17 March 2011

Carly's guide to top beauty survival products (part 1)

After my first vanity, beauty and prejudice piece I wrote last week, who would have thought I'd be writing a blog entry devoted to beauty products? And who the hell thought I'd NEED such products?!
Hold on, keep reading. It's all relevant!

My Favourite Things has set a list challenge that I'd thought would be both fun and informative to do on my blog. I have modified the list to categories that are relevant to my own life.

I don't use any make up or many off the shelf body products. I wanted to share my usual beauty product routine with you though. Or survival product routine as I call it. It may be useful for you if you have sensitive skin or ichthyosis.

Note - these products work best for me, and I recommend you seek your doctor's advice before trying them on you or your child.


I shower twice a day.

For about 10 minutes.

The morning is laborious: wet hair, leave in shampoo/condition, scrub nails (with gentle soap and nailbrush) wet ears, wash face and ears, wash body, comb scalp, rinse hair.

Night is easier: Wash face, wash body, scrub nails, stand under hot water.

I wash my face with a facecloth and plain water.

I wash my body with simple products. Hamilton Gentle Wash (or QV, whichever is cheaper) and sometimes bath oil (again, sometimes Hamilton or QV).
I only use these products on my body, never my face.

I have also used Cetaphil Restoraderm body wash recently, which has been good for the fatter parts of my body but makes things sore in places where the skin easily rubs off (particularly chest and feet). And it's expensive too. But can be used as a shampoo.

If I am sore (with infection) I will use Microshield handwash in the shower, particularly when I am in hospital.


My moisturising regime is also plain and simple. Cheap. And very greasy.
It's good old customised (by the chemist) and prescribed (by the doctor) vaseline. I call it cream.

70 percent soft white paraffin and 30 percent liquid paraffin. In the cooler months the ratio is changed to 60/40 for easier application.

It comes in 500 gram tubs - I get about five kilos every month.

For easy transport in my handbag I use little jars of vaseline brought from the supermarket.

I apply this all over my body after my showers, twice a day, and then when needed.

Everything I touch is greasy. Everything.

Don't give me the 'vaseline is polluting your body' lecture. Particularly when you're smoking.

Sometimes I use Elidel in addition to my cream to reduce the redness on my face before a big event.

I can't use sunscreen so I cover my body up and wear a hat.

I also drink a lot of water to keep my skin hydrated - perhaps three to four litres a day.


I have been a recent convert to sulphate free shampoos. I used to use 'gentle' ones, or medicated ones. But these irritated my scalp, leaving it itchy, scaly and at worst, hairless. I have finally found shampoos that wash my hair well and are gentle on my scalp.

I generally wash every second day and condition every day - all during my morning shower.

For the past few years I've been alternating between Dermaveen and Alchemy products
I started using Alchemy gentle shampoo and macadamia and wheat conditioner about five years ago, and it was like a miracle - all the scale was easily removed from the front of my scalp.

My dermatologists did advise against using plant based products because specialists can't predict how the ingredients will react with my skin. But Alchemy has been great for me.

Dermaveen shampoo and conditioner is, I guess, a more medicated product. It's quite thick and leaves my hair ringlety. It is also good for my scalp.

Recently I was recommended Modern Organic Products shampoo and conditioner. They are sulphate free.
They wash and condition my hair well - leaving it soft and silky, and my hair styles well when it dries. Pricey though! I spent $53 on these.

Every day I comb the scale out of my hair during and (in more detail) after my shower. It can get messy but has to be done. Once, a former manager pulled some skin from my hair at work. Ooops.

I always towel dry and style with my fingers. Sometimes I will use a hairdryer. A straightener will probably do damage to my hair or worse, catch on fire from my cream.

My form of ichthyosis means my hair breaks off at the scalp. So I try to avoid pinning or tying it, or using harsh styling products. When I was 15, it turned into an undercut, and I had big patches without hair - very bloody and itchy and scaly. Really difficult. It is prone to small patches now, usually caused by comb nicks.

When my scalp is extra scaly, and because I have inherited my Mum's African hair in the form of my Dad's loose curls, I use an occasional treatment of olive oil or Sorbolene through my hair and scalp overnight.

I have two more categories that I will cover tomorrow.

I hope you found my list interesting and of course, useful. I am particularly keen on hearing back from people with ichthyosis.

There is nothing glamourous about my beauty survival regime. It's relatively cheap, but I only wish more of it was listed on the PBS for the Medicare Safety Net. Please remember, these products work best for me, and I recommend you seek your doctor's advice before trying them on you or your child.


  1. This was really interesting! Thanks for sharing. I have sensitive skin and word-of-mouth/reviews are so so useful when looking for products to try in the oversaturated beauty/toiletries market. And you can never trust what the ads say! :)

  2. My skin gets reactive to the most silly things.

    I've found Dermalogica and Aesop work best for my face. Dermalogica being quite clinical and Aesop is the more "natural" one even though both use plant derived ingredients. I have noticed Aesop use sulphates in some of their cleansers which I have been thinking to write to them about (so far I only use their moisturisers).

    There is also an organic shampoo you can buy at Woolworths and Coles which is meant to be sulphate and paraben free and its REALLY cheap - like $3.50 for a big bottle. Its called Organic Care.

    There really isn't as good a barrier cream as those petroleum based ones is there? I've never been a fan of the stuff because it's so prolific in mostly lipglosses and I can't handle the texture, not to mention it's origins and its impact on the environment.
    Says the hypocrite who works for a plastics manufacturing company!
    I guess it's entirely different to be using it for medical purposes and you need something that is going to guarantee the same result all the time.
    Its SUCH a multifaceted issue isn't it.
    (hope this doesn't sound like a lecture cos it isn't!!) ;-D

    Anyways - for hair stuffs I use things to keep my colour in as best as possible. Right now I've got Kevin Murphy, Matrix Biolage, De Lorenzo and Revlon Nutricolor all for ME and MY HAIR hahaha.

    Um - and I'm a big fan of Lush when it comes to soaps and body stuff. Also Ahava shower gels are super nice (cheapish on StrawberryNET).

  3. Oh hey, great minds really do think alike, hey? :D
    Loved this post hun - really interesting! I used to adore the Alchemy products before I started dyeing my hair, they're fantastic xx

  4. QV is the best! That is all I use.

    YOu have so many products, it was so interesting to read!!

  5. Good blog: You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned:) wedding makeup artists Sydney


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