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.

An Unsung Hero

Still glowing from all the buzz surrounding this wee blog yesterday, I came up with several ideas of what to write for the next post. Obviously quality is important but I also wanted to be sure to keep the process going.

Coming up with constant relevant articles is no easy task, which is why there are people who are paid to do that. Since I am paycheck free to write this blog and I can write whatever I damn well please, I decided to post a product review. It certainly won’t apply to everyone and I wondered whether there are people who had even heard of this product. One never knows with these things.

But as my “A Little Extra on the Author” page describes, I am a girly girl and from time to time I am going to write about girly stuff. This is one of those times.

<Insert image of a conductor tapping his baton on the podium.>

For those of us whom God gifted with oily skin, we have to arm ourselves as best we can against our pores’ daily proclivity to re-enact the BP Oil Disaster.*

Disgusted and frustrated as a teenager with my skin veritably oozing, I was so relieved to discover a product that helped me out with this problem. It has resurrected itself in my late 20s and I have found no other product remotely competitive. Are you ready for this? It is Clean & Clear’s Oil Absorbing Sheets (Johnson & Johnson).

These little babies touch down to the surface oil on your skin and if you listen really closely, you can almost hear a faint sucking noise as they soak up all that sebum. I know, isn’t sebum such a gross-sounding word? Nasty.

When I was a teenager, I would go through three or four in one sitting mid-day. As I’ve gotten older, I have noticed that with my hormones not-as-raging as they once were, I do not have to worry about as much shine on my face as four oil-absorbing sheets’ worth. Nonetheless, I still have to use them or I could have some kind of accident where I touch my face and my hand slips and goes careening off, causing me to lose my balance and my chin to hit whatever surface may be nearby. Hey, it could happen.

If you generally keep a firm hold on your purse strings, fear not: these are not super expensive. On the other hand, if you’re like me and you have to have them, the fact that they cost about $6 for 50 little sheets seems almost like a slap in the face. Yet I can not stress how much better your face feels after you have pressed one or two of these pale blue babies to it when you need them most. Doesn’t matter if you wear makeup or not – they can help out any person in need.

Ladies, your makeup stays in place and your pores can breathe again. You’re not throwing the equivalent of kitty litter onto an icy sidewalk here – it’s an actual solution. Dudes, if you have a sexy high forehead that gleams under indoor lighting as if a searchlight is pinned to your face, you’ll need these for your next Big Meeting. Relax, the packet is super slim and will fit in any one of your pockets.

Blotting one’s face has never been more enjoyable. I know it’s strange at first to press this cute, teensy, flimsy piece of tissue to your eyes, cheeks, forehead and anywhere else that gets greasy. Actually — are they tissues? The substance is unto itself. I really have no idea what they’re made of. Let’s just hope the FDA didn’t have to approve them. They’re miracles, that’s what they are.

Anyhow, the best part about these cute little guys is that they show you how much oil is being absorbed because the sheet turns transparent. You read that right. The same way one blots a piece of pepperoni pizza with a paper towel, the sheets slowly go from blue to clear as the oil is absorbed, so you can really maximize the sheet. Once these have sponged up the T-zone, your face feels smooth and soft again, as if you just washed it. Or in my case, as if I just finished putting my makeup on.

Being the amateur photographer that I am, I took some photos of the product and what they look like when used. See below. Note: I try to wear SPF everyday, like the good little fair-skinned woman that I am. However, it can cause my skin to be extra… moisturized, if you will. That is why there are two sheets shown in one of the photos. It was one of those days.

Granted, this isn’t the sexiest post I’ll ever write, but damn it if it isn’t helpful. I know I’m no Michelle Phan but I am here to give the full-on Zoe Recommends Seal of Approval. I have tried other products that are versions of these and none compare. Try ’em for yourself!

*I donated money to aid in the cleanup from the oil spill so I am not actually glib about the incident. Just wanted to clear that up. It would have been cool, though, if there had existed one giant Oil Absorbing Sheet that could have been dropped onto the surface of the Gulf.