I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet. -- Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

15 March 2009

Facing It!-My Annual Search for a Whole NEW Me!

There is an annual journey I take each year. Determined that This will be the year that I find flawless skin. No more blotchiness, no more breakouts, no more spots,bumps,flakes,pores you can plant potatoes in...no more lines and creases before their time! Is that too much to ask?
I really am not a product junkie..but somehow with each passing year I find more and more jars,bottles,brushes,glosses,STUFF living in my bathroom and still I am back out there on the trail.

Off I go in search of the Dream moisturizer that doesn't make me look older!... A spot concealer that doesn't peel my whole face off.... a mascara that doesn't give me eyelashes that look like One BIG Lash! How about a gloss that actually stays on my lips? I also go on a fragrance safari-sniffing my way around the globe trying to find body lotion that doesn't make me smell like a fruit stand or a fragrance that doesn't put me to bed with a migraine.

It is now March...I am exhausted! and so is my credit card...

I have explored every skincare line known to womankind. Walked my feet off from one end of too many malls to the other- from boutiques, to department stores to specialty shops to independent lines to salons and spas to...I have Camped out at Sephora for days!, Read Every magazine article(PLEASE publication world STOP writing about Getting Great Skin at Any Age-it ain't happening!) Torn ads out of magazines, done on-line skin analysis surveys, printing off the results and carrying them with me-I need how many products???!!

I have poured over reviews on line, hopped into every Beauty Blog, researched every new natural/organic idea. I have stopped at every department store counter, flitting from one to the other-$475.00 for an eetsy bitsy jar of I don't know what-who are they kidding in this economy? I have looked at what the famous faces are using. I have roamed the aisles of Ulta and CVS and Bath and Body Works and The Body Shop. I have spritzed and sniffed and shmeared and dabbed and buffed and brushed and been made up and put down. ENOUGH!

It is overwhelming out there! If you read everything there is you will be spinning into beauty product oblivion before too long. Here's what I learned from this year's odyssey along with some products that I think are worth checking into,obviously everyone's skin care needs and likes are different but hopefully it will help you on your next "I Hate My...."day.

1. DO NOT try to solve everything at once. There is NO Beauty Fairy GodMother who can make you a Cover Girl in one swing of her wand.

2. Make a list and stick to it-You need a new mascara then go in search of THAT -don't be distracted by the new lip gloss colors for spring -that is UNTIL you have resolved the mascara issue.

3. Don't get caught up in specials and sales that are selling you something you do not need-you will spend more on more things that you may not really need and still not solve what you went looking for. Yes, once you find a product you want to try by all means find it on sale and take advantage of on-line coupons-go to the manufacturer's website and sign yourself up for email specials.

4. Do some research--Totalbeauty.com is a good place to check out reviews-of course what works for one person may not work for you but if you read through enough comments you can get a good view as to whether something is worth the money and whether it actually works. Reviews are fun to read too as some people will cheer while others trash a product. No one is trying to sell you on the review side so a good place to get some insight and perspective.

5. TRY, and this hard, to find a sales consultant who is honest. This was the most interesting part of the journey for me. Here I was ready to Spend and I expected some help. Have you been to a mall recently? You can roll a bowling ball up the aisles without hitting anyone! You would think sales people would trip over themselves to help. One of the reasons department stores are not the first place to go is because of the people who staff these counters...they are over made-up, over perfumed and could care less about my skin! I also discovered that I knew more about their lines than they did. They would just grab a product and say "this is good"...Hello I have combination skin and you are selling me a moisturizer for my Mother's Dry as a bone skin! Of course there are some really helpful and knowledgeable sales people out there, but department stores were not working for me! Even when I knew what I wanted and went right to the counter, try to find someone to wait on you! I had more help at CVS than I did at most department stores! Another interesting thing I found was I could go to the the same line at 3 different stores and be told three different things about what to use!! So be your OWN beauty consultant and do your research. IF you do find a consultant you like and trust to be honest and one who knows their stuff, get their card and go back to them with your results.

6. After doing your research if you find a line or product you want to try see if they have their own stores-away from the counters again! I found going to a Kiehl's shop was much more helpful than trying the line at a counter in a department store. Generally product knowledge,service and attention is better at specialty stores. Also, scoop up samples -Sephora is great about offering samples and most specialty stores will give you a smidge to try first before you buy.

7. Salons-you may love your salon but they only try to sell the limited lines they are shelving-doesn't mean you have to buy it there or that their products are the last word! If you do love what they have try Ulta for better prices.

8. Drugstore Lines-OK, confession time. I have been using drugstore mascara forever! Yes, I have drawer filled with expensive mascaras but I keep going back to my $6.99 Rimmel. There are places in your routine to be a beauty snob for sure but is any mascara worth $125! CVS , Ulta, and yes Target, are good places to test out colors and creams...if you want more organic and natural then head to Whole Foods-lots of small lines that do it well with quality ingredients.

9. Again...put the Beauty snob aside and try Shopping on-line and on TV. You don't get a shopping bag but you did get a lot of information and more often than not no risk! I know it is hard to imagine buying skin care make up and certainly fragrance from TV! Try it! QVC is probably one of the largest beauty retailers in the world and they carry so many lines and brands that you will find at Sephora and in better stores. There are so many pluses to trying lines this way. First of all you can watch demonstrations both on line and of course during a product show. The explanations of a product are thorough and more often than not you get to learn about the product from the actual company representative. If you don't like it-send it back! QVC is how I discovered Bare Escentuals long before anyone was carrying the line. It is also where I found Lather, Smashbox, Urban Decay, Bobbi Brown,Kate Gilbert, Philosophy, Vincent Longo, LOrac......

10. Be honest with yourself! How old are you? There is nothing that will give you the skin you had. If you lower your expectations, as with most things in life ,you may discover you actually like what you are using or better yet that you like your own face!

Results so far-still sniffing and creaming.

You may see a trend here as I found many things within established Pharmacy/Apothecary lines-CO Bigleow, Kiehls-both around since the 1800s, certainly not fly by night cosmetic companies! Then there is my favorite-maybe because I have to travel to Italy to buy it! Located in a not too terrific area of Florence within the walls of a 1600s era church the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella -dark and elegant in history, just walk in and inhale...some of the loveliest scents, soaps, talcs,creams, candles...ever! and yes they have remedies for whatever might ail you too!

These are some products that came home with me:

Skincare-Know that your skin changes with your mood, the weather,the season and of course the years. If you have been using the same products forever you may be fine but you may see it not working. With me I literally use different products for different days-my skin is that nuts! Sometimes oily, sometimes, breakout, sometimes dry and flaky---I'll spare you the gory details but I have found that combining different products from different lines rather than buying into a whole product line regime works best for me:-Liz Earle-I love this line,but most especially I love her approach to skincare-simple and natural. I don't often react well to natural lines but Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish is wonderful, takes off everything and leaves your skin soft and clear. Also love the Smoothing Eye Serum-it works on fine lines too!-Kiehl's- I always wanted to try Kiehl's-They have been around since 1851 so you have to feel they are doing something right. I have used their Lip Balm for years. Going to an actual Kiehl's shop made all the difference. I was shown their Sodium PCA oil free moisturizer-no sign of oil slicks yet!-Be Fine-this was a find! Ironically they are based in my own backyard! They take a food based approach-you are what you eat! I have tried the Daily Cleanser, Toner, Daily Moisturizer, Exfoliating Cleanser and Night Moisture and I have enjoyed them all- they are light and natural-almond, coconut,mint,rosemary,beet, fragrance free. I think I am sticking with the Night Moisturizer-Rice Bran for elasticity and , Cocoa's caffeine for circulation
-I get Lazy-we all do and I need to be sure to get all the day off my face when I get home. I have tried many different Cleansing Cloths and I like Neutrogena's for my skin.

-I follow the cloths with Caudalie Cleansing Water-I am a fan of Caudalie-especially their eye and lip serum and Sauvignon Scrub

-Clarins One Step Cleansing Water works for me in the a.m.

-Estee Lauder Splash Away Cleanser-a pea sized drop of this will take everything away!

-Philosophy-good science combined with great packaging-/I wouldn't be without Hope in a Tube for eyes and lip and their When Hope is Not Enough Firming and Lifting Serum Also,Philosophy does the best In Home Peels, I use the Oxyen Peel every few weeks. Philosophy pioneered the lunchtime peel so they know how to do this.

-Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner-I should not use any alcohol based product but this is like a vacuum for my pores and does not dry me out.

-Kate Somerville, Yet another Skin care guru but ExfoliKate works!

Makeup-I love Barbara Streisand's line from The Mirror has Two Faces. She tells Lauren Bacall(her Mother in the film) that there is no point to her wearing makeup because she will look just the same-only in color! I like a natural face-I don't like to look like I have makeup on which is tough to do most days when there is a lot of damage control to be done. Laura Geller is the place to go for primers!

-Mascara-Lancome's Definicils and Rimmel Lash Maxx has a comb that actually works.

-Foundation-There are Lots of imitators but Bare Escentuals is still the best. Mineral foundation takes some learning how to use but once you get the "swirl tap buff" you can do anything! and control how much coverage and color. Could not be without Mineral Veil n the summer, the only thing I have ever used that really controls the shine.

Lips-I am a gloss girl! I love a nude lip and Kiehl's does the trick but I am in love with C O Bigelow's-minty,fresh,clean,tints and no gloopys. Bare Escentuals does wonderful glosses for the days I want a dressier lip and at night it's Smashbox and Bobbi Brown -just wish Bobbi would change her brush on her lip glosses.

-Eyeliner-Smashbox! stays where you put it and is easy to place.

Bath and Body-The most indulgent part of any day is when you are in he tub/shower and can wash the day away. I need a cleanser that doesn't dry me out but that also won't break me out! Neutrogena makes a Pink grapefruit wash and CO Bigelow's Lemon Cream Body wash is nice as is the whole Lemon line, good hand cream too. I am a Big fan of Lather, founded by a woman with sever allergies this line is clean and fresh and natural! I will not be without their AHA Hand Cream-the best I have ever used! Philosophy does some of the best body wash/shampoos-just for the packaging alone and the yummy fragrances-you won't smell like chocolate fudge cake but you can enjoy without the calories-!

Fragrance-ugghh,this is the tough one! I love scent and I love a scent for different moods and events and times of the year. In the winter I want warm-vanilla, chocolate,, in summer fresh, clean citrus and green. This is still the hardest category and one I will forever be hunting. I cannot even walk through the perfume area in a store without reacting. I get headaches from even the lines designed for people who cannot wear fragrance. So I do rely on soaps and body lotions to deliver a scent without knocking me out. I do love Jo Malone! Her Nectar and Honey and grapefruit work for me. I discovered Ligne St. Barth on a recent trip and love what I found. Also discovered Tocca recently at Anthropologie and Barneys -very Mediterranean and sexy!