I avoid phthalates and parabens and sulfates, I skip anything fragranced, and I look for lotions, soaps, and other products that have the fewest ingredients possible.
But there are some areas of skincare where it’s close to impossible to find natural alternatives. Anti-aging is one of them. All the firming creams and retinol wonder products seem to be formulated with fragrances and dyes and parabens and other things I prefer not to mess with. And while in theory I love the idea of just slathering everything with coconut oil, once you reach a certain age you start to want to break out the big guns, you know?
Enter my new hero, our beauty director, Ilana. She knows all about my preference for natural products, and has spent many an hour patiently listening to me obsess about my (non-existent, but they could appear ANY DAY) neck wrinkles. One day she handed me a bottle of Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90; sephora.com) and said, “You will love this.”
Reader, I loved it. Let’s start with the fact that it has no parabens, no phthalates, and no fragrance of any kind—including essential oils, which many natural products include but which can be irritating if you have sensitive skin. (On their website, Drunk Elephant provides a long list of other fishy ingredients they refuse to use.) Technically, it’s not all-natural, since there are synthetic ingredients, but the company’s goal is to make their products healthy, non-toxic, and non-irritating. And since it’s “safe” rather than “natural”—that’s my real priority—that’s fine by me.
None of that would matter, though, if the stuff didn’t work. Here’s what happened: I started using the serum back in November. (The first time I used it it tingled a little bit, but I haven’t had any tingling or irritation since.) Two weeks passed. Then, within the space of one week, I had three separate people compliment me on how amazing my skin looked. One male friend actually asked me if I had just gotten a facial. Ilana told me I was “glowing.” Yes!
The skin on my face and neck feels and looks smoother and firmer. And I noticed that I didn’t need to use nearly as much moisturizer as usual through the winter months—I’d pat on just a single drop of my favorite face oil every other night (after the serum dried)—and never had any of the usual winter tightness or flakiness. I wear less foundation, too; my skin tone is so much more even, I don’t need it.
True, this stuff isn’t cheap. But one $90 bottle lasted me four whole months—and am I willing to spend $270 a year to look like I just got a facial, without slathering endocrine disruptors all over my skin? You bet I am.
To buy: $90; sephora.com
By Jeannie Kim