Prepare yourselves: it’s time for my long-awaited, daily skincare routine. You may be wondering why I haven’t posted about my skin care regimen in so long, since it’s one of my most requested posts. Here’s the reason: it changed about a million times, until I found what worked for me, longterm. You see, I used to have nearly perfect skin, and my biggest concern was merely keeping it that way. I settled into a lovely, lazy girl routine – one of those all inclusive skin care subscriptions that are tailored to your needs – and then they shut down the company (and kept charging my credit card, but that’s another story). On my quest for a new ritual, I started experimenting with all of the products that were sent my way…and it got a little out of control. I was a skin care hoarder and piler-on-er. Some things were great, some were lackluster, but my skin was still looking fine, for the most part. Then, about a year ago, my skin started looking not so hot. A cystic blemish would pop up here and there and seemingly never go away, my texture changed, and the slightest irritant would send my skin into a downward spiral of blotchy, bumpy disarray. My friends and family told me I was crazy, that my skin looked fine, but I wasn’t used to this new skin, and it felt awful, unhealthy, aggravated. I even photographed full makeup tutorials and then wouldn’t post them because the lighting amplified my skin’s minor issues. Forgiving lighting and a strategically placed hand became my best friends. It sounds SO silly, but it made me horribly self conscious. I made it all through my teens and most of my twenties without any skin problems, so dealing with it at nearly 30 came as a shock to me, no matter how minor it seemed to friends on the outside.
So, I did what any paranoid, desperate person would do: everything, all of it. I used all of the products and did all of the things. In my effort to fix it, I made it even more angry and irritated, and took okay skin and made it a mess. My skin just couldn’t take it anymore: all of the piled on products and poking and prodding were making it worse and worse. After one particularly horrible facial (not with my regular facialist, mind you), I came home in slight hysterics. My skin was bright red, bleeding, polka-dotted with irritated lumps from harsh extractions that I never really needed in the first place. That was my skin’s rock bottom. Here I was, almost 30, with the skin of a hormonal teenager. Not into it.
The second I got home from said facial/massacre, I desperately searched for a dermatologist who could help me fix what I broke. This was all done beneath my newly erected sheet fort, which I buried myself beneath while crying, “I’m never leaving my bed, ever again!” Poor Bobby. He has to deal with so much drama. Let’s also note that by “desperately searched for a dermatologist” I mean that I called the one who is literally across the street from me. Like I said, drama. I merely called one doctor, made an appointment for the very next day and then walked across the street, but it gives a better visual to imagine me tearing through the yellow pages and scouring the city for a doctor, you know what I mean? But the sheet fort was totally real; it was a low moment for me and I felt like living in a tent on my bed was the only appropriate solution.
Upon tearfully explaining my situation to the dermatologist, she reassured me that we could fix my skin in no time – and she was [thankfully] right. First things, first: I cut out my entire product cabinet, to eliminate anything that was contributing to the irritation. I had to pare things down and add things in over time, to figure out what does and does not work for my skin. Second: I got a mild chemical peel to help reverse the damage, repair the texture, and fade the scarring – and did a package of them (spaced out over time) for maximum results. I’m actually going to do a separate post about what other treatments I do for my skin, because it’s too much to go into in one post (it’s already a novel and I haven’t even gotten into it). It has been a good, long time of being back to clear, silky smooth skin, so I finally feel confident in sharing my current daily routine with you. Please keep in mind that I am absolutely not a skin care expert, and that what works for me might not work for you. But if you want to give my routine a shot, here it goes! Excuse the novel…this needed a backstory. Continue reading after the jump, for my morning and nightly skin care routines with descriptions:
Step 1: I use Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion, which I apply on dry skin and remove with water and a clean, damp muslin cloth (these are my favorite cloths). I take my time when applying, massaging my face and neck, which helps me wake up and gets my blood flowing. Since I have TMJ, I also spend extra time massaging my jaw and sometimes apply a hot compress to loosen my muscles. Here’s why I love Avene cleanser: it’s beyond gentle, yet breaks down impurities/makeup/sweat and leaves you feeling clean without stripping it. Don’t expect any foaming – in fact, stay away from anything with the word “foaming” in the description, in my opinion!
Step 2: After cleansing, I dampen a cotton pad with Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 and wipe my face and neck with it – dampen, not soak, since this stuff is expensive and it’s potent enough that a little can go a long way. This cult favorite is an exfoliating acid toner, and preps the skin for what lies ahead. It also helps with discoloration, blemishes, texture, etc. If you want to skip this step during the day, you can absolutely swap it out for a less expensive or milder toner, but I’ve found that it isn’t too much for my skin to use this twice a day and so I choose to do so. I order this from VickiMorav.com (it requires a quick and painless registration) and it always comes with a generous amount of Biologique samples – a couple of which smell too awful for me to use, no matter how incredible everyone says they are. The Masque Vivant is supposed to be wonderful, but my gag reflex kicked in before I finished applying it and I had to remove it, so I’ll never know its wonders. But back to Lotion P50: I use the newer formula – regular Lotion P50, not the P50V, P50W, or 1970. I used to use Lotion P50 1970 (the original formula), which contains Phenol. I liked it but didn’t love it, and it made my face bright red and had a slight numbing, immediately after use. It smelled like Robitussin, or as Bobby claimed, “toy soldiers.” I temporarily swapped it out for other toners, and eventually tried the newer version, which is twenty times better for my skin. It has a slight vinegar-y smell that doesn’t bother me at all, but I thought I should note it for anyone with a sensitive nose, and though it’s gentler on my skin, its results are brilliant. And yes, it is expensive, but one bottle lasts a long time…and this skin is all you have. Take care of it. If you want a less expensive alternative, skin care guru Caroline Hirons suggests cult favorite Pixi Glow Tonic Beauty Elixir. I recently started alternating with Glow Tonic, to try it out!
Step 3: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate is my current eye cream (well, it’s not really a cream) of choice. It’s more like a serum, and it rolls on with a metal ball applicator that has this instant cooling effect that feels amazing and smooths out/de-puffs the skin under my eyes.
Step 4: Clyndamycin topical gel. I apply this all over my face and jawline. It’s a lightweight, topical antibiotic that kills bacteria. My dermatologist prescribed this for me, so you’ll have to talk to your doctor and see if it’s a good fit for you. I can be admittedly lax about washing my brushes on a daily basis, use things like the (amazing) beautyblender (which I do wash daily but it can still hold bacteria), and live in a big city, so this is really helpful. I definitely noticed a difference when I introduced this to my routine – no more clogged pores on my cheeks, where most of my product was concentrated (bb cream, blush, highlighter, contour powder!).My derm had me applying morning and night to get my skin under control, but then cut it back to a few days a week. Note: A reader recently commented that this can lead to your skin developing an antibiotic resistance, with overuse – something I definitely want to look into, since oral antibiotics can lead to the same.
Step 5: Avene Skin Recovery Cream. I love this moisturizer: it’s rich without being heavy, glides on like a dream, and a little goes a long way. Heads up: it contains mineral oil, which some people are adamantly against. You can read myriad arguments for and against it, so read up on it and make an informed opinion. This happens to be one of the very few moisturizers I can use on my face without irritation (and with good results). The funny thing is, I can put loads of acid on my skin with no issue, but “gentle” moisturizers can make it feel like it’s on fire. The Skin Recovery Cream makes my skin sing, rather than singe, so I won’t argue against it.
Step 6: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. Crucial. I consider this the ultimate anti-aging product in my arsenal: SPF. I apply it all over my face and neck, and this is the last topical step before I apply any makeup. The SPF 60 isn’t entirely necessary – it’s not twice as effective as SPF 30 (more like 2%, really) – but this formula is my favorite for my face. It’s extremely lightweight, and has no overt scent or residue. And much like the other products I swear by, a little goes a long way.
Step 1: Since I’m usually wearing makeup (or at the very least, SPF), during the day, I cleanse twice. I usually start with an oil that breaks down my makeup and SPF with ease, such as The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil or Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. In a pinch (aka when I’m traveling), I’ll either cleanse twice with Avene (using a cotton pad to remove makeup) or use a wipe to remove the bulk of my makeup…but this is the absolute exception to the rule. I try not to use wipes unless I don’t really have another option, aka I’m on a road trip and it’s all I have in the car.
Step 2: I switch between two cleansers, using each one every other night: the Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion (same one I use in the morning), and Glytone mild gel wash, which contains Glycolic acid. It might seem excessive to wash twice, but it’s essential to break down that SPF and remove any traces of makeup and dirt before treating your skin, or else you’re just locking in grime and bacteria.
Step 3: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 all over face and neck. I skip this on nights when I swap out the Avene for Glytone, since both the wash and lotion contain acid and I don’t want to over-exfoliate.
Step 4: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate or eye cream of choice. The reason I apply this first is because I want it to penetrate that delicate skin around my eyes, and anything I apply after would just create a barrier.
Step 5: Small amount of Clyndamycin topical gel on face and jawline.
Step 6: Every other night, I switch between Avene Skin Recovery Cream (on nights when I use Avene cleanser) and Glytone Step 1 Exfoliating Lotion (on nights when I use Glytone wash). The Glytone combo is has a great exfoliating effect, and I wake up looking like I had a mini-peel, minus the flaking skin.
Extras: I’ve been slowly re-introducing serums in my nightly routine (after clyndamycin and before my moisturizer), and I love a sheet mask, especially when I’m traveling. During the winter, I sleep with the Dr. Jart Water Fuse Water Max Sleeping Mask on top of everything, which seals in moisture and keeps my skin from drying out from the central heating. Other than that, I’ve been hesitant to try out new products, too often…I don’t want to mess with a good thing.
That’s about it! I hope you didn’t find this too overwhelming – it’s actually pretty simple, once you get into the routine. I know it may look like a lot to remember but it’s a very similar process, with a few minor tweaks between day and night.