Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anti-Wrinkles: What’s in Your Skin Cream?

What’s your strategy for choosing anti-wrinkle skin creams? How do you pick one from the ever-growing arsenal of anti-aging creams and lotions? My skin care strategy has always been to just keep trying new products. I do this not because I expect to find a cream with benefits, but because I don’t think it matters which product I use; the results are always the same—elusive. But what if there was a list of ingredients that might really, truly help to reduce wrinkles? And what if this list was complied by independent, highly-respected researchers (instead of scientists paid by skin care companies)?

Recently, I came across a list of topical agents that could provide “slight to modest improvement in the appearance of wrinkles,” according to Mayo Clinic researchers. Apparently, no over-the-counter (nonprescription) ingredient is going to provide a “facelift in a bottle.” Sorry, ladies. But if you apply enough of certain key ingredients continuously, you may actually see some improvement.

Mayo Clinic researchers offer the following list of potential useful topical agents.
  • Retinol. This vitamin-A derivative was the first antioxidant to be widely used in nonprescription wrinkle creams. Retinol should not be confused with tretinoin, which the vitamin-A derivative available only by prescription (marketed as Retin-A, Avita, or Renova). Retinol is less potent than Retin-A.
  • Hydroxyl acids. Alpha hydroxy acids ((glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids) , beta hydroxy acids and poly hydroxy acids are derived from fruits with high sugar content. They exfoliate the skin. Not surprisingly, these acids make you more susceptible to sunburns.
  • Coenzyme Q10. This nutrient “helps regulate energy production in cells.” It may also reduce fine lines around the eyes.
  • Copper peptides. These peptides promote collagen production and may help the action of antioxidants.
  • Kinetin. This plant growth factor may “improve the appearance” of wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Though it’s unclear how it works, the Mayo Clinic researchers suspect it may reduce wrinkles by promoting moisture retention and enhancing collagen production. It may also work as a potent antioxidant.
  • Green tea extracts. Green, black and oolong tea have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

After reading the Mayo Clinic article, I thought: Now that I have a list, maybe I can make an informed skin cream decision, instead of making my selection based on the eenie-meenie-miney-moe approach. I decided to test this idea on the products I already had at home. Here’s what I found.
  • StriVectin($135 for 5 oz). Recently, I was given a sample tube. According the ingredients’ label, this cream includes Tetrapeptide-21, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7. The promotion material says that the peptide levels are 4 times what they’d been in the past. I happen to liked this product. It has Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, which seems to wake up my skin a little.
  • Korres Wild Rose 24-hour moisturizer ($32.50 for 1.5 oz). A Sephora sales clerk sold me this product, saying it was all natural—no parabens, artifical dyes, or petro-chemicals. I have to admit it smells gorgeous and goes on nicely. But none of its ingredients are the Mayo Clinic list. What's a girl to think?
  • Regenerist Micro-sculpting Cream($23.67 for 1.7 oz). Consumer Reports ranks Olay’s Regenerist products #1 among wrinkle fighting products. Its ingredients include citric acid, green tea leaf extract, and palmitoyl pentapeptide-4. By the way, I saw this same, exact product available on for $13.89.
  • Olay Anti-Wrinkle Enriched UV Lotion for Mature Skin SPF 15 (13.99 for 4 oz). Since the Regenerist cream doesn’t have a SPF, I apply this lotion with my foundation. (I’ve got a dermatologist in the family who’s always yelling at me to wear sunscreen.) I’m glad to have the SPF, but it doesn’t have any of the must-have anti-wrinkle agents in its formula.
My best friend who lived in London for years tried to get me to buy Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Day Cream SPF 15 ($19.99 for 1.69 oz) (Boots is a great pharmacy chain in England.) Now that I’ve looked at the label, I may take her advise. The cream contains C18-36 acid glycol ester, Citric acid, Palmitoyl oligopeptide, and Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7. It also has sunscreen.

So what did I learn from this little exercise? Well, I learned that you can find some of the ingredients that are currently believed to offer anti-wrinkle benefits in reasonably priced drug store and online products. However, there is no way to know if the amounts used in these products are enough to provide the potential benefits. I also learned that reading labels isn’t easy. (No, wait—I already knew that.) It’s quite possible that some of the other promising ingredients are on the labels of the products I looked at, but under names I didn’t recognize because, quite frankly, I’m not exactly an expert on Coenzyme Q10 or Kinetin. So while I’ll probably look for peptides, green tea extract, and hydroxyl acids on skin cream labels in the future, I don’t know if my wrinkles will benefit from this new knowledge.

By the by, you may want to take a peek at the rest of the Mayo Clinic article, which gives tips on buying an anti-wrinkle cream and how to maximize your wrinkle fighting efforts. I found two things interesting. First, the cost of a skin cream doesn’t determine its effectiveness. However, drugstore products may contain lower amounts of the useful agents, and therefore, require regularly use indefinitely to maintain benefits. That doesn't really bother me. When it comes to moisturizing my poor dry skin, I figure I'm in it for the long haul.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I’ve been given the “Versatile Blogger” award by the blogger at Rich Mix Fashion Plus Sizes Clothing. It was very kind of her to choose me and now it’s my turn to award others. This is sort of like a chain post, in which “Versatile Blogger” winners share the blogs they enjoy. I like to think that if every “VB” recipient recognizes 7 more bloggers, huge numbers of bloggers will eventually feel the bloggin' love. Thanks again, Rich Mix Fashion Plus Sizes Clothing!

“Versatile Blogger” award winners are asked to…
♥ Thank and link back to the person that awarded him/her this award
♥ Share 7 things about his/her self
♥ Award 7 recently-discovered great bloggers
♥ Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

So…here are 7 things about myself…
1. I love seeing women over 50 dressed in outfits that flatter their age and figures.
2. I love to find and write about fashions that flatter women over 50.
3. I love all types of art—music, fine arts, literature, drama, and dance—and the way art informs fashion and vice versa.
4. I love living in a place with 4 distinct seasons because I can’t imagine wearing the same clothes more than a few months a year. I crave variety!
5. I’m a huge fan of Bill Cunningham. If you can, check out the documentary, “Bill Cunningham New York.” He is my idol—over 50, a style genius, and an extremely gracious and charming individual. If the documentary isn’t playing in your area, check out his New York Times On the Street video reports.
6. I love anyone who pursues his or her passion.
7. I enjoy learning about fashion—its history, designers, and the design process.

And…here are 7 blogs (in alphabetical order) that inspire me. Congratulations to my fellow bloggers!

10 Minutes Each Day In An Unreasonable Manner

Fab Over Fifty

Fashion for Nerds

Fashionally Fab at 50 Plus

Over 50 Feeling 40

Style Goes Strong

Une femme d' un certain age

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring 2011: Drawstring Bags

Fashion consultants and stylists often advise women to weed out the old clothing and accessories from their closets. They suggest policies like: "If you haven't worn it in two years, get rid of it." I understand this sort of advice in principle. However, personally, if I followed the two-year rule, I would have missed out on using some things I've grown to love.

Case in point: The Gucci bag at the top of this post. My mother-in-law gave me that bag for my birthday about 14 years ago. Other than one or two occasions, when I knew my M-I-L would be present, I never used it. Back then, I had young boys and I had a wardrobe that might be best described as "rough-and-tumble." A white handbag seemed too vulnerable for my lifestyle. Now, fast forward more than a decade and guess what? I can't wait to use this bag. My youngest boy is in college, white is oh-so trendy for spring 2011, and I'm loving the bag's drawstring design.

So I guess you might say my personal policy is, "yes, weed out, but do it very carefully." Obviously, if the garment in question is worn out--faded, stained, unraveling--it's a no-brainer. Give it the heave-ho. But garments and accessories that are good quality and hardly worn might be worth keeping--even for 14 years! Right now I've got my eye on an Armani black jacket in my closet. Trust me when I say it's not in style right now. But it's in perfect condition and it flatters my figure. I haven't worn it in several years, but I'm not giving up on it.

Meanwhile, drawstring and bucket style handbags seem to be making the scene this spring. Below are a few styles that caught my eye at eBags. Some of them are currently reduced 20%. Click on the photos for details or to go to the ebag site for more handbags.

Cole Haan Village Denney Drawstring Mosaic - Shoulder Bag

Cole Haan Village Denney Drawstring Mosaic - Shoulder Bag
for $384

Perlina Jill Drawstring Sage - Leather Handbags

Perlina Jill Drawstring Sage - Leather Handbags
reduced from $138 to $110.40. In 3 colors.

Kipling Abbot Black - Shoulder Bag

Kipling Abbot Black - Shoulder Bag
reduced from $138 to $110.40. Also in red.

Helen Kaminski Portia Lunar - Cross Body

Helen Kaminski Portia Lunar - Cross Body
for $375

Shorts, Pants and More for Over 50

Jones New York Extend Tab Walking Short (White)

This weekend I engaged in the "changing of the wardrobe." Twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, the clothes in my bedroom closet trade places with the clothes stored in the attic. One rule I live by: Don't buy new clothes before you make the wardrobe switch and take stock of what you have. I'd rather not admit how many times in years past I have bought something new only to find I had bought its twin (or close to it) the season before. This happens most frequently when I buy garments at an end-of-season sale and immediately put them into storage for the following year.

I was motivated to do the wardrobe switch/inventory by two things. First, in a post entitled Ombre, the Fashion for Nerds blogger showed how she had recently taken a sundress and layered it with a long sweater, tights and boots to create a March outfit. I found this inspiring. I wanted to see if I could take a few spring things and layer them up for wearing now. And secondly, there are so many big sales going on right now with lots of ready-for-spring fashions, I wanted to see what I had and needed before I did any shopping.

Now until March 29th, 11:59 EST, Jones New York has a huge selection of bottoms that are up to 70% off. I'm loving the Jones New York Extend Tab Walking Short (White) at the top of this post. They may not be right for short legs like mine, but I think they're perfect for long over 50 legs. And right now they're on sale for $19.99 before taking an additional 30% at checkout. Below is a sample of the other bottoms--from leggings to dress pants--on sale. Again, all the prices are before an additional 30% off at checkout and all the items are available in a range of sizes. Click on the photos or links to view details or to check out all the sale items.

Jones New York Slim Capris (White)

Jones New York Slim Capris (White)
for $34.99. Also available in more sizes in the suntan color and a green checked pattern.

Jones New York Cotton Stretch Pants (Blue)

Jones New York Cotton Stretch Pants (Blue)
for $25.99 plus 30% off at checkout

Jones New York Classic Leggings (Black)

Jones New York Classic Leggings (Black)
for $33.99 plus 30% off at checkout. But please don't wear them with a tucked in top like the photo or even with a short top. Leggings only flatter the over 50 figure (no matter how trim!) when paired with a long tunic, short dress or skirt.

Jones New York Flat Front Classic Pants (Grey)

Jones New York Flat Front Classic Pants (Grey)
for $75.99 plus 30% off at checkout

Classic Fit Jean (Plus) (Denim)

Classic Fit Jean (Plus) (Denim)
for $49.99 plus 30% off at checkout. Also available in Missy and Petite sizes for $39.99.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Dresses Under $100--But Hurry!

Anne Klein Flare Dress Fit & Flare Dress (Blue)

Did you see "Cairo Time," starring Patricia Clarkson? I rented the DVD a few months ago and I've been inspired by how comfortable and elegant Clarkson, 51, looks in all the different dresses she wears. Since the setting is Egypt, all the dresses are sleeveless and a couple of them have plunging necks. Clarkson looks like she feels beautiful in the dresses. And guess what? She is beautiful! You can see a couple of the dresses in photo gallery on the film’s official website.

Now until March 27th, 11:59 PM EST, Anne Klein is offering 30% off on dresses. Many of the styles are $118, so 30% puts them well under $100. Take, for instance, the Anne Klein Flare Dress Fit & Flare Dress (Blue) at the top of this post. I love the bright blue color, the trendy thin stripes, and the full skirt. It's spring fresh and fun--the perfect day dress for women over 50. Below are a few more examples of dresses for $118 before 30% off. Click on any of the photos for details or to get to the Anne Klein site, where you can check out all the dresses.

Anne Klein Cotton Notch Collar Wrap Dress Skirt Dress (Bronze)

Anne Klein Cotton Notch Collar Wrap Dress Skirt Dress (Bronze)

Anne Klein Flare Nugget Jersey Dress Matt Jersey Nugget Dress (Blue)

Anne Klein Flare Nugget Jersey Dress Matt Jersey Nugget Dress (Blue)

Anne Klein Georgette Tier Skirt Dress Georgette Tier Skirt Dress (Black)

Anne Klein Georgette Tier Skirt Dress Georgette Tier Skirt Dress (Black)

Anne Klein Pleated Skirt Dress Crp Pleated Skirt Dress (Khaki)

Anne Klein Pleated Skirt Dress Crp Pleated Skirt Dress (Khaki)

Pick of the Day: Canvas Tote

Earth Axxessories Damask Canvas Tote Purple - Tote

The spring season officially began last Sunday. Unfortunately, in the Northeast, it usually takes another month before the weather feels spring like. During the first week of spring 2011, we had two days with snow showers and three days with icy rain. Every year, however, I notice a few intrepid souls, obviously at their wits end with their winter wardrobe, start to wear spring clothes at the end of March. On Monday, for example, I ran into the city to see the documentary, "Bill Cunningham New York." (Great movie!) It was an icy, rainy day, but there was a woman dressed in a long, fluttery floral skirt and floral shoes on the ticket line. She reminded me of the purple and yellow crocuses I'd seen poking through the snow the day before. It made me optimistic and shiver all at once.

Since I hate to be cold, a spring skirt in 40 degree weather is out of the question. But I can dream of warmer days. I was poking around the eBags site, looking for sale items when I stumbled upon the Earth Axxessories Damask Canvas Tote Purple - Tote at the top of this post. It's my Fashion Over 50: Pick of the Day. Isn't it lovely? I love the striking canvas design and the price tag--$30. It's available in three colors and two styles (see below). Can't you see yourself throwing a towel and book (e-book?) into this tote and heading for the beach or pool? Or packing a picnic lunch in it and going to the park?

Earth Axxessories Damask Canvas Tote Black - Tote

Earth Axxessories Damask Canvas Tote Olive - Tote