All Hail the Retinoids

October 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

Retinoids (or retinol), initially used to treat my teenage acne, are now a part of my weekly skin care regimen to halt wrinkles and lessen the appearance of sun damage. Made from retinoic acid, which is derived from vitamin A, it’s sold under many brand names from Retin-A to Tazorac, and for the more sensitive types, Differin (aka Adapalene).

Unfortunately, the side effects to human skin as a result of retinol use are peeling and flakiness, added sensitivity causing redness, and (if not careful) skin prone to sunburn. Having used retinol for as long as I, one would assume I’d figured out the appropriate routine for attaining perfect skin without said side effects.

But, this is not so and I continue to battle the peeliness; unsure if it can really be avoided.

Here is what I’ve been advised by my doctor; advise, which I have taken:

1. Choose a gentle face wash like Cetaphil for removing makeup at night.

2. Wait until face is completely dry (about fifteen minutes) before applying a thin layer, careful to avoid the skin around the eyes. In my experience I have (once or twice) applied my gel too closely to the sensitive eye area, resulting in a stinging sensation (to the eye balls!) the following day.

3. Apply at night, every third day at the start, every second night after a few weeks. Some people, not as sensitive, are able to apply it nightly. I’ve yet to meet a person who is able to do this, though.

4. Do not spot treat. It’s better to smooth a thin layer over the entire face and neck than spot treat, which leads to uneven flakiness.

5. Wear sunscreen, preferably with a higher SPF.

6. Moisturize with a non-comedogenic formulation for sensitive skin.

7. Take a break during the summer.

This is one rule that has been in dispute. Some doctors believe that using retinoids in the summer months is a better time to begin, and as long as proper sunscreen usage is adhered to, the “humidity is less likely to dry out the skin.

I am not a doctor, but as I user, I disagree. I am a regimented sunscreen user, and even still find that I am exposed to much more sun in the summer months, regardless of my best efforts to faithfully reapply my SPF.

No matter if you are a teenager with acne or a forty something mom looking for help with your skin, retinoids are a good place to start.

Just be advised, from a woman who yesterday prayed that no moms would talk to her at pre-school pickup due to my peeling mess of a face, there is a price to pay for the long-term benefits of clear, beautiful skin.

Do you use retinoids? Why or why not?

M.

I’ve heard that people worry about the expense of retinoid creams and gels. This small tube, however, has been in use for over a year (probably past the expiration date). The stuff lasts forever.

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The Emmys; Boobs and Dresses

September 24, 2012 § 8 Comments

It wasn’t until I met my biological sister that I realized my boobs were a genetic component to the makeup of me. Before then I’d assumed they were a terrible mistake meant to be placed above someone else’s heart.

But within the last year (or so) I’ve come to grips with what God gave me (thanks to my sister and the way she wears hers gorgeously) and I’m starting to kind of like them. I wish they’d stand up without help, but I don’t hate them like I did.

Last night’s Emmys red carpet was a bosom baring display.

One after another busty girls allowed their flesh to peek out from the beneath most dazzling dresses.

I felt a kinship.

Femininity in fashion never looked prettier.

But many on Twitter didn’t feel the same.

A barrage of nasty tweets proclaimed the look tacky and cheap, trying too hard and pathetic. The disdain for what I viewed as fashion risk taking (I do consider it a risk) combined with body acceptance was a disappointment.

So why all the fuss?

There were plenty of legs showing, too. And backs. And shoulders. And low cut dresses on flatter chested girls.

I don’t have an answer on this. I can’t explain why there was so much backlash, though I bet it has something to do with the new female empowerment or some sort of hatred toward women or the whole mother prostitute thingy. I don’t write about that stuff. I don’t think I’m deep enough.

I liked all the boobs.

I liked Heidi showing all that leg, though I wasn’t crazy about the dress.

I liked Ginnifer Goodwin’s choice not to show very much at all in that unbelievable red and nude flowered Monique Lhullier.

I liked that each woman chose the image that she wanted to project for the night.

As for the girls who put their girls on display.

I think you looked lovely (and not in a sexy vroom vroom kind of way).

Just plain lovely.

What did you think about the dresses? Did the boobs bother you? Have a favorite I didn’t mention?

XOM

Kat Dennings. I didn’t even know who this girl was before last night. She has received the most press for the bosom baring. I’m sure it’s because the boobs look so great, but even if the dress covered them,  she’s still stunning!

Zooey Deschanel. Everyone talked about her Reem Acra Princess dress, because she really did look like a princess. The top, if you’ll notice, was just as low cut as Kat’s, but no one spoke about her cleavage.

Christina Hendrikcks in Christian Siriano. This girl is my hero.

Heidi Klum. The legs could not be denied and the sea-foam green is lovely against her skin. Again, the top is very revealing, but the press went wild (in a good way as opposed to the nasty twerps) over the legs.

Ginny Goodwin in Monique Lhullier. I loved loved loved this dress. The pixie hair and the shoes (clear Laboutins’s); epitome of chic. Even though I’ve embraced the boobs, I still love a good high neck. After to Zosia Mamet from Girls, this wins second place for most fashion forward of the night.

Sofia Vergara. Not one of my favorites, still my Emmys post wouldn’t be complete without the addition of Sofia in this Zuhair Murad. When the camera panned down the dress my daughters’ eyes got huge. “Look mom! A real mermaid!” So for that, thank you Sofia!

Image

September 7, 2012 § 7 Comments

By the time I turn forty I’ll have my look all figured out.

It’s what happens when a woman turns that age.

All of my mom’s friends had it figured out by forty. Turn forty and you’re a grown up at last with a real grown up look.

These were the thoughts of my twenty something self as I pondered my many incarnations.

The day before seventh grade I walked through school in a Flashdance one shouldered sweat shirt, leopard print zip jeans and flourescent pink jellies, while wearing fish bait earrings (rubbery, not real) dangling near my shoulders. I ran into a teacher who said, “Oh my, Miss Martha! Haven’t you changed this summer!” She was over forty-ish and her look hadn’t changed at all in those short sweet months.

In the tenth grade I went mod accessorizing my Catholic school uniform with illegally pointy toed black flats, black tights, and a black second-hand men’s cardigan. My hair was worn in a tight clean bob, my eye lids liquid painted, carefully winging upward. After school my mod boyfriend would pick me up on the back of his mod scooter and we’d make plans for Fishbone concerts that I would lie to my mother about to be able to go.

Early nineties? The beginning of grunge and I cut my hair Amber Valetta pixie short, just like hers on that one cover of Vogue. I did wear plaid, but styled myself more eclectic/fashion forward; a pea coat embroidered with flowers (early Free People I wish I’d kept), Minnie Mouse minnie skirts, big fat clogs, Big Star jeans and lots of Betsey Johnson.

I always took risks; tattooing my left middle finger because I thought it would be cute (early twenties), pierced my nose so there’d always be a bit of sparkle emanating from my face (mid twenties), and more than once changed my boring blonde locks to shades from platinum white to sleek dark brown (over and over again).

As I drove the kids to school on Tuesday I took a good look in the visor mirror. No makeup, except for the Mac Omega eyebrows that are brushed on daily. No colorful cheeks, no lined eyes, too grown out highlights, no sparkle whatsoever.

I looked down at my outfit; Be Present yoga pants (okay fine, they are the ones with the lotus on the back, but still) and a gray t-shirt. On my feet? Havainas. God forsaken Havainas; not even a decent pair of shoes.

While looking in that mirror I wondered. A pierced nose? Double pierced ears? Maybe committing to liquid liner? Maybe committing to a daily red lip.

I have an appointment to get my hair colored next week and I’m taking a break from boring buttered blonde. The upkeep on red might be too much. Too dark isn’t right for my complexion. Pink? Ombre? The hair world is my oyster.

Mom clothes? They are a job requirement, but I’m done buying yoga pants for a while. Instead, I am going to focus on shoes beginning with the Swedish Hasbeens that appeared on my doorstep just yesterday.

I was wrong in believing that by forty I’d have grown stylishly wise, settling on my appropriate grown up look. Its a new world these 2010’s, so maybe the old rules don’t apply.

Besides, I think it’s true what they say about forty being the new thirty.

If that’s the case, I have almost ten more years of creative expression before I turn fifty, a very grown up age. Let’s hope fifty will not be the new forty or I’ll be one very confused lady.

How about you? Are you happy with your look or do you mix it up? Do you agree that change is good or is consistency a better approach?

Original 1980’s Jellies. I had the pink and the clear.

Modern Mod. Richard Bush for i-d magazine September 2011.

Free People embroidered pea coat. Mine had the embroidery up and down the front along the buttons. Loved it madly.

Betsey Johnson Fillmore Street store was like a home away from home. I loved walking through those doors.

The libra symbol I had tattoed on my left middle finger. Didn’t take long to remove, only a few visits to the zapping machine. Didn’t think it was appropriate when I became a teacher. Too many questions.

Gold Havainas. I was so determined not to buy a pair (or two) this year and instead opted for Tkees and Ipanemas. My resolve failed when the Tkees got killed on the New York streets and I found this pair at Club Monaco on the Upper West side. Boring, right?

Be Present Agility pant with the pink lotus embroidered at center back. I do love these.

Lauren Conrad apparently got tired of her blonde, too.

Butterscotch reddish blonde for Fall. But is it different enough?

Swedish Hasbeens Classic Slip On Super High (Hello Kitty stickers not included). They’re super easy to walk in even my four year old can do it. Do yourself a favor, if you buy a pair online, and buy an entire size up. They rum really small! 

XOM

Coola and Kiss My Face Sunscreen Review

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

A vacation is the best time to test drive new batch of sunscreens.

This week we’re trying Coola Mineral Baby in SPF 45, Kiss My Face Sun Spray Lotion SPF 30 and their Kids 100% natural Pink Sun Stick SPF 30.

The Coola was on the expensive side at $35.00 for three fluid ounces. It’s chemical free, 100% paraben free and thick like Crisco. The active ingredients are 10% titanium 7% zinc.

With that much protection (i.e. zinc) and due to its heavy nature, the stuff goes on white and stays that way. I’m using it on my face (and on the girls’ faces and shoulders). It’s protecting us great, but leaves me feeling like a living, breathing, walking grease ball. It’s the price I pay for serious coverage. I’ve yet to find a  chemical free brand that leaves me unbuttered, but I continue to test and try (Skinceuticals makes one similar and a bit less expensive, but with a similar texture and terrific protection).

I bought the Kiss My Face at Whole Foods the day before we left. I like the larger size and the spray top makes application really easy. It doesn’t go on thick (much more watery than the Coola), but I like that about it especially when it comes to re-application for the kids. I sprayed them right over the stuck on sand and it blended in great. I think I’ve found my newest family favorite, which is always exciting.

The Sun Stick is a cute idea and I bought the pink (they also make blue) knowing the girls would be into it. It’s a good thing to have in the beach bag and like I figured, the kids want to wear it. The only drawback is that the color isn’t brighter. Maybe I’ve been too bombarded with neon colors this season, but I wished the pale pink was more flourescent. I would streak it across my own nose and cheeks if it was!

What sunscreens do you swear by? 

Kiss My Face SPF 30 Lotion and Coola Mineral Baby SPF 45

Kiss Mt Face Pink Sun Stick SPF 30

Sophie all buttered up and wearing my hat by Mud Pie. $25.00 at Paper Buzz, Raleigh!

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