Last winter, I was tearing my hair out trying to keep my face from feeling dry and tight. I was layering oils on oils, oils on creams, creams on oils, the whole shebang (which, fun fact, I just learned refers to #! in the computer science world). I was spritzing my face constantly throughout the day but feeling dry again within 15 minutes.
This winter, even when it dropped to negative degrees, I only felt that way once or twice. Once or twice vs. the entire winter? Huge improvement.
The lovely Ru from Short Small Sweet tagged me for my winter essentials, and here they are: Osmia Organics’ Active Gel Toner and Flight Skincare’s Floating Hydration Serum.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly small size of AGT–the first time I used it, I pumped all the way down, getting a handful of gel, and later on in my routine when I put on foundation, it pilled (making those gross eraser-like marks). I sent out an SOS to Osmia Organics’ founder Sarah on Twitter, and she said she only uses a dab each time. The amount shown in the picture below requires like 1/5 of the pump, and that + a damp face/toner is more than enough.
AGT goes on after I cleanse and before I moisturize. I give it 30-60 seconds to set (per bottle instructions), and then proceed with my oil + serum concoction of the day. When fall started to kick in, I didn’t feel the drying effects at all, except for the one day I neglected to apply this. When winter started to kick in, I still wasn’t feeling it, until that one negative degree day, but then again, at that point, you should just start wearing ski masks because weather is weather.
First on the ingredients list is aloe, followed by a beautiful list of extracts, a preservative that’s NOT phenoxyethanol (it can be done!), niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid has been getting a lot of love for its hydration superpowers–it’s featured in Tata Harper’s well-loved toner, it was even used as a selling point in a conventional setting powder. It’s naturally produced in the deepest layers of our skin, and supplementing with more hyaluronic acid encourages the skin to retain moisture and to stay supple.
Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, while less popular than hylaluronic acid but by no means less cool, has been reported to improve barrier function and decrease the signs of photoaging (hyperpigmentation, fine lines). It is, quote, effective at alleviating dry skin conditions, and indeed it has been for me. Score!
The extracts include rose of jericho, white tea, and oat beta glucan. Rose of jericho is super, super cool because its plant is able to survive extreme dehydration through a process only found in two plants (itself being one) called trehalose accumulation. So it knows how to keep itself hydrated. On top of these hydrating ingredients are the calming white tea, aloe, calendula, and smoothing oat beta glucan (sorry gluten-free folks).
I picked and started using Flight Skincare’s Floating Hydration Serum on a whim and then fell full in love with it. I am so into oils–I love the texture, I love the colors, I love how my skin loves it. But when I need an extra boost of hydration, an aloe-rich serum has been my favorite cherry on top. To supplement AGT, I began mixing half a dropper of FHS with an oil.
Technically, the directions say to use a full dropper for your entire face and neck, which I did try, and while it kept my face feeling hydrated throughout a day of cross-country flying (can’t use enough exclamation points to express that this never happens!!!), it can feel like a lot of serum for not enough face in my opinion, and it takes time for it to sink in all the way, and I love oils, so I preferred mixing with oil to get the best of both worlds.
In the winter of either California or Baltimore, this gave my face a serious glow of hydration. Not a grease glow, but a healthy glow and my face just felt marvelously hydrated.
What drew me initially wasn’t the aloe (which is well known for its hydrating, anti-inflammatory, burn-healing properties), but the various extracts: pomegranate, wild yam (um, YUM), and green tea.
Pomegranate extract is antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, and has strong free radical scavenging activity, which is great for strengthening the skin and fighting off the signs of aging by protecting from cellular damage. There was even a study done on Asian males where it was shown pomegranate extract can have pretty good control over melanin activity (hyperpigmentation, begone!).
Wild yam extract excited me because I’ve never seen it in a product before–it’s apparently like ascorbic acid (basically the very effective vitamin C which sometimes can be irritating)’s little sister. In a study done comparing free radical scavenging activity, wild yam extract trails ascorbic acid on the efficacy chart by an average of 20%. Not a huge deal for me, because it contains phytosterols which has been effective in blocking the reduced synthesis of collagen after exposure to UV rays as well as stimulating further collagen production (yay!).
I mentioned green tea extract in my review of the #ED4OLO Vitamin C Serum (here), so I will briefly recap here: it boosts vitamin C in being more effective and it itself is a great source of antioxidants.
After giving this a shoutout in my #GreenSurvivor Challenge video (watch it here if you haven’t yet!), the lovely Kym from Flight Skincare posted about the vitamin C-rich lilly pilly extract on Instagram (see it here), and I couldn’t believe I had glossed over it on the ingredients list initially (probably blinded by hearts in eyes by the time I got to the middle of the list). Turns out this Aussie plant is really high in vitamin C (so woot–that green tea’s got something to boost)–one study cites the number as high as 174mg AAE/g (ascorbic acid equivalents per gram) in lilly pilly extract. For comparison, Google says there’s about 55mg in a small orange.
Now the crazy hydration–I’m guessing it’s coming from the combination of humectants (aloe, vegetable glycerine, honey, floral waters) and squalene, an occlusive. Vegetable glycerine is a humectant, so it binds/attracts moisture to the the skin. It’s also tacky, so I’m thinking it’s partially what gives the serum it’s main tacky texture. Honey is also a well-known humectant that is often used as a moisturizing mask or even a cleanser (reminds me of my old DIY days). Add to that the occlusive squalene, which forms a barrier on the skin preventing water loss, and you get seriously hydrated skin.
Special mention goes to mimosa oil (which just reminds me of that scene in The Incredibles where he’s on the plane and is sipping a mimosa), which besides having the effect of making everyone thirsty for brunch, smells floral + woody and may have calming properties on the skin.
tl;dr Hydration heroes: a gel toner after cleansing and before moisturizing delivering hydration to the deepest levels of the skin + a milky serum with a great combination of humectants and and an occlusive. Absolute winter essentials.
Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts? If not, what were your winter essentials been?
Also, since we are in an awkward time transitioning over to spring (finally!), I want to hear either your winter essentials or tell me in couple weeks (or months) what your spring essentials are Naturally Marcy, Plein Vanity, Green Beauty Babe, and Let’s Talk about Green.
Disclaimer: I purchased AGT from Osmia Organics and was sent the Floating Hydration Serum graciously from Flight Skincare along with my order of their cleansers after a shipping mishap. I am not being compensated in any way for my words. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Osmia AGT ingredients: aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin*, camellia sinensis (white tea) extract*, calendula officinalis extract*, lactobacillus/oat ferment extract filtrate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), lactobacillus ferment, selaginella lepidophylla (rose of jericho) extract, hyaluronic acid, sclerotium rolfsii gum, [gluconolactone (and) sodium benzoate], sodium bicarbonate, proprietary blend of organic and wild-harvested essential oils
*=CERTIFIED ORGANIC, 81.2% certified organic ingredients
Flight FHS ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis( Aloe Vera) Leaf Gel,Vegetable Glycerine,* Citrus aurantium (Neroli ) Water,Jasminum nudiflorum (Jasmine) Water, Sorbitol, Squalene (Olives)*(Honey),*Punica granatum (Pomegranate) extract, Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam) extract, Syzigium australe (Lilly Pilly) extract,* Camelia synensis (Green Tea) extract, Citrus aurantium (Orange) Water, Limnanthes alba (Meadowfoam),Zanthomonas campestris (Xanthan) Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose( Plant derived amino acid), Parfum (Vanilla & Almond), Albizia julibrissin Durazz (Mimosa) Oil,
* Certified Organic ** Wild Harvested
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