My 6-year-old son was pondering my upcoming birthday and asked me which birthday I wanted to celebrate this year. I said I hadn't decided yet and he thought a while, then said these magical words, "Well, you can't be that old because you don't have any wrinkles. I think this year you look...25." Yes!! That boy is going to make some woman very happy one day!
But he's right about one thing. I may not really look 25, but I don't have many wrinkles either. I'm sure I have Retin-A to thank. After two years of regular use, I can say that not only has it seemingly halted any additional signs of aging, it's given me a few years back as well. When your doctor looks surprised by your age, then you know you're on the right track.
Of course it's not all perfect and I could find plenty of things on my face and body to obsess over. But I'm feeling pretty good in my skin, imperfections and all. That doesn't mean, however, that I'm ready to throw in the towel and let nature take its course. I'll take my help where I can get it. So in that vein, here's what's been working for me over the last year:
Cleanser: Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Cleanser has been my go-to for several years now. It doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and it removes all of my makeup, which is a plus for me since makeup removers do tend to bother me, even the ones that say they won't.
Sunscreen: Neutrogena has been hitting it out of the park on this one. Last summer I started using Neutrogena UltraSheer Liquid broad spectrum daily sunblock (SPF 70). It's the only sunscreen I've ever used that's felt comfortable under makeup in the high humidity of summer. In the winter, when my skin was drier, I switched over to Neutrogena Visibly Even daily moisturizer (SPF of 30). I'll continue to buy these two products as long as they're available.
Anti-Aging: In my region, my Retin-A regimen doesn't cost me more than $100 a year. In my book, that's a bargain. But I recently received a sample of DermaLastyl Professional Strength Face Cream, and after using it for a month, I think I'll take the plunge and buy a full size bottle. It's definitely the priciest product I use and while my skin is already in good shape from the Retin-A, there are a few reasons why I'll continue to use it.
I sometimes have to take a break for a couple of days from Retin-A because of skin sensitivities. DermaLastyl doesn't cause any skin irritation for me. It's hydrating, but so weightless I don't even notice I have it on. I've noticed that my skin isn't as dry and it's really soft. I use it in conjunction with Retin-A, layering it over the Retin-A at night (about 20 minutes afterwards). After I've used it for awhile I'll come back and tell you more about it, but so far it looks promising - enough that I'll make the purchase.
BB Cream: I'm still using Smashbox. It's fabulous and it works for me. I find that I barely have to add any foundation over it. But I do have to use the Neutrogena daily moisturizer under it or it's too drying. Still, I love it, and it's part of my daily routine.
Foundation: I use Raw Natural Minerals powder foundation in the summer. It's simply the best mineral makeup I've ever tried. But I am finding that my skin is drier on occasion, especially in the winter, which makes a liquid foundation a better choice for me at times. I wish I could say I'd found the magic liquid formula, but I'm still searching. I tried a pricey liquid mineral makeup which looked beautiful but ended up making me break out (something that never happens under normal circumstances), I returned another that looked too heavy, and I'm still on the fence about a couple of others. With summer here, I can afford to take my time. But, if anyone has a liquid foundation they love, I'm open to recommendations!
Blush: This was a big switch for me this year. I started using a cream blush (I apply it over BB Cream, under my powder mineral foundation) and I can't believe it took me so long. It looks so much more natural on me than powder blush. I use Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks in Powder Pink. Love, love, love!
Eyes: I've been using eyeshadow a little less this year (less time to play and experiment), but I always line my eyes to some extent, day and night. As I get older, the key for me is soft. I use a wet brush with a powder shadow to line my eyes and then I immediately use a smudge brush over the line to soften it. I find that a smudged line is softer and sexier, easier and faster than a precisely lined eye. At night I use Smashbox Layer Lash Primer under Maybelline Volum' Express the Falsies Flared mascara. During the day I use just the mascara.
Lips: After years of neutrals, I suddenly find myself craving red lips, so I've been prowling makeup counters looking for the perfect lipstick. But I still love my Kevyn Aucoin Flesh Tone lip pencil in Medium. It's perfection. One thing I can't live without - some type of lip balm (not too glossy, please). I've been using standard Blistex lip balm forever, but I got an early birthday gift from Sephora which consisted of two Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment (in clear and rose) from Fresh. The texture is so wonderful. I go through buckets of lip balm, but I might just have to splurge on this next time.
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES:
Afer years of casual makeup usage, I've made one very important change - I've been investing in brushes. I purchased a concealer brush (to use with Amazing Concealer by Amazing Cosmetics), liquid foundation brushes (flat and a texturizer, both by glo-minerals), smudge brush (Paula Dorf), and an eyebrow brush (Ulta). They make a difference, they really do.
My favorite new technique for applying liquid foundation - Stippling. As a crafter, this actually makes so much sense to me. I can't believe I never thought of it for makeup! But it really works and you're not pulling and tugging at your skin, so it's low-impact. It's takes a couple of tries to get used to it, but once you get the hang of it, you can apply your foundation in seconds. (The tutorial I've linked to suggests a dense, flat-top brush like the Sigma F80, although I've been doing it with the Texture brush and I'm happy with the look I get.)
Another thing I've been doing (something my mother taught me years and years ago, but that I never used) - setting or reviving my makeup with a mist of water. I picked up e.l.f. Makeup Mist & Set at Target for a few bucks and I love it. My mother always used Evian Spray, but really, I can't tell you if there's much of a difference. A light mist over your makeup and everything just settles into your skin (in a good way).
My mother-in-law saw all of the makeup books I had listed in my Amazon wish list and asked if I was having a bad day that day, which gave me a good laugh. But I do love books that offer solid techniques and give me inspiration (since being a makeup artist is one of my secret fantasy careers). Two of the favorites from what I purchased this year are Timeless Makeup by Rae Morris and Makeup Makeovers in 5, 10, 15, and 20 Minutes by Robert Jones.
Timeless Makeup focuses on makeup that makes you look younger than your years. What I love about it is that the models are age appropriate, inspiring, and not airbrushed to death (and it helps that they look amazing). Makeup Makeovers has a lot of step-by-step tutorials, with plenty of accompanying photos, for looks that range from 5 to 20 minutes.
As another year has slipped by, I realize yet again, that beauty comes at every age. I'm reminded of my 90-year-old grandmother who was in the hospital recently. I went to visit and asked how they were treating her. She waved me off nonchalantly, "Oh, I've had so many visitors here. The nurses keep bringing in their colleagues to look at me. All they can talk about is my skin, my hair, and my legs!" We should all be so lucky.