Building My Beauty Tool Kit

When I left  the office of Dr Laser ( as I will call him) , he gave me a prescription for Retin A Micro and one piece of advice. ” Don’t use a washcloth or scrubbing grains”.  From the research I had done for my beauty books, I knew that  picking the right  products to use with Retin A  was  essential  to achieving the best results without quitting due to  dryness and irritation.   I made a list  of  four key products:

* Cleanser

* Eye Makeup Remover

* Sunscreen/ Moisturizer

* Nighttime Moisturizer

So I took my prescription  for Retin A Micro to the drugstore and was met with sticker shock.  It was $300/tube.  I debated with myself for a few minutes, then gave  it in to be filled.  Practically every dermatologist recommends a form of Retin A as the foundation of anti-aging skin care.  I thought about all the beauty products that I had used that never worked, all the shoes I bought that hurt too much to wear, not to mention over-priced meals at atrendy restaurants.  It  took away some of the pain of a $300 price tag. 

With the purchase of the pricy  Retin A, I wanted to build the rest of my beauty tool kit with affordable, effective products.  I needed just four, but they all had very specific criteria.

1.  The Ideal Cleanser — Given that Retin A can be so irritating, I needed a very very gentle cleanser.  This means  no scrubbing grains, no exfoliators ( eg alpha hydroxy acids), no retinol and  no washcloth.  I walked through the aisles of Duane Reade reading labels of products on seemingly endless  shelves.  I settled on an oldie but goodie– Cetaphil Gentle  Skin Cleanser (for all skin types).  This product has been around for years, but it met my criteria.  At  just $9/8oz, it took some of the sting out of the $300 Retin A.  I tossed in  a tube of disposable cotton pads to substitute for a washcloth.

2.  Eye Makeup Remover —I used to use a   washcloth to take off my mascara, but  since these are now  banned form  my beauty routinue, I needed another approach.  A friend suggested  Almay oil-free eye makeup remover.  On the  jar ( $5.99 ) Almay states that it is the #1 eye makeup remover.  I don’t know who made  this judgement, but it cerainly is an excellent product.  It  took off my mascara easily and was totally non-irritating. Even better it  did not  leave a blurry film on my eyes that had happened with other much more expensive eye makeup removers. So far, so good.

3. Sunscreen/Moisturizer —  Much of our skin aging is due to sun exposure, and just using a daily sunscreen has shown to protect the skin from aging UV rays.  Because Retin A  can be so drying, I also wanted  my sunscreen to double as a moisturizer.  Keep in mind that Retin A makes the skin  more vulnerable to sun damage, so this sunscreen/moisturizer  needed an SPF of  at least 15, and 30 would be even better.  One more criteria is also a deal breaker– it had to be non-greasy since  I will wear  make-up over it.   I will  also need to avoid ingredients that could be irritating ( eg AHA’s like glycolic acid  or retinol and vitamin C).  I found several products that fit the bill and  in the interest of research, I bought three of them for less than $50.

* Aveeno  Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30 ( $17.39 for 2.5 oz)– This fragance-free product contains  feverfew, an herb  known for its soothing properties.  It is perfect for my purposes

  L’oreal Skin Genesis Multi-layer Cell Strengthening Daily Moisturizer, SPF 15 ($17.80 for 1.7 oz)– I choose this product because it contained hyaluronic acid which is a powerful natural skin moisturizer.  In fact, one molecule of hyaluronic acid  can hold 1000x its weight in water.  Hyaluronic Acid  is an expensive compound, and it seemed that this product was the only drugstore brand that contained this water-attracting agent.    

* Cetaphil UVA/UVB SPF 50 ( ($13.99 for 1.7oz) — This turbo powered sunscreen  will be great for the summer months. 

4.  Nighttime Moisturizer — On this drugstore field trip I could not find what I was looking for — a heavier moisturizer that was free of irritaing ingredients such as retinol or AHA’s . I decided to use Skin Genesis that I had bought as a daytime moisturizer.  I loved that it had hyaluronic acid and decided that its sunscreen at night would not  be a problem.

I’m always looking for  new products that  meet my criteria.  Let me know what has worked for you.

Next post:  Starting with Retin A

11 thoughts on “Building My Beauty Tool Kit

  1. Thank you so much for your insightful information. It is great having you do the groudwork for us! I really appreciate your identifying specific products as that often presents a quandary for me when I am in front of store shelves. I do have a few questions: Why is hyaluronic acid so important to you? Where does it come from? Is it safe? Is it better than collagen? Thanks again for a great blog!

  2. THanks so much for your comments. It gave me an idea for a new feture that I will add to every post. I will look at different ingredients, explain what they can or cannot do, how to use them and where to find the. I will also give provide some idea of price and if needed discuss safety issues. I will post answers to hyaluronic acid on Monday and Collagen on ednesday. And please let me know what has worked for you. Me and this blog are a work in progress.

  3. I have heard that retin A is great to diminish the visibility of wrinkles. I am not sure I am going to be willing to pay $300 for it but I would if I knew it would get rid of the wrinkles under my eyes. Though I am in my 42 I have wrinkles that make me look much older. Is retin A a product that is worth the price tag?


    • Hi Lisa, you raised two great points: 1– Retin A and the eyes– you can use Retin A at the outside corners of the eye to prevent and reduce crow’s feet, but you can’t use it on the delicate under eye tisse. You also can’t use it on the eyelids because it can drift into the eye and cause problems. There is however a combination product called Tri-Luma which is a made up of a skin lightener ( hydroquinone), some Retin A and a steroid to keep things calm. THis can be used under the eyes, but still not on the eyelids. I am actually going to try it as part of my plan and we’ll see how well it works. 2– At 42 people ask me if they are too young to use Retin A, but actually the earlier you use it, the fewer wrinkles will develop. I wish I known that 15 years go. When you are in your 30’s or 40’s you can use Retin A three times a week instaead of every day. Since you are using it less, a tube will last longer and the cost per application goes down. Its still pricy but I’ve heard tht you can buy it on line from Canadian pharmacy for about $40 and I am going to try that too.

  4. do u use retin a on neck as well? i am 55, not much wrinkles except horizontal lines on my forehead. but i really need something for my neck.

    • Yes, you can use Retin A on your neck Use a dab juat about the size of a pea. Durig the day, be sure to use a moisturizer sunscreen. After a few weeks of using Retin A on face face, I started to use it on my neck as well. I found that it improved the skin color and now matched my face, but the texture is still pretty rough. Apparently it takes longer to improve skin texture on the neck than it does on the face. In April I will be uploading my before and after photos of my neck on my blog- nononsensebeauty.wordpress. com. You can judge for yourself how well it works.

  5. I saw this in my local supermarket yesterday. Having read your review I’m now going to try some products from this range instead of the more expensive less earth-friendly product that I was going to try
    איפור כלות

    • No offense taken. Howeverwhen I ordered Retin A from a Canadian pharmacy I was very disappointed in the product. It was a strange smelling yellow goo that did absolutely nothing for my skin. It made me hesitant of similar products. Did you have good results?

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