Saturday, February 10, 2007

And So It Begins...2007 Skincare Olympics

Even if you didn't read last night's warning, you may have intuited that this year, I'd be writing about things other than perfume. The perfume sampling is by no means stopping, but this skincare thing is on my fact, one of my first posts ever for this blog was on this very topic. My search hasn't stopped. Dr. Baumann's book didn't offer me a solution, and so I've decided to search for one on my own.

To be quite frank, I can only hope this works and will help a few of you. I've been all over Paula Begoun's Cosmetics Cop site and MakeupAlley; I've read The Skin Type Solution and The Perricone Prescription; I've tried Clinique, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Neutrogena, Cellex-C, Kinerase, Clarins, and La Mer products, just to name a few. I pore (no pun intended, thanks) over skincare articles in countless magazines. The books and reviews are sometimes helpful, but more often than not, I find it's all about simple trial and error. Or better yet, simple trials and tribulations: for if something hydrates my skin, it's likely to break me out; if something gives my skin a smooth, even appearance, it's likely to cause peeling I haven't experienced since back in the days when I believed (didn't we all?) that a good burn provided a solid base for a tan. (Although the damage isn't extensive--I stopped tanning and started using sunscreen in my early 20s--I would love to go back and kick my younger self. Hard.) Products marked as "safe" for sensitive skin can leave me red as a stop sign, while some products marked "normal" leave my skin feeling pretty fresh and healthy.

"It's all about the ingredients," you might say, and I'd be inclined to agree. However, which ingredients? And am I really to pull a scroll of ingredients from my purse every time I go looking for a product? And how will I know which of these ingredients will bother me, other than trial and error? For every list begins with an opening like, "If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid..." And how to explain why an ingredient bothers me when it's in one brand, but not when it's in another? Is it levels of concentration? Is it the way the ingredient reacts with its other little ingredient friends? People, it's maddening. I can only eat so much salmon and drink so much water; I seriously prefer two or three steps to eight or nine for my skincare routine; and frankly, I'm worried less about wrinkles than hydrated, even-toned skin.

To top it off, my loving husband, when he sees me tearing the protective paper off the mouth of yet another bottle of cleanser, toner ("But you don't need toner," you say. Oh, shut up!), or moisturizer, likes to say things such as, "You know, I don't ever really wash my face." He of the clear, smooth, lineless skin. And I snark back, "Well, you don't wear makeup, now, do you? Or do you? Have you been in my MAC?" Other couples have money and sex come between them; with us, it will be only the actual physical wall of product built out of my obsessive search to find something that both makes my skin appear smooth and even-toned and not flaky.

A little preview: The first trial I'll discuss is the skincare I used through most of December and January (except for the few days of Trish, days from which it took weeks to recover), which is what I call my "sensitive care" routine. In the second trial I'll talk about Liz Earle's Naturally Active Skincare, which I've been using for about two weeks now. I'm undecided about the third trial, but it will hopefully help me get over the second one (don't worry, I'll talk about the good as well as the bad for everything I try).

I'm open to suggestions if you have any!