Skin Care

By Erin Williams

In new relationships the general protocol is that after a few months your significant other needs to exhibit some form of commitment to you to prove their resolution to stay in the partnership. Some people choose poems and flowers, others choose trips to faraway bed and breakfasts. Me, I choose skincare. I was on a search for the ultimate oily skincare regime for all my BeautyNewsNYC.com ladies, and my face is still recovering. But hey – now you really know I care, right? Good. So here are the things that I tried that are still in heavy rotation.

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We’ll start basic – cleansers. There were a few that are retaining their prime sink real estate. First was a line I hadn’t heard of called Repechage (www.repechage.com), and I specifically used the Hydra Refine Skincare for Normal to Oily Skin. All of the Hydra Refine products contain four main elements included in their makeup. (1) Laminaria Saccharina Seaweed is cold pressed, as are all of Repechage’s seaweeds, which help to give a larger dose of skin nutrients, trace elements, and amino acids. Specifically, laminaria saccharina helps to reduce sebum (oil) and fights oil oxidation, which contribute to the formation of blackheads, while still hydrating the skin. (2) Lemongrass is an antiseptic and astringent, making it an effective agent against bacteria formation. (3) Lily of the Valley (Farnesol) is more protection against bacteria and then (4) Cucumber is the softening, cooling, healing, and soothing ingredient. Its essential oil contains lots of yummy things for your skin – anti oxidants like Vitamin E and Zinc for healing, fatty acids that protect the skin, as well as proteolytic enzymes which refine skin and help keep pores clean. Their Hydra Refine Cleansing Mousse is a soap free formula that takes off all of your makeup and leaves you feeling soft as well as clean. I loved this! And I really liked that the formula in the cleanser was helping to clear up oil from the get go instead of waiting for the toner to do it.

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Two others I enjoyed were from the Mario Badescu line (www.mariobadescu.com) which will come up quite a bit. The Enzyme Cleanser is a gentle, non-foaming green gel that uses natural alpha hydroxy acids to remove all the guck from your face. Water, glycerin, papaya, and grapefruit are the main ingredients and it’s simple but it works. Their Glycolic Foaming Cleanser was something that I ended up using 1-2 times per week but you could use it every night if you like that squeaky-clean-no-oil-left-in-my-body feeling. As the name indicates, glycolic acids are used to break down the build up of oil and debris from your skin as well as helping to soften fine lines, reducing redness, and acne scarring. Because you’re using glycolic acids on your face you MUST use your sunscreen, which we’ll get to later.

Some people swear by astringents and/or toners while others view them as stuff and nonsense. I was admittedly on the fence before, but these products have changed my ways. Besides, they feel nice and can get any leftover makeup you missed. I love, love, love the Repechage Hydra Refine Astringent Pads. These guys are presoaked in all those wonderful ingredients we went over before, and they smell wonderful. They also contain mulberry and licorice extracts to brighten your skin as well as allantion and aloe vera to calm and soothe. Bottom line – they work and smell delicious.

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Joey of New York has Pure Pores One Step Toner and Moisturizer (www.sephora.com) which is about a medium toner due to the fact that it contains glycolic acid gel. Aloe vera juice is its base and herbal extracts round out the group to help with the total effect keeping your pores open and happy, healing blemishes, and smoothing fine lines. I like this a lot for photo shoots because it cleans your face but doesn’t strip it. You feel soft and not greasy.

However, if you like a super clean feeling, you’ll want to use an alcohol based toner like Mario Badescu’s Special Cucumber Lotion. Sodium sulfate and boric acid get you good and clean while cucumber extract is thrown in to soothe and refine your skin. Alcohol is good because it keeps the bacteria from spreading – especially when you’re sweating all over. It’s great after the gym or on a hot day to use it even on your chest and back – wherever your concerns are.

On to scrubs. ProActiv Solution’s Renewing Cleanser (www.proactivsolution.com) , which to me is a scrub because it’s got the little beady guys in it, is effective because it contains benzoyl peroxide which is great for oily skin. It helps to dry the oil as well as act as a treatment for bacteria. I also really like to mix it, half and half, with Mario Badescu’s Enzyme Cleaner for a little added kick.

And speaking of, Mario Badescu has their Kiwi Face Scrub. It is a fun green color and is full of real kiwi seeds as well as soft tiny bits of seaweed, which naturally buff away the surface dullness to reveal your natural glowing self. It smells like fruit salad and won’t irritate or dry your skin.

Now, my all time favorite item – masks. I don’t know if it’s the promises they make, the fun colors they are, or being forced to be semi still for 20 minutes, but I love masks. Of course I have some favorites. Astara’s Blue Flame Purification Mask (www.astaraskincare.com) comes in a little jar but it packs a punch. There is a virtual cornucopia of excellent ingredients in this including kaolin, bentonite, aloe vera gel, sage and tea tree oils, as well as echinacea root. It’s wonderful all over or as a spot treatment for blemishes, and it smells heavenly. Seriously, if you are a greasy girl, this needs a home on your sink.

Borghese’s Fango/Active Mud for Face and Body (www.borghese.com) is also manna from the skincare gods. Made with – get ready – the volcanic Acqua di Vita Complex Montecantini Mud, as well as peppermint and avocado oils, this mask will clean out dirt from when you were in high school. Get the big tub so you can use it on your body as well (you can even mix some sugar in it to make a cheaper scrub version). For the sissy girls, there’s the Delicato version which is more gentle.

If waiting isn’t your game, Repechage has their Hydra Refine One-Minute Clarifying Mask which contains tiny balls of rice bran wax and lactic acid to exfoliate. The reason I liked this mask a lot was because it truly cleaned my skin and absorbed oil but didn’t make me feel dry. My skin felt baby soft but not “filmy.” And it only took a minute.

I’m not a huge advocate of a moisturizer for myself in the summer (I know, I know, everyone needs to moisturize) but the single one I have found that doesn’t hurt my skin is the soy based Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 (www.drugstore.com). It’s oil free and contains natural light diffusers which are supposed to help even out your tone and texture. However, the sunscreen I use on a daily basis is Sage’s Waterproof SPF 40 (www.sageskincare.com). I love this sunscreen because it’s gentle on my skin, absorbs quickly, and doesn’t make me greasy. Stabilized aloe vera gel makes up the base and the formula blocks UVA and UVB rays.

Treatment products are my other vice. Joey New York’s Pure Pores Roll-On Blemish Fix, Urban Decay’s Sniper (www.urbandecay.com), and Benefit’s Boo Boo Zap (www.benefitcosmetics.com) are all good blemish spot treatments, and they’re listed here gentle to serious when it comes to their salicylic acid content. If redness is an issue, Mario Badescu’s Buffering Lotion heals affected areas and actually promotes growth on damaged skin. Sodium sulfate, zinc oxide, hydrolyzed yeast protein, and allantoin are all included and this product really works. It helps get the “underground” blemishes as well.

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Dr. Brandt Skincare (www.drbrandtskincare.com) has Pore Effect, which is a night time treatment containing the highest amount of salicylic acid before a prescription is required. The salicylic acid acts as an exfoliant and stimulates cellular turnover. Tea tree and rosemary are included as clarifiers, while palma rosa and lavender add calming effects. Once again, a serious product that does its job but doesn’t sting or make your skin beet red.

As a last resort I tried to staunch my oil supply. Honestly, it didn’t work out that well. If mattifiers didn’t break me out, they were ineffective. One that did work was Decleor’s Gel T-Zone Regulateur Intensive Anti-Shine Gel (www.decleor.com). Oil free, which oddly enough is not the norm in mattifiers, this gel contains tea tree which neutralizes germs that cause blemishes, Zinc and Vitamin A which regulate your sebum, and white nettle extract which “blots” your skin. If you’re noticing a theme going here you could try using regular old tea tree oil from the health food store. Its antiseptic properties make it a good oil, even for oily skin, that can help to even out your sebum production. Makes your face sound like a weird Broadway show doesn’t it? Astara makes a deluxe version named Facial Serum for Oily Skin containing all kinds of oils including tea tree as well as hazelnut, calendula, mandarin, and basil just to name a few.

Now, if the idea of putting oil onto your oily skin freaks you out, I feel you. BUT, these two had no adverse effects on my skin and they’re pretty mild.

If you’re still with me at this point I can give a few shout outs to products that did not personally work for me but I know that they are main contenders for others. For instance, the beauty level at Bergdorf Goodman here in NYC seems to be divided into two main groups – M.D. Skincare’s Alpha-Beta Peel Home Facial System and Dr. Brandt Skincare’s Poreless Cleanser (in conjunction with the Pore Effect mentioned earlier). M.D. Skincare’s Peel – made up of two sets of presoaked pads – contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as green tea and an oil free moisturizer. Dr. Brandt’s Poreless Cleanser contains citrus extracts as well as tea tree and rosemary so take your pick. I also have a strong follower of Decleor’s Arromessence Ylang Ylang’s Purifying Concentrate and Night Balm. This follows the principle of oily skin needing oil to regulate it.

If you haven’t found something that piques your interest or you have a product you love that wasn’t mentioned, write in and let me know. lt has become my personal mission to find a way to eliminate oilslicks! Until l reach that goal, I’ve decided to shine away and love it…knowing that with these products l can control the amount of shine and help regulate my skins surface and keep it clean and fresh looking without overdrying!

Originally published September 2003
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