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.