Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids

aging skincare tips serums sunscreens retinoidsLadies, what is your skin routine? At what age did you get serious about skincare? What are your favorite products, both over-the-counter and prescription, whether for anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, exfoliating, or something else? I’ve seen a lot of readers talking recently about serums, sunscreens, retinoids and more, so let’s discuss. I’m curious to hear what everyone else is doing, what products you like, and if you have any tips/tricks for applying — but here’s my own story:

After years of using only organic options while pregnant/nursing (based on something my first OB/GYN said to me), I was eager to get “the good stuff” when I finally had my body back to myself. As I often do, I turned to the commenting threads for advice and found an older thread where a reader had said that for a woman in her 30s, the main things you need are Vitamin C, sunscreen, and a retinoid. I liked the simplicity of this statement, as well as the chorus of agreement from other readers. I already had an organic, nursing-approved Vitamin C serum and have been using sunscreen daily since my teenage lifeguard years, so I thought, OK, to the dermatologist I go for a retinoid. (Just a quick science/vocab lesson, at least as I understand things: Retinol and retinoids are both Vitamin A. Retinols are available in over the counter (OTC) products; retinoids are available in prescriptions only. Retin-A is the brand name for one of the retinoids you can get.)

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Holiday Weekend Sales (Happy Easter!)

easter salesHappy weekend, peeps! There are some crazy sales going on, so if you’re on the hunt, these are our favorites. We’ll keep this list updated as we can throughout the weekend. Have you found any great sales — any we’re missing? Updates as of Sunday, 3/27, in green. 

  • – Up to 60% off nudes, neutrals, and blushes: Cole Haan, Calvin Klein, Sam Edelman, and more. Up to 60% off Coach bags, accessories, and shoes; spring comfort shoes up to 65% off; watches, sunglasses, and more up to 70% off; select styles in dresses $49.99 or less; fashion wedges up to 60% off.
  • Amazon – Up to 50% off spring dresses, suits, and more; up to 70% off jewelry; up to 60% off handbags, luggage, and more. I’m a bit obsessed with this men’s watch (was $325, now $50) if you like a big watch.
  • Ann Taylor – 40% off almost everything with code MARCH40.
  • All Saints – 30% off select styles with code SPRING.
  • ASOS – $30 off $150 with code MARCH30, $50 off $200 with code MARCH50, $70 off $250 with code MARCH70.
  • Banana Republic – 40% off your purchase with code BRSPRING.
  • Barneys Warehouse – Spend up to $400 and take an extra 40% off. Spend $500 or more and take an extra 50% off.
  • Bergdorf Goodman – New arrivals up to 40% off.
  • Bloomingdale’s – Save 40-60% off on select items. Take 20% off $250+, take 25% off $500+, take 30% off $1000+ (on almost all regular-price, sale-price, and clearance items).
  • Boden – Mid-season sale: Up to 40% off. Take 10% off full-price styles with code 9U5U.
  • Brooks Brothers – 15% off; 25% off for cardholders.
  • Club Monaco – Extra 30% off sale and clearance with code MARCH30.
  • CUSP – Up to 65% off regular prices.
  • Dorothy Perkins – 25% off your order.
  • DvF – Additional 25% off with code FRIENDS25.
  • Eddie Bauer – Everything up to 50% off.
  • Express – 40% off everything.
  • Forever 21 – 40% off 4 sale items with code EXTRA40, 30% off 3 sale items with code EXTRA30, 20% off 2 sale items with code EXTRA20.
  • French Connection – 30% off full-price items and free shipping with code FC30ES.
  • J.Crew – 25% off your purchase with code SHOPMORE.
  • J.Crew Factory – 50% off. Extra 40% off clearance with code EGGSCELLENT.
  • Lands’ End – 40% off spring essentials with code FIT40 and PIN 4024. Up to 60% off sale and clearance. Get a $30 gift card when you spend $100+ with code YES100 and PIN 1228.
  • Last Call – Extra 35% off everything. (Pretty good cashmere selection if you want to peruse it for next year.)
  • The Limited – 50% off almost everything.
  • L.K. Bennett – 20% off with code FRIENDS16.
  • Loft 30% off almost everything, 40% off select spring styles. Online only, their biggest sale of the year: Cyber Spring! 40% off everything plus free shipping with code SHIP40. 
  • Lord & Taylor – 20% off regular-priced and sale items with code BIG. 25% off select dresses, up to 40% off select shoes.
  • Macy’s – Extra 20% (15% off home and select departments) plus free returns with code EASTER.
  • Neiman Marcus – Clearance, save on wear-now styles. Up to 70% off when you take an extra 20% off already-reduced prices. 
  • New York & Company – 50% off everything.
  • Nordstrom – Cardholders earn triple points through 3/26. 4581 items in sale!
  • Nordstrom Rack – Clear the Rack: Save up to 75% (with extra 25% off clearance). Nordstrom cardholders earn triple points through 3/26.
  • The Outnet – Up to 70% off Etro and Sandro; up to 60% off Elizabeth and James; up to 65% off Oscar de la Renta, Marni, and Moschino; extra 30% off denim, accessories, and more.
  • Rebecca Taylor – Take $70 off $350+, take $100 off $500+, take $200 off $1000+ with code SPRING16.
  • Saks Off Fifth – Friends & Family: Up to 70% off. Take extra 15% off for total savings up to 80% off with code FRIENDS. Up to 70% off new contemporary arrivals. Up to 60% off seasonal shoes and handbags.
  • Stuart Weitzman – 50% off select styles and colors. Buy 2 pairs full-price shoes and get a free suede care kit with code SPRINGSTYLE.
  • Talbots – 30% off all dresses, skirts, shoes, and accessories; includes new arrivals. Online today only: 30% off all regular price items. 
  • UKIES – 40% off 1 pair of shoes with code HAPPYFEET and 55% off 2 or more pairs with code HAPPYLIFE.
  • White House | Black Market – The Dress Event: 30% off all full-price styles.


Frugal Thursday’s Workwear Report: Sleeveless Ponté Sheath Dress

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

washable ponte sheath dress for workWe’ve featured this dress in a million roundups for sheath dresses, but I don’t think we’ve ever featured it for our morning workwear reports — at least not in its most basic version, pictured.  If you’re not familiar: this is the Lands’ End ponte sheath dress.  It has pockets. It’s washable. It’s $69-$79 full price (but on sale today!). It comes in petite, tall, and plus sizes. It is so wildly popular that it comes out in a zillion new patterns and colors every season, as well as an offshoot of dresses that are very similar but for some additional design element, like a keyhole neckline or sleeves.  Today, regular, petite, and tall sizes are on sale for $40-$45. Nice! Sleeveless Ponté Sheath Dress

(There’s free shipping on $50+ — if you’re looking for something else to add to your cart, consider their shaped scoopneck tees, or the reader favorite supima cardigans. If you happen to be busty they have a great selection of DD/DDD swimsuits.)

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]


The Hunt: White Tops for Spring

 white tops for workSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I would guess that 60% of my closet — if not more — is black. White appears far less frequently — but even I love to herald the beginning of spring by buying a few new white tops every year, and (if they’ve held up well enough), pulling out old favorites from previous years.  The white blouse, of course, is a classic — but sometimes you want something that isn’t quite as fussy or as formal as a blouse with collars or buttons. (If you’re on the hunt for a basic button-front blouse, a silky collared blouse, or a basic tee or shell to wear beneath a suit, check out our latest roundups on those topics.) I never know what to call these items (tops? shirts? white non-blouses?) but I do think they’re something that makes every outfit more versatile — and can be an easy way to take your more formal suits away from the dreaded “I’ve got a secret interview today” territory. Of course I am on #teamwhitecamisole as well, but that’s me…

In my mind, white tops break down into basic general categories, which I’ll lay out below…. I’ll note at the outset that a lot of these tops come in colors other than white, which show the details FAR better than the white versions, at least online. In fact, the very fact that there IS a white option may be hidden because the color doesn’t show up against your screen — so use the dropdown color picker menu if in doubt (screenshot of what I mean here).

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Wearing Fun Glasses at Work

fun glasses at workDo you wear “fun glasses” to the office, either as a hipster statement or geek chic? Would you consider a bright and wacky pair of glasses for work, or do you try to stick to brown, gray, or metal frames? Do you judge colleagues if they’re obviously wearing Warby Parkers or “cool kid” glasses? Some readers used to joke that thicker-framed, geek-chic frames were birth control glasses — do you still think of certain styles like that? Do you switch glasses up based on your mood and outfit (treating them as jewelry or an accessory), or do you have functional pairs, like “important meeting” glasses or “working alone at office at night” glasses?

We’ve talked about some of my favorite spots for buying glasses online — I’m still addicted; I just got my first pair of Warby Parkers and another two pairs from GlassesUSA — but we haven’t talked about the propriety of geek chic glasses at the office in years. So let’s discuss.

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Weekend Open Thread

mesh leggings weekendSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

I’ll admit, I clutched my pearls a bit when I first started seeing leggings with mesh insets. Mesh? On my upper thigh? Oh no no no. But I honestly really like them now. They seem far, far more acceptable than short shorts, and as someone who isn’t super fit I feel comfortable wearing them while I work on, you know, getting more fit. This pair comes in sizes XS-XL, and is $64; if mesh isn’t your thing this popular legging comes in a zillion other colors in regular and plus sizes. Pictured: Zella ‘Live In – Spectrum’ Leggings

Are you guys looking forward to any outdoor workouts this weekend?  

Psst: here’s a more affordable option for fun mesh-inset leggings (they also come in petite and tall sizes). Another shoutout: if you happen to be large of bust and on the hunt for a good workout bra, give this Freya one a try — it’s so much more flattering/pretty than my old favorite, the Enell, but is functionally great as a sports bra. The trick (suggested by a fitter during my last trip to Bratenders) is to size way down in the band, and accordingly go up in the cup — I normally wear a 36 band but went down to a 32 in the sports bra.