Running on empties: Will I reorder? 

If there’s one thing I love, it’s bath and body products that smell beautiful. Even better are products with scents that linger on my skin and perfume my bathroom long after bath time is over. 

Sometimes it seems that I run out of a passel of products all at once, and so it’s seemed in recent weeks. Here’s what I squeezed the final squeeze on, as well as my take on whether they’re worth squeezing again: 

  • Perlier Honey Miel Shower Cream — This product is one of my personal favorites, largely because I’m partial to honey scents. It smells lovely and is highly moisturizing with a luxurious lather. My favorite honey-scented bath product of all time was L’Occitane’s Honey & Lemon Body Scrub, which was cruelly discontinued.  I hoarded my final two jars like they were gold. The Perlier is the closest dupe I’ve found. I’ve reordered, but this time I’m trying the honey and orange version in hopes it will be even closer to my beloved honey-lemon scrub. 
  • The Seven Deadly Skins Melon Body Scrub by Anatomicals — This is a very scrubby scrub — one that does a good job of sloughing off dead skin. I won’t repurchase, though, because it’s quite drying and while it smells good, the scent dissipates almost instantaneously. 
  • Vitabath Luscious Lemon Creme Body Wash — I almost always have a Vitabath body wash of one scent or another in my shower because they’re high-performing, inexpensive and — in most cases — lovely smelling. I’m working my way through the wide variety of scents. So far, my favorites are Lemon Creme and Pomegranate & Blood Orange. I’m not as enamoured with the Cucumber & White Tea and the Beach Blossom. 
  •  Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel — If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know I love this product. I ordered a replacement as soon as I started to run low. This is my hands-down, ride-or-die shower gel, just as the company’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (pronounced Boom Boom) is my holy grail moisturizer. The  pistachio-caramel scent is heaven and it lasts and lasts. People always want to know what scent I’m wearing. 
  • Hempz Sweet Pineapple & Honey Melon Smoothing Creamy Herbal Body Wash — I bought this on a whim because pineapple and honey melon seemed like a lovely summertime scent. I was not disappointed. This body wash smells wonderful, lingers and is ultra-moisturizing. Will I repurchase? Yes, but I’ll wait for warmer weather. It’s about time to make a trip to Bath & Body Works for the cold-weather scent that’s my annual sensory delight: Sparkling Vanilla Bean Noel

Facial cleanser empties 

I also recently ran out of two of my favorite facial cleansers and have already replaced them. In the morning, I wash my face in the shower, alternating between Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser and Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash. My skin loves rice cleansers and Chantecaille’s replaces L’Occitane’s (again) discontinued Riz Rice. The Chantecaille version is luxurious and highly moisturizing and you need to use only the tiniest amount. I’ve been working on the same tube since early August. The a.m. product I replaced is the Glacial Face Wash, which is for stressed skin. Switching back and forth between the two morning cleansers works for me, keeping my skin both clear and moisturized. 

At night, I pre-wash my face with a micellar water — I prefer Bioderma — and follow up with a gel-to-oil cleanser if I’ve worn makeup (which is almost always). My preferred gel cleanser is Plié by Jordan Samuel Skin, which I just replaced. It cleans, lightly exfoliates and hydrates my skin, and I love its clean, gentle scent. It’s on sale right now, so I’m off to order a backup tube … 

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Loving my aging skin with Rodan+Fields 

Let’s face it, I’m no ingenue. In fact, I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. It’s shocking, sometimes, to realize that I’m 57 years old. I certainly don’t feel that age on the inside. Do I look like I’m nearing 60 on the outside? Wait! Don’t answer that. All I can do is hope that genetics and a good skin-care routine will keep my face reasonably wrinkle-free for awhile longer. It’s worth noting, though, that I don’t want to look 25 0r even 35. I just … well, I suppose I wouldn’t be happy if someone actually guessed that I’m nearing 60. Closer to 50 is fine.

All of this is to say that I’ve been very pleased with my skin of late, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it too. As many of you know, I’m somewhat of a skin-care fanatic and I try a lot of products. For the past month I’ve been sampling items from Rodan+Fields. Some of those products I purchased myself and others were sent to me by my friend Kim Leible, an executive consultant for Rodan+Fields.

Overall, I’m highly impressed — much more impressed than I expected to be, in fact. That’s probably because I hate to jump on bandwagons and, frankly, everyone I know seemed to be jumping on the  Rodan+Fields bandwagon. That made me drag my feet a bit. But I finally got on board and here’s what I’ve been using:

  • AMP MD System — This is my favorite of the products I’ve tried and the one I’m confident I’ll continue using. What is it? It’s a four-item set consisting of a micro-exfoliating roller, a vial for cleaning the roller, cleaning tablets, and 60 capsules containing a night-renewing serum.  The roller is covered with dozens of tiny, fine needles and I roll it over my face about three times per week. It might sound medieval, but it’s painless and the punctures are invisible. The objective is to trick the skin into renewing itself, which can increase collagen production and reduce wrinkles. I particularly love the Night Renewing Serum. It nourishes, smooths and plumps the skin and has been a real game-changer for me.
  • Redefine Lip Renewing Serum — Do you have chapped lips, dry lips or lip lines? This is a lovely product that works wonders by restoring moisture and plumping out lip wrinkles. My sister, who has drier lips than I do, swears by this item.
  • Redefine Acute Care — Acute Care patches can be applied to problem areas that need special attention. They’re infused with hyaluronic acid, which targets wrinkles and smooths and plumps them out for a younger-looking appearance. I use these before special occasions to make sure I look my best. (Tip: Always look for skin-care products containing hyaluronic acid. It really is a miracle-worker.)
  • Essentials Foaming Sunless Tan — This is a hugely popular product and one that’s often out of stock. However, I’m on the fence about it. Unlike many other self-tanners, it provides a natural, non-orange hue. However, don’t expect a lot of color payoff in one use. I had to apply it several times to get much in the way of noticeable color, and my skin is very pale. I’ve heard that other users didn’t experience this issue, so perhaps it didn’t work with my skin chemistry? I’ve never had this problem with any other brand of self-tanner, so I’m not sure what the issue was.

All in all, I must say I’m very impressed by Rodan+Fields. While the self-tanner wasn’t a home run, the skin-care products were winners and that’s what matters to me. The Night Renewing Serum and Acute Care patches are on my reorder list and I’m hearing great things about the new eyelash-growth serum.

If you’re interested in trying Rodan+Fields, you can reach Kim’s R+F page here.

Makeup perfection: Two new favorites

Keeping makeup fresh: Slay All Day and J. One Jelly Pack

Just a quick post to tell you about two new products I’m enjoying. The first is Slay All Day, Gerard Cosmetics’ entry into the makeup-setting-mist game. Now, I’ve used a number of mists in my day, from horrible (I’m looking at you, Coola) to very nice (Skindinavia’s Dew Me). In my view, Slay All Day is the best of the bunch.

I’m using the peach scent, and people who know me well are saying, “Of course you are!” But for non-peach-lovers it also comes in green tea, jasmine, lavender and lemongrass. What does the mist do? It sets makeup, controls oil and keeps makeup in place longer. I also like to give myself a quick spritz if my makeup looks too powdery or needs fresh life. $22 from Gerard Cosmetics

Next up is a cool Korean import: J. One Jelly Pack. The bottle promises, somewhat ungrammatically, “dramatic firming skin with improved elasticity and pore-smoothing.” The instructions on the bottle are written in what I assume is Korean, but fortunately the box provides clarity. Basically, Jelly Pack alleges it can be used instead of multiple other products, including moisturizer and primer, to give skin a smooth, radiant, tightened slate on which to apply makeup. It’s also supposed to endure makeup lasts longer by helping it adhere to your skin.

Makeup application after J. One Jelly Pack

When first applied to skin with a patting motion, Jelly Pack feels sticky. However, it quickly dries down to a smooth finish that does provide a tightening sensation. The best news is that my makeup applies beautifully on top of Jelly Pack and stays fresh all day. I’ve only been using it for a few days, though, so this is an early review. I’ll post an update if my initial impression changes. $42 from Sephora (currently out of stock)

Up next: My thoughts on Rodan & Fields

Top lipsticks for September 

I post my lipstick of the day over on my Instagram account (makeup_plus_50). It’s a good way to keep track of my favorites while also maintaining a tally of what other Instagrammers like and don’t like.

September was a month for reds, but the most-liked shade was not crimson and — News Flash! — at $12 it was one of the least expensive lipsticks in my drawer. One of my followers even guessed that it was a super-high-end Yves St. Laurent lippie. It just goes to show that makeup doesn’t have to be expensive to deliver good results.

Without further ado, here are the most-liked lipsticks of September. They’re pictured clockwise from left in the accompanying photo:

1. NYX Ombré Lip Duo in Peaches & Cream, $12 at Ulta.

2. NARS  Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, $26 at Sephora.

3. Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Dashing (Very Cherry), $30 at Sephora.

Sol de Janeiro adds to its sweet-smelling success

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know I have a serious crush on Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Hands down, it’s the best moisturizer I’ve ever used and the best smelling too. The company describes the scent as pistachio-based and that may be true, but it’s also tropical and sexy and simply to die for. Even better, it makes your skin soft, silky, supple and touchable.

Awhile back, the company added its Samba Foot Fetish Cream to the product lineup. I was disappointed that it didn’t feature my beloved Bum Bum Cream’s to-die-for scent, but it’s still a great product and the adorable surfboard-style buffer it’s packaged with is a winner.

Fast forward to Sol de Janeiro’s latest launch: Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream Gel. I’m a “smells good” kind of gal, as my son James described me when he was younger. I’m not interested in generic, run-of-the-mill soap or shower gels. Give me something that leaves my skin clean and moisturized, but leaves both me and my bathroom smelling like a garden of earthly delights.

I’m happy to report that 4-Play is a winner all the way around: Rich lather? Check. Moisturized skin? Check. Great scent? Check, check, check. It smells just like Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Call me a  velvety-skinned, deliciously scented happy camper.

Note to the team at Sol de Janeiro: I just placed an order for your Rainforest Relief lotion, but I need more, more, more! How about adding other products with your signature scent to the lineup? Bath oil beads? Moisturizing bath bombs? A facial moisturizer? Hair care products? Seriously, it’s the best. 

Show your lips some love

Sometimes I think there are three distinct camps when it comes to lipstick:

  1. Those who never wear it.
  2. Those who stick to nudes and neutrals.
  3. Those who love it and will try just about any shade.

It pretty much goes without saying that I’m in the last category. I’ll wear anything from nude to red, but I draw the line at vampy, very dark wines and browns, as well as trendy blues, greens, grays and purples.

I haven’t always been a lipstick wearer. In fact, I rarely wore it until I reached my mid-30s, and for a couple of reasons. First, my own lips were deeply pigmented. And second, the waxy feel of lipsticks in the 70s and 80s made me uncomfortable — almost as if my lips were suffocating.  New formulations make today’s versions much more wearable.

As women age, the right lipstick can make their complexions come to life. But women who’ve never worn lipstick often initially feel foolish — almost as if a spotlight is shining on their lips and everyone’s staring. (Take my word for it, they’re not.)

For that reason, it’s best to start neutral and work your way up. Choose a shade that’s an amplified version of your natural lip color and progress from there. That way, catching a glimpse of yourself in a mirror won’t be such a shock.

Remember, too, to create a smooth canvas for your lipstick. Use an exfoliating scrub several times per week. I like Tarte’s Marajuca Lip Exfoliant. I also use a lip mask each day. Because lipstick is the final step in my makeup routine, I apply a softening, moisturizing mask first and let it do its job while I’m applying other products. My favorite is the Best Damn Lip Mask. 

Remember: There’s a lipstick (or two, or 20, or two dozen) for everyone. You just have to get comfortable with a “your lips but better” shade and move forward from there.

Weight loss: Dirty little secrets

Current status: 15 or 20 pounds to go

Losing weight — and by losing weight, I mean changing your lifestyle — isn’t easy. But when you finally get into the groove, start eating right and make exercise a habit, the rewards are worth the effort. Trust me, I know.

After years of losing a little and gaining more back, I got tired of being embarrassed about my body, of being the fat friend, of being the non-MILF, of being the one with “the pretty face but …”

I decided early this year that I was going to do it: I was going to lose weight, once and for all. I told a friend in February that I was going to drop 50 pounds by November. The response? “There’s no way you can do that.” Well, I did that friend one (or 10) better. I’ve lost 60 pounds and intend to reach my goal of losing another 15 or 20 by the end of November.

My journey isn’t over. In fact, it will never be over. But here are five kind of good, kind of bad, kind of odd things I’ve learned:

  1. A new wardrobe is not as fun as you think it will be because it’s so expensive, even if you shop for bargains. Just ask my thrifty husband. (Confession: He is kind of right. I overspend.)
  2. Even rings need to be resized. A very nice one fell off my finger the other day. Fortunately, it slid into my purse and I later found it. On the good side, I have a lot of necklaces on short chains that no longer look like chokers.
  3. Shapewear no longer shapes. I like shapewear because it smooths me out under my clothing. And even though there’s less of me to suck in, I still like to suck it in a little more. I have already purchased all-new panties, but I need new camisoles, bras, waist shapers … Sigh. Those things are expensive and no one even sees them under my clothing.
  4. My balance is improved and I feel much more comfortable in my body, except for one spot: my tailbone. I still have plenty of junk in the trunk — it’s just the way I’m built — but for some reason, my tailbone hurts like heck in airplane and movie-theater seats.
  5. Some people will cheer you on, but some surprising others will not. Gore Vidal once said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” When it comes to weight loss and improvements to your physical appearance, people get weird. It manifests itself in small and sometimes passive-aggressive ways: They won’t “like” your new, thinner Facebook photo. They’ll say, “Have you lost weight? I hadn’t noticed.” They’ll invite you to their homes for dinner and serve absolutely nothing you can eat, even though they know you’re being cautious. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to put the most calorie-laden foods possible on the table.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, the irritation and the effort, losing weight and becoming more healthy is something you do for yourself and yourself alone. I’d rather have five “thinner me” outfits than 50 of my old size. Ring sizing can wait. Damn my tailbone, I’ll sit on a pillow. And as for friends who aren’t completely supportive of the smaller me? They’ll get used to it. Or not.

An unexpected foundation flop 


I tried the new, affordably priced ($25 for .32 ounces) Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation today. My skin looks pretty swell in the photo above, so you probably think I loved it, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

I usually have good luck with ABH products, but the foundation is dry, patchy and nowhere near the medium-to-full coverage formula promised.  I applied two layers and my flaws were still apparent. A top-off layer of Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick saved the day. The Houglass is a nice foundation indeed, but it’s unfortunately priced at $46 for .25 ounces.

The bottom line is that my skin looks great in today’s pic — but photos can be deceiving. Three layers of foundation is really too much in everyday life. By the way, I just checked the reviews on Sephora and I’m not alone in my assessment of the ABH foundation. Try it at your own risk. Or at least keep your receipt! — Ronda

Ch-ch-ch-changes. The power of working out

Losing weight differently through exercise

If you’ve been following my journey to a healthier lifestyle, you know that I’ve made many changes this year. Here’s the basic roadmap:

  • I started watching what I ate in early February. Frankly, I was tired of feeling lumpy, uncomfortable and unattractive. At first, I simply employed portion control combined with self control. The pounds started to fall away.
  • In May, I decided it was time to start working out, something I’d avoided for many years. To be honest, I hate feeling hot and sweaty. Still, I knew it was time to get moving. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in June and he was shocked when my gift request was a treadmill. I started slowly: 1.5 miles at 2 miles per hour. Today, I do between 3 and 4 miles at 3.2 to 3.5 miles per hour at a slight incline. For some people, that’s weak. It works for me.
  • In July, it was time to formally start tracking my exercise and healthy-eating efforts. I purchased a Misfit Shine 2 to count my steps and began using the Lose It! app to track nutrition and calories. I also started taking two adult dance classes per week: ballet/stretch and tap. For me, dance is a fun way to get exercise.
  • Last week, I decided it was time to work on my arms and core. I began using the Smart Wonder Core, a compact gadget that has two foam-covered tension bars. Depending upon how it’s positioned, it is used to create resistance for arm exercises, leg exercises, sit ups and more. I also began using the Simply Fit Board, a skateboard-type item with a rounded bottom. Basically, you balance yourself on the board and it twists back and forth as you twist from the waist. (I usually hop on the board during television commercials. I also twisted to the performances during last night’s Video Music Awards.) My goal is strengthening my abdominal muscles and whittling my waist.

I’ve dieted and lost weight before, but I always did it without exercise. This time, I realized that I would never get the ass I want while sitting on it! Two things have happened:

1. I’ve started to actually enjoy my workouts. I feel better physically and mentally when I don’t skip them.  They’ve become a habit.

2. I’m losing weight differently. I’ve always been pear-shaped and unable to wear certain styles of clothing. For example, the column dress in the photo accompanying this blog would have been disastrous on my body just a few months ago, because my top and bottom halves were disproportionate. By getting up and moving my body, I’m losing inches more uniformly.

As of this morning, I’d lost 57 pounds. My original goal was 65 pounds. However, after assessing my body and mental determination, I’ve decided to go for 23 more, for a total of 80 pounds. At that point, I’ll decide whether it’s time to switch to a maintenance plan or lose a bit more.

If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change, go for it. If I can lose weigh with diet and exercise, you can too. I believe the key is getting yourself into a certain hell-for-leather mindset. I’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, but when I look back I realize I didn’t have the steely, determined attitude needed for the long haul. The right attitude will get you where you want to go. – Ronda

A beauty mask for baby-soft skin

When I walk into Sephora or Ulta, I’m immediately drawn to the makeup aisles. Let’s face it, color products are exciting and alluring. The products on the skin-care side, not so much. Put it this way: If beauty products were lingerie, the makeup aisles would be stocked with sexy bustiers, corsets and push-up bras. The skin-care aisles would be devoted to basics like support bras, cotton panties and shapewear.

Despite the siren call of makeup, my basket usually ends up holding more shapewear than than bustiers. That’s because shapewear provides a great foundation — both in the fashion world and the cosmetics world, where good skin is the foundation that maximizes makeup’s performance.

I always say that if your finances force you to choose between high-end makeup and skin-care products, choose the skin-care products. There are plenty of cosmetic companies that provide great-quality makeup for low prices: Maybelline, Revlon, L’Oreal, NYX and Makeup Revolution, just to name a few. And, yes, there are some good skin-care products in the drugstore aisles, but I’ve had better luck with entries from Dr. Brandt, Chantecaille, Nude Skincare and Sunday Riley, to name a few.

My latest find is perhaps the best beauty mask I’ve ever tried. Yes, it’s on the relatively expensive side at $70 per tube, but it’s worth every penny. It’s Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask and it is spectacular.

You might hear the words “clay” and “skin mask” and assume this product would be drying. Rest assured, it’s anything but. It leaves my skin feeling nourished, moisturized and baby-smooth. And although no product will eliminate pores, it tightens and minimizes them.

And then there’s the scent. There’s only one way to describe it, and that’s “heavenly.” To me, it smells like I’ve buried my nose in a bouquet of gardenias, but the product description says it contains frangipani. Either way, it smells heady and extravagant.

If you’re looking for a mask that leaves your skin glowing, smooth and clear, give Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask a try. I could get addicted to this one!