"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beauté: Brown skincare essentials

Naomi Cambell
Photo: de.flash-screen.com

"Nature gives you the face you have at twenty;
it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty." 
- Coco Chanel

Bonjour mes amours,

For most of my adult life I have been an unabashed make-up and skincare drugstore counter devotee. Alas, maturité has required me to reassess my devotion. No matter what some pundits say, 40-something dames' need oh so much more skincare firepower than any drugstore product can provide. That reality encouraged me to move beyond my comfortable, staid beauty boundaries and into a truly glorious new world. It is not my intention to look 'young.' I'm not - and I'm not disingenuous enough to say that I don't miss my youthful visage, but that's the price you pay for living and the wisdom that accompanies it. What I want is to look like I feel - lush, beautiful, sexy, fresh.

"Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art." Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

For the last 2 years I've been doing my research, learning, experimenting, then doing it all again for each new product - with fantastic results. I have learned so much, you know I've gotta share. The internets are a very good thing. But my only bones of contention are that the vast majority of information, reviews, swatches, etc. I've found, about high-end skincare and cosmetic products, very rarely, if ever, address the unique needs of we brown skinned divas:

* Brown skin is especially sensitive and prone to inflammation and acne (our naturally oily skin may mean that 'black don't crack' - YAY! But it also means that we have the highest rates of acne - Boo!)
* 'Ashy' skin on Brown bodies (yes all women experience 'the ashy' but it's especially noticeable on we brown skinned sistahs).
* Post-Inflammatory-Hyperpigmentation (PIH) a.k.a. dark brown spots. 

Conversely, the Sistah-centered sites (I subscribe to religiously) very rarely, if ever, discuss high-end cosmetics and skincare products or 40+something cosmetic and skincare needs. Thus, the results of my research and experimentation, I'll share here with you, are a combination of all three. Imperfect to be sure - I'm only one woman after all, and one size definitely does not fit all. But, as far as I know and have seen, I'm the only one doing this. So I figure it starts with me. No woman is an island, , please, ask me questions, give me tips, send me photos - they will be most welcome and most appreciated. 

I've recently tweaked my skincare regimen [in a way that specifically addresses the three Brown skin concerns I mentioned above (but also totally applies to sistahs of every ethnicity and skin tone)], discovered some fantabulous cosmetics, and have found some wonderful Nappy haircare products I want to share with you. Oui, I'm going to blog about them all, but let's start with skincare. Shall we?...

"I know who I am. I am not perfect.
I am not the most beautiful woman in the world.
But I am one of them." - Mary J. Blige

Of course, every great (and by great I mean the most effective/successful) skincare regimen begins with a strong foundation - make-up removal before you hit the sheets:

Eye Makeup Remover

Actually, this is one high end product I've been using for more than 25 years. It removes all traces of mascara and eye makeup, no matter how sensitive your skin is and doesn't mess w/ your contacts.

Make-up remover

Yes, this is another drugstore staple. I've tried similar high-end products (Chanel, Elizabeth Arden, Clinique, and Lancome) - and nothing compares to Pond's Cold Cream (irregardless of the price tag). It doesn't have SPF anything; nor does it erase wrinkles, fine lines or discoloration. All it does is gently but completely remove all traces of makeup - for all skin types (including sensitive and acne prone) and leaves your skin soft and velvety smooth.

Laninsoh Clean & Conditioning Cloths
Pack of 6 (80 count in each pack) 
$20 @ amazon.com

Yes, I can fully admit that after a late night on the town with Mr. Gorgeous, the last thing I want to do is spend 10 minutes painstakingly removing my makeup. These wipes provide the perfect shortcut. They completely remove all eye and face makeup in about 60 seconds. And they're liberally laced with Lanolin - leaving your skin soft, silky smooth and clean. Yep, these allow you to fall into bed with no guilt ;-}

"I came to the conclusion that spending fifteen to twenty minutes preparing for each new day is worth every second." - Tish Jett, Forever Chic

Proactiv - 3-step system
Acne Jiujitsu!

This is another product that I've been using for 25+ years and haven't been able to find anything better:

Step 1: the Renewing Cleanser is a micro-crystal benzoyl peroxide formula (2.5% prescription strength). This is the best exfoliant I've ever used - the 'beads' are fine, soft, gentle and extremely effective in preventing and eradicating acne flareups - medicated exfoliation gentle enough to use at least once a day. 

Step 2: Revitalizing Toner - contains no alcohol and is packed w/ Humectants that shrink pores and help to keep the moisture in the upper layers of the epidermis (I usually use this late night after after cleansing my face with the Laninsoh wipes). It's also great on a hot summer-beach-no make up day - a quick refresher for parched skin. 

Step 3: Repairing Treatment: this stuff is powerful and amazingly effective at keeping my skin acne free and pretty-quickly clearing up my infrequent breakouts and the PIH that results from them (though I am looking for a good skin bleaching cream to deal with PIH, stay tuned). 

Elizabeth Arden Prevage 
Anti-Aging Serum

The party line: protects and corrects the look of skin, helping shield it from environmental assaults and intercepting future aging signs to dramatically improve the look of sun-damaged skin. It's formulated with advanced ldebenone technology, the most powerful antioxidant available today.

The real deal: packed with retinols, Prevage improves the texture and tone of my skin; with consistent use fades discoloration and shrinks my pores; kicks fine lines and wrinkles collective asses; and leaves my skin luminous while totally impeding all things aging - LOVE this!!!!

Firming Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream

I love Chanel cosmetics. The pigments are rich, deep and true - perfect for we brown skinned divas of every shade. One day when I was shopping for makeup, my counter lady -Susan- gave me a generous sample of the Le Lift - so I tried it. Love it! With regular use (once in the morning, once at night) the light sweetly scented cream visibly lightens the dark circles under my eyes (note: my circles aren't that dark), and makes the skin around my eyes soft, supple and glowing. Who knew? Now you do ;-}


Note: Be sure to make friends with one specific counter lady, at your favorite 'big' store at your mall. Susan slips me large sizes of every sample imaginable from her company's cosmetic/skincare lines,  gives me major discounts when she can, calls or texts me the latest sales and coupons, and when I run out of my essentials, I only have to text or call and she packages my essentials and puts them in the  post (no matter the brand). She overnights them for no extra charge. But be sure to show your lady some major love - I send her a Christmas card every year w/ a nice tip for all her care ($20-$40 goes a long way). And I periodically bring her a small bouquet of flowers or bottle of my favorite bubbly. It's a very good thing - trust me. And you can't have too many diva-girlfriends ;-}


Elizabeth Arden 

I have always had incredibly oily skin. At least I did until I reached 40. Now my face becomes quite parched, especially during the winter :-{ Ceramide drenches my skin. It's packed with retinols. I find that, along with it's fabulous SPF 30 protection, it boosts the effects of Elizabeth Arden's Prevage Serum, 

* After I let the Ceramide soak in (1-2 minutes), I smooth the Proactiv Repairing Treatment (#3) on the pimply and/or trouble spots on my face. That way there's no irritation or discomfort from the second dose of Benzoyl Peroxide.

I freely acknowledge that this 40 something skincare regimen is quite costly. So much so that, for one full year, I tried drugstore counter substitutes (again a whole lot of research, trial and error). I quickly found that my less expensive versions gave me 1/3rd of the results - completely unacceptable. The one saving grace is that each of these admittedly expensive products come in quite generous portions and last a long time. Yes, it's an investment but the quality and results are undeniable. I'm SO worth it and so are you ;-} Let me know if any of these products work for you - I'm dying to know!

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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