the odd stress- or period-related pimple and a few of those annoying little milia spots on my cheeks and forehead. Since I started on Miracle10—and I am not kidding—I have not had a single spot and I think those milia might be gradually diminishing.
I was chatting about the brand with some fellow beauty eds in NYC, and one mentioned that it was good "but nothing ground-breaking." This may be true—the workhouse is, I believe, the AHA cream that you use nightly and not some new-fangled peptide—but I don't care. For me, it's working. My routine consists of a cleanser, toner and eye cream, and then I use slightly different treatment products on top of that. In the morning, it's just a lightweight serum—which is FABULOUS because I always find prodz geared toward sensitive skin to be too greasy—and then at night I mix an antioxidant vitamin C powder with the AHA cream before putting a very light, hyaluronic-based night cream on top. I was surprised by how much you can really feel the lactic acid-based AHA cream tingle, so if you like to know your products are working, this will be terrifically satisfying for you. But if you're super-duper sensitive, it could be too much for you...
Another downside is that there's no sunscreen in this range, so you'll need to wear makeup that includes it on top, and stay out of direct sunlight in general. (If you are going to be outside for long periods, I'd definitely top up with one of these.) You can find out more about Miracle10 at miracle10.com. They sell the products online and at the Toronto boutique, and I'm told we'll soon see them at a major Canadian retailer too.
Also impressive: SkinCeuticals
I'm a longtime SkinCeuticals fan, actually, and you'll know this because I've already raved about their amazing antioxidant serums here and here and here. But in an effort to get beauty editors to really know the brand, this summer they invited us for skincare consults, just like the Miracle10 people. Now, I've gotta say—this consultation was a little more traumatic. I had to stick my face in a black light box to show the woman how much sun damage I accumulated from my years of living in Australia. I learned that I'm basically covered in freckles and it's only a matter of time before they take over. Sob. But it's not surprising that this bothered her, because if I had to generalize, I'd say that SkinCeuticals' main area of expertise is in wrinkle and pigmentation issues. Both preventing them (with antioxidants) and now treating them (they have two different retinols and a new product called Pigment Regulator).
Derms definitely love the stuff, although compared to Miracle10, they're a little less regimented about the prodz they set you up with. There are a couple of cleansers to choose from (regular or gentle) and three different serums—I'm a candidate for Phloretin CF, which is lighter than CE Ferulic and is the one I talked about in this vid. But as far as treatment products go, the SkinCeuticals expert was not only bothered by my freckly bits but also the aforementioned milia—and told me that I needed to get the latter under control before I could treat the former. I guess that makes sense, so I was instructed to use the Clarifying Clay Masque a few times a week, a retinol at night and then just the hyaluronic acid-based Hydrating B5 Gel as my moisturizer. In the mornings, I used their sunscreen, which I praised here, on top.
I followed this routine for a few weeks in the summer before I ran out (since I was just using sample sizes) and then Miracle10 came along and I switched. Did I get better results with Miracle10? Honestly, yes—and that's because I think my skin needed the extra exfoliating powers of the daily AHA cream to "normalize" it, prevent breakouts and milia. For me, wrinkles and pigmentation just aren't as pressing concerns as these things. (To be fair, my SkinCeuticals "diagnosis" didn't include anything for exfoliation, so I have to wonder if I'd have different results by adding their Retexturizing Activator into the routine. I'll definitely look into that once my Miracle10 prodz run out.)
But don't get me wrong—I still think SkinCeuticals is an incredible skincare line; it's just that it seems more geared to people who want to treat and prevent the signs of aging (and with the latest, most advanced ingredient combinations). Also, while I love the dramatic texture changes I'm experiencing with Miracle10, the lack of a sunscreen in that line is a bit problematic, so I'd feel more comfortable using SkinCeuticals' antioxidant and sunscreen combination in warmer weather, if I was outside a lot or if sun damage was my number one concern.
You can find a SkinCeuticals retailer in your area by visiting here.
So—in a nutshell? Both great lines, both worth checking out. Which one you choose all depends on what bothers you most with your skin. I'm just going to be a good girl and resist my usual urge to mix and match these two lines together—ha!
Do you use skincare products all from one brand, or do you mix it up?
Have you tried anything from Miracle10 or SkinCeuticals and if so, what did you think?
What's YOUR skincare regimen?