Saturday, March 24, 2007


ot surprise

i know i know: at first you long-time readers think i'm going rag on the ny times for this brain-dead coffee story. but that's so easy. . .where does the times get these self-proclaimed coffee authors?

this dicum guy is no mark p. (hiya, mark!)

(note: for that real carioca coffee feeling, but one that tastes good, check out, of course, don schoenholt's little known carioca espresso blend.)

rather i'm going to respond to reader mail on the unlikely subject of my retin-a. i was quite surprised to get several emails on this, all along this lines of "how do you keep that stuff from killing you?"

well, i can easily answer that. first, you have to accept that when you first start, your face will redden.

it just will. and you may have a little flaking, which is good! you want all that old winter hide to disappear!

but your face shouldn't ever hurt or feel uncomfortable, and the flaking shouldn't make people stare at you like you're a horror-movie zombie.

when you pick up the retin-a at the pharmacy, also invest in a couple of inexpensive products: neutrogena's healthy defense spf 45, neutrogena's oil-free moisture for sensitive skin, neutrogena's healthy skin face lotion with aha and olay hydrating face cloths.

now you're set. after talking to quite a few people about this, i think the most common problem is that most women use too much retin-a.

when the instructions say use a "pea size" amount, they really mean it. not a chickpea, not a hazelnut, but a really tiny petit-pois smidge.

using too much makes your skin overly irritated. so here's what's working for me before bedtime:

  • wash face gently with olay cloths, using cool water to minimize irritation
  • wait 15-20 minutes -- this is really important
  • apply said tiny pea dab of retin-a in 4 parts: one spot on the forehead, one on each cheek, one on chin. smooth as evenly over the face as possible
  • over that, gently apply 1 pump of the neutrogena sensitive skin moisturizer

sleep tight.

the next morning you'll notice that your face is already a bit red. the retin-a requires you to wear your suncreen diligently.

so here's your morning scene:

  • gently wash your face
  • apply either the healthy skin with spf15 and aha or the healthy defense with spf45

the aha helps hold in moisture that the retin-a may otherwise take out of your skin and helps send any itty-bitty flakes on their way. but not everyone can take that -- it may sting a just tiny bit.

if so, use the healthy defense. what's good about both of these products is that they won't mess with any tint/bronzer/light foundation you may want to use to finish your look and balance out the initial redness.

many sunscreen products have ingredients that cause make-up to just slide right off the face after a short time! but i can attest that these neutrogena products won't mess with your cosmetics.

if your face is red, try smashbox's green primer, which is non-irritating. this is the one i myself use.

it will help your foundation cover the initial redness, and it also prolongs the life of your color product on the face. at least that's been my experience so far.

over the primer, i like gerda spillmann's bio base tint -- it contains more pigment than a most other tints, but it's not heavy like a full-fledged foundation. this is the only splurge here.

i wear sand. running around with these 3 light layers has only drawn me compliments so far -- most people comment positively on my "sun-kissed" look, and that's about it.

the other secret is to use the retin-a every other night for the first week. on your off nights, use the healthy skin with aha to help keep moisture in your face and to help shed any little flakes.

after the first week, you should be able to use the retin-a every night without trouble, but don't skip any steps! after about 2 weeks now with retin-a, i can say that my incipient crow's feet have lessened by about 50%, and the very light lines on my forehead can't be seen at all.

the little lines around the mouth also already seem reduced, maybe 25%. those are the hardest.

what i found fantastic is that by the 3rd day, all my little blackheads had gone. the light flaking caused by the retin-a removed all that dull winter skin and took my incipient blemishes with it!

that redness at the beginning is fading as my skin adjusts too.

remember, retin-a is a commitment, like your yoga practice. the full effects won't be seen for 6-8 months, and those stubborn mouth lines may take up to a year.

after that, you can reduce your usage to every other day. in short, i'm finding that with a little care, the retin-a can be used without undue problems!

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