Over the past few years our moves have really taken a toll on my skin. We went from a relatively dry climate in Kansas with cold temperatures, to the humid, smoggy weather of Houston. Now here we are in the hot, humid coastal weather of Corpus Christi. Needless to say my skin was freaking out. On top of that, I am in my mid 30s...what worked in my early adulthood will not work now. I decided to get serious and really start focusing on my skin.
First, a disclaimer....I am not a Dermatologist or a professional skin consultant. What I am is an informed skincare and cosmetic enthusiast. I have tried all different products, from drugstore to high end. My other motto is research, research, research. Get to know what those ingredients are on the back of the box. Also, everyone's skin is different. What may work for some could be disastrous for others.
I have two skincare routines, morning and night. Both of these routines follow the same pattern, but with slightly different products. Before I explain my routines, let me give a bit of personal skin information. I am 36 years old with dehydrated, dry-combination skin that is also extremely sensitive and prone to breakouts. My concerns are hydration, wrinkle prevention, and scarring from acne.
Both my routines follow the same pattern: cleanse, tone, serum, moisturize.
Cleanse: I use balm or cream cleansers. They are the most gentle on skin, and yet effective at removing makeup. Stay away from all foam cleansers! They strip your skin.
Tone: I rotate between an exfoliating toner that uses glycolic acid to get rid of dry skin cells (an big cause of acne) and a gentle toner aimed at restoring the skin's natural Ph balance.
Serum: These get layered according to what I think I need at the time. Oil for extra moisture, serums high in hyaluronic acid to trap water in the skin, Retinols to help with skin texture.
Moisture: Obviously something to moisturize the skin. Cannot contain Mineral oil or shea butter, both of which are causes of acne.
Here are both of my routines right now:
Cleanse with Bobbi Brown Balm Rinse or CeraVe gentle cleanser and a wash cloth. Lots of people say no need to wash in the morning, but as soon as I started removing the "sleep" off of my face in the morning I noticed a dramatic reduction in acne. (also i now wash my pillowcase every 3 days.)
Tone with Kiehl's Ultra Facial Toner using a cotton pad. This restores my skin's Ph and just makes it instantly feel calmer. I then spray my face with Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist. It contains things like witch hazel and sodium hyaluronate (attracts and traps water).
Serum- I don't always use a serum in the morning and go straight to spf or moisturizer.
Moisturizer- You may notice I didn't mention spf up there. That is because I don't apply an SPF every single day. I use makeup that contains physical spf. If I knew I was going to be outside that day I would at this time apply an spf made for the face. I really like the bobbi brown one. On a daily basis though I just apply my moisturizer. Currently I am using the Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer. Something to keep in mind if you wear makeup- an oil based moisturizer is often difficult to wear under water based foundation. So, I keep my oils for night use and use a water-based moisturizer for the daytime.
Cleanse with the balm cleanser. I warm a small amount between my hands to warm up and then massage onto dry skin. I then clean off with a warm wash cloth.
Tone with Aveda Botanic Kinetic Exfoliant. This exfoliant contains glycolic and salicilic acids to eat away dead skin cells, which prompts cell turnover and prevents clogged pores. As soon as I started using a glycolic acid I noticed a marked difference in my skin. Stay away from scrubs! No apricot seeds on the skin. It's like putting tiny little cuts all over your face. Lactic acid will also exfoliate, but not to the degree as glycolics.
Serum- I switch between a retinol serum and a hydrating serum. For retinol serums, I look for retinol to be in the top of the ingredients list. For hydrating serums, I look for hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Right now I am using ROC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Serum. I like it, but don't love it. I'll probably be shopping for a new one once this is used up. For hydration I have just recently ordered Caudelie SOS serum.
Oil- I then apply a small amount of facial oil all over my face. Yes, you can use oils with acne. I am using Clarins Blue Orchid face oil which is aimed at dehydrated skin (um, me). For some people this may be enough, but for my dry skin I need to then go on to a moisturizer.
To finish, I apply my Perricone MD moisturizer and go to bed. When I wake up my face feels so soft.
Now, I can already here a few voices. "I don't need all of that stuff." or "i only use natural products" or "it's too expensive." Ok. I hear all of this, but let me offer up some thoughts on each.
1. I don't need it. Well, if you have baby perfect skin with no blemishes or wrinkles...it's plump and hydrated with no pigmentation from pregnancy or sun damage, then you are awesome. I, like many women I imagine, am at an age where I am starting to see these things and want to do as much as possible to take care of this one face of mine. Since I started using glycolic acid and retinol I have seen a drastic decrease in my scarring. Also, I had pigmentation the size of a dime on my right cheek from being pregant with Olivia that has now completely faded. It may sound like a lot of steps, but really it takes me a total of maybe three minutes to complete.
2. I only use natural products. Ok. I undertand this one. I don't want to go around putting tons of harmful products on my face either. I am personally a fan of using the technology that science has given us, but if you really don't want to there are lots of great natural brands like Kate Sommerville. Just be aware of wording, because there is a big market for "all natural/ organic" nowadays. For instance willowbark and salicilic acid are the same thing. It may just say willowbark, but it is the same thing as that regular old salicilic acid. Hyaluronic acid is something found in the human body. Also, be aware that something can still cause reactions even though it's natural. Essential oils are effective because they are powerful. For instance, I cannot use large amounts of Lavendar oil (it irritates my skin). Olivia can't have any kind of cinnamon oil near her or she gets a skin rash. Many essential oils aren't recommended for children or pregnant women like peppermint and clove oil. I love using essential oils, but they are a potent ingredient just like any of these others. Treat them as a medicine. Other natural oils are brilliant period...Jojoba and apricot kernel oil for example.
3. It's too expensive. One of my go-to sources for skincare, Caroline Hirons, says to take a look at what you are willing to spend on that purse or those shoes. That should be your skincare budget. I think it is a good way to put things in perspective. If you would buy those $200 hasbeen clogs you should be willing to invest that money in taking care of your face. It's the only one you get. There are some terrific inexpensive products out there like the CeraVe cleanser and moisturizer. But other things are really worth the extra money and many of them will last six months to a year. I'm not saying go broke on skincare; I'm saying you are worth papering.
I hope this may have helped some of you who have found you are in need of a skincare refresh. If I were to list my most important factors they would be Hyaluronic Acid, Glycolic Acid, and Retinol and staying away from mineral oil and shea butter. Take care and have a terrific Thursday!