Its Fashion Flash Monday!

Fashion Flash logoThis week Kari of Fab Over Forty is hosting Fashion Flash.  This  gorgeous site is packed with on point beauty, fashion and fitness information.  This week it includes  an interview with  Bobbi Brown on make-up for women over 50,  a preview of the Estee Lauder Mad Men collection and  and up  close and personal view of the Nude Collection from Dior.  Don’t miss it.

I don’t usually review  random  products, but when Aveeno  offered  me samples of their new skin care options, I couldn’t say no.  Aveeno is one of my favorite brands  and  some of their products are constants in my Beauty Tool Kit.   There is  an ocean of products  out there, but Aveeno usually rise to the top.  

When I got the package from Aveeno, I saw that I  had already reccommended  the Clear Complexion SPF30  BB aveenoCream and The Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer  with feverfew  has been my go-to sunscreen/moisturizer and a star in my Beauty Tool kit.  But there  were new products too, and I was  impressed  with the  real thought and talent that went into them.  

The big green jar of Clear Complexion  Cleansing pads contain  a bit of  salicylic acid to deal with excess oil  and dead skin cells, while the pad itself  offers gentle exfoliation.  This is the perfect  cleanser to use if you are using  an anti-aging vitamin C serum.  It is also a great choice for normal or slightly oily skin.  Its a big jar, but I made space on my already crowded  beauty  shelves for  this well designed  cleanser.  

I am very very picky about wipes that remove  make-up.  Some  are way too oily  while others seem to be drenched in fragrance.   I am  loyal to the Almay Oil-Free Eyemake-up Remover Pads, but  now I’m also  a big   fan of  the Aveeno Ultra Calming Make-up Removing Wipes.  They  have  a  nice big wipe that does a beautiful job of  lifting  make-up that  leaves my skin feeling so comfortable.    If you are  too tired to wash your face before going to bed, keep a package of these wipe by your bedside.  Just  a few swipes as you fall into bed will  give your skin a clean, healthy night. 

The  Ultra Calming Foaming Cleanser is an elegant alternative to Cetaphil  and perfect   to use when you are using Retin A.  I tend to stop using Retin A in sunny weather, but in the fall,  this cleanser will have a spot on my sink.   The Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer  is  just brilliant in concept.  I get so many  questions about the best moisturizer to use  when dealing with acne, and now I finally have an answer.  What makes  this  moisturizer a rock star, is the addition of  salicylic acid and soy complex.  The former is a world  class acne fighter  while the later is  a super soother.  To bottom line it, you get  anti-inflammatory breakout protection even while there are moisturizing ingredients to keep the skin fresh and  soft.   I love  this type  of smart, simple  solution.

There are soooo many products out there that make inflated  promises and  just don’t work at all.  Its nice to be able to give a shout -out to those that deliver real  value.

Budget Beauty Guide:Moisturizers

I often get the sense  that  my friends have an almost mystical faith in moisturizers.  While they avoid taxis and  stagger home  from Costco  with 10  pounds of rice, they  have faith that a $300 moisturizer  is the key to beautiful  young skin.  If  only it  was that easy.

First, a little back story.   Water is essential  for healthy skin.  It promotes normal  metabolism   and keep skin cells organized and flexible.  The mission of a moisturizer is to simply help the skin maintain a healthy water balance. The  most basic   water and oil formulas act  like Saran Wrap to prevent  evaporation of water from the skin.   And the  simplest moisturizers will do  just that.  But there are three affordable and effective ingredients which  crank up   water attracting and holding powers in a moisturizer.  Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and dimethicone, either singly or in combination,  dramatically increase  the value of a moisturizer to the skin.  These cosmetic   workhorses may not be sexy, but they deliver results.

Flip throught he pages of a magazine and  you will find ads for super spendy moisturizers pumped up with  exotic/expensive ingredients like  arctic cloudberry, marula oil or  alpha lipoic acid.  Some  work some don’t, but  the bottom line is that they are not essential to beautiful skin.  On the No-Nonsense Budget Beauty program  your anti-aging and antitioxidant needs are met with  glycolic acid, vitamin C  and affordable  microdermabrasion kits. 

Here are four nighttime moisturizers that you should apply over the anti-aging  products.   For normal and oily skin, dot on a pea size blob on your cheeks, forhead, chin and neck and blend into the face.  If  your skin  is dry, use the double app technique.  Once the first application has benn absorbed, dot and blend a second coat

I’ve four favorite moisturizers all at less than $15:

1. CeraVe PM ( Coria Laboratories)

This baby hits all the right notes:  Fragrance-free and non comedogenic, its packed with ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.  FYI its one of the few affordable moisturizers to offer this powerful water attracting  ingredient.

2.  Active Naturals Daily ProtectionMoisturizing Lotion( Aveeno)

This light, fragrance-free cream has  colloidal oatmeal to soothe sensitive skin and dimethicone to hold moisture.

3. Sensitive Skin Remedy ( Curel)

This a new product to my tool box.  It offers ceramides, dimethicone, super soothing  allantoin and antioxidant rich citric acid.   All this and fragrance and dye free too.

4.  Aquaphor ( Beiersdorf)

The first three moisturizers  are lighter formulations.  This is what I need and I’m reluctant to recommend products I don’t  use.  But when the weather turns cold and windy, my skin  turns dry and flaky — and I reach for Aquaphor.  Its the moisturizer that doctors give their patients after lasers and peels.  If its good enough for them its good enough for me.

If you  your skin is uber dry, try the double app method with Aquaphor.   Before going to sleep apply generously to  your face.  Allow the first application to sink in, then reapply.

Question & Answer– Beauty at Any Age

Question:  What is the best  moisturizer to use on  my skin?

Answer:  I get this question frequently– and I have trouble answering it. There is no single moisturizer or product that will work  for everyone.  Over  the span of our lives, our skin changes and  we need different moisturizers to meet  new challenges. 

In the twenties,  the skin is  fairly rich in oil, so water-based moisturizers  like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin  and Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer SPF 15   are just what this  youthful skin needs.  In the thirties, the skin  can be   so normal  it is boring  and you just don’t want to mess it up.  A light moisturizer with glycolic acid like NeoStrata Ultra Daytime Smoothing Cream SPF15 ( a Dr Oz favorite)  will preserve the natural  radiance without clogging pores.   In the  forties  you want to use a moisturizer with Vitamin C  or retinoids such as CE Ferulic or Retino l1.o  both from Skinceuticals.    These ingredients will encourage    youthful skin  growth to  improve skin tone.    And after  age 50  you will need a richer moisturizer that contains  ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  These will counteract  natural dryness as well as the loss of  moisture from  the use of  lasers, Retin A  and  chemical peels.  Good examples of  moisturizers for 50 plus  skin  include CereVe pm ( at night) and CerVe Am which also has sunscreen ( daytime).

I love tracking down answers to  the questions I get at this blog.  To provide  the most accurate and up to date info, please mention your age  with  your querries.  There are so  many factors that affect treatment choices, but it all starts  with  your age.  And its doesn’t have to be precise.  Just the general decade, eg  twenties, over 50,  will be perfect.

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week, the Glam Gals of Fabulous After 40 are hosting Fashion Flash.  I’ve been feeling so  much more confident about my fashion choices   and its due to the advice that I’ve gleaned from this incredible  site for fashion guidence. For example, in NYC everyone wears black all the the time.  No exaggeration.  But the fashion  mags are  always urging us to wear COLOR.  Every time I wear an orange sweater or blue dress I feel so self concious I can’t wait to get home and change.  Then the Glam Gals suggested that I use color in my accessories.  Now   I wear  my little black dress and  spike it with a green bag tied with a color drenched scarf and finished off with a pair of shiny black snakeskin shoes. I feel “fabulous” where ever I go.  Conclusion–   don’t go shopping without checking out Fabulous After 40.

And after you  check out  the best fashion  advice for women over 40,  if you live in the tri-state area ( New York, New Jersey  and Connecticut) and are  between the ages of 40-75, you have a chance to be part of beauty history. My dermatologist, Dr Ellen Marmur of Mount Sinai School of Medicine  is the lead investigator of a clinical anti-aging study.  According to Dr Marmur, the study began as a way to answer patients questions about the effectiveness of popular anti-aging skin care products.

Here’s how it works?

* The study  has selected six anti-aging creams  including products from Roc, Aveeno and Oil of Olay. You will receive one of the six, but neither you nor the doctor will know which product you are using.

* You will need to stop using all your regular  prodcuts and the study will provide you with a cleanser and sunscreen.

* At your first visit to Mount Sinai ( 5 East 98th st) a tiny skin sample will be taken behind your ear and all of your questions  will be answered. You will be told to cleanse skin twice a day with a cleanser  provided. In the morning you apply the coded cream and top it with the sunscreen provided.  At night, after cleansing, simply apply the study product. All treatments  need to be applied all over the face and behind one ear.  The skin behind the other ear will serve as a control. 

* Each month you will get more products   and at the end of the six months, the doctors will take another tiny skin sample.

At the end of the study, the code of the products will be cracked, the results analyzed and the findings published in a respected academic journal.  And you will be part of it.  For additional information or to join the study, you should call 212-241-3288 to speak to the study coordinators.  Let me know if you join the study.  I would LOVE to hear about your experiences.

Anti-Aging Skin Care- The Fabulous Fourteen

When I started exploring anti-aging options a few months go, I had  just three go-to products.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care — I just didn’t know what my skin  truely needed. Too many times  I would be vulnerable  to  great sales pitch and find that the expensive “miracle cream”  either did nothing or  made my face break-out.  Now that I am testing out wrinkling fighting tools and techniques, I had to try out  an endless buffet of skin care products.  Trial and lots of error  has resulted in a group of cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens that deliever on their  promises.  I call them my “Fabulous Fourteen” and today I have uploaded that list in the blog tab ” Beauty Tool Kit”.  I explain  how to use  them, how they  work and  how much they cost.  I have only one face and can’t try out everything, so I would love to hear about your go-to products.

Anti-Aging Aging Plan- The Thirties

This is the time to explore gentle anti-aging options.  Use the daytime  to apply  an elegant sunscreen.  At night take the opportunity to rotate treatment with different anti agers  that  include  peptides, soy, retinols and vitamin C.

In the Morning:

* Wash your face with an effective cleanser that works with your skin type.  If your skin tends to be dry, look for  a product like Cereve Hydrating Cleanser.  Normal  or oily skins will respond well to Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bars.

* Rinse face throughly with three to four  handfuls of lukewarm water.

* Protect your skin with a broadspectrum oil-free suncreen.  In the summer do a full court press SPF 70 like Aveeno Positively Ageless Sun Block with Enviroblock. Awesome!  In less sunny seasons, you can dial  back  the  SPF and use  Aveeno Positively Radiant Triple Boosting  Serum SPF30. ( and its got soy!)

* Dab on under-eye concealer that fortified with sunscree  such as Revlon Age Defying.

Nighttime Care:

* Remove eye-make-up with oil-free eye care cleanser.

* Cleanse face as you did in the morning

*  Use retinol products such as Skinmedica Retinol Complex or Skinceuticals Retinol.5.  Retinols  slowly convert to Retin A like compounds, but at much lower/gentler concentrations.  Unless  you’ve  spent your twenties  doing nothing but sunbathing, drinking and smoking, you don’t need the industrial strength anti-aging power of prescription – only Retin A until  the next decade.  ( And if that does describe your  lifestyle,  skin aging is  the  least of your problems)

* To keep your skin from getting bored with retinols, after three months switch  to another  age fighter like soy such as  Soy Face Cream from Fresh.  This is actually my new favorite moisturizer.  Its light, absorbs easily and feels so comfortable I can practically feel the soy reversing the sun- caused DNA damage to my skin. After three months rotate back to the retinols.

Twice  a week after cleansing at night, exfoliate  the skin with scrubbing grains  or pad like Buff Puff from 3M.  Not only will this make the look  fresh and radiant, taking off the top  dead layer of skin cells  encourages healthy new skin growth.

Once a week ( not the same night)  give yourself a Vitamin C treatment.  There’s   widely accepted research  that shows vitamin C is important  in the growth and health of collagen– and there is certainly no shortage of skin care products with vitamin C.   But this is a very fragile  vitamin and it often loses its beauty mojo.  There’s growing troop of women ( and I am one of  them)  that make our own fresh vitamin C toner.

Its so easy, I can’t  really call this a recipe.  Crush  a 500mg vitamin C tablet  in a tablespoon  of warm water.  Dip  in a cotten ball and dab it on the face.  it will tingle a bit.   Leave it on for 5 minutes and then rinse off with cool water.   You skin will feel soft and look radiant.  If your skin is dry or sensitive mix the crushed vitamin C with an egg yolk.  Let the  mask harden for 10 minutes, then rinse off .

Vitamin C is a triple threat   wrinkle fighter– its got citric acid (which is a strong AHA), powerful antioxidants and it plays a big role in collagen formation.  Making  fresh vitamin C treatments costs a few pennies and insures you’re getting  the full benefits.

Retin A in the Winter

I’ve been using Retin A for almost a week and its been fairly easy.  But when the weather turned cold and windy, my cheeks got a bit red and my chin looked flaky.  It looked so minor, but  knowing  the potential for real irritation, I decided to take it seriously.  I decided to skip Retin A  that night and drenched my skin with Aveeno Soothing Moisturizer.  By morning the skin  was calm and soft. 

For me, the take away is that when using Retin A, you have to be flexible and think ahead.  I need to keep using Retin A  regularly to get the maximum beauty benefits– and this means changing routinue at the first sign of the irritation and dryness.

Close-up: Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHA)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHA), which are also called fruit acids, are naturally found in a wide range of foods including grapes ( tataric acid), apples (malic) , buttermilk (lactic acid), sugar cane (glycolic acid) and tomatoes (lactic acid).  Women throughout history have recognized the beauty potential of AHA.  Cleopatra is reported  to  have bathed in  sour milk to soften her desert-dried skin.  In the court of Louis XIV, woman made  facemasks of wine  to clarify their complexions.

Today you can find AHA in cleansers, body lotions, moisturizers,  face masks, and eye creams.  There’s a lot of great  research done on AHA  to back up beauty claims.  AHA’s can improve skin tone and texture, fade dark patches and  even stimulate growth of new  collagen and elastin.   AHA’s are sort of Retin A  light.    They work beautifully for younger skin ( under age 40).   I liked AHA so much I wrote a book about  it ( see photo) Its out of print now, but I’m looking to download  some chapters  if I can figure out how to do it. 

The best way to use AHA is in a   moisturizer or body lotion. ( A cleanser is on the skin too short a time to have an impact)  Look for a product that has between 5-10% AHA.  If a product doesn’t  give  the AHA percentage, check out where an AHA appears on the list of ingredients.  It should be among the first  five-seven ingredients to insure that the product  is going  to deliver  maximum beauty benefits.  Like Retin A, AHA makes the skin more sensitive to the sun, so you need a daytime moisturizer  with a 30 SPF. Its hard  to find to find a AHA mositurizer with a sunscreen- the two dont usually get along  in the same formulation. I found two AHA/sunscreen combo’s– Neutrogena Healthy Skin Skin Lotion SPF 15 ($12.99) and Skin Effects Glycolic Day Cream SPF30.  I don’t like to recommend products without trying them first, but I’m using Retin A and the combination with AHA can be very irritating.  I will try these products on my  winter-dry hands and legs.  I’ll take a before photo of my right hand and leg , use the products for two weeks and then take another set of photos.  The left hand and leg will act as controls.  Lets see if these AHA – rich products really got  game.    

Next time:  A Date with a Dermatologist

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