LEFT: What I love about LaRoche-Posay’s Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser ($14.99 for 13.5 ounces) is its creamy consistency and that when I’m finished taking any makeup off, my skin feels moist but not oily. Maybe because it has ceramides (sort of like fatty grout for skin) in it. And niacinamide, an new “it” ingredient for which my fussy dermatologist gives the thumbs-up. There is some evidence that it reduces inflammation from rosacea and acne and that it improves hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Also, for anyone who has had frequent skin cancers (non-melanomas), doctors are suggesting oral niacinamide.
RIGHT: The gentle in Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser ($8.99, Walgreens) is a key word for me. Because I use a retinol product, I don’t want a cleanser that’s abrasive but I do need one to remove my eye makeup. Admittedly, it does take a few tries to dissolve the mascara, etc. But even though I use it liberally, I’ve had the same 8-ounce bottle since pre-Covid days.
LEFT: I pay way more for my retinoid-hyauronic-niacinamide compound—about $60 to Skin Medicinals every three or four months —than this Skin Renewing Retinol Serum ($18.49, Ulta) from Cerave. It contains the same ingredients (a retinoid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide—more about this last later) and is also supposed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin texture and appearance. Because mine is by prescription, I suspect it has a greater concentration of that trio than Cerave’s, which doesn’t show the percentages. Still, worth a try.
CENTER: Remember Herbal Essences shampoos from years ago? The brand’s new collection—bio-renew—uses argan oil, white grapefruit, honey, bamboo, ginger, mango and cucumber in its formulas. This sulfate-free Potent Aloe + Bamboo Shampoo (13.5 fluid ounces, $6.17, Walmart) has a green-leafy scent. Fun fact: Herbal Essences works with scientists at the London-based Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to verify and authenticate the real plant extracts in the brand’s shampoos and conditioners.
RIGHT: Founded by a team of M.I.T. grads to create skincare formulas backed by science, data (analysis of reviews from other skincare products) and artificial intelligence-based research, Maelove makes an easy-on-the-wallet line of products; only one sells for more than $30. The super star in the collection, though, is The Glow Maker ($27.95), a serum that contains the triple crown of ingredients to help brighten age spots, firm hydrate and protect: Vitamin C (at 15 percent concentration), vitamin E and ferulic acid (an antioxidant). Reviews compare it to the much celebrated and much more expensive SkinCeuticals’ CE Ferulic ($166, Dermstore)—with the same cocktail of vitamins.
FAR LEFT: My current stock of 100 Whole-Foods-bought organic cotton rounds that I use to remove mascara, etc., is a big disappointment—the pads come apart too easily and I need to use a lot of them, so definitely not worth $3.99. These Beauty 360 Premium Cotton Pads ($5.49 for 50, CVS) are generously sized. And though not exactly inexpensive, they look as if they can meet the makeup-removal challenge.
NEAR LEFT: I ordered something or other from Sephora and got a sample of Milk Makeup’s Lip +Cheek ($28, Sephora), a creamy blush/lip color with mango butter and apricot oil that you can apply sans mirror. I stashed it in my purse this summer so I could add a pop of color whenever I was eating outdoors and could take off my mask. In addition to the standard size, it’s also available in mini-versions in six colors, including mauve, true red, coral and dusty rose, for $15.
NEAR RIGHT: The design of Shiseido’s The Makeup Eyelash Curler (currently reduced from $22 to $18.70, Nordstrom) makes it easy to use without pinching your lids or poking an eye out. It’s a must-have, lash-lifting tool that makes any mascara fulfill its mission.
FAR RIGHT: Clean-beauty brand W3ll People’s Expressionist Volumizing Mascara ($19, Ulta) came up 16th on the Wall Street Journal’s list of the 50 best mascaras. A larger-than-usual dense, hourglass-shaped bristle brush head makes it easier to apply; plant-based ingredients like sunflower seed oil condition lashes. You may need more than one coat, but on the upside, the product contains no artificial preservatives, dyes or fragrance.
LEFT: Pro tip: Save yourself a few bucks by buying coconut oil in the pantry section of Whole Foods rather than the beauty/wellness aisle. I keep this Coconut Oil ($5.99) under my bathroom sink, ready to slather on arms and legs post-shower—sometimes pre- as well. If one layer isn’t enough, I combine it with the balm below. The scent makes me think of sandy beaches and piña coladas. Whether or not it has any teeth-whitening effect (I think I see a difference) or bacteria-fighting properties, as some dentists say, I regularly swirl it around in my mouth.
RIGHT: Like La Roche-Posay’s gentle skin cleanser, its Lipikar Balm AP+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin ($19.99) contains the previously mentioned rock-star ingredient, niacinamide. The pump dispenser ensures you get just the amount you want, but a little goes a long way toward soothing and keeping my ultra-dry skin hydrated.
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