This Thanksgiving I’d like to share the list of my current can’t-live-without beauty favorites!  These are the personal care items that make my life easier, happier and simply more zen.

Let me start out by saying that the beauty market these days is booming.  There are so many products to choose from, and places to shop. From giant chain beauty stores, multi-level marketing at-home parties, to online stores, a woman has an abundance of products to choose from and many ways to bring them into her home. With such a plethora of products on the market, making good choices can be downright overwhelming. And then, just when you feel satisfied with the products you are using, another compelling advertisement comes out and makes you wonder if you might “need” to add that product to your collection.

Recently I was thinking about my childhood and the beauty routines I watched my mother perform.  Now age 70, my Mom has really great skin. She didn’t use expensive or fancy products, but she did use a few regularly and without fail. I think the biggest skin saver for her was her avoidance of the sun. This was #1 due to her fair complexion and tendency to burn, and secondly because she was always working and didn’t have time to spend outside in the sun. Mom used her Oil of Olay every single day, without exception.  Just that one product—not a cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream and SPF, just her Oil of Olay. For hand and body moisturizing there was a bottle of Jergens lotion in the bathroom and on the kitchen windowsill. I can still remember the almond-cherry scent of that lotion; it brings back fond memories.

My current list of daily-use products is far longer than my mother’s list, that’s for sure. I did start out in my teen and young-adult years following her simplistic routine, but as I had more money in my pocket, and so many more choices on the market, I was pulled into the hyper-consumerism vacuum that swirled around me, and my regimen developed many steps. My one hard-and-fast rule is that I choose products that help my skin without doing harm by polluting my body with toxic chemicals.

As of today, here are my five favorites:

  1. Lavender body salt scrub/oil. This stuff is amazing! Once per week I give my skin a nice exfoliation while in the shower. The mixture of the hot water and steam, lavender scent and natural oils create a heavenly experience, and afterwards my skin is smooth and silky soft. This product has a very simple and clean ingredient list, featuring peach kernel, almond, avocado, and vitamin E oils, plus some green tea and lavender. The best part is the price! I pick this up at my local healthy food grocery store for less than $10 a jar.
  2. Moisturizing body oil with added essential oil aromatherapy blend. I used to be a body lotion person, but switched to natural oils for post-shower moisturizing a few years ago. I’m using a blend of coconut, jojoba and peach kernel oil with an essential oil blend intended to soothe and restore tired muscles. I apply this fresh out of the shower while my skin is still dewy and warm and it keeps my skin moist all day. The scent is pretty amazing too! My biggest surprise with moving to an oil like this for moisture was how quickly it soaks into my skin. It is not greasy feeling at all, but locks in moisture. As a side note, my husband finds the scent irresistible, so ladies beware of the unintended side effects you may experience!
  3. Keratin Lock and Smooth treatments. I have wavy hair that tends to frizz and grow horizontally when exposed to humidity. (Think Gilda Radner.) Earlier this year I changed hair salons and learned about a temporary keratin treatment that they offer. It lasts for four to five weeks, which works perfectly with my timing for hair coloring. It takes an additional 20 minutes or so to get the treatment done, but it is so worth it! This process smooths my hair without straightening it and taking away the body I like so much. The ingredients in the product include argan oil, olive oil and keratin, and it does not contain formaldehyde.  What it does do is cut my blow-drying time by half. My hair stays soft and shiny and, as an added bonus, my hair color lasts longer.  Before I was getting this treatment, I would need to run a fan in my bathroom to keep me from sweating too much as I tackled the arduous task of drying and smoothing my hair. Now, it’s fast and easy and my hair feels soft and smooth all day. This is absolutely one of my favorite things!
  4. Moisturizer with green tea and vitamin E.  Although I have a full beauty regimen that I follow most days and nights, every so often I am tired, in a hurry, or just not in the mood for the fuss. I always, without fail use my green tea, vitamin E moisturizer. The formula is rich and luscious without being too heavy. The scent is divine—and it comes from natural ingredients, not some fake chemical fragrance. The most important thing is the texture. It has a whipped cream consistency and leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft and hydrated.  I love this stuff so much that sometimes I apply a little under my eye area in the middle of the day to perk up my skin and add some glow to my face. Plus, I get to enjoy the scent again. This is my version of my mother’s Oil of Olay, and I am never without it.
  5. Tinted mineral sunscreen. For the last two years I have been in development phase working on a new tinted mineral sunscreen with added antioxidants and infrared protection. I have tested many, many versions of the product and finally a few months ago we mastered it! The SPF tests are complete and we are preparing to launch in January. What I learned during this evaluation period is how much I love having the tint added to my facial SPF product. I am a huge fan of mineral only SPF products, but frankly they can be rather chalky and heavy. Plus, when you add a layer of liquid foundation, it felt a little too thick for my taste. Adding a light tint to our mineral SPF allowed me to use just one product instead of two, without adding toxic chemical sunscreen ingredients to my body. I am now addicted to tinted mineral sunscreen as my go-to daily makeup and SPF protection all in one! My production sample is running low, so I sure hope we get this product into production ASAP so I don’t run out, and also so I can share it with all of you!

This Thanksgiving season, I am humbly aware of my many blessings, and am sincerely grateful. When thinking about blessings we typically look at the big things like health and family, but I am also grateful for the little things in my life that make every day a little brighter and more comfortable. My top five beauty faves reflects those little things. I hope I have inspired you to try some new things, and also to remember to be grateful every day for things big and small that make our lives happy.

Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.

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