Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shoes and Skincare

I have so many things I want to write about- your questions on this post, an email question from a reader about going to law school, the situation with my in-laws (or really, the end of any situation since we have unilaterally cut off that relationship), a very intriguing non-work opportunity for me to write/publish something, my conflicted thoughts on JP's job search... I even half partial drafts for a few of the topics. I've just gotten so busy at work, and with Claire being sick and up at night (thanks for your comments, we are asking our pediatrician about a recommendation for an allergist or immunologist today), and JP coaching a million swim lessons now that the end of the season is approaching, and the return of my skull crushing headaches, I seem to log off my work laptop at 11 pm and crawl into bed without even the energy to flip the little power switch on the top of my kindle. Which is not to say things are bad- they're not. The kids are fabulous (even if puffy eyed in Claire's case), I enjoy my work (even if it's all IP related right now), and I'm glad JP has so many lessons (even if it means I'm alone all day Saturday and most evenings; why do these kids have to attend schoool? It would be so nice if he could coach during the day). I just haven't had time to blog and I miss it. I also miss commenting on other people's blogs (which I'm still reading, I promise!) and being a part of this community.

So, sadly, this post won't have anything to do with any of the above, because writing about any of the above requires more thought and time and finessing of words than I can give at the moment. But it still contains important blogging content.

One, look at these shoes:

Are they not gorgeous? They were sent to me by a reader (and by "sent" I mean the link, not the shoes, because that would be crazy; also awesome, I wear a size 10) because their color is "Biscuit" and as the mother of a Biscuit, she felt I should be aware of them. I LOVE them. I lust after them. The colored stacked heel. The perfect neutral color. I click on the link multiple times a day just for the eye candy. If our family finances involved two incomes and/or did not involve 2 kids in daycare and 2 graduate degrees worth of loans to pay off, I would buy them. They would be my first pair of shoes that cost more than $70, but I would do it without adding them and then removing them from my online shopping cart 50x like I normally do with any purchase over $50. I would click checkout without hesitation and I would obsessively track the shipment online until they were in possession and on my feet. I would love them and take good care of them and smile every time I looked down while wearing them.

Sorry, got a little carried away there. I just like shoes, you see.

Item two is skincare. In the last year or so I have decided to start acting like a grown up and start taking care of my skin. I'm proud to say that in the past 8 months I have been very good about washing my face every night and morning and using moisturizer. The problem is, I haven't found products I like very much and most of the ones recommended in magazine articles are too expensive to just try out and risk not liking (and taking the time to return it, if that was an option). I don't mind spending some money (though no matter how good the reviews, I just can't see myself spending more than $25-30 on any individual product), but I need some solid recommendations to support my purchase.

I have dry, sensitive, very fair skin. I am not prone to breakouts (ever, really), but I feel that lately my skin looks... dull, if that makes sense. It feels a little oily by the end of the day, but starts out very dry in the morning. I feel like it's not living up to its full potential with the products I'm using (which are currently the Clinique 3-step, #2, with extra mild face soap).

I like Clinique's extra mild face soap. I'm ambivalent about the "clarifying lotion" (the pink liquid). I think it dries out my skin, but it doesn't burn or anything and it makes me feel cleaner so I keep using it. I hate the dramatically different moisturizing lotion. It feels watery but makes my skin feel like it's covered in something heavy. Also, it doesn't have SPF which with my fair skin, is not good. I have tried Oil of Olay products, including their Regernerist line (the regenerating serum), and while I like the idea of a serum of my dry, neglected skin, that one made my skin feel oily and heavy and dull. I've used their regular moisturizer with SPF and like it, but don't love it. I also used Aveeno's skin brightening lotion and skin clarifying lotion and liked, but didn't love either one.

So, any recommendations? I think I really just need a moisturizer I like. And maybe a serum, because aren't I supposed to be "protecting my skin now before I age" or something? Do you use a different product for night v. day? I always feel weird putting on a lotion with SPF at night, but I guess that doesn't matter. I currently have 4 different lotions in my medicine cabinet which I hate because (1) I hate spending money on something I don't use to completion and (2) I hate having more than 1 thing in any category. It's medicine cabinet clutter. My dream is to get rid of everything I'm not loving and replace it all with a single product (or two, if it's an am/pm thing) I use every day and recommend to my friends. Any ideas?


  1. I love Aveeno face wash and moisturizer. Their regular moisturizer has sunscreen (they have another for break out prone people like me, so I use that at night and the spf one in the morning during summer). It feels much thicker (which sounds not good, but I really mean it just not as water-y feeling) than other moisturizers I've tried. Putting it on it feels like it's doing its job without making me feel greasy.

  2. Ooh, I'll be checking back for comments on this post, as I too have recently been thinking that I need to be more, ahem, adult about my skincare. Right now I sometimes remember to put on some St. Ives general moisturizer. That's about it.

    I was wondering if you've spent any time on the BabyCenter Dealing with the In-Laws community group. I don't know what your in-law issues are...I don't really have any myself (but then again, we don't have kids) but I still love lurking over on that bulletin board. There's immeasurable and often hilarious advice about how to handle out-of-control in-laws and families of origin, and plenty of support for people who wind up having to cut off family, either temporarily or permanently. If you haven't seen it you should check it out. Not that you have time for that stuff :)

  3. I have similar skin - dry, very fair, very sensitive. I use the Philosophy line of products and have had good luck with them. They are also priced reasonably at Sephora and the products last forever.

    The moisturizer I like is Hope in a Jar. I don't use the one with SPF because I don't want to use two different moisturizers (night & day) and I also don't like the one that has the SPF in it. Instead, I put on Neutrogena SPF 85 on my face every day before I leave the house.

    For a cleanser I use the Purity Made Simple cleanser.

  4. I also have fair skin, and have tried many moisturizers. When I feel splurge-y, I really like philosophy's hope in a jar, which I use at night and which feels moisturizing but not heavy. It absorbs really, really well. For day, I use eucerin's everyday protection facial moisturizer with SPF 30. Also light and easy absorbing, and the price is right (about $8 a bottle).

  5. I like the Cetaphil moisturizer. It's not greasy and it's an effective moisturizer. I have dry skin that completely freaks out if you use anything aggressive (especially alpha-hydroxy ingredients) and Cetaphil doesn't bother it.

    I used a Vitamin E nourishing moisturizer from the body shop for nighttime moisturizing when I can remember to use it. It's also good for fair skin.

  6. I'm 28 and have fought a long battle with dry and sensitive skin that culminated with a year on antibiotics to deal with a raging case of cystic acne. The only moisturiuzer my skin can tolerate is the Clinqiue Dramatically Different, which just goes to show how everyone is different. That said, for a long time I loved Lush's 'Celestial' moisturizer.

  7. At Night -- The Body Shop's Nutriganics Soothing Night Cream ($24). Amazing, the best beauty product I have ever tried.

    Day -- The Body Shop's Vitamin C Moisturizer w/SPF 30 ($20). I used to use the Vitamin E, but switched when they came out with this Vitamin C because it has a higher SPF. I have used other SPF 30 moisturizers, but they always felt greasy and heavy. And I have also used other Vitamin C things, but felt they were irritating. This one is fabulous - not irritating, not heavy. Gives my sikin a really nice glow.

    About twice a year the Body Shop does a 3 for $30 promotion that includes ALL of their products, and that is when I always pick up everything (addicted to their coconut scrub for use before shaving my legs too).

    Oh, and those shoes are amazing. Too bad Kate Spade doesn't have a 3 for $30 promotion.

  8. In Utah we have extremely dry weather, which can make my skin look dull. I don't like anything heavy and a while ago I discovered Estee Lauder's daily moisturizer (link below.) It smells like cucumber and it's SO wonderful. Your skin feels like silk all day, it has SPF something or other in it, and it's very light. You can use a tiny tiny bit and it will go a long way. They sell samples and tiny jars of it so you can try it out. At Park City there is a makeup outlet store where you can just pay 10-12 bucks for the "free gift" items stores have, and I picked up the Estee Lauder one. The tiny jar of moisturizer lasted me MONTHS. Plus, they have a another product which smells like lime which you rub on that takes care of dead cells. I only use it on my cheeks (rosascea) and sides of my nose so the sample bottle has lasted years. You only need to use a teeny bit.

    I am allergic to EVERYTHING so the fact that these work so well and last so long AND I don't break out make them well worth the money.

  9. I love Paula's Choice skincare, the great thing is you can purchase sample sizes of them and try them out. I do use different products day and night - prefer not to wear SPF at night but being similarly fair skinned won't go out without it during the day.

  10. I use Cetaphil face wash because I tend to break out a little here and there and it helps a LOT but my favorite skin care line, hands down, is Philosophy. I've always found Clinique skin care to be a little "meh" myself. The Philosophy Purity facewash + Hope in a Jar is fantastic. I'm not a big fan of the Hope in a Jar + SPF, so I use it alone at night and with Neutrogena sunscreen during the day. (A little goes a long way, so don't be worried about buying a smaller jar and going through it quickly.) The "When Hope is Not Enough" serum is FANTASTIC (I use it a night during the winter to help with dry/dullness) and again, one drop is enough so the bottle lasts a long time.

    I also really like Bliss products but they are a little pricier, so I'd suggest hitting up an Ulta or Sephora for some samples before you invest. (You can also try Philosophy samples as well before you dive in.)

  11. So, I am a psycho about using chemical-free beauty products, and I LOVE both Burt's Bees and Alaffia. Both brands have everything you need for $25/product or less (much less for toner and exfoliator). I use exfoliator in the morning, with toner, lotion, and eye cream. (All Burt's Bees right now and a great JASON safe sunscreen). In the evening, I take off my makeup with cold cream and use the same eye cream and a really thick nighttime lotion (Alaffia lotion, BB everything else). Go to Whole Foods and peruse the skincare aisle-- lots of good, moderately priced options.

  12. Hi there! It sounds like you have very similar skin to me (I'm 32 with very fair/dryish skin)-and I agree with you about the Clinique moisturizer and I HATE lotions that I can "feel" after rubbing in. My top moisturizers are Cetaphil facial moisturizer and the more expensive Avene Hydrance Optimale cream--I use "rich" in the winter and "light" in the summer. Both have sun protection which I also feel is essential. I did try the Philosophy stuff and didn't like it.

  13. I know this sounds cheesy, but try Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty Line. It is inexpensive and works really well!

    I just started using it and really love it. I have a 3 month old who is not sleeping through the night so I feel like I look rouuughh in the mornings!

  14. I started doing this about 5 years ago, and have similar fair, very-easily-irritated skin.

    Price-wise, you're not going to like most of my recommendations, I think, but I only need to buy them about every 16 months.

    Perscriptives (omg their Calming Cream) were the best on the market, but now that they're gone I mostly use Shiseido products.

    Their eye cream is so good that I hesitate to tell people about it. lol! I'm 28, but I've had 4 people in the last 6 months tell me I look 22. It's their "Bio-Performance" super eye contour cream (or somesuch) and looks like an oversize platinum bullet. It costs about $54-56, and lasts me 5 months.

    For their moisturizers I've found that their Benefience Line ("aging skin") is more moisturizing w/o irritating than their "Skincare" ("thirty-something") Line, so try both. The moisturization is a two-step process starting with a product called "softening lotion" at the toner step. While it seems like an extra expense, and I never liked toners either, it is not to be missed as it dramatically changes the way the lotion you follow with works.

    Regarding usage: make sure you moisturize ASAP after washing/showering--2 min. is an ideal time, 5 min. after is already too late. This is b/c you want to lock in the moisture your skin is currently saturated with by the wash BEFORE it evaporates taking any moisture you had before with it. heh.

    I also keep a 1-2 oz. fine-mist bottle of distilled water with my lotions that I mist on if It's mid-day or I waited too long to moisturize after washing. I feel it puts more moisture into the skin and also lets me use less product with the same result.
    As for cleanser I'm pretty ambivalent about shiseido's. I'm preferring the Anisette soap from Besem Natural Scents. Wendy makes her own soap, and is a doll. Tell her Berit sent you. :) I haven't tried a soap of hers I don't like--but the anise is a charcoal soap and extra great for digging out clogged pores.

    You can buy from etsy:

    Or email through her site for a custom combo of products:

    My must-have list: Anisette, Rustic Pine, Ultimate Bar (great even for brushing teeth, washing feet!), Pink Grapefruit (Shaving!)

    I also love the smell of Old Hippie (the only wonderful-smelling product I've ever found that associated itself with Hippies in any way.), and the Lavender is good for extra-moisturizing days.

    Oh, also try Shiseido's Essential Energy hand cream if you need one. If you have any sort of Korean or asian market nearby, go their for shiseido before the dept. store--they have lots of samples. :)


  15. I'll put in my vote for trying Philosophy's Hope in a Jar, but definately hit up your local Sephora and ask them for a sample before you buy it (they are very generous with samples and will probably send you home with enough for a few days tryout). It costs about $45 here in Canada, so I'll bet it's right around the 30 dollar mark down in the US...we always pay way more than the rate of exchange for our beauty products (boo!).

    And those shoes are going to keep me up at night too. Bee-U-tee-ful!

  16. Geez; I just skimmed what I typed and noticed some embarrassing word usage errors!

    "There" and "their" are certainly two different words. That's what I get for talking why typing.

    My apologies to your poor eyes.

  17. Insightful web site for people wondering if they should go to law school:

  18. I use to buy whatever cheap moisturizer happened to catch my eye, either in Avon or at the drugstore. One day I purchased the Nutura replenishing cream from Avon - I have never even considreed buying another moisturizer since. I have had ... not so much scars from teenage acne as "dents" (that's how I think of them anyway) ... on my cheeks (but closer to my nose, if you know what I mean) for the past 20 years and this stuff made them waaaay less noticable. And I also like it as a moisturizer.

    If it's wrinkle control you're interested in (although at your age, you're probably not - still I think you're suppose to start using the stuff now so that you can stave them off for a while), I really like the Nivea Q10 Plus line - particularly their eye cream. It's crow's feet I have and I have found this stuff to be the best for it.

    YMMV. ;-)

  19. I love Philosophy
    Try this set:
    For 35 you get several products and you can try them and see if you like them. It is perfect.

  20. I didn't like most Clinique ones, but in my last clinique bonus buy purchase, I got a sample of their Even Better moisturizer and I really liked it. I plan on buying the full-size one.

  21. I know you live in Austin, but if you do look for an allergist and you can't find one you're in love with, my brother is an fellow trained allergist and resident trained pediatrician in San Antonio. If you just can't find one you're in love with in Austin, don't hesitate to email me and I'll gladly give you his name.

    Also, about the lotion, girl I hear you. I have SUPER dry skin and it's VERY sensitive. I always have some sort of irritation on my legs from running to much, or dry skin flakes, it's horrible. HOWEVER, my face I actually have under control with the CHEAPEST face lotion ever...I'm obsessed and the tub lasts practically an entire year.

    Hope that helps!

  22. I've mostly been reading your blog for advice on how to get through grad school with a baby. But this I have to comment on!
    Philosophy Purity Made Simple and Hope in Jar. When I first went to purchase them (on the recommendation of a friend) I was a bit put off by the price, (about $30/each) but then each bottle lasted me 8-12 months or longer. And I had the happiest skin ever. People comment on nice my skin is all the time, it is AWESOME.
    Plus, totally hit up your Sephora for some free samples. My experience is that all the girls who work there use Philosophy and are willing to give up samples.

  23. Try Stila tinted moisturizer! It's got SPF 25, and a nice light tint that evens out your skin tone and it's relatively inexpensive. I swear by it. I even bought the "illuminating" tint because I felt my skin was dull looking and I LOVE IT. Gives it a nice "glow" without being teeny bopper glittery.

  24. If your skin is looking dull, you should get a Clarisonic skin care brush, a little pricey and you have to replace the brush every three months but oh, my, gosh, after you brush your face, the difference is incredible. I use it with Cetaphil cleanser that you can get at Walmart.

  25. I love Origins line of products. I use about 5 different products (a few of which they have discontinuted). My favorite face wash is their Checks and Balances. The moisturizer that I use and love is Balanced Diet. It's incredibly light and after rubbing it in it makes my face feel so soft and smooth. They have a ton of different products for all face types and I love that a lot of the products are all natural. If you go into one of their stores or makeup counters they give you all kinds of free samples.

  26. I currently use and really like the Korres wild rose 24-hour moisturizer. It has a low spf so you can use it both day and night (which I do, but for day sometimes I put on extra sunscreen on my face if I'm going to be out in the sun). It's great for sensitive and dry skin (I have dry-to-combination skin that tends to be sensitive). It feels quite rich going on but doesn't feel greasy at all. It's $35/jar but lasts for about 6 months.

    In the past I've also used Fresh soy face cream, which is good as well, but doesn't feel as rich when you put it on:

    I currently use the Fresh soy face cleanser, which is AWESOME. It's really gentle but can remove makeup well, too:

    Both Korres and Fresh have high-quality ingredients, and Korres uses a lot of natural ingredients too.

  27. I adore Origins as well. I have oily skin, so the products I use obviously wouldn't work for you. As Downsized Attorney said, if you go into a store, they will walk you through what they recommend and are not pushy at all.

    Good luck!


  28. I have been reading you for years, but I rarely comment. And of all the things that would prod me to comment, I never thought it would be moisturizer!

    But anyway, I don't like to spend a lot of money on beauty products either and I have similar skin to what you describe. I use Purpose ( You can buy it at any store (almost) and it is not overly expensive. It falls into the "cheap enough to buy and try and not lose sleep over if you don't love it" category. Good luck!

  29. I use mainly Origins skincare products -- every once in a while I'll stray and try something else, but I always end up going back. I also LOVE my Aveda Botanical Kinetics exfoliant. Haven't tried other Aveda products in that line. These things are pricier than drugstore versions, but it's worth it for me because I use the entire container and don't get sick of it halfway through. From your description of your skin, you might try their Perfect World line. They give out free samples at their stores.

  30. P.S. - I was also about to recommend a daytime moisturizer with SPF 15 that I really love -- Lancome Renergie Microlift -- but then I looked at the price and realized it's around $100 for 2 ounces! (My current container was a free sample that a friend got and passed on because she wasn't planning to use it -- it lasted me for months, but I still don't think I can justify spending THAT kind of money.)

  31. If you can get to a Sephora I highly recommend it. Mostly because of their return policy. You can get small samples of stuff to try and they will let you return anything, even if you've used it, if you don't like it. I'm cheap, if I could buy Olay or other drugstore products forever I'd be happy. I will not spend more than $25 on single skin care product. But I figured if I buy 2 or 3 Olay products to try and don't like them I'm out $15-$30. I may as well go to Sephora get a sample of a product there or purchase something that I can return. Anyway all of that said - I use Philosophy Purity face wash, Olay Complete with SPF for moisturizing in AM and First Aid Beauty moisturizer in the evening. I also use a Neutrogena blemish control product in the "T-zone". Purity and First Aid Beauty from Sephora, Olay and Neutrogena from Target. Good luck.

  32. In the morning I use Aveeno Clear Complexion foaming cleanser to wash my face in the shower. Immediately after showering I apply Aveeno Clear Complexion daily moisturizer. At night I wash my makeup off with Neutragena's oil-free eye makeup remover and Neutragena night calming nourishing cream cleanser. I usually follow again with the Aveeno lotion before going to bed (I don't need lotion in the summer months, but in the winter I always need to apply it after washing my face). Recently because of the weather my hands have been getting so dry that they're like velcro, and sometime crack and bleed. For my hands I use Nature's Gate colloidal oatmeal moisturizing lotion for itchy, dry, sensitive skin. It works amazingly well, but I'd never put it on my face. Just keep in mind if you want a regular lotion. I bought it for my husband since it's practically unscented, but now I use it.

  33. I love these shoes.
    I use aveeno sensitive skin and I really like it. It's either $11 or $14 a bottle and it lasts me a long time. I use a calming cream too for redness, which I love & is available at Target, but you might not need that.

  34. I have tried almost every skin care line out there, and my favorite is Paula's Choice. You have to buy it online, the shipping is fast, you can try out samples, and the customer service is amazingly helpful. Products aren't expensive, and you can exchange them if you need to.

  35. Not to be a total internet creeper and all but I've been reading your blog for a while, and I was actually one of your mom's students. I'm about to be a licensed esthetician, I've tried tons of different skin care options and honestly the best thing I've found is Aveda products (yes, I use them because I go to the Aveda Institute and get a discount) but they really are extremely effective and have no chemicals in them. I would try for you either the All Sensitive Cleanser and Moisturizer with the Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, or the Tourmaline Charged Exfoliating Cleanser with the All Sensitive Moisturizer. They have travel sizes in some of those products so you can try them out, also I'm pretty sure they let you return products if you don't like them. You could also try the Balancing Infusion for Sensitive Skin as a serum type option, or you could mix it with your moisturizer (which I do every night).
    I have very sensitive, dry and fair skin and I've had no trouble with any of the products.

  36. I have to second the commenter who recommended Checks and Balances (facewash) and Balanced Diet (moisturizer) from Origins. There are both fantastic. Balanced Diet is sort of thin and runny when it comes out of the jar which I do not like, but I absolutely love the feel of it on my face - not thick, not oily - so light that you feel like you don't have anything on.

  37. i'm a drug store user all the way. I've had no luck with expensive department store products.

    I use Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser (blue bottle) for face wash. I discovered that when I got a sample at a hotel, and never went back. It's amazing make up remover. I use it morning and night.

    I love Olay Complete SPF for day, it goes on very light and non-greasy and keeps my face feeling soft all day. I also use an eye moisterizer because otherwise my concealer looks cakey, so I went to Sephora and the sales lady recommended Boscia. very light and non-chemically. I use that night and day also. I don't put on a night moisterizer, but I have a sample of Olay Regenerist Night which I've tried, really liked (very light) and will buy when I get around to it.

  38. Okay, I have a different skin type for you but two recommendations nonetheless:
    1) Get RID of the toner ENTIRELY. It is an unessential product that is created just to suck extra money out of your pocket. I religiously used toners for years until I read some article that said they are unnecessary. Number one, your face soap should leave your face clean enough, you shouldn't need a toner as a "follow-up" cleanser (if you do, change your face soap). Number two, they are over drying, and given how your face starts out dry, that is just adding to the problem (which is probably why it is oilier at the end of the day because your skin is desperately trying to hydrate itself). I quite using toners and have not noticed any difference, except that it is one less product I have to buy.
    2)Soap - Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. You can buy it at the drugstore; while for a "drugstore" soap it isn't cheap, it isn't no department store soap. It is a no fuss, no muss hypoallergenic soap that does what it says - removes excess oil without drying and rinses clean. With oily skin, I can testify to that.
    Let us know what you go with!

  39. Cetaphil is great

    No one's mentioned L'Oreal. I love their range - a mix of light and heavier moisturizers.

    The cool thing is that they're affordable, but owned by company (and with the research of) Lancome.

    Also - awesome shoes!

  40. I never would have guessed that moisturizer would be such a popular topic!

    Those shoes are gorgeous, by the way.

    I use Aveeno's Positively Radiant cleanser and Daily Moisturizer SPF 15. I was using their Positively Ageless Night Cream, too, but when I ran out my Target didn't have any, so I started using a Mary Kay Timewise Moisturizer at night. I like them both okay but the Timewise smells like old-lady lotion to me. Aveeno smells divine. Now I'm totally wanting to try philosophy, after all these comments.

    I use a powder foundation and don't know if I should be using under-eye cream or concealer, but I feel like I should. Hmm.

  41. I love Origins stuff... especially this skin cream (Make A Difference: I know its a bit more then you wanted to spend, but it is lush and a little goes a long way. I've been using it all winter and have barely made a dent in the pot.

    Also, I would recommend a gentle scrub once a week... it will really help with that dullness.

  42. I have similar skin - fair, sensitive, dry. I turned 30 and suddenly my skin started acting weird on me. My skin would be dry in the morning and then oily by 4pm. I finally saw a dermatologist who said that toner was completely unnecessary and added to my dry skin, which was why I was producing extra oil in the afternoon.

    My skin care regimen is:
    Night: Clean and Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser, followed by Estee Lauder Time Zone Night cream.

    Morning: Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash, followed by MAC Complete Comfort Cream (a gift). I like the MAC, but I doubt I would buy it for myself. When it runs out, I'll go back to the Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer.

  43. As another fair redhead, I have similar skin to yours, only probably a bit drier. I have been using Neutrogena Moisture with SPF15 in the morning or after every shower for years and it's great. Light, and a reasonably affordable drugstore brand. In the past few years I've also become a fan of Olay's eye lifting serum - really does help banish dark circles on fair skin. I need a heavy night cream in the winter, as my house and skin are so dry, but I suspect you won't like what I use.

    I don't put a lot of harsh cleansers on my skin, either - I wash with Purpose if I was wearing a lot of makeup, but otherwise I mostly splash with water, and avoid toners, which I find really drying and which cause bounce-back oiliness later as my skin tries to compensate.

    Outside of the dry months, I use my one splurge at night - a product called Environ Ultra that I buy from my dermatologist. Its a moisturizer with vitamin A (retinol) so it works on keeping the fine lines a bay while not drying you out at night.
    Good luck!

  44. 1) LOVE those shoes. Feel free to send me the link. Maybe if they come in an 11 I can send them to my mom as a suggestions for what I want for Valentine's Day? They are beautiful... and love that if you wore them with pants it'd be like "oh look at my totally work appropriate shoe" but really you know that they're fun! and pretty! and way better than regular work shoes!

    2) I have pretty good skin. I have years of dermatology to thank for this.
    I also have pretty normal to oily skin - even in the Chicago winter (except for awful chapped lips!), but when I was taking accutane and it dried my skin out I used Cetaphil moisturizer. Buy it at Walgreens or wherever. It's comparatively cheap and just about the only thing I can put on my face without feeling like I'm wearing a mask.
    Another suggestion - Vaseline. Both my grannies swore by it and I kinda love it. I only use it occasionally at night because it's way too heavy to be worn under makeup, but my skin always feels good the next day when I use it!

    And if you're looking for a splurge item - Clarisonic Mia face brush. They're expensive but I think my face gets 10x cleaner when I use it than when I just use my hands or a washcloth. I am bad about washing my face/removing makeup (trying to get better!), but when I remember to use it I always wonder why I don't do it more often!

  45. I love Origins products as well. I use never a dull moment face wash at night. The cleanser is amazing because it also washes off all my makeup. I exfoliate every morning with Neutrogena invigorating scrub. For day moisturizer I use Origins a perfect world, which is age defying, light, and has SPF. At night I use the sage and citrus moisturizer from Skin Zen spa in Austin. I have been using various products from Origins since high school and I find that their selection is so large that I have been able to stick with them through all of my skin's changes.

    As for the dullness, the best way to get rid of that is to exfoliate. I do it every morning, which may be a bit extreme but find a gentle exfoliater you like and exfoliate once or twice a week.

    Also, my fave indulgence is a facial. Skin Zen in Austin has a great facial at a reasonable price that is one hour of pure relaxation.

  46. I think you need something with a little exfoliation or alpha-hydroxy acid. I started using this orange cleanser (it was a drugstore brand that I had bought for my bf) and I got a compliment that I looked younger. I think it was because I had effectively gotten rid of the dull layer of skin. They stopped selling it, and I am too on the lookout for something for sensitive skin.

  47. I really like Boscia (available from Sephora and, as well as Avalon Organics, which you can get at drugstores. I just used up a jar of their vitamin C cream, which was pretty amazing. Target also has a good line, I think it's called the Expert Sensitive line. Overall I think the organic lines are best for sensitive skin.

  48. My two loves are Kiehl's, which gives out samples wherever they're sold.
    1) Cryste Marine Firming Eye Treatment: A tiny jar that lasts almost two years.
    2) Ultra Facial Cream: Lasts forever, goes on so smoothly and doesn't get greasy.

  49. As another reader mentioned - available at Sephora. I swear by their moisturizer and face wash. (great price line as well)

    PS, I love your blog, first time commenter - thought beauty products would be a great time to comment.

    Good luck!

  50. My college roommate turned me on to a great moisturizer: Alba Botanica Aloe & Green Tea Oil Free Moisturizer. I've found that it does the perfect job: relieves the dry skin, but doesn't make my face oily. And it smells delicious! I think I've received more compliments on how my moisturizer smells than any perfume I've ever worn.

    Plus it's a reasonable price & I'm able to find it at Target, CVS, Walgreens, etc.

    Also, those shoes? I'm in love.

  51. So...did you know that Kate Spade has free shipping? And that if you used the code brrr20 you would get $50 off those shoes? Just sayin'. Because they ARE awesome shoes.

  52. Seeing as how you know me IRL, you know what an ungirly girl I am. We must have had some similar epiphany, because I too recently started caring about my skin.

    I have absolute classic combination skin. It used to drive me nuts, but now I've figured out how to keep this business under control. Off the bat, I cannot say enough wonderful things about Origins. I use the Checks and Balances face wash. Bonus: each year on Earth Day, if you bring in a bottle of any kind of face wash, you get a sample of face wash from Origins for free. That was how I got my huge bottle of Checks and Balances for free that lasted me eight months.

    Checks and Balances is about $18, which law firm VBJD would have happily run out to refill. Clerking with a mortgage and student loan payments VBJD is waiting until Earth Day to get another sample. So, in the interim, I have actually really liked Trader Joe's Spa Gentle Facial Cleanser. It's about $3-4 and works really well. Of course, if you try it and hate it, just wait until Earth Day to trade it in! ;)

    I also use a moisturizer in the morning from this brand called Skin Organics. It is $16 for 1 oz; again, clearly a law firm VBJD purchase, but the stuff is handmade in Austin, so maybe it's less expensive down there? I got my bottle at Whole Foods in the Whole Body section.

    Otherwise, I also started using LUSH Charity Pot hand lotion, which is quite a step because I hate lotion yet I look forward to using this stuff each morning, so I bet they would have great facial moisturizer. For this one, I would say it is probably spendy but likely worth it (I got a small size of Charity Pot for $5 around the holidays, but it is usually $20, I think). I buy their shampoo bars for $9, but one bar is enough to wash both my hair and Greg's hair for, no joke, 3 months, and it keeps my dandruff under control. When I broke that down, it was way cheaper than drugstore stuff.

    Hope that helps! Can't wait to hear about the potential writing opp! :)

  53. I highly recommend DHC products You can order a catalog with free samples to try, they have a satisfaction guaranteed policy, every catalog(monthly?) comes with free samples and you can choose 4 free samples with every order. I have a whole bag of samples which are great for travel or just to try something new before committing to buy. You also earn reward points with purchase that you can spend on products or for free shipping. And they have sales on different items every month.

    I have sensitive combination skin and I've been dealing with mild adult acne since I had my last child- never had much acne as a teen- go figure. But using dhc products have normalized my skin and cut down on my breakouts significantly. Their prices range from 10-40 for most products with some of their anti wrinkle and special items priced higher.