Here are 10 new and new-ish face, body and hair improvers you really should know about.
By Linda Dyett
Trends in beauty products, as in fashion, shift from season to season—and this spring multiple trends have emerged. Serums and oils have become major categories. Alpha hydroxy acids have returned to favor as powerful, proven wrinkle removers and skin brighteners. Brands with a conscience have emerged, with claims that go well beyond No Animal Testing. And innovative hybrid makeup marks another new direction.
Here’s a rundown of ten stellar products, excellent for mature skin and hair.
SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight. Introduced in the 1980s, fast-acting, skin-sloughing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) were key components of the skincare revolution that also brought us Retin A. For the first time in beauty industry history, we had a range of goods that demonstrably removed wrinkles and left the skin brighter and firmer for longer than a vigorous facial could.
The most potent AHA is considered to be glycolic acid, derived from sugar cane. With the smallest molecule, it’s the most effective at reducing wrinkles, minimizing pore size and discolorations, and giving the skin a lasting glow. Eventually glycolic acquired a reputation for irritation with overuse. But now it’s back in favor as a key home-use exfoliator, and SkinCeuticals, trusted for its high-tech formulas, has just introduced what I consider one of the most effective skin rejuvenator of recent seasons, Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight—its 10 percent glycolic being the highest dosage safely usable at home.
Other ingredients are phytic acid, for enhanced glow, and jojoba and sunflower seed oil, to ease any irritation and add hydration. But even with these skin protectors, if your complexion is new to AHAs, try diluting this one with moisturizer and use it every other night, for starters. $80.
Trader Joe’s Rose Facial Oil. Yes, it’s supermarket fare, stocked along the same aisle as the paper kitchen towels and pet food. It’s also an amazingly compelling moisturizer. And though it’s by no means gooey, this all-natural marvel—with rose hip, sunflower and coconut oils the main ingredients—has the kind of consistency that makes it perfect for massaging and plying into the skin. It won’t minimize wrinkles or brown spots, but it will leave the complexion glidingly smooth and dewy for many hours. It’s also recommended for nourishing nails and hair, and some women add a few drops to their foundation and hair serum. Plus, it has a delectable rose aroma. You can still buy Trader Joe’s Rose Facial Oil on Mercari. $12.
Marmur Metamorphosis Serums. Ellen Marmur, M.D., an Upper East Side dermatologist who’s an associate clinical professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has developed a not-yet-well-known collection of skincare products, including three innovative, beautifully balanced serums that seem to merge with the skin—as if they were part of it.
“Instead of layering and clogging your skin with heavy creams, gels, and liquids, Dr. Marmur says her formulations “work in synergy with your skin.” Key ingredients, like indigo and baobob, are “adaptogens that communicate with your skin and promote physiological homeostasis”—meaning they balance the skin. (We know adaptogens as medicinal herbs, long used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.) There is growing evidence that, taken orally, these botanicals can offer cell protection and relieve inflammation. And while the jury is out on whether they have the same benefits when applied to the skin, I’m convinced that the three Marmur serums even out blotchiness, have a mild firming effect and leave the complexion, throat and décolletage toned and dewy. Even a small amount eliminates the need for a moisturizer.
The Revive Serum contains an antioxidant deep sea enzyme, a neuropeptide that, according to the Marmur website, “softens expression lines over time by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters that control muscle contractions.” This one is recommended post-cosmetic dermatology and surgery procedures. Brigitte Reiss-Andersen, the celebrity makeup artist, says it plumps the skin and is perfect under makeup. The Repose Serum, which Dr. Marmur recommended to me for overnight use, is a moisturizer containing a “wrinkle-fighting peptide that stimulates collagen production.” And the Balance Serum is the inflammation-, redness-, dryness-, and rosacea-fighter she recommends for sensitivity. The Canadian willow herb it contains is claimed to outperform hydrocortisone. $85 each.
Tweefontein Herb Farm Lavender Botanical MoisturizIng Balm. I found it at the Union Square Farmers Market, and it’s quickly become my favorite, most lush-smelling body cream. The smoothness it leaves lasts much of the day, the fragrance is intoxicating, and it’s from a real farm, in New Paltz—a permaculture-style biodynamic farm, producing herbs and plants that provide beauty as well as health benefits. The Moisturizing Balm contains calendula, comfrey, plantain; lavender, olive oil, shea butter and coconut butter, coconut oil, and jojoba, lavender and vanilla essential oils. $12.
Iles Formula Haute Performance Finishing Serum. The Australian-born, Paris-based celebrity hairstylist Wendy Iles (whose clients include Marion Cotillard and Léa Sedoux) has developed a beautifully simple, non-cloying haircare collection: a shampoo, conditioner and the best smoothing anti-humidity, finishing product I’ve ever used (and I’ve tried plenty over the decades on my curly, flyaway hair). The Iles Finishing Serum contains amino acids, argan and macademia nut oils, panthenol, and hydrolyzed silk. Molecules described as ceramic-like strengthen the hair and repair split ends. The instructions say it’s usable on wet or dry hair. I smooth it on while my hair is still damp, and it helps me get the right volume I seek for my bob. It’s also got a high styling IQ without weighing my hair down—no more need for heavy, residue-leaving mousses and sticky gels. The lush fragrance is an extra treat. $44. Availability: Bergdorf Goodman, Zitomer and Bigelow Pharmacies, and numerous hair salons. For a complete list, go to Iles Formula website.
Stylecraft Scrubs Gentle Sonic Cleansing Brush. Not a particular fan of beauty gadgets, I figured I’d quickly dismiss the face-cleansing brush that I was given. It certainly doesn’t look like a brush, and the micro-bristles of varying lengths and thicknesses didn’t look like bristles. Then I tried it on my suds-up face. Once switched on, it was a sensation—very gently but energetically swishing the cleaner into my skin, vibrating as it did so, leaving what I can only describe as an all-day complexion buzz. In fact, the sparkling clean sensation it produces reminds me of that of my sonic toothbrush. Now I use it for a full minute every time I cleanse, switching among the six speeds. A pulse every 12 seconds alerts me to move to a new cleansing zone. (I’m talking thorough here.) Covered with non-porous, waterproof silicone, the Scrubs resists bacteria build-up. It comes with a USB universal charger (directly beneath the SC logo—just pull out the tab), each charge lasting for over 200 uses. And the 4 colors it’s available in are jazzy pastels. $27.
Armani Power Fabric Compact Foundation. Liquid Power Fabric is the bestselling of all the Armani liquid foundations. And now comes a spinoff for those who prefer solid makeup. This high-coverage matte foundation (in 12 shades) instantly cleaves to the skin, leaving it velvety smooth. When you pat it on, it’s a moist balm, but it promptly shape-shifts into a hybrid powder-cream, eliminating the need for a final dusting of face powder. An ingredient called perlite, consisting of soft spheres, seems to make the difference. Though it pretty much lasts all day, I carry it in my makeup bag in case I feel the urge to powder my nose. $68.
Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge. This is a 22-piece lipstick collection of easy-to-love lip stains. But unlike most lip stains, a) they’re non-drying, thanks to a unique oil-and-water base, and b) the pigments are really intense. What’s more, there’s a white color at one end of the shade spectrum and the black at the other—for blending with other shades to customize your own lipstick color—a terrific idea. Let’s say plummy nude-brown-pink Ultra Appeal (that’s its name) is your daytime favorite. Layering it with a bit of black will give it intensity for evenings out, video chats, and selfies. $38.
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Linda Dyett’s articles on fashion, beauty, health, home design, and architecture have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Monocle, Afar, New York magazine, Allure, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications.
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