Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Most Important Thing In My Makeup Bag

I got in a discussion with some friends on twitter the other day about the products we feel compelled to spend way more money on than we should—one person had a shower gel that she couldn't live without, another needed her special shampoo and conditioner, etc. It got me thinking about what my own "can't do without it" personal products are.

I might be okay with the average grocery/drugstore products when it comes to facewash, hair care and any lotion that doesn't go on my face—but for keeping away wrinkles, I turn to the department store alchemists known as Origins, Clinique, Clarins, Estee Lauder, and Dior.

When I was in my Twenties, I depended on Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizer—not just a great lotion, but also the most likely to be found in Clinique's free "gift" promotions (a major perk in the cash-strapped days of youth). I used Cetaphil to wash my face, kept a tube of Clearasil in my makeup bag, and felt like my skin would be forever young and firm.

Well, we all know what happened after that....

Hello Thirties! Here I am at 32—and no makeup?!

I entered my Thirties, where it quickly became clear that I needed to step up the moisturizer—my cheeks became a desert of dry, chafed sadness that prompted looks of sorrow from women working at spas when I got the occasional facial. I had to face the fact that the aging process might require a bit more care and maintenance than I had previously felt was required.

I started using Origins products, falling particularly hard for the A Perfect World line with White Tea moisturizers and the "Guardian" that is used before putting on the moisturizer. An added benefit to the Origins creams is that they smell so incredibly good. Ask my husband—I think he still wishes I wore this as perfume.

Another realization during my thirties—since I had already been avoiding the sun for years, I embraced the fact that I couldn't tan on my own and turned to the now mature market of sunless tanners. After some rather streaky and borderline appalling turns with drugstore-purchased brands, I turned to the department store counters. Clinique's body tinted lotion is a great one (that I sadly became sensitive to after almost two years of using and had to stop using), but Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel is my current go-to brand (for the past six years or so, anyway). It's a gel that is extremely easy to rub in and you don't have to hang out without any trousers while you wait for it to dry. Really, though, it's my favorite because providing you have exfoliated your knees and ankles with your scrubby poof and shaved your legs beforehand, it always makes your legs look perfectly and realistically tanned.

Working a New Year's costume at 35.

It's worth noting that I do buy the separate Clarins Tanning for Face and Décolleté and that you have to exfoliate your face before using tanning lotion on it, too. I've used several exfoliating scrubs over the years and while most are adequate, I have to say that Strivectin makes a stellar Instant Retexturizing Scrub that I am sadly going to have to pay for myself very soon when I finally squeeze the last bits out of the tube that I got in the swag bag from the last SocialLuxe Lounge party in NYC at BlogHer '10. Yes, I've been using it for almost two years and it STILL hasn't run out. You have to make it last when it costs $45 a tube, y'all.

This was taken at my 39th birthday party.
So what am I using now? Well, I hit the big FOUR-OH last month and am going on the third year of using Clarins Multi-Active Day Early Wrinkle Correction cream and Night Youth Recovery Cream. So far, so good. I still lament the crease between my brows (lamenting, I must note, does not help), but the wrinkles don't seem to be getting too much worse, so I must be doing something right. And, with the help of Dior R60/80 Ultimate Wrinkle Correction Cream for my eyes, I still maintain the right to call my crow's feet "laugh lines" because they only show up when I'm laughing. An added benefit to the Dior cream is that it also corrects discoloration around the eyes. I developed a dark patch under one of my eyes around the time of my last pregnancy in 2006 and when I started using this cream in 2009 it disappeared in six months time.

I never leave home without them.

And for the ultimate reveal...

Forty years old and still able to leave the house without makeup.
The most important thing in my makeup bag isn't makeup at all, it's the moisturizer.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on skin care, this post is based solely on my experience as a woman who has spent entirely too much on beauty products over the years in a quest to stave off the evidence of time. 

Disclosure: Thank you to John Lewis department store in England for sponsoring this post. I was provided compensation for writing it and have provided links to the products they carry throughout the post. 

Where John Lewis did not have the exact product, I linked to another site that carried the product or the product's homepage. If you are in America, you can find all products mentioned in this post in my "Favorite Things" Amazon widget in the right-hand sidebar of this blog. I maintain an "associate" account with Amazon and get paid if you order anything (which I hope you will). 


  1. I've been so lazy with skincare and at 36, I regret it now! I guess it's never too late to start? I've always favoured Oil of Olay, primarily as the smell reminds me of my grandma!

    I hope you do some more posts like this, for hair and make up (as a fellow naturally-curly girl, who doesn't have a clue how to make the best of the curls so resorts to straighteners :0/).

    1. It IS never to late! Get the wrinkle correction cream and stick with it every morning and evening—there is not a doubt in my mind that it will help. And thanks for the encouragement to do more beauty posts. The curly hair thing is certainly a dilemma, but as long as the humidity isn't too awful, I've got a great regimen going that makes beautiful curls. Have you tried Aveda's BeCurly products? Check 'em out.

  2. I've also found moisturizer is the most important item in my makeup bag, but I haven't settled on a favorite yet. I will definitely give some of these products a try.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    Dana Alligood
    Blingerz Community Manager

    1. Hope you like what I've recommended. I think they're all winners. And, honestly, I think almost *any* targeted products used to clean and moisturize your face are better that nothing. ;)

  3. My bff worked for Clarins so I have hundreds and hundreds of dollars of their fabulous potions. The day, the night, the decollete, the body cream (wow) and the MOST IMPORTANT THING THEY SELL GO BUY IT NOW STOP READING I'M NOT KIDDING:

    Instant Smooth in a small red pot. Jane Fonda buys 5 at a time! It is a filler/primer and makes your makeup go on like silk. I have a scar over my right eye and this stuff covers it completely, and fills it in.

    Also love their eye makeup remover. Love it all. ALL. I've never used the Clarins tanning gel but it's their big seller around the WORLD!

    Now BFF works for Lancome so I'll get all kinds of makeup but MAN do I love Clarins.

    1. We have had this conversation before, Suzy. PLEASE DON'T RUB IT IN. ;)

      I will talk about Clarins Instant Smooth in another post— It truly is amazing what it can hide and how flawless it can make your skin look. Their Beauty Flash Balm is pretty stellar, too—it's like glue that won't let your makeup come off your face until you take it off with remover!

  4. Amy - I totally agree with your tips - moisturizer is the most important, and good moisturizer for that! In my early thirties I switched over to Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream and Hydrating Face Moisturizer. Within a few weeks a few people commented and said that my skin looked fabulous and younger! They were different people that didn't even know each other. Ever since, I have been a huge proponent of Bobbi Brown products. When I am poor, I will head to whole foods and pick up Alba moisturizer which I absolutely love, too. I only use Alba sunscreen now. These products may work better in mountain climates where it is dry, but I still loved them in Austin. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Katie, I will have to try the Bobbi Brown—it sounds amazing. :) And, at our age, amazing is what we need! ;) Neutragena is my go-to for skin-care when I'm feeling poor, but I'll check out the Alba moisturizer next time I'm in Whole Foods. Thanks!


Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.