April/May Favorites: Anti-Aging Retinoid, Killer Workout, Samurai Nail Clippers, and Best Cod Liver Oil Evahhh
Holy cow. I have enough half-finished articles lined up to cause an interwebs meltdown. I have definitely been slacking on EBG, what with planning the wedding, university classes, and work. Whew. Here’s one hot off the presses.
1. SIRCUIT Skin Infusion-A Intensive Retinoid Serum, $80. For several years I have been waiting for effective retinoid products that are formulated in base of natural, “clean” ingredients. I was impatient and even considered starting a skin care line just to formulate those products, but SIRCUIT stepped up to the plate recently and introduced a natural-product-lover’s retinoid buffet. Imagine if you could use something as effective as a “traditional” retinoid without the petroleum derivatives, parabens, or side effects like peeling and flaking. In fact, if you could use just one topical anti-aging product, a retinoid would be it. And the younger you start using one, the better.
Retinoids are one of the few anti-aging substances backed by strong scientific studies and show obvious clinical results of improved skin appearance (e.g. reduced wrinkles, improved elasticity, prevention of collagen breakdown, improved skin tone, reduction of age spots and sun damage, etc.). It especially exciting because it is excellent for everyone and effective on everyone – and if you can start using a retinoid in your early 20s (or even late teens), it will be your best topical defender against sagging, wrinkling, and sun damage. I am all about prevention, and your three best lines of defense against losing collagen (after all, it’s much easier to prevent losing it than trying to add it back in later) are: excellent diet, preventing sun damage, and retinoids.
Even if you are well past your 20s, retinaldehyde, the form of retinoid that SIRCUIT has employed in their skin care formulations, is “highly effective in rejuvenating older skin” (Carolyn Jacob, MD. for WebMD). “A Swiss study found that among the cosmeceuticals, retinaldehyde is the most efficient and well-tolerated retinoid in renewing skin cells, filtering ultraviolent light, preventing cell breakdown, and improving aging skin.” Upon further research, I found something else worth of mentioning about retinaldeyde: if your skin has even been exposed to topical steroids or has been weakened by topicals, retinaldeyde shows promise in reversing atrophy and restoring healthy, plump skin (mice showed improvement within 1 month) and has the ability to prevent atrophy when used in conjunction with a topical steroid (New therapeutic targets in dermatoporosis. G. Kaya, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland.). This is excellent news, especially for those with eczema, who are frequently treated with topical steroids to the detriment of the skin.
Now that I’ve bored you (sorry, I’m excited!), I am happy to say that SIRCUIT’s Infusion-A serum has lived up to my expectations. I have always liked their formulations, and my opinion is no different here. I live in a very dry climate, and my skin can get dehydrated easily and form precursors to fine lines around the eyes. This serum was a pleasure to use – I experienced zero peeling, zero flaking, and a complete disappearance of the dehydration lines within a three days. It smells like citrus and medicine, but it is not an overpowering scent and it does not linger after it absorbs (which is almost instantaneously). Oh, and the large light brown freckle under my right cheek that I’ve had since childhood is almost entirely gone. My mum even asked me where it went! I also decided to try Infusion-A on my hands to test the atrophy-reversing effects the aforementioned study produced (if you have been a long-time reader and/or have the book, you’ll know I used to have eczema and that it was treated with topical steroids years ago – since then my hands have been exceedingly dry, sensitive, and prone to cracking). The serum absorbed immediately upon application, leaving no residue, oil, or slimy feeling (part of the reason I despise lotions). I needed zero moisturizing for a full 24 hours after that single application. My hands have not been dry and look wonderful for the first time in a long time. It’s a hefty price tag, but for all the benefit it’s given me in such a short time, I am definitely going to keep this potion around.
2. Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend, $49. Okay, I know this sounds bizarre. “Butter oil? Fermented cod liver oil? Uhhhh.” Well, you all know I’m obsessive about nutrition and pouring over studies is what I do for fun. For the past three months, I have been reading all there is to read on traditional food preparation, including fermentation and specially prepared foods used as medicines or supplements. Fermented cod liver oil and butter oil kept popping up, so I did some more digging and I have come to this conclusion: consuming those two foods is downright one of the best things you can eat for your body and skin. Rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K2 (exclusive to fermented foods), EPA, and DHA, fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blends are a traditionally processed food that has not been heat treated and stripped of its micronutrients. (And don’t worry, there is nothing to fear about the vitamin A and D content in fermented cod liver oil.) These vitamins and fatty acids are essential for beautiful skin, which as we all know by now, is a result of healthy organs that are getting the nutrients they need to do their jobs properly.
At first, I was nervous about the butter oil, since I know I get smatterings of blemishes from almost any kind of dairy except the local raw goat milk I get sometimes. However, the butter oil works in conjunction with the fermented cod liver oil and has caused no issues whatsoever in the past month or so that I’ve been taking it (I eat 1 tsp. everyday with a meal). My digestion has been flawless, and I’ve even gotten away with eating ice cream a few times without ANY blemishes. The last time I got away with that was when I was 18. My skin stays consistently smooth and blemish-free. The texture is not greasy or oily, and since I store it in the fridge, it’s a solid, creamy texture. My only problem is the flavor options – chocolate cream (not good if you’re sensitive to chocolate, as they use real cocoa powder), natural, and cinnamon tingle. I ordered the cinnamon flavor, and while I approve of all the ingredients and it tastes great, it’s just too intense and it burned my tongue. So now I chew it on my back molars to avoid my tongue, and follow with the remaining bites of my meal to remove any of the cinnamon “tingle.”
3. Physique 57 Classic Workout Complete 3-Disc Set, $59. I’ve mentioned these DVDs before, and after a two-month lapse in workouts from a pulled hamstring (caused by a sh*tty warmup and a bad instructor), I started up recently and realized once again the awesomeness that is Physique 57 (or P57, as people like to call it). I love ballet-type workouts in general, but I especially love P57 because it is difficult enough to make me sweat (I’m one of those people who find it difficult to get a good sweat going) and I love Tanya’s exuberant New Yorker personality and instruction. The time flies and the results come incredibly quick and most importantly, they last. I’ve been doing P57 and Bar Method for, oh, maybe two years, and the tone in my legs, stomach, and arms never disappears in the slightest, even when I have a two-month lapse. I like to mix it up with boxing and weight training and whatever, but I always go back to the barre. It gives me the lean, toned shape I like (different workouts will let you design your body in different ways), it is challenging, and you aren’t looking at the clock wondering when it’s going to end. But note: you will sweat and your legs and ass will be on fire, and it you will look great for it.
4. Seki Edge Satin Slim Stainless Steel Clipper, $19. These nail clippers were a surprise hit for me because I don’t get along with most beauty tools. I don’t use an eyelash curler, I barely use a comb (seriously, my curly hair hates it), and I have a love-hate relationship with my trusty old nail clippers. When Seki sent me this little beauty with the promise that I would adore it, I agreed to give it a shot. First, I was impressed with the design and quality. It is solid and lightweight, with a smooth finish and even smoother clipping motion. I should not be surprised – this tool, along with their entire range of sharp items, is crafted in Japan by ex-Samurai-sword-makers and their descendents, using traditional craftsmanship techniques. These are not your average $5 unwieldy drugstore clippers that are give you a rough, sharp edge to your nails. This little clipper feels solid and satin-y, and cuts smoothly and easily without having to apply much pressure, leaving no sharp or “fuzzy” edges. And in case you have nail OCD or are just bored, there is a built-in file on the underside of the handle. I give this clipper two neatly-manicured thumbs up.