Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Roundup Vol. 14


How young is too young to start using retinol to prevent wrinkles?  I’m 24, but I want to start taking care of my skin now so that it’s not a hot mess later.  Any thoughts?


Since you’re not yet 30, I wouldn’t go jumping into the bottle of retinol just yet.  But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do, here are some things that my friendly neighborhood dermatologist recommends.

Exfoliate.  I love my Clarisonic.  Every woman whose taken my advice and bought one loves her Clarisonic.  But even if you don’t go that route, you should be gently exfoliating every other day.

Be Kind to Your Skin.  My derm recommends staying out of the sun as much as possible and wearing makeup with SPF.  The tan may last the Summer, but the sun damage lasts a lifetime.

She also cautions women not to pop blemishes themselves since that can lead to scarring.  If regular facials are out of the question, try the Tanda Zap. It’s a concentrated burst of UV light that will help kill the bacteria and heal the zit days faster.

Antioxidants Are Your Friends.  Antioxidants even skintone and prevent damage from free radicals.  So in addition to a healthy diet, my derm recommends using antioxidants on your skin.  Personally, I’m in love with Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Serum ($48).

Need something a bit cheaper? Try Neutrogena Ageless Antioxidant Booster ($19).

Ideally, you shouldn’t start using retinol until you’re in your 30s.  That is when cell turnover and collagen production really slow down and you need the extra boost.  

This is not about fashion or anything but I am just curious-what made you decide to post to your blog anonymously? I am guessing Belle is not your real name…

I am thinking of starting a blog and I am trying to decide whether or not to present the ‘real’ me?


The House Ethics Committee made the decision for me.  If I was going to accept free things to review or giveaway, host advertising or make money from the blog, they decided that I needed to be anonymous.  

Personally, I thought it was silly at the time since it was really none of their nevermind anyway, but now, I kind of prefer it.  But their are pluses and minuses each way.  By not being the ‘real me,’ I can’t post pictures of my outfits or go to a lot of events.  

Unless you have a very distinct first name, I would go by just your first name for awhile and then decide.  


I work at public accounting firm and we are having a boat outing in a couple weeks. What would you consider to be an appropriate bathing suit for an outing with your colleagues? Are two piece bathing suits off limits?


The only thing more surprising than getting this question once was getting it THREE times.  Where do you folks work that you’re wearing swimwear around your colleagues?  That just seems like a special brand of torture.

As for wearing a two-piece, I think this is one of those situations that if you have to ask, you already know the answer.  I’d stick with a one piece, maybe something in a retro-inspired halter, or I’d go with a tankini in a fun print like this one from J.CREW.

Retro Dot Swing Top (J.CREW, $64)


I keep passing Blue Mercury and cannot work up the willpower to wander about aimlessly until I decide what may be a good starter purchase. Can you spare me the torture of an hour circling the store and tell me exactly what I should get from this great store? Just one or two items that are a must buy would be great.


For those of you who don’t know, BlueMercury is a local beauty and skincare boutique.  Here are some suggestions:

Tinted Moisturizer.  If you don’t wear tinted moisturizer, I suggest you give it a whirl.  It’s so much lighter than foundation and provides the perfect sheer coverage in any season but esp. Summer.  BlueMercury carries Laura Mercier, which is my favorite brand.

Nail Polish.  NARS nail polishes wear like iron.  I like Purple Rain, the perfect purple with a hint of gold shimmer.  Arabesque, the classic pale pink.  And Versailles, a pale gold that looks great on fingers but a little like a fungal infection on toes (just a warning).

Body Scrubs.  Everyone talks about the winter blahs, but they forget that skin needs a good scrubbing in the summertime too.  BlueMercury carries a lot of great scrubs from Molton Brown, Kiehl’s and my current favorite, Bliss.  Their lemon + sage body scrub smells divine and will leave your epidermis perfectly smooth and radiant.

Plus, there’s nothing wrong with spending an hour wandering through a new store.  You might find a new brand that you love or a new product that changes your life.  And feel free to ask the salesperson what the best sellers are, if it’s flying off of the shelves, it’s probably worth it.


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  1. Katherine says:

    I worked at a couple big law firms and there was always a summer event or two that involved bathing suits. I just wore normal clothes and didn't go near the water because, like you, I think that's just weird. I don't need to see the managing partner's nipples, hairy chest and beer belly, thankyouverymuch. I tried to skip such events but some are essentially mandatory so there's only so much you can do. Happy that my current job doesn't do stuff like that!

    August 1, 2011/Reply
  2. StudentToBe says:

    Hi Belle,

    I'm starting grad school in the fall, and am facing a dilemma: I know I'll be lugging heavy books to and from school, and don't want to do any permanent back damage, but also don't want to look like a total book worm with a backpack. Any thoughts on a functional, but still stylish, book bag?

    August 1, 2011/Reply
  3. KLo says:

    StudentToBe: 90% (okay at LEAST 75%) of my classmates in law school carried a backpack. Trust me, those books are heavy, and sometimes the lockers were entirely too annoying to use.

    August 1, 2011/Reply
  4. Kim says:

    To law schooler – I used a huge faux leather tote from Target, and got many compliments. Don't buy anything more expensive because you'll wear it out any bag within 2 years. Also buy a lightweight laptop – it will make a huge difference. All you will be doing is making Word documents & going online, so it doesn't need to be a super duper computer.

    August 1, 2011/Reply