Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

Weekends by the ocean are a memory, models have descended on the city, and Fridays are full days again – this might be a downer for some, but others see the change of season as more than a lower electric bill. Once again, we turn to illuminating products to lift our spirits. To welcome the fall, we bring you a selection of well-respected under-the-radar brands whose latest launches smoothed our skin and earned our admiration.

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My favorite new cosmeceutical company comes from – where else – New Jersey. Their December 2005 launch, DermaExcel7, put them on the map; the product contains three complex peptides, Leuphasyl, Argireline, and SNAP-7. The pairing of the three peptide groups functions by stopping a wrinkle-causing process called SNARE, which functions by triggering the release of neurotransmitters that lead to muscle contraction, which forms new wrinkles and deepens existing lines. Studies showed an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles by up to 60 percent, with a nearly instantaneous firming action in some subjects.

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Janson Beckett launched four new products last month: Sun Block Daytime Moisturizer; Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin C Ester, and DMAE day and night creams; and Profile Anti-Cellulite Treatment and Body Firming Cream, my favorite. The night cream has a time-released formula that controls the rate at which vitamins and proteins are absorbed. The fragrance-free Sun Block uses chemicals to fight the rays and contains shea butter, aloe vera gel, and collagen, which make for an unusual cream-meets-balm consistency.

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Profile, the cellulite gel, contains many familiar ingredients such as ginseng, caffeine, peppermint oil, and burdock root, which are known to clear toxins and fluids. However, the main ingredient is a proprietary blend called REGU™-SLIM that includes derivatives of amino acids, proteins and guarana, a tropical fruit that stimulates metabolic activity and flushes out fluids. I’m beginning to wonder if this is why so many Brazilians have such sexy bods – between the free radical-fighting aà§ai and the diuretic, gauarana, found in Brazilian sodas, it’s no wonder they’re comfortable wearing less.

Profile resembles the makeup of Murad’s Firm and Tone Serum, but it feels a bit stronger. It only takes a small amount of the gel-like substance to create heat, which lasts a while, creating a redness around the area treated. I noticed the skin where I applied it was tighter and while it’s usually a temporary result, this worked faster than other products I’ve tried and the 8oz tub will surely last for months.

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Joey NY recently launched a line of seven products called the Instant Chemistry Collection. My obsession has become peels and scrubs because while it’s easy to find a great serum or moisturizer finding a peel for every skin type can be challenging.

The Quick Lunchtime Face Peel contains a few mainstays such as the chemical exfoliants glycolic and salicylic acids, and the soothing extracts including chamomile and green tea. The pale pink gel sets after about 15 minutes, when it hardens; a smooth layer of skin is revealed after a virtually painless application.

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The Quick Blackhead Dissolver and Pore Minimizer Gel is entirely different story. I took a quick look at the box and wondered what something with just .5 percent salicylic acid would do for me, but I was all wrong for overlooking the fine print. This product also contains lactic and malic acids, as well as oregano, a natural antiseptic, and papaya extract. The instructions say to leave it on just one minute so I figure two or three won’t couldn’t hurt. Well, it didn’t, but the power of this product surprised me and I’d definitely use this as a night-only step. Though most OTC (over the counter) products do little to peel my skin, this puppy did a fine job of removing dead skin cells. As instructed, I rubbed in vertical motions and then rinsed to remove the solution. Leaving my face a bit raw, this is one of the few products that’s exceeded my expectations in months.

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Though Erno Laszlo has only gained stateside accolades in the past decade, it’s been a legend for five. This dual-chamber canister combines cleanser and oil, which function together to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. The usual suspects – vitamins A, C, and E, and grape seed and green tea extracts – are present. However, the formula for oily skin contains mud, which exfoliates and extracts dirt.The dual chamber packaging makes for a great travel product.

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If you haven’t heard of Korner, you’re out of the loop. Created in France and packaged in the England, this popular new import originated in Australia. They launched last fall with their signature collection of quality products and packaging fit to grace the counters of the modern-chic European accommodations like those created by Design Hotels. This fall they bring us two mild masks: Emerge Luscious Plumping Mask and Sparkle Brightly Renewal Mask.

Emerge Luscious employs plant and flower extracts to encourage collagen production; silk and cotton to repair skin, and mango and shea butter to soften and moisturize. Sparkle Brightly is a milky mask with a glycerin base that moisturizes but fruit extracts, sugar cane and rice powder that exfoliate and promote cell turnover. Many exotic oil extracts such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg add another element, serving as antiseptics But despite a hefty list of ingredients this mask is exceptionally mild. It’s great for sensitive skin because it leaves a smooth finish without irritating the epidermis.

Most beauty junkies don’t consider the amount of work and the number of steps involved in creating product. There are entire conventions based on cosmetics packaging developments, but it took a Parisian company to dream up this cooling concoction.

Now, let’s recall a Sex in the City moment, one I was reminded of at the Bendel breakfast where I first learned about Ice Beauty. The U.S. representative explained to me that in addition to the full line of products, there are also two items for men that have been wildly successful, featured in all sorts of gay glossies. Naturally, my thought process turned to one of Samantha’s lines “first come the gays, then the girls, then the industry.” Well, this is far too sophisticated a product to be shared with teenagers, no matter how big their allowance or social circle, so we are skipping straight from the gays to the press.

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Illumination Cosmetic Preparation is a thin liquid glycerin- and raspberry-based cleanser that turns to foam when pumped, at which point it emits a raspberries and cream scent while removing dirt and makeup. The Exfoliating Cosmetic Preparation is a mild scrub that enlists bamboo, jojoba oil and fruit extracts to reveal fresh skin.

All Icy Source products have Arctic raspberry, an ingredient formulated specially for the company that helps release toxins. The signature product, High Speed Cooling Effect, is no different. This product claims to provide instant gratification by reducing the depth of wrinkles and firming skin. Comprised of natural extracts, peptides, and the key ingredient, lipids, this product demonstrates the power of packaging.

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To use, you turn the jar upside down and use both thumbs to press down on the center until it clicks. After two minutes, the jar begins to feel warm and you flip it over. However, when you remove the cover the cream is cooler. This patented technology reduces the temperature of the cream from 72°F to 36°F, which changes the form of the lipid. The lipid shrinks enabling it to penetrate the skin, and then returns to its original structure once below the epidermis. It functions by plumping skin and filling wrinkles, which gives the appearance of firmer skin. Only a small amount of cream is required but it should be left to set anywhere from five to 15 minutes; the jar should be refrigerated constantly.

I have a narrow face and when I’m tired my face appears dull and sallow. I applied too much cream but after rubbing in the excess, I noticed my skin looked fuller and the onslaught of skin laxity retreated. This made the fine lines around my jowls less prominent. A study with 76 subjects noted a 25 percent reduction in the appearance of deep wrinkles. This is the perfect quick fix to use on special occasions or to prep for an important upcoming event.

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Every time someone asks me what to use for sensitive skin, I’m tempted to ask them about their diet and lifestyle. With me, I know I use too many products and the constant change confuses my skin. For others, I recommend about five brands; one that always comes to mind is gloss.com founder Sarah Kugelman’s Skyn Iceland.

Created as an antidote to stress induced health and skin care problems, Kugelman’s latest launch is the Nordic Skin Peel. Cotton pads are soaked lightly in a solution comprised of predictable elements – glycolic and salicylic acids, and chamomile and green tea extracts – and their signature Biospheric Complex. Use this gentle but effective disposable peel every other night to remove dead skin cells and keep breakouts at bay.

Janson Beckett products range in price from $34.95 to $159.95 www.skinstore.com

Skyn Iceland Nordic Peel $45, available at C.O. Bigelow, Henri Bendel and Fred Segal www.b-glowing.com

Enro Laszlo dual phase wash $48 is available at Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue

Ice Source products range from $70 to $330 and are available at Bergdorf Goodman and www.beautyexclusive.com

Joey NY peels range from $25 to $40, available at www.joeyny.com

Korner masks retail for about $75, available at Bergdorf Goodman

Originally published September 2006
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