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report by Lisa of the Cosmetic Connection Product Panel

Greetings fellow cosmetic junkies! I am happy to present the first in a series of reviews that will focus on what I'd like to call "30+ beauty," since I happened to turn thirty last December :) I have noticed that as I age, changes have occurred in my skin and hair that require some additions (and subtractions) to my beauty routine. As a result, I have been testing different products to address those new issues as they crop up and demand to be noticed. I have been slathering, dabbing, and sloughing through my share of products, looking for products which are simple to use, and provide some good, notable results. As always, I love to hear your thoughts and input about products and body care, so if you have some ideas, please email me.

Before we go any further, I'd like to get this particular issue on table right away. I am completely in favor of growing older gracefully and peacefully, and not trying to grasp onto some unrealistic, homogenized ideal of beauty perpetuated by our youth-obsessed media. No beauty product on the market will magically turn back the hands of time, and really honey, you shouldn't want it to. Remember this: anyone who tells you differently is either a marketing executive with ulterior motives (very likely), or an eternal, naïve optimist. I mean, honestly, those little crinkles and lines are the result of lots of living and laughing, and I, personally, would not change a bit of it. For the record, I find it astoundingly creepy that women choose to have their skin cut and pulled, have pieces removed, or have a toxic substance injected into their face with the aim of stripping the years away. I enjoy some aspects of artifice, to be sure, but in my heart of hearts, I'm a nature-girl who APPRECIATES the character our face takes on as we age.

If you don't believe me, take it from the host of legendary older beauties from past and present, the ranks of which include the likes of Jean Moreau, Catherine Deaneuve, Tina Turner, Lauren Bacall, Lena Horne, Lauren Hutton, Judi Dench, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Yeough, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Sonia Braga, Susan Sarandon, our first lady of rock and roll, Madonna, and all the others too numerous to mention here. Just try this - instead of pining about how to change what you've got, be a revolutionary and accept the transformations your body gives you with a sense of humor, and temper it with the knowledge of style you've gleaned over the years, and you should do just fine. Age should be celebrated, not tolerated, so pop the champagne, and read on.

With that being said, one of the first changes I've noticed in my own face is in the skin around the eyes. That delicate tissue has become noticeably drier, and there are some fine lines that become more prominent as a result. Consequently, eye cream has crossed over from being merely a preventative treatment, to becoming a daily necessity. I tried four different eye creams to address my own problems of dryness, puffiness, and dark circles: Neutrogena Visibly Firm, Lubriderm Skin Renewal Anti-Wrinkle, Yonka Phyto-Contour, and Shiseido Bio-Performance Super Eye Contour Cream. Here's what I found.

Lately, I've read a bit here and there about the affect of applying copper externally to the skin to deeply moisturize and restore some measure of elasticity. The group at Neutrogena has patented an additive called "Active Copper," which is one of the key ingredients in their Visibly Firm line of moisturizers and makeup. Some research has suggested that as we grow older, we lose some of the copper present in our skin. This research also suggests that copper applied epidermally reinforces the skin, and should also (theoretically) restore some elasticity and firmness. Certainly, skin is porous and will absorb what is applied to it, to some degree, but I haven't seen the research, so I can't comment on that aspect.

I did find that, after using this cream for about 3 weeks, I personally didn't notice any drastic changes in overall firmness or elasticity. What I did get from this cream, however, was very nicely moisturized skin. This lightweight, non-greasy formula absorbed quickly, and really moisturized the skin, making my fine lines less noticeable. Visibly Firm eyecream contains no fragrance, so I suspect that even the most sensitive of eyes (like mine) should have no problems with reactivity. However, the one thing I felt was a bit out of line was the price. This is a drugstore brand, and $20 for .5 oz. is pricey for what you get, in my opinion. However, since many high-end brands start at $30, it's definitely relative. All in all, a good, basic eye cream, but nothing really extraordinary.

Next on the list, I moved on to another drugstore variety from Lubriderm. Their Skin Renewal line utilizes a "poly-hydroxy" acid formula that promises to diminish the appearance of fine lines and moisturize, all without irritating skin. I also thought that the price-point was attractive - about $12 for .5 oz. seems very reasonable for a drugstore line. As far as the cream's texture goes, this formula is just a bit thicker than I normally like for daytime. But, my skin tends to get irritated when over-moisturized, so if your skin is drier, it might work just fine for you. Consequently, I chose to use this eyecream only at night (I used an old standby, Avon Lighten Up Plus, during the day).

While the "feel" of this cream is really nothing to write home about (the Neutrogena formula was definitely superior in that regard), I was pleasantly surprised with the obvious results in my skin. After just two weeks of use, once a day, I noticed that the skin around my eyes appeared much softer and smoother. My concealer applied more evenly and smoothly than before using the cream, which was definitely a nice bonus. While the hydroxy acids in this eyecream were indeed enough to plump up my fine lines, they didn't irritate my skin in the least. A nice, effective formula for product aficionados who need to keep their cosmetic spending limited :)

Third on my test-list is the fabulous Phyto-Contour formula from French skin care wizard, Yonka. Like many French companies, Yonka likes to use natural oils and extracts in their formulas. However, I do feel compelled to say straight off that the scent aspect of this cream is very pronounced. The formula uses a rosemary extract, reputedly to reduce puffiness and discoloration, and boy howdy, you can smell every bit of it. In fact, as we went to bed in the evening, my fiance commented on how "fiercely fresh" my skin smelled; not unpleasant, mind you, but definitely noticeable. Since herbal fragrances don't normally bother me, I didn't have any problems using this eyecream, but if you are extremely sensitive to scents on or around your face, this formula probably isn't a good choice for you. If you (or your partner, for that matter) find the smell too invigorating at night (don't laugh, it really is a refreshing smell!), just use it in the morning.

As far as performance goes, Phyto-Contour cream is such a lovely formula - silky and greaseless, it slides right into skin without leaving any greasy residue. And, while I only noticed only a marginal decrease in the darkness around my eyes (it is one of those traits deeply influenced by heredity, and my mom struggles with exactly the same problem), I did see a marked decrease in puffiness, as well as those odd, little "chicken-skin" bumps that can show up in the eye area. My skin looked and felt moisturized, and the rosemary extract added a cooling action that felt very refreshing. The price is even reasonable for a high-end brand: about $33 for a .5 oz tube.

You can find Yonka products at Bliss Spa's newly-renovated website, Blissworld.com.

In the case of these reviews, I left the best for last. I managed to get my hands on a bottle of Bio Performance Super Eye Contour Cream from the elusive Japanese line, Shiseido. I read the insert that came with the bottle, which was longer than most prescription inserts I've seen in my life, and was intrigued by the claims, supported by numerous graphs and charts. Bio-Performance was developed expressly to address the concerns of aging skins: increased melanin production (which can make skin look dark and shadowy), lack of moisture, build up of "horny" cells on skins epidermal layer (from sluggish exfoliation), and decreased circulation. Whew. All very Scientific stuff, but I was skeptical, as I usually am when claims seem overly lofty.

Well, I'm not ashamed to admit when I'm wrong.

Seriously, I was totally amazed by the feel and performance of this eyecream. The formula is incomparably satiny, rich, and moisturizing, yet it didn't leave even a trace of grease under my eyes after it absorbed. As I applied the cream, I watched the darkness under my eyes diminish a bit in mere moments (seriously, and that's never happened with anything else I've tried) and everything looked noticeably tighter, and more bright, overall. Yep, this little beauty from Shiseido is a real find - definitely one of the best eyecreams I have ever used.

Of course, every rose has it thorns, and in this case, it's the price. This .5 oz tube is around $55, which certainly ain't cheap, by any means. But, if you can afford this little splurge, I think it is well-worth the price, especially if your eyes are a problem area, like mine tend to be. Log onto Shiseido.com to locate Shiseido products in your area.

And that, dear readers, winds up my reviews of eyecreams for the 30+ set. All in all, a nice bunch of products, which run the gamut from fairly to very effective, and come in a variety of price ranges. If your own eyes are in need of a little special attention, in addition to the aforementioned creams and treatments, remember these tried and true rules. Get plenty of rest (on your back, if possible, as it tends to help alleviate puffiness), drink lots of fluids, and purchase a hepa-type air filter for use in your bedroom to diminish the effects of environmental allergies on eyes; these things all help your eyes from the inside. Just remember, they say that the eyes are the first to go, so do what you can to prove them wrong!



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