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My personal skincare picks

Is a Solution for:
Dull Skin, Oily Skin, Sagging Skin
May 20, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 11 Comments

The other day Kathy asked me to post an update on what my facial regime is these days. This is a fair question, given that most mornings, I divide my face into quadrants in order to test as much as possible and conduct some side by side trials. I know that I can't protest that I'm doing this in the interests of science, but it is my job. Still, my oldest (and grumpiest) friend, Carole, thinks I'm nuts and even one of my sweetest friends, Emily, pokes gentle fun at me. Anyway, with all this dabbing of multifarious potions, it is interesting to take stock of which ones have stuck through the tests of time and that I go back to knowing that they are reliably effective.

There are also some new finds that are going to be stayers and the one I most thrilled with is Abella Colorshade (thanks Kate, for making the discovery, and Terri's review for pushing me to try it). Sunscreens are torture for me. I'm allergic to just about everything on the market. Chemical sunscreens are a no go, but even some of the mineral ones can start to agitate my skin after a few days. At last, a solution - and in the most unlikely of guises: the packaging looks like something from the 1950s and it's tinted for heaven's sake. Abella ($24) hits all the bases: it keeps me protected, doesn't run (even when I do), the tint (medium, in my case) provides a nice tone-evening cover-up, and best of all it hasn't ever caused even the tiniest eruption. I bought three bottles and I am hording them in case something befalls Abella or I suddenly have to go into a witness protection program.

April Rain Night Rainew is my (newish) neck and decollete cream. It is too heavy for my face, but for thicker (and neglected) hide, it is perfect. The results have been noticeable. The secret sauce is 'Hydropeptide', a combination of hyaluronate, pseudoalterononas ferment (a strain of bacteria from the Arctic Circle that helps with water retention) and a bunch of peptides. The peptides include a couple of those that prevent facial muscles from moving (dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate and AH-3) and a new one called tripeptide-10 citrulline.

Also relatively new to my regime, but likely to stay around is Dermaxime's Rejuvenating Toner ($48). This actually made me a convert to toners and even more of a fan of this South African brand with its emphasis on botanicals - in this case, most notably as decongestants, antibacterials and antioxidants.

For my facial cleanser, I am happily rotating my longtime favorite, Tracie Martyn's Amla with newcomer REN Zostera Marina Comfort Cleansing Milk ($32), a creamy cleanser that is good for removing makeup and kind to sensitive skins. I tend to reach for it on the days when my skin is feeling a bit dry. I still really look forward to a weekly rendezvous with Abrione Hydrodynamic Facial Masque with mud and exfoliating enzymes. It leaves my skin nicely hydrated. On breakout days, I use the calming Astara Blue Flame Purification Mask ($42), with bentonite and red clover. It never fails to help undo whatever damage my continuous cosmetic experiments have done.

I still haven't found an eye cream to beat YBF's Correct ($150 in the shop), although I would definitely use Dermophisiologique's Optyma again. Another firm favorite of mine is IMAGE Skincare's Ageless Total Anti-Aging Serum ($40) is one of the best skin brighteners I have come across. I regard it as something that primarily improves skin tone, so I use it three or four times a week beneath a serum that is more of a wrinkle repairer.

Of these, there are about three serums with staying power: ReLuma ($145 in the shop), Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating Nano Reneu ($48) and Circadia Myo-cyte ($150). All three are very helpful at tackling wrinkles and keeping the skin smooth and healthy-looking. I would say that Nutra-Lift may be the better of the three at firming. I honestly can't say which one I would pick if I could only choose one - I suppose I'll just have to do more A/B testing.

Ingredients in Abella:

Zinc Oxide, Deionized Water, octyl stearate, isocetyl stearate, sweet almond (prunus Amygdalis Dulcis) oil, dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, green tea extract (camellia olefera, Silica, Aloe barbadensis extract, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), cyclomethicone caramel, hexyl laurate, bentonite, melanin, ergocalciferol, (vitamin D) DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Chloride, May contain iron oxides & Titanium Dioxide.

Ingredients in April Rain Night Rainew:

Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Propylheptyl Caprylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, C4-24 Alkyl Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone Crosspolymer/Isodecyl Isononanoate, HydroPeptide® Complex (Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Lecithin, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Acetyl Glutamyl Heptapeptide-3, Tripeptide-1, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol), Hydroxethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Ceteareth-20, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Buddleja Davidii Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Menthyl Lactate, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer, Polydiethyleneglycol Adipate/IPDI Copolymer, O-Cymen-5-OL, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Diacetyl Boldine, Tropolone, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Fragrance.

Ingredients in REN:

Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Cetearyl Octanoate (Source Palm Oil), Cetearyl Alcohol (Source Palm Oil), Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (Source Coconut Oil), Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside (source Corn), Glycerin (Source Coconut Oil), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Myristyl Myristate (source Palm Oil), Zostera Marina Pectin (source Sea Grass), Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans (source Corn), Phenoxyethanol (Source Aromatic Ether), Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Seed Oil, Camelina Sativa (Gold Of Pleasure) Oil, Oryzanol (source Rice), Sodium Hydroxymethyl Glycinate (source Amino Acids), Parfum (100% Natural Fragrance), Citric Acid (Source Fruit), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum (Source Corn), Linalol, Limonene.

Ingredients in Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating Therapy

Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Matrixyl 3000 at 5% (Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 PAL KTTKS), Vitamin C ester, sea kelp / algae, liposomes, astraxanthin, grape seed extract, cetyl esters, nikkomulese, co-Q10, pycogenol, natural mixed tocopherals (vitamin e), anti-oxidant complex 14, natural firming complex (dmae, alpha lipoic acid) fruit flower complex 12, herbal complex 30, plant derived polysorbate 20, hydroxyethyl-cellulose, hyaluronic acid, copper peptide, marine collagen, marine elastine, organic royal jelly, Mexican yam, green tea, milk thistle, retinyl palmitate, ( vitamin A) ppgsmdi co-polymer., l-tyrosine, zinc sulfate, squalene, colloidal minerals.

Ingredients in ReLuma Skin Illuminating Anti-Aging Serum

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, deionized water, gycerin, sodium PCA,
allantoin, panthenol, cellulose gum, DMDM hydantoin, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate

Ingredients in Circadia Myo-Cyte

Water, Hyaluronic Acid, Acetyl Hexapeptide, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide, Ethoxydiglycol, Tretrasodium EDTA, Passion Flower Extract, Rosemary Extract, Chamomile Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Amino Acid Complex (L-Carnosine, L-Threonine, L-Glycine), Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

  • July 7, 2010

    by deborah rodell

    I also am looking for a daytime moisturizer as in the summer I just glow and not in the good way. The grease practically drips off my skin. Ugh!

  • June 11, 2009

    by marta

    There are some suggestions here:
    I still like Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Peptide Cream best - definitely not greasy.

  • June 11, 2009

    by Deborah Barnett

    Thanks - any favorites for a daytime moisturizer? I have trouble looking really greasy with the one I've been using.

  • May 20, 2009

    by Jada

    I, too, would love the opportunity try and also review Tracie Martyn's Alma Cleanser, especially since you rave about it so much Marta! I keep debating about making the purchase because it is pricey, but is it worth it?

  • May 20, 2009

    by Ella

    ...and I too would love love love the opportunity to try and review the Tracie Martyn Alma Cleanser. It is a product I have thought about since first coming across TIA!

  • May 20, 2009

    by Ella

    Many thanks Marta - two very welcome additions to my skincare regime since finding TIA have been the Image Skincare serum (which works brilliantly as a brightener for me, and is also gentle enough to use by my much younger sister, working overnight wonders on her breakouts) and Suki lemongrass cleanser has taken the place as my exfoliator. One of my 'can't live withouts' is Liz Earle's brightening treatment, I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • May 20, 2009

    by Dana Pond

    Thanks for the run down Marta! I'd love the opportunity to try the Tracie Martyn's Cleanser. I actually called Tracie Martyn in NYC for a sample after reading your rave reviews. However, when I received the sample it has leaked out into the puffy pack it was sent in. So I didnt get to try it.
    Anywho, they asked me where I had heard of Tracie Martyn and I told them TIA!
    So, if you want to send the cleanser my way I will test against what I am using now (Suki and Befine) and promise a review.


  • May 20, 2009

    by marta

    Junko Dermaxime is definitely in the rebalancing camp.

  • May 20, 2009

    by Junko

    Thank you Marta, I'm in the market for a new toner. Would you say that Dermaxime's toner is a toner that removes excess oil and any dirt that cleansing didn't remove, like a 'typical' toner? Or is it more of a 'balancing' toner? It's hard for me to let go of my desire to see a little dirt on the pad when I use a toner.

  • May 20, 2009

    by aerwin

    Thanks! I am still in big love with that Abella , it is wonderful. I am going to give the nutri lift a try.

  • May 20, 2009

    by Kathy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Marta! I'm always glad to know what you think has staying power. Sometimes the choices get to be mind-boggling. This helps to sort it all out!

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