living a well tended life... at any age

about face, part one: skin care

After almost 20 years as a make-up artist (13 with a major cosmetic line, the last 5 with the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” program), I’ve learned a thing or two. So I’m really excited to share with you some of my favorite tips – tips that you can easily fold into your busy day, to help you maintain and enhance the skin you’re in.

Let’s start with skin care, and the two most important things you need to know:

Use sunscreen.

If I could say this 100 1,000 a million times in this post I would: regular use of sunscreen – every day, starting right now – is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do for your skin.

And it’s not just a vanity thing, although sun damage is the leading contributor to lines and wrinkles. Shielding yourself from the sun’s harmful rays also significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer. We typically think of using sunscreen during vacation, summertime and outdoor activities. But you are vulnerable year round – on overcast days, in your car and even during winter. So the best way to ensure that you are protected is to incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine.

For me, this means using a foundation that contains sunscreen. But a moisturizer with SPF (minimum 15, please) does the job too. If you go the moisturizer route, just be sure to use a different cream at night (when you don’t want or need sunscreen on your face). And don’t neglect the eye area, as it’s typically the first to show signs of aging. I like this stick:

photo credit: Clinique

but there are many to choose from.

As for how high an SPF you need, the jury is still out. There has been much debate recently about the efficacy of anything higher than SPF 50, and I tend to agree. This article explains some of the new rules about sunscreen claims. I try to stay in the 30-45 SPF range for my face and neck.

So are we clear here?
Use sunscreen.
With an SPF 15 or higher.
Every day.
Starting today.

Embrace exfoliation.

Exfoliation refers to the removal of dead skin – and it has several important benefits:

1. Better penetration/performance of your skin care products. When you apply moisturizer over dead skin, it can’t effectively penetrate. By sweeping away that top layer of dead skin you’ll experience better results from all of your skin care products, and you’ll need less product too.

2. Smoother application/finish of your make-up. If you’ve ever put on foundation and wondered why your skin actually looked worse, and not better, it’s probably due to lack of exfoliation. Foundation will “grab” and collect on dry, dead skin, resulting in a blotchy, uneven finish.

3. Improved appearance of your complexion. Simply put, a skin that is smooth and glowing  looks far more attractive than one that is dry and dull. Exfoliation revs up circulation, removes dry, dead skin and leaves it looking polished and more youthful. While nothing – not a cream, serum or lotion – can remove  or erase a wrinkle, dead skin has a way of collecting in fine tiny lines, making them look more pronounced.

There are a few different ways to exfoliate. The most gentle is with a lotion or toner. Used twice a day after washing your face, it sweeps away any surface dead skin. And you can even make your own! Rebecca of The Daily Muse has a great DIY toner that you can find on the equally great Design Mom blog.

Next is an exfoliating cream, which penetrates the skin, getting to those dead layers lodged beneath the surface.

Finally, there are exfoliating scrubs. The grains in these products polish the skin, smoothing out rough patches. The grains can be natural or man-made – I prefer the latter, as the artifcial grains tend to be smoother and more uniform, making them less abrasive.

So there you have it – my two most important skin-care tips.

I’m sure you’re wondering why moisturizer is not mentioned here. In my opinion, women rely way too much on moisturizer as their “do-it-all” cream. If you have dry skin, by all means use a moisturizer to give it comfort – and nothing more. It can be a fancy one from the department store, or an inexpensive drug store brand – it really doesn’t matter. And if your skin doesn’t feel dry and tight after washing and exfoliating, guess what? You don’t need a moisturizer – even if you’re “of a certain age”. What you DO need is sunscreen and regular exfoliation.

Major disclaimer here: I am NOT a dermatologist or  licensed aesthetician. Always check with your doctor before beginning any skin care regimen, using my advice as a guideline only. What I’ve shared with you here is strictly my personal experience working in “the field”, as well as taking care of my own skin.

I would love to hear about your skin care routine – your must-have products, special tips and tricks, and any questions or concerns you may have. Please share them here, and stay tuned for make-up tips next!


  1. Jennifer Cullen on April 10, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Love these two tips. As a born and bred Floridian, I know all about sunscreen and skin damage. (Think baby oil all over. Yikes.) And love my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. (I think it’s SPF 20.) But I came late to the exfoliation game. I’ve been using an exfoliating cleanser for about a year now and it really does make a difference. What’s a good exfoliating cream? PS How many different things have you done in your life Sheri?

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      I swear by Clinique Turnaround Cream in the morning (and I do not work for them any more) and a prescription Retinol cream at night. As for what else I’ve done in my life? Oh, we should talk………..

      • Jennifer Cullen on April 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

        Hopefully, I’ll be up in NYC this summer and we’ll actually get to meet in real-life! I’d love to sit down with you and have a really nice long chat.

        • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm

          I would LOVE that – let me know your plans!!

  2. Kate on April 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Great tips! I use sunscreen everyday, but honestly didn’t think to apply to hands or neck. I do exfoliate at least 1-2X a week. Do you do it every day? What are some products you recommend… Anti aging or eye creams? I was using a particular brand for the last 2 years, but am looking to change as I am not satisfied with the results. 😉

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      I use an exfoliating toner 2x a day, a cream 1x a day (in the morning) and scrub 3x a week. Honestly though I don’t work for them any more I swear by Clinique skin care. I use the Clarifying Lotion #4, Turnaround Lotion and their 7-day Scrub Cream. I do not use anti-aging creams but I DO use a retinol cream at night (prescription). Yes yes yes to eye cream! I use Clinique All About Eyes Rich at night and Bliss Triple Oxygen Eye Gel. Let me know what you think!

  3. Christi Wampler on April 10, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I totally agree!! I have minimal experience as a make up artist (worked for Estee Lauder) but have made an effort to take care of my skin my whole life. As I’ve gotten older, exfoliation is my go-to advice to friends. A friend and neighbor of mine just started selling Pink Papaya products, and I’m a HUGE fan. I can see noticeable differences in my pore sizes since using their products. I still know people that don’t take off their make up at night (YIKES) and I always scold them, lol. I love Cetaphil for my cleanser and good old Olay for my moisturizer. Oh, and I’ve recently switched to Bare Minerals foundation and am a huge fan. I like powder foundations for the ease, but now that I’m not 25 any more (when did that happen??), they were starting to look dull on my skin. I have really loved the look BM gives me. That’s my experience! Love this!

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks for sharing! My daughter uses Bare Minerals and I’m always amazed at the flawless finish of her skin (well that and she’s 20!). And the not taking make up off at night has GOT TO STOP! 🙂

  4. Heather @ That Uncomfortable Itch on April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

    While I am daily user of sunscreen, I’ve let the exfoliating go. Your post makes me want to go wash my face!

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Here’s a trick – put some of your skin cleanser in your hand (or on your face brush) and a little scrub on top – wash and exfoliate at the same time!

  5. Lisa on April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Great post Sheri. As a redhead who burns after about 30 seconds in the sun, I’m always aware of needing sunscreen but not always as diligent as I should be about applying it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you! You of all people need to protect that porcelain skin of yours! 🙂

  6. Lisa Sperling on April 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Ooo, I need to get better at this….Thanks for this wonderful post – it’s a great reminder and very helpful. I haven’t been using sunscreen except for summers and will change that ASAP 🙂

    • sheri silver on April 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you so much; I’m glad you found it helpful! Now get on that sunscreen! 🙂

      • Lisa Sperling on April 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

        Sheri, I just wanted to thank you again for this post! You have completely changed my view on skin care (I wish I had read this 10 years ago!, but better late than never!) and I so appreciate your knowledge in this! Yesterday I made my first online purchase with Clinique and I can’t wait to receive my order in the mail. I know I wouldn’t have been as trusting of Clinique products, hadn’t I read your post. Thanks again and have a great weekend!

        • sheri silver on April 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm

          Thank you SO much for this! I really think you will love their products – please let me know what you think, and have a great weekend too! 🙂

  7. Sandra on April 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Great post! I use a mix of high/low. For sunscreen I use Neutrogena Visage (85spf) on my face, neck and backs of hands. I wish I had started sooner but I relied on genetics (good skin from my mom’s side of the family). For exfoliation it’s Fresh facial scrub with strawberries. I love their perfume line too – clean, fresh scents.

    In the morning I use an oil from Skinceuticals as well as their face cream in the evening mixed with a retinol prescription cream.

    Body lotion it’s Aveeno. And my daughter has sensitive skin so Vaseline Creamy in a tub – very moisturizing yet breathes (different than Vaseline).

    • sheri silver on April 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Sounds like you and I have a very similar routine! I’ve heard a lot about Skinceuticals – must give it a try; thank you!

  8. Cindy Spencer on April 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Sheri-great advice. I sunscreen but I don’t think I’ve ever exfoliated…oy! Will get on it : ) Looking forward to the follow-up makeup tips! Cindy

    • sheri silver on April 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      How were we neighbors for that long with you getting away with THAT!! My bad! 🙂

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