Aux bons soins de la peau

In last week’s Lipstick, Lunch and Louboutins post, some very kind commenters asked about my skincare routines. I don’t have any big secrets, and most of the products I’m using were originally recommended by other bloggers, but here are the “dirty dozen” that I believe are the main contributors to keeping skin looking good.

1. Genes. Seriously.  Going back through old family photos, I notice that my ancestors (on both sides) don’t particularly tend toward a lot of wrinkles. (Though there’s probably some serious jowl action in my future.) I may not have won any genetic lotteries when it comes to my waistline, but Mother Nature threw me a bone in the skin department. And probably carrying those few “extra” pounds helps fill out the face a bit.

2. Not smoking.

3. Sunscreen. I started using sunscreen seriously in my mid-30’s, though I wish I’d paid more attention to my neck. Though childhood summers were spent continuously outdoors and without any sun protection,  I tanned but rarely burned, and once I was out of my teens was never much of a sunbather or beach bunny. I’ve never seen the inside of a tanning salon.

4. Clarisonic. I think more than any other single skin care product I’ve tried, this one really delivers. It has improved the texture and clarity of my skin, made pores less apparent, and I’m on the record that they’ll have to pry this device out of my cold, dead fingers. I’ve recently re-upped my usage to twice daily (with the “sensitive skin” brush) because I do think it makes that much difference. Oh, and I rarely use any cleansers on my skin anymore, even “gentle” ones.

5. IPL. Last year, I took the plunge and underwent an IPL laser treatment at my dermatologist’s office with the  goal of removing a large pregnancy-induced melasma on my right cheek. While the spot did fade substantially, it returned somewhat after a few months (though much lighter) but the main difference I noticed from the IPL was that my skin was firmer and smoother. I’m thinking about another round in a couple of months.

6. Makeup removal. Based on a recommendation from Tish at A Femme d’un Certain Age, I’ve been using a large cotton pad moistened with Bioderma ABC to remove makeup. This is some of the best makeup remover I’ve ever tried!  And it’s gentle, soothing, non-oily and takes off even waterproof mascara. If you’re balking at the price, know that in 3 months of daily use, I’ve gone through less than 1/4 of the one liter bottle.

7. Moisture mask, left on overnight once a week.  Another recommendation from Tish. She likes the Avene Eau Thermale Soothing Moisture Mask, and so do I. The first time I tried it, I was amazed at how plump and dewy my skin looked the next morning.

8. Being willing to re-think assumptions. Since my early teens, I’d considered my skin Oily to Very Oily. This may have been true when I was younger, but after hearing half a dozen facialists in the last few years ask me, “do you moisturize at all?” I switched from products for oily-to-combination skin to those for “mature” or “dry” skin (though I apply sparingly on my nose and chin) and noticed almost immediate improvement.

9. Fat. The kind you eat. Low-fat diets left my skin looking dull and dessicated. Upping both the protein and fat content in my diet not only helped me to lose weight, but improved the texture of my skin.

10. Retin-A.  Don’t waste your time with the over-the-counter “retinol” stuff.  Go see a dermatologist and get the real deal. I’ve been using for a few months now, and along with everything else, think this is yet another piece of the skincare puzzle that can improve texture and tone.

And then there are some products that make my skin look probably better than it is:

11.  Clinique City Block Sheer 25. This slightly tinted sunscreen is what I wear (over moisturizer) most days. It not only evens out my skin tone, but imparts a hint of radiance.  Since I started using this, I’ve stopped bothering with liquid foundation, using only…

12. Diorskin Forever Powder.  I love that this also has SPF 25. It makes my pores almost vanish, cuts the shine on my nose but doesn’t make the rest of my face look like a powdered donut. Coverage is very sheer, but effective. One compact lasts forever. My only gripe is that in Europe you can purchase refills; here in the US they only sell the complete compact.

Do you have any tried-and-true skincare tips?

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  1. Good genes, no smoking and minimal sun will go a long way, won’t they? Your skin is lovely and thanks for sharing your routines. I am a huge Retin-A fan, for over 20 years. Nothing compares for effectiveness IMHO. I will have to try the Clinique City Block.

  2. I have terrible spots from melasma and the sun, so i use Clinique even better dark spot corrector and the sunscreen they recommend to go with it. Works like a charm. I too use the Clarisonic brush. I use a night cream and have also done IPL and a face peel. Seriously considering doing botox just to see how it looks. But I will never plump my lips- that is a one way ticket to uglyville.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  3. Pseu, great tips.
    I’m going to try the clarisonic and the makeup remover.

    Also, can you give me the contact info for the makeup person that you used. I may not be able to turn back the clock, but I can improve my appearance with the correct makeup.

  4. Pseu,
    I’m interested to know if there is a significant difference between the Clarisonic and the (much less expensive) Olay version. I’m willing to spring for the extra $ if I think it is really worth it.

  5. Great tips, thank you for posting! I have been following your blog for a while now, but this is my first time commenting. I’m a cosmetics/beauty junkie so had to jump in on this one. I agree re: the Clarisonic brush. I bought one a few years ago, and although I choked on the price at the start, it has been worth every last penny and then some. It is really is the best beauty investment I have ever made. I tried IPL a few years ago but had a frightening experience – the technician burned my forehead and if it were not for the quick thinking of the dermatologist, I would have been left with permanent scars. I have a lot of pregnancy-related hyperpigmentation but I am loathe to try IPL again.
    Louise @ cosmetic bee

  6. Your list has many wonderful tips…
    I am going to try that sensitive skin overnight mask as I could use some more moisture!

    I bought the Olay version of the Clairisonic and love mine.
    I found Vitamin C serum very helpful in shrinking my pores…other than that I have been using Aveda’s Green Science line lately.

    There are as many products out there as there are skin types…it is so nice to have someone like yourself with lovely skin share their products and hints.
    Thank you!

  7. I agree completely with #1-4: I too am lucky enough to have gained excellent genesin age-proofing my skin (and ditto re: waistline!). But the Clarisonic is soooo wonderful: worth every penny I spent in the extra Plus version, and I did get mine on Ebay. This summer, I ahve focused on a protein/vegetable/fruit diet and the difference in my skin is great: the change in eliminating sugar, white flour, and processed foods is, well, dramatic, as is the boost to my energy level.

  8. Returning from a week at a lake I think you’re spot-on about avoiding the sun. The difference between my tummy, which has never seen the sun, and my face tells the entire story.

  9. 1. I wear a hat if I’m in the sun all day. I don’t use sunscreen because when you look at the ingredients on the cosmetics database, they are horrible for our bodies. They are finding out that they don’t help much either. Abd vit D from the sun is sooo good for us.

    2. Manuka Honey is all natural and great as a mask.

    3. I wash my face with water and it’s never looked better.

    4. Good fats, grass fed butter and coconut oil in my diet. Eating healthy has made a difference for me.

    Great Post.
    xo Jana

  10. I am horrendously allergic to nearly all product – so i use organic baby ranges, but i am with you – eat healthy fats, lots of water, genes and i really expected my skin to deteriorate badly when i had to stop using any chemical on it – in fact it didnt – so i think the chemicals are bad – really bad and a bit of fat on the face really doesnt hurt! xx

  11. I too swear by my Clarisonic, I have had mine for nearly a year now and it has got rid of those pesky small white spots that can settle under the skin. I find that Clinique dark spot corrector has faded a sunspot on my cheek, it is still there but not as bad as it was. If you want to grow eyelashes or brows I would highly recommend revitalash, it is expensive but you can get it cheaper on line.

  12. Thanks for all the info. I also have a Clarisonic and love it. I think I first read about it on your blog. I generally follow a similar skin care plan using Paula’s Choice Resist line, Anthelios sunscreen, and Laura Mercier mineral powder dusted loosely or buffed in to even out the skin tone. I get one or two laser treatments every September, because try as I do, I still get some brown spots from the sun. Lastly, I’ve noticed that when I eat too many sugary foods, my skin loses something in color and texture. I also take a good multivitamin twice a day and I think that makes a difference too.

  13. Your skin is lovely. Thanks for sharing the tips. Regarding the Clarasonic, do you use it with the makeup remover you mentioned or just with water? I too have sensitive skin and am always on the look for products and tools I can safely use.

  14. I did notice your creamy and supple skin in one of your posts last week. Just lovely skin you have.

    I’m thinking I will ask for a Clarisonic for my birthday. I have heard nothing but good things about it.

    Also, the IPL sounds interesting. I have some dark spots – sun damage – on my face that I loathe. Really loathe. Too bad they came back on you, but I would settle for a considerable fade. I am going to look into that.

    The skincare tips I would share, you have already mentioned – sunscreen, take off your makeup every night with a quality remover. But I would also add going easy on alcohol, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and regular facials.

    Great post – thank you for the wonderful tips!

  15. I keep meaning to be more disciplined about using the Clarisonic. I know it really works.

    I avoid the sun.

  16. Thanks to your post on the Clarisonic, I’ve pulled my Mia out of the drawer and started to use it again. Yep, big difference only in three days.

    Like you, I am a former oily-skinned woman who has found a need for moisturizer with middle age (I am 51). I use a mix of high and low products which seem to work for me. The L’Oreal products in the red bottles along with a drop of self-tanner (thank you A femme…) and Neutrogena night cremes with Retinol are my favorites. I had meh results with Retin-A.

    Target Up and Up Daily Renewal cleanser has become my favorite of any cleanser, expensive or not, that I have used.

    Dr. Dennis Gross’ Extra Strength Alpha-Beta Peels leave my skin feeling like the “junk” has been swept away.

    I love the little Philosophy When Hope is Not Enough serum capsules, which are great for travel.

    I’ve done a couple of laser peels and I do Botox. I’m not opposed to doing something more (i.e. a subtle facelift) when it is necessary. However I feel that continual maintenance of le visage is much more preferable than a complete overhaul!

  17. So many of your commentators are delighted with this Clairisonic brush, that I must do some investigation myself.
    Lots of ideas to think about!
    I have tried to keep skincare simple and try to adjust to the changes years bring, without too much fuss.
    Thank you for sharing your secrets!

  18. I was useing Cinique City Sheer for last few years but now is too greasy for me…anyone now something more easy and not so sticky?

  19. The Clarisonic is, hands down, the best investment I ever made. I, too, went from oily to dry as a bone, quite literally overnight. After trying virtually everything, I am now using organic skincare: Ren, Pai, and By Elizabeth Dehn, who makes the most amazing shea moisturizer ever. I haven’t found The Tinted Moisturizer yet. Have tried Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier, but feel rather meh about them. Retin A and vitamin C burned my skin worse than any sum burn, with blisters, so I think I may be stuck w my pregnancy and antibiotic brown spots. Ugh.

  20. Oh! And take vitamin d, fish oil, and vitamin e supplements. They really seem to work, especially if you’re eating well, as other commenters stated here.

  21. I go to be early. Drink copious amounts of water and walk daily in the woods. I do not drink. Eat oily fish weekly, little meat, fruits daily and so forth. My beauty regime begins in my kitchen.
    I make most of my masks, skin lotions, face creams.

  22. Is the Bioderm product ABCderm H20 in the one-liter bottle? (There’s also an ABC Cleansing Milk and an ABC Foaming Cleanser).

    Also, are Bioderm and Avene products sold in drugstores or other brick/mortal outlets? Thanks, Sisty

    PS Your skin looks lovely!

  23. Totally adore my Clarisonic, even with my super-sensitive skin–I use it with unscented Dove in the shower and whatever unscented cleanser I have on hand at the sink. Also Retin-A–yes, even with my sensitive skin–work up slowly. I use Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50 with Purescreen–not the chemical one–and top it with either some slightly tinted loose powder to cut the pallor, or Neutrogena Skin Clearing powder makeup, or Clinique foundation, depending on the season,and desired level of coverage.

    I’ve been having some atopic dermatitis on my upper eyelid, and have found that a tiny touch of vaseline (!) cures it and looks good to boot. Gel eyeliner and tubes mascara are resistant to it–come off easily with water or eyelid scrubs (Ocusoft).

  24. Tabitha – nut butters are so good for us! My favorite is organic almond butter.

    RoseAG – yes, that can be a startling contrast!

    Jana – those are all great tips. I do also wear a hat when I’m out working in the garden or on those rare occasions I’m at the beach.

    fashion and frank – the sunscreen I use is mineral only, just zinc and titanium dioxide. Those tend to be safe even for people with allergies.

    Patti – thank you! I’ve had several people with beautiful skin recommend the Retin-A, so I finally added to my routine.

    Chicatanyage – isn’t the Clarisonic wonderful? I’ve tried all kinds of creams on my age spot, including some heavy-duty prescription ones, but nothing’s done much to fade it. My derm says that hormonally generated spots are particularly stubborn and resistant.

  25. pinkazalea – I’ve also noticed that limiting sugar and carbs seems to improve my skin.

    The Style Crone – and you have such stylish hats! The Bioderma ABC is actually intended for cleaning babies but it’s also a great makeup remover. Hope you like it!

    Mary – thank you so much. I use the Clarisonic just with water, after having removed the makeup with the Bioderma.

    Adrienne – thanks very much! Oh, the Clarisonic is wonderful! I hope you give it a try. IPL is great for those sun damaged areas. And your tips are good ones too.

    The Glamorous Housewife – I’m glad the Clinique works for you. I’ve never had any luck with topical lighteners. I’m afraid of peels!

  26. Belle de Ville – let me know how you like them. I think you’ll love the Clarisonic!

    Brian is my makeup/hair guy. [email protected]

    Here’s his website:

    He’s out of town for a couple of weeks on vacation, but should be back 3rd week of August.

    Jill Ann – I haven’t tried the Olay version so can’t really compare them. I haven’t regretted a penny of my Clarisonic purchase.

    Susan Tiner – you have very nice skin. Avoiding the sun is a good habit.

    Louise – thanks for commenting! What a horrible IPL experience! When I had mine done the derm did the work herself, so I felt comfortable that I was in good hands.

    Debra – thanks for all of the great recommendations!

    hostess – I’ve been hearing good things about vitamin C serums too. And it’s true, everyone’s skin is different and responds to different things.

  27. Pearl – glad to hear you got a good deal on the Clarisonic. I do agree that diet can play an important part too.

    metscan – I think you might like the Clarisonic. The design of the device itself is quite nice too.

    matilda – have you tried some of the Neutrogena products? I know they have one that goes on a bit drier and more matte.

    Gretchen – it’s true that Retin A can be tough for some peoples’ skin to take. I wasn’t a fan of tinted moisturizers either but really do like the Clinique.

    Fashion, Art … – I do agree that healthy habits can only help our skin. I haven’t tried making any masks or lotions, though I hear avocado is a good one.

    sisty – yes, the H2O in the one liter bottle. It looks like water. I know Avene is sold in the US, at least online, but don’t know if any brick/mortar stores carry it or the Bioderma. I’ve only found online. And thank you!

  28. kbfenner – Good go know that some of the Neutrogena products have the non-chemical formulas. And I’ve found that on those occasion when my skin is irritated, vaseline yes, or even Aquaphor is a great soother.

    Tiffany – good for you with the sunscreen. Wish I’d learned that one much earlier. Let us know how you like the Clarisonic, and thank you so much.

  29. I’ve been a stickler for sunscreen since I was about 20, but it was probably too late after a childhood in the tropics … Also a fan of the Clinique block, Retin A, laser and good fats in the diet. I’ve got the other genetic ‘combo’ – naturally quite skinnty, thus my face easily looks haggard. You have just prompted me to finally buy the Clarisonic! If I could have skin half as lovely as yours I’d be happy.

  30. Could you please tell me all about the Clairsonic. I haven’t seen it readily available in Australia but given all the positive comments, I think I want one…!!

  31. Thank you for all these interesting tips….the Diorskin forever powder seems a must buy,plus look into the vit c serum….not sure about the Clarisonic as my dermatologist is not happy about them…feels in the long term more damage is done to the skin.

    I have very dry sensitive skin and as a red head have to be careful what I use on my face.

    Large hats & big sunspecs + factor 50 sunscreen when in the sun is my tip!!!!! Ida

  32. Love this post, so many great tips! I want to get the Clarisonic, after reading all of the positive comments!
    Just have to add one more thing, I used to use the Clinique city block, until my derm. gave me a sample of Revision Intellishade. I have been hooked ever since, and have gotten tons of compliments on my skin. It is available online. It is a great tinted moisturizer, with sunscreen.

  33. ida – I really do like the Diorskin powder. Play around with application with a brush or the sponge. Everyone has their own preference. Big hats in the sun are a must!

    Camomile – I first posted about it here:

    I’ve been using for over a year now, and am still very happy with it. They now have a smaller model, the Mia which is a bit less.

    Nancy B. Hartley – I’ve had great results with the Clarisonic, and I was quite skeptical at first. Revision Intellishade is new to me, but will definitely check it out, thanks!

  34. The first three, plus good fats. Otherwise, I think my routine has been getting simpler as I age. Perhaps I should consider some of the things you mention, particularly the clarisonic since it seems to get such positive comments.