I have long taken care of my skin, something taught to me as a young pre-teen girl. Primarily, admittedly, because acne began when I was in 4th grade, and it was disheartening, as it can often be, for any young person who is already navigating so many insecurities, unknowns and changes. Paying attention to how my skin responded to certain products, not knowing which products to try, so muddling through as best I could (the internet not being . . . well, not existing), and having limited funds, I weathered through as best as I could, all the while, washing my face before bed, not forgetting to moisturize and generally trying to eat well and hydrate regularly.
With each following decade, not someone who was particularly adventurous with my makeup, just keeping it simple, it was my skincare where I had an inkling it might be worth figuring out for the best face to great the day. Again, my budget played a role in what I tried, but when I found something that worked with my skin, I stuck to it as it often took time for results to reveal themselves. When I was able to afford visits to local spas and found aestheticians that following my facial, I noticed positive results, I trusted them to introduce products I would then include in part of my skincare routine.
As I shared in this skincare post, it wasn’t until my thirties, late thirties in fact, that I was able to invest in an item (#5 on this list) that I had long heard about and was curious if indeed the talk was worth price. In fact, it was this emergency skincare item, La Mer’s The Concentrate, that I used for just a couple of months and found to do exactly as it said it would – reduce/eliminate scarring as I had a horrible occurrence of acne on the bridge above my nose – that confirmed, certain brands are worth investing in when you know what your skin needs (it has also proven helpful to reduce stretch marks). The key is knowledge about your skin, how it is changing and the climate you live in.
I recently shared last month that during the past two years, I did very little clothes shopping, and while I was focused on home projects creatively, I also focused on my skincare regimen. Near 43 years of age, I have always tried to be preventative; however, again, there were voids in my knowledge base when it came to certain products that repeatedly were recommended for quality, long-term skincare. Namely, the use of retinol, hyaluronic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Let’s talk about what each of these key ingredients are and why they are worth understanding, investing in and using regularly.
The Facts on the Key Ingredients to Include in Your Skincare:
- A type of retinoid, which is made from Vitamin A
- Different percentages you can use, so check the product. Even though it says it has retinol, the amounts, and thus the effect on your skin will be different. More doesn’t mean better, but rather what works best with your skin.
- What does retinol do? from Healthline “the small molecules that make up retinol go deep beneath the epidermis (outer layer of skin) to your dermis . . . Once in this middle layer of skin, retinol helps neutralize free radicals. This helps boost the production of elastin and collagen, which creates a ‘plumping’ effect that can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores” and can help reduce acne.
- It is advised to all to begin using retinol only a few days a week, and that you may see your skin react and turn red. I have never had an issue with retinol (I share my brand below), and I use it every night. The percentage I use is quite high. Again, all of this is to say, read the instructions, know your skin, and listen to how your body and skin respond.
- Hyaluronic acid
- What is it? A group of sugar molecules called polysaccharides. The Cleveland Clinic explains, “These molecules work to cushion and lubricate, and they’re found naturally in the body’s connective tissues.”
- Why our skin benefits from maintaining it, from Everyday Health -” Over time, your body’s stores of hyaluronic acid decline. Age is one reason, research shows, but environmental factors — such as smoking and air pollution — also accelerate this process.”
- You can rebuild the depleted storage.
- Key benefit to your skin – hydration and the ability to retain moisture throughout the day, reducing the rough, dry or flaky look that happens as the day unfolds.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
- What is it? From Oregon State University, “The antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health . . . it is a normal skin constituent that is found at high levels in both the dermis and epidermis.”
- Potential benefits observed in studies after regular use over a couple of months: reduced wrinkles, dark spots, diminishes redness and long-term protection from ultraviolet rays (combine with sunscreen).
- Additional benefit: Reduction of acne “through its anti-inflammatory properties that help control sebum (oil) production within the skin”. (Harvard Health Publishing)
Quickly, before I share my list, one ingredient and/or item that is not mentioned above but is understood (however, just to be safe I want to include mention) is the use of sunscreen, SPF. No matter the time of year, sunny or rainy, it’s always a good idea to include it in your daily skincare regimen. I shared my favorite sunscreen here from La Roche-Posay and I am including one more below in today’s list.
Lastly, many of the items shared will not be new to TSLL TOP Tier Members as I have been sharing items as I am introduced to them, am using them and how it has been going. These insights into my routine and the discoveries I make are shared in the monthly Saturday Ponderings and What Made Me Smile This Month, So Far . . . posts. Expect more discoveries, ahas and items I cannot wait to share as each month unfolds in each of these posts.
Now to the list of items I have newly added over the past three years and/or continue to use as the provide the protection, nutrients and results I am seeking for healthy, glowing, youthful skin.
My esthetician introduced me to this product that has hyaluronic acid and other antioxidants. It is designed for sensitive and reactive skin types, offering a soothing cleanser that lathers rather than foams. I mix it with Eminence’s Strawberry-Rhubarb dermafoliant which exfoliates my skin gently (use the exfoliant once a day – in the evening).
I detailed in 2017 my discovery and delight of using micellar water, and I continue to use it twice a day as my second cleanser. It removes make-up, eye makeup, and everything in between being gentle and soothing all at the same time (read this post for all of the details as to why I praise this product – many other brands make it, Bioderma is just the brand I have chosen).
Looking for a product to add a radiant, healthy glow (à la, sustained hydration throughout the day), upon hearing Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddington recommend Shane Cooper’s Oxygenation Mask, I began to explore further. Not to be used each day (there are about 10-15 ‘masks’ in each container), it contains liposomal encapsulated oxygen with vitamin E to provide intense hydration and moisture that lasts. Immediately giving your skin radiance and encouraging tissue oxygenation and cell regeneration. I use this mask when I have an outing or will be in front of the camera, so this bottle will likely last me about 6 weeks or so. I do notice a difference in my ‘glow’ and it does last longer than just my time in preparation in the bathroom. I haven’t used it for long, so I will continue to see if I want to use it for the long-term, but so far, I am impressed.
Learning what I have recently about hyaluronic acid, I have begun to shift away from Omorovicza’s Miracle Facial Oil, not because it isn’t amazing – it is. The Miracle Facial Oil is highly hydrating and feels lovely on the skin. I add my facial serums in the morning to keep my skin hydrated throughout the day. However, as products with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C retain moisture longer, I find I don’t need this product. My second however, I can’t afford the item I am going to recommend next, so I mix a little of this oil with the serum below to prolong the latter and give my skin the moisture it needs to look its best the entire day. All of this is to say, if you are looking for a hydrating serum, but your budget isn’t what it needs to be to afford Dr. Sturm’s items, this is a great alternative and do highly recommend it.
A product with hyaluronic acid as part of the primary ingredient, if you want hydration for your skin and for it to last all day, this is the product for you. You will see reduction of fine lines and inflammation. I have combination skin, and especially now as I am perimenopausal, my skin has become more temperamental, as such, I don’t apply this serum to my décolletage but do apply it to my face and neck. Once I have transitioned through the ‘adolescent-like skin conditions of yore’ I will return to applying this to my chest. All of this is to say, your skin will instantly feel and most importantly, look hydrated and stay that way without looking oily.
My retinol product of choice is one that is not that expensive, and contains purportedly 2% retinol, but studies are stating, it is more likely to be 1%. Either way, a full percent is quite a bit and is very effective. I immediately saw results of clearer skin, reduced fine lines and generally smoother skin. I am now using my second bottle (the first lasted about 2-3 months, and I use it once a day – evening). You only need two pumps, apply it all your face, neck and décolletage, a little amount, and you then would apply your moisturizer over the top. Acne will be reduced as well.
I have since updated to use AB’s retinol serum beginning in July ’23 when I received a sample to try, and without any commission to earn, I now solely use their retinol serum as my nightly retinol. I have had clear skin for months and already this one bottle/tube has lasted for three months which is longer than the aforementioned product. Admittedly, this product is an investment, and I still do recommend Shani Darden’s as it works well.
I shared in 2017 that I began using this moisturizer, primarily because I live in an extremely arid climate, and my skin noticeably and immediately looked and felt drier when I moved to Bend. I haven’t turned back and use it twice a day. The results, reduction and prevention of fine lines as well as compliments from people who know me and my age are evidence that it works. This item is the most expensive one I use regularly. This jar (2oz) lasts about 3 months.
I began using La Mer’s Eye Concentrate in 2022 and have not looked back. While an investment, each purchase will last a full six months applying once each night, which reducing the Cost per Use considerably. I don’t use the applicator because I find that utilizing too much product than I need, even though I do apply the cream all around my eyes and even between my eyebrows to help reduce wrinkles. Immediately upon using this product I noticed hydration and slight reduction of fine lines. Worth every penny.
Joanna Vargas Masks (forever glow anti-aging is what I use, but the Glow to Go is great also; I have only tried those two, but have a feeling all are awesome, it just depends on what your skin needs)
I first tried Joanna Vargas’ mask after again reading designer Ulla Johnson’s piece mentioned above. Not sure about it, but willing to try, I purchased a single mask – fewer than $20. I placed it first in the refrigerator until I was going to be using it, and when I did – while taking hot bath – it felt amazing, stayed in place and yep, makes your skin look more aglow than before and you feel refreshed. I have since purchased the box of five masks and use one about once a week. You can also buy a subscription so they arrive routinely on a weekly or monthly schedule you prefer.
These masks are something I so enjoy, I recommended them as a Petit Plaisir last winter, and as one listener shared, she now too is seeing the benefits to her skin as she has explored even further many more of Joanna Vargas’ products. And again, don’t forget to put these masks in the fridge and pull out to use just before you place them on your face – it will feel amazing!
When I began to explore Dr. Sturm’s products, I purchased the smallest size available, and in fact, it was their inclusion of the free sample of the The Good C that let me explore what and how it felt on my skin. Initially, I was drawn to the Glow Drops for doing just what they say they do, and this product does make your skin glow. I saw immediately brightness of skin as I applied it after my makeup was on. Then the learning continued, and I discovered the benefits of Vitamin C. I then learned that Dr. Sturm’s The Good C also gave skin the glow I loved from the Glow Drops, so I am transitioning from the Glow Drops (I will finish the small bottle I have), and when that bottle is finished my replacement will be the Good C serum as it does both – protect and nourish my skin and provide the glow I love.
I have been a fan and dedicated user of La Roche-Posay’s light fluid face sunscreen (spf60) and will continue to use it; however, this is another brand to try especially if you are acne-prone (I have not had any issues with the former sunscreen in this area, but it is not dedicated to this detail, so if you want to check this one out from EltaMD, I wanted to share).
Ideas to Keep in Mind:
- Often, if you find a brand and product you love, companies will offer an auto-replenish option, and if you sign up for it, you often receive a reduced price and/or free shipping. This helps with the budgeting if you have found an item you love and are trying to rationalize keeping it in your budget.
- Above are 11 items I have recently begun to used and/or have invested in that have proven to me worth the exploration and the prioritizing in my budget. I do use other items that I have shared in the past in the posts you will see below; one such brand I highly recommend and I have used for more than 10 years is Eminence Organic Skin Care, especially for their many masques as you can tailor your masque to your specific skin needs.
- Speaking of visiting an aesthetician: When you are able to afford to do so, visiting an expert in skincare regularly for either a seasonal, bi-monthly or monthly facial is a worthwhile investment. Not only have a learned more about what my skin needs and what certain products do, she corrects my skin if for example, I have had a severe breakout, need massive hydration, or simply am confused about what is going on.
I do hope this post has been helpful. Many readers have been asking about products I mention I have begun using and I wanted to share, when I felt confident to do so, which ones I would recommend without hesitation. Skincare is a journey and it does evolve as we go through life’s many different chapters, but I continue to be convinced, it is worth investing in wisely – more is not necessarily better, whether that is in expense or the number of products, but when we know that something makes a positive difference, finding a way to make the investment work so that we can feel our best and engage fully with the world, is worth it. Ultimately, it isn’t our face that builds relationships or spurs us to success, but our actions, our words and our engagement with the world; however, if we get a boost from knowing we look as good as we can, naturally, then why not? 🙂
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