And here, as promised, Laura's first guest post! --Ed.
My skin is not only aging, but is also somewhat troublesome because it can’t decide whether it’s combination dry, combination oily, or something in between those. A lot of my skin’s confusion probably comes from the changes in my body as I age, but also from the weather, which is dry as a bone in Winter here in New York City and like a sauna in the late Spring going into the Summer. Result: flaky dry skin in Winter and oily skin with breakouts in Summer. For that reason, I do tend to change my skin care routine (although not radically) as Winter starts, finally, to turn to Spring.
I’ll also mention another little quirk of my skin that will seem a little woo-woo but I promise you it’s absolutely true: like clockwork, I break out around the solstices and equinoxes. Honest. And it’s been happening for so many years that I know I’m not imagining it (or if I am, it’s more sustained than any hallucination I’ve ever heard of). I don’t know whether it’s due to hormonal changes, my changing the amount of time I spend outside, or something entirely different; I only know that it happens. For that reason, as well, I change my skin care routine depending on the season. In this post, I’ll talk a little about how I modify my skin care routine to account for the changing seasons.
For cleansing, I love Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($6.50), so I don’t tend to change that step no matter what the season; part of the reason I like that product as much as I do is that it’s effective but not harsh. However, when the weather gets more humid, everything seems to cling a little more to my skin and I feel a little more anxious to remove every little bit of perspiration, makeup, and whatever other unspeakable pollution has chosen to cling to me after a stroll in the East Village. For that, I use Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($27.50). Although this product does cost a little more than I usually like to spend on skin care, especially for something you wash off immediately, I think it’s worth the price because it’s a brilliant product. You don’t have to use very much – a dollop about the size of a nickel does the trick – so you get a fair amount of bang for your buck. The balm is a thick consistency – think ChapStick after you accidentally leave it in your car in June – so I was initially a little hesitant about putting it on oily skin. But it emulsifies in water, so after you’ve rubbed it onto your face and dissolved your makeup, it rinses off very easily.
Of course, I use sunscreen no matter what the season, but in the dry Winter, I use something a little richer than usual – namely, Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($14.99). I like this product not only because it uses zinc oxide for sun protection, which I find less irritating than avobenzone, but also because it contains anti-oxidants (pumpkin seed oil and tocopheryl acetate), which go hand in hand with sunscreen. When the warmer weather comes around, however, I like to switch to something with more SPF protection and a little less emollience. I’m a bit late to the La Roche-Posay party, but I just recently tried out Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid ($32.95) and I like it a lot, high price aside (that $33 bottle gives you only 1.7 fluid ounces -- eek!). As you might have guessed from the world “fluid” in the name, this sunscreen has a light, sheer texture and contains titanium dioxide, another ingredient I prefer to avobenzone. If you’re looking to spend a little less, or if you prefer avobenzone, I also like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid ($11.99). The Neutrogena is SPF 55, has a similar consistency to the La Roche-Posay, and contains Helioplex to stabilize the avobenzone.
One last thing I do once the seasons start turning and I spend more time outside: I always wear a hat to protect the skin on my scalp. A lot of people don’t think much about their scalp, since it’s covered by hair and doesn’t wrinkle (or at least you don’t see the wrinkles). However, not only is it just as prone to developing melanoma as any other part of your skin, but there’s evidence suggesting that melanomas developing on the scalp are more dangerous than the ones you might develop elsewhere. Lots of cute hats out there, including ones that scrunch into your purse so they’re not a nuisance to carry, so don’t forget to cover up your head as well as your face, neck, and any other skin exposed to the sun.