Ever since I was a teenager, I knew that perhaps the most important component to a woman’s beauty is smooth, youthful and luminous skin. Everything else can be either added or hidden: you can always glue some false lashes on, hide the grays if you want to, whiten your teeth and add the hair extensions. You cannot cover your face. And no matter how good that foundation is, if there is wrinkled or inflamed skin under it – you can’t hide it, it will be noticed.
Thinking those thoughts I knew that I should start taking care of my skin now, before it begins giving me problems. Being quite a perfectionist I still believe that it is possible to keep my appearance youthful for decades ahead because while my hair might turn grey one day and I won’t have much control over that, why should I allow my skin get all wrinkled when I can do a few things to prevent that from happening? Because while yes, our skin bends and wrinkles when we smile and articulate, my humble knowledge of biology provides me with the fact that our cells also regenerate. So what if we help our skin by nourishing it correctly and then let our own nature do the rest of the work for us? We can counteract the damage that living our lives causes our skin with this regeneration process.
I’ve already mentioned that I believe in being in control and knowing exactly what I’m doing when it comes to taking care of my appearance. But when it comes to choosing the right product, it’s not easy. There is a LOT of products out there and just as much advice that you get from both friends and sales associates. How exactly should anyone know who to listen? (A sales person at Estee Lauder, for example, won’t give you an independent overview: they’ll tell you all about how Estee Lauder is so good. The same things happens when you go to a dermatologist: when I asked my Derm what were the good creams on the market, he walked me right over to the reception area where they have all those $200 creams on display and of course you can purchase them right there, too… Right…So much for an independent advice). Unfortunately many end up falling pray of the “if it costs a lot – it must be good for you” concept. But once again since I wanted to know exactly what was going on (aside from the fact that expensive isn’t in my budget) I had to do a lot of my own research…
In the very beginning when I was very young I followed my mom’s advice: use what’s been proofed throughout the decades. I started using the creams that she’s been using. I was born in Russia and these are Russian creams; they are cheap (they still cost about $10 in American dollars) and yes, they’ve been around for about 150 years. Everyone had always praised my mom for her beautiful skin and I knew that this was the best proof that the creams worked. When I can get a hold of them (now that I live in the US I have to ask whoever travels to Russia to bring me a supply of these creams) I still use them as night creams because they have never given my very sensitive skin a rash and their consistency is just right for me: they are very oily and rich; perhaps too rich to wear during the day.
But then I run out of this supply. When I first ran out of everything that I’ve brought from Russia I had to start looking for the right creams here, in the US. That was challenging. America has a lot to offer and I’ve been going through my process of trial and error: I tried many different brands (there was actually a phase in my life when I could afford spending a little more on that), some of them left my skin looking very dull and tight since most moisturizers don’t contain enough oil, but do have too much alcohol for my skin. I knew I needed something rich, but many creams also irritated my quite sensitive skin…
But again I was lucky: in college I befriended someone who was learning cosmetology and dermatology. That was truly a very lucky acquaintance since I knew that I found my source of advice who I could trust: someone who could tell me exactly what I needed for my skin without BS-ing me with the advertisement and honest enough to not try to sell something to me. (Unfortunately she moved to another State and we lost contact when I had kids…)
Here is what she told me: for my dry skin I do need a rich cream, i.e. the one that contains oil. Dior is good. La Mer is better. La Prairie is great. But if you can’t afford all that – Avene is great. It’s natural, it’s produced in France and it’s been used and loved by generations of French women. This is how I found my Avene Cold Crème that I use during the day and sometimes at night too. Not only it’s rich, it doesn’t have much scent and alcohol that may irritate my skin.
Of course my friend also told me that I had to use a sunscreen every day. She also recommended Avene. They had a sunscreen specifically for dry skin that actually contained oil and that was exactly what I needed: a sunscreen that doesn’t dry my face out and doesn’t leave me looking like I was painted with stucco… Unfortunately Avene discontinued that sunscreen, but thanks to my friend’s general advice to look for a non-oil-free sunscreen for my dry skin type I quickly found what I use now: a Shiseido 38UV sunscreen.
My friend also told me that needed a good cleanser and a good under-eye cream. It took me a while to find the right ones since unfortunately I wasn’t as happy with the Avene cleanser and their under-eye cream: just as most cleansers, even the ones for the dry skin their cleansing milks contained alcohol; it irritated my skin and burned my eyes mercilessly. My friend told me that I could try La Prairie, but I knew that I couldn’t afford spending that much. Another friend of mine (not a cosmetologist, but pretty knowledgeable as well) told me that I’d probably be OK just using Dove soap as a cleanser and applying the same Cold Crème under my eyes. I was on a very tight budget then and I settled for this routine since actually worked pretty well.
But at the same time because I’ve heard some pretty bad things about using soap to cleanse my face I kept on searching. I was now educated on skin-types and needs by my friend-cosmetologist and I’ve also realized that perhaps the most important thing that I needed to base my search upon was my own sensations from using the products. Finally I found a Lancôme cleansing oil. And although my friend didn’t say much about the Lancôme creams, their oil works great: it doesn’t irritate my skin and doesn’t burn my eyes. It cleanses my skin nicely, but never leaves it dry and inflamed.
When it comes to my under-eye cream my search was also primarily based on my sensations and on the results that I was “facing”: I started seeing a little bit of crow’s feet appearing under my eyes when I smiled and with time they seemed to start settling there to stay. They were barely noticeable to anyone, but I always like to look very closely at myself and I knew that there were there. And I didn’t like them one little bit. I could just see that the thin gel-creams didn’t work for me at all: they’d still leave my skin looking and feeling very dry and the crow’s feet didn’t seem to be going away anywhere. And finally I found my answer: the balms! This turned out to be my “magical word”: the thick and sticky, but nourishing and protecting balm. I found Dr. Hanuchka’s under-eye balm. And this is what I’ve been using ever since…