9 Skincare Products That Really Work

“It’s all fear. That’s our keyword. Keep them afraid, no one will love them, and you can sell them anything.”

I recently read this quote in an essay. The author overheard it at a dinner party. Wanna know who said it? The president of a major cosmetics company.

The beauty business isn’t pretty. In fact, in can be quite ugly. When I first heard that quote, my knee-jerk reaction was a mixture of anger and disbelief. Really? They’re selling me on fear? Well, yes, they are. And they’re going to keep on doing it. Why? Because it works.

Sometimes, it’s subtle, sometimes not. For example, the ad for Loreal’s Pore Vanisher asks,

“Pore obsessed? Too many? Too big? Too afraid to look?”

I wasn’t afraid, but then I wondered if I should be. Chalk one up for the cosmetics companies. With this looming feeling, I did what anybody would do, I called my friend to hash it out. He reminded me that the single, best antidote to fear is knowledge. Amen. But here’s the next hard question … Does anyone really know?

There are two kinds of knowledge when dealing with this one: scientific proof and self-awareness. Know thy self. If we check in with both, we’re getting somewhere.


There’s some bonafide science behind some products that I know really work.

My skincare routine is about layering, and I factor in this science. By the way, I see this routine as a ritual, not unlike any other that makes me feel like I’m doing something good for myself. There’s as much value in the practice as the product. This ritual is not based purely on faith. It’s backed up by facts.


Want to know a dermatologist’s favorite anti-aging ingredient? This is it. Retinoids are a family of vitamin A derivatives that stimulate collagen production and regenerate cells. It’s best to start with what’s available over-the-counter first to build a tolerance. Your dermatologist can get the real superstars (with higher levels of the good stuff) for you when you’re skin is ready.   I’ve tried many. Here are a few of my favorites:


Don’t forget: It’s absolutely necessary to use sunscreen while using retinoids.


Serums are light and penetrate deep into your skin, delivering antioxidants. They provide protection that prevents free radicals from breaking down the things that give our skin the strength to bounce back.

There’s one for every need you can imagine: firming, hydrating, brightening. I haven’t met a serum I didn’t like. These are a few all-around faves that will give you the best of what they have to offer.


Face Oils

Some are pure, some are a blend of several, but all are quickly absorbed and deliver even-toned, radiant skin.  You only need a few drops, so they last forever.



Order of application

Each product performs better with a little help from friends. But they have to go in order.

  • Serums are the lightest and go first.

  • Face oils come next, followed by a moisturizer with SPF in the morning, or a retinoid at night.

  • Give each one some time to soak in before adding the next.

Word to the wise … mixing can get tricky. For example, ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids can deactivate Vitamin C and irritate if combined with retinols. So if you consider yourself a serious mix-master, seek the advice of a dermatologist.

Don’t forget to monitor your skin. Use common sense. If my skin gets a bit irritated from retinol, I skip it for a few days and add more moisture. No skin care regime works all the time. Weather, aging, hormones … no one has immunity. You can lose your mind over it or embrace the changes and make necessary adjustments.


I was with my friends last night and they were asking me when this article was coming out. They just want to know, “What really works?” This is what I told them, “I don’t really know. I’m always trying to figure out what works for me.”

Let’s face it. I’ll never know what my skin would look like today, if I had never touched a bottle of moisturizer. I have and I will continue to. I know my skin looks better when I take care of it. Period. This is where a little fear creeps in … I’m certainly not going to stop now.

I am going to make my choices based on what makes me feel good and if there’s a little scientific evidence thrown in … Bonus!  Also, I run a check now and again to make sure I’m informed. Everyone’s checklist is different for keeping up on product news. Fine tune yours and pay attention to it.

I ask women all the time what they’re using that makes their skin so beautiful. Their answers vary widely. What they have in common is that they are taking care of themselves.   Body, mind and spirit. No fear involved.

When I’m drawn to someone and feel comfortable enough to ask about their skin care routine, it’s always because they are open, engaged and smiling.

Dr.Brene Brown said:

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

I believe her.