If you are anything like I used to be, you hang onto clothes forever (and by that I mean, way past the expiration date). Part of it is the guilt factor – I paid for it, I am not going to get rid of it. The other part, sad but true, is that I think about when my children will have 90s or 00s day at school. Instant access to authentic vintage clothing! I know that is crazy…but platforms did come back in style last year and I had only to walk into my closet to hone in on the latest trend. The real question we all should be asking ourselves - how much of what is hanging in my closet am I actually wearing? Let’s be realistic here, we need our wardrobes to serve us, and serve us well. We truly do end up wearing the same things over and over, so simplifying is a good thing.

A fresh pair of eyes on the interworkings of your closet could result in a life changing lesson in how to pair different things together to get the most out of your wardrobe. The first thing to consider is your lifestyle. What you want and need out of your clothes. Then identify and develop your essentials wardrobe. This consists of quality pieces in your key neutrals (black, brown, white/off-white, olive, charcoal, navy). For example, everyone needs a pair or two (or three) of fabulous black pants that transcend season. Invest … these pieces should last a long time.

Once you have inventoried your essentials, stand back and take a long, hard look at what is left. Is it safe to say that what's left in your closet are non-essentials? Perhaps that's why you have a hard time coordinating outfits that work well for you and your body shape. Start purging items that no longer work by (1) consigning, (2) giving to good will, or (3) sharing the love by giving to a friend or family member. And don't forget, tailoring those keepers-but-not-serving-me-now pieces will completely change your look. It's eye opening! Each season, add colorful and modern pieces to freshen up your style. This allows you to add in some trend, while grounded by your essentials. If you don't know your color palette, reach out for help.

Be smarter about your purchases. I recommend shopping alone, as to not be influenced by others. However, if you must shop with others, bring an honest friend with you. I have a friend that is brutally honest (I compare her to shopping with my mom). Her opinion is transparent by look within 2 seconds and by mouth within 3. Gotta love a good friend. Remember, if you have any doubts about a purchase, it's not meant to be. If you think it might work, walk away. If you continue to dream about the item for days, go back and get it. New purchases should only be made in knowledge and love.

I was recently invited to a complimentary facial and makeover by my Shu MA (make-up artist) at Neiman Marcus. I learned a couple of things along the way that I thought were only fair to pass on. Number one: while it's quite lovely to receive a complimentary facial, when it's given by an MA versus an esthetician - enter at your own risk. I thought I did a fine job of explaining my skin type (sensitive, acne rosacea) and what works best for me. Apparently, not. When my facial was over, I looked in the mirror to find a red, blotchy, itchy, scaly face. Yikers! My face was on fire! Now, it was truly only due to one product (hmmmm, should I name?....and it wasn't Shu) and it was, sort of, my fault for not immediately alerting my MA to this. But nonetheless, you would have thought my sirening face would have given it away. Number two: while getting a makeover is fun and certainly a great way to discover new looks, a young MA may not exactly give you a look you can pull off. Though I LOVED my sultry bronze and gold eyes, I could have gone without the concealer underneath (you have to be so careful on how you apply this to avoid it caking into your fine lines). I could have also gone without the layers of foundation (since I don't wear foundation ... oh yes, that's right - you left my skin red, blotchy and scaly so you had to cover it up). And what's up with failing to apply mascara correctly? Wow, that's never happened to me before.

Again, I shouldn't complain. I received almost two hours of enjoyment (somewhat) and entertainment (for sure). My son and mother-in-law both noticed my new look evidenced by comments such as "you look different." The new tips I learned (eye shadow application suitable for my eye shape, and lining the inside of my top lid) were excellent take aways for me. I purchased well over $200 of new goodies and was on my way...happy!

The #2 anti-aging product is an antioxidant. There are so many great products out there, it becomes personal preference. Are you a serum kind a gal, cream or lotion? I like to switch up between serums and creams. Just know that you need one, applied twice daily. Not only will it help with cell turnover, but it will build collagen … which is ever so important with each ticking day.

Topical antioxidants are touted as being a good protector against environmental damage to the skin and may be effective in slowing down skin aging. However, their effect depends on skin permeability and ingredients. It appears that increasing oral intake of some antioxidants (tea, drops, pills) may additionally protect skin from free radicals.

I am a big tea drinker. White and green tea (loose leaf) are chock full of antioxidants and have so many health benefits that I could write a term paper on tea alone! I drink at least one glass of each, white and green, a day. I have also used Dr. Brandt’s antioxidant drops. Aside from fighting free radicals, green tea helps prevent cancer and is said to aid in weight loss. It strengthens the immune system, reduces stress and regulates blood sugar. And white tea has three times the antioxidants of green tea. Drink up!

For me, it's all about the ingredients ... the science behind the product. I have found that serums are best penetrated (immediately) into the skin and produce the best results.

Ingredients to look for in an antioxidant:
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin A
  • Cysteine
  • Methionine
  • Selenium
  • Glutathione
  • Carotenes
  • Lycopene
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Lipoic acid
  • Melatonin
  • Some polyphenols
  • Some flavonoids
On the horizon… There is a new category of anti-aging treatments aimed at preventing sugar from damaging skin. Excess sugar attaches to elastin fibers causing them to harden when we consume too many sweets. The direct result is glycation - a loss in skin elasticity, enabling wrinkles to occur more easily.
The #1 anti-aging treatment is a prescription retinoid. Topical retinoids boost cell turnover to fight fine lines. It baffles me, on a daily basis, the number of people I know that do not understand its importance. Well okay, it seems simple to me. Prior to visiting my dermatologist, I guess I would have to admit I didn’t quite understand the power of a retinoid. However, I must point out that I certainly knew the importance of visiting a dermatologist once I hit 30. Since then, it has become part of my annual or semi-annual routine for me. My skin has never looked better, brighter or clearer. Now in my late 30s, wrinkles are my worst enemy! I will do everything humanly possible to treat wrinkles while preventing new wrinkles from forming (if that is actually possible).

Using a retinoid:

You will apply your retinoid once a day, at night, 10 minutes after you have cleansed and moisturized your skin. It’s important, especially if you have dry skin, to let your night time moisturizer sink into your skin prior to applying a retinoid. If your skin can handle it, you can apply the retinoid before your moisturizer. Please note: if you are a beginner, go easy. Differin cream seems to be a good starting point for most (as was for me with sensitive skin and acne rosacea). You should use once every third day to see how your skin adjusts to the product before applying daily. If you experience any reactions, please consult your dermatologist. Within 6 months to a year, you may be able to graduate to the Differin gel, which is about the same strength as Retin-A Microgel (I switch up between these two). If your dermatologist confirms that your skin cannot handle a retinoid, ask for other prescription recommendations.

Buyer beware

It kills me when I hear “retinol products aren’t really necessary” from skin consultants (I won’t mention names). About 6 months ago, I was shopping with my sister, who is one year older than I and completely clueless to proper skin care. We went into a self-titled skin/beauty store to pick up an antioxidant for her. The skin consultants, both in their mid-twenties, had the gull to say that retinol products aren’t really necessary. Not really necessary….blasphemy! The moral here, your dermatologist knows best.