Face serums and sunscreen

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Are face serums really necessary? “Everybody” in the makeup industry says they are a must-have, but are they?

— Terryl S.

Dear Terryl: Nope, you don’t need them. While “necessary” means different things to people (depending on a bunch of factors), the only truly necessary things in routine face care are clean skin and sunscreen, applied properly. Cosmetic companies are constantly coming up with new products (how else to increase sales?) and I’d put serum at the top of the list. There are no miracle products to apply to the face and make wrinkles and sags really diminish — or disappear. As for my harping on sunscreen, that’s your best bet in skin care (besides limiting sun exposure in the first place). Many of us — me included — don’t apply enough and don’t reapply as often as we should for maximum benefit. An internet search will tell you more than you need to know about the topic but here are a few guidelines:

• To protect your arms, legs, face and neck, use one ounce of sunscreen, which is about a full shot glass.

• Put on the first coat 15 or so minutes before leaving the house.

• Apply a second coat about an hour after you’ve applied the first, then again every two hours.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: After seeing the huge resale value of limited edition clothing and shoe collaborations, I thought I was lucky when I was able to buy a Kanye West jacket collaboration with Gap, planning to resell it for a profit. And then, they reissued the thing, the scarcity factor disappeared and the prices dropped to much less than I paid in the first place. How can I avoid this kind of blunder in the future?

— Tyler T.

Dear Tyler: This resell-get-rich strategy is not for the fainthearted. You’re up against pros who use bots that enable resellers to buy in bulk and corner the market, then sell them at sky-high prices. And, there is no telling whether the item will be popular in the first place, or that the maker won’t flood the market with reissues. Let the (re)seller beware!

Angelic Readers

So many of you had suggestions for Julia B. in her quest for fragrance-free shampoo for sensitive skin. (From Ellen: The Environmental Protection Agency says fragrance-free means fragrance materials or masking agents are not used in the product. Unscented usually means it may contain chemicals that neutralize or mask the odors of other ingredients. That’s a big difference, as reader Susan M. points out.)

Susan, Larry R., Ann E. and Sandy K. use Person & Covey DHS fragrance-free shampoos (amazon.com, $13 and up). Another reader likes unscentedco.com products. Georgette C. and Marie F. use Paula’s Choice fragrance-free All Over Hair & Body Shampoo (paulaschoice.com, $19). Kelly L. chooses babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby fragrance-free Shampoo & Wash (amazon.com, $16.99). Brenda S. recommends Necessaire.com fragrance-free shampoo, $28. Becky W. prefers curlsmith.com Shine Shampoo ($12 and up). Janet S. goes to the Environmental Working Group website (ewg.org) for guidance on fragrance-free products. Julia and Lore S. buy fragrance-free products from dermstore.com. Diane D. uses No nothing Very Sensitive Moisture Shampoo (amazon.com, $23). Sharon Q. recommends Plaine shampoo (amazon.com, $12 and up).

Reader Rant

From R. K.: “I recently attended a semi-formal event and really noticed something that I wished women would pay attention to. Bare legs. Women should take a very good look at their legs before getting dressed. Really look at their legs. I recommend wearing pantyhose for cocktail-length dresses or gowns that have slits so the legs will have a uniform polished look. Bare legs aren’t lovely to look at if knees are sagging, skin texture crepe or heavily veined. It’s just not attractive. I understand that it is certainly more comfortable in the summer to go without hose, especially in sandals but, for a special event where much money has been spent to look special, one’s legs should have hose on them.”