12 December 2011 ~ 5 Comments

Sassy Style Talk With AJ: Have a Rosy, Dewy Christmas, by Anita Roberts

Oh, the weather outside is frightful …  and my skin is far from delightful!

Winter wonderland, my eye!  We have arrived back to the season of cold, wet and snow and ice for many of you.  And, that thing I dread the most: forced heat.  I shudder when I think of that dry, desiccated air crawling across my rosy cheeks, turning them from moist, happy grinning visions to sallow, moisture-robbed misery.   I live in the Pacific Northwest, close to Seattle, and while we’re surrounded by water, our homes are filled with baseboard heaters that rob the air of humidity.  If you live in an even colder area, you will have HVAC systems blasting out warm air and giving you static electricity to boot!  Some of you have the humidifier modules attached to your heating systems, which is a blessing.  Just make sure you keep up with cleaning on those as they tend to breed mold and mildew.  The allergies that can bring will ruin a gal’s mascara quicker than a tragic love story on girls’ movie night!

So, how does a gal stay dewy during the holiday season when there are parties and gatherings galore to look lovely for?  Naturally, we want to look our best, and winter provides its own brand of challenge in the form of flaky dry skin, reddened noses and overly pink chapped cheeks and lips.  One of the first things you can do is to humidify your home.  I will admit to being quite zealous about this one, and when you walk into my front hallway, you’ll be enveloped by a wall of dampish air.  I am a tropical gal, and I do like my balmy ways.  But humidity serves multiple purposes, and is not just good for the skin.  It also soothes the airways, and keeps static cling down.  It keeps plants better hydrated in heated homes, and keeps wood furniture from over drying, and then expanding in the summer, and cracking.  Water is the ubiquitous lubricant that makes the world a smoother place.  Apply liberally!  Add some essential oil to the mix and create a scented haven for yourself.

Moisturizer, the thing we all know about, and about which there is a veritable stampede of marketing and advertising, especially in the winter.  We ladies are especially targeted for our desire to avoid aging and rid ourselves of wrinkles, but the guys benefit just as much from lotions.  Now if we could just get them to use them more!  I tend to write about solutions for more mature or troubled skin, as I myself am, ahem, mature…  but many of the things I mention are also great for combination skin.  Oily skin is its own burden, and I had it during my youth, for which I’m grateful now.  I had sebaceous activity, without the burden of blemishes, and now am slow to wrinkle.  One genetic aspect I can be thankful for, at least!  The key to moist skin is, obviously, moisturizing.  From the inside as well as the outside!  It’s important to drink enough healthy fluids, some of them water, maybe some tea, and even some fresh juices are great.

What about that most wondrous of fluids, alcohol!!!  Um, well… while it will be plentiful over the next four weeks, it’s not the best hydrator.  Indulge with safety, and enjoy the social enhancement it brings (did I mention, safely?) but remember that it’s dehydrating and be sure to drink several cups of water in between as well.  Dehydration is one of the big causes of hangovers. If you can consume enough fluid to counteract that, you will feel much better, and look less sallow when you wake the next day.  Oh, and watch out for that mistletoe at the office party.  That can have worse results than dehydration!

I’m not going to go too deeply into diet here, as I’ve written about it in a previous column, and have another food article coming up.  Skip the wings and the salty or super sugary snacks and grab some shrimp and veg from the buffet table.  Not party enough for you?  Fine, eat the fun stuff, but in moderation.  Make sure your diet is fairly balanced and a few dodgy evenings won’t derail you.

External measures are another matter.  One of the key things you can do is to properly moisturize right after you exit the shower and towel off.  I have done this since I was fifteen.  If I have one ritual that I never ignore, it’s this one.  I comb my hair up into a ponytail, I apply moisturizer to my face based on the season and time of day, and then slather the bod with a scented SPF lotion.  Every. Day.  With the thyroid disorder, there are skin issues.  Many of us tend to have dry or flaky skin.  Winter often requires a more intensive routine and bi-weekly exfoliation of some sort, depending on how sensitive your skin is.  There are all kinds of products, but one of my absolute faves is the microdelivery peel, by philosophy.  It’s a two-part product that really does the job.  My skin feels amazing afterwards, looks great, and I’m often rewarded by my husband stroking my cheek and telling me how pretty I am!  I DO love that!  Another product I’ll use if I’m feeling cloggy in my pores is Soap & Glory’s the fab pore facial peel.  It’s less harsh, but pulls the surface gunk up, and after the shower, I slap on the classic bioré pore peel strips.  Naturally, after I do any treatment, I use a toner/astringent to make sure I’ve sanitized my skin before putting on moisturizer.  My favorite is this product, by murad.  It contains witch hazel, which is a great astringent without drying your skin.  Make sure any witch hazel you use is the real thing.  Some of the brands just water down alcohol, and that’s not good.

In the morning, I’ll use a lighter weight moisturizer with an integrated SPF.  I’m pale so I use a higher SPF than someone with a darker complexion.  But the daytime moisturizer is important as it seals your fresh, clean skin and protects it from sunlight and pollution.  It also serves as a smoothing precursor to foundation makeup.  I’ve used Oil of Olay products for years (or as my friend Vanessa calls it: “oil of old lady”!!) I also use Kinerase and a host of other brands.  I’m a makeup table experimenter of the highest order.  But finding a moisturizer that works for you and sticking with it is not a bad idea, especially for the time challenged out there among you.  In winter, I go the extra step of applying a slightly more oil-based serum just to the wrinkles under my eyes.  Emu oil is an excellent product for this, if you don’t object to that sort of thing. Or, you could simply use a tiny dab of mineral oil.  I’m at that age, and it’s my family curse to get those saggy bits under the outer corner of the eye.  I don’t have much else around my eyes in the way of aging, but what I do have is front and center!  Just make sure you let it all have five minutes to soak in before you move on to makeup.

The next step is primer.  I use a totally different routine in the winter than I do in the summer.  Winter takes more work, and more time.  And, depending on what my habits have been in the few days before, and what time of the month it is, I tweak it even more.  Yes, I’m vain.  Not in the self-glorying way, but in the harmless peacocky way!  Once I’m made up, I largely forget about it until evening, refreshing a bit if I’m going out.  I feel that taking the time to show pride of appearance is a reflection of confidence and self-worth.  Nothing wrong with polishing the rose a bit.  In the winter, I switch my primer over to smashbox products, instead of my summer MAC prep and prime.  The smashbox high def liquid primer and the green color-correcting primer are more oil-based and less drying.  The green evens out reddish chapped skin and blotchiness, and together they create a smooth blank canvas that requires less foundation makeup to look flawless.  And while I may not always arrive there, flawless is what I’m shooting for!

I let this set for several minutes before moving on to foundation.  In the winter, I change that as well.  I have no hesitation to making like a chemist at my mirror, and mix and match heedlessly.  I find that my MUFE HD is a little too drying in the winter, so I dab my foundation brush into the Oil of Olay foundation I have before picking up a little of the HD and then stippling and swirling onto my skin, building sheer layers of product until I reach my desired coverage.  I like sheer, and to have real skin peeking out.  I use makeup to cover flaws mostly, while letting the real thing shine through, slightly polished and enhanced.  This is the most flattering way to use makeup.

Now, contrary to the usual advice, this is often when I use concealer.  After the foundation.  This requires that you have a good skin match in the coverup.  I have a couple of brushes that I use for this, this one, for larger areas and this one for precision work. I even go so far as to use this one when I’m really into it!  The great thing about brushes is that you can use them in whatever way works best for you.  There aren’t any rules about which one to apply to what purpose.  If it’s comfortable and you like the result, go for it!  I dab and smooth under my eyes, and onto any hyper pigmentation I have.  Thank you for THAT, Lyme disease.  Just keep a light hand and, again, apply in layers to achieve natural looking coverage.  Much like all other forms of makeup, concealer comes in a variety of price points.  I have a favorite in each of the three ranges; drugstore affordable, mid-range and “how much for that, are you insane?”  I’ve recently purchased the Maybelline instant age rewind sponge wand coverup.  And, I like it, honestly.  It took me a few tries to get the hang of making it blend, but it’s actually effective, and does reduce the appearance of aging.  The secret is to apply by dabbing on with the sponge, and then giving it a final swoop with the brush.  Blends nicely and looks fine.

I’m a big fan of benefit brand cosmetics, and their erase paste is wonderful.  Another learning curve though.  Best applied with the finger, dab on and don’t rub.  Again, using the makeup brush to feather out the edges creates a smooth, natural looking blend.

For the luxury brand, I love my Clé de Peau stick.  Ridiculously expensive, I bought it in Hong Kong and have used it faithfully since.  Silky, perfect coverage.  There’s a reason the pros rave about it.  End of story.

Now, for a trick I use to really make those finer lines and wrinkles disappear: once I’ve done all of the above, I dab MAC linefiller primer onto the lines.  Don’t rub.  Put a tiny, tiny pearl of this on your fingertip and dot into place over the area, and let it set.  If I’m dry, I will use the La Prairie Rose Illusion instead.  Another one of those ridiculously expensive products that was worth every penny and which I hope I never have to live without.

Winter is not the time to powder like Marie Antoinette! Use a little to set your face, and that’s that.  Especially if you have fine lines or deeper wrinkles.  Now, another trick I might use, especially right before the dreaded monthly visit from aunt flow, or if I’m having an especially blotchy skin day, is to grab my ’buki brush and dip into a mix of HD clear powder with just a little bare minerals matte powder, then tap and swirl onto my face to set the whole thing.  Not much, literally just a scant dusting will do.  A tip for preventing that “crusted with powder” look:  once you’ve dusted with the powder, press with a makeup sponge to blend seamlessly.  This is especially needed in highly porous areas of the face like T-zone spots.  With all of these products, less is best.  Sheer, thin layers.  If you need more, you can add, but if you goop on in large quantities, all you do is accentuate flaws, not cover them.  If you find you are looking dry while putting on any of this, dab on some super lightweight moisturizer and continue to smooth.  You can also dab on little pearls of “this” product as well, and it works wonderfully!  Makeup Forever is a favored brand of the pros and can be found both online and at Sephora stores.  In fact, if you feel challenged, wander into ye old Sephora and ask for help putting together a product package.  The ladies are often happy to guide you.  Just ignore the insane amount of product they tend to wear.  I don’t know why, but I suspect they walk around and keep adding during the day when customers are scarce.  By evening, there are some scary lookin’ women in that place!!!  I do NOT advocate replicating their look outside of Halloween.  Whew!

To blush or not to blush, that’s up to you.  I maintain that “orgasm” by NARS is the best blush ever to grace the medium.  It seems to work for most everyone.  It’s got a touch of shimmer, and adds a dewy look to the skin.  I have high coloring and require little more than a hint of blush.  But, it does liven the face and flatter most of us.  For evening, you can add further shimmer with products by MAC or NARS, or my favorite again, benefit.  They have shimmering primer or final touches, both of which I use and love.  They also have a really super strong shimmer which I save for a more exaggerated look, but which is world-famous.

Your skin is the marker of health and beauty. Take care of it on a fundamental level, enhance it with subtle product placement, and you’ll find lots of compliments in your stocking this Christmas!  Have a wonderful holiday season, and put your best, most glowing face forward!

5 Responses to “Sassy Style Talk With AJ: Have a Rosy, Dewy Christmas, by Anita Roberts”

  1. Kimberly 12 December 2011 at 9:23 pm Permalink

    awesome info!!! What have you found that works best on under eye circles? It seems that no matter what I use, it tends to look crepey.

    • aj 12 December 2011 at 9:40 pm Permalink

      hey kimberly. one of the products that’s made a difference for me is kinerase. kinitin stimulates the production of collagen, the main culprit in skin that sags or has lost it’s firmness, like with crepey skin. vitamin C serum products also help. this is also a problem i have, and it’s where that trick of dabbing on the MAC line filler comes into play. after i’ve made up, i do the pearl of line filler gently dotted onto the crepey area, and give it a hint of powder, and bam! visible aging is really reduced. it’s like magic. but make sure to moisturize that area well. i use emu oil every morning and evening, too.

  2. Jan 13 December 2011 at 5:14 am Permalink

    Hi aj, hi Sarah!

    Thankyou for the TERRIFIC article. I’m feeling inspired by the recommendations of tried ‘n true products, especially for us ‘highly colored’ chicks (read on the pink side!)
    It should assist with the elimination of a whole lot of trial and error with its rather high price tag that accumulates over time.

    Two things immediately came to mind while reading this very lovely article on moisturizing and cosmetics:

    I recently happened upon a physician researcher’s comments that it is the lack of vitamin C (circulating in the body) that is responsible for the darkness (the ‘circles’) under our eyes. Unfortunately, she didn’t elaborate rather than to go on to mention the importance of ‘Co Q-10’ and how it interacts with vitamin C. I guess they sort of keep recycling each other in the body, producing energy for our body’s various physical functions.

    So, this really came to mind when you mentioned applying that one vitamin C preparation to the dark undereye areas!
    Maybe if we made sure to (orally) take vit. C, along with the Co Q-10, *as well as* apply that recommended vitamin C skin prep externally …. it might prove to be an especially effective combo?

    (If and when I EVER get the energy … I may just try it!) lololol

    The other thing that came to mind was when you mentioned the increased darkness (or hyperpigmentation) to various skin areas as being a part of having Lyme disease. I have been curious about the various causes of this in general and haven’t come up with many clear cut specifics, really.
    Some associated issues ‘might be’ low adrenal function? (not sure), carcinoid syndrome, possibly hyperparathyroidism?.. but I apparently haven’t hit upon the correct sources yet.

    I certainly did not realize this was indicative of Lyme!
    What mechanism might be behind this increased pigmentation phenomena… would you happen to know off hand?
    (It seriously isn’t a real biggie .. just wondering, really).

    Thanks again for an interesting article and for the nice blog!

    Jan 🙂

    • aj 13 December 2011 at 4:27 pm Permalink

      hey there jan,

      thanks for the nice commments. hyperpigmentation can be caused by a number is things, the most common being medicines. certain quinine based meds, and some antibiotics can cause this. adrenal problems and addison’s disease can also cause it. being prone to inflammation can make it a lot easier to run into skin problems, and lyme disease is indeed inflammatory, as are some of the thyroid conditions most of us suffer from. any autoimmune disorder can have an affect on the skin and the way it handles sunlight or even normal melanin production. i saw a dermatologist just to make sure things weren’t cancerous, and have not opted for the laser removal as of yet. in fact, some of the pigmentation seems to have faded with my lyme treatment, so we’ll see what happens. lighter pigment should fade with drugstore brands designed to do so, slowly over time. a deeper or darker spot might need the help of a dermatologist.

      and the absolute first step for any gal on the go, or lady of leisure is ALWAYS nutrient packed noshing! natural vitamin rich food will have everyone seeking a spot on your dance card, so grab that orange and enjoy!

      • Sarah Downing 13 December 2011 at 9:05 pm Permalink

        Thanks Jan and Anita for sharing your interesting experiences. As an aside, pre-thyroid disease I actually had much more skin irritations, but since getting treatment I haven’t had so much to deal with. I was also more prone to slight redness due to my Celtic complexion, but these days it doesn’t seem such an issue. I was so worried when I went off the pill because I do have elevated androgens and I didn’t know whether or not these might cause acne, but as you will have seen from my photos this hasn’t really been an issue – thankfully! We focus so much on our skin and feel so uneasy when it doesn’t look good. Since going off the pill, I have been getting a few more zits than usual, but I guess that isn’t really surprising considering the huge amount of hormones in those damn things. I can’t really complain though and I tend to find that monthly facials (in particular microdermabrasion) really, really help:-).

        Love,

        Sarah


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