"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

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· Desert Island: Skin

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Desert Island: Skin
by Dain

My skin is pretty much the conventional definition of dry and sensitive: finely textured, thin and easily irritated, and sebum starved.

Overall, it's a pretty good deal. My skin needs to be coddled and swathed in layers of moisturizer. It doesn't, however, require any specific correction. Breakouts are rare, congestion is manageable, and thanks to a quirk of genetics, thus far it's held onto a rapid rate of regeneration. In fact, powerhouse actives are overkill, whatever benefits they provide not worth the incidental damage, and I'm much better served by gentle, high-quality basics. As my obsession with skincare has passed (now focused on Japanese makeup), it seems like the perfect opportunity to streamline. While I cannot be a minimalist here—I still love the indulgence of luxury skincare—I've managed to cut away much of excess in my formerly high-maintenance, intricate routine.

My current routine, all tried-and-true favorites.

As a rule, I avoid aggressive detergents, regardless of my skin's condition. Other than the satisfaction of some obscure, unconscious Puritanical conditioning, a lather won't do your skin any favors. This is not merely the bias of sensitive skin; if you're acne-prone, a harsh cleanser can actually stimulate oil production and, thanks to its alkaline pH, promote bacterial growth. A mild lotion cleanser, properly massaged into the skin, is actually more thorough than a lazy pass with bubbles.

Take your time with cleansing. Especially if you've got a lot of makeup on, the best approach is to break it up into a few steps. I'll take off my eye makeup with Bioderma Créaline H20 ($30), which dissolves even eyelash glue, and yet is so mild that the cotton wool is rougher on your skin. It's also nice to swipe over my skin after work, just to get the grime off. Then, I'll massage a generous amount of Trilogy Cleansing Cream ($37) onto dry skin, to dissolve all the makeup, then wet my hands and slowly emulsify it, before finally rinsing it off. It is not as time-consuming as my description suggests. With a cream cleanser, friction is key. You wouldn't wash your dishes with a detergent alone; you need a sponge. That second massage, with a little bit of water, is what provides that thorough, deep cleanse, and yet it doesn't damage your skin. I've long since abandoned all my foaming cleansers.

The bulk of my skincare is dedicated to moisturizing: not only is my skin dry, it's so thin there's virtually no barrier function. In summer, this poses no problem. My skin seems to suck up the humidity in the air. But in winter, the dehydration becomes so severe I have to layer three moisturizers just to keep up with the moisture loss. This partly accounts for the variety of products represented here, to cover a range of eventualities.

The first layer is a softener, a pure hydration step that saturates the skin with humectants, boosting the penetration of even the most basic cream. All softeners are much the same, so I've settled on the no-frills Hadalabo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Moisture Lotion ($14), as it is the most economical, not to mention fragrance-free.

If it's humid, I can follow with a drop or two of oil, but lipids alone are not enough to cut through my winter dehydration: I need a proper moisturizer. During the day, I use Avene Hydrance Optimale Riche SPF 20 ($20), as close as a sunscreen gets to a moisturizer: minimal fragrance and tackiness, which readily dissipates. With a PPD of 10 (Euro version), it serves as a good day cream. But the real firepower comes from Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum ($150). There are many reasons—all excellent—why I shouldn't favor it so much—prohibitively priced herbs, greenwashing bulljive, the worst service ever, the overpowering jasmine fragrance—but it's absolute magic on my skin—a product I hate to love. Before I came across Tata Harper, I'd have sworn myself blue that, regardless of price, all moisturizers perform much the same. Jaded though I am, I cannot argue with visible results: this stuff gives me baby skin. I don't think there's commendation higher than that. I also use her Restorative Eye Creme ($90), the richest formula she offers. While I'm not convinced of the necessity of eye creams, since I've got it, I might as well use it.

Believe it or not, this is not enough for my skin. It's thirsty, there has to be a final barrier to lock in the moisture, and slowly, slowly nourish my skin over many hours. In Kahina Serum ($90), an enriched argan blend, I've found my perfect oil. This is highly emollient, shea-butter-in-liquid-form-rich, not recommended for anyone who isn't truly dry. On days my skin is fractious and irritated, I stick to something more basic, the soothing shea butter blend of Phoenix Botanicals Sweet Birch Butter ($18), which doesn't overload my skin with actives.

Finally, Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick ($15) is still my favorite among lip balms. It softens as well as a thicker balm, but still elegantly textured beneath lipstick.

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9/16/2010 [2]

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