One of the nicest things that happens for me when winter finally ends is that my skin starts behaving itself again. It’s super-dry, sensitive, and I have rosacea, which is a triple-whammy no matter where one lives — but add the Madrid climate to the mix and YIKES!

Last winter I was so desperate that I went for a (Perfect) laser treatment. It worked wonders, but it was expensive and the recovery seemed to take forever. My dermatologist recommended a redness reducing topical that was less expensive in the States than here, so when I was home in April, I decided to do a little research. I went to Beautypedia and found that even with U.S. prices, it still cost the earth, and didn’t have a great track record. So I popped over to the Paula’s Choice side of the website and looked at my options there.

Paula Begoun is known as the “Cosmetics Cop” for her zeal in looking for the truth behind the hype, and all of the claims made about her products are backed up with clinical research.

Since Paula’s Choice also has a rock-solid guarantee, I decided to go ahead and try a couple of products — a redness reducer and a moisturizer, plus a nice big sample of retinol serum that I got for free. The first two products worked really well, but the serum — WOW! Off the charts results in a week. Needless to say I bought a full-sized bottle as well as an extra of each of the other two products, and a BHA exfoliating lotion that was highly rated, even for reactive skin like mine.

I added the redness reducer and BHA lotion to the morning part of my routine, and the serum to the night. I kept using my La Roche Posay Toleriane cleanser and Skin-79 BB cream (I now use the Moisture Plus Purple, with SPF 30++) as my combo sunscreen/foundation. It’s super-easy to follow and the extra steps don’t add any appreciable time to things. That’s important, because it means I actually do it every day with no excuses.

In the year that I’ve been following this refined routine, my skin has improved amazingly. It’s smoother, plumper, and calmer. I still had my annual winter rosacea flare-up, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year, and I was able to knock it back down with just a course of low-dose antibiotics.

If you’re looking to jazz up your skin care routine with products that do what they say they will (and that you can return if they don’t) at very reasonable prices, pay a visit to the Paula’s Choice website. I think you’ll like what you find there.