Portrait of an obsession: Doutzen’s Nude Colour Riche nail lacquer by L’Oreal Paris

Textbook definition of hoarding.

Textbook definition of hoarding. I feel better now. 

Not normal.

That’s how I would describe my relationship with Doutzen’s Nude.

How else to explain the unhinged meltdown I had when I couldn’t find my trusty bottle? The one I’d lugged down from New York to Florida a year ago? And have been dragging to the local nail joint for the last 25 pedis or so?

(I get oodles of pedis down here; one’s toes are on display pretty much 24/7, even during the dead of “winter.”)

Here’s how it all unfolded, and my beloved Doutzen’s Nude went MIA:

When Hubby was up in Gotham for work a few weeks ago, the Wee Lass and I made the executive decision to host a festive little par-tay for a handful of the girls in her class and their mamas.

The plan? To serve schmancy cupcakes and Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco (clever, non? my theme?), enjoy a little swim + splash in the pool, and purge my Beauty Armoire and Baby Beauty Armoire of hoarded merch I actually felt I could part with.

In the run-up to the Great Beauty Purge, I spent an entire day culling my precious loot. Thank the lordy my betrothed was up north because it was not pretty in our typically serene boudoir. The entire floor and bed covered were covered in giant trash bags (to protect the carpet and duvet from rogue uncapped lipsticks and such) and I was just spilling baskets, dumping mini bins, org-ing and re-org-ing for hours.

I have to say that it felt really great to whittle and edit.

And it felt even better when my fellow class mudders were chez moi, filling up shopping bags, sipping bubbly bevvie, and just generally lightening my girly load.


Until last weekend, when I looked at my feet, decided they needed professional tending to, and went in search of my go-to nail lacquer.

Nowhere. Nowhere to be found. Which is incredibly kooky, and wrong and I know I’ll find it eventually. Because it’s gorgeous, and life-changing and there’s no way in h-e-double hockey sticks I put that into The Great Beauty Purge pile.

What’s the big deal, you ask?

Well, when it first crossed my desk at BRIDES, it was part of a “Collection Exclusive” of L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche nail lacquers built around the conceit of nudes that were  slam-dunk perfect for the various gorge creatures in their model / celeb spokes gal lineup.

In addition to my cherished Doutzen (for cat-walker Doutzen Kroes), there was Liya’s Nude (for model / activist Liya Kebede), and Eva’s Nude (for actress and über-hottie Eva Longoria) and even Julianne’s Nude (for Oscar-winning and stellar 50-something Julianne Moore).

All four shades were beautiful, which means they immediately made the leap into my purse rather than onto the shelves of the BRIDES Beauty Closet. But over time, as much as liked the other three hues, Doutzen’s Nude claimed my heart.

Which makes sense when you think of it; out of those four women – Doutzen, Liya, Eva and Julianne – my skin tone is the closest match to Doutzen’s. And if you buy into the notion that not all nude nail lacquer shades are right for all skin tones – and I 100 percent do buy into that notion – you’ll know that it’s worth the extra effort to sleuth out the hue that really looks great on you.

But back to that “Collection Exclusive” bit. Generally, that’s code for “Don’t Get Too Attached to This, Because We’ll Be Ripping It Out of Your Mitts Before You Know It.”

This is actually a new-ish and increasingly prevalent phenom in the beauty biz – limited-run stashes of products that are in and out of the stores in the blink of an eye.

Most of the time, this doesn’t phase me. I write about beauty products for a living, so it’s in my best interest to cycle through as many new ones as possible and move right on to the next.

But every once in a while, I get hooked. And spooked if, like Doutzen’s Nude, it’s part of a limited-edition run.

And this is where it gets confusing: Is Doutzen’s Nude part of a limited-edition run? I wasn’t able to buy it on the L’Oreal Paris website last week.

But good ol’ Wal*Mart came through for me. Three new bottles are now tucked safely in my Beauty Armoire. Whew.






How to cock-block overeating + overshopping: Let the moment pass, my friend

Pigging out is so not Kate's jam.

Pigging out is so not Kate’s jam.

Happy almost-Friday, my intrepid little self-improvers. May we all churn and burn through our To Do lists and make way for summer-weekend fun. Personally, I become a veritable beehive of activity as the week draws to a close, mostly because I can sometimes be VERY. UNPRODUCTIVE. Tuesday through Thursday. Grrr times a trillion…

And on the topic of unproductivity, I started writing this blog post eons ago, and never got around to sliding into home plate with it.

The idea came in a flash back in late November, when my post-Thanksgiving noshing was spiraling out of control (hence the “overeating” bit), and my holiday gift-spending was also getting a little cray (thus the “overshopping” bit).

But then life moved on, as life does. And then I gave up swearing for Lent, so there was no way in H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS I could publish a blog post with the phrase “cock-block,” right?

No sirree.

SIDEBAR: Is that not the cutest way to fake-spell “hell” ever? H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS?? Adorbs.

So why now? Why am I suddenly picking up the threads of my long-abandoned opus, and finally stitching together a quilt of newsy awesomeness for my readers?

Several reasons:

1. Lent is over, and has been for quite some time, so I can feel okay – but not great – about slipping the word “cock-block” into a blog post hed. You’ll be happy to know, however, that I rarely swear anymore. My Lent abstention worked like a charm, thank the friggin lord. (KIDDING. About the “frigging lord” thing. I really have stopped cussing.)

2. I’ve learned a fun trick to cut back on my spending, which I’ll share in a sec.

3. My newly established carbs-avoidance already seems to be working.

Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s move on to the topics at hand.

First, the over-shopping thang.

Because I now work for myself and don’t have a steady paycheck landing in my account once a month anymore, my stash of cash can wax and wane like the moon. Up and down, and all around, like one of the hurl-worthy coasters at Busch Gardens.

So here’s my new budget trick. Wait for it…

I check my Amex sitch mid-cycle.

Rather than wait until I get a payment alert, and totally freak-out when I see the final tally because I’ve been plunking down the plastic willy-nilly all month, I put the fear of God in myself halfway through. That keeps me from overshopping.

I can hear some of you now: “Momover Lady, that is soooooooo basic. I’ve been doing that for years.” Well, yippee for you; I haven’t. But now that I’m doing the mid-cycle Amex check-a-roo, I don’t buy a fraction of what I’d like to. As for actual credit cards (Amex is more of charge card, although I could pay-over-time for some charges, particularly travel), I have them but I almost never use them. And when I do, they too, are paid in full each month.

The other classic trick to curbing overspending is to institute the “48-hour rule.” This is largely attributed to finance writer David Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich. Basically, when you see something, either in a store or online, that you just have to have – like you are dying to have it – wait two full days before pulling the trigger. Most of the time, you won’t end up buying whatever it is that you were about to slit your wrists over.

The moment has passed…

Now for the over-eating thang.

As I’ve blogged recently, I have lately packed on a few pounds that I am not happy about. So I’ve instituted a bit of a mashup plan for myself built around two big eating plans: The 8-Hour Diet and carb-avoidance.

The 8-Hour Diet is basically just compressing your eating window into any eight consecutive hours of your choosing, and then nada, zero, zip for the other 16. I’m almost never hungry in the morning, so this is do-able for me. My window is usually 11 to 7, and then the proverbial kitchen is closed.

The carb-avoidance comes by way of Hubby, and I’ve blogged about that lately, too.

Frankly, steering clear of carbs is very, very hard for me. But I’m doing it. And so far, so good; I’ve lost 3.5 lbs in two weeks.

And whenever I feel like I’m about to cave into a carb craving, I try to remember this stellar line from Kate Moss:

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

In other words, I ask myself: “Do I want this deep-fried Twinkie more than I want to get rid of the spare tire around my mid-section? No.”

I somehow get through it.

I let the moment pass.





Beauty Armoire Monday: A deep-conditioner to get excited about. (I know, I know. I need to get a life…)

Almonds, avocados. But no, you can't eat it.

Almonds, avocados. But no, you can’t eat it.

Good morning, my lovelies. I will be mercifully brief in this blog post today, as I’m chauffeuring the Wee Lass to and fro not one, but TWO summer day camps.

(You’re welcome. I know you don’t always have the time or mental bandwidth to read one of my epic masterpieces…)

So, about this deep conditioner.

It’s by the buzzy, up-and-coming natural hair brand Briogeo (ooh, that’s a mouthful…Briogeo, Briogeo…), and, like everything else in the line, it’s full of a lot of great stuff, and un-full of a lot of bad stuff.

Specifically, these are…

The good stuff within:

Rosehip oil

Sweet almond oil



The horrible, sinister, earth-wrecking stuff without:




In the press release for this very cutely named Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, in the target audience section, I felt like my dear friends at Briogeo (say it three times fast…Briogeo, Briogeo, Briogeo) were aiming this yummy brew right at me. As if, in fact, they were desperately reaching right through the printed words to h-e-l-p me.

And I quote:

Who it’s for

Those suffering from dry, damaged, breaking or lifeless hair caused by chemical or color treatments, heat tools or excessive sun exposure.

Guilty as charged, non? I have dry, damaged, breaking and lifeless hair because I:

1. Get fake-blonded every four weeks, like clockwork

2. Am addicted to my InStyler rotating iron gizmo, as well as a new blowdryer I just bought (more on that in an upcoming post…)

3. Live in FLA, the Too-Much Sunshine State

And on that note, I gotta scoot for my first camp pick-up of the day. Vroom vroom.



Slow on the uptake: I’m finally counting carbs. (Here’s how you can, too.)

Salvador Dali's "Basket of Bread"

Salvador Dali’s “Basket of Bread.” (For thin thighs, steer clear.)

A few years ago, Hubby became utterly besotted with two carb-bashing books by super-duper smarty-pants science writer Gary Taubes:

1. Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health

2. Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

Oh my lordy, he would not stop banging on about those books. And about the pure evil of carbs. And about how I was such a massive loser because I hadn’t yet hopped on the anti-carb bandwagon.

(I’m exaggerating about that last bit; never in the history of our dirty-dozen years of wedded bliss has Hubby ever called me a loser.)

But here’s the punchline: Hubby rapidly lost a good 15 pounds, and has kept it off ever since. The proof is in the proverbial full-fat pudding.

Early on, in solidarity with my brainiac husband, I tried to read those books, too.

But then my Mommy Barbie gene would kick in, my eyes would glaze over, and I’d be lunging for one of my glossy, Euro-y fashion mags. Those tomes were homework, and I like to go to my happy place with my leisure-time reading.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with Taubes’s core thesis; I do indeed.

And it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t need to limit my carb intake. Recently, I packed on several unwanted pounds and I’m now doubling down on my diet and exercise efforts to get rid of ’em.

In desperation, I even caved and consulted my in-house Carb Czar:

Moi to Hubby:

“I want to cut back on carbs, but I don’t want a long-winded, science-y lecture from you about it. Just tell me the basics, s’il vous plait.”

Hubby to Moi:

“No flour, no sugar. That’s really it.”

Okay, maybe that was a little too basic. In my head, I had so many Qs: What about the carbs in fruits? Veggies? Should I even be thinking about those? Does gluten-free mean carb-free? Wait, does that mean I have to say basta to my new fave snicky snack, Terra Blues? But I’ve only just discovered Terra Blues! 

Since I’m sure some of you weight-conscious Momoverettes might have similar Big Questions About Carbs, I’ve done a little Scorpio sleuthing.

I now give you:

5 Easy (Well, Not Actually Easy, But Certainly Do-Able) Ways to Cut Back on Carbs

1. Start with the two mega-baddies – bread and pasta – and pick your battles: If you cut both of these carb-fests out of your diet, you’d quickly be on your way to thinner thighs. But, hello, easier said than done, my friend. Feel me? Start by nixing the one you crave least. Then, once you’ve got your big-girl undies on, scale way back on the other one, too. For example, last night at dinner at Bonefish Grill (surprisingly yummy for a chain resty), my wild Sockeye Salmon came with a side of mushroom ravioli. Since I’d skipped the bread, I let myself have two of the raviolis. I wanted all five or so of the raviolis, but I only ate two. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless. In the pre-carb past, I surely would’ve eaten both the bread and all of the ravioli. That’s why I’m chubby right now.

2. Consider wrapping your go-to sandwich fare in lettuce: I haven’t done this yet, but I’m totally going to. Because this past week, I was kinda climbing the walls about what to do with slices of Cheddar and turkey that I wanted for lunch. Bread was off the table, and so were my fave gluten-free Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers. What to do, what to do? I could’ve done lettuce, that’s what. Shopping note to self…

3. Suck it up and count stuff: Jonesing for Terra Blues or the aforementioned Crunchmasters? You can have some if you count ’em. Right now I’m looking at back of my Crunchmasters bag and it tells me that a serving size is 15 crackers and 20 grams of carbs. (As a guideline, my in-house Carb Czar, he of the 15-lb weight loss, keeps to a daily limit of 100 grams.) I’m sorry, but 15 is just way too many crackers, even for me. I could be fine with half that, and slice that carb count down to 10.

4. Try spaghetti squash. I’m thisclose to buying a spiralizer. And since I’ve had my kitchen revamped by ShelfGenie (OMG, it has completely changed my life), I actually have room for newfangled contraptions like spiralizers. When I procure one, spaghetti squash will most definitely be added to the dinner lineup. Yum.

5. Distract yourself until you get over the carb-craving hump. Right now I’m re-reading one of my fave books about Intermittent Fasting, David Zinczenko’s 8-Hour Diet, and it includes a list of 100 ways to work your way through hunger. A few of Dave’s tips are kooky (“Stand up and twirl five times!”), one is a big ol’ bummer (“Make a list of what killed your relatives.”), but most are thoroughly plausible. The running theme is that you can do this, you can outsmart those carbs that are beckoning to you. Really and truly, you can.





Dad’s Day Treat: A Trip to Billie Swamp Safari

Next stop, Gator Country.

Next stop, Gator Country.

Moving to a new state always requires acquainting yourself with cool places to visit, especially for key occasions throughout the year. Luckily, if you’ve moved to Florida, you’ll find it’s packed with a gazillion different possible destinations, each serving up a unique experience.

This Father’s Day, Billie Swamp Safari in Clewiston could offer one of the best deals for the whole family. Located within the 2,200 acres of untamed Florida Everglades of the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, the safari is chock-full of attractions that are both thrilling and educational, as well as entertainment options for adults.

One of the biggest draws of the safari, of course, is its critter show, where families can learn about the many creatures that inhabit the swamps of the Safari. There are also reptile and venomous snake shows for those looking for a just the right dose of danger. The Safari plans to open an otter exhibit in the near future as well, so kids can have a chance to see these über-cuties in “person.”

For anyone age 4+ who wants to get a bit more involved, there are airboat and swamp buggy rides that let you get up close and personal with free-roaming wildlife in the Everglades. It’s a super educational trip that’s sure to be fun and unforgettable, as the tour even passes by the Florida Seminole Indian Camp so visitors can learn about the culture of the tribe. The swamp buggy tour is even available at night. Yup, if you go on the “Twilight Expedition,” you might just be treated to stories and legends around the campfire!

If Dad starts to feel a bit tuckered out, Billie Swamp Safari also has the closest casino to Florida’s west coast: the Seminole Big Cypress Casino. The Big Cypress Casino has several different options for a relaxing time gaming, with a bigger selection of slots than you’d expect from a casino within a safari.

(A friendly reminder from InterCasino, however: “casino slots should be regarded a means of entertainment, a way to unwind or erase the boredom, not a way to be relied upon as the main source of income.” So if at any point Dad seems to be getting grumpy, perhaps you should take him to explore the rest of the Safari instead.)

When it’s time to wind down, there’s always the Swamp Water Café, where they (thankfully) don’t use actual swamp water to cook their dishes. Here, they serve classic American fare, as well as some Native American specialties. If you’ve ever wanted to try catfish and frog legs or gator tail nuggets, it’s worth a try.

Where do you plan to take the Dad in your life this Father’s Day?

Guest-Posted by Diane Bridgewater. A fan of literature since her early teens, Diane can often be found in coffee shops on the weekends. She also enjoys swimming, and walking her two pooches Oliver and Bruno.



I think this week might mark my Florida-i-Versary. My, what a year it has been! Incroyable.

The Wee Lass fishing a post-storm frog outta her pool.

The Wee Lass fishing a post-storm frog outta her pool.

If I say the past 365 days have seemed more like the past 3650 days, or even the past 36,500 days, I am in no way dissing my newly-ish adopted state of Florida.

It’s just that soooooooo much has happened in the last year.

So many doors have opened, so many doors have shut, so many mosquitoes have been batted away from my supermodel legs.

(Kidding. I’m not the one with the supermodel legs. That honor has been bestowed on my daughter…)

Let’s look, shall we, at all that I’ve accomplished since we landed here roughly a year ago:

1. I pretty much learned to drive.

Although I’ve had a license since age 17, I’d only driven maybe 20 times in my life before we moved from NY to FLA. In anticipation of this permanent-residence switcheroo, I boned up with many lessons with Driving Instructor Danny. He was a grim little piece of bidness, but I dare say I actually learned a lot from him.

SIDEBAR: I still haven’t driven on the highway. That’s a massive hurdle I need to leap over. How I long to just zip on down to Miami or the Keys. My life will change drastically once I nail that basic skill.

2. I utterly and completely learned to cook.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Jessica Seinfeld. Your most recent book has changed my life, no question. 

3. I’m on my way to learning how to play tennis halfway decently. 

Now all need is enough confidence to join the Thursday Night Ladies League. I’m not quite there yet, but almost. Playing with more seasoned club members is the only way I’ll really improve, so I just need to get over myself already.

4. I’ve learned how to exist perfectly happily without work as the center of my universe. 

I used to define myself by my work. Not anymore. It’s very uncool to talk about business matters down here, so no one does it. And that includes me. I’m taking on just enough assignments to keep myself in fun money, but mostly, I’m filling my days with being the Nanny, the Chauffeur and the Chef. I really like wearing those hats now. They’re pretty chic.





Beauty Armoire Monday: Three sunblocks I actually don’t hate. (This is v v good news.)

Minerals - not scary chemicals - are the key theme here.

Minerals – not scary chemicals – are the key theme here.

I harbor a lot of guilt around the fact that I kinda hate sunscreen. Not as much guilt as I harbor around not being a vegan – I’m totally going straight to hell for that –  but I definitely do feel like a very bad person – and a horrible ex-Beauty Director – for wanting to skip sunscreen about 99.9 percent of the time.

Here’s a classic example of why I hate it: One day last week, I decided to go running. Wanting to seize the moment before the moment passed (if you could peep my thighs and belly right now, you’d understand my sense of urgency), I didn’t want to spend even an extra second tracking down my new fave sunscreen. So I just grabbed whatever was handiest.

The sunscreen I slathered on my mug before my run, which is by way-famous brand – a brand that is in fact synonymous with sun care –  is billed as “Oil Free Faces.”

Naively, I thought a face-specific sunscreen would stay put, and not migrate into my eyes as I ran. Wrong, wrong, wrooooooong. Within about five minutes in the scorching Florida heat, it slid right into my eyeballs, wreaking havoc. Eventually, I had to stop running and walk the rest of the way, because my eyes were stinging like a mo fo.

Not an ideal scenario for my currently pudgy body parts. I need to run, not walk. Walking, as lovely as it is, doesn’t really do jack for pudgy body parts.

Anyway, here’s the dealio: I know I need to wear sunscreen, especially especially especially in the summer. And since I’m turning into a bit of a chemical phobe, my preference is for physical sunblocks.

FYI, according to Consumer Reports, natural sunblocks – like the ones I prefer, which are made from mineral oxides (titanium and zinc) – don’t protect the skin as well as the chemical numbers. If you’re a big baker, or a total beach rat, you need to know that and come to your own stunning conclusions about how to protect your skin and keep crinkles and wrinkles at bay.

But I’ll take my chances – and stay indoors for a good chunk of the day. Right now, these are the three mineral blocks in heavy rotation chez moi:

1. CõTZ Sensitive SPF 40: Lordy, I love this stuff. It melts right into skin and leaves zero trace behind, which is a total rarity among zinc oxide prods. It’s really stellar for the face. This is the one I should have had on for that ill-fated run a few days ago. What I need to do is buy multiples, and stash ’em all over the house.

2. Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen: This is a new addition to my dream team, but I’m really liking it. Though the instructions say to dab it all over, I just use it on my face and neck. It’s pretty great for dabbing away mid-day shininess. And it comes with an adorbs mirrored cap, so you can see where you’re dabbing. Handy.

3. Goddess Garden Organics Sport: This is my new all-over bod protector. I use it for tennis and neck-down when I run at mid-day. Although I’m not a huge fan of sprays – especially for the Wee Lass, because I think most of it just blows off into the ether before it even lands on the skin – this brew is heavier, so you can see it. It’s a little opaque at first, but then it blends right in.




Summer: Not an excuse to eat everything that isn’t nailed down. (Just ask Nutrition Whisperer Amanda Foti.)

An expert in eating well. (And taking good head shots.)

An expert in eating well. (And taking good head shots.)

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I stepped away from the scale for a while, went on a bit of a food bender – et quelle surprise – I’ve packed on a few VERY unwanted pounds.

My timing? Not brilliant. Especially since some of the other mommies in my kid’s class are proposing beach get-togethers over the summer, so the tot-lettes (and tot-lets) can stay in touch.

Extreme effort is needed, stat. I’m doubling down on tennis and the Cougar Workout.

And in terms of food, I’ll be heeding the advice of New York-based licensed nutritionist Amanda Foti. A registered dietitian for Selvera (a personalized weight-management system that I haven’t tried but probably should), Amanda has a lot of initials in her title: M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

So I’m guessing she has oodles of intel for trimming down for my mommy-outing beach-reveal.

Not to be a Negative Nancy, but I asked Amanda for her Summer Diet Don’ts.

Et voila (désolee for all the Francais; Roland Garros is in full tilt over in Paris right now, and I am g-l-u-e-d to the telly. Thwack…)


1. DON’T skip meals

A different schedule easily allows us to forget to eat. Just as it’s important during the week to have three meals and two snacks to keep the metabolism and energy levels up, it’s important on the weekends too.

2. DON’T “save calories” during the day in anticipation of a party or meal out later on

Conserving calories during the day will not only slow your metabolism, it will also have you feeling fatigued and starving. This will likely lead to eating more than you would have if you weren’t so hungry. The calories you consume after depriving your body are going to be stored immediately as fat in your body. Pretty effective for human survival in times of starvation, not so effective for being beach-bod ready.

3. DON’T feel guilty about enjoying a treat every once in awhile

Being healthy doesn’t mean completely avoiding of all the “treat” foods you love. It means a balance between the good and the good for you. You can enjoy an ice cream cone or chips or even fries every once in a while, just keep it occasional, not habitual.

4. DON’T stop at fast-food joints on trips. Pack food with you!

Traveling is an easy excuse to eat foods we normally wouldn’t because we tell ourselves it’s “the only option.” Plan ahead! Pack snacks and foods that can travel with you so you can avoid the burger and pizza joints at every rest stop.

5. DON’T forget to drink water

Remembering to drink water is not always the first thing on your mind when you’re running around from activity to activity with your kids. But keeping a water bottle on you at all times should be a priority. It is the easiest way to keep energy levels up, boost metabolism, and ward off unnecessary food cravings.



I also asked Amanda for “disaster foods” that we poor, unsuspecting mommies might encounter at the waterpark or a picnic over the next few months. Yes, she just told us to ditch the guilt around an occasional Mister Softee shake. But what’s a serious no-no? Why? And what should we try to lunge at instead?

Here’s what she had to say:

“Although fantastic locations for family fun, the water parks, picnics and beach boardwalks can be a landmine of food choices. You’re sure to see a variety of burgers, fries, wraps, pizzas, hotdogs, candy, and soft drinks. You’re better off preparing and packing your own food for the day. If that’s out of the question, my suggestion is to grab something with protein. Stay away from the high-sugar, high-carb options like soft drinks, ice cream, funnel cakes, fries and chips. These all digest quickly and will have you feeling hungry shortly after, regardless of the calories you just consumed. If there’s a grilled chicken wrap option, split it with another family member and grab a bottle of water to go with it.”

Bikini or bust, babe. On y va!


Beauty Armoire Monday: Toner, much maligned, is one of my desert island skincare must-haves

My arsenal of mostly pink pore-shrinkers.

My current arsenal of mostly pink pore-shrinkers.

You can divide the world’s women into two camps: Toner-Skippers and Toner-Obsessives.

Likewise, you can divide the world’s dermatologists into similarly massive buckets: Those who believe toner is a big ol’ waste of time (and money), and those who not only see toner’s purpose in life, but even recommend it as a core part of our daily skincare regimens.

On the women front, I’m in the Toner-Obsessive camp.

And on the derm front, I was happy to see that Dr. Bruce Katz, who I just did a little quickie “summerize your skincare” Q&A with, said he feels toner is crucial for regulating oil production and reducing shine when the mercury starts to head north.

Frankly, I can’t understand not understanding toner.

I’ve been using toner since I was knee-high to a Coke bottle, as my Okie rellies like to say. (They drink a lot of “pop” out there in America’s Heartland.)

Okay, technically I’d already moved from Tulsa to Newport, RI by the time I started cotton-balling my mug with toner. But nonetheless, I started young.

I can still remember my first attempt at toning, with old-school, burn-your-face-off Sea Breeze.

I must have been around 13, when I said to my mama:

“How does my skin look? Does it have a healthy glow?”

And my mama said to me:

“Only if, by ‘healthy glow,’ you mean totally irritated and wind-burned. If that’s the case, it looks great.”

So maybe I wasn’t the best candidate for OG-style Sea Breeze. But I never took to wimpy old witch hazel either.

For me, success has been found in the middle ground: A toner that is neither too harsh (and therefore drying to my normal / combo skin) nor too lackadaisical to step up to the plate and actually do something to improve my complexion.

I’ve used a lot of extremely kickass toners over the years, but here’s my crop of current faves:

1. Phytomer Oligomarine Flawless-Skin Tonic. Love this blue beauty. The only reason it’s tucked in the back of the pic here is because it’s stamped with “Cadeau-Revente Interdite.” Which means it was gifted to me by Phytomer, a French, sea-derived brand I adore. I’ve given Phytomer oceans of love on this here itty bitty website.

2. Lancôme Tonique Confort Comforting Rehydrating Toner Dry Skin. Another fantastique French brand, but more grownup-glam, less sea-worthy than Phytomer. This toner is great when I’ve overdone it with the cleansing and the Clarisonic-ing. It’s almost lotion-like. Extremement soothing.

3. Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner. A total workhorse. Momover Lady spent her own hard-earned cash on this, so you know it’s good. Pores aren’t really an issue for me, but 1000 percent Florida humidity is. On occasion, I need a toner to cut through the clutter of all that skin-clinging moisture.

4. Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3. I’ll be busting this baby – which is targeted to Combination / Oily skin – out a little later in the summer, when it gets psychotically hot and gnarly around these parts. But I also want to wait until I’m finished with some other skincare items first, so I can put myself on a classic Clinique 3-Step program of cleanser, toner, moisturizer. I’ve only been writing about beauty for 25 years now, I think it might be time for me to Clinique 3-Step it for the first time in my life, right?



Summerize your skincare routine with these super-smart tip-a-roonies from mega-derm Bruce Katz

I figured this was better than a pic of a bunch of cremes, non?

I figured this was better than a pic of a bunch of cremes, non?

Bonjour, my lovelies! Did we all have a super-fab Memo Day Weekend? Did we binge-watch the French Open and the entire first season of Empire, spliced with frolicking in the backyard and pool with the tot-lette and thwacking tennis balls with Hubby?

Hmmm…guess that was my last four days, not yours…

So let’s get straight to you, you, you – and how you can make a few easy tweaks to your skincare routine as the weather heats up, and look like a cool cat all summer.

To get the best intel, I plagued Gotham-based dermatologist Bruce Katz with several hard-hitting Qs.

Dr. Katz is Clinical Professor of Dermatology at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Clinic at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Director of the Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York. In addition to multiple appearances on New York Magazine’s “best doctors” list, Dr. Katz’s publicists tell me he is renowned for a rejuvenation technique called “the Madonna lift.”

Sidebar: Dude, I soooo want to know about this ‘Madonna lift’, don’t you? She’s pushing 60 and her bod is bangin. I’ll find out and report back to you.

Okay, on to the Q + A. On y va, alley-y, let’s go!

1. As the summer approaches, which skincare layers need to go? Which need to stay?

DR. KATZ: Cleanser, toner and SPF need to stay. Following your morning face wash with a toner will help regular oil production and shine. Your sunscreen should be applied right after toner so that it does not lose any efficacy when layered over other ingredients. You can skip a lotion or moisturizer and go right to your foundation. Don’t rely on foundation with SPF (you still need that sunscreen layer) because it is notoriously unreliable.

2. Can you still use Rx retin or a high-end retinol during the summer? Or should you shelve it until it gets cooler again, and aren’t in the sun as much?

DR. KATZ: Retin A and Retinol do make your skin more susceptible to sunburn, but as long as you are diligent about sunscreen application you should be fine to continue use in the summer. For people who are very sporty or sweat a lot, it’s probably better to hold off on prescription strength retinoids until fall when it gets cooler and you won’t be sweating off your SPF as frequently. Alternatively, you can use a low percentage retinol that won’t make you are sun sensitive.

3. I’m actually a fan of physical sunblocks rather than chemical. Any layering guidelines re: physical blocks? They’re pretty opaque.

DR. KATZ: Apply right after toner so that the formula is best able to absorb into skin.

4. Besides not wearing enough sunscreen, what are some other common “summer mistakes” your patients make?

DR. KATZ: You shouldn’t rely on SPF alone. You also need to cover up with protective clothing and hats. Another major mistake we see is patients who’ve been drinking libations with lime. If you splash lime on skin it can become toxic and can causes berloque dermatitis (dark blisters). Lime juice becomes toxic when exposed to sun and can react negatively with skin.

5. Do you generally advise your patients to streamline their skincare regimens for the summer and use fewer products?

DR. KATZ: We recommend not only using fewer products, but lighter products. Switch from creams and lotions to gels, which are lighter and less occlusive. They are more comfortable in the heat and when sweating.

6. What do you like for treating bug bites? Anything that can reduce redness and short-circuit swelling?

DR. KATZ: Start with OTC hydrocortisone and use 3-4 times a day. Cold soaks for baths and aspirin can also help with itching.