Protect it!

As I write this, the sun is shining gloriously through my window, lighting up the new spring leaves and making everything warm and beautiful. And while I do love the sun, its warmth, and the cheerful shine it brings to life, I do not love the wrinkles, sun spots, and cancer that lounging in the sun unprotected can cause.

I’ve been watching a good deal of trash television lately, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Over-tanning! Jerseylicious features a lot of big hair, bad eyeliner, and over-the-top tans. Over the weekend I watched a health show about people who are addicted to strange things, and one girl tanned so often that her skin was orange and she no longer resembled her family members. Why? In a time when the health risks associated with tanning are widely known and much too real to be ignored, why are people still (literally) baking themselves in the sun?

Now, I’m not saying we should all march around looking pasty and pale. There are plenty of sunless tanners out there that look natural and are actually good for you skin. (Check back later this month for a post on self-tanning!)

A lot of people just love being outside in the warm weather, and I don’t blame them at all. It’s wonderful, and getting out to enjoy nature and the fresh air is a perfectly healthy thing. Just please, think of your skin. It holds you together and can make you look radiant and youthful or saggy and old. So protect it!

In the warmer months, I don’t leave home without some SPF. Many beauty products, from powders to glosses, contain sunscreen that you can apply without thinking about it. But as soon as I get out of the shower, I slather on a body lotion with SPF from head to toe. My current favorite? Vaseline Aloe Fresh Protecting Lotion. It smells fresh, smooths skin, and keeps me safe from daily sun damage, all at once. As for my face, I vary the moisturizer, as long as it has SPF 15 or higher. I’m liking Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Protecting Lotion. It soothes redness while also providing protection from the sun.

A tip to keep in mind when applying sunscreen: don’t forget your neck, chest, hands and feet. These parts are often neglected and can give away your age. Nobody wants a youthful face to be accompanied by a turkey neck.

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Catch the Wave

My quest for perfect skin led me recently to purchase a variety of skin care products from Drugstore.com. When my package arrived, I opened it with glee, carefully unwrapping each bottle and inspecting its beauty claims. Over the past two weeks I’ve been testing several of the products. So far, one is a clear winner.

I was skeptical at first about the Neutrogena Deep Clean Wave. It came out around the same time several other strange new vibrating products came out (Mascara? Razors? Why?). I laughed the whole situation off as companies marketing potential sex toys to teenagers who are too embarrassed to by the real thing. And honestly, if you watch a Neutrogena Wave commercial with the idea that the miracle item is a vibrator and not a skin cleansing implement, you will understand where I’m coming from.

But I digress. While doing some beauty reading a few weeks ago, I came across an article in Elle that talked about how the vibrating action of the Wave has been shown to help clean pores more deeply and stimulate cells in a way that leads to younger looker skin. I was intrigued. So I added a Wave to my online shopping cart and had it shipped my way.

I was a little afraid the vibration would be too strong and would irritate my skin. Honestly, I had visions of buffing my face with little circles of sandpaper. Happily, the cleansing pads that you stick to the end of the wave are soft and contain a gentle, mildly scented cleanser. You run the pad under some warm water, turn the Wave on, and then massage your face with the thing. It’s easy to use, and lathers up only a little, so no need to worry about soap-bubble beards or cleanser in the eye. After you’re done, just rinse your face with warm water. I’ve been following it up with another one of my new skin care products – Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion.

The first morning after using the Wave, I have to say I noticed that my skin had a nice glow. After two or three uses, the stubborn blemish on my cheek that I’ve been trying to erase for months was markedly faded. Not only am I no longer making fun of the Neutrogena Wave, but I’m recommending it to friends.

So hats off to you, Neutrogena Deep Clean Wave. Sorry I called you a sex toy.

Baby Face

Having decided to take a few days off from my “real” job, I’ve spent the last day or two experimenting with different products and giving myself some much-needed R & R. As part of this I paid special attention to my face yesterday, and I wanted to share with you the combination of products that made my skin smooth as a baby’s… face?

I decided it was time for a face mask. My skin was becoming rather lacklustre, blotchy, and I noticed a few blackheads hiding by my nose and chin. Naturally, Queen Helene would be my mask of choice. But I decided to start off with a facial scrub, something I don’t normally do because my skin can be quite sensitive.

“Don’t be a baby,” I told my skin as I slathered on a dollop of Clinique 7-Day Scrub Cream. It has tiny exfoliators in it that scrub the face but not in a painful way. I let it sit for a minute, massaged my skin a little more, and then rinsed it off with warm water and a washcloth. I immediately followed up with Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque.

Once dry, I again rinsed my face with warm water and a washcloth, and ended with a generous layer of Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.

About 10 minutes after completing this process I became aware of how great my skin felt. It felt very moisturized, but not greasy, and when I touched my cheek it was softer than I could ever remember it being. I got up and ran to the mirror, and my skin was positively glowing. Glowing not with the fire of rosacea, but with the dew of health.

Outstanding.

Another product I’ve been testing recently is Dior Hydra-Protect Eye Cream, which has an SPF of 20. I’ve decided recently that it’s time for me to find a good eye cream. (This decision may or may not have anything to do with the fact that last week a coworker told me that I had huge bags under my eyes – after a full 8-hour night of sleep.) So far, I have yet to see any markable difference in the appearance of my eye area, but I can say that it feels amazing when I put it on. Kind of like an instant hug for my eye area. I plan to continue using the cream; I’ll keep you posted on those huge bags.

Hail to the Queen

I woke up Friday morning and was greeted by a most unwelcome visitor: there was a brand new pimple, sore and red, gleaming like a beacon on my chin.

Awesome.

I spent most of the day trying to figure out ways to look at and talk to people without them seeing it. Not possible. By Friday afternoon, my self esteem was at an all-time low. By Saturday morning, I needed the Queen. 

If you’ve ever read a fashion or beauty magazine that lists secret weapon beauty products or gives recommendations from pros in the beauty industry, you’ve probably heard of the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. Probably the best drugstore beauty find of all time, if you haven’t tried it, go buy one, and if you haven’t heard of it, listen up.

It comes in a pleasantly plain white and green package and costs around three dollars a tube. Even when used regularly, one tube will last you a long time; I’ve been using Queen Helene devotedly for five years and am only on my second one. The pea-green masque is to be applied to freshly washed skin, and is pretty simple to use: smear it all over your face, walk around looking like a swamp creature for about 15 minutes, and wash it off once it dries. Easy. And talk about getting your money’s worth.

Queen Helene clears up black heads, dries up heinous pimples (like my aforementioned atrocity), tightens pores and makes your skin ridiculously soft. (I always follow it up with a nice moisturizer. Right now I’m liking Bliss Best of Skintentions, a daily moisturizer with SPF 15 that smells like oranges.)It can also be used to spot treat really bad zits; a dab left on overnight is often just the thing to rid yourself of a stubborn blemish.

So I spent Saturday afternoon treating myself to a spa day. I tweezed my brows, trimmed my nails, and gave myself a lovely pedicure using my new favorite summer nail color, Essie’s Cute As A Button, a peachy pink shade. And I covered my face with a generous coat of Queen Helene.

By Sunday morning all that remained of the chin volcano was a teeny red dot.

I’ll take it.