true beauty featuring ann

by Ann

My mother, much like her mother before, is a terrible cook. I don't have warm memories of learning how to bake from either of them. They did, however, both have skin care routines for every morning and evening. There was no homespun wisdom around the kitchen table, it took place in the bathroom. My mother taught me to never, ever go to sleep with my makeup still intact. Angry, maybe, but always wash your face. 

As a teenager, Pond's Cold Cream and Estee Lauder's Enriched Under Makeup Cream were not appropriate for my young skin. I needed less greasy, lighter lotions rather than creams. There was a strong emphasis at that time on drying out teenage skin. (All my advice came from Seventeen magazine). I can remember, and now shudder at the thought of, using an astringent called "Sea Breeze." It had a sharp, strong fragrance and would often sting upon application. This was the 70s, and there weren't as many choices for treatments. I used drugstore products aimed at teen girls. Knowing what I know now, I'm sure they were filled with silicones, waxes and preservatives. The cycle was strip skin, clog pores, repeat. I do have a vague memory of reading something about sun protection. From a very early age, probably about 15, I tried to use SPF. It was so heavy and greasy, though.

As products became more specialized, I had opportunities to try new things and do more fine tuning. The internet and on-line shopping brought a wealth of skin care brands to my door. 

My skin has always been good. I didn't battle acne. I don't have enlarged pores or rosacea. The worst I've had to deal with is shine and maybe some dullness here and there. Even turning 40 was no big deal. Somewhere around 45 though, I remember rubbing my eyes and feeling a groove. I looked in the mirror, and to my surprise (and horror) there were crow's feet. 

Lancome had a new product called Visionairre. I visited my local makeup counter to ask for the as-advertised free sample. When I used this slippery, silky serum, my crow's feet would diminish, but they'd pop back up the minute I washed my face, and it seemed like they were worsening because the skin around my eyes was drying out. This was the first time I ever questioned what was actually in the products I was using and how they were supposed to work. 

Googling brought me to Truth In Aging, and a whole new hobby. 

I am going to turn 50 in a few months, and my skin has gotten decidedly drier than it’s been in the past. My daily routine includes lots of time outside in any weather, which greatly affects which products I choose and makes daily sunscreen a must.

For daytime, I first use my facial brush on dry skin. This is your best investment. The brush cleans, exfoliates and stimulates. It shrinks pores and preps the skin for receiving treatment. Besides sunscreen, this would be my desert island item.

I was using the Arcona Toner Tea Bar ($42) to cleanse, but I've switched to the Kiwi Cream Bar ($42) for the winter. These bars last forever. They come in a sturdy plastic case, and don't melt and get all runny. I enjoy how they get sudsy, have a lovely fragrance and don't dry my skin. Your Best Face Hydrate B ($45 in the shop) is usually enough moisture before sunscreen. I'm spot-treating my wrinkles with the stronger Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum ($69 in the shop) and look forward to trying MitoQ Moisturizing Anti-Aging Serum ($119 in the shop).

Arcona Reozone 40 ($22) is the sunscreen I'm using now. The pros are that it's very light and not at all greasy. I can apply quite a bit of it, like you're supposed to, and it usually keeps my skin from drying out all day but doesn't rub off on my collars or cell phone. On the con side, although it is tinted, it still goes on chalky with a ghostly cast that take a while to wear off. It relies upon titanium dioxide, about which I've read some bad things. I've used Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen ($45 in the shop), but that can get heavy and sometimes goes on too orangey. The search continues.

I'm trying a new eye cream by Russell Organics. So far, I'm finding it to be effective. After application, I can feel a tightening effect. It is doing a solid job of softening and firming the area under my eyes. Not to the extent of Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop), but while I love that product, I can't always afford it. This cream is a whole ounce for $42, and there is nothing offensive included in the formula.

For nighttime, the wrinkles get a dose of copper peptides courtesy of Snowberry New Radiance Face Serum ($46). This is an effective product at a reasonable price, but even with using mere drops, it seems to go quickly. On top of this, I'm trying a new Arcona product called Advanced “A” Serum ($85). The main active is Retinaldehyde, combined with other ingredients designed to enhance absorption. So far, this is the most gentle retinol product I've used. There is no dryness or redness despite using it nightly for two weeks. The combination is powerful. I feel I look smoother — at least, first thing in the morning. 

With all the potent serums, I wanted a simple night cream with ample moisture and anti-oxidants. I've found it with Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer ($36). It's a stiff, somewhat waxy cream that takes a little while to sink in. If I need some extra, or I want an overnight type facial, I'll add a few drops of Your Best Face Private Reserve Antioxidant Oil ($75 in the shop). The delicate vanilla fragrance is soothing right before bed. 

A few times a week, I'll use my Truth Renew device, ultrasonic and the red LED. I tested a great product for TIA: Moana Instant Lifting Mask (roughly $106). I've had great results by first applying a thin layer of this mask, then the TIA gel on top and finally doing the treatment. It's better than some salon facials I've gotten, and the results last for days. 

This is my routine right now, but it often evolves. There's always something new to try, and something like Retinaldehyde is, for example, a treatment I'll use for a month or two and then take a break to try something else. I've given up on attempting to find a constant routine and now embrace being able to unleash my inner chemist, trying different combinations and ingredients to see what works the best.