Make up

GEMs of Beauty:
Back-to-School Beauty

Why do we celebrate New Year’s on January 1? When you have kids in school, that’s when the New Year really starts, right?  (I know that many school districts in the US now start the school year in August, but in NYC, it’s always the middle of the week after Labor Day—and it’s not over till the very end of June, depending on how many snow days there’ve been. Or not.) New books, new binders, new apps, new shoes, new clothes, new teachers, new homework to whine about and find excuses not to do….you know, the usual New!

But enough about the kids — let’s talk about moms who need something new and wonderful for their beauty routine. September is time to take a good hard look at your skin and beauty choices and make some Back-to-School resolutions for optimal care and new products. It’s also a good time to admire how easily your kids ease into their new classrooms and schedules, so take a tip from them and ease your own self into getting out of the same old boring and into something more vibrant and effective. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer And Perversion Mascara

The kids are back to school so it’s till for you to go back to black, as in the blackest, most intense, most conditioning mascara duo you can find. Use the primer first to condition and prep your lashes—we tend to neglect our lashes but, like all the hair on our heads, they need a lot of TLC, too—and give the mascara something sleek to grab on to. You can then apply the mascara to wet or dry primer, depending on your preference. It’s guaranteed not to clump and gives you lots and lots of lash drama even when the only theater you’re going to is in the school auditorium. Besides, when your kids’ schooldays are rated PG, it’s nice to have something in your bag that’s rated R, isn’t it?

Buy the primer for $20 at and the mascara for $22 at

2. Pravana Vivids

Need a total do-over? In the mood to get a little wacky? Why not try an unusual color in your hair? You don’t have to go whole-head—just try a few highlights or do the ends (which can then be chopped off). Go for a bright red or orange or yellow to match the fall foliage, or ask you stylist to go even more funky with Pravana’s ChromaSilk Luscious Lavender, a gorgeous lavender. Oh go on—you know you want to! Just remember that if you do color your hair and use bleach at any point, be sure to use color-protective products, like Pravana’s Vivids Color Protect Aftercare Collection of shampoo, conditioner, and sealing spray. And if you get hooked on color the way I am, be thrilled with your adventurousness. Next month, blue, right?

Find this product at a salon near you by searching

3. Roloxin Lift

Feeling blah and droopy? Wish you could afford treatments that magically give you a lift without paying thousands for painful injectibles? Well, you’re in luck with the next 3 products. Roloxin Lift is a brand-new temporary revitalizing treatment that smoothes skin and makes you look a gazillion times better, and it lasts for at least 12 hours. First you massage the packet for 10 seconds to activate it, then you apply a thin layer to damp, clean skin and leave it on for 7-10 minutes (it’s okay to move around or do what you need to!) until it’s totally dried down to a white powder. Then rinse off the white powder with warm water, pat your skin dry, and apply your regular moisturizer and/or sunscreen and/or makeup.  I am pretty skeptical about claims for this kind of product, but Roloxin Lift is pretty amazing. And if you’re on a budget, save it for special occasions when you want to wow.

Buy it for $110 for 10 packets at

4. Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

While we’re on the topic of droopy, when you’re in a hurry and need to look a lot perkier—maybe you have an important presentation at work and don’t want your colleagues to know you spent the night before on a Monopoly marathon with your tween (so thrilled, were you, to have your child off Facebook for longer than five minutes!)—try Ren’s new de-drooper with water-activated vitamin C. Just rub it on a clean face, then wet your fingertips and massage again for a minute to activate . Leave on for one more minute, then rinse and prepare to be wowed. Your complexion will be much brighter, smoother, and more luminous.

Buy it for $48 at

5. DermaSilk 5 Minute Face Lift

Equally effective is this fantastic primer that gives you instant smoothing and firming results. And because it needs no activation or water, it’s great to keep in your handbag or desk in case you need to de-droop at the end of the day. It works wonders on necks and hands, too. You almost hate to wash it off at the end of the day—but, hey, it’ll work just as brilliantly tomorrow!

Buy it for $39.99 at

6. BioElements Volcanic Mud Soap

If you go to the drugstore to buy soap, good luck finding it, since so many people prefer body washes now. Call me old-fashioned—okay, call me a dinosaur because I am one!—but I like soap. I think it’s more effective and it’s certainly a lot more economical. And I especially like this soap from Bioelements, which is supercharged with detoxifying volcanic mud, finely ground oatmeal as a gentle scruffier, and soothing oils for hydration. It’s so effective for the occasional breakout that your teens will be swiping it in no time.

Buy it for $20 at

7. New London Pharmacy Soap

Speaking of soap, treat your body with this extra-luxurious and enormously oversized soap from London Pharmacy. Triple-milled twice, which means it’s denser and longer-lasting, and loaded with sweet almond oil, this vegetable-based soap not only leaves your skin soft, but its scent leaves your bathroom smelling divine. It’s a great incentive for the kids to wash their hands, too!

Buy it for $25 at

8. GlaMER Lips Lip Scrub


Usually, by the time hot, rank, and humid summers are over in NYC, I’m thrilled to toss on a jacket in the cooler evenings and relish the fact that my hair doesn’t look like permanent bed-head. But once the heat comes on, the air can get so dry that your lips look like sandpaper (and feel worse). Lips are often neglected yet their tender skin always needs extra-care, especially when exposed to the elements. And now it’s easy to take care of them with GlaMER’s Lip Scrub. Made from sugar, natural oils and flavorings, this scrub sloughs off dry and flaky skin while moisturizing, and it’s good enough to eat—and safe enough to do so, too. Just apply a small amount and massage it gently for a minute or so, then either rinse or lick off. Follow up with your fave lip balm. This scrub comes in these delicious flavors: Brown sugar/honey, Cinnamon, bubblegum, lemon, champagne, and coconut. My son loves the bubblegum flavor so much he now has the softest lips of any teen in town.

Buy it for $10 (regular) or $22.95 (organic) at

9. Lolita Lempicka Elle L’Aime Perfume

And what would back-to-school be without something divine to inhale? Lolita Lempicka Elle L’Aime (which means She Loves) is my newest discovery from the designer’s collections, and it’s just the thing for fall when you want something playful and sensual without being too breezy or heavy. With top notes of bergamot and neroli and a base of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and coconut flower, it’s a fruity white floral that’s feminine yet makes a statement. Just like moms everywhere.

Buy it for $57 at

10. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator

Last but not least, as the days and nights grow cooler, it’s easy to forget that your skin might still be dried-out from those hazy days at the beach or pool or back yard or even the usual schlep in the car. This luscious ultra-gentle hydrator is a unique product for all skin types, and it’s ideal for soothing any irritations. Use it every day as a 10-minute mask, or leave it on under your eyes to reduce puffiness. It’s even more soothing if you put it in the fridge first and apply the cool gel to overheated or stressed skin.

Buy it for $45 (it comes as a kit with cleanser, serum, and sunscreen too) at

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TIP: Remember, your schooldays may be long gone, but you can always learn some new beauty tricks or try new products. Technological advances are revolutionizing the beauty business, so take advantage of them. There’s no reason to be stuck in a beauty rut when it’s so easy to look fantastic and feel even better quicker than you can sing the Alphabet Song!