Inez van Lamsweerde recently said something that got me thinking about all of the lotions and potions that I’ve been slathering on my face as of late. She was talking about her favorite products, and why she loves them, and how she is loyal to them…but then she paused and reflected, “You could have used something else and your skin would have been better, but you never know because you choose that one cream and you think it works, but you don’t know if you could have looked even better with another cream.”
AHHH BEAUTY EXISTENTIAL CRISIS!!! In me, that is. How true is this? How many half-finished jars/tubes/cans do you have in your bathroom? And, if an item runs out, do you buy the same thing again, or do you try something else? AND, if you DO look markedly better, is it from the cleanser, the toner, the serum or the lotion in your multi-step routine? Or, could it be that mask that you only use once a week. Which layer is making what difference?
Nearly six months after my last skin care report, products have come and gone from my cabinet—from science-y gels developed by top-tier doctors to organic creams that expire within two weeks. Here’s what’s working for me…I think.
Standbys include my beloved Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser, and the one-two punch of Aesop’s Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream + Fabulous Face Oil. But I’m mixing it up. For example: I’ve become obsessed with the Clarisonic (who isn’t, judging from the mentions on this site), which I use every other morning with a squeeze of Perricone MD’s Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser on the bristles. My skin is sensitive but the Clarisonic really does “rattle out” (Kate Young’s words) impurities, and the fragrance-free, silky cleanser is sort of like a suped-up Cetaphil with antioxidants.
When my skin is still damp I mist thermal spring water from La Roche-Posay or Avène over it—facialist Isabelle Bellis once told me that it’s a good way to neutralize the harshness of the tap water that you cleansed with. Seems very fancy, yes, but the point is, it’s also just a fun ritual. Then I go for the oil: a few drops of Joelle Ciocco’s Pure Concentrated Serum with Botanical Oils, to lock in moisture…while skin is still damp! As in, one quick tap with the towel and that’s it; otherwise you use way too much product and, yes, you will look greasy. I’m of the mindset that facial oil is like a primer for moisturizer—it helps it to blend and absorb easier. And, moisturizer is a crucial primer for foundation, as per complexion-perfector Tom Pecheux. At night I add one more thing. I feel like my skin’s texture isn’t what it used to be, so I’m bringing out the big guns (the science-y stuff) and using Lancôme’s Visionnaire serum. I’m in my mid-twenties so I try not to get too heavy into clinical products—I’d rather focus on moisture—but this serum makes me feel like I’m keeping my pores in check (read: small and clean).
The moisturizer that I can’t get enough of right now comes from Sunday Riley: she’s famous for her “ Juno” facial oil, but I think the real star of the show is this Bionic Anti-Aging Cream. It’s expensive, but it is good. The texture is sort of whipped and sweet, almost like a mango desert cream or something…velvety smooth and non-sticky. Apparently, it has the “Highest concentration of key ingredients to Rebuild Collagen, Stimulate Elastin Production, Densify the Skin, Reverse Photodamage, and Increase Skin Energy.” I’d have to go under a microscope (or one of those magnifying mirrors—no thanks…) to see about all that, but I just kind of pile it on, and I swear that it has some kind of plumping, luminosity-inducing effect. I’ve been using their eye cream too, or the Amore Pacific eye cream, which is a gel and de-puffs with caffeine and is popular with guys (maybe I’m swayed by the Secret M.O.: strong enough for a man…)
I keep a bottle of Bioderma Créaline—another ITG All Star…yes, it’s amazing—and a recycled Diptyque candle holder filled with cotton pads on my bedside table, for when I’m too lazy to go through a whole nighttime routine. A soaked pad over each eye, then swept across your face and presto: cleansed, toned, and conditioned skin in one step.
Portrait by Thomas Humery