Ladies, I think I've found it - a winning formula for fighting wrinkles and feeling better about growing older. I'm happy to say that with age has come a little wisdom, and I'd like to share what's working for me. My ablutions (love that word) have never been simpler, and I no longer have a drawer full of skincare products to dig through. I'm embracing the fabulous fifties, soon to be spectacular sixties - which my mother said was her happiest decade!
But before I open my box of goodies, here are a few guidelines:
So, without further ado, (drum roll please) the winners are:
Overall Brand Winner
Mad Hippie. Although I've only just started using this skincare line, I'm already a little in love (and not just with the name.) There's something nice about using everything from the same line and knowing they'll play well together.
Here's how I use the Mad Hippie products:
PM - Cleanser, antioxidant oil, eye cream, and face cream.
AM - Eye cream and face cream
I use additional lotions and potions (including sunscreen), but this is my basic skincare routine. Keep reading to find out what the other champions are - along with those worthy of honorable mention!
Derma E Pycnogenol Sensitive Skin has been my go-to face cleanser for many years. The upside is that it's very gentle. The downside is that it's very gentle! For this reason, you may need to do a double wash (or use a wet washcloth) if you're wearing heavier makeup.
Another good choice (sold at most drug stores) is CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. There's a foaming cleanser too - but I'm suspicious of anything that foams! Always remove makeup and go to bed with a clean face, but a simple splash with water is all you need in the morning.
For the times when your skin is feeling a little irritated (or downright angry), nothing works better than Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Cream. Yes, it may feel like you're smearing a creamy pat of butter on your face, but it soothes like nothing else and is the gentlest face cream I've ever used. It's not the best for wearing under makeup (it's so rich), but for night time, it really is a dream!
Another good drug-store moisturizer is CeraVe PM. Although this is their evening moisturizer, it works beautifully under makeup. It doesn't contain a sunscreen, which should always be worn during the day. Dermatologists advise an SPF of 30 or more if spending more than a little time outside. Apply sunscreen after moisturizer, and if you're using a serum, this goes on before your moisturizer.
Colorescience has an array of sun protection products. All are tinted and go on beautifully. Choose from a primer (I love calm), or something from the Sunforgettable line, which includes a handy powder with SPF.
When it comes to your neck and upper chest, you may not want to go too far down with a tinted sunscreen as it can transfer onto your clothing. The trick to making untinted mineral sunscreen blend into your skin (and not leave you looking like a ghost) is to use it over a facial oil. Mad Hippie's antioxidant oil works perfectly under their facial SPF sunscreen.
A retinoid product is your best bet (short of surgery) to fight against wrinkles and aging. Retinoids come in several strengths: start with the weakest (0.25%) and only use once a week or every other day until your skin adjusts. Only use at night time and apply after your moisturizer if you have super-sensitive skin. Your complexion may look worse and peel like crazy before getting better but hang in there as it'll be worth it in the end. Skin Medica Retinol Complex is a worthy splurge.
Alpha hydroxy acids are excellent exfoliators, but they can be a little harsh for sensitive skin. Clinique's Turnaround Accelerated Renewal Serum contains a gentler acid (polyhydroxy) which hasn't bothered my skin at all - and feels lovely!
Mad Hippie has both a Vitamin A (retinol) and an exfoliating (AHA) serum to choose from. They are packed with wonderful ingredients, but the company advises that you use one or the other. I've had no issues with the exfoliating serum, so I'll continue to use this from time to time.
Don't forget to indulge in a little pampering too: Take that meditation class; enroll in yoga, or just take a relaxing bath. If you like to spend time in the tub, try having a honey facial at the same time. (Just spread a generous blob of raw or Manuka honey on your face and leave on for about 20 to 30 minutes. It's a fantastic moisturizer, gentle exfoliant, and can even promote collagen building.
There's been quite a bit of excitement over turmeric lately. Its active ingredient (curcumin) has been shown to have anti-cancer properties when applied to the skin. As someone who's had a couple of bouts of basal cell, I'm going to start adding a little of this powder to my honey mask (along with a heaping spoonful into my daily smoothie.)
Love where you are!
I'm so grateful to have reached the ripe (not old) age of 58. Yes, we may have been "prettier" in our twenties and thirties, but I like what goes on in my mind so much more now! I'm never going to welcome crows feet, age spots, and all the other "interesting" things that pop up. However, I love having a lifetime of experiences to draw upon. And finding happiness in the simple things, and not worrying so much about what people think of me... well that looks pretty darn good too. So let's embrace this next chapter of our lives - wrinkles and all.
Skinmedica and Colorescience products are available at some spas and physicians offices. Derma E and Mad Hippie can be found in many health food stores, and Clinique is sold at Ulta and most department stores. If you're having trouble finding anything, please check the website links at the bottom of the page to buy online.
I have no affiliation with any of the skin care products mentioned in this blog - I just love using them.
If you'd like to check out a couple of other items I've added to my beauty regime (including the BEST silk pillowcase), please check out my fabulous beauty finds here
I'm a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program and would receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you decide to purchase something.
* This is a revamped version of a previous blog that I had to delete as several products had been reformulated or discontinued. And there have been new discoveries!
Derma E sensitive skin cleanser with pycnogenol
Colorescience skin perfectors
Colorescience store locator
Skinmedica Retinol Complex
Skinmedica store locator
Clinique turnaround accelerated renewal serum
I will always remember my first latte: it was at a waterfront coffee shop in Scottsdale, Arizona. For some inexplicable reason, I had let fifty plus years of my life slip by without having a single cup of coffee. But after savoring just a few sips of this new and delectable concoction I was in awe - this wasn't just a beverage; it was an experience! I now look forward to coffee time with the same joyful anticipation I once had for happy hour - and I'm getting into far less trouble!
Coffee (like our equally delicious friend, chocolate) was once shunned as an unhealthy indulgence. But after years of research (and being one of the most studied substances in food ever), the general consensus is that moderate coffee consumption is very good for your health - and your happiness quotient too!
Despite its awesomeness, coffee isn't perfect for everyone, especially those poor souls with a sensitivity to caffeine. And you'll be negating some of the benefits if you load up your coffee with sugar or artificial sweeteners, flavors, and creamers. But this doesn't mean it has to be boring - I make my latte with organic whole milk (preferably grass-fed), and maybe a little cinnamon or pumpkin spice sprinkled on top, and it's perfection!
Not everything we eat or drink has to be organic, but coffee falls into this category: it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Buying organic ensures your brew is free from herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides - which is kinder to farmers, the environment, and you! One final caution is to let your coffee cool a little before consuming, as some studies have shown a link between drinking extremely hot drinks and esophageal cancer.
Unfortunately, even the healthiest coffee isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Ironically, the same roasting process that makes coffee so delicious also causes a natural by-product named acrylamide, which is a known carcinogen. But please don't let this freak you out - coffee actually contains very little of this substance, and you would have to drink an outlandish amount of coffee to come close to a dangerous level.
Also (and I'm not sure if this will make you feel better or worse), acrylamide is in numerous foods that we eat every day. This same chemical is generated when certain (mainly starchy) foods are cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time. Potatoes, bread, black olives, and prune juice all have higher amounts of acrylamide than coffee. And french fries and potato chips are off the charts!
After reading (endless) articles on this pesky compound, I'm really not worried about getting an unhealthy amount from coffee. But if this still concerns you, there are things you can do to reduce acrylamide consumption in both coffee and food:
So now we know the scary part isn't so bad after all, let's get back to the warm and fuzzy feeling we get whenever we spy a coffee shop. I don't know if it's the cozy atmosphere, cool decor, or the intoxicating smell that draws us in (and let's face it - makes us all a little addicted), but there's definitely something uniquely welcoming. Although I wouldn't feel comfortable walking into a restaurant and eating alone, I have no qualms about being by myself in a coffee shop. It feels like a home-away-from-home. And even though we may only nod and smile at each other, I believe this comradeship is an acknowledgment of our mutual love for the coffee bean.
So, how did coffee change my life? Well, at the beginning of this blog I mentioned the similarity(for me) between "wine night" and "coffee time." At one point in my life, I was indulging in too much of the prior and hadn't discovered the pleasure of the latter (or latte - haha). Thankfully, a friend shared her concern over my behavior when alcohol was involved (after another rather rambunctious night), and it was an eye-opener and life-changing moment. I realized that the closeness and camaraderie I enjoyed so much with friends over wine could be achieved with coffee too. And that's when coffee became more than just a beverage and turned into a lifestyle I'm loving - and it loves me back!
Harvard Health Publishing: Health benefits of coffee and a proposed warning label
Healthline: Instant Coffee: Good or Bad
I've always believed that happy hens lay the healthiest eggs. However, the labels on the cartons can often be more confusing than helpful: should we be looking for cage-free, free-range, or is organic the way to go?
If the homeowners association where I live wasn't so strict, there would already be a couple of hens sunning themselves in my backyard. But until the rules change (or I can persuade someone living close by to take on raising chickens), I'm going to have to be more diligent about which eggs I choose at the store.
Despite some pretty hairy documentaries showing an alarming side of farming, there are still good people out there who care about their chickens. Here's a brief guide to what the labels really mean. It looks like certified humane, pasture raised, or organic are the best choices - and worth paying extra for.
Also, don't forget about your local farmers market: it's a great place to find good fresh eggs without having to plow through labels.
I just have to add that although egg yolks contain cholesterol, they also have an abundance of nutrients (including omega 3's, and hard to find vitamin D.) So, unless you've been advised by your doctor to avoid them, do you really want to throw away the most nutritious and delicious part of the egg? I think not. And with that in mind, I'm off to make myself a nice dippy egg!
* Please always follow your doctor's advice if you have a medical condition.
Consumer Reports "Pasture Raised"
Animal Welfare Approved
Global Animal Partnership
I like to use the acronym C.H.O.W. when it comes to food choices. This stands for Clean, Humane, Organic, and Whole. If we aim for these qualities when we shop, we'll be consuming the healthiest and most sustainable versions of our favorite foods. Please note that these are goals: it would be unrealistic to limit yourself to just food that meets all these criteria. Rather than focus on what we (and others) shouldn't be eating, let's all get along and demand clean, humanely raised food that's kind to humans, animals, and the planet. After all, eating and sharing a meal should be a joyful time - not a battleground!
Treat packaged and processed foods with caution! A quick glance at the ingredients will let you know if the product contains artificial additives. Watch out for sweeteners like aspartame, colors with a number (like red 40), or flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate.
It's a sad fact that the majority of animals on factory farms live in horrendous conditions. However, many labels (meant to reassure us) are quite meaningless: the term "natural" only refers to how a product is processed after slaughter and has nothing to do with how the animal was raised. Thankfully, there are third-party certifications that ensure kinder and more humane practices are followed. If you can find it, Animal Welfare Approved has the highest standard, but enrollment is limited. Certified Humane is more readily available and worth seeking out. And Whole Foods has it's own Global Animal Partnership certification (this is a 5-step program that you can read about at the meat counter). Most animals are fed grass at some point in their lives, so look for 100% grass-fed for the healthiest beef. I found some at Trader Joe's that was very reasonably priced. You can find out where grass-fed meat and dairy products are sold in your state at the Eat Wild and American Grassfed Association websites.
Not everything has to be organic, but it's preferable when it comes to grains, dairy, and certain fruits and vegetables. To find out which produce contains the most pesticides, check out the EWG's (Environmental Working Group) annual Dirty Dozen. And to find out what's okay to buy conventionally grown, see their Clean Fifteen. Don't waste your money on organic fish as there's no certification for this and it isn't regulated. You may have heard that wild salmon is better for you than farmed, and many studies support this. The Oceana Sustainable Seafood Guide is an excellent resource for everything fishy.
This category goes a step further than clean - it's unprocessed food that hasn't had most, or all of its nutritional components stripped away. Bread is the perfect example of this: White bread is mostly starch and is missing the vital fiber and nutrition of 100% whole grain bread. If you include them in your diet, choose whole grains, whole eggs, and yes, whole milk too.
The golden rule is to eat a variety of (nutritious) food in moderation. Too much of a good thing is still too much (as I discovered after eating a ridiculous amount of cherries recently!) It's an unfortunate fact that organic and humanely raised food usually costs more, but when you can find it and afford it, it's an investment you wont regret.
Consuming food in its most natural state is the most straightforward road to better health - and keeping it simple will keep you sane!
Links and References
Animal Welfare Approved
American Grassfed Association
Global Animal Partnership
USDA National Organic Program (NOP)
Eat Wild: Getting Wild Nutrition from Modern Food
Healthline: Best Fish to Eat
Oceana: Sustainable Seafood Guide
Winnie the Pooh was one smart little bear. Honey, it appears, may be able to cure what modern medicine cannot. I was going to share with you how wonderful my skin feels after using a honey mask, but after reading some amazing stories about how honey has saved limbs and lives, that seemed a tad shallow. Thankfully most of us will never have to face a life-threatening injury, but with the emergence of drug-resistant super-bugs, it's reassuring to know that something as natural as honey is coming to the rescue.
The healing ability of honey has been recognized since ancient times and was regularly used to treat wounds and fight infections before the discovery of penicillin. But don't rely on some of today's over-processed honey that has been stripped of its antioxidants, enzymes, and antibiotic properties to do the same: Look for raw honey, and if you want the very best you may want to splurge on a jar of Manuka.
Super Manuka Honey
You may be wondering what makes this honey so special and why people are paying upwards of $30 a jar. Although all honey has some antibacterial activity from naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide, honey derived from the Manuka bush in New Zealand has been found to have an additional, more powerful antibiotic, known as "nonperoxide activity" or NPA. One way to ensure you are getting genuine Manuka honey is to look for the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) trademark. You will also see a number next to this which rates the NPA potency of the honey. Anything labeled UMF 10+ is considered strong enough to be therapeutic. However, you will find that Manuka honey without this trademark is a little cheaper. Hospitals use a sterile grade of Manuka on serious wounds, burns, drug-resistant staph infections, and even MRSA. If you're not dealing with a dire wound and just want to enjoy good honey that's a lot more affordable, then stick with raw honey.
How to use Honey
Cleopatra was renowned for her flawless skin and was said to have bathed in milk and honey. As well as being an effective moisturizer, honey also contains glycolic acid, a very gentle alpha hydroxy acid which loosens dead skin cells and brightens your complexion. The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties can work wonders on acne, eczema, and other skin irritations.
"The secret of my health is applying honey inside and oil outside"