I’ve always had an affinity for goop. Not Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” – god, no. Goop you put on your face and body that makes you look and feel good.
In my world, goop takes the form of skin care and makeup products, and I’ve always been somewhat obsessed. Now that I’m a woman of a certain age, I’m obsessed with not looking that age. I haven’t gotten to the point where I would consider Botox or fillers, but I’m forever on the hunt for “hope in a jar”, and I’ve been saying that since before the skin care brand Philosophy actually came out with a moisturizer called “Hope In a Jar”.
The past several years have been interesting in terms of what I’ve been using. I used to be a real high-end snob when it came to products, but circumstances have forced me to look for less expensive alternatives. While I was living in Canada, I haunted Shoppers Drug Mart, a national chain that came up with the concept of dividing their stores into two beauty sections: A high-end “boutique”, with brands like Dior, Lancôme, Guerlain, Bare Minerals, BeneFit, and the like, and a lower-end section containing all the drugstore staples, along with an amazing selection of French skincare brands like Vichy, Avène, La Roche Posay, and others. The concept is glorious, and gives you the ability to approach makeup and skin care with the same “high-low” approach many of us employ when it comes to fashion. A few of the U.S. drugstore chains have attempted to copy this idea, but they are pale imitations of the original.
Sephora used to be Mecca for me, but prices have skyrocketed so much since the ’08 crash, that I only get to go there once every six months (if that). Seriously, a typical visit to Sephora will run you about $250 at minimum, and that’s maybe the cost of three products. Hell, you can’t even get a decent cleanser for under $30. It’s madness! And don’t get me started on Ulta. It might be Sephora “lite”, but you can do just as much damage in there.
So, here are some tips for the budget-conscious among us. Afterwards, I’ll share some of the products I’m currently loving.
Buy In Bulk
I’m not crazy. You can get some great deals on large size skin care items you always use at Costco and QVC. I bought the Olay serum and moisturizer pictured above at Costco – double the regular retail size for the regular retail price. Costco will usually have a constant selection of Olay and Aveeno products, and if you visit regularly, you could pick up a blockbuster deal on something special every now and again.
QVC sells ginormous sizes of many Philosophy products, like liter-size bottles of Purity Made Simple cleanser, and eight-ounce jars of the famous Hope In a Jar moisturizer. I used to be a huge Philosophy fan, but as I’ve gotten older, I find their products don’t work as well for me. The one thing that still does is When Hope Is Not Enough serum. I scored a five ounce bottle of it from QVC at the beginning of the year. It’s normally sold in tiny one-ounce bottles.
I’m really into Josie Maran’s argan oil products, and QVC has the best deal on kits, and larger sizes of what’s sold in Sephora. See those bottles on the right side of the photo? The Argan Oil Light is four ounces, and the original Argan Oil is six ounces. The bottle with the white label is the argan oil sunblock, which is also four ounces. They were such great deals!
Target has really been stepping up their game when it comes to beauty products. The displays are clean, bright and (usually) well-stocked. The Boots brand from the U.K. has some stellar skin care, and they recently started carrying the brand Laneige, which is made by Amore Pacific, a very high end Korean brand. The products are fabulous. You can also find brands like Pixi, Burt’s Bees, Pacifica, and a small selection of Vichy and La Roche Posay at some of their stores. An added bonus is that Target’s prices are cheaper than the chain drugstores.
Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
Yes, Whole Foods. Some of the bigger stores have huge selections of natural skin care lines, and their own 365 skin care items are pretty decent. Check out Everyday Shea, and Everyday Coconut, which are both made by Alaffia. Both brands make awesome products for face and body that cost less than the organic produce. As for Trader Joe’s, I’ve read raves about their eponymous skin care products, but I haven’t tried them yet. Don’t worry – I’ll get to them one of these days!
They will bombard you with e-mails, but there is always a deal for 20-30 percent-off going on. Their prices aren’t quite as good as Target, but when you can get a deal, shopping online can be worth it. Plus, you get free shipping with orders over $35.
There are countless “beauty guru” channels on YouTube, but regrettably, most of them feature girls who are half my age. Not that I’m complaining; I like watching them apply makeup. I’ll leave it at that. I’ve come to have very strong opinions about some of these so-called gurus. That might be a post for another day, in another category.
For skin care, check out Caroline Hirons, and Tati Westbrook. Ms. Hirons is about my age, and possesses a wealth of knowledge about ingredients and products. She’s British, and has a jolly good sense of humor. The one negative is that many of the products she recommends are prohibitively expensive. Regardless, she doles out excellent advice and is a hoot to watch.
Ms. Westbrook is in her early 30s and uploads skin care and makeup videos daily. She does a good job opining on both drugstore and high-end makeup and skin care products. She’s also fessed up to trying some fillers and Botox, which at her age, she’s a little young for, but as long as she’s honest, who am I to judge? I just hope she doesn’t get a face-lift before she turns 40. Anyway, she’s worth watching, especially when she does her “Hot Or Not” segments, where she reviews new products and brands.
Now, on to what I’m currently loving. I have to preface this section by saying that my skin changed rather dramatically after my cancer diagnosis. It has never been as dry as it is now, and I’ve been battling a slight case of rosacea on my cheeks since undergoing chemotherapy. I used to have very oily, acne-prone skin, but no more. It’s actually kind of nice to not be an oil slick anymore, but dry skin can be quite challenging.
Here’s what I’m using. Most of it is pictured above:
Cleansers: When I wash my face at night, it’s usually with Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser, or Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser. Both of these work really well massaged onto a dry face and removed with a wet washcloth.
In the morning in the shower, it’s Dove soap. Don’t judge me. It works.
Toners: Facial sprays are all the rage right now, and the two I have are Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, and Yes to Grapefruit Correct and Repair Toning Mist. NOTHING containing alcohol. NEVER; not anymore.
Occasionally, I will use First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, which have glycolic acid in them, but I’m not fond of them. People rave about First Aid Beauty products, but I have a feeling I would have liked this line much more when I was younger.
Serums and Moisturizers: Here is where I go hog-wild. I alternate between Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough serum, Laneige Water Bank serum, Olay Regenerist serum, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair serum, and Josie Maran Milk.
For moisturizer, it’s Josie Maran Argan Oil (original and light), Tarte Maracuja oil, and Bare Minerals Mineralixir Five Oil Blend. It took me a very long time to embrace using facial oils, but now I am unabashedly hooked on them.
I’ve recently got back into using retinol products, and the two that I’m loving are Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair and Receutics (a brand exclusive to Rite Aid drug stores) Rapid Wrinkle Corrector. Both products are excellent, and under $30.
Other moisturizers I use are Laneige Water Bank cream and Josie Maran Argan Oil Face Cream. For SPF, it’s Aveeno Positively Radiant Lotion SPF 15, and Smart Essentials Daily Nourishing Moisturizer SPF 30, Olay Total Effects 7-In-1 SPF 15, and Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer, SPF 47.
I’ve dipped my toe into the “sleeping mask” category, although I will sometimes use them during the day if I’m staying home. I love Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, and Garnier Ultra Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream.
As for eye cream, I’m afraid there are only two: Laneige Water Bank eye gel – which is very moisturizing for a gel formulation, and Bare Minerals Mineralixirs Nourishing Eye Oil Balm.
For times when I’m so dry I can’t see straight, Josie Maran Argan Infinity Creamy Oil is a godsend that I use all over. I keep a tube in my refrigerator in the butter compartment because it tends to separate. Josie’s solid Argan Oil balms and body butters are quite wonderful. Her unscented body butter got me through most of my radiation treatments until I was just so well-done, nothing did the trick except pain killers.
So, there you have it. Since this post is quite long, I will stop here with the promise of future posts about other beauty topics. Please leave me comments about what you’re loving right now!