A few links (The Ordinary skincare, Barre3, and a music video).

dr it girl links eucalyptus vase.JPG

The winter has dried out my skin and lips a lot.  While at work, I got so desperate for relief, I ended up taking a tube of moisturizer from the supply room at the hospital.  Surprisingly, it was hands down one of the most effective moisturizers I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot.  The other night, I wondered out loud to the BF why there weren’t more highly effective beauty products without all the gimmicky marketing features that drive up costs but add no real value.  Why aren’t there more products like the ones you can find at the hospital?

Then I read about The Ordinary, a brand that does just that.  They focus on active ingredients with no added frills, all at a very affordable price point.  I bought a few products that have gentle anti aging properties as a preventative measure.  I just received them today and can’t attest to their effectiveness yet, but so far the immediate experience of the products has been exactly what I was looking for:  totally neutral…  not luxurious at all.  I can’t even tell that I have 3 layers of products on my face right now.  That’s a good thing.

ordinary skin care

Angie gives an in depth review of a few anti aging products from The Ordinary.  I was most interested in what she had to say about The Buffet serum and the Natural Moisturizing Factors + H.A..   I read a lot of reviews and most people recommended these two products as good basic starting points.  I bought these two and the Rose Hip Seed Oil. Angie seems to be very knowledgeable about skincare, plus I tend to trust her opinion on the efficacy of anti aging products because she is actually over age 50 and has to deal with aging skin herself.  It never made any sense to listen to all these wrinkle-less young youtube gurus in their 20’s and 30’s review anti aging products.

If you want a broad overview of The Ordinary’s products, check out these youtube reviews (part 1 and part 2) by Renee (aka. Gothamista).  Renee works in the skincare industry and seems very knowledgeable about the science behind skincare ingredients.

I was curious to find out what the cosmetic chemists at the Beauty Brains podcast thought about the Ordinary products but sadly, they haven’t produced a podcast in a really long time.  I mention it here in case any of you wanted a resource to nerd out on this topic.

As I mentioned earlier, I just found out that I’m low on vitamin D and whenever I’ve mentioned this to anyone, the response is “You need more sun!”.  Um, no thanks!  I’d rather take supplements than expose my skin to harmful UV.  It got me thinking of replacing my near empty bottle of sunscreen.  I read some articles about some more effective and purportedly safer (more stable) chemical sunscreens ingredients that have been approved in Europe and Asia but hasn’t gone through the FDA approval process in the United States yet.  Some of these newer ingredients are much better at blocking UV A (which is what is responsible for our wrinkles) than what we have here in the US.

I got really curious about this topic and went down an internet rabbit hole looking for a good sunscreen with these second generation ingredients.  I ended up choosing the Anessa Essence, an off-shoot of the Japanese company, Shiseido.  I’m not an expert on this topic by any means, and I feel like I’m taking a risk when using chemical sunscreens but I’m honestly not that diligent when it comes to using all natural sunscreens consistently (because of their consistency and the white cast), and I figure the best sunscreen is the one that I’ll actually use everyday.  There are potential risks to chemicals, but there are well known risks from exposure to UV rays too.  Weighing the pros vs. cons, I’ve decided to take a risk and use these newer sunscreens.

I used to obsessively look up ingredients on the EWG website, and then get frustrated that literally everything they investigated caused cancer.  But after I heard EWG were also anti-vaccines, I lost faith in them, and wondered if they were doing more harm then good by all of this fear mongering.

I completed my first online class with Barre3!  I finished part 1 in the beginner series which has 8 parts.  You can try it for free for 15 days here.  I actually enjoyed the class, but I don’t have much experience with working out so take my opinion with a grain of salt.  The instructor was a good motivator.  She made you feel comfortable in your own skin.  I like that there are easy and hard versions of each exercise.  And the instructors and classmates come in different body shapes and sizes.  They are not all anorexic looking.

It was nice to be able to work out in the comfort of my own home.  I think anyone who is a home body like me would prefer this format.  You can pause the video, use the restroom, get a glass of water, etc. and come back to it.  I didn’t have to buy much equipment either because I already own a Manduka yoga mat and was glad I found another activity to get my money’s worth.

Barre3 has more dynamic large movements than you’ll find at Pure Barre, but it also includes those tiny 1-2 inch movements as well.  I’m kind of bored with yoga though and Barre3 does incorporate some of that into the routines but it has been pretty minimal thus far.  I’ll just use all those downward dog parts to take a break and drink a glass of water.  The movements do work up a sweat but the intensity of the workout was slowly built up.  There was never a part where I felt like I couldn’t push through it.  I’d switch to the easier version of the exercise whenever it felt like I couldn’t go any further.  So I felt productive throughout the class and felt enough momentum to want to take the next class.

And lastly, check out this beautiful music video by Aldous Harding.  She’s a critically acclaimed gothic folk singer from New Zealand.  It takes a lot of patience to appreciate her music but even if you don’t have the patience for it, I think you’ll still enjoy this video, if not for the music, than for the clothes.  Her mother is featured in this all white futuristic Eileen Fisher-like get-up.  It’s rare to see an mature female protagonist in anything these days, which is why I love this video so much.  Aldous Harding looks menacing in a structured all black robe with seriously badass bell sleeves.

I wonder what’s the story behind the video.  Seems like the woman in all white is warding off evil and temptation.  (Here’s a video of the same song performed at NPR.  She such a visually interesting performer!  Plus, that white cotton canvas jacket she’s wearing is to die for!).

[photos:  candle, eucalyptus, and salt on my living room bookshelf; Skincare products from the hospital and The Ordinary on my bathroom shelf]

17 thoughts on “A few links (The Ordinary skincare, Barre3, and a music video).

  1. Thank you for chronicling your experience with barre3 and The Ordinary!! It sounds like a breath of fresh air. The marketing of skincare is downright insulting. I am an anti-aging over-analyzer (I think I mentioned Paula’s Choice to you a long time afo, and it operates under the same philosophy—medical journal research supported studies and bare bones products, but in strategic formulations—I use the C serum and a few retinol products).
    Do you use the back of a chair for barre or does it require a “barre” prop? Sorry if that’s a dumb question. 🙂


    1. So far I haven’t needed any bar/chair. But some videos do require anything that is waist high. I’m going to stack two chairs to get that height since my chairs are very low.


  2. Michelle, another timely post! Ha, I’m visiting my parents, so I have so much time to read blogs… and eat… and be online.

    I very much enjoy The Ordinary products and did a happy jig when they announced that they were going to be sold by Sephora. I’m loving their retinol, niacinamide, and their vitamin C (not used all in one sitting). Does hyaluronan work when it’s not injected? I can’t say all that much about product efficacy since my efforts are mostly preventative, but absent major negative changes, I’m happy to say that they work very well. My east asian mom is obsessed with all things sunscreen, and she likes La Roche Posay and Clarins. My favorite is Elta MD, although SuperGoop in its satisfyingly giant pump container feels great, as well. I used to use Badger sunscreen because that seems to be the only brand out there that’s non-carcinogenic, but that was like putting toothpaste on my face!


    1. i wonder about hyaluronic acid too; I recall from med school that it’s a very large structure that holds on to water… so I can’t imagine that it would get absorbed under the skin. There’s all these new micro versions that claim to be small enough to reach lower layers but I don’t know what to believe. My guess is that it sits on top of skin and draws in H2O and gives your skin a superficial dewy appearance. And you run the risk of it sucking H2O from your skin too if the air is dry. If you find out, let me know! I wanted to try niacinamide next for blemishes. There’s vitamin A in rosehip seed oil so I felt that I didn’t need additional retinol at this time but thats something i might use down the road.


      1. Yeah, exactly re the HA—I remember it’s like a double cyclohexane with a carboxylic and amide hanging on at the ends. Huge. But I went to the the Ordinary site and it confirms that low molecular weight formulas are newly available, as you say—you’ll have to tell me if you feel like your skin is less dry.


  3. I was just thinking last night about how dry my skin is now. I know it’s bad when I have my husband put lotion on my back because it gets so itchy.
    I have several Ordinary products and I’ve had hits and misses with them. I like the retinol products but I don’t like the newer formulas in Squaline. It’s much more oily and I think I’ve developed a rash due to it. I’m a bit miffed that they changed the format so that nearly all the retinol is now in that solution. The vit C in Silicone is decent, but if I’m in a hurry with my routine then the product will pill on me. I always have to make sure my skin is completely dry of previous product before AND after applying the vit C – so I don’t use it much. I have the Reservatrol + Ferulic acid as well and it’s WAY too oily for my skin. By the end of the day I’m a grease ball, so I’ve only been putting a drop of that in with my Dr Jart Ceramidin emulsion for a moisturizer. The Caffeine solution for puffy/dark eyes has helped a LOT because I have very deep set eyes and I need to buy more of it. It really does help with puffy eyes in the mornings. Lastly, I have the Argireline solution for my face lines, but I don’t think it’s helped too much and can irritate my face a bit.
    It’s great that you found an exercise you like and want to keep up with! I’ve been lazy about my workout routine due to the holidays, but will be getting back to it next week.


    1. you have a lot of the more specialty items from the Ordinary.. I heard mixed things about them and just stuck with the basic foundational items first… may add some things down the road.. I hear the vitamin C is tricky but I am impressed they chose that powder formulation in favor of stability over ease of use… seems to say something about their dedication toward preserving the active ingredient. And I’m curious, what’s your work out routine??


      1. I was curious about the more specialty items from Ordinary, but now I don’t think I’d buy half of them again. I may also look into a different retinol now because of how oily the squaline solution is for me.
        I do a lot of weight lifting/ body weight exercises – but I’ve had to cut back half of them due to my foot being in the boot. Currently, I do chin ups/pull ups (in doorway w/ a pull up bar I bought at Target), leg lifts (lay flat on floor and raise both legs up 90 degrees and then lower but don’t let them touch the floor before starting back up again – these are made more difficult now due to the weight of the boot), push-ups (I tuck my booted leg behind my other leg so I’m on 3 points now instead of 4), body rows, bench press (using our weight bench) and overhead press. I only do 3 of the above exercises on one day and rotate them around throughout the week.


      2. Wow I’m so impressed by your routine! I’ve never been able to do a pull up… I would love to hear about how you worked up to that level.. like how long it took etc.


      3. It took a very long time before I could do one – six months. I’d read a lot about doing pulls ups and chin ups and did what was recommended to build up the strength to do them and I knew it would take me a long time. Most people give up because they think they are doing something wrong or the exercise is too hard, but it’s really a matter of building up strength in the muscles that assist with doing those exercises. Chin ups are easier to do than pull ups and I can do many more of those (8 chin ups versus 3 pull ups right now). Chin ups are under hand (palms facing you) and pull ups are over hand (palms facing away). There are three things to do for building up towards doing pull-ups/chin-ups: Use a step stool or jump up so your chin is above the bar and hold that pose for as long as possible – let yourself down slowly. Next, hang from the bar and while hanging, shrug your shoulders – this works the lats (back muscles), which do the majority of the work in those exercises. Do 10 shrugs or as many as tolerable after doing the jump ups. Lastly (although not entirely necessary I found these helpful) do body rows. These are a separate exercise that I alternated days on when I didn’t use the pull up bar. It works the same muscle groups. They are typically done with a low set bar bell on a weight bench but they are possible from a table too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYUxXMGVuuU I still hate body rows with a passion and I even have a bar bell to use so I don’t do the table kind.
        At first, I had a lot of problems with my body curling up (all my core muscles tightening) while doing chin ups and then my body would swing. Keeping the body as stiff and still as possible is best. The stronger I got, the less I curled up and can now mostly do them with my legs straight down. It takes a LOT of practice and time to do them, but once I was able to, I wanted to do more. One pull up or chin up was never enough. I kept telling myself that if I was in a crisis situation (zombie apocalypse is imminent, you know 😉 ) and had to pull myself up from somewhere, one pull up or chin up wouldn’t cut it. I’m still not happy with how few real pull ups I can do and I’ve been working on them for over a year.


      4. I’ve played that scenario over in my head.. like what if I was hanging off the edge of a cliff, would I be able to pull myself up. The answer has always been no… Props to you for keeping at the pull ups. A year going at it is a lot of hard work!


  4. Also happy the Ordinary is going to be at Sephora now. I’m mostly interested in their lactic acid and vitamin C products. I’ll remember the info about the hospital moisturizer for when I am in need.


    1. There’s mixed reviews on their vitamin C but it seems to be more about the experience of it than about the efficacy of it. LMK what you think if you do end up buying!


  5. Glad to see you’re trying out The Ordinary. I have only tried a few products so far, my favorite being the Squalane oil. I have oily, dehydrated acne prone skin and it works *wonders* in hydrating my skin and helping to heal any dryness and blemishes. I also use it on the ends of my hair. I have read that it works really well on eczema, too. Anyways, for the price the quality is pretty great. Overall, I respect DECIEM’s philosophy, and the fact that they sell all the (in the long run possibly harmful) actives people want, but give really solid long-term alternatives in their NIOD line.

    Reddit’s SkinCare Addiction is an amazing forum for learning about products, routines and skin health: https://www.reddit.com/r/SkincareAddiction/. I have been reading this forum pretty extensively over my winter break and have learned so much. Probably will have to quit it once school starts back up in January! I would recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about how to solidly commit to skin health, no matter their age.

    As far as EWG goes, I also wonder about their integrity. Beauty Brains is so good at expelling myths regarding safety concerns. I wish they posted more!

    Great, thoughtful post — as always! By the way, I am in love with your vase of roses and eucalyptus! The latter being my favorite winter plant ❤


    1. Ooh thanks for the reddit rec. I’ve looked at their female fashion advice page but hadn’t heard of this one before. I love eucalyptus.. I got these at whole foods and they are really tiny.. like baby eucalyptus.


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