Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

The end of summer doesn’t have to be depressing. For most of us, nothing changes but the amount of sunlight and our wardrobe. While the fall brings us a couture rendering of goth, we can delight in a more consistent fashion that is natural beauty.

Fashion editors may exalt the genius of Marc Jacobs, whose dark wool collection stood apart on a runway filled with Stepord-esque frocks and ‘ethnic’ accessories, but the editor in all of us knows clear, glowing skin never goes extinct. The irony of the array of products found below is that many are a study in contrast. None of these products are inexpensive but almost all are comprised mainly of natural, free elements such as cotton seed oil, flower extracts, aloe, green tea extract, and a few elements growing in popularity, including sunflower oil, carrot oil, and rose oil. But what we learn studying the science of cosmetics, is that it’s not the ingredients alone, but the finished product that transforms a lab full of oils and solutions into a recipe for aging gracefully. Assuming none of us is a beauty chemist, it’s safe to say these are trustworthy products good enough for prized space in your bathrooms and make up bags.

Immuderm is neither the first nor the last product on the market whose wrinkle-fighting powers were discovered by accident. The product of years of work on the part of Norwegian scientists at Biotec Pharmacon, it was originally intended for wound healing purposes for surgery patients or accident victims. The main ingredient, Norwegian Beta Glucan, tempers redness, dryness, swelling, and wrinkles. As a soluble substance, this patented formula works by causing cell regeneration; in the same way a wound heals, wrinkles are reduced because the product helps skin shed old skin cells and promotes the growth of new ones from a cellular level, thereby filling in skin folds. $90 is a bargain for 60 oz, available at http://www.immunocorp.com.


The days of collagen-only plumping are long gone. Women no longer need to brace the force of a needle to get full lips. One of the latest lip plumping balms, LipTreat from Dermazone, utilizes a Lyphazome formulation to repair cracked lips, while protecting skin from stressful elements. Aloe, jojoba oil, and shea butter make up for the unnecessary inclusion of lanolin. Their Hydracell cream rattles a laundry list of impressive natural agents, including algae extract, almond oil, rose oil, carrot oil, and avocado oil. But what we really need to help us cope with unpredictable weather patterns and hormonal changes is the Celazome Target acne product. Though it won’t eliminate acne overnight, the tea tree-sulfur combination is one that trumps Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid any day.

Celazome Lip Treat .33 oz $38, Celazome Hydracell 1.7 oz $52, Celazome O-Plex Target .5 oz $24, available at http://www.dermazone.com.

The By Terry line has long been touted for its excellent anti-aging products. One of their best sellers is the Lifting Cursor Serum. The name presents its goal: to lift and smooth, among other things. It smoothes skin by plumping the top layers of skin through hydration. Mamaku Vital Essence reenergizes cells; tumbleweed and sweet pea proteins help shape the contours of the skin and tighten it via their innate amino acids; carbossalina cools and lifts skin simultaneously; and Isocell Life, a complex high in fatty acids and vitamin F, plumps the skin by forcing the upper layers of skin to retain water. This is no cheap, quick fix – a 1oz bottle of Lifting Cursor Serum will cost you $175 at Barneys.

Malie Kaua’i brings the tropical treatments of Hawaii to the mainland with their new store and the launch of their bath and body line. How many soaps and scrubs can one girl use? Well, apparently about three at time. Now that I’m addicted to body scrubs, I have higher standards. I was tempted to try the Coffee Macadamia Body Polish because it purported invigoration for the mind and the behind. Yes, it’s another jar of mashed nuts and coffee beans claiming to flush your toxins out and reduce dimpling. It’s no laser treatment, but it is a subtle smelling rub that smoothes skin and is required just once a week. To accompany the scrub, consider the Mango Butter Bun, a bundt-shaped soap and moisturizer in one. It doesn’t lather enough to rinse away the soot on a New Yorker’s foot, but it does coat the skin and seal in moisture, with a waxy, oil-free residue.

Malie Kaua’I products are priced $12-45, available at http://www.beauty.com and http://www.maliekauai.com


Eastern-inspired skin care lines are ubiquitous, but the allure comes more naturally when the founder is a Hong Kong native who was inspired during travels throughout the Far East and Southeast Asia. San Jose based-Daisy Tang started Aspara Aromatics in 2003 after experimenting with solutions for her sensitive dry skin. Her line of 30 bath and body products includes aromatic soaps made from rice bran oil, olive oil, and brightening pearl; scented lotions (silks) infused with primrose and coconut oils; body scrubs containing sugar, salt, coconut and rice bran; and bath soaks, available in packages of baubles, or jars of real flowers, so feminine, you’d mistake them for potpourri. She even has products made with yuzu, a citrus fruit from the tropics slowly gaining popularity in the States. Just don’t buy this expecting your man or crunchie friend to use it – the scents are potent and anyone who doesn’t wear make up probably won’t take to them. Aspara Aromatics products, available at http://www.aspara-aromatics.com, range in price from $8 soaps to $22 bath baubles.



My love affair with Benefit continues with their new Bluff collection. I’ve had pale, white skin my entire life; I burn like the Brits while my mother bronzes beautifully. The problem with pale skin, other than being susceptible to sunburns, is that inflammation is all the more visible. The Bluff line consists of a cream stick concealer, loose powder and a stubby brush. The yellow products neutralize blushing when foundation is useless. It won’t eliminate the redness, but a generous application will make flushed cheeks or blemishes less noticeable, and the stick dulls broken capillaries around the nose. You’re Bluffing $20, Bluff Dust $22, and Bluff Puff $20. http://www.benefitcosmetics.com and Sephora

The before-and-after pictures supplied by Flexitol are almost too revolting to look at, which is why I mailed the fungus solution to my father the day after I wrote this. I had to break company policy because if the pictures are honest, this is a miracle worker for people with troubled soles. Flexitol makes a line of foot products that we might not want visitors to see, but we definitely all need after a summer donning strappy sandals, high wedges, and soot-magnate flip-flops. The anti-fungal liquid contains a 25% solution of Undeclyenic Acid, a chemical that stops the growth of fungus, and can be used to treat toenail fungus or athletes foot; the product also contains eucalyptus oil, alcohol, and Melaleuca Oil, an extract derived from the Australian plant otherwise known as the Tea Tree. The company also makes a cream to heal dry, peeling feet, which contains aloe, menthol, mineral oil, glycerin, and a 1 percent solution of the anti-fungal chemical, Tolnaftate. Finally, there’s the heel balm, for rough, cracked heels; like the cream it contains uera, a moisturizing and exfoliating element often found in Eczema creams. Between the overwhelming menthol in the cream and the heel balm, which feels like a mix of lotion and Vaseline, these are best used at night, after a shower, before bed. Though there are no known side effects, people using the liquid should check with a doctor first if they have any unordinary circumstances, such as diabetes or if they are nursing. Products are available at Walgreens and http://www.drugstore.com for $8-10.

Originally published September 2005
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