Where's The Joy?
I was at Book Club last week, and we got on the topic of bike racing. (I don’t ride bikes that aren’t stationery—this was someone’s else’s pursuit.) But one woman asked, in all seriousness, “When you compete in something that intense, it’s challenge after challenge after challenge: Hey there’s a steep hill, whoah now we’ve got rough, bumpy terrain, yikes here’s a hairpin turn. But where’s the joy? You’re riding a bike for hours at a time, yet you never coast and just take in the view.”
Sometimes skincare feels a little like a bike race to me. (Bear with my corny analogy.) A lot of anti-aging options feel like work: acids that peel, Retin-A that that makes you flake, needles that poke, and lasers that sear your skin. Thus, when it comes to at-home products (cleansers, masks, moisturizers, eye creams) I do try to find options that are effective but more akin to a leisurely, scenic bike ride—and thus bring me some joy.
To me, this means the formulas smell heavenly, feel luxurious, look chic organized on a tray or shelves—and make my skin look and feel better from the first slather. Actually enjoying the ritual of morning and evening skincare also makes sticking to a regular regimen easier.
I first experienced skincare-product joy when I discovered Sonya Dakar’s line in the late 1990s. The products smelled divine, calmed my acne-prone skin, and, thanks to shiny silver and apple-green packaging, brightened up our tiny Brooklyn bathroom. Over the years, opening a medicine cabinet of Mario Badescu’s candy-colored skincare products has evoked joy—ditto for Drunk Elephant’s cheeky packaging; Linda Rodin’s impeccable eponymous collection; GOOP’s elegant, minimalist esthetic; Sunday Riley’s elegant exilirs; Biologique Recherche’s French-Pharmacy-style packaging; and Naturopathica’s and Tammy Fender’s apothecary-inspired concoctions.
This summer, I added another skincare collection to my happy list: Emma Hardie Skincare, a recent UK import. The botanical-based products smell spa-like, are housed in sleek, champagne-colored packaging, and they’re gentle, making them perfect companions to more aggressive treatments like Retin-A, Hydra-Facials, chemical peels, etc.
I love the whole line, but my current favorite product in the collection is the Protect & Prime SPF 30 (I even gave it a shout out in New Beauty’s Beauty Report, on newsstands now). If you read this blog regularly, you know I am a devoted Elta MD Clear user. However, this daytime product has nearly dethroned that SPF as my daily go-to sun protection product. Its faintly-herby scent is lovely but not overpowering. The formula absorbs quickly and hydrates just enough—no sticky or tacky finish. And it leaves my skin looking really clear, even when I didn’t sleep well the night before. (The latter benefit is thanks to optical diffusing particles, which act like a topical soft-focus filter.)
I am also quite taken with the Cleansing Balm. It too smells like a something an esthetician would use during a pricey facial, it spreads easily, takes off everything (even waterproof eyeliner), and is much easier to remove than other balms—though you do need to employ a washcloth, as it won’t just splash off.
Finally, the Brilliant Facial Oil is a relative steal at $55. You only need a teensy amount (so it will last forever), and it’s the closest in terms of texture, smell and finish I’ve found to rival Rodin’s Oilio Lussio, which will run you a far steeper $170.
Do you have a beauty product that garners good results—but also makes you feel really good? Please share with us all in the Comments below.