My Skin Care Essentials

Over the time I have been doing this blog the request I get the most frequently is for me to publish my skin care routine.  I wrote about this from a personal standpoint in a previous post. I explained the what may work for me might not work for another person.  I have honestly struggled with what to do about this- it makes me feel vain to write about my personal beauty rituals.  I never want anyone to think I am trying to preach to them about what to do or how to feel about their skin and appearance in general. So what I have decided to do is write about a few products at a time in different entries that have changed my skin for the better and that I believe can help most people in most age groups, skin types and income brackets. Healthy skin is always my focus, not perfect looking skin. And this might sound trite but I really do believe a smile and confidence is the best beauty accessory you’ve got- not a perfect dewy highlight.

  1. Clarisonic/Cleansing Brushes   – Prices vary -$130 and up.I remember when these first hit the market I was beyond skeptical and thought the price point was ludicrous.  It took me several times of seeing the product demonstrated to make me believe it did anything that you couldn’t do on your own scrubbing with an exfoliant with your hands.  However once I was told the creators of Sonicare came up with this product I became more curious and started doing research.  Sonicare toothbrushes have changed my dental health experience so I finally took the plunge and purchased a Clarisonic to see if it could do for my skin what the Sonicare did for my teeth. I have to say that the claims the company makes are all true for me (  Refined pores, my existing skincare products worked more effectively, and most importantly to me it helped my hormonal cystic acne and texture.  The brush head vibrates on this, it does not spin as you will see most of the less expensive versions of this do. The vibrations are what penetrates the skin on such a deep level and makes such a different not just in cleanliness but in making your skin prepared to be at its best when you apply your skincare prodcuts.  I have had my Mia 2 for several years now and it still works great. This product has a high up front cost but the results you see make it worthwhile and the life of the product is so long you truly do get your money’s worth.  A less expensive alternative cleansing brush that I like, although it functions differently is the Mary Kay “Skinvigorate” for $50.  The brush works via rotation and defintely cleans the skin far more throughly than using hands or washcloth alone.


Clarisonic varying prices depending on model.  Mia 2 pictured here is usually around $115


Mary Kay- Skinvigorate- $50

2.Retin A– When I was in my early 20’s I began using Retin A.  My best friend told me about it.  She said it was a miracle product that helped prevent and even treat wrinkles as well as destroying acne. I went to my primary care physician and inquired about it and was delighted with the results and it is still a product I use to this day.

You have to be careful with several things with Retin A.  It is a powerful prescription       product. This is not a product to be used every day.  The product makes you sensitive to sun- so you must be vigilant with your sunblock.  Retin A is essentially a very intense concentration of vitamin A.  Retin A makes your cell turnover intensify and produces collagen production and attacks acne this way. (

I encourage clients to start with a retinol treatment.  This is an over the counter product that has a lower concentration of Retin A.  Some of my faves are Peter Thomas Roth’s, Murad, Philosophy, Sunday Riley, and Roc. Once your skin gets used to retinol then it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about going with a prescription.  Many insurance companies cover Retin A and it is in various generic forms.

You MUST moisturize and exfoliate with this product.  If you do not you will look like you have snakeskin peeling off your face. More tips to come on that below.


Retin A– Prices will vary with insurance and co pays.


Roc Retinol- Around $20 at Drugstores.

3. Eye Cream– Algenist Renewal Balm.

All eye creams claim to change your life and make promises they usually do not live up to in any way shape or form.  What an average eye cream, especially a drug store one, can do for you is generally keep the area well hydrated to prevent wrinkles.  However there have been huge advances over the years bonding ingredients like peptides, amino acids and anti oxidants to penetrate the skin which is something that can prevent and treat aging  along with providing smoothing hydration. Ingredients such as caffeine and burnet root have also made their way into eye creams and these help dark circles and puffiness.  My all time favorite eye cream is the “Complete Renewal Eye Balm by Algenist”. It has a good balance of hydrators, lipids, blood circulators yet it is  gentle on the eye area . One huge bonus with using an eye cream day and night and vigilantly is that your concealer will work SO much better.  If you have dry, dead, flaky skin under your eye concealer will actually make it look worse. Less expensive eye creams that I do like, although they are not as strong anti-agers are Benefit Cosmetics “It’s Potent”  $32 and all of the First Aid Beauty eye creams which are generally in the $30 range and are a great option for anyone with sensitive skin- the brand was created for people with allergy prone skin.


$65 at Sephora and Ulta.

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$35 Utla, Sephora

4. Natural Oils– I have written a lot about my love for natural oils.  For me few things have made my skin have such a dramatic and immediate positive reaction.  Oils are an interesting category in that oils have been part of European and other culture’s routines for a long time, but is relatively new to the US.  Here in the US mineral oil was one of the few oils you saw listed on ingredients in skin care items. Also few people used oils as a stand alone product to hydrate, cleanse, heal acne, and prevent aging.  The oils that you see on the market now like jojoba, argan, almond, sesame (the list goes on) all focus on one thing primarily- repairing the skin’s moisture barrier -what this does is make the texture of the skin more supple along with smoothing out dry spots and healing breakouts-and then there is usually a secondary function such as brightening or tightening.

Oils are wonderful in part because there are so many kinds, and so many price points.  Everyone can afford to treat themselves. Oils tend to come in two categories- a pure oil – argan and coconut are great examples.  These oils are usually sold by themselves, often at health food stores, and are generally inexpensive.  Then there are blends like Fresh’s Seaberry oil, Eminence’s Firming oil and Honest Beauty’s dry oil blend that is coming out next month all of which are favorites of mine.  These oils come at a higher price due to the quality of the oils and the blends of different oils that have different functions.   I gravitate towards mix blends when my skin is more intensely dry from the weather or I have been undergoing a chemical peel series- something where my skin needs an extra boost to recover.

eminence-rosehip-triple-c-e-firming-oil   images

Rosehip oil -$110              Eminence Webstore or

Health food store coconut oil- $6-15 usually.

5. Scrubs-My last essential for this piece is more of a category than one favorite product- exfolriation.  Exfoliation helps skin cell turn over, which prevents aging and helps heal acne.  Exfoliation also makes your complexion makeup go on smoothly and easily.  If you ever put your foundation on and see little flakes of skin, or the foundation is sinking deeply into your pores, you need exfoliation followed by hydration.  Exfoliation does not need to be an expensive or complicated process.  My general go to is baking soda mixed 50/50 with coconut oil.  I wash my face, scrub with this mix, then hydrate and head to bed. For a more intense scrub I love Peter Thomas Roth’s exfoliating gel.  This product goes on your dry skin and removes any loose dry skin and leaves you perfectly prepped for your makeup. It also is great to use 2 days after using retin a.  Retin a makes cell turn over increase and therefore it gives you quite a bit of dry flaky skin and this exfoliant is so gentle yet effective you can safely remove all the debris your treatment is leaving behind.

For a scrub that will remove dead skin cells and brighten I use Epicren’s Himalayan Superfruit.  The enzymes in this scrub work as a brightening, tightening and lightening scrub.  Scrubs like this are aimed more at glowing skin than they are at scrubbing off debris and are generally more potent- I use this one once or twice a week.



$48 -Sephora


About $15 all together.


Usually around $50.





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