Confessions of a sunglasses junkie

Looking for a quick way to jazz up an outfit? Reach for a great pair for of sunglasses!

I have to confess that I’m somewhat of a sunglasses addict. I have pairs stashed in drawers and nooks throughout my house and car. And we’re not talking ZZ Top “Cheap Sunglasses.” I get the good stuff, and I usually persuade my dear husband to add to my collection on special occasions. I prefer sunglasses to rings and other baubles and consider them “jewelry for the face.”

When did my sunglasses habit begin? At Myrtle Beach, circa 1992. We took a family trip to the shore and the combination of light-sensitive eyes, contact lenses and inexpensive, non-polarized shades led to months of pain. You’ve heard the term “snow blind?” Well, I was “sand blind.” Somehow the sun’s reflection off the sand burned my eyes. It hurt just to keep my eyes open in the weakest of light for months on end. I was under a doctor’s care and on steroids and all sorts of other medication until my vision normalized. Since then, it’s been all sunglasses, all the time. (Side benefit: My dermatologist says my dedication to tinted eyewear cuts down on wrinkles, as it reduces squinting. She advises women never to go into the sun — even if it’s just to check the mailbox — without sunglasses.)

Right now, I’m contemplating what pair of sunglasses will be on my list for Santa. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my most recent scores: a jazzy, Hollywood-glam pair of Kate Spades that I picked up while post-Thanksgiving outlet shopping with my mom and sister and an ultra-elegant Versace pair that is a souvenir from a girls’ trip — coincidentally to Myrtle Beach — with college friends. In fact, here’s a photo of three of us modeling our finds. That’s Jeannean on the left in Versaces, me in the center, and Jill in Michael Kors.

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Gee, your skin smells delicious

When my son was little, he once told me I always smelled like a delicious dessert. I was delighted, given that his pronouncements weren’t always so flattering. (He also once said I was built like a T-Rex, with a big body and short arms.) But I digress …

I’m not an avid Bath & Body Works customer until November rolls around. That’s because while I’m not an aficionado of their summer scents, I’m an avid fan of the holiday sugar scrubs and of Vanilla Bean Noel in particular.

A couple of weeks ago, the scrubs were on a buy three, get two free special.  After an initial panic ( the salesperson incorrectly told me there were no VBNs to be had), I purchased three and completed my five-scrub haul with a Winter Candy Apple and a Twisted Peppermint. Speaking of twisted, there’s a new twist on the Bath & Body Works scrubs: the addition of skin-softening shea oil. That’s a welcome change, but there’s another difference I’m less fond of, and that’s a change in my beloved Vanilla Bean Noel’s appearance. Last year, it was snowy white with a pretty glitter effect. This year, it’s brown. It still smells nice, though.

While I was at B&BW, I naturally had to pick up a few other items. One was C.O. Bigelow’s Lemon Cream Body Wash, a longtime favorite, and another was an owl-shaped fragrance-melt warmer to replace a warmer broken in a move awhile back. Of course, a fragrance warmer requires fragrances, so in the lead up to Christmas our home will smell like Marshmallow Fireside, Sparkling Icicles, Champagne Toast, Merry Cookie and, of course, Vanilla Bean Noel.

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 … 

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.

First impression: Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation

 I didn’t plan to blog today, but after a glance in the mirror prompted a “Dang, your skin looks good, girl!” reaction, it seemed a first impression review was in order.

I popped into Sephora a few days ago to pick up sunscreen for this weekend’s sailing to the Bahamas — a girls’ trip with my mother, sister and daughter. Well, we all know that leaving Sephora with only intentional purchases is practically impossible. I walked out with a new foundation (I’m on a constant search for the latest and greatest).

The foundation that called out to me was Josie Maran’s new Vibrancy foundation. My shade is called “Euphoric,” or light neutral. What’s different about it? It’s a medium- to full-coverage buildable foundation powered by 100 percent pure Argan oil. I’d never tried a Josie Maran foundation, but I’m pleased so far. After wearing it for three days, I can say it goes on smoothly and provides a nice, healthy-glow finish. My skin is combination and it doesn’t slide over into “greasy glow” for me, but oily girls (and guys) might have a different experience.

What I found most pleasing about Vibrancy is the way it settles into my skin as the day goes on.  The finish looks lovely right after the product is applied but becomes more dewy and, yes, vibrant as the hours pass. In fact, it looks better after a few hours. I haven’t found the need to powder and the only fading I get is at the corners of my nose, which is standard for me.

I checked the reviews on Sephora and Vibrancy currently has four stars. The most common complaint is that it clings to dry spots, which seems odd for a foundation containing Argan oil. I personally have not experienced this issue, but I did notice some streakiness upon application. I’ve overcome the issue by applying the foundation with my Artis Oval 8 brush, then pressing it into my skin with a Beauty Blender.

Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation is available in 14 shades, $45, Sephora or josiemarancosmetics.com.

Photos, clockwise from left: Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation, immediately after application, four hours after application