I should begin my reminding you all that I’m about as novice as it comes when it comes to skincare. But in the past few years I’ve been trying to branch out and give my skin a little more love and care. Recently, quite a few brands that I’ve admired from afar offered to send me some of their new product to try – almost all of them clean beauty – so I was eager to give it a go. I’ve been using all of these for at least 1 month now to really get a true sense of how they work and if I’d incorporate them into my routine. I’m happy to say that the below 5 items made the cut.
Kiehls Micro-Dose Retinol Serum – I’ve been afraid to try anything with retinol for years now. I’ve read all sorts of things like it takes a month or so for your skin to react then calm down. It makes your skin super sensitive to the sun. Etc. All of it just felt like too much hassle when I otherwise slap some moisturizer on and call it a night. But when Kiehls offered to send this low dose micro Retinol cream I was curious. I’ve been using for about two months now and I can honestly say I love it. I use it every other night and haven’t experienced any sensitivity or adverse reactions. In fact, I kind of felt like I could see the positive effects (subtle lessening of fine lines, more even skin tone) right away. I’ll definitely be repurchasing when I run through this bottle.
Merit Mascara – I was frankly skeptical about “clean” mascara. For some reason I felt like it wouldn’t last all day or wouldn’t have the same kind of volume as my regular brand? Consider me converted. This doesn’t smudge, clump or flake at all on me and I typically have mascara on for like 14+ hours on a work day. Gives the same if not better volume as my old brand and the biggest benefit is that it doesn’t irritate my eyes at all, which used to sometimes be an issue for me.
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick – My skepticism over clean mascara also extended to lipstick until I tried Urban Decay’s Vice options. The satin/cream and matte finishes both have nice saturated, long-lasting color (my favorite is ‘The Big One’ – a warm red) and when you think about how much lipstick you ingest while wearing it.. it’s kind of a no brainer to make the switch to a cleaner option.
Beauty Counter Overnight Resurfacing Peel – I’ve never tried Beauty Counter before but heard plenty of people singing their praises for years now so was eager to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve been using this overnight resurfacing peel on the nights when I don’t use the micro-dose retinol serum and the combo is proving to really even out my skin tone. This one helps to minimize pores too which I love and generally feels like the perks of using a mask without the messiness or annoyance of having to rinse it off. I’m the absolute laziest when it comes to nighttime routines so this is a clear winner for me.
Beauty Counter VitaminC Serum – It smells like a cross between oranges and eucalyptus to me and has this really great consistency that’s thicker than a serum to me but lighter than a lotion, if that makes any sense? Either way, I’ve been using this every morning since I got it and it gives me this even, glowy, dewy complexion – like I just walked out of a facial appointment. It’s pricier but I don’t even use moisturizer in the morning’s anymore with this and a little goes a long way – so worth it in my opinion.
Lately on Instagram, I feel like I’ve been bombarded with young women (barely touching 30) talking about their Botox, their exorbitant facial treatments, their lip fillers. While I appreciate the transparency and I’m a strong proponent of women doing anything they want with their bodies – this constant pressure to erase all signs of aging feels untenable. And that if you haven’t surgically plumped and prodded your face yet, then you should be sure to use a filter that makes it look like you have.
Personally, I think it’s a gift to develop wrinkles. It means you’ve lived. I look at women with “age” on their faces and wonder what wisdom they’ve accrued during their years in a world that’s all too often brutal on them. A perfectly preserved face frankly seems like you’ve had a slightly boring life. I’m not proposing that you don’t take care of yourself – wear the sunscreen, moisturize. Switching to a clean beauty can’t hurt (Merit Beauty sent over this mascara and lip gloss as my first intro to clean beauty and I’m really impressed with the quality of the products). I’m just saying maybe you spend some of that time and money on other means of personal fulfillment too?
All this to say – I mentioned these thoughts the other week on Instagram and shared a few quotes to offer a different perspective. And you all had such a positive response I figured I’d share them again here in case you wanted to refer back. You do you.. but me? Give me those sun spots as souvenirs.
To be clear – I am by no means a skincare expert. Until I was well into my mid-twenties I used to wash my face with nothing more than water and then slap on whatever CVS brand body lotion I had lying around. That being said, in the past few years (quite frankly because some incredible brands sent help by way of samples) I’ve started to try out a more elevated skincare routine and really in the past year feel like I’ve settled into a rotation of products that work for me. I feel grateful I’ve never had any major skin problems as far as on-going acne, eczema, etc. so I can’t speak to if any of these are miracle workers in those arenas. But as far as being a woman in my early 30s dealing with fine lines, dark circles and a New Yorker winter that feels intent on wreaking havoc on my skin – all of these are really going to battle for me.
I honestly don’t usually wash my face in the morning – but a spritz of this Aloe Rose Water Mist always makes me feel refreshed and awake. You can also mist it onto your face (even over make-up!) throughout the day for a nice little refresher.
Hands down my favorite morning moisturizer – it strikes a perfect balance between being thick enough to really moisturize but still airy enough to not feel super heavy under make-up. Honorable mention to this moisturizer with SPF50 which I’m more prone to use if I’m not planning on wearing make-up since it’s on the thicker side.
If I feel like my eyes are puffy or I’ve got dark circles (aka I didn’t get enough sleep or had more than 2 drinks the night before), I’ll dab this coffee bean cream around my eyes. It has a really smooth consistency and the natural caffeine helps de-puff and make me look more awake.
A few days a week I add a couple of drops of this sunless tanner to my moisturizer. It’s not dramatic, but definitely helps give a little bit of a tinted glow that my face otherwise really lacks in winter months. Bonus points for also acting as an anti-aging serum.
Once all of that soaks in, I use thistinted moisturizer (similar to a bb cream) in place of foundation. It’s a nice, semi-sheer base that smooths out discoloration and uneven skin. Plus it doesn’t dry out or cake throughout the day.
A great drugstore find, I start with these micellar water make-up remover wipes. These are the only ones I’ve found that don’t leave my skin feeling strangely greasy or create a weird stinging sensation (does that happen to anyone else?). These are super gentle and it works well to get off eye make-up or super saturated lipstick.
Next I use this pre-biotic filled Superfood cleanser (it has avocado, pumpkin and broccoli seed oils – like a salad for your face) to give a good clean feeling and add some nutrients to my skin.
Once or twice a week I use this pore exfoliating mask to help keep my pores clear and prevent any minor breakouts. It doesn’t dry out my skin but leaves it feeling really deeply clean and smooth.
After cleansing but pre-moisturizing, I alternate between this hydrating serum and this facial oil. Between the two its a good balance of hydration without adding too much oil that could potentially make me break out. Ideally I don’t even need to moisturize after all of this because my skin is fully hydrated already.
I finish out the whole routine with this lip treatment meant to moisturize lips and help with fine lines around your mouth. Not only has it ended my chapped lips once and for all, but the metal applicator tip kind of plumps up my lips making them feel nice and full (at least as naturally full as my fairly thin lips can get) and moisturized when I wake up in the morning.
If you’ve been following me for awhile you know that my hair magician here in New York is Sarah Rappoltand beyond giving me the perfect haircut every time – she also indulges me from time to time in some of her killer hair styling (see what we did last Fall here). This time around we wanted to update the basic ‘hair scarf in ponytail’ look that everyone (including myself) sported all Summer. I’m absolutely thrilled with the results – all taking no more than 5 minutes each and honestly, easy enough that even an amateur like myself can do it. Below – 3 new ways to wear a hair scarf this Fall. Hope you try!
And if you’re in the NYC area and are in need of a hair cut/style yourself – Sarah is generously offering my readers 15% off. Just mention ‘The Steele Maiden.’
SHOP THE STORY:
“THAT 70’S BRAID” – Start with a low ponytail, being careful to leave some volume at the sides and crown of your head. Fold/roll your scarf diagonally to form a long, thin rectangle shape. Tie around your ponytail securing underneath in a single knot. Then divide your hair into three sections and add the ends of the scarf into two sections. Braid the strands and secure at bottom with a clear elastic, leaving several inches of hair and the scarf ends out.
“THE BRUNCH BUN” – Sarah and I kept calling this the new ‘messy bun’ because it feels just as simple but somehow way more chic. Perfect for a low-key weekend brunch with friends. Start with textured hair (Sarah used this spray and added a few waves with a 1″ curling wand) and secure in a mid-height ponytail. Fold/roll the scarf horizontally into a long, rectangle shape and secure the end around your ponytail – leave one small ‘tail’ and one very long side. Using the long side, twist your ponytail and the scarf together then loop around into a bun shape. Pin in place and adjust the scarf, pinning where needed to further secure. Leave both small scarf ends out at the bottom as a finishing touch.
“RIVIERA ROMANCE” – this simple updo feels very ‘I’m going to a moonlit dinner on the Italian coast’ to me. Although I like to think it will work just as well for a date night here in New York. Start with a low ponytail, divide in half and braid each section tightly. Then wrap the braids into a bun and pin in place. Fold the scarf diagonally to form a long, skinny shape and wrap around the crown of your head, tying firmly in place at the nape of your neck. Pin in place if it feels like it might slip.
Things in my life have been fairly stressful lately. And this Winter weather just isn’t letting up (as I write this they’re calling for snow again in New York tomorrow). Combined, those two things can wreak absolute havoc on skin. Which is why after returning from my trip to Wyoming last month I knew I needed to switch up my nightly routine in order to help combat all of the factors that are working against me.
I first tried out Clarins’ Hydra-Essentiel skincare collection last year (full post here) and quickly became a total convert to their Silky Cream Moisturizer (I still use it regularly!). So when they offered me the chance to try a couple of their latest products, I was ready and willing.
Their latest Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask andReplenishing Lip Balm are great for my routine right now because they’re super targeted. While I’m happy with my nightly cleanser and moisturizer I was finding that the skin around eyes was looking dry, dark and tired by morning and my lips were dreadfully chapped (is there anything worse?).
So I’ve been making a conscious effort to set aside an extra 15-20 minutes each night to really devote to my skin and my general well-being. That means a cup of hot tea, a good book and a generous helping of the Replenishing Lip Balm each night (it leaves my lips feeling plump and smooth almost instantly!). And then a couple of times a week I’ve been using theMoisturizing Reviving Eye Mask as an overnight mask. You can also just apply it for 10 minutes and remove, but I’ve been really noticing a difference in the texture of the skin around my eyes (less puffiness and dryness) and the overall brightness of skin tone when I leave it on overnight. Plus, that way I can apply it and then crawl right into bed without having to worry about getting up again to wash off. Win, win!
My plan is to stick to this new routine and by the time Spring finally rolls, my skin and I will be looking just as lively.
*A thank you to Clarins for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.