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All the Pretty Potions: Post-Summer Skincare Roundup

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Call me skin-obsessed if you must--because it's probably true. The sheer number of lotions and potions, sunscreens and creams, ointments and oils that are stashed in my bathroom would boggle.your. mind. Truly, it makes my husband crazy and I often find myself handing out stuff to friends, because I just can't use it all.

Although the head and humidity of Houston gives many of us (me) the grumbles, there is something to be said for the humidity that is so very kind to our skin. For me, that same humidity also means a selection of lighter products for summer to prevent my becoming a human oil slick. And while it's important to throw up a barrier between our dermis and the sun, no amount of sunscreen can completely stop the damage that inevitably occurs when the two collide; that issue requires its own set of skin care solutions.

This summer I've covered some strategies for prepping skin for summer exposure, and protecting skin from the sun. In part three of my skin series, I offer you a totally non-medical, unqualified, skincare-obsessed amateur's guide to post-summer skincare. Mostly, it's a peek into my bathroom. Don't worry, I just cleaned.


For years beauty magazines have been advising us on the best way to mop up oils off of our skin; blotting papers, mattifying moisturizers, astringents, and toners. But now skin and hair oils are all the rage. These concentrated formulas of "dry" oils are formulated to sink quickly into skin, making them ideal products for hair, face, and spot treatment like cuticles.

My current favorites:

Kate Somerville Dilo Oil ($65/1 fl. oz.): Dilo oil is extracted from the nut of a fruit found in Fiji. Somerville extracts the oil in a cold press extraction process, and it's then blended with coconut oil for smooth skin delivery. The smell is divine, and it's particularly nice for hair. Tip: the product is about $10 less expensive when ordered from QVC. • Josie Maran Argan Oil ($48/1.7 oz.): I usually pick up the half-ounce version ($14) when I am going through the line at Sephora. It's the perfect size for travel, and for gifting to girlfriends, no matter the occasion. Maran just launched a line of "light" oils at the same price point, that promise to be even more lightweight and faster absorbing. • Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($70/1.7 fl. oz.): When my friends ask about this dark blue bottle with the dropper that sits on my bathroom vanity, I tell them, "This is the next best thing to eating vegetables and getting enough sleep." A can't-live-without-it product for me, and it lasts forever. I'm on my first bottle that I bought 10 months ago. Not convinced? Ask, and Kiehl's will send you home with samples.

Dark Spot Correctors

Sorry, but sunspots are unavoidable. You think they can't happen to you, but they will. One bad sunburn, and boom--sunspot. Heading things off at the pass with sunscreen is the right move, but once these stubborn little marks arrive--there they are. You can fade them.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ($76/1.7 fl. oz.): I'll testify to the effectiveness, as will my mother. Kiehl's is always my first stop when I have a sensitive skin issue (pun intended) and, like the Midnight Recovery, a bottle of this will last you forever. (Ten months and counting.) • Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector ($76/1.7 fl. oz.): Clinique is a hit-or-miss brand for me, but their Dark Spot Corrector is a hit. Fades spots, but also evens skin tone and (some say) shrinks pores.

Moisturizers: Body

In the summer, everything I moisturize with is lightweight because the humidity makes thick, sticky creams unpleasant to wear. But when the tan starts to fade, it's time to repair some of that sun damage. Here are suggestions for now, and later. Loving right now ...

Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control ($68/6.7 fl. oz.): I received this as part of a media promotional package, and I'm glad I did--I never buy "cellulite" creams, because I'm always focused on moisturizing. This gel-formula cream is light, a bit tingly, and perfect for the hottest parts of summer here in Houston. It's rare that a promotional item goes directly on my repurchase list, but this one shot straight to the top.

Waiting for winter ...

Carol's Daughter Body Jelly ($12/8 oz.): Mineral oil-free, paraben-free, petroleum-free ... and 12 bucks? Commenters on the website call it their salvation from eczema, so this sounds perfect for dry winter skin. I've stashed my jar away and will test it as soon as the humidity level falls below eleventy thousand percent.

Moisturizers: Face

Same rules apply for face as body: lighter for summer, heavier for winter. I usually supplement all seasons with a serum of some sort, and I'm currently using Clarins Double Serum ($85/1 oz.). It's been all the rage since its release earlier this year, and after a few weeks of testing I can see why--it's lightweight, moisturizing, quickly absorbed, fresh-smelling, non-reactive with makeup or other products, and a little goes a long, long way.

For moisture, right now I'm loving ...

• I alternate between Clarins Multi-Active Jour ($58/1.7 oz.) and Eucerin Skin Calming Moisturizing Cream ($12/14 oz.). The Clarins works great under makeup, but on days when I'm working from home I let my skin breathe and go with the Eucerin. It calms redness and relieves itchiness, and it's incredibly affordable.

In reserve for winter ...

• My standby night cream is Kiehl's Rosa Arctica ($60/1.7 oz.), but when I need something more I go with NUXE Reve de Miel Ultra Comfortable Face Cream for Dry & Sensitive Skin ($29/1.6 oz.). Yes, I order it on Amazon--as I do most of my French pharmacie favorite products.

My Secret Weapons

There are some bottles and tubes that I keep on hand at all times, which don't fall under any of the above categories, but are so very nice for the skin.

Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream ($20/1.7 oz.): Weird thing on your skin that itches? EA 8-Hour. Weird thing on your skin that doesn't itch? EA 8-Hour. Dry skin, scaly skin, irritated (but unbroken) skin? EA 8-hour. I use it on cuticles, heels, dry patches, and anything I can't quite identify. I get the traditional, somewhat-stinky citronella scent but it also comes in unscented. Once a week I mix some with a little sugar, and use it as a lip scrub. • Puratin's Pride Vitamin E Sticks (about $1.80, drugstores): They look like little tubes lipstick, but I use them under my eyes to remove remnants of makeup remover leaves behind (swipe on, swipe off with a Q-tip), or just under eye creams. I have one for home, my purse, and in my always-packed carry on Ziploc bag. I've been using them for years; great for non-messy cuticle moisturizing on planes. • L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($15/1 oz. travel size): I pick up a couple whenever I am in an airport so I've always got at least one tube within reach. My manicure basket next to the couch, the aforementioned, always-packed Ziploc, next to my bed--I never go without. They come in lots of scents, but the classic Shea Butter is soothing and friendly. I even smooth a little on the ends of my hair when I am sans conditioner.

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