I am a long-time beauty junkie. All the women in my family have been beauty-conscious: hair in place, makeup done, nails manicured, perfume dabbed behind the knees. We are possessed by the need for good coffee, and for the latest fragrance, skincare and cosmetics. My first skincare routine (a gift from my grandmother) was a multi-step, lotions and potions bonanza from the Erno Lazlo counter at Chicago’s Saks Fifth Avenue. I was 12. I have always loved big, old school department stores – Saks, Marshall Fields, I Magnin, Bonwit Teller – and have spent many hours wandering, spritzing and sniffing to stay up on the latest beauty trends. I have worn and collected fragrances since I was 13 (I still wear a perfume oil from back then), and I’ve worked at cosmetic counters in Lord & Taylor (Chicago), Godchaux’s (Uptown Square) and a Mac Cosmetics store on Maple Street. In 2000, a friend and I opened a beauty boutique on Magazine Street called, “Rare Beauty.” Gone a scant year or so after we opened, I politely call that experience, “avant guard.”.

So, here we are: me, you, beauty – an opportunity to talk the cosmetics current, fab products, beauty tips and more. Ready?

June is the beginning of hurricane season and the month when it starts getting really hot and sticky, a disaster for those with oilier skin and a boon those whose skin is drier. In any case, it all starts with cleansers, treatments and moisturizer. I do a serious cleanse at night, every night.

Right now waters, balms and oil cleansers are having a moment. They are easy to use, emollient but non-greasy and excellent at removing makeup, as well as really cleaning the skin. At night, for those who like a two-step cleanse (take off makeup and then clean) micellar waters are the rage. Micellar water takes its name from tiny cleansing bubbles (micelles) that float in the water. When applied to the skin they cling to dirt and oil, which can then be efficiently swept away. Soak a cotton pad with cleansing water, sweep it across the face to remove makeup and mascara. No rinsing required. Bioderma, a European brand that’s difficult but not impossible to come by, is a cult favorite, but Sephora has a fantastic house brand “Triple Action Cleansing Water” with a convenient pump-top, for one-handed dispensing. There are designer versions (Dior, Mac, Nars, etc.) for those who are bound to their brands, but a standout drugstore alternative, “Simple Micellar Cleansing Water,” is great.

For that nighttime “second cleanse,” the one that deep cleans the skin, I’ve been using (and loving) several balms and oils. Colleen Rothschild’s Radiant Cleansing Balm smells a bit medicinal, in a spa-like way, and is pure genius at cleaning the skin without stripping it or leaving a film. This balm is hands-down one of the best, and it comes with a nice muslin square to use. I have enjoyed the muslin so much I ordered a set of three so I can always have a clean one on hand. I have also been using Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, a balm-gel that smells lovely, does a terrific job and is a bit more drying; Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is anti-aging, nourishing, leaves skin super soft, smells heavenly and is free of mineral oils; and Shu Uemura Blanc Chroma Cleansing Oil that targets surface dark spots with brightening properties. Do not fear oil, even if you have oily skin. The luxurious slippery texture, once emulsified with water and rinsed or wiped away with cloth, is glorious and leaves no slick trace. When my skin is misbehaving, nothing saves me like Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Cleanser, a gel formula that helps soother, heal and clear spots, but doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry and tight.

After cleansing, it’s time for treatment. Skin recovers during sleep, and before bed is the optimal time to use active creams, lotions and gels. Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna Oil are both game-changers with virtually overnight results in smoothness and glow. I am also a big fan of DermAware Vital Retinol Gel from EarthSavers (all New Orleans and metro locations). Thanks to genetics, my skin tolerated “strong” (7x concentration of vitamin A, retinol and peptides) right off the bat, but the range spans from “gentle” (4x) to “extra strong” (10x) and up, up to 30x. A skin consultant at EarthSavers can offer guidance.

Moisturizer comes next. My current favorites include Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for its light texture, beautiful scent and silky feeling skin; fast absorbing, stunningly soft and dewy Trilogy Rosehip Oil; or, when my skin is acting hormonal (yes, I’m in my 50s and I get pimples), orange flower-scented Michael Todd Citrus Cream with DMAE and moisture-holding hyaluronic acid.

Just before getting in bed, spritz on an alcohol free (always go alcohol-free on the face), hydrating mist. From the girls who author the blog, “Into the Gloss,” comes Glossier, their skincare line, which includes a luxurious, soothing and gorgeously rose-scented facial mist. Nighttime cleansing routine complete.

Preparing your skin for the heat of summer can be daunting but is totally doable. No matter what your skin type, proper cleansing, treating and moisturizing is as essential as drinking a lot of water and a necessity for achieving that beautiful Southern glow.


Have questions or products to recommend? Email SouthernGlow@MyNewOrleans.com.