Oily Skin 101: Cleansing (Part 2 of 4)


This is the second installment in my series on caring for oily skin. If you haven’t already, you can read the first installment here.

The first major change in my skin care routine that led to significant improvement was changing my cleanser.

I will confess, I never used to be very fussy about cleansers. I also never imagined that cleanser could make such a huge difference to the health and condition of my skin. I’ve tried countless different cleansers over the years; most were some form of water soluble foaming facial wash. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I put two and two together and realized that cleanser was at least partly to blame for my clogged pores and breakouts. How can that be? It’s only on your skin for a brief moment. It’s meant to clean and purify. Breakouts are caused by things like makeup and heavy creams that stay on your skin for long periods of time….or so I thought.

How did I come to the realization that cleanser was causing problems? About two years ago, I stopped using it altogether. For about a year, I washed my face with nothing but warm tap water and a washcloth. I still used eye makeup remover, but only warm water on the rest of my face. As time went on, I started to notice fewer blocked pores and blemishes. It wasn’t a miracle cure, but there was definite improvement.

About six months ago, I started to worry that using only water might not be good enough. I just had a feeling that I was probably going to bed with traces of makeup left on my skin, and it ended up being a nagging feeling that I couldn’t shake. So I decided to buy a new cleanser. I went for a different type of cleanser though, one aimed at sensitive skin:


On a whim, I picked up Marcelle‘s “Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel” and gave it a try. I’ve been using this cleanser morning and night for about six months, and I love it! Although it’s called a gel, I’d describe it as a gel/cream hybrid. It’s light and glides over the skin like a gel, but it has a creaminess to it as well, and I find it very hydrating. I love how my skin feels after I use this. It feels clean and refreshed, but not dry and tight. Seriously, this is the only cleanser I have ever used that doesn’t leave me with that uncomfortable tightness. It removes excess oil and makeup, but it doesn’t strip your skin of all its natural moisture.

I think the key to this cleanser’s seemingly magical powers is that it does not foam. I’m now beginning to suspect that foaming cleansers are just too harsh. They strip the skin to the point that it freaks out and produces even more oil to compensate for the sudden drought. I am now a firm believer that cleanser should not make your skin feel tight. Tightness is a sign that your cleanser is too harsh and is probably exacerbating any skin issues you may have. In my case, the extra oil my skin was producing to protect itself lead to more blocked pores and breakouts.

And here’s the kicker. Nearly all of the cleansers that are marketed for oily skin, are the foaming variety that strip the skin and lead to a vicious cycle that ultimately makes oily skin even worse. If you have oily skin, ignore cleansers that say they’re for oily or acne-prone skin. Instead, look for ones that are meant for sensitive skin. Also, keep an eye out for sulfates. Sulfates are ingredients that are used to make cleansers foam. (Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are really common ones to watch out for.) Sulfates are bad news for oily skin. They’re just too harsh. I’ve also switched to a sulfate-free shampoo and have noticed improvement in the condition of my hair as well.

Since I switched my cleanser, I’ve seen a dramatic reduction in bumps and blemishes.  It’s still oily, of course, but at least now I can rest assured my cleanser isn’t making things worse.




I have always loved watching “Empties” videos on YouTube. You know? the ones where people hold up empty bottles and talk about products they’ve used up. I decided to start a series of “Empties” posts where I will do the the same thing, but you don’t have to actually watch me wave the empty bottles around while I blather on. This month’s empties are featured below.


1. Vichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 Micellar Solution

I’ve already written a review of this product here, so I won’t waste too many words on it in this post. It’s a decent micellar solution and does a good job of removing eye makeup quickly and gently. I enjoyed it enough to use it up, but there are far better ones out there for the price, and there are so many others I want to try, so I won’t bother to repurchase this one.

2. Batiste Dry Shampoo

I always like to have a can of dry shampoo on hand to deal with greasy roots on my “second-day hair.” I’ve repurchased Batiste a few times and will continue to do so, but not this particular version. This is the “Wild” version, and although the leopard print can is adorable, the scent leaves something to be desired. It’s sickly sweet and kind of…..old lady-ish? Not a fan.

3. Bath and Body Works Three Wick Candle in Island Margarita

I finally used up one of my BBW candles! This was one of the summer scents, so you probably can’t get it now, but I would consider getting it again. It burned really well, had good throw and I enjoyed the scent. Kind of fruity/floral/tropical…..I’m horrible at describing scents. I liked it.

4. AG Hair Cosmetics Recoil Curl Care Shampoo and Conditioner

I can’t rave enough about AG Hair Cosmetics. Their products are high quality and actually make a noticeable difference in my hair. I’ve been a long-time fan of the Recoil styling products and decided to try the shampoo and conditioner from the same line. LOVE! I have already re-purchased and will continue to do so. Seriously, if you have curly hair with a mind of its own, check out the Recoil line from AG. They make curls soft, defined and manageable. They also control frizz without weighing the hair down or causing build-up. Customer for life! (Plus, it’s a Canadian brand, and the products are made right here at home.)

5. NeoStrata Oil Free Smoothing Lotion Level 3

This is a 10% glycolic acid lotion meant to provide some serious exfoliation, and it really works. It has made a huge difference in my skin. I’ve been using it for about 5 months, and it has definitely made my skin smoother. I also get way fewer blocked pores. I have repurchased this, but I must point out that it’s been re-vamped and reformulated. They changed the name to Glycolic Renewal Lotion. They’ve added a bit of fragrance to it, and the consistency has changed (it’s a bit thicker now), but Iuckily I’m still getting good results from the new formulation. I’ll keep buying this as long as it keeps working. It’s pretty expensive, but I don’t mind paying for skin care that works!

That’s all for now! Check back next month to find out what else I’m throwing out.

Battle of the Micellar Lotions


Back in the early days of my makeup obsession, I used to dread removing my eye makeup in the evening. The first eye makeup removers that I experimented with were AWFUL. Some burned, some made an oily mess, and they all seemed to require a bit of scrubbing to completely remove shadow, liner and mascara.

Now I look forward to removing even the most intense eye looks and it’s all thanks to my new skin care obsession: micellar lotions. AKA cleansing waters or micellar solutions, micellar lotions are really just simple, no frills makeup removers that can be used to remove makeup anywhere on your face. I prefer to use them as eye makeup removers because they’re extra gentle and rarely contain fragrance or other irritants that can bother the extra sensitive eye area.

The first micellar cleanser I ever tried was the iconic BioDerma Sensibio H20, a favourite of makeup artists. I do love that one, but it’s kind of expensive and not always easy to find where I live. Luckily more and more brands are coming out with micellar cleansers, so I’ve been experimenting with some different ones recently.

Vichy‘s Purete Thermale 3-in-1 is a nice, though somewhat pricy, option. It’s fairly gentle and does a good job of breaking down makeup. This one loses points with me because it contains vichy-purete-thermale-1301fragrance. I prefer that anything going near my eyes be fragrance free. I also didn’t care for the pump dispenser. It was tricky to control how much product was dispensed and got a bit messy at times. (It also broke before the product ran out…grrr.) I wouldn’t bother repurchasing this one since there are way better ones out there.


Next up is NeoStrata‘s Micellar Cleanser. I received this one as a gift-with-purchase, and it’s not half bad. It’s gentle and does a decent job of removing makeup. Call me fussy, but I don’t like the fact that this one has colour added. For me, a big part of the appeal of micellar waters is that they’re…well, like water. The simpler the better. This one is good enough to use up, but I won’t be running out to replace it.

Helping to drive my obsession with micellar cleansers is the fact that londonpremierethere are now some budget options available. This one from London Premiere (a London Drugs brand) was only $13 for 500ml. Since many others I’ve tried sell for around $20 for 350 ml, this one’s a steal! It’s not as luxe as the others mentioned in this post, but it gets the job done. Major points for packaging on this one. It has one of those pump tops where you put your cotton pad onto the dispenser and push down until it’s saturated. It keeps things tidy and prevents waste. This one is very gentle with no unecessary colour or fragrance added. My only gripe is that it doesn’t seem to break down makeup quite as effortlessly as some of the others I’ve tried, but that’s a minor complaint.

I saved the best for last. I think Marcelle‘s 3-in-1 Micellar Solution is as 300ml-eaumic-3in1_05good as the BioDerma if not better. It’s simple, gentle and makes eye makeup removal a breeze. It has my preferred pump top dispenser as well. And for what it’s worth, it’s approved by the Canadian Dermatological Association. (I’m picturing scientists in lab coats nodding in approval.) I will definitely repurchase this one…..when I’m done experimenting that is. Bravo Marcelle!

Are than any others I should try? Let me know in the comments.