Plan B: Gentle on the Face

Lots of hydration…

This was going to be a post where I went to Ulta and sniffed whatever they said were the most popular scents on display right now, and then talk about/mock them; I thought that’d be a fun project while I was there for something else. However, my nose was barely working – to be honest, I don’t think that was necessarily a terrible thing in that moment – so that didn’t work out. Instead, I’m going with Plan B, which is to chat about the other reason I was there, and maybe y’all will have some suggestions.

The skin on my face is always dry, and super sensitive right now (hello, retinoids!), and I’m looking for a couple of very emollient face creams plus a gentle cleanser that will remove mineral sunscreen (which is like stripping paint) and if you’ve shopped for skincare items recently, hoo boy. Everything has added anti-aging / active ingredients in there, which I understand, but I need the most boring and inactive goo right now, nothing in there to sting or make me flush.

K Beauty has awesome things but I have to order them online, and I’ve been unpleasantly surprised on occasion – for an industry with an amazing array of cutting-edge formulations, they can be heavily perfumed or contain botanicals like stinging nettle juice or lemon peel or something else problematic. I’m watching a bunch of YouTube reviews and putting a Stylevana list together, though, but that’ll take awhile and then it has to get here.

I’ve been using my Weleda Skin Food on my face as a very short-term solution, I always have a tube because I absolutely adore the smell, but I’m aware that its wonderful scent is from essential oils that I should probably avoid on my face. (If you haven’t smelled it, you really should, although be aware that it also has lanolin in it, which some folks are allergic to.)

So, your suggestions, please! Should I be … double cleansing with something benign like jojoba oil to get the sunscreen off? What’s a nice boring, soothing, emollient cleanser, and a rich face-goo that isn’t basically petroleum jelly? Not that there’s anything wrong with Vaseline, but it’s an occlusive, I need the moisturizing layer on my face first.

Also, I’m always up for trying a new sunscreen if you have any suggestions there! I’m going to try some new ones, again I’ve been watching YouTube videos for ideas. I’m pale with cool undertones and I have trouble finding SPF50+ sunscreens that don’t sting (if they’re chemical) or mineral/physical ones that aren’t either blinding white or too dark/warm toned if they’re tinted to hide the zinc glow.

Remember this?

If you have nothing to suggest for cleanser / moisturizer / mineral sunscreen, feel free to share a story about a skincare or makeup moment that was laughably terrible, or not at all what you were expecting.

Here’s mine: once I went to a wedding in Dallas; this was the 1980s when makeup was pretty strong and defined, along with some big Texas hair. I had time to kill before the rehearsal dinner so I went to the Clinique counter in the Galleria, figuring that’d be pretty safe and not too much, right? Hahaha I left there looking like one of those chicks in a Robert Palmer video. I didn’t even think you could get that look with Clinique. It was fun (and funny) but Very Much Not Me.

Your turn!

  • Tatiana says:
    All I can say is, when my skin was trashed and sore from retinols and abuse, this soothed and saved it.

  • Dina C. says:

    The most gentle two step cleansing routine I can think of would be Bioderma micellar water followed by Cetaphil. My favorite K beauty sunscreen is Dr G Green Mild Up 50+ PA++++. I’ve ordered it on Amazon as well as Stylevana. For moisturizer Elf Holy Hydration has been great, and gentle, for me. It has glycerin, niacinamide, peptides, but never stings. Like you I’m a porcelain skin with sensitivity. Hope you find something that helps you.

    • March says:

      Okay that Holy Hydration has gotten raves online as well, need to check that out and the Dr. G, which has ALSO gotten raves! Another vote for Cetaphil… man I have never used micellar water which I thought was some scam, clearly based on comments I was wrong. Thanks!

  • Musette says:

    wellll… you know I am a huge fan of oil for cleansing and moisturizing, especially WHERE YOU LIVE! ack! Such DRYNESS!
    Anyhoo – I’m cheap as chips and I like to go as natural as I can, so I use castor oil to remove eye makeup (it’s purported to help grow lashes & brows). Olive/almond oil for face cleansing – it’s great for getting SPF off your face – and papaya oil for after. I do use Black Soap but sparingly. Gettin’ too old for too much soap.

    • March says:

      Hon I am over here SLATHERING on the product, it’s dry as h3ll… clearly I need to get some oil for the first cleanse, that’s gotten several mentions! I really should get some castor oil before my eyebrows fade to nothing.

  • AnnieA says:

    Biore UV Watery Essence SPF 50+ (it also says Aqua Rich at the bottom) is light and non-bothersome. A friend with sensitive skin recommended it, at a local Japanese beauty store, but it should be online too.

  • monkeytoe says:

    DamDam Silk Rice Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil. I don’t use makeup, but I am old, pale, and live in Miami so I am covered in sunscreen most days. It is fragrance free, cruelty free, and has never irritated my skin. It is a bit of a splurge.

  • rosarita says:

    I’m old, with very dry skin. On days when I wear makeup, I double cleanse with grapeseed oil and a clean baby washcloth, followed by Dove soap – one quarter cleansing cream! For moisturizer, I always have a big tub of CeraVe cream on hand. Simple and gentle.

  • alityke says:

    CeraVe for cleansing, there are a few to choose from. Same for moisturising, gloop with ceramides. Again take your pick, even the huge packs are suitable for face & body. They also do facial moisturisers that act as high factor sunscreen, the trick is to apply enough & let us dry off before make up.
    As others have said face cloths to cleanse, Lancôme Bi phasic eye make up remover in the best

    • March says:

      How did I forget about CeraVe? Clearly some fans on here. I will also check out their moisturizers w sunscreen! I have the face cloths, I love them. They work and so much less waste, I just have to remember to throw them in the wash lol.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’ve actually had to stop using retinoids — don’t know for how long but it’s going to be at least another month before I even think about busting those out again. I have twitchy skin which seems happy with something for a while and then just throws a hissy fit. But, in any case. The best thing I’ve found for when skin becomes seriously uncomfortable is bog standard vitamin E cream — from amazon or a health food store. Calms everyone down fairly quickly. All I’m using at the moment on my face is Aveeno’s colloidal oatmeal lotion and sunscreen (currently Medik8 factor 50). I don’t know anything about mucking with the skin barrier but that’s what I think I’ve done and doing this seems to be helping to repair it. I’m waiting for Dr Jart+’s BB cream (factor 50) and will report back on how that goes. I have Missha stuff but it has a bad grey cast which I can’t figure out how to mitigate. I loved those ’80s videos — early MTV was a just a treasure trove of weird and wonderful makeup. Things are so much tamer now …

    • March says:

      Oooh, let me know how the Dr Jart is, I’ve seen a lot of love for that. I definitely have one (might be the Missha!) with a grey cast which is … weird. And yeah I should pay more attention to the skin barrier situation which I am 100% mucking with. Aveeno! There was a period of time when the family (kids have sensitive skin) went through GALLONS of various Aveeno products.

      • alityke says:

        Just to add an interesting fact re Aveeno. Before it landed on the shelves it was a purely pharmaceutical that had to be made up either by a pharmacist or nurse to make a paste & applied to eczema or psoriasis. Worked a treat too.
        A tip for dry itchy skin on the body is to add a handful of porridge oats to a warm bath. That works too

      • alityke says:

        Back when Aveeno was a pharmaceutical it came as a dry powder & a pharmacist or nurse had to make it into a paste with sterile water. We used it on itchy eczema & psoriasis. It worked a treat.
        If you have dry, itchy skin on your body, add a couple of handfuls of porridge oats to a warm bath. It really does soothe the itch. Don’t use instant oats though, you’ll end up with a bath full of runny Ready Brek

  • taxi says:

    I’m happy with Dr Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum SS, SPF 30 (no tint), Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense Face SS, SPF 30, (lightly tinted) and SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, lightly tinted. Both PC & SC work well for me in lieu of any daytime foundation.

    • March says:

      Oooh, going on the list! I’ve seen someone else (youtube?) rave about that Physical Fusion one. I love the PC BHA 2% on my nose only, works great on my pores lol

  • Tom says:

    I use food grade castor oil to loosen all the gunk of the day and then good old Erno Laszlo black soap. This leaves me clean but not stripped, so I’ll just put in some retinol/vitamin c serum (I shop around) and finish it with just regular Kiehls moisturizer. If I’ve taken sun or wind I’ll use Laszlo phelytyl night goop or if it’s really dry I’ll use crème de La mer, a tiny jar of which lasts me two years or so. I also have a big thing of Nivea, which is supposed to be a substitute, but I find it to be a bit much, so I use it on my hands to counteract hand sanitizer dryness.

    As far as sunscreen, kiehls liquid one is the best I’ve found so far, but I’ve never really found one that doesn’t immediately get into my eyes, seemingly even if I only put it on my ankles. La Roche Posay is good too, but leaves one with the ghostly cast of a Robert Palmer girl, without the lipstick.

    • March says:

      That’s so funny, that Nivea creme, my skin just DRINKS that stuff up and says, next! I like it but I have to put something heavier on top of it, shockingly. And YEAH, what is the DEAL with sunscreen in the eye? I’m dry and it’s dry here, I’m not sweating, but dang if it doesn’t wind up in my eyes at some point…

      • Tom says:

        I have no idea! I try to be good and always wear it especially in the car, but I end up driving looking like Popeye with one squinted shut.

        BTW- don’t think you don’t need sunscreen because you have a closed car. There was a photo in teh New England Journal of Medicine years ago that scared the crap out of me of a long haul trucker, the left side of his face collapsed onto wrinkles and his right relatively young looking. That’s what long term sun damage does.

        • March says:

          Oh yeah, I’ve seen that! And for as careful as I am about sunscreen, after decades my left arm (closer to the window) has more age spotting than my right arm. If I get really bored I’m going to look into trying to deal with that pigmentation.

  • SpringPansy says:

    Not sure if this will be helpful, but my favorite new skincare item this summer is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask. I have mature skin that is dry and sensitive and this stuff is just wonderful. I use just a dab almost every night. (It comes in a mini size so you can try it without spending a ton.) It also smells amazing–kind of like fresh apples? But not sweet.

    Other than my Origins, I’m generally very basic with Cetaphil cleanser and lotion and for makeup removal, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (olive oil based). Maybe that would help with the sunscreen removal?

    • March says:

      Thanks for the tips, making a list … I bet Macy’s here has Origins. Oh, Cetaphil is another good one. I bought one in a mini that was super gentle but didn’t do much, but that was without an oil cleanse first…

  • Maggiecat says:

    I also have dry, sensitive skin and use mineral sunscreens (and retinol), so I can relate. I double or triple cleanse at night – I use micellar water to gently remove makeup, an oil cleanser, and then a regular cleanser. I like Origins Checks and Balances, and Korres Yoghurt cleansers for the final step. Caudalie has a gentle foaming cleanser I use in the morning. I’m using a Peach and Lily oil cleanser I really like right now, but it has ginger in it, so it might not be for you. The Korres products are very gentle but effective, so that might be a goid place to start.

    I hope this helps! Good luck!

    • March says:

      THANK you! I don’t think I’ve tried any Korres at all, will check those out! It’s not like I wear a ton of makeup, but combined with the sunscreen it can be tough to remove.

  • Cyndi says:

    I actually love Clinique. I have been using it on and off (mostly on) for nearly 50 years (yikes!). They have a Take the Day Off cleansing oil which is really nice and then I follow with an additional mild liquid cleanser. The Dramatically Different Moisturizer is the best I’ve ever used. Also, for a more moisture add the Moisture Surge cream on top of your moisturizer. I love these products because they are fragrance free and moisturize like crazy with clogging the pores.

    • March says:

      Dramatically Different, have not thought about that in ages — I used to own that and Moisture surge! An excuse to find a Clinique counter … I miss that easy browsing in a big city.

  • MMKinPA says:

    I use cleansing balms to remove makeup. Clinique’s is a classic, but the one from ELF isn’t bad and cheap. I also like Banila (at Ulta). I bought a big pack of white washcloths, use those to get every bit off, new one each day (I don’t wash towels daily so the big pack is nice). For moisturizer, I’m partial to. belief True Cream (not the Aqua bomb) for winter. I also enjoyed the Drunk Elephant protini polypeptide cream but not enough to pay drunk elephant prices. For sunscreen, my favorite is elta MD but might be too dark of a tint for you. have you tried DRMTLGY? My recollection is that the tint was cooler toned than my Elta Md but I don’t currently have it to double check. I just tried a sample of a COTZ tinted mineral that was sort of primer ish but the tint was not discernible on my skin, no white cast.

    • March says:

      I realllly need to try the Elta vs. DRMTLGY, pretty sure one of those would work! And some are moisturizers with very high SPF. Huh, hadn’t heard of the COTZ, thank you!

  • Portia says:

    Hey March,
    You know I wear a LOT of make up right?
    I have worked out a couple of hacks to deal with my super sensitive skin.

    Before makeup I put a layer of After Shave Balm. It creates an excellent barrier between me and the goop, it also stops it all bleeding and fading through the hours. Once it’s done I also give it a spritz with some hair lacquer to keep it in place forever.

    Afterwards I remove it with Grape Seed Oil. Slather it on and remove with a Tea Towel. Once I’ve removed most of it I have a bunch of microfibre cloths from the hardware store and I load one up with water. Use it like a wet flannel and it cleans every last skerrick of makeup, leaving my face glowing.

    Should I be looking a little dry (this only happens very rarely) Aftelier does amazing face oils. Two drops and my face looks like brand new.

    Probably not a LOT of help for your current problem but…
    Portia x

    • March says:

      Of course! You WOULD have worked it all out, wouldn’t you! I’m going to try the balm and oil routines … and I too have a bunch of cloths I can use and then throw in the wash. Oh man I didn’t think about those Aftelier oils, I bet they are amazing.

      • Portia says:

        So my totally unsupported theory is:
        I hydrate my skin from the inside by drinking 3-4 litres of fresh water a day on top of anything else.
        Oil to feed my skin from the outside.

        Yeah, I know it goes against almost everything we are currently taught but my skin looks pretty good considering what is thrown at it on a daily basis.

        • March says:

          I definitely do the oil on the skin… I try to hydrate more from the inside, I could really use that here, but it’s a struggle!

  • Carolyn says:

    Suggestion #1…Sokoglam Skin Concierge. I wouldn’t try to figure out what of the many K-beauty products they carry without that free consultation.