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Five Star Reviews

The Sage Skin Care Phenomenon ( Debra Keeler)

Heather Kleinman’s Cosmetic Connection Review of Sage Advice Make Up

Heather Kleinman at the Cosmetic Connection

Deanna at the Cosmetic Connection

Readers Survey Results at Cosmetic Connection

Acne Try Me Pack by Sandra at i.Compact

Oily Skin Try Me Pack by Tracy at i.Compact

Sage Body Products by Teri Chenin

Sage Body Products by Kristin Ashton

Sage Skin Care Face Products by Teri Chenin

Sage Skin Care Face Products by Kristin Ashton


Cosmetic Connection readers have spoken! Here are the the results of our 1999 Reader's Survey.

The number one choice is listed in bold, with the four runners-up following.

Cleanser: Cetaphil
2. Sage Facial Shampoo
3. Clinique soap
4. ProActiv Solution Renewing Cleanser
5. TIE: Lancome Clarifiance
Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser
Remede Milky Wash
Serious Skincare Glycolic Cleanser

Scrub: Remede Sweep (sensitive or original)
2. Sage Corrective Grains
3. St. Ives Apricot Scrub
4. Clinique 7 Day Scrub
5. Baking soda (mixed with water or Cetaphil)

Toner: Clinique Clarifying Lotion #2
2. Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner
3. ProActiv Solution Revitalizing Toner
4. Clarins Lotion Tonique
5. TIE: BeneFit Alpha Smooth
Witch hazel

Moisturizer: Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer
2. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
3. Creme de la Mer
4. Cetaphil lotion
5. TIE: Kiehl's Sodium PCA Moisturizer
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Lotion

Day SPF Moisturizer: Oil of Olay (Ulan) Complete
2. Estee Lauder DayWear
3. Sage SPF 25
4. Clinique Super City Block SPF 30
5. Peter Thomas Roth Daily Defense SPF 30

Eye Cream/Gel: Clinique All About Eyes
2. Origins Eye Doctor
3. L'Oreal Plenitude Revitalift Eye
4. Avon Lighten Up
5. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Cream

Acne Treatment: Sage Miracle Zit
2. ProActiv Solution system
3. Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear Persagel
4. Retin-A (prescription)
5. Origins Spot Remover


Sage Advice Skin Care
report by Deanna of the Cosmetic Connection Product Panel

This review is going to be a long one, so get a cup of tea or what ever is your "poison" and take a few minutes.

First, let me give you a little background about myself. I had "perfect" skin, albeit a little oily, until about the age of 26 when I suddenly developed "adult acne." I have been searching for products since that time that would clear my skin. As I've gotten older (I'm now 34 and don't mind telling you this, if you keep it a secret ;-)), I've added to my skin care product search the requirement that the products I use should not only clear my skin, but help my aging skin as well. I was a confirmed Proactiv Solution user, however, Proactiv doesn't do much to help fine lines and wrinkles. This was my only problem with the line. So, after reading Heather's review of Sage skin care and joining the Cosmetic Connection panel, and getting many requests from you, the readers, I decided to try Sage to see what it had to offer.

I've used Sage for about three months now, through part of the summer and the beginning of fall, and I'd like to share with you my Sage experience. I must say that this is one line that I was happy that I used for an extended period of time. I did experience some irritation for the first few weeks and I am really glad that I stuck with the line through the entire 3 month period; had I written before, I may have given erroneous information.

Before I start, though, here are a few extra details about the regimen I used, the web site, the product packaging and the customer service.

The best regimen for me during the day during the summer months turned out to be: Gelloid moisturizer, extra strength corrective grains, regular strength cleanser, SPF 25, 20% Smoothing Gel and a reformulated Hydrating Emulsion with extra moisture. Now that it is fall I've had to readjust to using the Gelloid moisturizer instead of the reformulated Hydrating Emulsion as well as the 20% Smoothing Cream instead of the gel. The best regimen for evening turned out to be extra strength corrective grains, regular strength cleanser, icing, 20% Smoothing Gel or Smoothing Cream and extra strength Miracle Zit. I know many people have a concern about icing, so let me address this now. I've been using the icing technique and it is not new to me, since I began modeling at about the age of 16. I have always found that it reduces inflammation, so I wasn't worried about doing it in conjunction with these products. I have not seen any side effects from icing over the years, however, I do recommend wetting the ice and the face before performing the procedure as it does help to reduce the "drag" on the skin.

The website contains a great deal of good, common sense information about skin care, so even if you don't buy the line, I would recommend at least a perusal of the site to review the information. Also, the product use instructions are listed there, not only in print but via voice (wave file) as well. I found the list of comedogenic ingredients to be an interesting addition to the lists given to me by my dermatologist. Many of the same ingredients are listed, however, the Sage list does include some that my dermatologist's list does not and my dermatologist's list does contain some that the Sage list does not. (These are the lists I use when I examine products for review. If both the derm doctor and Barbara agree on an ingredient being comedogenic, I list it as such in my review, if only the Sage list mentions it, I just list it as an ingredient in the products and leave it to the readers to decide.)

The product packaging is VERY minimal. These are basic, everyday, white bottles and jars with computer generated (I think) labels. Not very pretty on the vanity, if this is an interest for you. You are definitely paying for product here, people. The labels do peel and rub off, especially when wet (and they are going to get wet), so download the instruction sheets and put them somewhere safe. You may need them. Unfortunately, Ms. Strickland does not put ingredient information on the product labels, so you will have to request that information from her.

The customer service is excellent - actually, superb. Any questions I had were answered via email within the hour and when I was having problems with the Miracle Zit (more on that later), I got a personal phone call to clear up the matter. My only problem in this arena was when I submitted my profile before trying the products I received no answer. I resubmitted my profile and still received no answer. I went ahead and bought the "Acne Try Me Pack" at $39.95 and within 24 hours I had an answer. It turned out that I had actually bought the wrong one for my skin type, which is what I was trying to avoid doing in the first place, and had to buy the "Oily Skin Try Me Pack" at $49.95 as well. Oh well, at least I got to try a lot of the products and there is about six to eight weeks of product to get the skin through the adjustment period. Now to the review.

Corrective Grains and Extra Strength Corrective Grains (4oz for $17.50)
Both of these products are excellent exfoliants. And, of course, there are no comedogenic ingredients. The extra strength grains do contain more of the polyethylene beads as well as a little more added detergent, however both of these products are aloe vera based and gentle. Ms. Strickland takes great pains to remind customers that these grains are to be used gently. This is very important, especially when using the 20% glycolic acid gel. What I loved about both products was that they could be applied right over makeup. The regular strength grains have a pleasant aroma, mandarin orange or peachy smell; however, the extra strength grains smell more "detergent-y".

Facial Shampoo and Extra Strength Facial Shampoo (4oz for $17.50)
Again, both of these products are excellent. They "whip away" any traces of makeup, oil, and "dirt" quickly and easily. I personally prefer the regular strength cleanser. I found the extra strength cleanser to be a little drying and it had that strong "detergent-y" smell to it. I agree with Heather that the regular strength cleanser is my absolute favorite cleanser of all time and I would highly recommend it for anyone, not just the acne prone.

Biological Clay Mask (4oz for $40)
This is a "super creamy" clay mask with a bit of a "sting" to it. I found that the product was so creamy, it's a bit difficult to get the prescribed 1/8-inch thickness on the face. I absolutely loved what this product did for my skin. It exfoliated my skin, leaving it feeling clean and soft. My skin literally glowed after using this product and it needs only to be left on for 15 minutes, a definite plus for me as a busy mother. Unlike many products of this type, this clay mask does not need to dry on the face to do its job.

SPF 25 Sunscreen (4oz for $21)
First of all, let me say that you will definitely need a sunscreen when using this product line. This sunscreen that comes with the "Try Me Pack" is applied over wet skin and only a pea sized drop is needed to cover the face and neck, so it will last you a long time; in fact, I'm still using the first bottle that I purchased. I don't mind telling you that initially, I felt that as a woman of color, most of my sunscreen was "built in"; however, I have found within the last two years or so that I do have sun damage to my skin, so I've been searching for a sunscreen that works. Until now, I hated sunscreens for a number of reasons - usually they are sticky and tacky and impede my makeup finish because titanium dioxide usually causes "ashiness and graying" on the skin of women of color. I don't know how Ms. Strickland did it, but this product does NOT cause any of the "graying" I normally associate with titanium dioxide products. In fact, I even tried this product on my husband, who is a dark "Coca-Cola" brown and once the product dried, even on his dark skin, no "ashiness." Women of color everywhere, if you buy nothing else from Sage, get this product! Finally, there is a sunscreen that works for us.

6%, 12% and 20% Smoothing Creams and 20% Smoothing Gel (2oz for $60)
Personally, I found that the 6% cream was simply too gentle for my skin. It didn't do a thing for me. The 12% and 20% creams I find I use more nowadays that my skin is a little dryer because the weather is cooler. However, the Smoothing Gel is the "powerhouse" of these glycolic acid products. During the initial trial period, Ms. Strickland suggests that the smoothing gel be used only once a day for a month. There is good reason for this. It can and will cause irritation and the skin must adjust to it. I could not recommend this product to any one with sensitive skin or to anyone with a low "pain" tolerance because it "stings/burns". However, once my skin adjusted to this product, I found that it was not only a FABULOUS exfoliant, but also a fantastic oil control lotion and wrinkle/line eraser. My crow's feet have completely disappeared and my skin, even in the summer, did not produce nearly the amount of oil it usually does. I have found, now in the fall, that it is a little too aggressive and have started using the creams on my face instead of the gel.

Gelloid Moisturizer (4oz for $40)
During the summer months, I found this moisturizer to be too rich for my skin. It kind of "lays on top" and did not absorb well. However, I found it was a great moisturizing mask after using the extra strength Miracle Zit over night and the At Home Peel. Now I substitute it for the reformulated hydrating emulsion with extra moisture.

Old Lady Cream (2oz for $40)
Unlike Heather, I liked the Old Lady Cream, but I am a number of years older than she. I found it to be an asset as a "sealant" in both summer and fall against the elements and pollution. My makeup application "flowed" better when I used it, especially during the initial trial period, when my skin was a little rough. I don't like it much as an eye cream though (it's not powerful enough), but it is very soothing on the face and moisturizing without being greasy.

10% Miracle Zit and Extra Strength %10 Miracle Zit with Sulfur (4 oz for $23)
I loved both of these products, although I found the extra strength to be the better product for me. While using these products I have found that I have had absolutely no acne break outs, even during my "hormonal" time of the month. These are aggressive products, though. This product cannot be used around the eyes, and can "travel" if applied over wet Smoothing Gel. I found that it was best to allow the Smoothing Gel to dry before applying the Miracle Zit. It "congeals" less when applied this way and does not "travel" up near the eyes. It will cause a great deal of SWELLING if gotten around the eyes, so be careful. Also, it will "bleach" out dyes on clothes, pillowcases, sheets, etc. so allow the product to dry thoroughly before retiring for the evening. If you have sensitive skin and are acne prone, you may prefer the gentler versions of these products.

I actually saw improvement in my skin in a 24-hour period. Because I was so impressed, I bought two others that Ms. Strickland offers.

Ooey-Gooey Exfoliating Mask at 15% (4oz for $60)
This was the only Sage product that I did not like. Although I found it to be a quick, convenient treatment for my skin, I did not think much of the exfoliating qualities of the product. I don't think that it really stays on the face long enough - it dries in about 10 minutes, which doesn't do much for my face. My skin was soft, but I found that the Biological Clay Mask actually did a better job for me and it is cheaper. The Ooey-Gooey Mask does have a very strong "acid-y" smell, and, in my opinion, doesn't exfoliate enough to warrant the price tag. I sent this product back and Ms. Strickland was nice enough to give me "credit" toward anther purchase, even though the product was used.

At Home Peel (2oz for $70)
This is another "powerhouse" product, which is fabulous, but I cannot recommend for those with sensitive skin or those with a low pain tolerance. I was actually a little worried about using this product initially, sine so many products like this can cause uneven "lightening" of the skin tone of women of color. However, I did not find this to be the case with this product. It is a Very Aggressive Product. It definitely STINGS. However, if you can stand it for four minutes (it should not be used for longer than that), you will love the results. I have found that this product has helped me to remove almost all signs of sun damage on my cheekbones (driver's side UV damage) and my skin is like "porcelain" after using it. Although it may seem a little pricey, there are actually 40-50 treatments in this bottle, so it actually averages out to be fairly reasonable for what you are getting. I found that this product could be very drying, even on oily skin, if used too often, so I used it once every 7-10 days with lots of ice and Gelloid after the treatment. I would highly recommend it to anyone who can tolerate the "stinging" and can do with a little UV damage reversal.

Well, there you have it, my Sage experience. Overall, I think this is a fantastic skin care line that, although it is a little pricey, it definitely delivers what it promises. One final testimonial: one day, while using this product line, I was running late for class and was (gasp) "sans" makeup in the city. A man walked up to me and asked me if I had ever modeled before. Not wanting to get into a long discussion with a stranger, I said "No." He handed me his card and said, "Well, if you are ever interested, give me a call." It turns out that he was a VP for a very reputable Modeling/Talent firm in New York. I'm not interested in modeling anymore, since my life has moved on to other things, but thanks to Sage, it's nice to know that maybe I could have modeled again and my skin wouldn't have played up on me. My "hats off" to Ms. Strickland, her company and her products - I'm a convert. Does this mean I won't be trying other skin care lines? Absolutely not! You'll be hearing from me again as I'll be back with more reviews :).

You can find Sage Skin Care at WWW.SAGESKINCARE.COM


Sage Advice Skin Care
report by Heather of the Cosmetic Connection Product Panel

When I'm not locked up in my bathroom testing cleansers and trying different brands of eye shadow, I am regularly online surfing around for interesting beauty sites. During a recent jaunt, I discovered Sage Skin Care by Barbara Strickland. Barbara is a published author and has 17 years experience as a Para-Medical Esthetician. Her Sage Skin Care site features products she has created to treat acne, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin discolorations. Barbara also shares some great information in articles about preventing acne, avoiding common skin care product ingredients that can aggravate acne, and using sunscreen religiously.

Here are a couple of Barbara's tips that I now swear by: your face with slightly warm to cool water. Hot or very warm might feel good but that heat makes the skin swell and your pimples get irritated. Now that we're getting into summer, try using cool water and see how refreshing it feels. Barbara's words, "Be an acne detective." Learn about product ingredients and which ones to avoid. This advice alone has made a marked improvement in my skin far beyond what any one cream or mask could do. I never realized just how many ingredients I was using regularly were making my problem skin worse.

When you first visit Sage Skin Care and browse the selection of products, you may wonder why everything seems a little expensive. This is not another skin care line charging high prices for fancy packaging and expensive advertising; what you are paying for is truly product quality and unbelievable service. For every customer and every product ordered, Barbara will work with you to get the best results for your skin, whether that means exchanging products, reformulating ingredients, or customizing a program that suits your needs. I only wish every shopping experience could be so warm, personal, and thorough.

Corrective Grains ($17.50 for 4 ounces)
Because Barbara will re-blend her products depending on your skin's reaction to the initial formula (made of ammonium lauryl sulfate, aloe vera, benzoyl peroxide 2 ½%, polyethylene beads, aloe vera, and preservative), I actually tried two versions of this scrub. The first was a little too grainy and drying for my skin, so Barbara made a new blend with fewer scrub grains and more cold pressed aloe vera and hydrolyzed sunflower oil, which worked wonderfully for me. I also modified my program so I use the scrub once a day in the morning rather than morning and night. I almost can't imagine my morning without it!

Facial Shampoo ($17.50 for 4 ounces)
Again, some trial and error led me to trying three different versions of this cleanser. The first was a little too drying for my normal to dry skin (made of ammonium lauryl sulfate, aloe vera, hydrolyzed safflower oil, allantoin, panthenic acid, and preservative), so Barbara sent me two other formulas, one foaming with more cold pressed aloe, and one non-foaming with hydrolyzed safflower oil. I love both and use the foaming in the shower and the non-foaming at night. This cleanser is very gentle and removes all your makeup effortlessly without irritating your eyes.

SPF 25 Sunblock ($21 for 4 ounces)
For my pale skin, sunblock is something I already use faithfully but never really liked. Almost all the ones I've tried are thick, too white, smell awful, or leave my skin feeling greasy. Barbara created hers to work with the water left on your skin after cleansing, so it absorbs more quickly and easily into your skin. It contains octyl methoxy cinnimate (uvb), octyl salicylate (uvb), menthyl anthranilate (uva), titanium dioxide (uva) plus aloe vera. If you never use sunscreen because you hate the consistency, consider this one. I don't get ready in the morning without it.

Gelloid Moisturizer and Masque ($40 for 4 ounces)
Here's another example of trying more than one formula. The original Gelloid (made of cold pressed aloe vera, allantoin, hydrolyzed safflower and sunflower oil, panthenic acid, chamomile, vitamin c and preservative) wasn't absorbing well into my skin, so Barbara tweaked it for me. The only downside is that I can't use it around my eyes - if it gets anywhere near them, my eyes get red and teary. Otherwise this is a great lightweight cream that makes the skin feel supple and smooth.

Glycolic Acid 12% Smoothing Cream ($60 for 2 ounces)
I've been an advocate of AHAs for acne prone skin for quite some time, and I've tried just about every brand out there. I can honestly say I like this one the best. Unlike most AHAs, this one also has BHA (salicylic acid) and vitamin C in a surprisingly non-comedogenic base of aloe vera, allantoin, hydrolyzed safflower oil, and hydrolyzed sunflower oil that smooths the skin and reduces fine lines and blotchiness from old acne. I've had better results and less irritation with this than any other AHA I've tried.

Old Lady Cream ($40 for 2 ounces)
This is the only Sage product that didn't "wow" me. It's a basic moisturizer that seals in the moisture on your skin. I used it on some dry patches and around my eyes for a while, but didn't see a dramatic difference. My re-formulated Gelloid plus a regular eye cream (I'm using Alpha Hydrox now) do a better job for me.

Miracle Zit ($35 for 8 ounces)
At the heart of the Sage acne fighting program is this benzoyl peroxide cream. It's free of the irritating fillers that most drugstore brands have, and is designed to be used on your whole face (or wherever you regularly breakout) as well as for spot treating individual pimples. Personally, I could only use it on individual pimples; my skin does not react well to benzoyl peroxide all over, so I use prescription erythromycin gel and Differin all over my face instead.

XX Miracle Zit ($40 for 8 ounces)
For especially large, cystic pimples, this extra strength cream works quickly (within 24-48 hours) without drying your skin to death. This version is NOT designed to be used all over your face.

One of the best ways to try Sage products is in a Try Me Pack. For around $50, you get 2 ounce sizes of the products most appropriate for your skin, complete with Barbara's great service and advice. If you want to try the products and see how your skin does, this is a great way to do it.

The Sage Skin Care Phenomenon
by Debra Keeler

PRODUCTS SHOWN: ABOVE Back row-- (all 8oz) Extra Gentle Facial Shampoo, Extra Gentle Corrective Grains, Regular Strength Facial Shampoo, Extra Strength Facial Shampoo
Middle row -- 2oz Extra Strength Facial Shampoo, 4oz Regular Strength Grains, 2oz Extra Gentle Corrective Grains Front -- 2oz Heavenly Body Oil spray


BS: The market IS flooded, but 99% of the products are comedogenic (acne causing.) The information about skin care is so confusing that it's impossible to tell if a product is going to work for you. The consumer has no education to guide them when shopping for skin care and acne products. That's why I have a database on my website for comedogencity.

It's also why I feature custom formulation for each client, and not just with products, but information and usage also. I want them to maximize their results!

Custom blending? How does that work?

BS: Say you've heard about me through an on-line magazine review. When you enter my site, I ask you to fill out a detailed profile that covers every aspect of your health. The skin conditions you'd like to correct. What medicines, skin care and hair products, and make up you're currently using, as well as your lifestyle. From this profile, I can offer you positive suggestions and custom blend my products to meet your exact needs. This step is really important because your skin problems often stem from a particular medication, lack of SPF protection, combined with comedogenic ingredients. With a client's profile in hand, I choose the proper "Try Me Pack," custom blend if necessary, include proper instructions, and guarantee results within 24 to 48 hours. The fact that you can see and feel this improvement, know that my products won't cause acne, are fresh, and formulated just for you gives you the power to change your skin.

Custom blending is an interesting concept.

BS: Yes, and it's the exciting part of what I do. Depending on what a client needs, I add fresh ingredients to my product's base. Say for instance, a client likes my Regular Strength Facial Shampoo, but needs more moisture. I might add Panthetonic Acid, Allantonin, Hydrolyzed Sunflower or Safflower Oil. My lab contains pints, quarts, and gallons
of fresh ingredients that I can add spoon by spoon.

Sage is known for its great customer service. What or who inspired that?
BS: Customer service is and always has been the cornerstone of any good business. Just selling a client your products doesn't guarantee glowing acne-free skin. You must stay with the client through the whole process. I do this with great relish because I enjoy helping and it makes a total difference to the client. From the very beginning Sage has been customer
service oriented. If you're struggling with skin problems you have enough stress and unanswered questions shouldn't add to that.

What's the favorite part of your business and what's your favorite product?
BS: I would say it's educating and customer service, which I feel are one and the same. Information and knowledge are the tools a client needs and I give these out on my website, the Sage Skin Care Blog ( as well as through customer service. My favorite product is the SPF. I'm the Queen of Sunblock. Skin cancer is so easily avoided with proper protection as are the problems that come from overexposure like lines, discoloration, texture changes, wrinkles, lentigos, actinic keratosis, and leathery old-looking skin. There isn't anyone at any age that wouldn't benefit from using a SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays!

As your company grows, how do you intend to keep your customer service so terrific?
BS: Again education is the key for employees and clients. We're introducing a new website with more interactive capabilities and "Human Click" technology for instant help. Our toll free phone number, prompt e-mail replies, the information on my website, and the Forum all play key roles. The ability of my clients to access anyone at Sage is the secret to my customer service success. No one buffers my calls. I'm available to anyone who needs my help or just wants to pay me a compliment.
Speaking of growth, do you see Sage hooking up with one of the big on-line retailers?
BS: This is always a possibility, but it would have to be done very slowly. It takes a long time to test a product base and then formulate it for each individual. I would hate having a host that was more interested in sales than helping the client. In order to sell, you have to offer results and care for the client. I don't make a lot of products. I upgrade and change the ones I already have. When I first made my Smoothing Cream and Smoothing Gel (glycolic acid,) they contained glycolic acid and hydrators. Three years later I added salicylic acid and then Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Why make four different products when one can contain them all? Custom formulation is the key to ease of use and results.

SHOWN ABOVE: 4oz extra Gentle Facial Shampoo, 8oz Extra Gentle Corrective Grains, 8oz Extra Strength Corrective Grains

Make up seems like a natural progression for your company. Do you have any plans for it?
BS: I'm working hard with my daughter, Joanna (President of Sage Skin Care,) to have a line ready in October of this year. It will be totally non-comedogenic and easy to use. We have been working on make up for over a year.

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