BPGP: African Red Tea Kit, Part I

Jan 26, 2012


It started with three grey hairs.  Then, there were six.  All on the front of my head, in a strip, like the start of a widow’s peak.  I’m informed that my Grandma went grey in her mid-30s.  Information that would have been helpful to have sooner.

My skin is losing elasticity.  Scratches seem to last forever.  Everything scars. My slightly greying bangs can barely cover the three deepening wrinkles in my forehead.  I really wasn’t expecting the “aging process” to be so visible, so soon.  I’m not even 30, yet. 

I hoped that I would be able to go a few more years before eye creams, serums, scrubs and tonics became the cornerstone of my beauty purchases.  But alas, these are the breaks.  When you’re 20, it’s easy to say that you want to grow old gracefully.  When you spot your first wrinkle before your 30th birthday, it’s easier to understand how Madeleine Stowe ended up with a forehead pulled tighter than a drum.

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Kit (Sephora, $68)

Several years ago, my Mother bought the African Red Tea Kit from Ole Henriksen, and it had a noticeable impact on her skin.  I had seen her when she bought it in April, and then again, in July, the improvement was unreal to me.  So now that the aging battle has officially begun for this 29-year-old, I’ve decided to arm myself with something that I’ve seen work.

I have long used Ole Henriksen’s products, because they don’t irritate and are free of harsh chemicals.  The Red Tea kit is packed full of antioxidants to fight free radicals.  The moisturizer is light, non greasy and smells divine.  The soap cleans without stripping, and the mask really helps with redness.

I’ve only been using the kit for a week, so expect another review 4-6 weeks from now, but I’ve already notices some minor improvements.  Since it’s winter, I have been globbing on moisturizer like it’s my job.  But after a few days of using the kit, I’m using much less.  And while I haven’t seen any improvement in texture (yet), I have seen a boost in radiance.  So I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Since this is a kit, I’ve abandoned many of my other products.  Maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  But I am still using the iS Clinical Serum before bed. 

I’ll keep you up to date on whether this set is a keeper.  I’m just blown away by how much the aging process has accelerated in just the last six months. It’s been a real wake up call that if I’m going to make caring for my skin the pillar of my beauty routine, now is the time. 

Clearly, I also need to be doing better on my nutrition, since good skin is as much about what you put in your body as what you put on it.  So I’m going to buy a juicer on pay day.  I already take a multivitamin, but I think that on this front, every little bit helps.

If any of my post-30 readers have skincare tips, I’d love to hear them.  And if any of you own juicers that you like, I’d love to know the brands. 

BPGP, Makeup

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  1. A says:

    My brother uses a Breville juicer at least 2x per day. He swears by this brand because the model he has apparently has the easiest clean up of any juicer on the market. You can put a plastic grocery bag in it and just toss out all the pulp, making it super easy and fast to clean. As someone with a juicer who does not have this feature, I am jealous and would recommend it.

    As someone who noticed some wrinkles on her forehead in her reflection on the metro yesterday, days after my 25th birthday, I appreciate this post.

  2. Briana says:

    Related: I've read that carrots and spinach vastly improve skin condition — these veggies actually create a natural glow. So I've stocked up on carrots and whip up spinach smoothies almost daily.

  3. DC Atty says:

    Get thee to a dermatologist without delay and ask for a generic prescription for Retin-A. My co-pay was $16 (total cost was about $60). You'll still need a good moisturizer and eye cream but the Retin-A will clear your skin and plump it up. My derm also recommends a daily dose of evening primrose oil for the skin. And NEVER, EVER step outside without sunscreen.

  4. Belle says:

    Rein-A doesn't work for me. Never has. The evening primrose is new though.

  5. Hae says:

    I've used a Cuisinart Juicer for several years now, and it is still going strong. Easy to clean–all parts can go in the dishwasher or washed by hand without much effort. My mom has used Cuisinart Juicers in years past as well. I would just wait for the next Cuisinart sale on Ruelala, Gilt Groupe, Hautelook, or Ideeli and get whatever they have on sale. I have heard good things about Breville too!

  6. AMac says:

    I purchased a brand X juicer from Target a few years back and it still works well. Though I will say those things are hard to clean! I agree with Hae, I'd wait until a sale because juicers can get pricey. As for my own routine, I take fish oil every day. If you buy the liquid, it has to be kept in the fridge, but if you buy gel caps, like I did, you can keep it at work so you never forget to take it. My nails are strong, my skin is brighter and my hair is healthier. I think its a good addition to your regular multi-vitamin. I also recently started taking Vitamin D and B12 supplements.

  7. CG says:

    Belle – Can you describe the difference you saw in your mom's skin, before and after? In trying to sift through the sea of products claiming to be the “fountain of youth”, it would be helpful to have some examples.

  8. A says:


    If you like Ole and are concerned about aging, try the Truth Serum. It is AMAZING. It helps rebuild collagen and fight the wrinkles. I swear by it!

  9. Melissa says:

    As far as vitamins go, I recommend pre-natal vitamins plus a separate DHA supplement. I've had multiple doctors tell me that all pre-menopausal women should take these–not just pregnant ones.

  10. GeorgetownGirl says:

    I've seen a major difference in the smoothness of my skin and healing time for blemishes by taking an Omega-3 supplement everyday.

  11. Meiqi says:

    How is your resolution to sleep more coming along? Maybe more sleep will help your skin just as much as these other things?

  12. CAM says:

    Hi Belle,
    I wonder if you have suggestions for women in their twenties who still struggle with mild to moderate acne but would also like to start protecting their skin with anti-aging products. Thanks for all of the tips!

  13. m says:

    I'm 40. Changes in my skin were gradual until about age 38, when everything seemed to go to hell in a handbasket all at once. Niggling rosacea became full-blown, with breakouts, and on top of that I developed itchy, unsightly hormonal acne on my neck & jaw, which requires prescription meds to control. If that wasn't enough, whatever tiny lines that were developing but that were not too worrisome suddenly became pronounced and my skin was noticeably less elastic.

    Given all of that, here is what I know:
    -Aging happens and you cannot reverse that at all unless you want to go the route of injectables. I do not.
    -Retinol seems to keep lines at bay – though not necessarily improved
    -My skin does just fine with gentle cleansers and gentle moisturizers (including eye creams). Fancy, extensive ingredient lists make no difference on my lines and I risk irritation because of my other sensitivities.
    Occasional (like, 2-3x per week) gentle exfoliation seems to perk up my skin
    -These things are fundamental: a good night of sleep as often as possible, regular but not excessive exercise, staying internally hydrated, staying externally moisturized. These things can make you appear less fatigued and ashy.
    -High quality make-up and make-up brushes can make a difference. You may need to experiment with products, though, especially if you have sensitivities to ingredients or scents like I do.

    I do not have issues with dark circles under my eyes or uneven (non-rosacea) discoloration of my skin, so I cannot speak to products that advertise correction on those fronts. What I can say, given what I've gleaned from my routine visits to dermatologists, is that the majority of products on the market are advertising hogwash.

  14. R says:

    @CAM, if you are looking for something over the counter, I've said it before, but I really like Skinceuticals Age and Blemish. I've gone through 2 bottles now. I have very sensitive skin (actually just over now a nice rash from the african soap experiment) but this works great. I also use Differin at night (prescribed by md) and skinceuticals in the morning.


  15. Emme Gee says:

    Belle, I'm 31, and I started Botox last year. Not a lot of botox, but the minimum 20ccs in my forehead, and I can't tell you how many people have told that I look more rested, more relaxed, younger, etc, and all are surprised when I tell them I had a little Botox. I bought a groupon for my first treatment, so it was half-off.

    I am not a crazy plastic surgery person – I barely get around to painting my fingernails, but I am a serious brow-furrower, and I was developing an etched line in between my eyebrows. Now it's gone, and I get it touched up every six months. I know you have had your hesitations about Botox, but I would give it another thought – a little goes a long way.

    I've also started using the Clarisonic (thank you!), and that has made my skin look better (I think it's the exfoliation). I also stopped getting my eyebrows waxed and started getting threaded (I think waxing affects the skin negatively).

  16. bex says:

    Belle, I'm only 23 but starting to have the same grey hairs issue, however more on the crown of my head right along my hair part. I love my natural color which includes lighter highlights in my brown hair, so dying my hair already seems like a very slippery slope at a young age. Have you done anything to conceal the grey yet? If so, what?

  17. espie says:

    Hi Belle,

    Sorry premature aging has gotten to you! I don't have any beauty advice from personal experience, although my I can second Hae on the Cuisinart Juicer-I Love It! (And my roommate Macy's employee tells me this weekend would be the weekend to get one on the cheap!)

    On the battle against aging, about a year ago I swapped my pedicures for facials. Getting a facial regularly in addition to my pedicures were cost prohibitive, but feet I can handle. Creating a personalized skin care regimen and treatment plan I could not. Working with an esthetician has been great for me, and can definitely say its worth considering if you can afford it..

  18. espie says:

    I realize that my comment is contradictory, I don't have an advice on anti-aging products that I use, but I can say facials have made a huge difference in my skin! Sorry for being confusing :-/

  19. sai says:

    I use a Magic Bullet (the blender, not the OTHER magic bullet!) to make fruit and vegetable smoothies for breakfast. It purees spinach, kale, and other vegetables into drinkable form really nicely, especially when mixed with pears, frozen bananas, and fresh or frozen strawberries. My favorite is made with half a frozen banana, three frozen strawberries, half a pear, as much spinach and kale as will fit in the cup, and orange juice to top it off. It's delicious and actually inspires me to eat better throughout the rest of the day. The Magic Bullet is also great because the blade is super easy to cleanwith just a quick rinse and the single-serving cups come with lids so you can take your smoothie or juice to work with you. It's not a traditional juicer, but it works for me. Highly recommended.

  20. Anne says:

    I'm 31 and have gotten more and more aware of the aging process. But I'm PARANOID about changing my skin care routine up, for fear of waking the dragon that was my skin, mid-twenties. I am finally, finally breakout-free (mostly), and while I'm tempted go out and drop the $68 based on your mother's experience, I'm even more interested in what you have to say after using this longer. If this is both an effective anti-ager and a soothing problem skin-tonic, it is a miracle and I am on board. Hope to read more from you on this one soon!

  21. renee says:

    I have the magic bullet too, and i LOVE it! I use it at least once a day, for breakfast, and sometimes for dinner too. It's so so so easy and helps me get tons of fruits/veggies. I like an apple/spinach/pineapple/cucumer/mint mix, with a splash of almond milk or skim milk. I have also noticed that, in general, you can add a ton of spinach or other greens to any type of fruit smoothie (I typically use at least a cup of spinach/greens), and you don't even notice the taste. I ordered my magic bullet off of Amazon, which was much easier than ordering it from the actual magic bullet website (also, it was free shipping on amazon and i remember there being some crazy shipping price from the magic bullet website).

    As for skin, I am also not yet 30 and my forehead wrinkles are scary 🙁 perhaps I'll try the kit you are highlighting; at this point, I have nothing to lose.

  22. J says:

    I have a visible wrinkle line across my forehead and have been getting grey hairs for a few years and i'm only 25!! I've been using Olay Regenerist Fragrance Free Serum underneath my moisturizer and I've been taking Nature Made Stress B-Complex Plus Vitamin C and Zinc. Both have contributed to more radiant and youthful skin. I can usually find the vitamins on sale B1G1 at CVS. As for the grey hairs, every 3-4 months I buy a semi-permanent hair dye the same color as my natural hair and dilute it with my regular shampoo. It covers the grey's while putting less of the harmful dye chemicals in your hair.

  23. JJ says:

    Belle, thank you for being so open and honest about your beauty struggles. Your articles help significantly and I love reading them, as I can definitely relate.

  24. R says:

    I'm 33 and I did start Botox (2x) now in-between my eyebrows. I really like it, actually, but am very hesitant on who I share that info with. People are pretty judgmental. It makes me feel better about myself though and what's more important than that. I started very little and now the 2nd time, went up just a bit. I definitely need to go again. For me, I'm going every 12-16 wks, which is very long in-between and can definitely see myself going back to the way it was before treatment.

  25. s says:

    I have the Hurom juicer. It's fantastic. What works best for me is to prep my vegetables as soon as I buy them–then I can juice pretty quickly every day.

    Much of what I've noticed about my skin–I'm now 30–is what you've mentioned (even paper cuts linger!). I noticed my skin improved after I cut sugar from my diet–the texture is much smoother.

    Currently, I use CeraVe (similar to Cetaphil, which never worked for me) cleanser with the Clarisonic, YSL toner, and La Mer serum and moisturizer. I'm trying the Dr Brandt vacuum cleaner although I must admit that plain yogurt is my favorite mask (I just leave it on until it dries).

  26. s says:

    Also, my skin and general health improved after I stopped eating wheat. Totally worth it. I never expected it would cure my cystic acne.

  27. Alex says:

    Agree with m above. Now that me and my four sisters are hitting 50, how we look doesn't depend anything that we bought. How you age is 99.8% lifestyle and 0.2% what you put on your skin. Retinol and exfoliation make a smidge of a difference to your skin but that's it.

    Yoga and meditation are the two most useful things you can do to look younger. Drinking and smoking are the two worst. Sleep, eat well and don't bother about juices and vitamins or anything fussy or expensive unless your doctor says to.

    Makeup is your friend. Learn how to be good at putting it on. It takes time and effort but not necessarily very much money (only sometimes).

    Anti-aging is marketing not real life. You are going to get older.

  28. m says:

    As a follow-up to Alex, one thing I forgot to mention is SPF! I was a sun-worshipper through childhood and adolescence but in my late-20's I started (at least semi-) regularly wearing moisturizer with SPF if I was going to be out in daylight for lengths of time longer than 10-20 minutes. (I put it on my hands, too, thanks to encouragement from my dermatologist.) I try to get occasional doses of sunscreen-less Vitamin D but I think diligence has paid off. My parents, for example, were not so careful and not so lucky with the onset of wrinkles.

  29. J says:

    Turned 40 last year. I'm pretty ok in the skin department, no real wrinkles to speak of, but I'm Asian so the process is generally a bit slower than lighter skinned people. (Still 40 is 40, i.e. have to take off my glasses to thread a needle.) Haven't done anything special really (and at one point smoked a bit too, gasp) but I definitely stayed out of the sun and wore sunscreen everyday since I was 19 or so. I was still living in Korea at the time I went to Thailand for my honeymoon in 1995. There were a bunch of Scandinavian and American tourists and us on the beach – everyone in their bikinis, laying on the beach and little me with long sleeves over my swimsuit, face covered with sunscreen + foundation + SPF powder AND sunglasses + hat + parasole. I must have looked very weird, now that I think about it. It wasn't that I was super-aware back in the day. I think it's just a reflection of different beauty standards of different cultures. In many Asian countries (Japan is a bit different I think), pale = urban chic; tanned = farmer. I went to Seoul this summer and on the plane ride there read US women's magazines with articles about bronzing, self-tanning, etc. On the way back, all the Korean magazines I brought were all about “whitening” and how to ensure skin stayed light. 🙂

    This is getting too long – sorry Belle! Just one more thing: tried both high-end & low-end stuff. But recently discovered if I put moisturizer on within ONE minute of stepping out of the shower (not 3 like some people say) CVS Loreal works just as amazing as SK-II (I use both). That's one new thing I started a few months ago and am very surprised at the difference.

  30. J says:

    Wanted to add 3 points to the long post I just wrote. (I'm beginning to sound like those obnoxious commenter on NYTs online.)

    1. Should have said East Asian – not sure about the attitude of Southeast Asians or other Asians.
    2. I don't think the pale = pretty is a reflection of racism (or reverse racism?), at least not in Korea, because this attitude was around a long before Western people/culture was introduced in the early 20th c. It's more of a class thing in an agrarian society I think: the upperclass stayed in their houses while the lowerclass toiled away in the fields.
    3. I was very surprised when I moved to the US in 2002 that I couldn't buy a decent everyday use sunscreen at the drugstore. The only “sunscreen” was the sticky white stuff for the beach. So I had to ask friends to bring from Seoul whenever they visited. In the Asian markets even all the high-end houses (Chanel, Lancome, Estee, etc.) have offered very lightweight 30 – 50 SPF stuff for everyday use. Clinique's City Block was the first I saw in the US, but even that is a bit thick. I think things have changed a bit over here as well and I see lightweight looking sunscreen at Sephora sometimes, but I still use the stuff they sell in Asia.

  31. Alex says:

    Yes m. I should have said “99.8% lifestyle, 0.2% what you put on your skin except sunscreen.

  32. Esther says:

    I second any suggestions about sunscreen… I don't mean to sound cocky, but I have random strangers asking me about my skincare routine all the time and my response is always the same- I have been wearing sunscreen every single day since I was 19! If I don't wear it, I cannot bear the thought of what the sun's rays are doing to my skin.. so it is quite small and simple but for some reason, many people forego sunscreen.

    I hear that Vitamin C/ascorbic acid is good for fighting wrinkles and spots, if retinol does not work for you. I have heard that 4% hydroquinone creams with kojic acid work even better for spots.

  33. sofie in dallas says:

    I've made smoothies with my Vitamix for years–loved how I could sneak in carrots and/or purple cabbage with my frozen strawberries, blueberries, banana and get some veggies without any effort. However, I'm decided to step it up and have been juicing with a Breville juicer. Wow. Just, wow. I had no idea that kale, carrots, apples, ginger, and celery could (a) taste so damned good, and (b) be so damned addictive. I make a batch in the evening that I have as dinner or appetizer. Then I have some left for breakfast–seriously, believe it or not, it's good for breakfast, esp with 1/2 a toasted whole wheat bagel on the side. And I stay much more satiated than I'd expected.

    There are some great juicing sites. And amazon's commenters give all sorts of tips and hints about juicers that will help you decide, as well as videos on youtube. If you haven't seen “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” it's incredibly compelling and inspirational about getting some juicing into your life.

    Recipes: https://blog.williams-sonoma.com/30-days-of-juicing/#comments
    Here's a review of a juicer I'd have considered if I'd read about it before I was deciding between the Breville and the Omega VRT. https://www.runningonjuice.com/2011/10/17/jay-kordich-power-grind-pro-juicer-review/. The Breville is gorgeous, incredibly sturdy, and much easier to clean than I'd expected.

    As for trying to stave off age showing on your face, sunscreen is the most effective thing. And a skin care regime such as you're trying out is essential. I've tried all sorts of brands, but I'm happiest with Kiehl's, especially the Midnight Recovery Concentrate and Abbysine Cream–I always go back to these after I've wandered off and tried other things. And L'Occitane Immortelle Night Cream for, well, luxurious moisturizing while I sleep. For a cheap home remedy, try applying castor oil to your face, then put a warm washcloth over your face for 30 seconds to a minute, then rinse. Soothing, and it's supposed to draw out impurities from your pores. And I LOVE the African Black Soap for cleansing; witch hazel for toning.

    You'll update us about your success with the Ole products, right?

  34. Appealing Notes says:

    How are things going with the Ole Henriksen? Has anyone had any experience with the moisturizer by itself?

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