People say that Trader Joe's shoppers have a higher satisfaction rate because there's only one brand of almond butter to choose from, which results in zero decision fatigue. Well, if my medicine cabinet is a grocery store, it's nothing like TJ's. The Emily Ferber Beauty Product Grocery Store stocks five types of almond butter, plus the cashew and hazelnut butter that costs like $10 a pound and you're never, ever going to buy it. (I'm a Jif girl, myself.) It is the definition of decision fatigue. In short, I have too many products.
Of course, that can be hard on skin. God knows mine has been having a little revolt lately. So, the following is something of a fall beauty diagnostic, with dry but problematic skin in mind. A little something for everyone, no? Here's what's been making its way from Glossier HQ, to my apartment, to my face and doing a pretty good job along the way.
These days I feel like I've been speed dating cleansers. Not that anything was wrong with the Glossier Milky Jelly (the only cleanser that holds residence in my shower) or my mainstay Avène Antirougeurs Dermo-Cleansing Milk (I will never desert you) I already had. But I've gotten so many convincing recommendations, I had to play tourist. Cassandra Grey, founder of LA boutique and ecomm heaven-in-browser Violet Grey, commanded me to try Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser. I have to hand it to her, it's a great product—I don't use it every day, but I pick it up when my skin needs a swift kick in the clear complexion pants. And it's gotten me on a total Indie Lee kick.
The other line I've thrown myself at full-throttle is True Botanicals. Because just look at Susan Lyne... I will have whatever she is having. Which is apparently everything True Botanicals. And I've been loving their Hydrating Cleanser from the Renew line. It's gentle and moisturizing—a very good alternative to my mainstays if you're looking for an organic option.
(For the record, at night I take my makeup off before cleansing with La Mer's Cleansing Micellar Water. It's unnecessarily luxurious and leaves no residue on your face after the fact. Truly a lovely product.)
Toning, however, has been a bit of an uphill battle for me. When breakouts started becoming a normal thing, I turned to Paula's Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid, which is really serious stuff that makes your pores cower in terror. It's good, but if you have dry skin, I have two rules for you: 1. Don't let anyone ever tell you you don't have dry skin just because you're breaking out. And 2. Limit your use of BHAs and AHAs to a few days a week. I know you want to kill the acne bacteria and smooth away the bumps—and you will!—but you need to give your skin a few days to recover from your heavy-lifting treatments. On off-days, I'm toning with Glossier Soothing Face Mist on a cotton pad and adding a layer of Nelsons Acne Treatment Gel overnight, and only on affected areas. It's gentle, it's cooling, and it's $9 on Amazon.
If a zit is serious, I turn to Peter Thomas Roth's Theraputic Sulfur Acne Mask, but as a spot treatment. The moment you realize you don't need it everywhere is a liberating one.
True acne treatments aside, I've found nothing better to soothe redness than Dr. Barbara Sturm's Calming Serum. If her blood cream is any indication of how good she is, I'll say that I think the Calming Serum is actually her hero product. I sweep on the gentle milk upward and all of a sudden, I'm working with a new face. On top of that, I'm liking Dr. Jart's new Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream. It's like a lighter version of Weleda's Skin Food, which I only bring out in case of flakey skin emergency. Dr. Jart's version is balmy, but it soaks in right away. On nights I want intense repair, I add about four drops of Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum on top of that to seal it all in.
Now for makeup. If you think I did the lovely application you see in the photos, you would be wrong. That face is courtesy of Jakob Sherwood, a makeup artist and hairstylist so chill he had no problem helping me out at 9am on a Saturday morning in LA for these photos. He prepped me with Tom Ford Traceless Foundation in Alabaster—but most days I just smear a combination of Glossier Stretch Concealer and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer on with a Beautyblender. My main takeaway was Jakob's eye shadow use—under my eyes. Since my high school days of heavy black liner only on my bottom lash line, I've stayed away from makeup near my eye bags, but that's all going to change now. He used Tom Ford's Nude Dip—did you click that? Click that and look at how dreamy it is. So dreamy that when I left and went immediately to the airport, I washed all my makeup off except for my eye shadow. I then watched the Cubs win against the Dodgers on the inflight TV and figured the eye shadow job was probably good luck.
When left to my own devices, my lipstick and blush is thanks to one tube of Lipstick Queen's Frog Prince. You remember those Moroccan magic lipsticks? It's like that. This version is super hydrating and dewy on cheek and lips. Plus it keeps selling out at Space NK, so it seems the people have spoken. If you find it, stock up.
Emily Ferber photographed by Tom Newton in Los Angeles. Emily is wearing an Anine Bing sweater and Levi's from The Vintage Twin.