Skin care. Specifically: the skin on my face.
August 20, 2011 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Do I really need more than hot water and Ivory soap to keep the skin on my face clean and healthy? Are any of the more expensive cosmetics brands really worth the extra money?

I'm 42, so you'd think I'd have the answers to life, the universe, and skin care. But I've never paid attention to the "health and beauty" products out there, and I'm starting to wonder if any of them do what they promise, and, if so, do I need them.

My skin is pretty much normal; I don't get any kind of acne or cysts or oily skin except during my menstrual cycle. Now that I've entered my 40's, however, I'm curious as to whether there's anything on the market that I should be using. Cosmetics is a multi-billion dollar industry, so I don't believe that all these and scrubs and primers and toners and sheer tinted moisturizing sun-blocks and vitamin creams are worth the plastic tubs they are packaged in. On the other hand, I don't believe that none of them is worthwhile.

I've never been a sun-bather, and I don't smoke (at all) or drink (other than an occasional glass of wine), so that's been a great help. So:

1) Women of MetaFilter, especially those in your early 40's: are there skin-care products on the market that are worth using? Do I want things like i.d.'s bareVitamins skin rever-upper Murad's Oil-Free Sunblock SPF15 Sheer Tint? Sephora's Age defy eye cream? Dr. Brandt's lineless cream age-inhibitor complex? Exfoliant scrubs? Avocado masks? Toners? And, for those creams/gels/serums that are meant to be used overnight—how do you keep them from smearing all over your pillows?

I can't afford to try all of these out—especially for the length of time it takes to "see results," so I'm hoping some of you have had terrible (or awful) experiences that you can relate.

2) I'm starting to wear a bit of makeup (job interviews, etc.). Do I want/need mineral-powder makeup? Is the mineral powder craze built on hype, or built on product performance? Will I see a far more attractive face if I splurge on Cargo and Smashbox and MAC eyeshadow and blush, or can I just grab Cover Girl extra-fair foundation, black mascara, and sheer lipgloss at Walgreens, and have done with it?

I've been really impressed with how the women look when Carmindy uses that spray foundation applied with non-latex sponges on What Not to Wear, but the big silver bottle is always positioned so that you can't see the brand. I looked at the spray foundations in her own cosmetics line, and… it's clearly not that product.

Also, the vast majority of eyeshadow on the market is iridescent, and that settles into the (recent) wrinkles and folds in my eyelids like nobody's business, but I've had a really hard time finding matte eye shadows. Plus, there are pencil eyeliners, liquid eyeliners, cream eyeliners that come in a little pot and include a brush… ARGH.

What do I use to take all of this off? I've noticed Ivory soap will not do the job when it comes to mascara....

I'd like to not have to spend a fortune on my skin care and beauty regimen, but it's come to the point where I need a some help choosing worthwhile products, even if they cost a little more.

tl;dr: have any of you of you found a beauty/skin-care product that does exactly what it says on the tin, and do you find that it's made a big difference, or even a tiny, noticeable change?

I've read this ask, and this ask, and this ask, but, while they have some good info, none of them cover the specific kind of answers I'm looking for.

Any help out there?
posted by tzikeh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (44 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
"can I just grab Cover Girl extra-fair foundation, black mascara, and sheer lipgloss at Walgreens, and have done with it?"


As far as mascara removal, soap is pretty harsh, as you've probably found. There's a reason why Pond's Cold Cream has been on the market for generations. It takes off mascara, and anything else on your face. (You'll want to wash your face afterward with your trusty Ivory, though.)
posted by BostonTerrier at 12:01 PM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover is the best of the removers that I've tried. For recommendations on makeup, do you have a Sephora near you? If you go in and explain what you're looking for, they will happily help you. (I promise that you can get non-iridescent eye shadow there.)
posted by corey flood at 12:01 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a woman, but my mom is. She swears by a product called Bio Oil, which is apparently designed for "scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, ageing skin and dehydrated skin". She says it's the only thing that helps with her dry skin. She uses it on her face and it does seem to make a difference (to my very untrained eyes, anyway). Ingredients list here.
posted by Solomon at 12:02 PM on August 20, 2011

I should add that she's been using it for less than a month and is already discussing it with her similarly aged friends.
posted by Solomon at 12:03 PM on August 20, 2011

Best answer: If eyeshadow is settling into your eyelids, you want a primer. Urban Decay Primer Potion is the big one, but I hear good things about TooFaced Shadow Insurance, too. You can usually get samples of each of those to see what you like better.

Do you use a moisturizer on your skin? You probably want something with SOME sort of SPF, even if you don't spend much time outside.

Sephora is amazing for giving out samples of stuff. Plus they have a great return policy. If you're looking more for drugstore stuff, CVS will take back practically anything.

You might have fun poking around beauty blogs to see what new products people are talking about. One of my favorites is Nouveau Cheap, which is dedicated to all things drugstore.

The thing is, yes, there are a million products. But something that makes my dry, rosacea-prone skin glow might give you a pack of zits the likes you haven't seen since you were thirteen. People talk about their Holy Grail products for a reason.
posted by sugarfish at 12:08 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I (and many others) love Philosophy Purity cleanser. I don't wear a ton of makeup, but I do use liquid liner and non-waterproof mascara almost every day and it takes all that off. It's one-stop shopping - you don't need another cleanser to wash it off like many eye makeup removers.
posted by CheeseLouise at 12:12 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: Wow - great and fast responses so far!

Do you use a moisturizer on your skin?

I don't have dry skin; do I still need a moisturizer?

As for SPF, I keep hearing conflicting reports about how high the number needs to be, how much you need to apply, how long before you go out should you apply it, etc. So again, my eyes get crossed.
posted by tzikeh at 12:16 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: do you have a Sephora near you? If you go in and explain what you're looking for, they will happily help you.

I do have several Sephoras near me, and I've gone in and explained. The problem is that, again, they offer like nine possible products and oh my LORD are they expensive.

(I promise that you can get non-iridescent eye shadow there.)

Shockingly, the two Sephoras I've visited so far have said that no, they don't carry any, and they're extremely hard to come by.
posted by tzikeh at 12:17 PM on August 20, 2011

I'm your age and also very fair and every drugstore foundation I've tried ends up looking orange on me - maybe not immediately, but after a few hours. I like Sephora's tinted moisturizer for sheer coverage and Stila's has a little more shimmer.
posted by sweet Annie Rich at 12:18 PM on August 20, 2011

Best answer: Go to your local drugstore and pick up a moisturizer with SPF. 15 is probably enough, but if you're very fair, maybe go for 30. I like Oil of Olay, but the store brand or whatever is on sale is probably just fine. Even if your skin isn't dry, a moisturizer will make it softer and let makeup spread more evenly, and the SPF will protect it from sun damage.

I'd also try out a drugstore brand gentle cleanser meant for the face, instead of soap. People really like Cetaphil. I've also had good luck with Eucerin, especially when the air is really dry. It'll be easier on your skin and be more likely to thoroughly remove your makeup.

All of these expensive products are designed for people who really care about beauty products and like trying out new looks. I'm not one of those people, and given that you've spent 40 years not doing much of anything with your skin, I doubt you are either. Get a facial cleanser, get a moisturizer with SPF, buy your makeup at the drugstore, and go back to enjoying your life without worrying about whether you're using the exact right combination of beauty products.
posted by decathecting at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

I tend to think some of the nicer brand cosmetics last through the day longer (esp. eye shadow and foundation) and give me more prettifying results, but that could just be my own bias. nthing recommendations to go to Sephora and soak up the freebies--they let you try positively anything! I mooched off Sephora so much during my broke intern summer. I have a few set things I splurge on (eye color, concealer, tinted moisturizer) and go drugstore-fab on the rest.

For goodness sake, please use SOME kind of sun protection daily! :) And not just for beauty reasons! I use a moisturizer (tinted or not) with a basic SPF in it (20?) every day. Protect your skin from the sun whether you plan to be out in it or not.
posted by ninjakins at 12:37 PM on August 20, 2011

Best answer: Get yourself an account at MakeupAlley and start checking out the product reviews - this is where I've discovered most of the stuff I use, both cheap and more expensive.
posted by HopperFan at 12:39 PM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're looking for mattte eyeshadow (go here, chose shop by finish, drop down to matte) you want MAC. You can go to either the freestanding store, or a counter in a department store, but they have a solid selection of matte shades that you can buy individually. Don't be off-put that they have some of the most extreme looking counter ladies. (Fishnets and hotpants, oh, my!) If you're clear about what you want, you can get a subtle look. If you want advice, not just to purchase, it can be useful to go when it's less busy. (Not weekend afternoons).
posted by mercredi at 12:51 PM on August 20, 2011

In my experience, finding the best possible beauty product is sort of tricky, because there are good and bad products at all price points. Usually the very cheapest stuff is sucky, the very expensive stuff is a ripoff, and there's a wide range of stuff in the middle that are generally decent, but are sometimes great or crappy.

Makeup Alley is an awesome resource that will help you immensely - there you'll find out what's worth the money and what's not.

Another thing that's helped me: I stopped reading the catalogs and emails I got from Sephora. Don't get me wrong, I love Sephora, but they're full of expensive products with insane claims and the miracle ingredient du jour. None of these products will change your life. You don't need hairspray with electrolytes and phytonutrients, really.

One thing I do always plug in makeup AskMes, however, is eyeshadow primer. Once you try it, you'll wonder how you lived without it. I use Urban Decay Primer Potion, as sugarfish mentions above. L'Oreal makes a decent primer, too, if you want to keep your shopping in the drugstore.

I also love MAC for eyeshadow. They have shades aplenty, including neutrals, and definitely including mattes. Sephora doesn't carry MAC - check Nordstrom or Macy's. Most drugstore eyeshadows are fine, though, especially if you use primer.

Oh, and plain lotion removes mascara, but get something mild and fragrance-free.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:57 PM on August 20, 2011

Best answer: Personally, I think it's worth spending the $$ on a high-end foundation that matches your skin perfectly - one that you can try out in the store. If you go to Sephora, you can even take a sample home and try it out for a couple days, and make sure it looks good in all kinds of lighting, just ask the sales assistant for a sample. I like Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer - it's very natural looking, and it evens my skin tone out.

I buy a mix of high-end and drugstore makeup, but there's no need to buy high-end for most other products. You can buy everything else at the drugstore.

Mascara: Maybelline makes a lot of great ones - Full & Soft is good for a more natural look, and The Falsies is good for a more dramatic look,
Lipstick: I like the Revlon Colorburst line
Blush: Milani baked blush is great, but does have some shimmer, I don't know if that's your thing
Eyeshadow: Wet n Wild (mostly shimmery, though they do have some matte shades)
Eyeshadow primer: NYX high definition eyeshadow primer (you can find this at Ulta, if you have one.)
Eyeliner pencil: Milani liquif'eye eyeliner
Gel eyeliner (comes in a little pot, you use a brush): Maybelline

I don't wear lipgloss so I don't have any recommendations there.

You definitely don't need to use all these products though! For a basic look, I'd recommend the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, blush, mascara, and lipstick or lipgloss.

The bonus about that look is you would only need one brush, a blush brush. I like the $3 ELF blush brush that you can buy at Target. If you do end up using eyeshadow, my favorite inexpensive eyeshadow brush is the $1 ELF basic eyeshadow brush.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:20 PM on August 20, 2011

I have ten-years-younger skin. It's mostly genes and staying out of the sun - there's nothing cosmetics can do to fight bad combinations of those factors.

I do find that without a moisturizer my skin feels tight, and I think sunscreen is a good idea every day. So I always slap on Oil of Olay (for sensitive skin, as it's unscented) after a morning shower. Sometimes I use Aveeno instead if it's on sale. The Aveeno isn't as unscented as the Olay. Both are drugstore items.

Here's a cheap drugstore tip for eyeshadow primer: Use monistat brand anti-chafing lotion instead. Yes, really. Compare the ingredients.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:26 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just want to 2nd MAC. If you go there, or call and make an appointment, just tell the makeup artist - and to be clear, those "counter girls" at MAC are trained makeup artists - you want an easy, no frills daytime look. S/he will be really happy to help you, and won't push crazy stuff on you, in my experience. I've never had them be pushy with me at all. Their stuff has staying power, so it isn't all gone in an hour, and it is quality. I have enough of a family history with makeup allergy that quality is a top priority for me.

Also 2nding Pond's Cold Cream.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:51 PM on August 20, 2011

MAC is great, agreed -- but for inexpensive matte eyeshadow try Physicians Formula. Lasts well, decent naturalistic colors, and dead cheap. FWIW, I'm 39 and have found the more I stay away from silicone drugstore stuff they better off my skin is. I mostly use Meow Cosmetics (name kills me, but great stuff) for my base, a swipe of MAC gel liner, and a little hazelnut oil for moisture when I need it.
posted by princessmonster at 2:23 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am, at this very minute, getting tarted up for a gala (that I would really rather not attend but whatevs) and I used, for the first time, the Too Faced primer mentioned above, and IT IS MAGICAL. Seriously I think it is made of dried unicorn tears or something, I look fucking rad.

I'm lazy as hell about makeup (because when I really give it my all I tend to look like an elderly drunk transvestite in extreme crisis), so today I'm just wearing the Too Faced Magic Wand foundation in hollywood medium, a tiny bit of black liquid eyeliner, and some Too Faced bronzer on my cheeks and lids. And fake eyelashes because mascara is the vile eye crust of satan.

Also I think I just used brown eyeliner pencil as lipliner. Oops.

As for removing it all, I just use a cotton pad and some aveeno unscented moisturizer. That gets off everything but the eyelash glue - I have some weird Shu Uemura oily stuff for that, no idea what it's called as there does not appear to be any english on the bottle.

But yeah, for the most part I don't look like I'm wearing makeup, which I assume is the look you're going for. I just look healthy and well-rested and a little bit tan.
posted by elizardbits at 3:20 PM on August 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think a lot of skin health is just genetics, not smoking, and sunscreen use. My whole family has young looking skin without doing much special.

For years I just washed my face with cold water + whatever soap was by the sink followed by lotion. But I could recommend this stuff as face cleanser: Avalon Organics Perfecting Facial Toner I pour some on a cotton pad and wipe my face. It is a bit expensive but to me it's worth it because it's faster and because it feels nice, isn't drying, takes off makeup well, and one bottle lasts forever (and for me because it's vegetarian and non animal tested).

For non sparkly eye shadows you might check out Alima's satin and pearl eyeshadows. They have a nice, professional finish, not too irridescent or glittery. You can get little sample jars. Their foundation is pretty good too. If you try mineral makeup don't forget to get some brushes.
posted by spiny at 3:41 PM on August 20, 2011

Hot water is bad. It will irritate your skin. Use lukewarm water instead.

Ivory Soap is bad. Generally speaking soap will irritate facial skin because it contains a number of irritating ingredients, including camphor and phenol. The PH balance of soap is very favourable to acne bacteria. Soap is bad mmkay. Use Cetaphil instead.

At night, one wash with Cetaphil should get all your makeup off. Follow up with a wash to cleanse, and then a final rinse. Refill your basin each time.

For moisturizer, use Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion.

For the acne, add a 2% salicylic acid wash. This is made by Garnier and Neutrogena, but of these two, the Garnier was the one that stopped my breakouts. Splash your face with lukewarm water, do something else like brushing your teeth for two minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this as your only wash in the morning, and then again in the evening, after the Cetaphil wash.

Follow this with 15 minutes of moisturization, each time.

At night, get some 2.5% benzoyl peroxide (PanOxyl makes this) and apply it after the moisturizing step and leave it for 30 minutes. Any less and it will not be on your skin long enough to do the job. Avoid your eyebrows and hairline with this stuff because it bleaches.

After 30 minutes of PanOxyl, more moisturizer.

In the morning, after moisturizing for at least 10 minutes, you need to add sunscreen. It will be difficult to find one that doesn't make you break out, but keep trying. If it's a chemical rather than a physical sunblock, leave it on for at least 10 minutes and maybe 30 before you apply anything else, so it can bind to your skin.

Those are the absolute basics. In general, you should get the cheapest product on the market that will work. The catch is that skincare is completely idiosyncratic, so the products I've recommended have worked for me, but they may very well not work for you. I do think they are the ones most likely to work. But the principle is, start at the bottom of the market and work your way up.

Go to Beautypedia for an ingredient-based analysis of the products on the market these days, and to separate fact from fiction. Cosmetic manufacturers are pretty much legally allowed to lie to you and steal your money; I guess this is trivial because it's only women and it's only our faces, so what cares the consumer rights world for such womanish fiddle faddle. Go figure.
posted by tel3path at 3:46 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bliss Cleansing Milk is the facial cleanser I've been using for the past 2 years, and I really like it. No foaming or suds, and it gets the make up off. Its pricey at $28.00, but a bottle will last at least 12 weeks and it's the only product I've used that my skin doesn't have a negative reaction to.

I'm in my early 40's and the two things I spend money on for make up is cleanser and foundation. I use a tint with spf, and mineral make up for coverage (Pixi Illuminating Tint and Bare Minerals foundation). Cleaning, moisturizing, then makeup takes about 20 minutes total for me in the morning, and it lasts all day (exception is lip color, that I have to reapply).

The last thing I can recommend it let whatever cleanser you end up using sit on your face for a few minutes. Gently massage it in and when you wipe it off, go light on the rubbing, especially around the eyes. I've started using luke warm water when rinsing my face, and my skin is much better for it. Too hot water makes me red and splotchy for hours.
posted by lootie777 at 3:53 PM on August 20, 2011

I'm surprised Sephora told you they didn't carry any matte eye shadow. That is simply untrue, and it sounds like you got a very unhelpful SA. :( If you like palettes (I love them; so many pretties in one package!), there's a new all-matte eye shadow palette by Too Faced (here on Sephora). I haven't tried it myself, though, because, well, I like shimmery things.

Makeup Alley (which I adore, but I'm a Nail Board gal, not Makeup so much) might be a bit overwhelming for someone not interested in general, but the info really is good there. The keyword for searching things that might be better for you is going to be "mature" or "mature skin."
posted by lysimache at 4:18 PM on August 20, 2011

I'm 41, so we're close in age.

I don't use soap on my face. Rather, for daily washing, just warm water and a nice washcloth. Once a week (every three days in the winter), I use a shea butter sugar scrub from Foam On The Range. (I also use their Clary Sage and Lemongrass lotion for facial moisturizer, and one of about a half dozen of their lip balms all day long and right before bed.) After washing my face, a bit of Thayer's lavender witch hazel as toner before moisturizing.

As far as makeup goes, I primarily use Urban Decay. I am overly fond of sparkly, dramatic eye makeup, but they do have a few matte shades, as well. Can't echo the recs for their eyeshadow Primer Potion loudly enough, that stuff is MAGIC. For makeup removal, I'm all about their Clean and Sober eye makeup remover. (Currently out of stock at UD proper, but Sephora has it in stock.)

Drink lots of water, take a good multivitamin. These two things are the nicest things you can do for your skin.
posted by MissySedai at 4:20 PM on August 20, 2011

Things that have worked for me: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream (purchased two-in-a-pack at Costco); you would have to start wearing something with SPF the day after, though (I use Oil of Olay with SPF or Target's knockoff version of it). This "cream" is more of a lotion; you'd apply in dabs and spread it around, then it soaks in so nothing would get on your pillow. The retinol ingredient will cause redness initially; I would guess most people either work up to using it nightly or maybe only apply a few nights a week.

L'Oreal Lash Serum made my eyelashes and eyebrows thicker. Nutiva organic extra virgin coconut oil is the best body moisturizer I've used (also handy as a shaving lotion, hair treatment, cuticle treatment... too much to list) and a jar lasts a good long time. Tarte makes a "natural beauty cheek stain" (a natural-looking cream blush that I have also used under lip balm) that's packaged in a push-up stick (I use clean fingers to apply it). I've had my container for more than a year. Seconding the Monistat Anti-chafing gel for primer use, and nthing a makeupalley account. When you find products that work for you, look at Amazon's pricing for them.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:21 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

- If the hot water + Ivory thing gives you skin that behaves, I wouldn't change your regimen too drastically. Definitely try warm water + soap/cleanser specifically formulated for the face though, as what you're currently doing can be pretty harsh on your skin. Or even try Cetaphil as suggested above. I'm not in love with it myself (I need bubbles to feel clean, apparently), but my mother, who has rosacea, LOVES it.

- You absolutely don't need to splurge to get good quality makeup. I might stick with higher-end foundation though, just because the drugstore stuff rarely has a wide enough range of colors to suit everyone. (But if you're lucky enough to find a perfect match, stick with it!) Eyeshadow can also be tricky, especially matte shades, but if I'm not mistaken both NYX and L'Oreal HIP have mattes, and both brands are good quality and affordable. For higher end, Urban Decay has a few mattes, and I've noticed them on sale a lot lately, so that may be worth checking out.

- Nthing the suggestion for eyeshadow primer. I can't LIVE without my Urban Decay Primer Potion. I can't say I've had the same experience fingersandtoes had with using the Monistat anti-chafe gel on my eyes though. It may just be my oily lids, but it didn't really do anything for me other than make the shadow go on smoother initially--I still had a brightly-colored greasy streak in my crease a couple hours later. (Ew.) The Monistat gel is literally the same thing as Smashbox Photo Finish Primer though, so I definitely recommend it as a substitute for that. (Also! Should you ever feel the need to get the $30 Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, DON'T. A $1.50 sample of Silica Microspheres from TKB Trading can fill a decent-sized jar and is the Same. Effin'. Thing. You'll have a nice, soft-focus finish for the price of a Coke. Plus, if you're feelin' crafty you can also order pigments and whatnot from TKB and make your own blushes/shadows/lip glosses for next to nothing. It's fun!)

- Also nthing the recommendations for Makeupalley. The reviews have saved me from many an overpriced purchase, and have shown me where to find the hidden gems in the drugstore. I always check them out before I make beauty-related purchases.
posted by covert werewolf at 4:29 PM on August 20, 2011

Hie thee to and check out the "how to be a girl" video tutorials and columns. They are a fabulous place for a total beginner to start, and Jane Marie (née Feltes) knows her shit.

Also, some we horas really don't carry a wide range of anything. They used to, but when they were bought a few years ago, they started narrowing down their lines to ones their parent company owns. you'll find a wider range of makeup and helpful assistants who know what to do with non teenagers at your local Nordstrom. Not every brand is pricey, though some are, so be warned.
posted by kumquatmay at 5:08 PM on August 20, 2011

I am 40 with non-problem skin, prone to slight redness & a few monthly period pimples.
Recently I switched to Gamila soap and I am thrilled. Skin is more even & the monthly pimples are gone. It's expensive but kept dry and not left to melt into soap goo, lasts a long time.

I just use some Aveeno moisturizer ($14 or less because CVS has a knockoff, I believe) each morning mixed with a little tinted moisturizer (Benefit's You Rebel Lite). On rough days (ill, jet leg, etc) I also use a little Benefit That Gal face primer because it makes me look more awake.
For humid Atlanta, Urban Decay's eyeshadow primer is fab. I also like their lipstain.

I enjoy playing with makeup so I think experimenting is good. I tend to like Benefit because in my experience they are great about putting stuff on you to try. The best impromptu makeover I ever got was in grad school when I stopped by the Boots in Liverpool Street Station in London at the Benefit counter.
posted by pointystick at 5:18 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: Wow - a LOT of great advice, though, as I expected, a variety of suggestions on facial cleanser. I'm glad I live in Chicago; I have several Sephoras, an Ulta, and a MAC store--all easily accessible by public trans.

My skin is definitely "younger" skin; simply lucking out with genes, I suppose (plus the non-smoking, staying-out-of-the-sun stuff). I know I should drink more water; that's on my list for a number of reasons.

So, here's what I'm taking away so far:

  • Some kind of tinted moisturizer with SPF
  • Pond's Cold Cream
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion (holy cow I had no idea one product could be so popular with so many different women)
  • A trip to MAC for suggestions from the makeup artists
  • A trip to Sephora to see what kind of freebies I can get, especially Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer and some makeup removers (do I need to purchase something first?)
  • Join the Makeup Alley website
  • drugstore mascara, eyeliner, lipgloss
  • Cetaphil
  • Monistat brand anti-chafing lotion (that's... kind of amazing that someone, somewhere, thought "Hey, I'm gonna put this on my FACE!", but hurrah for adventursome people who make excellent discoveries by trying bizarre things)
  • Foam On The Range Shea Butter Sugar Scrub
  • RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream I knew I could count on you. Heck, if the Primer Potion is as good as you're all saying it is, I can go back to wearing some iridescent eye shadow!

posted by tzikeh at 5:40 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hm. Taking back the possible on RoC Retinol--a quick google search tells me that one of the ingredients, BHT, is a suspected mutagen and carcinogen. Not so interested anymore. I'll have to do further research on eye-wrinkle creams.

Also I forgot to close my list up there. "I knew I could count on you" and so on should be after the bullet points. D'oh!
posted by tzikeh at 5:53 PM on August 20, 2011

I don't use soap on my face. Rather, for daily washing, just warm water and a nice washcloth.

I'm another one in her 40s that doesn't use cleanser on a daily basis, but when I do I use Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser.

I have Rosacea that is mostly under control, but when I have a flare up or irritation of any kind I use Pure Transformation Night Treatment by Bare Essentuals and it starts working almost immediately*. I don't know what's in it or how it works -- I could be buying ground-up magic beans here -- but it just does. It also works on redness from waxing and tweezing. It's not cheap, but my first container lasted well over a year. It's definitely my desert island product.

Random advice:Be careful when using silicone-based products. They look and feel great, but some people are sensitive to them. I tried a bunch but they all messed my skin up after a few days. Also, fragrance-free skin care is noticeably better on my skin.

One last thought: My dermatologist told me that under normal conditions, she doesn't think a morning cleansing is necessary at all if you have a nightly cleansing routine. I know the thought of not washing your face in the morning squicks some people out, but my skin is so much happier now. In my case my good skin is mostly from good genes so my approach is more about not causing harm rather than preventing or fixing it.

*They say you're only supposed to use it at night but I use it whenever I need to.

I should be able to recommend a sunscreen but I can't because I still haven't found one that doesn't wreak havoc on my skin.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:23 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: I have no problem only washing my face at night. Really, if I haven't done much of anything that day, I don't wash my face at all. My skin doesn't seem to suffer from it.
posted by tzikeh at 7:50 PM on August 20, 2011

Seconding Philosophy's Purity & Oil of Olay w/SPF. Huge change for the better for me!
posted by theredpen at 10:07 PM on August 20, 2011

(I promise that you can get non-iridescent eye shadow there.)

Shockingly, the two Sephoras I've visited so far have said that no, they don't carry any, and they're extremely hard to come by.

Oof, I'm so sorry they told you that. I picked up a Smashbox palette with several matte eye shadows last spring and figured that things couldn't have changed so dramatically over five months. You might also try the Sonia Kashiuk line at Target.

Just wanted to throw in another vote for Cetaphil. I recently saw an article by "natural" skincare practitioners decrying how evil Cetaphil is, but it was recommended to me by the dermatologist who has taken care of my family for 20 years. She uses it on herself, FWIW.
posted by corey flood at 11:06 PM on August 20, 2011

I love Clinique's High Impact Mascara because it rinses off with water, and I don't need a makeup remover to get rid.
posted by hannahlambda at 2:12 AM on August 21, 2011

I'm nearly 42 and am constantly told I look much younger than I am, which I attribute to wearing a moisturiser with SPF every day since my early 20s. Apart from that I don't really do much with my skin; I haven't used soap on it for years and in fact usually just wash it with water under the shower. I use a moisturiser at night if my skin feels particularly dry, which it often does in summer. I don't use scrubs or masks or anything like that these days - it gets an occasional scrub with a washcloth in the shower and that's all. I have good skin and only get the occasional pimple when I'm stressed.

My main indulgence is that I do like a nice light toner for the summer months when I get home and my skin feels all greasy and sweaty. At the moment I'm using a nice rosewater from Perfect Potion, which I doubt you can get in the US but I'm sure you can get something similar.

In my younger days I sometimes used masks and eye gels and stuff, but I honestly doubt they did much except to make me feel I was doing something.
posted by andraste at 6:21 AM on August 21, 2011

the vast majority of eyeshadow on the market is iridescent

Ben Nye's theatrical eyeshadow is wonderfully matte, comes in a lot of colors, and has terrific coverage. Thankfully I can buy it around the corner, but in Chicago you should be able to find it pretty easily too. (I also recommend their cake eyeliner. Way easier to apply with a real brush than liquid.)
posted by mimi at 9:04 AM on August 21, 2011

Cheap, all-natural, feels-great face scrub/moisturizer: olive oil + table sugar.
posted by Scram at 9:11 AM on August 21, 2011

Can't recommend highly enough:
posted by Salamandrous at 9:35 AM on August 21, 2011

Sunscreen is confusing, but it is SO IMPORTANT. The biggest anti-aging thing one can do is wear it all day, every day. Especially with many other skin products that can increase photosensitivity.
Yes, some sunscreens are unstable/need to be applied a lot/etc. Some of them begin to break down and begin to amplify sun damage rather than protecting from it after only a few hours. This includes many primers and tinted moisturizers with primer. Just use one with physical blockers (titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide) instead. Some have a white cast, but if you're pale like me, you're okay, it's not too bad. Use 1/4 tsp of any sunscreen for your face, or you're not using enough. I use Burnout SPF 32, and it's wonderful.

But, physical sunscreens need to be cleaned off really well - face wash won't cut it. I got little breakouts and clogged pores when I started using Burnout, until I started with a cleansing oil. Cleansing oil is different than the oil cleansing method. A cleansing oil is an oil with emulsifiers added in - I buy mine on etsy but several good ones are available. You massage the oil into your face, which picks up all the gross stuff (and cleans your pores really well) and then it rinses clean with water since it has the emulsifiers in it. I'm incredible acne-prone and lighter oils don't bother me at all for this. If you want, you can follow it up with another face wash, but I don't.

Don't use physical scrubs. Use chemical ones. If you have any scarring, pigmentation problems, etc, try a weekly peel: MUAC peels (I use the 40% lactoc acid, which isn't very strong), used weekly, work wonders. They seem scary, but they aren't. Pricey, but they last forever (and when you're on their mailing list, they have 15-20% off every so often). Peels are my skincare crack: they're amazing. But, especially when using them, please god use sunscreen. In general, use sunscreen.

Retinols are also good for anti-aging. Rentin-A is the gold standard but you need a prescription (usually a general practitioner will be happy to prescribe basic skincare, I got clindamycin for my acne from a normal checkup). Other good things are antioxidants (Vitamin C is good) and exfoliation (see peels, above).

Eye cream is unnecessary - just use normal moisturizer, unless you really need something heavier. Usually, you can just use what you use on the rest of your face (sunscreen included) on the eye area, but of course be gentle. If you get little bumps (called milia) around your eyes, your eye cream is too heavy.

And yep, makeupalley's skin board knows all. Some people are scared of it. They shouldn't be. It's great.

Makeup - also makeupalley, as well as *some* youtube artists (some are just awful though.) I like alima's matte eyeshadows, and you sound like someone that would prefer more pure/natural products, so I suggest ordering some samples from them - the sizes are generous and you'll get plenty of uses from them. Get some basic brushes from e.l.f.'s pro line - and if you order from them without using an excellent discount code, you're doing it wrong (retailmenot always have a good selection of them). Tinted moisturizer and concealer and the areas where I personally like to splurge. Laura Mercier is kind of the queen of that, although it don't come cheap. Other than that, elf's pro line, MAC, alima, are all good. Some drugstore stuff is good, but some sucks - definitely check makeupalley reviews first.
posted by 932 at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2011

If you really don't want to spend a bucketload on makeup and are interested in mineral makeup, the independent retailers have: better prices, purer (less fillers) mineral products, and sell samples so you don't have to commit to stuff you won't use. Try Lumiere, Everyday Minerals, and Silk Naturals. All of them sell matte eyeshadows as well as sparkles. I've used all these companies, and in spite of their not-amazing websites, would vouch for their products. Lumiere makes a great (for me) all over face primer (that seems to always be sold out). EM has a "try me free" special that is worth checking out if you want to try mineral makeup. I've been pleased with Silk Natural's skin care line- again, you can buy samples. Their DMAE serum is very effective and non-greasy.

I agree that a light moisturizer or serum is probably a good thing.

Mascara- I buy Cover Girl or Maybelline. I've tried more expensive brands from Sephora, and haven't been satisfied.

Primer for eyes is a good idea- you'll use less eyeshadow as well. Probably worth visiting Sephora or reading their primer reviews online. Of drugstore primers, I've been pretty happy with L'Oreal's Studio Secrets Professional Base, especially for the price.

I generally just look for stuff without a million and one ingredients. I wash my face at night with jojoba oil and use a serum from Silk Naturals or French Girl Organics. I hate big skincare routines and try to keep it minimal with just the occasional sugar and jojoba scrub or aspirin mask. I also hate paying big money for stuff that is made by smaller companies with the same or better ingredients. "Mineral Makeup" from big companies is often full of all kinds of other crap, so read the ingredient list.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2011

If you find yourself wearing mascara a lot, have your eyelashes dyed. It never smears, never needs to be taken off, and always looks perfect.

I have dry skin. I have a gently abrasive washcloth that I use to buff my face in the shower, no soap. I use lotion to take makeup off or a cold cream. It comes off so much easier than trying to scrub it off with soap and water. If my face feels oily after that, I might wash it but it rarely does.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:09 PM on August 21, 2011

Response by poster: 932: If you have any scarring, pigmentation problems, etc, try a weekly peel:

I'm very lucky in that my skin is pretty healthy (no scars, blotches, etc,; very little acne except during my period), and looks younger than 42 by about 10 years. But I know it's time to start taking serious care of it.

Retinols are also good for anti-aging.

I've been reading about retinols, and they all seem to have BHT as an ingredient, which is being categorized as a carcinogen all over the first world, so I'm not sure I want to go that route.
posted by tzikeh at 1:36 PM on August 21, 2011

Just chiming in to agree that, yes, you really need to wear sunscreen. I have super, super sensitive skin and I can use Neutrogena Sensitive Skin moisturizer.

As for the rest, I can't use any of it any more, but I used to swear by the inexpensive Oil of Olay moisturizers. My mother, who looks many years younger than her age, has used Oil of Olay products as far back as I can remember. She also religiously uses sunscreen due to a bout with Vitiligo years ago.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 5:01 PM on August 22, 2011

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