The Magic Formula

Having made it through my ‘deathly’ illness, I am thrilled to tell all you lovely readers about my joyous discovery. This must be what Indiana Jones felt like when he sipped from the Holy Grail and knew his face wouldn’t be melted off. Yes, it’s that good.

After months and months years of searching and much trial and error, I have finally found my “magic formula” in the realm of moisturizers and SPF.

I’ll wait for anyone who thinks skincare is boring to click away now. Really, it’s okay.


This discovery definitely does not pertain to everyone, since mostly it will only work for those with oily skin, like myself. Actually, combination skin people could benefit from this, too. Being a fair-skinned woman who gets pink easily and wants to properly defend my epidermis in these harsh ozone times, I have been slathering on moisturizer with SPF since I was a young adult. I got a vicious sunburn when I was 17 and the bridge of my nose took years to heal from it. Apparently I thought I was invincible and thought I could force my cells to produce melanin and I’d tan. My skin promptly burst into flames and said, “Screw you.”

Since then, I have devoutly worn my moisturizer and facial sunscreen. I have lost count how many brands I’ve tried, each with their pros and cons. But for whatever reason, the skincare gods decided it was time for me to stop floundering and answered my prayer to find exactly what I needed. Us Oily Skin People have it rough because it usually means we’re contending with easily clogged pores and/or acne, looking shiny in photos, and sometimes forgoing wearing SPF because we’ll find a perfect moisturizer that doesn’t grease up our faces but then we expose our skin to the damaging rays of the sun.

In the last year, I have tried moisturizer/sunscreen products from Lancôme, Mary Kay, Olay, and Mario Badescu. They all have their pros and cons but the one common denominator amongst all four was how the SPF affected my skin.

I actually really like the Mary Kay moisturizer for oily skin but don’t even get me started with what’s wrong with Mary Kay. Another post for another time. However, when you add in their separate SPF product with the moisturizer, it negates the lightweight feel and I’m back at square one sopping at my face with Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets multiple times a day. Lancôme is okay but very pricey; the scent is nice, albeit a little strong, but it’s only SPF 15 and the moisturizer is heavier than I can tolerate. Olay’s SPF 30 is really thick but I have been wearing it because it’s not too expensive and doesn’t clog my pores too much. However, my pores swim throughout the day. Lastly, when I tried the Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 30 (something I thought really might be the ticket), I was soaking through two oil-absorbing sheets sheets by 11am, two hours after putting it on. It went back.

Finally, after having my 4,280th conversation with one of my good friends on skincare and this plight we find ourselves in on the regular, I decided to take yet another risk and buy two more products that I prayed would work. They are:

I mean, Clinique of all products! For whatever reason, Clinique has always flown under my radar. I never liked their facial soap or toner and I think perhaps once when I was a teenager, I used some of their Dramatically Different Moisturizer in the small square bottle. It never stuck in my mind that it was something that worked for me. But when I saw that they made a gel that is even lighter and specifically for oily and combination skin, I pounced on it. Also, my friend reported that City Block Sheer was really good stuff and had a mattifying feel, not to mention an SPF of at least 25 (and in fact, you can get a tube in SPF 40).

The angels sang when I began using these products. The moisturizing gel is absolutely perfect for oily skin. You feel like you’re giving your skin a drink but it absorbs really quickly and leaves your skin soft with no heavy perfumes. The fact that it’s lightweight means I don’t worry about my pores throwing up oil on me throughout the day.

And what can I say about the City Block Sheer? It’s absolutely perfect. It is lightly tinted, which normally I shy away from, but even on my fair skin it goes on sheer. It lives up to the hype! Unlike most SPF moisturizers where I rub it into my palms before applying it to my face, there is no need to do that with this one. It actually goes on better when applied directly from fingertips to face and you only need a nickel’s worth. Because of the tint and matte feel, it actually makes for a great makeup base. And last but not least, I can choose whether or not to wear bronzer, blush or mineral powder without feeling like I HAVE to in order to absorb the inevitable ooze. I can like, you know, wear makeup for makeup’s sake without wearing it to compensate for protecting my skin.

When I have had to use a blotting sheet, it has been ONE in the middle of the day. But there have been days when I haven’t had to use any and you can’t put a price on that. (Well, you can, it’s the price of this stuff.)

I’m on Cloud 9 with these two products and if any one of you out there has been in my shoes on that Eternal Search, go to your favorite makeup store (I got mine from Sephora) and get your hands on these miracle workers! The best part is, they’re worth every penny but the price doesn’t break the bank.

I guarantee that you will have chosen…wisely.


  1. BadAssAunt says:

    What a find~! Congrats, ZV – I know how hard you work at these things! Nicely done….

    • Thank you – even after going on a photo walk today in 90+ heat, I didn’t have to come home and wash it all off. Still going high and dry!

  2. Hello Hello.
    Like the man said … ‘ Always wear sunscreen ‘. That is all I’m going to say on the subject.
    90+ heat is not something that we get ever in Ayrshire … but the sun does venture out on occasion. In fact … it is shining at this very moment ( although by the time I’ve finished it may well not be ) ….. Looks outside ….. still SHINING!!!
    Zoe … can you do me just a wee favour … would you subscribe to my site at PLEASE. It is a wordpress site by the way so I’d be very grateful as I could do with all the hits I can get.

  3. Great post, Zoe! I have used a variety of Clinique products over the years and totally had the same experience with the whole basic “system” of toner/cleanser/dramatically diff. moisturizer to which one is first introduced. I have a friend from grade school who has been using that system since our freshman year in high school and loving it. She’s the only one I’ve ever met who feels that way! I loved city block when it first came out. I also like their pore minimizer, which was slightly tinted and had that mattifying feel. I have since graduated to old lady skin (i.e., moving from combo and sensitive to dry and extremely sensitive) so I have changed over to Olay Pro X which is awesome for my needs (and comparatively cheap), but you describe perfectly the feeling of elation one has when one finds the moisturizer that actually suits one’s needs. Hurrah!

    • Thanks, Julia! Elation indeed. This morning, I was STILL excited to put my moisturizer and sunscreen on. Talk about a 180 from what was happening two weeks ago! 😀

  4. I can’t believe it’s taken you this long to be a Clinique moisturizer convert! The dramatically different moisturizer is the best thing ever. How did I never hook you on to it in our college years?

  5. Zoeeee! I have NO idea. Clearly I blocked it out because even now I’m thinking to myself, “You use that?” I know you have been a devout user of the facial soap but for some reason, that yellow bottle is not surfacing in my mind’s eye. But you were ahead of the game and now I’m right there with you. Total convert!


  1. […] Me ← The Magic Formula July 12, 2011 · 8:33 pm ↓ Jump to […]

  2. […] being in my thirties here and here, in case you want to catch up. I’ve even written about a previous epiphany I thought I’d had about the right skincare products for […]

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