The Skincare Matrix of Excellence

Beauty whore.  Sample slut. Product junkie. tells me I’ve squandered away at least 5 digits worth of cash on hope in a jar over the past several years.  My habit is only further enabled by the fact I work in an industry where I’m surrounded by beauty experts and live in NYC where I have access to EVERYTHING.

I like to think all this beautylucious hedonism has been in the name of science and female sisterhood, so here at your feet I present the products I swear by so you at least can retire in comfort.

First, I’ll start by saying that my skin is one of the areas where I got lucky thanks to my parents and the fact that I find laying in the sun boring.  I say this because there is no miracle product that does it all (expect Retinol).  My skin 44 years old, normal to dry and has a tendency to freckle (which I chose to embrace, not erase).  This means not all the products will be for you, but it’s a starting point.

Use the Matrix of Excellence like this; the horizontal like is a spectrum of my “musts” (products I want with me on a desert island) and my “lusts” (nice to haves).  The vertical line represents the costs with the more expensive products up top and the lower priced ones on the bottom.

1. Retinol (about $90 to $200).  I’ve said it before, this is the stuff dreams are made of and if you’re not using it missing out on one of the best anti-agers in the world.  It’s one of the only products that is consistently proven to reduce fine lines in clinical studies.  It takes a while for your skin to get used to it and honestly doesn’t feel great when you put it on, but has a huge long-term impact.  There are great over the counter brands you can start with, but I’ve worked my way up to prescription strength 1%.  The only rub is that it makes your skin super sensitive to the sun and things like waxing.  I use only a pea size drop 3 times a week at night from September thru April.  I lay off the stuff in the summer due to the sun and heat.

2. Skinceuticals C&E Ferulic ($146) Another derm darling, this is an anti-oxidant serum I put under my moisturizer every morning.  Basically, it uses mega Vitamin C, Vitamin E and ferulic acid to reduce and prevent skin aging (fine likes and hyper-pigmentation).  Bonus extra: it helps protect against UV damage, helps build collagen and claims to brighten your skin.

3. Clarsonic Mia Cleansing Brush ($119)  It’s like a Sonic Care toothbrush for your face.  Or a vibrator.  You chose the metaphor. Seriously though, this that gets every bit of dirt off and makes me want to wash my face.  Just be careful, you can over exfoliate with it and use the gentil brush head.

4. DDF Oil Free Hydrator SPF 45 ($48) I am the laziest person I know and love skipping a step.  Enter the Oil Free Hydrator.  I rely on it in the summer because it isn’t as occlusive as richer moisturizers and has a built-in SPF that’s actually effective (my freckles don’t burst out as much).

5. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($10)  Super cheap and gentle on the skin.  I don’t know a derm who doesn’t recommend this.  Do not overpay for your cleanser when there is a product this good.

6. Neutrogena Make-up Remover Wipes ($8) Another super hero product for lazy girls like me.  Thanks to these guys I actually get my make-up off at night.  They should make wipes for everything.

7. Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Eye Cream ($20) Honestly, I am less loyal when it comes to my eye cremes, but this one is in first position in my rotation right now. It’s affordable and doesn’t do weird things under my eye make-up, like pill.

8. Skinceuticals Physical Fusion SPF Defense 50 ($64) When I’m being a good girl and using my sunscreen, this is my go to because it meets all those confusing new sunscreen requirements and it doesn’t leave you with that Kabuki white face.  In fact, it has a slight bit of coverage that makes it seem a bit like a BB creme.

9. Naphcon A Eyedrops ($10.99) a little secret I learned is to make sure your eyes are as bright as they can be.  A simple trick that makes a big difference in how you look, but is often overlooked.

10. Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir ($26) I don’t use Retinol every night and generally skip it in the summer because the heat and sun make your skin more sensitive to hyper-pigmentation, so instead I use this.  No matter what I’ve done the night before, if I put this on before I go to bed I wake up looking like I went to bed at 8PM and didn’t eat carbs.

11. Latisse ($120)  This is the stuff that makes your eyelashes grow like crazy.  You’ll need a doctor’s prescription, it takes a few weeks to see results, your eyelids can get a little red in the beginning, it’s been reported to cause some darkening of lighter colored eyes (rare) and can have an impact on your eyeglass prescription.  But even after all that, I still swear by it.

12. Crest White Strips ($32)  Having white teeth (not too white) and bright whites of the eyes are two subtle signs that radiate health, vitality and youth.  This is easy and it works.  I do it twice a year; spring and fall.

13. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($38)  Contradiction alert, this is this the one cleanser I will overpay for because it smells do damn good like everything else Fresh makes.  It also makes my skin feel clean but not stripped.

14. Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream ($25)  It’s just a really good all around moisturizer, but it doesn’t have SPF so it doesn’t fit my lazy girl lifestyle.

15. CeraVa PM ($13) My skin ges super dry in the winter or after I’ve had a peel.  It’s very moisturizing and works a little This is the stuff that ends that tight, flaky feel.  This works and it’s cheap.

16. DDF Wrinkle Resist Pore Minimizer ($85) Another moisture boost I give myself in colder weather.  It kind of works like a primer as well.  i put this on over my C&E, but before my moisturizer in the morning.  it really moisturizes without feeling heavy.

17. La Mer The Eye Balm ($165)  Overall I like LaMer, but this is the product that works the hardest in my opinion.

18. Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil ($150) All natural I use this to give my face extra moisture at night during the winter.  It smells like a bottle of roses getting smeared on my face.

19. Ren Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream ($55)  I like this a little better than Olay Regenerist, but it’s price isn’t as nice.  I love all Ren products because they’re paraben free and work very well.  This one moisturizes my skin just right, but you will need a sunscreen on top.

20. Amore Pacific Lip Treatment ($35)  I love this skin care line from Korea and it’s lip goo is the best I’ve tried to keep my forever flakey lips smooth as a baby’s butt.

What’s your “must list” of favorite skin care products?