(Note: This is not a sponsored post. Any brand names here are mentioned purely because that was what I had on hand, and I was not compensated for reviewing them. That said, this post contains affiliate links.)
So, if I had to pinpoint one of the more harmless-yet-incredibly-annoying side effects of living with idiopathic intracranial hypertension and taking hell of Diamox all the time, it would probably be waking up every day feeling like some kind of itchy oatmeal monster. Even with adequate water and dietary fats, acetazolamide can wreak havoc on your skin. Unfortunately, with IIH, there may not be a whole lot of other treatment options available.
The other unfortunate things is that, while I’ve been loaded up on enough medication to choke a small pony to help counteract all of the other things it does to you, what I have not been helped with is skincare while on Diamox. It’s especially rough when you have skin like mine– sensitive, allergic, and temperamental. For a long time, jojoba oil has been the only moisturizer I could use. It works, too. Or did.
After reading about how everybody and their freaking aunt Nancy has been making things full of argan and maracuja oil, I figured it was time to suck it up and try some things out. Even if they didn’t work, I could use the “losers” as carrier oils for essential oil blends, perfumes, or ritual oils, right?
First of all, one thing I’ve stopped doing is using soap or regular skin cleansers to clean my face. No matter what I try, short of cleansing oils designed to remove makeup, it all ends up being too drying.
I do still use Dr. Bronner’s soap, but by following the directions for a steam facial: fill a basin with hot water, add a dash of soap (the lavender or peppermint are pretty kickass), stick a towel in it, wring it out, lay it over your face, and let the warmth and essential oils do their thing. The soap is very diluted and doesn’t really directly contact your skin, so it isn’t at all drying or irritating (for me, anyway– for people with even more sensitive skin or allergies, YMM definitely V). I do it a little differently, though:
- Boil some water. The type probably doesn’t matter, though you may want to opt for filtered water if you have a particularly gross municipal water supply. The amount also isn’t terribly important– as long as there’s enough to fill a bowl and dampen a towel, you’re good.
- Add about 2T of chamomile flowers. Fresh or dried, loose or in a tea bag/strainer, it doesn’t matter. Chamomile’s a wonderful ingredient that it’s hard to get too much of, but people with allergies to ragweed may want to skip it.
- Add a dash of Dr. Bronner’s soap (roughly 1T). Not a lot, just enough to fragrance the water.
- Allow the concoction to steep, covered, for about 5 minutes.
- Uncover, allow to cool until it’s no longer too hot to the touch, and place a towel in it. Wring out the towel, and lay over your face to help open your pores, soften skin, and promote circulation.
A few drops of skin-safe essential oils can be added at your discretion, too– if you’re of a mind to, try creating a blend of oils charged with a simple beauty ritual and add a drop or three to each steaming session.
After that, I usually follow it by wiping down with either natural, alcohol-free witch hazel (try Thayer’s), or a few sprays of lavender or cucumber hydrosol from Wildroot Botanicals (one of my favorite sellers– their products and ingredient philosophy kick ass, and their customer service is great).
Then comes the oiling. So, I recently lined up some oils I managed to get ahold of (Trader Joe’s jojoba oil, Tarte’s maracuja oil rollerballs, and Aura Cacia’s organic argan oil), and gave each a test drive.
First, Trader Joe’s jojoba oil. It honestly feels a little weird to write a Trader Joe’s jojoba oil review, since I’ve been using it for what feels like forever. It’s yellow in color, has a light smell that I don’t find objectionable, and I go through this stuff at an unbelievable clip. It’s great as a makeup remover, and can be added to shampoo, conditioner, other skin cleansers, etc. as a way to help make them more moisturizing.
Pros: At about $7, it’s definitely the least expensive option. It’s also available in every Trader Joe’s I’ve ever been to, as well as online. It’s probably the lightest of the three oils I tried, which is good for people who don’t necessarily need moisturizing that’s that hardcore.
Cons: Since it’s the lightest, I would put it on before bed and wake up with tight, dry, itchy skin anyway.
Next, Tarte’s maracuja oil rollerballs. Maracuja oil is touted as the next all-natural anti-aging and skin-saving ingredient, but I can’t say I’ve noticed an enormous difference between it and jojoba, even with prolonged use.
Pros: It’s the middle of the road as far as heaviness goes, so it may work for normal or dry skin. It’s also full of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C, which provide their own benefits for skin.
Cons: At $46 for a relatively small bottle from Tarte, it’s definitely the most expensive option. Even less expensive sellers are pretty pricey. It can be added to other hair and skincare products too, but, at those prices, it’s probably best reserved for where you need it the most (unless you have ludicrous amounts of dosh to drop on fancy oils). It also has a bit more of a nutty odor than jojoba does.
Lastly, Aura Cacia’s organic argan oil. I haven’t been using the argan oil for very long, but it’s already my favorite so far. It’s heavier than maracuja, seems to last longer than jojoba, and far cheaper than maracuja alone.
Pros: It seems more moisturizing than jojoba, but absorbs better than maracuja did. It’s also much more reasonably priced than maracuja, at about $16 for a fluid ounce (sometimes as little as half that, if you can find it on sale).
Cons: It’s still relatively expensive, and, as the heaviest oil, may be a little too much for many skin types.
Conclusion: I like argan oil a lot. Even though it’s heavier, it seems to make my skin happier than maracuja oil did. I’ll still stock up on jojoba to use in shampoos, conditioners, and as a regular makeup remover, but I’m really thinking that argan oil fits into my budget and skincare routine the best out of all three. The Tarte maracuja oil rollers I have have found a welcoming home in my purse, and I like using them on my undereye area, but maracuja oil doesn’t seem to absorb well enough to deal with the driest, most sensitive areas of my skin.
So, there you have it. If you’re on Diamox or another medication that dries out your skin, try ditching soap and giving an occasional homemade steam facial and some argan oil a shot. It’s worked well for me so far– my skin looks better, feels better, and no longer makes me want to crawl out of it.