Science My Beauty - or Debunk it!
June 17, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Getting married in a few months, which means I want to start any facial/beauty regimens now. I don't usually do this stuff, so am entranced by the field of options. However, I know that this field contains the biggest BS factor of any out there. Please give me your best ideas of things that are scientifically proven to work, or that there is at least some data about why it works or would or wouldn't work. Please also tell me which of the things I'm considering looking at are drecht or dangerous crazytown. Help me not waste my money or wind up maimed.

I have skin issues - prone to acne/blackheads, with slight dark "acne scarring" - ie not actual pocks, but dark places where acne used to be. I have ridiculously long hair: prone to split ends and breakage at the ends. I also am carrying more weight than I would like to be for the wedding itself.

Things I'm considering:

1. Facials. Is this worthwhile at all? Any particular ones?
2. Microdermabrasion
3. Chemical Peels
4. Lipotropic Injections
5. Lipo laser?
6. Any use in these hair treatments to make it smoother overall?

Bonus question: What am I not considering that I really should?
posted by corb to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (40 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen a dermatologist? I would not bother with any of this stuff without seeing a dermatologist first. Your health insurance may cover acne treatments (mine covers both the acne prevention and the drug that helped with the scarring).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'd go to a dermatologist over a spa or plastic surgeon for skin issues.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2013

6. Any use in these hair treatments to make it smoother overall?

Get a keratin treatment done by a pro. It's expensive but downright amazing. I'd probably do it like 2-3 weeks before the wedding, to avoid unnatural stick-straightness while still maintaining the smoothness.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

On review- you live in NYC? I fully recommend these derms.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on June 17, 2013

Drink more water. Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Cut out all sodas. Avoid flour, yeast, and sugar. Get more exercise. Eat more protein.

Your skin and hair will improve with this. I also like using an exfoliant from Aveda to avoid blackheads.
posted by myselfasme at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, dermatologist.

For your hair, get a trim now and trial-run your 'do - even if you're just going to wear it down, do that and backlight it as will probably happen in various photographs and decide if you need to step up the product or consider a blowout/iron/set to smooth it out. Then get a trim again a couple of days before the big day. (Makes SUCH a difference. One of the reasons celebrities look really polished all the time? They never haven't just had a trim. And they've probably been heat-set by some device, be it round or straight.) Just a set on giant rollers under a hood, or a little bit of curling-iron work at the ends, is probably enough heat-treatment to give you smooth straight or wavy (or beach waves, if you like) hair for the day.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:03 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would nth the recommendation to see a dermatologist, but do make sure that you're comfortable with the level of what they're selling to you-- you're on the market for some things, but not all the things, you know? My old derm was great until their practice started heavily pushing peels and Botox...even though I was 20. If you do try out something like retina-a, use more sunscreen and moisturizer than you thought possible.

If you're looking at over the counter products at all, I like the science-based, fun reviews of this blogger.

5. Lipo laser?

Just to address this point, I think this would be a waste of your efforts and money. In three months, you could more safely and healthily lose weight overall. Many people have had good (at least short term) results with a higher-protein diet, but even if that's not your thing, fresh fruit and vegetables are never a bad idea. Intervals or HITT? Do you already work out? If you don't, can you fit in more walks at lunch, push-up breaks, or stair hikes?
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you wash and blow dry your hair often, try to get it down to 2-3 times per week MAXIMUM from now through wedding time. I know, it can be super grotendous in NYC in the sweaty humid summer time, but it will make a big difference on the breakage. Some people may recommend the "no-poo" thing; I personally think it is awful but I acknowledge that it can be a great thing for some people. If you choose to try this out, give it about a month before deciding if it's for you or not.

It is almost always safe to say that you should take the skincare advice/recommendations of a dermatologist over that of a plastic surgeon or spa technician. And anything like chemical peels or microdermabrasion, if you choose to do them, should be done at least 6 weeks in advance of any photos you want to take.

If you plan on doing anything like spray tanning or actual tanning salon beforehand make sure to test it out NOW. Avoid last minute oompa loompaism at all costs.
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2013

With the keratin treatment, I wound up with large dandruff-y flakes of skin on my scalp coming loose about 2 weeks after I got mine - turns out the chemicals can cause that sometimes. So be cautious about trying it right before the wedding!
posted by needlegrrl at 11:12 AM on June 17, 2013

Facials are in general a waste of $$ since it's just creams and massage stuff. Get a glycolic peel with with microderm abrasion at a "medical spa" (not a regular spa) which usually is owned and operated by a doctor-dermatologist. You will pay $150-200 per session. Go once a month, and your skin will be fabulous in 3-4 months. Then upkeep by going every season. Stay out of the sun for a few days after the treatment!

*if* the dermatologist says its ok of course
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

For 3. Chemical Peels and possibly 2. Microdermabrasion it is not the right season. Those treatments remove layers of skin, the face is temporarily more sensitive and prone to sun damage. Since you have acne prone skin and scaring, you'd probably have one of the deeper peels - those mean avoiding the sun for up to 2 weeks and wearing spf 30+ even for short outings. Hence, winter is the best time for that type of treatment.
posted by travelwithcats at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have been getting regular "European facials" for over 20 years. it is very well worth it. not only does my skin look good, but its healthy and it feels good. if you are in the SF Bay Area I can recommend a very good place for you.
posted by supermedusa at 11:17 AM on June 17, 2013 has a brand of acne facewash, treatment, and moisturizer that fixed my skin...that wasn't fixed by 3 dermatologists and countless Rx meds. They have boards for questions too. You can also read reviews of it on amazon.
posted by quodlibet at 11:18 AM on June 17, 2013

Add a daily B-Complex and a DHA/EPA supplement to your diet.
posted by erst at 11:19 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

How this ugly duckling became a model:
1) Glycolyic and sal peels once every two weeks
2) Clarisonic and blackhead removal scrubs
3) Manis once a week, pedis once every two weeks
4) Mediterranean diet
5) 8-9 glasses of water per day
posted by lotusmish at 11:22 AM on June 17, 2013 [11 favorites]

REALLY THOUGH the most valuable thing to remember with beauty tips/health advice AskMes is that everyone is different, and things that work really well for Person A might not work really well for Person B, no matter how awesome Person A thinks these things are. If you test out various things in this thread and you find that it just isn't for you, or if it seems to be making it worse, then trust your own judgment and decide what is best for you, instead of toughing it out because a bunch of people recommended it very highly.
posted by elizardbits at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2013 [16 favorites]

A facial usually includes extraction of blackheads and clogged pores which can improve the overall appearance. Estheticians also might use skincare products with higher concentrations (of active ingredient) than what is available in the stores (although I guess everything can be ordered off the internet nowadays).
posted by travelwithcats at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2013

I don't know how laser lipo compares to regular, surgical lipo, but I had a tummy tuck in March, along with liposuction, and I'm still swollen where I had lipo. They say results can take a year to show. But like I said, that was surgical lipo.
posted by pyjammy at 11:34 AM on June 17, 2013

This is not the same category as what you are considering but I was concerned about how my hands and feet would look as a bride given my running and nail-biting habits. About a month before my wedding, I started getting weekly mani/pedis. I felt great but it was also nice to because I was more or less forced to sit down and not do anything for an hour a week during a stressful time in my life. I recommend.
posted by kat518 at 11:39 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Paula Begoun has been studying the research and debunking claims for a few decades now. You might try her page on non-surgical treatments. Just take her advice (especially the product reviews) with a grain of salt because she does have her own product line, so she is no longer a neutral objective observer. But I still find her site really useful for an overview and starting point.
posted by payoto at 11:42 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

IANAD, but I do work for a plastic surgeon and we perform many of these procedures.

1. Facials. Is this worthwhile at all? Any particular ones?--From my understanding, these are more about pampering and less about visually appealing results. May be a nice thing to do the morning of/day before the wedding with your bridal party.

2. Microdermabrasion- This can definetely help the acne, but be forewarned it may in fact make it worse before it gets better. If you decide to do microdermabrasion, make a commitment to follow it through and not to get disappointed when you (potentially) break out the day after your first session.

3. Chemical Peels- I would recommend these at an MDs office. We provide peels that go beyond the dermis and will help acne scarring. The peels at many spas are simply glorified over the counter peels that you could buy and administer yourself at Target. We buy peels that are specifically designed and targeted for use by physicians.

We also do things procedures with a Fractional CO2 Laser. This could help acne scarring, but this would be the harshest of the three recommended treatments. This result tends to improve over time, so in about 6 months your results would be better than say 2 weeks afterward.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to MeMail me and I'll answer to the best of my ability!
posted by Stan Grossman at 11:43 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Help me not waste my money or wind up maimed.

Echoing others: dermatologist; lots of water; more exercise; more sleep. Eat right.

Rather than messing about with peels and microdermabrasions, see what a professional makeup person can do for you. They can erase a lot of flaws without making you look all pancake-y, and can work with products that will work with your skin instead of making you look like an angry tomato.
posted by ambrosia at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

May be a nice thing to do the morning of/day before the wedding with your bridal party.

You really don't want to risk doing anything new (previously untested on you) to your skin the day of or the day before your wedding or any other photo-heavy special event.
posted by elizardbits at 11:49 AM on June 17, 2013 [11 favorites]

Surprised no one has mentioned this, but maybe you've tried it already: eliminating common acne-causing dietary factors for a week or two as a test. For most people these are high glycemic index foods (sugar and processed grains like white bread), dairy, chocolate, and coffee. Also, this article says omega-3 oils can help lessen acne. As a bonus, there is some evidence omega-3's help with hair too.

So basically, just try the Mediterranean diet: low glycemic index, no dairy, lots of veggies, plenty of oily fishes. And you can have lots of wine with that to help with the stress (also a potential cause of acne). This is cheaper than any chemical peel or facial, and guaranteed to improve your health rather than harming you. Win/win.
posted by 100kb at 11:55 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

The first thing you should do is go to a dermatologist. Skincare is idiosyncratic, acne is a skin disease.

I think you should not pass go, you should go right to a dermatologist, and you should not bother listening to any of us until you've listened to them first.

One thing, though: do listen to this: for topical acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide, I was getting no results until someone from a support group said to apply it and leave it on my skin untouched *for at least 30 minutes* before applying anything else. They also suggested I might like to do this morning and evening (which I did at the time). They said it takes that long for any topical treatment to bind to your skin. As soon as I started doing that, things improved dramatically.

Another thing: do listen to this, it's another thing that no-one tells you: I was using BCP to turn off my acne at the same time, having taken a short break from it and restarted. I was miserable because the leaflet, the GP, and every bit of advice I read anywhere ever, said the BCP "can" take "up to" three months to work, and I was into the 7th or 8th month. This same person from the support group said that in reality, the BCP can take up to nine months to work. Sure enough, my acne got steadily worse over those 7 or 8 months [1], then it started to improve as I started to use the benzoyl peroxide for 30 minutes twice a day, and finally after the 9th month it vanished and I was able to use the benzoyl peroxide only once a day.

tl;dr 30 minutes untouched on your face for topical treatments to work, allow up to 9 months for BCP to work.

Just in case the dermatologist doesn't mention that. When you go.

[1] Why did I hang on that long? The BCP had worked before, and although the acne was getting worse, my greasiness *dramatically* improved within a few *hours* of taking my first BC pill; it was like turning off a tap. So it was doing something invaluable right away, even though the acne was visibly getting worse.
posted by tel3path at 12:12 PM on June 17, 2013

I am an *acolyte* of Paula Begoun and adore her. She lead me to get a fairly mild fraxel laser treatment to my face and neck (particularly neck, to treat necklace lines that I've had since I was a teenager) at a fantastic laser dermatology practice in Melbourne. While crushingly expensive, the results were worth it, so this leads me to join the chorus of people telling you to see a great derm. Speak to that dermatologist about prescription medicines to treat the pigmentation and scarring from your acne, and also about the laser. I'm so glad I had my laser treatment, I can't even tell you.

Also, I have very fair, acne prone, oily, 30 year old skin, and La Paula's beta hydroxy acid exfoliating gel, antioxidant serum and retinol serum have TOTALLY transformed my skin. I couldn't live without them, and they are very, very reasonably priced.

I have a great facialist who does extractions, and I consider those worth the money. I see her twice a year to get my face squeezed out and for microdermabrasion. If you have clog-prone skin it's kind of the only thing for it. So, yes, I recommend a good facial with extractions.

As for hair, the only thing for split ends is a hair cut. How do you plan on wearing your hair for the ceremony? How committed are you to long hair? How often do you get it coloured? If you're really committed to wearing your hair long, I'd do the following:

(1) Get a good stern trim. The difference to your hair will be like night and day.

(2) Address how you're treating your hair. Do you blow dry and flat iron regularly? What kind of brushes and combs do you use? How do you detangle your hair? Long hair needs to be delicately and deliberately detangles, starting at the ends and working up to the roots, before bushing. I used to have waist length hair before I cut it into an Alexa Chung bob, and I swore by a Tangle Teezer followed by a boar hair brush (yep, I sprung for a Mason Pearson and don't regret it for a second). If you regularly blow dry and flat iron, try knocking it off for just a week. Search YouTube for braided and bun styles and wear your hair up every day. I guarantee you'll feel a difference.

(3) How often do you wash your hair? If you have the kind of scalp that loves to be washed regularly - like me - then try coating your lengths and ends with conditioner before you shampoo. I actually buy an el cheapo conditioner just for this purpose. It can make a world of difference for dry, snarled ends.

(4) Consider using a protein treatment. Proteins for hair are tough because they can cause more brittleness, so proceed with caution. My gold standard is Redken EXTREME Cat. Also, add a moisture mask to your arsenal. I'm a tightwad with my hair, so it pains me to say that Kerastase Masquintense are the kind of big guns you want to bring out now.

Good luck! Also, I just realised I am crazy high maintenence.
posted by nerdfish at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2013 [9 favorites]

Facials are in general a waste of $$ since it's just creams and massage stuff. Get a glycolic peel with with microderm abrasion at a "medical spa" (not a regular spa) which usually is owned and operated by a doctor-dermatologist. You will pay $150-200 per session. Go once a month, and your skin will be fabulous in 3-4 months. Then upkeep by going every season.

Long-time facial-getter. This doesn't align with my experience. It's not just creams and massage stuff. Also, I have had microdermabrasion many times -- it's an easy way to get the glow. I do agree that it requires a 4-6 peel package. One time won't do much.

Once you find the skin thing you are comfortable with and you see a difference in your skin, hit the make-up counter with a good friend on a slow night (I like Nars & Laura Mercier, ymmv) and let them work some magic. Have your friend evaluate -- too much? Too draggy? Too nude?

Whatever mix you choose, I think it's important you start. Nothing new for the wedding. Work it all out now.

If chemical peels work for you, you can do one three days before.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:32 PM on June 17, 2013

And I too am crazy high-maintenance, skin-wise anyway.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:33 PM on June 17, 2013

If you're prone to blackheads like I am (and generally eh, my face is clean, it's all right maintenace), the kind of facial where they steam your face and squeeze out the blackheads is invaluable.

And nthing the advice about doing a runthrough or two of everything in advance, including any hair removal services that you're planning to get. You don't want to roll up to wedding day with an allergic reaction.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2013

N-thing more water. You should also get a pretty heavy haircut to get rid of all those split ends. I would do thats soon-ish so your hair can grown back out for the wedding.

I am growing my hair out for the first time — it's about at my scapulas and the longest it's ever been in my life. During the process I discovered I have slightly frizzy, half wavy-straight-curly hair with a weird texture. I've been getting keratin treatments about twice a year (I don't wash my hair every day, so they last longer) and they have been MIRACULOUS. I don't really color my hair or get it cut too often since I'm growing it out, so this is my one beauty splurge.

Here's what I did though — before I splurged for the permanent keratin treatment, I got a few semi-permanent ones. I think this is the difference between a Brazilian blowout (semi-permanent, lasts about a month) and a Brazilian straightening* treatment. You can try the much-less-expensive blowout first to see if you like it with lesser commitment.

*This didn't actually straighten my hair — it just smoothed the cuticle out, which is what I wanted.
posted by Brittanie at 12:44 PM on June 17, 2013

I agree - see a dermatologist.

2. Microdermabrasion
3. Chemical Peels
These work the same way, by removing the top layer(s) of skin cells. You can do this yourself by using a bufpuf regularly. There have been several ask.mes on acne. One recommendation that I like is to change your pillowcase quite frequently, to reduce bacteria. I have been dairy-free due to lactose intolerance, and a side benefit has been clear skin.
posted by theora55 at 12:49 PM on June 17, 2013

My skin improved with sleeping with vitamin A and/or E oil on my face. I read it somewhere a long time ago, so I do not have a citation available. It is low risk, cheap and you should know within a week if it is worth continuing. (I put a towel on my pillow to protect it, and washed the towel daily.)

Years ago, I knew a woman who had the following tips for growing luscious, long hair:

Wash it only once a week.
Brush it out daily to distribute the oils from your scalp.

Again, cheap, low risk, not going to maim you, etc.
posted by Michele in California at 1:23 PM on June 17, 2013

I can't believe no one has mentioned the Oil cleansing method. Google it. It has been a MIRACLE for me... and it's super cheap and amazingly effective!! You have to find your formula but please explore this before you go on to more expensive options.
posted by pearlybob at 2:31 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

You might be interested in the Beauty Brains blog from a group of chemists who like to analyze the ingredients of cosmetic products and call BS on various claims.
posted by conrad53 at 2:35 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came to recommend the Beauty Brains, but conrad53 beat me to it. Check them out, they're awesome.
posted by akrasia at 6:01 PM on June 17, 2013

Retin-A is backed by science to work for acne, dark spots and aging of the skin. You are in a perfect time period to start using it and get through any initial side effects that you may experience (dry skin, flaking). I also had a couple of dark spots on the side of my face from sun exposure and they lightened to almost unnoticeable within a few months or so of starting to use it.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:01 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Retin-A is backed by science to work for acne, dark spots and aging of the skin. You are in a perfect time period to start using it and get through any initial side effects that you may experience (dry skin, flaking). I also had a couple of dark spots on the side of my face from sun exposure and they lightened to almost unnoticeable within a few months or so of starting to use it.

YMMV. I started with the lowest strength generic tretinoin available (.025%) and peeled like crazy in the first two months: great big flakey bits falling off my face - and my so-called initial breakout lasted well over three. I'm in my fifth month now and my skin's still pretty dry. Depending on when your wedding is, you may want to see a dermatologist, see if your skin's sensitive and/or reactive and maybe spring for the brand-name Retin-A Micro stuff, which is supposed to have less irritation. (The generic cream has a bunch of slightly comedogenic ingredients in it like isopropyl mystriate, so if you're treating for acne you can opt for the gel, which is basically an alcohol base. This is even more drying, so a moisturiser on top helps.) If you and your dermatologist do decide to go for tretinoin, follow all the instructions. Some people have resilient skin so they can slap it on haphazardly, but some people react badly to it. Also: tretinoin degrades quickly in light, especially fluorescent, so it's best to dim the lights after application. Don't get me wrong, the stuff works - it's just annoying and finicky as hell.

Re. facials and spas: do your homework, get a recommendation from a friend if you can. Allergic reactions to spa treatments and facials are rare, but they do happen (a particularly extreme example happened to one blogger here). In her case, it sounds like the spa used a bunch of essential oils that caused the reaction and maybe didn't have the cleanest tools - so a good spa will always check with you for sensitivities and always sanitise the hell out of everything. I think if you got a package and kept it up it might do some good, but it really depends on what sort of product they're using and how skilled they are at extractions and etc.

Chemical peels might offer you the quickest results with the least chance of irritation - lactic acid is very gentle and helps clear up clogged pores and dull skin. It won't get rid of your acne scars in a month or something, but it's pretty good with getting rid of flaky, bumpy skin. Glycolic acid is the next step up but is more irritating. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels do exactly the same thing: exfoliate the top layer of your skin and get rid of dead skin cells. Dermabrasion is physical and might be hard to tolerate depending on your skin type but may be cheaper. YMMV.

I can't find any clinical studies on lipolaser that aren't also done by the companies who own the laser, so the best I've got here is Wikipedia, which isn't much. If it's going for about a thousand dollars per treatment, you're better off getting a gym membership. There's no real way to know if it actually does anything, and if it really did help people lose substantial amounts of weight the entire world would know about it.

I would also suggest sunscreen all the time now, even if you don't go for any treatments. (If you do go for things like chemical peels and tretinoin, sunscreen isn't an option, it's part of the treatment.) Sunscreen will help halt any further pigmentation of your acne scarring and prevent sun damage/skin aging. Futurederm shows you how to calculate how much sunscreen is needed to get the advertised protection here: generally it's about 1/4 teaspoon for your face and another for your neck. Maybe also try hitting the makeup counters and finding some really good cosmetics for the big day, if you plan to wear makeup? Finding the right stuff takes forever but it might help cover up any issues you'd rather not show up in photos and etc.

Good luck!
posted by zennish at 8:16 PM on June 17, 2013

Getting married in a few months, which means I want to start any facial/beauty regimens now.

A few months might not be long enough to recover from serious screw-ups with your skin and hair, especially with wedding photos coming, so be conservative and realistic about any actions you take. Explain everything you want to a good dermatologist and let the doctor figure out what's best for you to try right now. (And go on a diet and get exercise if you think you're too fat and flabby, but clear that with the doctor, too, if it will involve anything other than just cutting calories and getting regular exercise.)

After you're married and the photographers are gone, you can afford to try the wackier suggestions for achieving eternal youth.
posted by pracowity at 11:54 PM on June 17, 2013

Having seen lipolaser results in person ...I don't think they're worth it. They're expensive and time consuming and seem built for people who are allready at a high level of fitness and are being obessive about one little THING that could be much more easily dealt with a step up in exercise or a better foundation garment or something. Like there is a reason I keep seeing huge discount " coupons" from the laserlipo people.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on June 18, 2013

Facials with light peels and extractions will absolutely help your skin. You should see a dermatologist first as well, but if you are a few months from your wedding I would not recommend starting something like Retin-A which needs time to adjust. I would get on a facial schedule and complete and consistent skincare routine religiously until the wedding. It will get your skin into it's best shape. The important thing to remember is that no one in the world has perfect skin at any point; good skin care preps the skin and provides an even and less blotchy surface to make the small imperfections easier to naturally conceal, which is what everyone is doing.

Facials: ask around and look on yelp or similar for reviews of spas and even specific facialists to see every three weeks to a month before your date. Different spas will offer facials for different needs and many will offer a package if you buy three or six up front. Do not get a facial the day of or before your wedding. Have you last facial during the week before and let your facialist know not to do anything that might make you blotchy like going deep for that hard to get extraction or anything. You have concealer for that pore.

Facial regiment:

1) If you wear any suncreen or foundation you should use an oil, balm or cream cleanser first at night (or just some Jojoba from the health food store), then cleanse with something like the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (which you can use alone if make up free and also in the morning) I love my clarisonic in regards to blackheads if you're looking to invest, but it's not the toy for everyone and certainly not necessary.

2) Exfoliate. Much more than one or two peels a daily light AHA/BHA exfoliation should help with pores and blackheads and scarring/discoloration. This one and this one are good examples of what to go for, and the Clarins one I can recommend as a daily user.

Then you can use a moisturizing toner if you want or just spray on some food grade rose water and let it sink in. Then would be the serum stage, also optional for the short term. there are like a billion serums and this is where the fake science really amps up so for a few months turn around I think you could ignore this, but absolutely check out the Beauty Brains site recommended above if you wan tot do some research.

3) Moisturize. You want a nice light moisturizer, something that's a cream gel formula perhaps. There are plenty of good ones. Go to Sephora or similar, find an employee (avoid anyone in a suit or any employee talking to anyone in a suit; those are brand reps) and state your specific need and timeline and ask for samples of a few things. (Or do research at linked websites and get specific sample or two of those. At any rate, get samples)

I also, just as a dissenting voice, would not recommend Paula's Choice. Never trust a disciple of Dr. Oz. Just like the good Dr. she certainly can hit on some good science in recommendations, but these types of professionals also benefit from being able to quote a few studies as the best!/worst!/miraculous! very quickly and sticking to a quippable track as opposed to complicated science. Paula for example is incredibly anti-fragrance and quotes a few studies which show it as an irritant in many reviews, however for many it is shown to be a non-issue; by the way did you know Paula sells a similar product without fragrance? You'll find out at the end of the review. (They also don't account for formulation and ingredient interactions in reviews at all. Paula and I have problems, is my point. There is some good stuff, but there is also some, "Are you kidding me girl?")

Hair. Keratin treatments are best for quite frizzy or course hair, but if you don't fall into that category they don't do anything a salon blow out or even my John Freida frizz ease from CVS doesn't do. For split ends, you really just need to get a good cut and shape to remove all and then get monthly to six week trims including one with the same stylist a week or so before a big event.

Okay, that was a book. My apologies. It seems like we have similar skin and I took plenty of time to figure this all out for myself, so I like to share.

And lastly, if you're doing your own make up when you go get your moisturizer samples get some primer and foundation ones too. If it's in your budget and you feel super guilty (you don't have to) get that lipstick you've always wanted or something.
posted by itsonreserve at 8:07 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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