my hobbies include skin-care

The Cleanser, Eye Balm, Retinol, and Moisturizer I Use Every Night

The author with his nighttime products. Photo: Christian Anwander

Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger spends a lot of time with grooming products. It’s an obsession he’ll now be writing about for the Strategist. In his free time, he’s at work on a book (via Harper Collins) about football, the Marines, and World War II.

When my nights aren’t spent at a cocktail party quoting prodigious chunks of Proust or Joyce, I read up on facial creams. I read Allure and Dermstore’s blog. I read the New York Times, looking for tips from the rich and famous and beautiful and anyone else I hate because of skin so flawless you could skate on it. The problem is that the more you think you know, the less you do, because of the infinite number of choices available. It seems that every possible extract and secretion can do some good somewhere.

But there is something blissfully self-indulgent (almost erotic) about rubbing rich and soft and satiny ointments into the skin. I’m speaking not from the poppycock of my “feminine” side but from my human side. I am also convinced that face creams work. At the age of 64, I do have some of that tight-skin effect, but I am free of wrinkles and look surprisingly okay in the mirror of the merciless airplane lavatory. If I had my way, I would buy a new cream every week. But that would be both prohibitively expensive and foolish. I recently switched things up because I wasn’t quite satisfied with my daily regimen (I don’t think this necessarily qualifies as major news, unless you are a facial cream addict, where all change is a big deal) and am now very happy with my nightly routine. Below, the products I use every night.

I discovered the British-based Elemis during a cruise to southeast Asia several years ago, when the stylist at the salon heartily recommended it. The cleansing balm is thick and viscous, but it applies smoothly and softly on the face and neck. With gentle massaging, it eventually builds into a nice lather. The tactile sensation is important to me: the better it feels on the skin, the better it works, because the more I enjoy using it and don’t rush. My skin feels both clean and invigorated, and the collagen of course helps.

In my mind, there is no such thing as skin that is too clean, so I next use the PowerGlow exfoliating facial peel, which contains the ingredients of salicylic acid, vitamin K, bilberry, and chamomile. It burns slightly, which I like (everybody needs a little pain in life), and the gain comes in the form of exfoliation and wrinkle reduction. Salicylic acid is generally used for acne prevention, and while I don’t have that problem anymore (I wish I were still young enough to), it does reduce everyday blemishes and give my face a healthy glow. Staring into any mirror is dangerous, the face an amalgam of imperfection no matter how much you try, but this is one of the few times I like it.

Because I am new to the PowerGlow and its exfoliating strength, I use it three to four times a week, alternating with this retinol. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles and also carries a kick, which is why there are three potencies (0.3, 0.5, and 1.0). I started with the 1.0, but as recommended, I only use it several times a week until my skin fully adjusts. I definitely see a reduction in lines, and it also gives my face and neck an even tone (although it works better on the face than on the neck). At a certain point, I will step up my game by using both PowerGlow and Retinol 1.0 nightly. Not now.

Every night, regardless of whether I use the PowerGlow or the retinol, I follow up with this moisturizer. This, too, is a new product for me, replacing La Mer moisturizing cream. I love La Mer — who doesn’t love La Mer? — but it’s just too expensive and not enough of a miracle worker. The Roth keeps me sufficiently hydrated; it isn’t too thick and feels wonderful on the skin — that tactile thing again. I cannot say it brightens my face, though, nor does it make it plump, as if I were a piece of fruit.

I go back and forth on eye balm, the last product in my regimen. I am not quite sure it is any better than a good moisturizer, and there are many skin experts who feel the same way, just as there are many who feel it is worth it because the skin around the eyes is so thin and delicate. I am using SkinCeuticals eye balm, chosen because I do love the brand. It is easy to apply, unlike some others that were simply too thick and ended up in the rim of my eyes. The product doesn’t help with bags, but the area underneath continues to be soft and wrinkle-free. So I’m sticking with it, at least for now.

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The Cleanser, Eye Balm, and Moisturizer I Use Every Night