My original beauty tool kit has just fourteen items. Changes in my skin as well as the introduction of great new categories of products has expanded my list to 25 favorites. I don’t use all of them all the time, but I like to have them on hand when I need them. However my basic view of skin care has remained the same:
- I don’t like fragrance in products
- Since I love pricy prescription skin products and office based treatments, I am always looking for affordable and effective drug and health store products
- I don’t like to layer more than two products at a time so I am always looking for multi-purpose products—eg moisturizers with sunscreens
Eye Make-up Remover:
- Almay Oil Free Make-Up Remover ( $8/120 pads)- On the jar, Almay states that this is the #1 eye make-up remover. I don’t know who made this judgment but it is certainly an excellent product. It takes off mascara and eye shadow easily and it is totally non-irritating. Even better, it didn’t leave a blurry film on my eyes, which has happened with much more expensive eye make-up removers.
For Dry Skin Days:
- Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ( Galderma, $9/8 oz.- When I am using Retin A, I need a very gentle cleanser. This means no scrubbing grains, no alpha hydroxy acids and no retinols. Cetaphil has been around for years and is still a top recommendation from dermatologists. Unfailingly gentle, it effortlessly cleans even the most sensitive skin.
For Oily Skin Days:
When I am not using Retin A, my skin returns to its naturally oily state. For those days, I rotate three different cleansers-
- Neutrogena Acne Wash ( $13/8 oz)—With 2% salicylic acid, this affordable and widely available cleanser leaves my skin clean, fresh but not dried out.
- Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing ( Neutrogena, $13/8oz)—This gel rocks when my skin feels oily, but also has some redness around my nose and chin.
- Very Clear Cleanser ( derma-e $15)—With antibacterial tea tree oil and salicylic acid, this cleanser leaves my skin fresh but not dry.
- Grapefruit Wash ( Malin and Goetz $30)—this is my new favorite brand and with an all natural profile. With grapefruit extract for cleaning, aloe for soothing and ceramides to maintain hydration, it is worth every penny.
- Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths ( Galderma, $8)—These fragrance-free alcohol-based disposable cloths are perfect for those nights when you fall into bed and then remember you did not wash your face.
- CeraVe PM Moisturizing Lotion (Valeant, $15/ 3 oz.)—This light yet rich lotion is loaded with hyaluronic ( a natural moisturizer) ceramides ( the glue that holds skin cells together) and niacinamide ( collagen builder and melanin buster). After I apply Retin A, I apply this moisturizer to avoid flaking and dryness from retinoids.
- Hyaluronic Acid Spray( derma e,$15)—Each molecule of hyaluronic acid holds at least 500X its weight in water. However, when included in a traditional moisturizer, if my skin is in an oily mood, it can trigger breakouts. Hyaluronic oil- free spray delivers amazing hydration without the oil my skin does not want. This is what I use after peels and laser treatments.
- Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ( $22/2.5oz)—This light, easily absorbed moisturizer contains feverfew, an herb known for soothing properties. Sometimes I use this moisturizer as my daily sunscreen.
- Retin A Micro (Valeant, $300)—Still the foundation of anti-aging skin care, I have found that the pump gets clogged, and I have the pharmacist fill with prescription in a tube form. Low tech, but it works better for me.
- Triluma—(Galderma,$300)—There is so much good science in this combo of hydroquinone, Retin A and a steroid, its my go-to product for under eye circles. It can be used for just three months at a time, followed by a three month drug holiday.
- Metrogel—(Galderma, $10 co-pay, $110 without drug plan)—This prescription gel is an antibacterial that deals with the microorganisms that provoke different types of redness ( eg rosacea). After six months of trying everything, Metrogel cleared up the redness around my nose and chin in less than a week. If I see any redness reappear, I reach for my Metrogel.
- Phloretin C F Gel( Skinceuticals, $110)—This oil free gel is an antioxidant powerhouse combo with 2% phloretin, 10% vitamin C and .5% ferulic acid. Individually they are strong antioxidants, but are even more powerful when combined. Because Retin A and sunlight don’t mix, I like to use Phloretin during the summer months rather than Retin A or if my skin gets too dry from Retin A.
- Corrective Colors (Jane Iredale, $24)—This little compact has four colors- yellow to conceal redness; peach to hide purple or grey; lilac to cover yellow and a beige to even it all out. No only does it cover routine dark circles and treatment related bruising, it is the longest lasting concealer I have ever Even after 8 hours, its still doing a good job.
- Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF50 (Skinceuticals, $45)—I just about had given up finding a high power sunscreen that didn’t bother my skin when international laser expert Dr Tina Alster recommended Physical Fusion. It delivers a cosmetically beautiful 50 SPF sun protection. And it never, ever triggers breakouts.
- CeraVe AM SPF 30 (Valeant, $13)— when my skin gets too dry from treatments or Retin A, I reach for CeraVe. Its packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, two wonderful moisturizers. It can hydrate the skin w/o heavy oils and waxes that can clog pores.
- BB Cream (Cover Girl, $10)—BB creams are a newish category of beauty care where the hype actually equals the benefits. It’s a trinity of benefits of coverage, hydration and sun protection. I’ve tried many, but this super affordable BB cream gives me what I want, but does not trigger breakouts. I use it for work and daytime activities. If I am going to be in a strong sun ( eg biking, beach or picnic) I will use the stronger Physical Fusion.
- Heliocare Capsules (Heliocare, $20-60/ 60 capsules)—Heliocare capsules contain a powerful antioxidant derived from a tropical fern. Well designed, published studies have shown that daily Heliocare treatment protect the skin from UV damage. I use them when I enjoy a day in the sun.You still need a daily sunblock, but Heliocare is super easy way to provide additional sun protection.
- Brush-On Block SPF 30 ( \Susan Posnick, $35)—Standard directions for sunscreen recommend reapplication every 2-3 hours. Seriously? What woman is going to stop in the middle of a day, wash off her make-up, and reapply sun block and make-up? However Brush-On Block SPF30 restores sun protection with a few flicks of a fat, soft brush. Available online, I always buy two at a time and never leave home without it.
Masks, Peels and Exfoliators
- Detox Mask (Malin and Goetz, $40) – This is a unique mask that feels bubbly on the skin and leaves me with a smooth poreless surface. Packed with soy protein, vitamin C and vitamin B5, this foaming mask cleans thoroughly without drying. I have to admit that Malin and Goetz is my new beauty brand crush. Co-founder Matthew suffered from rosacea, psoriasis and allergies and this line genuinely understands sensitive
- Extra Strength Alpha Beta Face Peel (Dr Dennis Gross, $16 for 5 treatments)—This is a two step peel. Step 1 is a pad saturated with a mix of acids including glycolic, malic and lactic that is balanced with a chamomile and soy. The second pad includes sodium bicarbonate to neutralize the effective acids. I love the fresh, smooth, slightly rosy glow this easy peel offers.
- Oil of Olay Professional PRO-X ($33)- When I opened the box of this super affordable brush, I took a double take. It looks EXACTLY the same device as a far more expensive model from DDF. Even better, the batteries are replaceable and additional cleanser is quite affordable at $20 for a long lasting six ounce tube. The device molds effortlessly around the face (even the nose) to give the pores a through cleansing. I use it once a week when I am not using Retin A.
- Apricot Scrub ( St Ives, $5)—It doesn’t get more low tech than St Ives Apricot Scrub. It is paraban and sulfite free and the all-natural exfoliants are biodegradable. But equally important, it does a great job of exfoliating dry dead skin cells at pennies a day. You can also use it on the soles of your feet to reduce callus build-up. If my skin is dry, I mix a pea-size blob with a teaspoon of mayonnaise to gently exfoliate. It’s an affordable basic for any beauty tool kit.