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Betsy’s Winter Skin Care Arsenal

betsys beauty productsSo winter is really here. My hair is dry, my skin is dry, my plants are sad. But….rather than give you my “recommendations” that just happen to be sponsored by the maker, I’ve got some real goodies for you that will actually combat the miserableness that is winter skin.

As you may or may not know, I had melanoma and was on chemo for what seemed like forever. This wreaked super-havok on my skin. Add to that, that I started and finished chemo in the winter and my skin turned into what I affectionately coined “turtle shell,” resulting in me combing store shelves and the tangles of the interwebs to find products that would actually heal my skin and protect it from the dryness. From the Body Shop to Benefit to Eucerin, Nivea, Korres and way, way beyond, I have literally tried almost every product out there. Besides my own product-whore tendencies I was also fortunate to have a good friend who worked at Sephora and regularly provided me with samples to try.

So….here it is….The List: My go-to winter skin care arsenal – and it’s not a bank breaker! One more bonus that comes with these products (1-4), with the exception of the eye cream, is that you can use them all on your kids too!

1.  Dove

I have used the Dove White Beauty Bar on my face and body since high school (I use it to remove my makeup and then do my regular face wash). Occasionally I try something different (usually something super fancy or over-rated that I think will be amazing but is not) but I always go back – always. It’s gentle, it’s not super smelly and it removes my eye makeup like a champion. I also use the Purely Pampering Shea Butter Bar or the liquid soap but the original Beauty Bar is my go-to. I see they’ve also launched a Winter Car line, which I’m sure is equally as amazing.

2.   First Aid Beauty (FAB)

So, so good….that’s all I can say. It’s chemical and paraben free, unscented and allergy tested, and it WORKS. I have very sensitive skin and hate smelly lotions and products so this is especially great for me. I use the Ultra Repair Concentrate (especially on the backs of my hands and really dry spots on my legs – nursing moms take note – this is probably great for you-know-what), Healing Stick (which I believe has now transitioned into the potted Ultra Repair Concentrate versus the giant chapstick container it was previously in) and the Ultra Repair Cream. You can put this stuff anywhere – face, hands, body, whatever – and you’ll be happy. I also have the travel kit with the daily moisturizer, body wash and face wash and it’s awesome. You can buy it at Sephora or if you sign up for their email list they send out some great offers and discounts. Prices range from $12 – $28.

3. Aveda – Hair and Eyes

First is the Aveda Green Science Firming Eye Cream. Yes, this is an “anti-aging” product so to speak, but it’s also the World’s BEST eye cream. It feels amazing, it absorbs SUPER fast (you can put concealer or other makeup on top of it within a few minutes) and it really helps get rid of dark circles and puffiness. My eyes tend to get driest underneath so I pack it on and let it do it’s thing. I use this year-round but I just use a touch more in the winter. It’s gentle enough to smear all over your undereye and lid and it isn’t full of chemicals and other crap. Another bonus: one little pot will last you almost a year (morning and night use) so the $47 doesn’t hurt too much. Don’t believe me? Read the 382 reviews – 5 stars, baby! They also make a fine line minimizer which could be classified as a miracle but beware – do not use it unless you have Super Duper dry skin. It will make you break out almost instantly.


The  Light Elements Smoothing Fluid is basically a bunch of light oils and other shine- and moisture-inducing stuff that makes your hair look fabulous. It also stops winter static, which is pretty much the best thing ever. It comes in a tiny bottle and dispenses one drop at a time so it lasts forever (I think I buy it once a year and it only costs $28). I use 3 – 4 drops for my hair, which is long and pretty thick, but would use another drop or two for really curly or coarse hair. I use it before blow drying to help protect my hair from heat-induced dryness and another few drops just on the ends before straightening.


Aveda’s Dry Remedy Conditioner is probably the best conditioner I have ever used. I switched for a while and I wasn’t happy with how my hair was looking so I switched back to the Dry Remedy and INSTANTLY noticed a difference. It’s a natural product as well and isn’t heavily scented. I use it year-round, but like lots of my go-to products, I use just a bit more in the winter.


4.  Aveeno – Face & Body

I know, I know. Anti-climatic. But for real, this shit is the bomb. Jennifer Aniston ain’t lyin’! Head to Wal Mart or CVS or your local grocery store and stock up. It is the best lotion you can get. It works – hard. It moisturizes, it stops the itching and it’s not greasy or slippery. It absorbs quickly. And most importantly – it costs like $7. I use the Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 15 year-round along with the Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 on my face (PERFECT for after a facial when you need something gentle. The Ultra-Calming Cleanser is also the bomb-dot-com) ($10-$15 depending on where you get it). I also use the Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30 (they can be easily layered and you won’t end up looking like a slimy mess). The first day I ever wore it, my boss told me I looked great and she loved my makeup that way. I was only wearing the moisturizer with a little blush on top. Yay.


A few other products I’ve picked up recently that I’m really happy with include Tarte BB Tinted Primer ($35), which feels great on your skin and has amazing coverage for how light it is. It also has SPF 30 and my makeup artist liked it so much that’s all I wore as a foundation on my face for my wedding. Cosmedix define resurfacing treatment. This is the priciest of the bunch but it also seems like it’s lasting forever because so little is needed and I only use it at night. It’s basically a retinol moisturizer and it works so, so well! I got it from my esthetician Loretta Ezaguirre, who only uses natural products, and it’s worth all 77 dollars. It’s brightening and super moisturizing and I can’t feel it all over my face when I sleep, which is my biggest pet peeve with night time moisturizers.


Happy Wintering!


About Betsy McDonald

Betsy McDonald
Betsy McDonald is a soon-to-be wife and stepmother to two teenagers, ages 16 and 14, both of whom are taller than she. She spends her days doing PR, marketing and event planning, and her nights boxing, dancing and attempting a variety of unorthodox work outs that require a little more balance than she actually possesses. In the meantime, she spends plenty of time at Lake Tahoe and is working on perfecting the lacrosse mom persona, golfing, attempting SUP yoga, remodeling a home with her fiancé, planning her wedding, and maintaining the overall health, wealth and happiness of her newly found family. As a child growing up in Nebraska, Betsy’s dad would travel to Lake Tahoe to ski, bringing home pennant flags, T-shirts and a variety of other Reno-Tahoe-related paraphernalia. This prompted her to desire to find out just what “the Biggest Little City in the World” actually meant. By chance, she would end up here thanks to a job transfer to Gardnerville for her mom and the Millennium Scholarship. As a 14-year resident of the Biggest Little City, she’s proud to live and love in Reno. Betsy is an athlete, a writer and a cancer survivor – and hopefully an amazing stepmom. Stay tuned….

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