We've Gotta Have it
24 Fabulous New, Indulgent Skin Care Ideas for Women 40+
If you’re reading this, you won the pandemic -- by surviving. Now, your skin deserves a gift
I did it! I made it through quarantine and am slowly creeping back into my pre-COVID lifestyle. But for months, like many of you, I was stuck at home. As a writer, that meant no more in-person press presentations for new beauty collections. With many of us dropping our masks, it’s time to take really good care of our skin. To that end, I called in scores of new skin care items to try, some from expert beauty publicists and others I’d read about and wanted to test for myself. Even as a veteran lifestyle editor, I find the ever-expanding $150 billion (sales) skin care sector overwhelming, and I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s hard to keep up with ingredients: Bakuchiol, baobab, bioactives, botanicals, and butters. Tons of butters. And, true confession: I have never been able to pronounce “hyaluronic acid” correctly. Nevertheless, below are some of the products I’ve liked in my quest to find out what’s out there and what works.
In your own search, figure out what skin issues you want to address. Bioactives — substances (often from plants) that include vitamins and enzymes — have antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective for dry or irritated skin. Mushroom extracts and botanical oils, including sweet almond oil, baobab oil, and other plant oils from Africa — which have actually been used by various cultures for centuries for skin care and medicinal purposes — are being used extensively in skin care products. At the same time, old-time favorites including aloe vera (that globby, clear gel we think of for treating sunburns) and jojoba oil are getting renewed attention and are popping up in new products.
Brooklyn’s Biotic Broths
Cofounded in 2019 by scientist and skin-care formulator Alison Cutlan and former luxury and consumer goods executive Grace Fooden, Biophile’s purpose is to protect the skin’s microbiome — the genetic material of all the good and bad microbes including bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on the skin or inside the body. The medical term “microbiome” has become pretty common these days, notably when it became became part of the conversation about “maskne,” those pesky skin issues resulting from wearing masks to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Cutlan blended clean and sustainable ingredients and prebiotics in a bio-fermentation process resulting in what the company has trademarked as Biotic Broths. These nutrient-rich formulations, made in small batches in Brooklyn, NY, comprise Biophile’s three-product collection and three-step system of a root bionic refining essence, a bio-shroom rejuvenating serum, and bio barrier nourishing oil applied one after the other. I applied the Biophile products while I was looking at apartments online with my daughter. My skin literally breathed a sigh of relief and thanked me.
Biophile Explorer Trio, $110, has the three products in handy 12-ml. pump bottles.
You Say Tomato, I Say a Great Moisturizer and Cleanser
The Marlo brand, which just came out with the new Bloom Lavish Whipped Cleanser, claims to be the world’s first hydroponic skin-care line. Developed by former cosmetics executive Marjorie Lau and cosmetic chemist Renee Ordino, Marlo debuted in 2020 boasting super-lycopene hydrosol, an antiaging extract that is hand-distilled in small batches from hydroponic tomatoes cultivated in toxin-free, mineral-enriched water, as its key active ingredient. Hydrosols are water-based products made by distilling plant matter. The Lavish Whipped Cleanser also includes soybean seed extract, bilberry extract, and grapeseed oil. The first Marlo item, the Bloom Lush Revitalizing Cream, is rich with shea butter, cocoa butter, grapeseed oil, geranium oil, and squalane. Both products include sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid, among its deeply hydrating ingredients. The new cleanser is light, soft and thorough. You’re supposed to follow cleansing by applying the moisturizer, which I did; I liked the result the following morning, with my facial skin feeling soft and plump.
Coming Up Roses
Did someone say “hydrosol?” 100% Pure is a clean, vegan, truly cruelty-free line of skin care and cosmetics launched in 2005 by inventor Susie Wang, who put some rose hydrosol in the just-launched Rose and Hyaluronic Acid Collection. The four-product range consists of a cleanser, a serum, a moisturizing milk, and a mist, all designed to treat dry or dehydrated skin. The cleanser relies on glycerin and floral oils for its efficacy while the three other moisturizing products boast aloe vera leaf juice as a chief ingredient along with other botanical oils, some of which are organic or wild-harvested. The products have a lovely light rose fragrance which make them a pleasure to use. After cleansing, your skin feels smooth and plump, not stripped. Wang launched 100% Pure after working for cosmetics giants, seeing how many toxic ingredients were being pumped into cosmetics, and learning that very few claims about testing being “cruelty free” were actually true. Wang is also behind the Puristy collection of organic skin care, which she developed with retailer Anthropologie.
Look! On my Face! It’s a Gel! It’s a Foam! No, It’s a Cream!
Skin Inc, the Singaporean beauty company launched in 2008 by former tech executive Sabrina Tan, has gained a following for its customizable skin care. Based on a questionnaire and an algorithm relying on more than one million skin profiles, clients can have their own formulations of serum and other products specially made. Brush that aside for the most fun you will ever have washing your face. Many Asian women double-cleanse their face by first using micellar water or another makeup remover to remove the day’s dirt, and then doing a second wash with another cleanser. Skin Inc, however, claims that its brand new Serum-Infused 02 Cleanser offers a one-step solution to double cleansing. First, you apply the gel that comes out of the pump to your dry face and it transforms to a foam, sort of like how men’s shaving gel turns to foam. You let the foam sit for 15 seconds as you feel little bubbles exploding, like your skin is drinking seltzer. Then, with wet fingers, you massage the foam in a circular movement and it becomes a cream! The gel-foam-cream is made from all natural ingredients, including Centella asiatica, a species of pennywort; reishi mushroom, an effective antioxidant; and Salix alba or white willow. All of these plants have been used in traditional herbal or Chinese medicine for centuries.
Serum-Infused 02 Cleanser, $30 for 1 fl. oz.
Strike-a-Pose Skin Care
According to Baylor College of Medicine, the Aloe Vera plant gel has antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins A and C, and it is also highly anti-inflammatory. Marlene Wallach (the former modeling scion who founded Wilhelmina Creative Management and Wilhelmina Kids & Teens) is capitalizing on these beneficial properties and others with her new Gleem Beauty collection. Wallach had been approached by one of her models desperate for something to help keep her skin clear, after not being able to find anything effective. Wallach was determined to come up with a solution and delved into therapeutic skin care, earning degrees in esthetics, acne treatment, and LED Light Therapy. She also worked at a medical spa to learn about skin care techniques. All this, after leaving Wilhelmina in 2017. Gleem, relying on organic medical grade Aloe Vera, vitamins, and plant oils, boasts a two-step exfoliating and moisturizing system with the RxFoliant Leave-On Mask and the Soft Immersion Moisturizer. Gleem will also be rolling out a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen with vitamin C and a face cleanser in the coming months. I like the cool gooey-ness and texture of the mask (which includes vitamin C “beads”) and the soothing effect of the moisturizer.
A, B, C, D CBD
The new Luma & Leaf range of clean beauty products is built around botanicals and organically grown broad-spectrum cannabidiol, or CBD. The collection comprises the Hydraglow Cleansing Gel, the Afterglow Serum, the Luminous Light Moisturizer, the Clear Slate Serum, and the Relief and Repair Moisturizer. In addition to CBD oil, Luma & Leaf uses ingredients such as fruit enzymes for gentle exfoliation, vitamins, hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, and wild oats for their skin-soothing properties. The collection might skew a little young with its colorful packaging, but this fiftysomething writer enjoyed sampling it, notably the fresh-feeling Cleansing Gel and the smooth Afterglow Serum.
Out of Africa Skin Care
When you put on the fragrant Minona: Glow Body Oil from 54 Thrones, you immediately become an exotic queen in an exotic land. Well, it makes total sense because Minona is the name of the Benin African Goddess, the protector of women, and the oil is enriched with Egyptian jojoba and Ghanaian baobab oil, in addition to Nigerian moringa and Moroccan rosehip and argan oils. A dose of Egyptian jasmine and neroli complete the bouquet of this luscious but not-too-heavy moisturizing oil. 54 Thrones’ newest oil, Nejma: Balancing Night Oil, named for the Moroccan goddess of health and protection, follows in the same luxurious fashion and tackles oily or irritated skin, acne, and clogged pores thanks to the calming effects of Moroccan blue tansy (a kind of aster plant) and the lightweight Ugandan Nilotica shea butter, while Kigelia africana extract clarifies and firms skin and reduces excess oil production. The natural fragrance from myrrh extract, lavender oil, and ylang ylang oil make using this facial product extra special. 54 Thrones, a name that honors the 54 countries of Africa, is the brainchild of Christina Funke Tegbe, a former business consultant who cashed in her 401-K in 2015 to launch the clean beauty brand focused around traditional African beauty rituals and ingredients. Funke Tegbe, the daughter of a Nigerian father and American mother, gets her native African handcrafted ingredients from sustainable and ethical cooperatives. She founded several diverse companies ranging from cleaning services to back-office providers while 54 Thrones was named to beauty retailer Sephora’s BIPOC beauty incubator this year.
Minona: Glow Body Oil, $48 for 3.3 oz.
The Skin/Gut Connection
Founded in 2014, California-based Kaibae is dedicated to preserving a healthy human microbiome and relies on baobab tree fruit and seed extracts, considered superfoods thanks to their high antioxidant, fiber, and other vitamin content. This spring Kaibae launched the Microbiome Mist for the face and body featuring baobab, neroli, and prebiotic and postbiotic peptides, as well as the Gut/Skin Resilience supplements containing baobab, seaweed, ellagic acid (an antioxidant), ceramides, polyphenols, and prebiotics and postbiotics. The idea is to nourish the microbiome of the skin from the inside to the outside. Kaibae suggests following the mist with its face oil composed of the “Lost Crops” formulation that includes baobab, cacay oil, and Kappaphycus algae. While I’m not thrilled with the earthy scent of the mist, it is somehow very refreshing, and the oil is practically scentless — my skin enjoyed the duo. Kaibae was founded by naturopathic doctor Luc Maes of the Maes Center for Natural Health Care clinic, his wife Barbara Berger Maes, and botanist Thomas Cole. Kaibae partners with local Northern Ghanian communities to use sustainably and ethically harvested wild Ghanian baobab.
Rikki Tikki TLC
While we’re still on the continent, let’s head to South Africa, the birthplace of the African Botanics collection established by South African couple Craig and Julia Noik in 2012. Now based in Los Angeles, the two learned growing up in South Africa about native plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, and on scrapes and sunburns. For this skin care line, they combined phytotherapy using native South African plants with cosmetic science. The list of ingredients on the company’s website reads like something out of a Rudyard Kipling story, with things like baobab, honeybush (with an extract that acts against UVB damage), and Cape mahogany seed oil, rich in essential fatty acids which are then blended with scientifically derived ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids or retinaldehyde, a stabilized bioactive form of vitamin A. The company just introduced an Eye Contour Gel-Serum chock-full of ceramides, lupine oligosaccharides, yeast beta-glucan, vitamin B3, vitamin C, and fucoidan-rich seaweed extract, along with caffeine, arnica, copper, and dragon’s blood extract that reduce puffiness and dark circles. They also debuted the Silver Rescue Cream, an anti-inflammatory moisturizer with broad-spectrum CBD extract and colloidal silver in addition to resurrection plant and devil’s claw that work to keep water moisture inside the skin. African Botanics works with single-origin micro producers in Africa and other parts of the world for sustainably grown ingredients.