Pastel Mania

Pastel Swabs_zoesaysIt being Spring means my love for pastels can blossom for a month or two before it has to shrivel away again for ten months.

Most people associate pastels only with babies. I get that. Should I ever have children, I will have an incredibly difficult time narrowing down colors for the baby’s room. (Official warning to the husband here.)

But I have always been drawn to soft colors. Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Spring; perhaps 80s marketing left an indelible impression on me to the point where my passion for pastels is embedded onto my DNA.

Whatever the case may be, it is Pastel Season and it makes me happy. All the candies are pretty, wrapping paper and tissue explode from displays in my favorite colors, and the world is a gloriously soft rainbow.

To that end, I had a crochet order to fulfill this past weekend and when I was finished, I decided that nothing would complete me more than making some amigurumi Easter eggs.

I only began with three but it’s a pretty safe bet I will make a few more of these during the week. While I am not a religious person, I do love the symbolism that Easter brings: renewal, growth, birth, and of course pretty stuff.

These crochet eggs are so incredibly easy to make and take hardly any time (or yarn) at all. Mine were made with an F hook (3.75mm) and some scraps of DK yarn. I want to keep challenging myself with the different patterns and color changes and add a flower blossom or two to the next ones.

Since the order I was fulfilling happened to be some amigurumi duckies, what could make for a cuter photo session than baby ducks and eggs?

Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Happy Pastels Everywhere!

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Thirties Equals Skin Changes. Apparently.

Welcome to another edition of The Thirties Series, as I’m haphazardly calling it.

I’ve previously written about my reactions to 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 me.

As evidenced by this update, I’m still adjusting three years in. And if someone had told me when I was in my late twenties that I would experience a major skin change by the fair age of 33, I would have scoffed and laughed in her face.

I have had oily, acne prone skin since….forever. I became aware of my skin type probably around the time I was in junior high. I didn’t know back then to buy products based on skin type; I merely bought for symptom treatment purposes.

In response to the ads screaming, “Keep your filthy teenaged zits at bay!” I would haul myself off to the drugstore to plunk down my little allowance on what I thought would work.

Back then, the types of products I purchased were Clearasil, Clean & Clear anything, foul-smelling Noxzema, and Oxy Pads. I never assumed they wouldn’t work exactly as advertised. I mean, YM and Seventeen magazines wouldn’t lie to me, right?

For the occasional splurge, I’d get my mom to buy me the Clinique Clarifying Lotionastringent, also known as “Clarifying Lotion,” which only came in one type back then, and it was pretty much just pure alcohol. I firmly believed that a stinging sensation must be a good thing. Fun times.

I grew tired of it, though, as I realized it definitely did not help keep the oil away. Of course I didn’t know that my skin was overcompensating being dried out by producing ever more oil.

When I was 25, however, I resorted to getting a set of Proactiv, since I was going through some kind of quarter-life adult acne flare-up that was not being kept at bay with traditional methods. It worked for the time I needed it and thankfully, I was able to move on from using it long-term. (I think it’s safe to say that it works by drying out your skin as if you’re in a tannery.)

This year has brought with it better physical health (I have no more gallbladders to suddenly crap out on me) but also a major change in skin type, something I clearly wasn’t anticipating.

I noticed it earlier in the year when my usual foaming cleansers began drying out my face really badly. I’d get out of the shower and my skin would be tight, red, dry, and flaky. Completely the opposite of what I’ve been accustomed to the last twenty years. The cleanser I was in love with, one by La Roche-Posay, was suddenly too strong and drying. I switched to Purpose by Johnson & Johnson, one of the mildest foaming cleansers you can buy. It’s basically baby shampoo for the face. I didn’t think I would need anything gentler.

Yet my face continued to kick and scream with tight, red, dry skin. At this point, I was blaming the water, thinking we had way too hard water or something. But we actually have pretty great tap water here in central Illinois and I needed to face facts and keep experimenting.

I finally tried the Oil Cleansing Method, which for a brief shining moment, I believed to be the answer to my problems. (I highly recommend trying it if you want to get away from traditional cleansers and you don’t have “problem” skin. Crunchy Betty really knows her stuff!) I was using pure Castor and Sweet Almond oils on my face each night and my skin was definitely moisturized and soft. I firmly believed that I would be “washing” my face with oil until I was a little old lady.

But it didn’t take long for my face to become irritated once again. Despite my oil method at night and rinsing only with water and/or a teensy fraction of a teaspoon of Purpose cleanser in the shower, I could not seem to emerge without having inflamed skin that was throwing a temper tantrum, begging for cooling moisturizer. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that moisturizer didn’t automatically calm my skin down. I began wondering if I was allergic to the SPF, which would have been a living nightmare for me, since I need to protect my fair skin. Even the “Ultra Calming” moisturizer I had bought wasn’t helping. (Can you tell I’ve spent quite a bit of money so far?)

It got to the point where my skin began feeling stinging and inflamed even if it wasn’t red (we’re up to August now). I’m sure feeling stressed about my skin wasn’t helping, either.

The only thing that was remotely working on my skin was Philosophy’s Miracle Anti-Aging Moisturizer, which I was using at night but began putting on before my SPF moisturizer in the morning, thinking that it would prevent my skin from breaking out and/or getting inflamed. To make matters worse, if my skin wasn’t inflamed, I was experiencing chronic acne on my chin, something I had never dealt with previously. I was getting desperate.

I began to do more skin research and landed on a website where I’d purchased a few treatment products previously but hadn’t invested in an entire line or anything. That website was Mario Badescu.

The information on the MB website is thorough and incredibly helpful. I suspected I was in the couperose/rosacea/combination skin categories and short of going to a dermatologist (something I could not afford at this point in time, so please consult one if you have the resources!), I decided to take one last stab and self-diagnose and treat my strong suspicions. I was still reeling from this new change but ready to plow forward.

Overall, here is what I have invested in. From left to right: Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, Keratoplast Cream Soap, Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Kera Moisturizer, Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15, and Silver Powder (the last being a gift).

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Some of the miracle workers.

The Glycolic Foaming Cleanser has been with me since before this problem arose. It is meant to be used twice a week in place of your regular cleanser, as the ingredients naturally exfoliate the skin. It smells great, is quite gentle, and really works. Even going through The Change, I have still used it sporadically since exfoliation is still important.

The next product is the one that has absolutely saved my skin: Keratoplast Cream Soap. This baby not only smells amazing but does exactly what it promises: calms red, blotchy, inflamed skin. It is non-foaming and rinses in a breeze. It leaves my skin feeling soft, smelling lovely, and most importantly: keeps the skin temper tantrums at bay! I can use this twice a day if necessary, since it doesn’t dry my skin out and gently prepares my skin for moisturizer.

Next up we have the Enzyme Cleansing Gel. This is also a non-foaming cleanser that I thought would be terrific because it’s designed for “All” skin types. HOWEVER: the fruit acid in this cleanser over-tightened my pores and I have found I can not use this one regularly. Oh well. It also smells really “green” and fresh.

The next two items are also part of my new miracle regimen:

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Hello, loves.

After trying samples of the above two moisturizers based on the MB recommendations and reviews, I bought the full-sized bottles.

The Collagen Moisturizer is lightweight and absolutely perfect for combination skin. I had tried a different SPF moisturizer from MB previously for oily skin and ended up throwing it away. This one will remain as my go-to until my skin inevitably changes again. The Kera Moisturizer is meant for dry skin that also gets inflamed. I take a teensy amount of this stuff and pat it on my cheeks, chin, and forehead. I find that it adds a little boost of moisture where I need it most and keeps my skin from stinging later in the day. I can’t go full Kera because otherwise my skin overproduces oil and then I’m blotting it like crazy midday. My skin is feisty like that.

Last up, there’s the Silver Powder. This is excellent for people like me who have pores the size of Jupiter. It unclogs and tightens them right up. A friend of mine uses this with her Clarisonic brush and swears by it. It has excellent reviews on the MB website.IMG_9881-Edit

I have kept away from using it as my skin adjusts to its new routine but I will be re-incorporating it eventually.

Summation points:

Based on my being a skincare product junkie for a long time now, I have bought all manner of things. One product I knew that might work in lieu of toner is La Roche-Posay’s Thermal Spring Water.

I know. It almost seems like it could be a scam but it really does work. It is not just water in a spray can. Its active ingredient is Selenium, which soothes red/inflamed skin. I have been using this stuff right before I moisturize and it locks in the moisture, keeping my skin dewy and happy. If my skin starts feeling remotely sting-y, I spritz myself with a travel can I bought and keep at work. And…it works!

La-Roche-Posay-Thermal-Spring-WaterSo, here’s a final rundown. This post is entirely too long but I really wanted to share all this in case anyone else is desperately seeking some skincare help.

  • Cleanse with Keratoplast (1-2 times a day); occasionally use Glycolic Foaming Cleanser for exfoliation.
  • Tone/refresh with La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water.
  • Moisturize with Kera Moisturizer and Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15.
  • Night creams/moisturizer: Philosophy Miracle Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Mario Badescu Chamomile Night Cream (only have a sample right now–gentle and REALLY moisturizing), Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer (working with a sample, has a floral scent and is wonderful for combination skin).

The best parts about MB products: they’re not tested on animals, they utilize pure ingredients, they smell fabulous, they’re extremely reasonably priced, and they really work. It doesn’t get much better than that. They also have shampoos and conditioners and a men’s shaving line of products. I can’t talk up this company enough.

I feel incredibly grateful to have found a product line that does what it says it will and is keeping me from being a guinea pig at the dermatologist’s.

Mario Badescu….to the rescue!

Note: I applaud you if you read this entire post. It’s very TL;DR but it couldn’t be helped this time around. Gold star for you!

Moth to a (Pink) Flame

When I was a child, I had a raging sweet tooth. It required a lot of ’round the clock feeding and was rarely satisfied.

I had the cavities–and now have the fillings–to prove it.

As a girl who has always been a sucker for anything in pretty colors, especially pastels and especially things in the pink family, I have always been drawn to food items that came in pink. Cakes and candies swathed in this color trumped all. (I believe the British call these “sweeties.”)

Pink + cake = Zoe craves to eat it.

That is the formula of my life, best illustrated by this food pyramid by a delightful artist out of Seattle. Thank you, Cakespy.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-16.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-14.

I’m happy to say that as I matured, I grew out of my insatiable need to have pure sweets in my belly for the better part of my existence. Over the years, I have thought about some of the the “foods” I used to eat on a regular basis, and I cringe (and so do my teeth).

I possessed a much higher tolerance for crazily sweet and/or tart candy growing up. SweetTarts, Starburst, Skittles, Warheads, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Fun Dip, Now ‘n Laters, Fruit Rollups, candy necklaces…anything and everything in that spectrum and I consumed it like it was my job. (If only!)

One of my lasting all-time favorites, though? Nerds. There was just something about those teeny little candies that got me every time. They even put my two favorite flavor-colors together, pink and purple, into one box, so I could just ingest pink and purple to my heart’s delight.

On a recent road trip, I purchased a box of Nerds for when I would be driving and I needed something sweet to crunch on. It helps keep me more alert when I’ve been driving for long periods of time.

I saw the box of Rainbow Nerds at the store and knew it would do the trick.

Nerds Box

As expected, it lasted me the entire trip home. I even had some leftover. When you’re on the road for hours upon hours, you have a lot of time for reflection. One’s mind wanders. As I was nostalgically eating my rainbow candy and wondering why the hell it was SO freaking tasty, even to my thirty-three year old tongue, it hit me that this particular blend of flavors made me think, “This is what pink tastes like.”

Which sounds ridiculous, I know. But that is exactly what the mixture of flavors in this box makes me think of–pink!

And when you look at them, there are supposedly a varied amount of flavors here; it seems like there’s lemon, orange, apple or watermelon, grape, strawberry.

Nerds Hand 1

If you’re wondering what I did after taking this picture, I had to shove all of them in my face, lest a tiny morsel fall and start a nerd avalanche. It was awesomesauce.

Put them all together, though, and you get this pink tasting flavor (YUM) that explodes in tang once you get to start crunching on them. Talk about addicting.

The thing is, I really don’t buy candy anymore, save for something chocolate on occasion, but colorful, pure sugar candy? No way. I’ve just plain moved on from it.

And yet Wonka, that crafty bastard, has managed to keep my interest in this one particular candy, a relationship now spanning twenty-five years. These teensy, delicate, food-colored bits that are nothing more than hardened syrups and sugars still do it for me. And now that I’ve declared this “the taste of pink,” I foresee myself buying another box as a treat sometime down the road.

On the one hand, I want to embrace my quirky passion for this Zoe-tailored treat. On the other, I feel like a sucker to Mass Marketing, who knows exactly what they’re doing when they target kids at the earliest of ages with their extreme flavors and bright colors.

I have SOME self-control. I won’t be stocking up on Rainbow Nerds as if they’re going to disappear from shelves like Twinkies did (for all of what, a week?). But I know I’ll be back.

Being an 80s child means I have some majorly strong attachments to the things I grew up with. Nerds have withstood the test of time. They’re just as fun to eat as they were when I was a kid and now they embody the flavor of pink in my adult mind.

Wonka: 1 | Zoe: 0

The Virtues of Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Like exercise or flossing, cleaning one’s makeup brushes is something makeup bloggers and aestheticians strongly recommend doing if you regularly beat your mug with all kinds of pretty products, as I am wont to do.

Like exercise or flossing, I need to do it way more often than I actually do.

I think the pros do this multiple times a week. Bravo to them. I don’t make the time to do it, though I know it’s much more hygienic to do it that often.

Gross consequences of never washing your brushes are things like big old clogged pores and eye infections. Conversely, if you buy super cheapy brushes that don’t last longer than a few months, you can always just keep buying new ones every so often.

However, if you are serious about makeup, you know the importance of investing in at least one or two key brushes. I’ve been given several sets over the years and have plunked down more money than I care to say on a couple of really solid brushes that have lasted me a long time.

Cleaning one’s brushes also increases their longevity, so it’s a good payback system.

There are dozens of suggestions out there for how to clean your brushes and with what. I find that a few drops of tea tree oil and a little gentle shampoo (or even something like Dawn) works really well. Tea tree oil kills the germs and the Dawn or the shampoo sudses out the oils and dirt. (Not sure if “sudses” is a verb but I’m going with it.)

I took the liberty of taking some photos of my process today. You can see that I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue with cleaning mine. They all needed to soak for quite a bit and be rinsed out really thoroughly before they were clean. I went through at least three bowls of pink, dirty makeup water.

So don’t be like me and literally let dust build up on the tips of your brushes. Soak those suckers as often as you can make time for it. Your face will thank you for it!

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

zoe says 060213-2

Get those babies in there, letting the tea tree oil disinfect.

Second set of brushes...

Second set of brushes…

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, and lay on paper towels.

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, reshape, and lay on paper towels.

Pretty maids all in a row...

Pretty maids all in a row…

Be sure not to put them back in their containers right away, since you want any excess water to drip onto the paper towels. If too much water sits at the base, it’ll get mildewy and disgusting. Nobody wants that.

Lastly, you can help the drying process along by gently blowdrying them when they’ve air dried for a while. Then you’ve got nice, clean, fluffy brushes to help you look your best again.

Perfume That Doesn’t Cut the Mustard

After purchasing some perfume in May that I had been drooling over since I first rubbed it on myself from a magazine, I have made the decision to give it a negative review.

It pains me to do it. I really wanted this perfume to be right up there with my go-to scent, Premier Jour by Nina Ricci. (Aside: I have been told that this has been discontinued but I have not had a problem finding it online for years now.)

I adore perfume. I love having at least five or more different scents available to me year round so I can spray on some ‘extra personality’ for the day. I don’t go crazy or anything but wearing perfume definitely makes me feel more feminine and pretty, even when I’m not wearing makeup.

I ask for perfume every year for my birthday and at Christmas. I always have an on-going list. Nine times out of ten, I prefer an eau de parfum over an eau de toilette, since I prefer having more “scent” in my perfumes, enabling them to last longer. There are a handful of EDTs out there that are pretty solid, though.

However.

I can now officially name one EDP that I will strike from the Zoe Recommends list. And, it is definitely not worth $80+ (retail). In fact, I paid over $90 when I purchased this particular bottle when I was in Seattle.

The perfume in question is:

Narciso Rodriguez for her - eau de parfum

How pretty is the packaging? Would that the contents were worth this bottle!

The notes of this particular perfume are: pink pepper, lavender, patchouli, violet, amber, and woody accord. So very Zoe. It even has a pink smell, which is appropriate, considering the pink pepper and it’s beauteous glass bottle. I really love the hint of woods or musk. (Favorite musk perfume? Chance from Chanel. To die for.)

Unfortunately, despite the hefty price and it being an eau de parfum, this one doesn’t cut the mustard. I wanted it to so badly.

The perfume does not last. It goes on slightly heavier upon first spray but dissipates quickly. No matter how many sprays I get on to my left wrist – the one that emanates smell more out of my two wrists – no scent lingers at the end of the day. If I spray some on my neck and a little gets on my clothes, which is part of the point to perfume, the scent that remains on my shirt hardly even resembles the original.

It’s entirely too light and non-lasting for a very expensive bottle of perfume. It doesn’t match up to my mantra of “you get what you pay for.” And I really hate being wrong, but especially about something like that.

Last but not least, what I can’t get from this perfume I can get from Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. Which I already own!! The notes from Lovely are: amber, lavender, orchid, musk, and apple. Similar overtones and you would think that Lovely would smell lighter or not last as long but it beats out Narciso by a mile on both accounts.

To add insult to injury, so to speak, the sprayer for this bottle – at least mine – sucks. It takes entirely too much pressure to depress it for a single spray. I do like that it comes out in a nice, light mist. You aren’t doused. But because less is more when it comes to perfume, I still feel as if I have to pump the sprayer ten times to get any kind of decent scent. See photo below for the sprayer – nothing unusual.

As I’ve said, regardless of how much one sprays initially, the scent will not last. And it does go on quite prettily, I might add.

Sucky sprayer

I feel as if I’m saying something really controversial here, which is SO SILLY. There are infinitely more shocking and actual awful things in the world. But to read the reviews of this perfume (especially the ones who say the black bottle and pink box, the EDT), you would think that Narciso invented the sense of smell.

I’m sorry to say I am the whistleblower on this one: save your money and buy something else. Take my word for it.

Soapbox

Bath and Body Works Soap

Photo courtesy of danabronsteter on Flickr

A couple of years ago, I made the decision that from then on out, I was going to be a “fancy” soap buyer. I was doing away with the dimestore soap. Does anybody even use the word dimestore anymore? I know nobody says “five and dime,” though I think that is just the cutest name ever for what we now call Dollar Tree. Not knocking on Dollar Tree – you can get some deal$ there.

I have tangential nostalgia issues.

Back to the soap. This morning, we ran out of hand soap in the bathroom. I know, right? Call the newspaper. That is, if you still have one in existence. Anyhow, it wasn’t just the end of the soap, it was the end of the water+soap mixture in the bottom of the bottle, as well. That’s srs bsns. If you don’t know what I just said, that’s internet speak for, “We’re not messing around.” It’s time to get thee more soap when the watery stuff is gone. I will like, freak out if I don’t have something proper cleansing my hands. (For me, bar soap is a last resort, though I will use it.)

Being the internet addicted diva that I am, I promptly sat down at my computer and browsed Bath & Body Works’ array of fine hand soaps for a few minutes and took advantage of their sale. (Do they ever not have a sale?) Five more bottles of hand soap are now on their way to me. Side note: they’re already using words like Spook-tacular and have Halloween-themed bottles of soap. Really?

Back to the point about how I purchased five bottles of soap. You wouldn’t think two people would need so much. We really do go through it faster than you’d think. At least, those of us who frequently hand wash do. Plus, the extra bottles let me decide which scent I feel in the mood for and then I don’t have to get in the car and go somewhere each time I run out. Which, as we’ve established, is at a rapid clip.

Whatever it is about B&BW’s soap, it feels “fancy.” And they know it. They have me in their Target Demographic sights and I have been pulled in. I’ve bought whatever they’re selling and I come right back to the trough for more. Some people prefer to shop at Crabtree & Evelyn or Williams Sonoma for their fancy soaps. All well and good. But I feel comfortable with the bright colors and hundreds of scents that they manage to re-create each year, not to mention the slightly-more-fancy-than-average plastic packaging that B&BW offers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think a person is slumming it if s/he doesn’t have fancy soap. Plenty of people are perfectly fine with a bar of Zest adorning their faucet. For a long time, the “aquarium” series from SoftSoap adorned my own sinks. Good smell, decent soap, average price, available just about everywhere. Somewhere along the way, after trying B&BW’s soap, I decided to stick with it. For a Super Smeller Girly Girl like myself, it just seemed the natural thing to do. I get to mix it up with the smells and textures and my hands will come away clean, soft, and amazing smelling. Win win win.

Plus! If I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to trudge up to the mall to face society and consumerism, shopping online in my pajamas affords me the luxury of having the soap brought to me, not to mention the fact that I don’t have to talk to any sales clerks or wait in line behind the woman trying to return used antibacterial hand gel.

All pluses.

All of this having been said….Are we amazed at my ability to discuss something as innocuous as soap yet? Fancy soap on my sink is like Folger’s in your cup. If ya know what I mean, and I think ya do.

Cómo se dice “nylons?”

Today’s post is a two-parter! Ooooh, aaaahhhh.

The first thing I’m going to do is put up a photo of Lady Gaga. I still love this girl, what she stands for, her music, all of it. Such an inspiration for just being who you want to be and not giving a damn what people think about it.

Courtesy of Lady Gaga Daily

My thoughts on this photo are: if I could get away with wearing something like this, even for just an hour, I would totally try it. That would mean a LOT of things would have to be different in my life, including having a body like Lady Gaga’s. So no worries to anyone reading this who knows me personally – it’s not happening, now or ever.

Wearing anything resembling what Lady Gaga is in New York will get you attention but not as much attention if you live in a much smaller city or town, especially in the Middle States. But I dig the boots and the fact that she’s made an “outfit” out of a bra and pantyhose. Oh and presumably a thong. You go, girl. Can we all take note, though, that no matter how tiny you are (and she is tiny), pantyhose still comes up over your belly button? This photo just proves to me that they are meant for people with incredibly flat stomachs and no one else.

The second thing I’m going to do is ask about the word pantyhose. Is that a dated term? I really like the word stockings but I’ve heard that’s antiquated. I know many women prefer to say “tights,” though for me, that seems incredibly outdated and those are what I wore when I was eight. They were usually white or pink and were thicker than ‘hose.

In order of which terms I prefer to say, it goes stockings, pantyhose, nylons, tights.

So instead of debating it with me, myself and I, I’m putting up a poll. I’m fascinated that there are so many different words for stretchy nylon material in the shape of legs. Which term do you prefer? A secondary question for those who care to comment would be, do you wear these things? I think it’s quite clear I do not.

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.