Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

It seems like just weeks ago we were inundated with visions of brunching couples, a rainbow of ruffle skirts, and cowboy boots galore. Though I welcome my favorite season, the passing of time and the onslaught of harsh elements only complicate one’s regimen. Winter brings cold breezes, dry apartments, itchy sweaters, and too much hot coffee, all enemies of healthy skin.

But Mother Nature forces us to evaluate our lifestyles, and in mine, that translates to finding an alternate approach to aging. My latest strategy to preserving our appearance is the revelation that anti-aging treatments should be applied to every surface of the body, from hair follicles to hands. Naturally, we bring you our best picks for hand creams – which to use before bed, what to use after apple picking, and how to fade those unsightly liver spots, if god forbid, you were once a slave to the sun.

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Reverse the Curse
INSERT VITAROMA PIC Modern American middle-aged women spend millions of dollars on tubes and treatments but neglect the parts we use most: our hands. Often times I see exceptional women on the subways and in cafes, whose skin is taut, hair is groomed, and outfit is elegant, but their hands reveal their age. Whether the problem is dryness, age spots, or loose skin, Decleor Vitaroma Lift Total is the perfect everyday solution. Vitamin B5, shea butter, and avocado serve as the main moisturizers in this light, fast-absorbing lotion, which is equipped with SPF 8. Lemongrass and Phyto-White Complex help lighten spots while the Phyto-Hormones Complex, comprised of Clover, Iris and Ononis Spinosa firm skin. Use this before you leave for work to protect against rays.

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Safe for All
Collective Wellbeing, a new cosmetics company, creates a work-appropriate cream that lacks scent and sheen, and is packaged in a neutral container. The main ingredients are Illipe Nut Butter, a nut found in the Indonesian rainforest, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, aloe leaf juice, and shea butter. But it also contains vitamin E, chamomile, sea kelp, and marshmallow root, to ease inflammation. But the shopping isn’t over when you receive your package in the mail; twice a year the company gives money to a few nonprofits selected by customers via online forms.

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L’Amande Hand Cream with Olive Oil is another balm that’s subtle but strong. Developed by the Italian company Gavarry, who starting making soap in the 18th century in Marseille, this product gives off an earthy aroma. It exudes an odor that inspires dreams of country farms, fresh herbs, and summer in the lush rural towns in Vermont or the south of France. Olive oil soothes the skin, while urea, chamomile, and calendula moisturize.

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Nighttime Treatment
The ever-poetic Philosophy uses their packaging, as usual, to explain why our hands deserve quality products and attention: “Create with your hands, heal with your hands, touch with your hands, work with your hands…” You get the picture. Handmade is a thick cream that’s made to smell like lemon custard. The base owes its moisturizing power to shea, cocoa, and mango butters; rice bran and almond oils also contribute to the sweet scent and powerful, balmy texture that coats skin.

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Exotic Flavors
For the girly girls or those easily bored, there’s Bath & Body Works. Until now I’d never been in one, solely because of the doting sales girls the mall atmosphere, but the diversity of products lured me from C.O. Bigelow to Le Couvent, whose packaging looks suspiciously similar to L’Occitane. The exotic flavors in the Breathe line set its offerings apart from the competition, and prove a large company can encourage creativity outside norms.

Breathe offers six different collections of body lines that employ the philosophy of aromacology, whose main premise assumes that one’s ability to smell has an impact on emotions. Though both aromacology and aromatherapy study the olfactory system they each operate different schools of thought: aromatherapy purports the healing power of essential oils while aromacology believes in the healing power of scent. Hence, the multi-billion dollar fragrance industry.

It’s this philosophy that has helped a major American retailer devise fragrances that are common not in malls, but in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The lotus-infused Calm and the invigorating ginger-scented Energy are excellent scents but Delight is the one to splurge on. This is the first time I’ve ever seen tamarind, a tropical fruit, in a skin care line, or better yet, anywhere but on the side of a Goya can or on the menu of an upscale fusion restaurant. If the Limited bothered to go to Eastern Africa or El Salvador to sample this fuzzy fruit, they must have significant findings to prove it’s unique flavor will awaken the senses.

A lesser-known brand, also sold at Bath & Body Works, is Davies Gate. The small nature-inspired line offers a variety of body products, including Nourishing Hand Cream, which boasts the following ingredients: certified organic Cocoa, Illipe Nut and Shea butters, and apricot kernel and carrot oils. Beyond the creamy consistency, the best thing about this product is the Cinnamon flavor. This isn’t a lab formulated cinnamon scent like gum – this a hot cider, apple pie, holiday time kind of smell that will conjure images of positive family get-togethers, cozy winter vacations, and those few times you’ve used your NYC kitchen to bake – all rare and memorable occasions.

Decleor Vitaroma 1.7 oz. $36 oz, available at Sephora

Collective Wellbeing Hand Cream 3.5 oz $6 available at www.collectivewellbeing.com

L’Amande Hand Cream with Olive Oil 75mL $9 www.beautyhabit.com

Philosophy Handmade 1 oz $10 Available at Sephora

Breathe Hand Multi-vitamin Hand Cream 3.3 oz $12.50; Davies Gate Nourishing Hand Cream 3.5 oz $17.50. Both available at Bath & Body Works, 441 Lexington Avenue (btwn 43rd and 44th Streets); 304 Park Avenue at 23rd Street; 1240 3rd Ave at 72nd Street

Originally published November 2005
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