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July 11, 1997

With summer finally in full swing, many of us have a whole host of new beauty concerns like frizzy hair, clogged and stressed skin, and sun damage, all thanks to humidity, scorching sun, and endless outdoor activities. This week, a look at a few products that offer some relief!

Even testing new products as often as I do hasn't stopped me from becoming brand loyal from time to time. If it works, why change, right? I've been using Aveda hair care products for years after trying a friend's Rosemary Mint conditioner in college and loving it. Lately, though, my hair hasn't been responding as well and it's still just as dry and frizzy as ever. I decided to stray and try KMS Haircare, another salon brand that is easier to find and a bit less expensive. I started with their Moisturizing Shampoo ($6 for 8 ounces) and Silker Reconstructor ($8 for 8 ounces), and now I think I have a new brand!

The Moisturizing Shampoo left my hair clean, soft, and actually comb-able, then adding the Silker Reconstructor made all the difference. This daily detangling conditioner made my hair soft and touchable again without weighing it down. To add a little control and soften those frizzies, I finished with Flat Out Relaxing Balm ($17 for 6 ounces) and was amazed at how well it worked. Just working a little through my towel-dried hair made it instantly straighter. I didn't have to tug at it with a brush as I dried it to keep it straight, and the final style was smooth and soft, not stiff or sticky. If you have wavy or even curly hair that you'd like to try straighter, this is one straightening balm that actually works.

For my often summer stressed skin, I turned to a few samples I got recently of ~H2O+ alpha hydroxy Smoothing Facial Cleanser and Smoothing Face and Body Wash (scrub). Both are water-based and contain a combination of fruit acids like lactic, malic, and glycolic that are supposed to help exfoliate the skin and keep it looking fresh. I liked the Face and Body Wash scrub very much - very gentle beads in a gel cleanser leave the skin feeling fresh and clean. I wasn't that crazy about the Smoothing Facial Cleanser for two reasons - because of the fruit acids, you can't get this cleanser even close to your eyes, yet those same fruit acids just get washed down the drain when you rinse the cleanser off, so it never has time to exfoliate. The risk of getting it in your eyes is much greater than any exfoliating benefits you'll see from the AHAs; they just aren't on the skin long enough to work. On top of that, the cleanser itself left a greasy film on my skin that felt like I still had makeup on. I'll be sticking to a regular rinse-off cleanser, thank you!

For an exfoliating and wrinkle-reducing treatment that really does work, Avon's Anew Retinol Recovery Complex ($17.50) is definitely worth trying, especially if you have sun damaged skin, lots of fine lines, or even deep wrinkles. Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, works to gently exfoliate dead and damaged skin cells, replacing them with fresh, new cells. This sloughing action can make wrinkles less severe and reduce splotchiness, age spots, and sun damage.

My main objective in using the Retinol Recovery Complex was to reduce some of the redness I've had in my cheeks from living under the Florida sun for four years. After using it every night for just over 2 months, my skin felt smooth and actually looked less ruddy. This lightweight cream penetrates very quickly and is light enough that you can use your regular moisturizer over it if necessary. While the major benefits are definitely more long term, if you have sun damage or noticeable wrinkles that bother you, this cream might just give you the results you are looking for.

Since sensitive skin can happen at any time of year, at any age, for any number of reasons, I'm always on the lookout for any treatment that may offer some relief. For me and many other Cosmetic Connection readers who have emailed me, sensitive skin often means patchy redness, tiny bumps, or itchy skin that just won't go away. While taking advantage of a Clarins Skin Care Center free mini-facial a few weeks ago, I decided to try their Skin Beauty Repair fluid for sensitive skin ($42 for .5 ounce) to see if it would help.

Applied every night after cleansing and toning, its combination of essential plant oils is supposed to calm, soothe, and normalize sensitive skin. While my skin did soak up the oils for the first few nights, after any dryness was relieved, I experienced small breakouts around my chin and mouth. Not the effect I was looking for. I want to believe that essential oils like these can be beneficial to the skin, but finding the right combination of oils for your skin is time consuming and completely trial and error. Maybe this blend from Clarins will work for you (but at $42 for such a tiny bottle, it's really overpriced for what you get), but I returned mine!

If there's one thing I always try to remember about cosmetics and skin care, it's that it should be fun. Why put yourself through all that work to look your best if it's not at least a little enjoyable, right? In the spirit of cosmetic fun, BeneFit Cosmetics will be featuring this October and November at participating BeneFit locations cosmetic fortune cookies called "Beauty Wise Cracks". Inside each tasty cookie is a hilarious beauty tidbit like "How to pick the right lipstick: if he hates it, it's perfect!" You can get a free cookie at BeneFit locations (you have to wait until October, though), or order a Chinese-takeout-style box of 8 for just $4 from the BeneFit catalog (1-800-781-2336). Very fun!

The Makeup Diva is In! Nothing seems to make acne blemishes go away forever, but wouldn't it be nice if we had some decent fighting tools? This week, Miss Diva reveals her personal secret weapons to make your skin a more pimple-free zone. Don't miss it!