You could call 2014 the year of the prolonged winter, and baby it’s still so cold outside that it’s hard not to stop slathering facial reams, oils, and serums to retain a sense of balance. To help you get through these last dregs of winter, we tested lotions, potions, masks, and gels to come up with our hot list for cold weather hydration—which will hopefully put the cold’s lingering dry spell to rest. Here are our top picks.
Made from the Camellia flower, which is known for its rare ability to bloom even in the winter, Chanel Hydra Beauty Creme Riche is one of the best versatile (day and night) creams you can buy for cold weather. The sumptuously textured cream is also formulated with blue ginger, which is known for its nutritive benefits. Camellia Oil makes its way into the cream as well. While the cream is intensely hydrating, the texture is light and non greasy, which means sensitive skins and those prone to breakouts will do well with this.
You’ll have to play mixologist with this one (there is an Activator packet and four vials of fluid that you have to mix together to get a salmon-colored cooling gel) but this hydrating mask instantly cools and plumps the skin. The mask lowers skin temperature to reduce stress from pollution, travel, and the elements. It’s worth the extra time and effort and the results are immediate; your skin will feel as though a fresh water lake washed over your face—in the best way possible. One mask is sold every five minutes somewhere in the world.
Tip: Use this mask at nighttime and use a thick moisturizing cream afterwards for best results.
The most hydrating rich cream from the Guerlain family is an ivory cream that promises—and delivers —penthouse standards of hydration with every rub. It features Guerlain’s Gold Orchid Technology, which creates a texture so rich (think, the consistency of finely whipped milk) that you will wonder if this is what Snow White rubbed on her skin to make it so soft. Formulated with gold orchid, which is quite rare and native to higher altitudes (mostly in Nepal, India and China), the cream immediately nourishes and hydrates even the most parched of skins. In all honesty, this rich investment could create initial sticker shock but what you receive is a hydrating cream that truly works for a substantial portion of the day (reapplications are unnecessary) and a rich, hefty gold-lidded jar that will last you for months.
Tip: Marcus Monson, Guerlain National Celebrity Artist advises that you exfoliate the skin before application, and to wash hands and face in warm water before application. He says “apply the cream in large circular motions and work out to the cheeks concentrating more time on the cheeks as they always seem to be the driest areas of the complexion.”
Both of these creations by Dr. Marko Lens are excellent thirst quenchers and the Transformer Instant Renewal Mask is even used in his “Red Carpet” facials. In just 15 minutes, this light mask hydrates and helps your skin turn back the clock to a more hydrated former self. The Transformer Mask uses a bio-energizing and oxygen complex, as well as high potency enzymes. It also contains lower molecular weight hyaluronic acid that provides needed moisture. The Z-22 is a bouquet of 22 essential oils specifically chosen by Dr. Lens; I use this at night when my skin needs an additional softer hydrating layer and wake up with my face feeling completely nourished rather than dry and taut.
Miracle Skin Transformer’s latest product is a blend of 30 moisturizers: the Miracle Balm heals, repairs and of course, hydrates. It contains exotic ingredients as well, including organic Tamanu Oil, Blue Mountain Sage Oil, and palm, monoi, and moringa butters. Believe it or not, the combination includes Manuka honey, which is native to New Zealand, and used to fight off infection and help with healing. I use this almost daily, and especially when my skin needs a quick quench fix.
Vitamins are important to bolster your immune system but your skin could use a little more TLC than that. Enter Neova, a hyperactive serum that protects your skin from the harmful damage caused by UV rays, preserving moisture, and repairing and protecting skin. The hydrating component comes from four key ingredients: DNA CoFactor, Merospheres, Lactomide, and Linoleic Acid, which work overtime by shielding skin from enemy aggressors. The result is not just increased hydration, it’s moisture preservation (and if you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe the TEWL score or Trans Epidermal Water Loss, the standard diagnostic method for measuring moisture, which went down by 12.6% in those who used Neova).
While it is marketed as a serum, it’s quite a heavy creamy consistency as far as serums go, so I use it as a daily moisturizer to find moisture’s sugar mommy.
A toner that can hydrate? Finally, yes. After years of putting toners that sap every ounce of moisture on my face, I am thankful for this product, which is gentle and an excellent addition to my skincare routine. Best of all, it can be used with any moisturizer, and is free from alcohol and also exfoliates skin. It is formulated with NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™ and wild rose extract. The result is refreshed skin that feels it has woken from a sound night’s sleep, all with a splash.
Nighttime Skin Quencher from Kinara also provides non irritating exfoliation, which makes it a valuable multifunctional addition to your beauty cabinet. Several ingredients make this rich cream what it is: a deep, deep hydrator. It contains anti-oxidants, natural extracts including green tea, sugar cane, rice bran, soy protein, and Multifruit BSC, specifically included for nighttime benefits. The cream plumps and helps reduce wrinkles and truly comforts skin better than a facial. It also combats uneven pigmentation, making this skin quencher a win win win.
This light overnight mask is formulated with Korean medicinal herbs and also with walnut extract, which can create another layer of welcome moisture for your skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid to promote long-term hydration. Overnight masks are such a treat because you wake up feeling doubly rested: first from your natural sleep and second from the beauty products absorbed into your skin throughout the night. I also use this mask during flights, especially when I have to sleep and get back on pace through red eye itineraries etc. Plus, it’s gentle enough for all skin types.
Photo Credit: sephora.com
No matter where you live in the US, this time of year you skin is looking a little sun starved. While in nowway do we support sun bathing or tanning booths as cures, we aren’t averse to a little self-tanning.
Self-tanners come in a variety of textures, such as sprays, gels, and mousses, and a full range of shades. Some like Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizers develop gradually, building color with each use. Others reach their full potential within minutes like Lancôme Flash Bronzer Tinted Self –Tanning Body Gel.
In the last few years, self-tanners have begun boasting sun protection too. Supergoop! SPF 20 Self-Tanning Sunscreen ($38) combines full spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection with technology that develops a gradual tan. It’s intended just for the body and tends toward the olive side, so if that is too dark, you can control it’s depth by the number of applications. Supergoop’s focus is sun protection, so you know you will be protected by this product. Plus it smells like green tea and cucumbers rather than chemicals. For the face, try Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse ($42.50), a 3-in-1 self tanner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Whish Coconut Milk SPF 15 Self Tanner ($34) offers amazing moisturizing benefits with just a hint of self-tanner, and natural firming ingredients for a subtle natural looking glow.
Self-tanning often gets a bad rap. It can streak and if you have dark spots or hyperpigmentation the tanning pigments make those spots worse. But if you have been avoiding sunless tanning because of sensitive skin, your time has come. Enter St. Tropez Sensitive Bronzing Mousse ($42.00). It uses a plant-based ingredient derived from berries of the chaste tree, a Mediterranean plant, to stimulate melanin in the skin. The mousse is hypoallergenic, dermatologically tested for sensitive skin, and even suitable for pregnant women. According to the company it works on people with eczema and easily irritated skin
For best results with any self-tanning formulation, always exfoliate first—if you do so the night before you reduce chances of irritation. The goal is to create a smooth surface for easy application and a smooth, streak free tan. But should you mess up, not all is lost. Bronze Buffer (2 sponges, $10) is a magic little sponge that can wipe away unwanted color even after your tan has developed. Just wet it slightly to gently exfoliate and remove self-tanner on the top layer of skin. It’s great on elbows and knees, which tend to absorb too much color, and the sponge’s points are ideal for small areas between fingers and toes. Bronze Buffer contains no added chemicals and it can even be used dry to remove telltale deodorant smudges on clothing.
There are all sorts of amazing life forms on the planet—coral, kangaroos, neon colored fish—and plants that thrive in freezing cold, arctic like climates. La Prairie turns to the survival ability of these plants for its newest skincare collection: Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Cream ($300) and Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil ($300). The duo works to prevent signs of aging with the same vigor that these plants use to flourish in a harsh world of ice, snow, and relentless sun.
Like these hardy plants, our skin faces harsh environmental challenges everyday—extreme weather, pollution, stress, lack of sleep, and unprecedented travel—all of which contribute to accelerated aging. “The world in which we live actually ages our skin faster than time itself,” says Elizabeth Lamont, vice president, marketing for North America/Oceania at La Prairie.
Keeping with the Swiss heritage of La Prairie, the three plants at the basis of this new collection come from the Swiss Alps. Purple Saxifrage grows just below the summit of the ice-covered Dom, one of the highest mountains in Switzerland and recognized by botanists as THE coldest place on earth to support a flowering plant. Soldanella Alpina lives on the lower slopes of mountains in central Switzerland. It lays dormant through the prolonged “ice age” like winter of the Alps and actually melts the snow to emerge as a bell-shaped flower in spring. Swiss snow algae rest beneath the snow layer in winter and emerge as a red blanket on the snow’s surface in summer.
“Think of it as your way to put aging on ice,” says Lamont of this triple threat of ingredients. Together the combo helps your outwit environmental bombardment by supporting skin stem cells and skin renewal, fighting free radicals, strengthening the skin’s defense system, and protecting cellular DNA.
The Ice Crystal Dry Oil is the collection’s big surprise. It goes on smoothly, absorbs immediately, and feels like a drop of heaven on the skin. Apply it to face, neck, and décolleté under your moisturizer in the morning and evening. Alternately, the oil can be mixed into a moisturizer for enhanced protection. “It’s incredibly effective in strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier while also soothing and nurturing the skin,” says Dr. Daniel Stangle, director of innovation at La Prairie.
Swiss Ice Crystal Cream is a daily moisturizer that also can serve as a “recovery cream” after an aesthetic treatment. If you are a serum user, apply the serum first, then the cream, which is formulated for morning and evening use. In addition to the plant complex, the cream contains hyaluronic acid for hydration, shea butter, and light reflecting agents for radiance.
Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Cream and Dry Oil create a new category for La Prairie—age defying revitalizers. As with all La Prairie products the presentation is elegant and the products luxurious to feel, smell, and use. Preventative rather than age reversing, this duo is probably best for someone in their 30s, but anyone looking for a luxurious treat would enjoy the experience.