I’m going in a completely different direction in this post because I’m tired of whining and droning on and on about being out of work and now waiting for my soon-to-be job assignment to start. And perhaps you are all as well. I’m looking forward to writing more about how things will shake out in this next new version of my life ‘routine.’ Meanwhile, we’re going on a tangent – something I just LOVE to do anyway! Want to join me?
Those of you who know me in person might know I’m a junkie – but perhaps a selective one – when it comes to makeup, skin care, shampoo and hair styling products. Come on upstairs to my master vanity sometime and it’s a sight to behold. There really is an organizational method to the madness on the countertops and in the vanity drawers.

And as you’ll soon find out, I have absolutely zero brand loyalty. Meaning, one brand CANNOT be all things to me – in my opinion NO brand is THAT superior all around in the whole cosmetic product range from lipstick to mascara to foundation, cleansers, etc. I am a firm believer – with exceptions – that the most expensive products aren’t necessarily the best. My style is more eclectic and a la carte and as a result has taken a little more trial and error but it works for me. Some products I’ve stayed faithful to for 20 or even, gulp, 30 years and others I’ve discovered purely by accident recently.

So, buckle up – here we go…in skincare…

St. Ives Apricot Facial scrub. This product has added more varieties over the years, so the one I’ve stuck with all this time now is called the “blackhead and blemish control” formula. Don’t laugh, but way back in college I was taking a much-needed study break and reading an issue of Cosmopolitan which had Cindy Crawford on the cover. The magazine always had a blurb inside about the cover model. She mentioned that was what she uses so I thought why not check it out? Again, don’t laugh – that’s the 100% truth. And it’s worked great for me all these years – plus it’s cheap and you can find it at pretty much any drugstore. It used to come in a small tub but now comes in a squeeze tube as you can see in the picture.  I also love stocking up on the smaller trial sizes as they’re perfect for travel.  I use it very lightly to exfoliate while I’m in the shower. Even in my early 40s I still break out occasionally. Yes, zits AND wrinkles – bonus. And sometimes I’ll use it lightly on my forearms too.

Neutrogena Rainbath shower gel. This is another staple I’ve sworn by for about 30 years. One year my folks gave me a huge Costco sized bottle as a Christmas stocking stuffer and I thought that was just about the coolest thing ever. I got a sample pack of Neutrogena products way back in Junior High at a gift exchange and I just loved how it smells…and works. I can’t stand soaps or shower gels that are too flowery or sweet-smelling; I don’t want to smell like a fruit salad and the smell would likely clash with my perfume too. So I stick with neutral-smelling scents. This one is cheap as well and at most drugstores. Our Campfire Girl group leader had a skin care seminar when many of us were on the brink of puberty – meaning starting to break out and all – and one of the ladies explained how bad and drying bar soap is for our skin. Honestly, I haven’t touched bar soap since.

Paula’s Choice One-Step facial cleanser. I’ve been a BIG fan of Paula Begoun over half my life. She is an expert in celebrating the joy of makeup while simultaneously slicing through the hype and bullshit so many of us fall for with outrageous, farfetched claims some companies make in stating what their products will do. And when we fall for it and open our wallets we sometimes end up disappointed, poorer or even worse, with skin irritations. Along with providing no-nonsense guidance on what works and what doesn’t, she’s launched her own line of skincare and makeup. This cleansing gel is unscented, in basic packaging and removes makeup without over-drying my skin. In short, it does what it’s supposed to do – nothing more, nothing less. I ordered some about a year ago and I’m hooked. Bliss. Find it at paulaschoice.com.

Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover. Yes, ladies (and gents), it’s important to remove every speck of eye makeup before you go to bed. Even if you get home at 4:30am after a wild night out, do it. This one comes in a separated oil/water combo so you just shake the bottle a few times to mix it before dabbing a little bit on a cotton ball. One thing I learned from reading Paula Begoun’s books (and later her online newsletters and Blog) was to be gentle around the eye area – don’t pull or tug when applying or removing makeup. I took this to heart as a teenager and while time marches on and the crinkles have started, I hope being gentle has paid off. Department stores or Lancome.com.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion with SPF 15 and Alpha-Hydroxy. I use this under my makeup religiously and I would like to think the daily dose of SPF has helped my skin stay looking pretty good all these years.  I am very fair with ruddy cheeks – I think that’s the Scottish heritage at work – so I am the type that burns, never tans. The alpha-hydroxy might be a little tingly and take some getting used to but it also helps keep the skin looking fresh. I put it on after I’ve finished drying my hair and let it sink in while I get dressed. You can find it at drugstores.  And oops – this is not in the picture up top; I’ve actually run out and in the interest of my Money Diet and using up what I already have lying around I’m using some Lancome facial sunscreen which I’d forgotten I’d had as a substitute.

Clarins HydraQuench cream for normal to dry skin. I picked up a sample of this in a Sephora order on a total random whim and I use just a touch of it at night on my temples, eye crinkles, forehead and between my brows. There is so much debate out there about night creams and eye creams and whether they are really necessary. And many are outrageously priced too. I could go on for pages about my own opinions but I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I like how this cream feels on my face as it’s not too heavy and it just “feels” good. My sample tube’s about empty and I might go splurge on a full-size of it at Sephora, but as of right now the Money Diet reminds me to wait yet again. So…time to dig through other samples.

Arbonne Exfoliating Masque with Thermal Fusion. Anyone out there ever sit around killing time watching TV or just veging out for a half hour waiting for a gooey masque to do its job? Give this one a try; you’re done in 5 minutes. I use this every month or so and I do recommend doing it before you go to sleep as it can leave the skin a bit red. I apply it mostly in the t-zone area (over dry skin, not damp) and then activate it with a small splash of water. Rinse it off after 5 minutes and voila! Bedtime. If you’re lucky enough to know an Arbonne consultant or to attend/host an Arbonne party, enjoy – I’m a huge fan of the Arbonne line and will have more to write about their lotions in another section of this blog.  Arbonne.com.

What’s missing in this skin care product lineup lovefest? Toners! Honestly, I’ve never been convinced of their benefit nor have I been overly impressed with any that I’ve tried. I don’t understand the need to “balance” out your skin with a toner once it’s been cleansed. If it needs to be balanced out you might need to find a different cleanser. To me, toners are a waste of time and money.

So that’s the start of the Favorite Things mini-series in here.  I will likely have more about shampoos/conditioners/styling products as well as makeup. 

All in good fun, of course.