Real Girl Beauty

For every girl who's imagined herself as Lucky Magazine's "Lucky Girl." Or who's conquered her addiction to the bitchier-than-thou forums. Or who reacts every day to her Daily Candy email with the same: "Who can afford that?" Here are some heartfelt health and beauty tips from one Real Girl to another.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Skin. Behave. No, Really. I'm Comin' After You.

I had planned to write about my favorite Blushy Bronzer today, but then I read some of your "Ask Real Girl" questions. And, I'm sorry, but skin is just not allowed to behave this badly. It must be disciplined. Gently, but firmly. We'll save the whips and chains for someone else's blog. Please keep in mind that I've gotten my information from: 1) My experience and friends' experiences, 2) The Book, along with article-based (boy, do I take notes) knowledge, and 3) Internet research.

So, Blushy Bronzer (whose effectiveness was proven yet again yesterday, when someone admired its unobvious application), I ask you to be patient. And stop pouting.

Jules writes, all the way from Australia!:

I’m wanting a new skincare regime with a bit more oomph than currently (Olay & Neutrogena – ok in their way) with all the antioxidants & goodies, plus glycolic acid because of the dreaded age spots et al. One of the disadvantages of living in Oz, ya know. So I’ve been looking at more “scientific” lines made by/for dermatologists/plastic surgeons & am interested in NeoStrata – check out It seems to have good reviews – do you know anything, or will it burn my face off? (I have used glycolic acid stuff before, rec’d by my dermatologist). The prices are pretty good, & no pseudobabble as with some department store brands … For the record I am 35, no grey hairs, hardly any wrinkles, still get asked for ID in pubs (good Irish genes) – its just the age spots, pigmentation & wanting to stay baby-faced. I still wanna try the B Kamins stuff, esp. the rosacea treatment …

Am I jealous of the good genes that have kept your skin and hair looking so young? Does Star Jones subscribe to Bride Magazine? So, Jules, you're wearing sunscreen, right? Like, all the time? Even if you're just near a sunny window? Just taking a five minute walk? I'll assume you are...AND that you're reapplying in the afternoon...

Which brings us to the age spots. There be hope! The glycolic acid your dermatologist recommended is really just an effective alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) exfoliant that will take care of extra surface cells. It's a good step in the fight, but you should probably keep an eye out for other ingredients as well, like Vitamin C, which might be able to lighten up those spotty areas. I checked up on Neostrata in The Book, and Paula Begoun seems to like some of their products. Pay special attention to: Bionic Face Serum, which will give you AHA and antioxidants, Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream PHA10, which will give you a pretty high (10%) AHA content, or Daytime Skin Smoothing Cream, which is SPF 15 and has a slightly lower (8%) AHA, in case the 10% irritates. Also, definitely take a look at Neostrata
Neoceuticals Skin Lightening Cream or
Bionic Skin Lightening Cream, which are both SPF 15 and have lightening agents. The Neostrata products do, indeed, look better than the B. Kamins because of their regulated PH levels, which allow all the ingredients to work at their best.

Some other product lines I scoped out for you include: H2O Plus Waterwhite Brightening Tonic, which would be great to use for oily skin (it's oil-free) or as a primer for the non-lightening Neostrata moisturizers. There's also the Waterwhite brightening lotion, which is SPF 15, and has antioxidants including Vitamin C. The H2O Plus products have been on my radar for a while, and I'm dying to try them. Also, since you expressed an interest in glycolic acid, you might want to look at Glymed products, especially the Treatment Cream which has 12% glycolic acid (but oy with the expensive!), and the exceptional-looking, somewhat cheaper Living Cell Clarifier, with Vitamin C, antioxidants, and--yay--anti-irritants to soothe away harshness.

Finally, are you sure a rosacea treatment is really what you need? Rosacea isn't just normal sun-damage discoloration. I'm not entirely up on it, but I know Real Mom is because she's been coping with the 'acea for years. So...Real Mom? Any advice on that front?

Remember, Jules. The sun will get you. More than anything else ever. But you just reapplied your sunscreen...right?

Next, a subject near to my heart. Meaning--GOD I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS. But then, it's not like any of you will be writing in about your bestest friend, The Pimple. So. Here's what Erinire has to say:

Not that my skin has ever been alabaster-smooth, and not that i have
so many wrinkles that i am considering a botox-at-home kit, but
GODDAMN i am having some monster zits. And I don't mean little
innocuous things where a dab of concealer and "presto-change-o no more
zit", I mean BIG HONKING PAINFUL RED motherfuckers. The kind where you wonder if it is indeed possible that some small multi-legged creature
has deposited eggs under your skin (like in that ghost story? where
the spider lays eggs in the girl? eeeeew!!!). Clearasil isn't doing
shit, and these bad boys are on the MARCH across my face. I haven't
had zits this bad since I was 13 and had a disastrous run-in with Bath
& Body Works' Grapefruit Toner (since discontinued - wonder why).

Any tips are appreciated, as long as "stop drinking alcohol" or "8
glasses of water a day" are not among them. Because neither of those
options are even remotely feasible."

so there it is. WHAT DO I DO???

Ok. If the "Spots" are, as you say, big, red, and painful, then you need to step up to the plate and bat those mothers out of the field. Because that's the type of acne that can leave scarring for months, or even years. So bear with me, because I'm going to recommend some serious over the counter relief--and you may have to go through some trial and error before you find out what concentrations of ingredients you need.

It sounds to me that bacteria might be the source of your woes, and some simple disinfecting might work wonders. For that, you can turn to Benzoyl Peroxide, which you can find in all sorts of concentrations, but I'm going to recommend a moderate %5. Some good products containing 5% Benzie P. include: Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion, Oxy Balance Acne Treatment for Sensitive Skin, Vanishing (Hello? So much more cost efficient! Also? It's a gel, so non-oily), and DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel with Tea Tree Oil, which also comes in a 10% version, if you find the 5% doesn't work. But for a 10% concentration, Clean & Clear Persa-Gel would be way more cost-effective. Conversely, if the 5% is too harsh, you can step down to %2.5.

In addition, it wouldn't hurt to seek out some salicylic acid (aka Beta Hydroxy Acid) to unclog pores. You might try a mask like Aveeno Clear Complexion, which has a .5% concentration.

Keep in mind that The Book, at least, is not too keen on Biore, Clearasil, or Neutrogena.

But the author of The Book, Paula Begoun, has her own line of skin care products, including anti-acne ones. She's dealt with the problem herself, and though I haven't tried these products, I do trust them enough to recommend. (She's all about products that do what they say they're going to do while staying at a reasonable price.) Her line is worth a look, because at least in the salicylic acid arena (what she calls Beta Hydroxy), and for a 2.5% Benzie P. product, hers looked most promising of all I researched: Paula's Choice.

If all the products above don't work for you, there's still hope. Adult acne is often the result of hormone flare-ups, so something like birth control might be needed to do the trick. Or, if the Benzie P. isn't enough to kill your bacteria (die, suckers, die!), then you might need to go on an internal antibiotic. But let's hope not. Because that would suck, and you'd have to eat a lot of yogurt. (Girls, you know why. Starts with Y, ends with "east infection.")

If I haven't answered your "Ask Real Girl" question, don't worry because I'm working on it! And if you've got a question, shoot it over to

Any comment recommendations readers may have about skin care, sunscreen, sun spots, acne (hate it!) are SO entirely appreciated. Sometimes only experience can answer a question to the fullest.

With love,
From one Real Girl to another.