If you read my last post, then you know that I have struggled with my skin since I changed birth control methods almost two years ago. I went from doing very little to maintain my nice skin to having acne, enlarged pores and ridiculously oily skin. A few months later, I changed back to my original birth control method and within a week I saw probably a 40% improvement in my skin. I thought this was fabulous and that it would get better in no time. However, that was not the case, after about a week my skin plateaued. Cue to the next year of me fumbling my way through different skincare in the hopes that something would work.
Surprise! My half-assed attempts didn’t work. Now, let’s talk about what did work. First, let’s look at a before and after photo. The before photo (left) is poor quality but to be honest didn’t love getting my picture taken. As you’ll see I look textured and shiny. In the after photo (right) I am wearing no makeup and quite happy with my skin. The picture is taken in daylight and you’ll see I have a bit of scarring on my cheek/chin, but otherwise my skin is fairly clear. (Note: the skin around my eyes is darker than the rest of my skin due to years of eczema there, it is what it is).
Disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist, take everything I say with a grain of salt, do your research, and talk to your doctor if you have any questions. This is just what worked for me but we all have different skin types.
My Skin Type: Now, I’d say I have fairly normal skin as I do not get oily and I do not have dry patches. I am allergic to fragrances and have eczema prone skin (thanks genetics). Before I started my current skincare routine I’d say I had dehydrated, combination skin, meaning I would get oily but still had dry patches. I’ve been told dehydrated skin causes the skin to overproduce oil.
Now onto how I got to where I am now…
The first thing that I noticed that helped my acne was when I stopped using a face cleansing brush. I did this about a year ago and noticed a near immediate reduction in acne. I have a feeling that one of the main reasons the brush was giving me problems was because I was not removing my makeup first, rather I was using the brush to remove my makeup. If you use a cleansing brush with makeup still on you are basically pushing that makeup into your pores. However, I promptly returned that brush so I cannot speak to how it would work with first removing my makeup. For those interested, I was using the Philips PureRadiance Multi-Speed Skin Cleansing System.
Next came 8 months of aimlessly trying different skincare products to no avail. By November 2016, I was starting to get frustrated so I made an appointment with my dermatologist around the holidays. However, many of my friends who have struggled with acne got prescription after prescription from their dermatologist without any permanent solution or results and I did not want to be a part of that. I told myself I would commit to researching and using an intensive skincare routine and use the dermatologist as a “last resort.”
And so the research began. Something you should probably know about me is that I love researching and I spent hours researching my skincare routine. I decided to get most of my information from the Skincare Addition Subreddit. Not everything said on there should be trusted or followed but they seemed like they had pretty good guides to getting started so that is where I went. On the right hand side of the page you will find the “Resources” section and this is a lot of what I used. I had three main rules when it came to choosing products:
- It had to be affordable (my (and many) dermatologists say that you do not need expensive skincare, and I decided that I agreed)
- It had to be fragrance free
- If possible, it was available on Amazon (’cause ease)
Through the research I did there and elsewhere I decided I wanted the following steps in my skincare routine:
- Oil Cleanse: to remove makeup. I use this every night on the days I wear makeup.
- Normal Cleanser: to clean skin, I use this every morning and night.
- Toner: to re-balance skin, I use this every morning and night.
- AHA/BHA: Helps your skin to regenerate faster which helps to clear acne and scarring (known as chemical exfoliants). I use Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) every other night and am currently not using Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA).
- Serum: to add moisture back to the skin, I use this every morning and night.
- Face Lotion: to add more moisture to the skin, I use this every morning and night.
- Eye Cream: eye creams are a heavily debated topic on the internet, are they worth it?! I decided that for me, yes, they are worth it because I have EXTREMELY dry skin around my eyes because that is where I get eczema. I only use this at night or the mornings I’m not wearing makeup.
- Sunscreen: !!! Important !!! I am so glad I finally added sunscreen to my skincare routine. I found a sunscreen I like and I feel good knowing I have it. Not only does it help to prevent skin cancer it also helps to prevent ~premature aging~ (wrinkles). I put this on every morning.
After lots of exhaustive research on products and also the best deals on products these are the items I decided to purchase and have now been using for three months:
- Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Oil: I decided on this because it is inexpensive and fragrance free. It’s pretty good as an oil cleanser, but my favorite is the Burt’s Bees one but unfortunately it is heavily scented. Please note: I only use this on days where I wear makeup.
- Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser: I love this cleanser! After washing my face, my skin is left feeling soft and nourished.
- Thayers Alcohol-free Unscented Witch Hazel Toner: Not much to say here other than no complaints! It pretty much feels like putting water all over your face.
- Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid: I bought this as my AHA but am currently not using it and focusing on BHA. Since I have sensitive skin I find it better to focus on one thing, but I did really like it while using it.
- Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant for Blackheads and Enlarged Pores: I use this BHA every other night and let it sink into my skin for 10-15 minutes before moving onto the next step in my routine. I think this exfoliant has made a large difference in my skin and I really like it!
- Hada Labo Rohto Gokujyn Hyaluronic Acid Lotion: This serum was honestly a game changer for my skin. I think this is one of the big things that helped it go from combination to normal skin. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 500x its weight in water (wow) so it helps to seriously moisturize the skin.
- Cetaphil Fragrance Free Moisturizing Lotion: This is my face lotion (works for face and body) does a great job moisturizing and sinks in fast enough so that I can do makeup soon after. Also great bang for your buck as it’s a giant bottle!
- Baebody Eye Gel for Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags: Honestly don’t find this gel really helps with dark circles, wrinkles, or bags. However, it does a great job moisturizing and it’s a great deal (huge container).
- Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46: This is the sunscreen I use and it is fabulous. Up until I discovered this, I hated sunscreen, it always made my face burn and breakout. This one leaves my face feeling normal and allows me to put makeup over it without problems. This sunscreen is sold on Amazon, however the Eltamd website says it is not authorized to be sold there and that you should get it from your dermatologist. I got it from my dermatologist but it is more expensive there.
In the end of December 2016 I fully committed myself to this routine. Every morning and every night I spend 5-20 minutes focusing on my skin, and in my opinion the work has paid off!