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Judith goes crazy with skin care

I've spent the past several months trying out three different skin care lines. Always on the lookout for a super simple, but highly effective skin care program for my mature, normal to dry and somewhat sensitive skin, I'm pleased to tell you about the following three ranges of products.

RODAN + FIELDS
When offered the opportunity to test skincare products from Rodan + Fields, I jumped at the chance! After all, Dr. Katie Rodan, M.D. and Dr. Kathy Fields, M.D., both highly regarded dermatologists and researchers, are the developers of the wildly successful acne skincare line, ProActiv Solution, which has been sold on QVC and through TV infomercials for many years. ProActiv is geared toward those with acne, but Rodan + Fields is not aimed at a specific skin type. Instead, it is an upscale range of products for different skin types. Using the name Multi-Med Therapy, Rodan + Fields claim to blend clinical skin care with prestige beauty.

Rodan + Fields features four different skincare regimes: Radiant Regimen for Uneven Skin Tone, Calm Regimen for Blemishes and Breakouts/Facial Redness, Clean Regimen for Blackhead Distraction, and their newest Anti-Age Regimen for Wrinkles, Collagen Loss and Surface Damage. Also available are individual products sold under the heading of Compounds.

For testing, I was given Rodan + Fields Radiant 4-Step Regiment for Brown Spots, Fine Lines and Photo-Aging. This is advertised as a full skin care regimen that uses FDA-approved active ingredients and botanicals to reverse damage from photo-aging. The Radiant kit contained four products. Radiant 1 Wash Exfoliant Facial Cleanser ($35) is the only facial cleanser included in the kit. I've learned from past experience that using anything resembling cleansing grains daily, such as Radiant 1 Wash Exfoliant Facial Cleanser, either once or twice a day, is not a good idea for my sensitive skin. I substituted Compounds Gentle Face Wash ($25), a rather ordinary soap-free cleanser that was mild and non-irritating, but not strong enough to remove my mascara (my test of a good cleanser!).

The next product in the kit was Radiant 2 Prepare Skin Lightening Toner ($35), which contains 2% hydroquinone (the maximum amount allowed in non-RX skin bleaching products) combined with kojic acid, bearberry extract, beta hydroxy acid (also considered an exfoliator), and vitamin C. This toner was to be used to prepare the skin for Radiant 3 Treat Skin Lightening Lotion ($65), which also contains 2% hydroquinone to fade brown spots and even out skin tone, along with vitamins C and E to soften lines and improve the texture of the skin. I saw no difference in these products than any other non-prescription skin bleaching product I have tried over the years. While the combination of using the Exfoliant Facial Cleanser in the conjunction with the Skin Lightening Toner is supposed to prepare the skin for use of the Skin Lightening Lotion, for those with sensitive skin, I would suggest you test these products first, as all of this exfoliation might be too much for daily use.

The final product in the kit is Radiant 4 Protect Sunscreen with SPF 15 with UVA/UVB protection ($35). Since there was no moisturizer in the regime, I figured this was to be used in place of a moisturizer. First of all, I was shocked that the SPF listed for this product was only 15. Secondly, when I applied it the first time, it burned my face. I've never tried an SPF product that burned my face, so I figured it was because I had done all that exfoliating. I tried the sunscreen three more times during the course of two weeks and each time had the same result. This stuff burns! I won't be trying it again.

Rodan + Fields is marketing individual products as Compounds, such as would have been found in an old fashioned apothecary. Products are packaged attractively in white paper sacks. Sold separately are Compounds Moisturize, a rather ordinary lightweight moisturizer with no further SPF protection. This moisturizer was okay, and probably would be fine for warm weather use, but in cold weather, I need a heavy duty moisturizer or my makeup settles into lines by the end of the day. (My motto is "Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!") The final product in the test products package, which left me absolutely dumbfounded, was a bag of cotton squares, Compounds Details Gauze, designed to hold the exact amount of product to your face. At $6 for 60 cotton squares, I can't imagine anyone would find this a necessity!

I guess you can tell that I was not impressed with these products. I was, in fact, rather disappointed. What with all the hype surrounding their ProActiv line, I figured these new products would be exceptional. In the end, I think that Rodan + Fields, like other successful skincare lines which specialize in the solution for one particular type of skin problem, want to be everything to everyone instead of sticking with what they already do best!

Rodan + Fields Radiant 4-Piece Kit is $125, which offers a 25% savings over buying the products individually. A travel size kit is available for $65. Products can be purchased at Rodanandfields.com, Nordstrom.com and on QVC

YON-KA
Yon-Ka is a French skin care company that features plant-based skin care products incorporating aromatherapy and marine biology. I must admit that I delved into these products slowly and timidly, because I have had reactions to plant-based products in the past. This time, though, I should have not worried, because these products were gentle and produced great results.

The hardest part of this test was deciding which products to test, as Yon-Ka's product list is very long!

Nettoyant Creme ($30 for 3.5 oz. tube) is a rinse-off cream cleanser which is supposed to be for very sensitive skin. I'm not a big fan of cream cleansers, but this did a fine job of cleaning my face. The fact that it contains peppermint, which I've always considered an irritant but Yon-Ka claims calms irritated skin, may be problematic for some with very sensitive skin, as might the strong lavender scent.

As has become my habit when reviewing skin care products, I always try to find a gel cleanser to test, because gels are what I like best. Yon-Ka's Gel Nettoyant ($30 for 6.8 oz.) ranks right up at the top of my favorites list! Not as thick as a gel, it is more like a liquid-gel. It cleans my face beautifully, including mascara, rinses of easily, and leaves my face smooth and not tight. It has a very light lavender scent - not as strong as the Nettoyant Creme. I really like this product and plan to use it again.

Yon-Ka Creme 83 ($43 for 1.7 oz. tube) is a lightweight day moisturizer intended for sensitive skin. It contains calendula and linden extracts to calm and protect the skin, while its complex of aromatic oils oxygenates and repairs the skin. Used in conjunction with Dermol 3 ($38 for .5 oz.), a serum for sensitive skin, these products help fight dehydration and provide an excellent base for my makeup.

An alternative choice for a moisturizer is Fruitelia PS phyto-fruit moisturizer ($60 for 1.7 oz glass pump bottle) with botanical AHAs and 2% natural glycolics, as well as a complex of vitamins A, E, and F, plus rice bran oil, which is a natural sunscreen, and titanium dioxide, which is a physical sunscreen. This lightweight moisturizer is perfect for daytime use. While I've been wary of using any AHA products on my face for quite a while, this gentle moisturizer did not cause any redness or irritation.

In addition to Fruitelia PS, which acts as a natural sunscreen, Yon-Ka also offers Ultra Protection Age-Free Solar Block with Botanicals and Fruit Extracts SPF 25 which is a super sunscreen, working beautifully under makeup or on its own. At $48 for a 1.7 oz. tube, it SHOULD be great!

For my nighttime Yon-Ka beauty routine, I washed my face with Gel Nettoyant and alternated using Fruitelia PS and Dermol 3 under the recommended nighttime moisturizer, Phyto 58 PS for normal to dry skin ($45 for 1.4 oz. tube). Let me warn you from the beginning that if you don't like the scent of Vicks Vap-o-Rub, you will not like Phyto 58, which has a very strong rosemary menthol scent. (I happen to love the smell, but I'm sure I'm in the minority on this one!) Phyto 58 PS is a therapeutic night cream which contains vitamins A and E, as well as the afore mentioned rosemary essence and extract which is supposed to detoxify, oxygenate and decongest your skin. According to the company blurb, Phyto 58 PS "has both healing (yang) and cooling (ying) qualities" which gives your skin a "detox" program while you sleep. I'm not sure I buy this advertising lingo, but it was a nice night cream and didn't cause any problems.

Yon-Ka offers a large range of products for all skin types and is typically sold in salons and spas. All of the Yon-Ka products I tried worked very well and I'm happy to recommend them. The price of each product, though, is high. You may want to check to see if there is a dealer in your area who has samples for you to try. You can locate your local Yon-Ka beauty center or spa by calling 1-800-533-6276. You can also buy Yon-Ka products online at skinstore.com and skin-one.com.

AHAVA
I was fortunate to have spent a week in Israel in February. Ahava is a popular Israeli skincare line made from Dead Sea minerals, and you see Ahava sold at what seems like every other storefront in Israel! Ahava's scientists have researched the benefits of the minerals found in the Dead Sea and combined the best of the minerals, muds and desert plants found in the region. The resulting product is a concentrated extract produced from the waters of the Dead Sea by using a natural evaporation process to produce the Mineral Skin Osmoter™, based on osmosis, which replenishes moisture and helps maintain the natural balance of the skin. The Ahava products target oily skin, regular to dry skin, very dry skin, all skin types, sensitive skin, as well as a new Time-Line range targeted to those in their 30s and 40s to help prevent the ravages of aging (I wanted to try this group, as it is new, but the dealer I was working with told me I was too old!). Most of the products are formulated for more than one skin type.

Despite the abundance of Ahava vendors in Jersualem, I was directed by a friend, whom I must note has exquisite skin, to a small shop near the old city in Jerusalem, where the owner looked over my face and pulled out the products he thought I needed. Of course, being who I am, I bought some other products, too, and will tell you about all of them.

For starters, Ahava offers three cleansers, all of which I have tried. Cleansing Milk for Normal to Dry Skin ($24 for 8.5 oz. pump bottle) is the first creamy cleanser that I've found that actually works better for me than my usual gel. Lightly scented, it washes off completely, unlike many other cream cleansers I have tried. Deep Cleanser ($20 for 3.4 oz. tube) is a lighter weight, but more heavy duty, cleanser that does a wonderful job of removing makeup. You can also use the Deep Cleanser as a mask 1-2 times a week by leaving it on for several minutes and then rinsing. Both of the afore mentioned cream cleansers remove mascara beautifully, but I also tried and like the Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover ($18 for a 6.8 oz plastic squeeze bottle). I keep a tube of their Mud Exfoliator ($24 for 3.4 oz.) in the shower and I use it 1-2 times a week. The grit is very fine and it is completely non-irritating.

For those of you with oilier skin, or who need something stronger for summer heat, try the Purifying Gel for Oily Skin ($28 for 4.2 oz.).

For my daytime regime, after washing my face with either Cleansing Milk for Normal to Dry Skin or Deep Cleanser, I apply Mineral Toning Water for Normal to Dry Skin ($21 for 8.5 oz.), an alcohol-free toner which balances the PH level of my skin. I then use Mineral Beauty Serum for very dry skin ($60 for 1 oz. pump), followed by Smoothing Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin ($40 for 1.7 oz.) and Time-Line Age-Defying Eye Treat ($35 for a .5 oz. tube), a very light and non-greasy gel-based eye cream.

For my nighttime routine, everything is the same, except that after applying a couple of drops of the Mineral Beauty Serum, I use Skin Replenisher for Very Dry Skin ($48 for 1.7 oz. jar) and Mineral Eye Cream for All Skin Types ($40 for 1 oz.). Both of these heavier creams do a great job of moisturizing without feeling too greasy.

Initially, the reason I wanted to visit Ahava was to buy some of their foot cream, which I've always thought to be one of the best moisturizing foot creams on the market. At the time we were on the trip, my hands were suffering from the ravages of winter and I had several split fingers. I was told to forget about hand cream and use Ahava Foot Cream ($16 for 3.4 oz tube) on my hands instead! That was one of the best suggestions for my dry skin I've ever received! I've been using this regularly on my hands and feet since we returned and they have never looked better!

Also, I've been using Ahava's Dermud Dry Skin Treatment Intensive Nourishing Body Cream ($30 for 6.8 oz.) and Ahava's Dermud Soothing Body Milk ($28 for 8.4 oz.), both of which are extremely soothing and very lightly scented. They done a great job helping me fight my post-winter dry, itchy and flaky skin.

Ahava is now my skincare regime of choice. It's straight forward, simple to use and makes my skin look and feel great! I highly recommend it!

Ahava products can be found at drugstore.com. I have quoted retail prices, but there are also several sites online that discount and you can find them easily by doing an online search for Ahava. If you happen to be in Jerusalem, visit the Dead Sea Gallery, 17 Jaffa Rd. at the corner of King Shlomo Street. They ship mail orders overseas. Email dsgahava.netvision.net.il for prices and postage rates.

Happy Shopping!

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Posted April 17, 2005

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