Summer Skin Essentials

By Kate Riley July 21, 2010

I know this is a DIY/decorating blog, and y’all know I never get tired of talking about fabric and paint swatches, but sometimes a gal just needs a little mid week girl talk.

Today, I feel like talking about summer skin essentials.  Even though around these parts, we talk plenty of decorating and home improvement, I often digress.  Today’s topic happens to be favorite skin care products for protection, coverage, and subtle glow.   Ooooh, cosmetics, I can hear you giggling !!

la roche ultra light sunscreen

Let’s pretend we’re all out to lunch together drinking iced tea, gabbing about our favorite things, loving each other’s shoes, and giving each other the down low on beauty products.  Glad you could join us girlfriend ! 

There’s an ongoing debate about the sun’s rays, its dangers and benefits (Vitamin D), but the overwhelming consensus is we are all supposed to avoid extended sun exposure. 

For face every morning, I use La Roche Posay’s Anthelios SPF 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid and I buy it at my local CVS Pharmacy.   It’s very thin, fragrance free, and has matte finish, and that just makes me happy.



sunforgettableIn the afternoons, or when I’m outside, I use Colorscience Sunforgettable mineral sun protection and I love it.  It’s pricey at $50 a tube, but worth it since it avoids the often greasy feeling of lotion sunscreens, and for me, lasts all summer. 

It has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to intercept ultraviolet rays ~ I carry it around in my purse and dust it on throughout the day.  Definitely a fav. 




swirl snip


I gave up liquid foundation years ago, but my go to product for concealing is Benefit’s Play Stick, and for overall coverage, Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer.  If I leave the house, I dab a little on my face.  I’ve used both for years and haven’t found anything better for my skin.   

   benefit stick and laura mercier



philosophy peptide capsulesMy necessary splurge is Philosophy’s Replenishing Peptide Capsules.  This skin primer makes my face feel like a baby’s bottom, and look 28 again.  (Hey, I can fantasize.) 

It is too expensive for daily use, so I hide these little treasures in the darkest recess of my supply cabinet, and they only come out for date nights and special outings.  I really can’t smooch this product enough.     




bobbi brown shimmer brick compact

For shimmer, I dream of skin as glowing as J. Lo  but because of my Irish heritage, this is a near impossible challenge.  I have to be careful I don’t go too Jerseylicious, so I use the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact

It’s lasted me a long time, over a year, but oh dear, should I throw it out by now?  I keep forgetting those pesky date rules on cosmetics.   



    swirl snip

     mario shimmer lotion     



My most recent find is Mario Badescu’s Shimmer Shine Body Lotion.  It adds a subtle all over body glow.  It is enriched with Vitamin A, and smells a hint like Hawaii, so I’m totally sold. 

Speaking of Mario, I’m lately loving his Caviar Night Cream for around the eyes ~ it reminds me of Creme de la Mer but without the hefty price tag.  I’m convinced it’s keeping crow’s feet at bay. 




For lips, I’ve been buying Burt’s Bee’s Lip Shimmer in ‘Raisin’, also available at the CVS Pharmacy.    

 burts bees lip shimmer


I don’t dare cross the threshold of Sephora more than twice a year, that place is extremely dangerous.  There should be a huge warning sign on the door. 

So tell me gals, am I missing out on the latest and greatest ?   What’s your favorite summer skin product that you can’t live without?  


Disclaimer: there are no affiliate links or promos going on here, no one has sent me free samples, and none of these companies know or care who I am.  This is just the pretty stuff I like to buy with my own spare change. 






  1. when we get together my girlfriends always talk about the latest and greatest and I always feel absolutely loss. I always think that I should take better care of my skin but never do. One of these days.

  2. Okay I so needed a little girl time!! Actually thanks for this as I am always looking for a great beauty tip and it helps knowing someone else has tried something and it works!!! Thanks for the little side trip!

  3. It is nothing special, but I use Purpose lotion by Johnson & Johnson everyday. It is lightweight, non-greasy, and has an SPF 15 in it. I swear by that stuff!

  4. I usually have a hard time with fake tanners but found a nice one this year at our local Kroger’s store. It’s there brand & called Kroger Summer Glow Daily Lotion (Medium). It smells fresh & leaves a nice golden color. Love the post today & your blog! Karen

  5. I too love the color science powder sunscreen. Always use that on my kids faces when swimming. Peter Thomas Roth has a version as well and it’s only around $30 and I think it works just as well. LOVE the philosophy capsules. I use the retin A ones at night too. often has 20% off, so sign up for their emails. Have been meaning to try the Laura Mercier tinted sunscreen…think I will now!

  6. I think its hilarious that the replenishing peptide capsules are called “When Hope Isn’t Enough.” Creative.

  7. Hi Kate,
    I gave up liquid foundation, too; I recently tried Bare Essentials mineral foundation, and I like it a lot. It doesn’t feel like I’m wearing any foundation, it has 15 spf, and it definitely evens out my skin tone. I think I’ll try the Bert’s Bees lip balm that you mention…

  8. if i’m understanding you correctly, in the AM you use one sunscreen product and then in the PM you use another? (the la roche in the AM and the colorscience in PM). do you wash your face between application?

  9. Oh, man. You made all of these sound so amazing, I may have to try ALL of them.

    The powder can be used INSTEAD of lotion? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

  10. I just picked this up at Sephora last weekend (one of my bi-annual trips), and I LOVE it! no more dry/chapped lips for me. I also just cleaned out my ginormous makeup bag since I haven’t purchased new makeup in over a year – everything was out of date.

    From Sephora’s website:
    Sugar Plum Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15
    What it does:
    Fresh Sugar Plum Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 offers sheer coverage or buildable color and is the perfect partner to the best-selling Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15. It’s formulated with sugar, a natural humectant that prevents moisture loss, and a superior blend of nourishing oils and protective waxes to soften and smooth dry lips. Antioxidant-rich vitamins also work to defend against wrinkle-causing free radicals. It also provides essential year-round protection from damaging UV rays with SPF 15.

  11. “Jerseylicious.” I love it!! We just got a Sephora, and when I can get away without two little ones, I plan on making a major visit. I need a revamp of my foundation….

  12. The Clairisonic changes lives!!!! My good friend works at one of the highest end department stores and gets every beauty freebie imaginable, $1500 creams, serums and capsules. She said if she could have one beauty product it would be the clarisonic cleanser. It costs around $200 but all you need to do is replace the brush heads every 3-months for about $15 each. I have one myself and swear by it.

  13. I use Bare Minerals “Well Rested” to cover up EVERYTHING from the weird blue undereye veins I have to big honkin zits. I wish they sold that stuff in gallon sized jars. LOVE IT!

    For hair I started using Wen Sweet Almond Mint a few months ago. There’s definitely a learning curve to using it because it is n o t h i n g like regular shampoo and conditioner. I only wash my hair once or twice a week because it’s pretty long and takes *forever* to style. Before I used Wen I would have to wake up extra early every morning to touch up my hair because it would get wrecked while I slept on it at night. Now I can go a full week before I need to wash or do any sort of touch up. I splurged on the gallon size (which is NOT cheap) but figured that with 1 or 2 washes per week the gallon should last at least a year.

  14. As a CHEAP alternative to the Peptide Capsules for priming or softening your skin, give some lemon juice a try. I put it on at night before I go to bed. It helps clear up any break outs FAST and leaves you with baby soft skin when you wake up in the morning. It’s fantastic!

  15. Ooohh…new products to try! I have sensitive skin, so I try to stay away from harsh cleansers/heavy creams. I use Cetaphil cleansers and moisturizers with sunscreen. I LOVE all my Laura Mercier products!!! And, Burt’s Bees lip products are the best.

  16. Ok sister – you’d better believe I’m printing this post and keeping it by my nightstand or something. I’m getting me some of that eye caviar or whatever it’s called. Thanks so much for sharing! Whatever you’re doing is working for ya :).

  17. Oh my gosh Kate, this couldnt’ have come at a better time. I have been weighing the pros and cons of buying La Mer night creme and I needed something great but with a smaller price tag. I took your advice and ordered some Mario Badescu and I can’t wait for it to get here. I love a good night creme and my skin could really use some help right now. I really love Purpose products (found at Target, Walgreens, etc). They are affordable ($6-$8ish) and really gentle and hypoallergenic. I buy the liquid face wash 3 or 4 at a time. It removes makeup like a dream and never bothers my eyes. Clinique still has the best mascara in my opinion and also doesn’t ever bother my sensitive eyes. Thanks again for the information Kate! Have a beautiful day.

  18. I will have to check out some of your favorites! I am particularly interested in trying out the Sunscreen you recommended.

    For cleaning my face, I always use Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser and exfoliate my skin with a Salux Nylon Japanese bath towel/wash cloth… that is where the magic happens – getting rid of the dead skin.

    When I am done, I use Neutrogena’s alcohol free toner and apply it with cotton balls, to further clean up any residue.

    I follow up with Rhonda Allison’s Grape Seed Moisture Gel. I have a friend that is an aesthetician and does my facials and she got me hooked on this one, as well as the Salux wash cloth!

    And finally, after the moisture gel has been absorbed, I finish with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock, SPF 70.

    In the summer, I often only wear make-up maybe twice a week at the most… I am just too lazy to put it on!

  19. Clinique makes this great product that I love!! It is a tinted moisturizer with 25SPF. It is lightweight, not greasy at all and goes great as a base. I dont mess with foundation either but like to use a little bronzer so I just dust that over the moisture sheet tint once it dries. I dont use it everyday but on days when I know I am going to be in the sun it is a great product that adds protection and a pretty color!

  20. Sigh. Ok, gals, you’re making me feel guilty. I’m 29…so I really should start using some of these creams and things. I’m very fair and already use sunscreen religiously. :)

    Thanks for the info, Kate.

  21. hi there. fun post. i LOVE LaRoche Posay. After a time in the hair biz, i am highly suspicious of buying “A” brands in pharmacies. According to our hair care distributor, you can count on a normally expensive brand in a pharmacy – even Target – being a fake. I know, it stunned me too. But they were adament. So, I buy the salon-only stuff in the salons. I believe that LaRoche-Posay falls into this category.

    That said – LR-P has the best cleanser. It is especially effective in the summer. It’s called Biomedic Purifying Cleanser. My doc recommended applying it and letting it dry and the scrubbing it off with a damp wash cloth.

    I also use a bronzer. Funny, it looks exactly like the Bobbi Brown block you have, but its a pharmacy item: Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips in Riviera. At $15 its a bit of savings over the BB.

    And finally, I use an undereye coverup by Benefit called Erase Paste which i got at Sephora. It works great, but i would love a budget alternative if anyone has a suggestion.

  22. I believe in vitamin D! I have a good tan right now with plenty of freckles… but it’s a “runners tan” and only goes half way up my thighs. I tried self-tanning with a Jergens product, but I swear it made my legs feel hot (no innuendos!).

    My best secret: Infusium liquid leave-in hair treatment. Rub it into your skin right after a shower. Its a cheap humectant which will make any moisturizer you use more effective. It isn’t sticky and leaves no residue.

  23. The best summer beauty product I know, I found last year at the Smash Box counter. It is called Anti-shine and comes in a 1oz tube that will last forever. Just a dab will do ya! You rub it into those areas of your face that get a little too “glowy” in the heat. It’s amazing, no little persperation beads. You can apply it under make-up or over it. I used it on a friend for her wedding on the hottest day of the summer and she looked great all day, the groom was not as well prepared. I also love mineral make-up, but I find with my sensitive skin that some minerals cause breakouts. This could be because a lot of company’s use a lot of fillers such as talc. Mac makeup does not and I love their mineral products. Give them a try if you are having trouble with other ones.

  24. I love the new Neutrogena Sports Face Wash. After a good morning run, I wash my face and feel it tingle. (I also love Burt’s Bees, but I’m into the Peony shade right now. It used to be Champagne and Radiance, as I am very fair complected. I have never stepped foot in Sephora.)

  25. I love Aveda’s products, the Outer Peace cleanser gets my skin squeaky clean, soft and smelling awesome. I also use their toner, again, love it-and my husband loves the smell-always a bonus! During the day I always sunscreen up with LaRoche Posay Anthelios SX for my face, and Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion for my body-it’s not sticky and doesn’t smell like you’re going to the pool. At night I use the same face wash and toner but add a night cream, either LaRoche Posay Derm Aox or Garnier Nutrisse Skin Renew, another good product for sensitive skin and helps repair any damage. Thanks for the tips, always nice to see what people are using! *Amy

  26. First, I don’t think I have ever commented on this blog… But, I read it religiously and have sent links to multiple friends that are DIY freaks (like me).
    I <3 CG.
    Anyway, I've sworn by Clinique sheer lipstick in black honey for nearly 20 years now. It's the best, far and away. It's great for day or night, looks natural on everyone and every skin tone (even my pasty German-Irish skin), is great quality and under $15.
    I also keep rose salve in my purse at all times… It works great as a lipgloss over lipstick, impromptu moisturizer on a dry spot in a pinch and even my husband will use it in the winter on his dry lips and knuckles.

  27. OOh i swear by Anthelios! I work at CVS and they brain wash us to sell sell sell anthelios lol but i have used every single one of their sunscreens and they really do work [especially for me cos i have sun allergies]

  28. Fascinating. I’ve been trying to divert dollars away from my appearance and into my home, but there’s only so long a girl can do that for!
    I have also heard good things about Bare Escentuals and always think the Benefit catalog looks wonderful, too.
    Thank you also, for the tweet!

  29. Ah, yes… Creme de la Mer. I lurve that stuff and used it all the time back in the day , pre-marriage, pre-mortgage and pre-babies. Now, all my extra coin goes to grown-up stuff. ;-)

    I do still splurge for good products, though, and have had great luck with Juice Beauty, a Bay Area company. My current fav is the Green Apple Antioxidant Serum. Within a couple weeks of adding it to my regimen, I totally noticed my face was much smoother and healthy. A tad spendy at $52, but totally worth it IMO.

  30. Great recommendations! I have tried so many products on the market and truly believe in simplying the whole beauty routine. No more do I believe you have to spend a fortune on good products. I prefer getting something that’s comparable to high end products but at least know that I don’t have to shell out big bucks when it comes time to replenish. I also believe in changing things up b/c sometimes what might have worked 6 months ago, might not work now. anyway, that said, since i’m such a skin freak i’ve always been on the lookout for a good exfoliater. I came across the Baiden Mitten which is amazing in getting your skin smooth. at the end of the day, i don’t care much for makeup. instead i want to have a fresh natural and healthy look. god knows as a mom, my skin can look tired and dull most of the time. but trust me, this is a must have! check them out…

  31. Hi Kate-

    I am a skin care junkie ever since I was a kid perusing the skin care aisles at my local pharmacy. Back then I was looking for teenage skin products – now it is all about sunscreen and wrinkle prevention! Sephora is my all time favorite place to go, but like you mentioned – dangerous! Last week I was checking out some new Christian Dior products – for 3, cleanser, moisturizer, and eye creme a mere $900. I came home with some samples. My can’t live without products are Dr. Denese’s HydroShield Ultra Moisturinzing Face Serum, my Claisonic, and Palmer’s cocoa ButterSwivel Stick for dry skin and lips.
    Fun post. I enjoyed reading all the comments.
    My best- Diane

  32. I looooove Frederic Fekkai’s Tecnician shampoo & conditioner for color treated hair. I don’t color, but the smell is divine! First time I used it, my 9-year-old son said “Mommy, your hair smells like a piece of heaven!”

  33. My name is Paula, and I’m a skin care / body product junkie! :) I’m blessed with great genes and could use soap and water on my skin and look fine. However, I’ve used really good products my entire life and attribute that in addition to genetics to looking younger than I am.

    I love, love, love all things philosophy. However, I buy 99.9% of it via QVC because they sell ginormous sizes that you can’t get elsewhere (it’s not always on their site, sometimes you can only get it when philosophy is on air).

    Sephora – aahhh, the angels sing and puppies and kittens scamper about! The biggest Sephora in the U.S. is in Las Vegas. I go to Vegas the first week of December every year and even though I live within spitting distance of 3 Sephora’s, I make a bee-line to the Vegas store. Pure nirvana.

    The only thing better than Sephora, to me, is a BareEscentuals boutique, because they’re styled so nicely and look so pretty. All of the products are displayed on glass cake pedestals. The minerals/makeup is “fluffed” each time someone touches it so that it always looks perfect. I buy most of BE on QVC as well, because they sell monster sizes that you can’t get elsewhere.

    Wow, this post is also supersize! :/

  34. Oooh, after all that rambling I forgot this – you MUST get a Clarisonic! LOVE~LOVE~LOVE this and can’t imagine how I lived without it for so long! My skin is so much smoother and softer. Even my husband uses it. :)

    I forgot to mention; I used Kinerase for about 8 months, per a friend who’s a plastc surgeon. It’s pricey and didn’t do anything for me. I’ve also use Olay Regenerist and LOVE it.

  35. Kate, what a great post! I’m bookmarking it so I can read all the comments. What a funny name for a product…when hope is not enough. LOL Is it worth the expense…I saw it was $50 at Sephora…ouch! If you tell me it is worth it, I just might have to go for it. :-)

  36. Have you ever tried any Arbonne products? They are AMAZING . . . they make my skin look and feel ten years younger . . . really. (and I’m not getting paid to say that either . . . I don’t sell it, I just use it) :)
    Thanks for this post . . . I want to try that powder sunscreen. I have never heard of it before, but I bet it sure feels a lot better than my kids’ Banana Boat gunk I smear on my face when I’m desperate.

  37. If you live near an Aldi grocery store (yes, the discount one), they have a fabulous line of skin care products under the name of Lacura. I was tipped off about this from a friend in the cosmetics biz. Not only are their products CHEAP ($3.99-$5.99) but they are incredible. Here is a link to some rave reviews where they are compared to high-end products. They fly off the shelves in Europe, too. (The make-up is not so great, so stick with the skin care.)

  38. There’s something called “Croc Bloc”, which my mother received samples of at some trade show in the States, but we can’t find it here in Canada. It’s little towelettes with light sunblock in, so you can do your face or touch-ups easily. She’s been dying to find it again!

  39. I think Burts’ Bees’ products are wonderful and recommend them to everyone.
    The Res-Q ointment is in my purse and in the kitchen “drawer” [you know the one].
    As I spend a lot of time gardening, sewing and more so since I hit 49 [yuck] it seems I really need to pay attention to my skin being dry and scratching easily, …aging and i are struggling. Not to!

  40. Not to be a buzz kill, but you should really check your sunscreen choices against the Environmental Working Group list — — there are many issues with SPF, harmful chemicals, etc. used in American sunscreen. Be beautiful, but be safe.

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