In a world where beauty bloggers act like they have a medical degree and influencers promote facial cleansing brushes on their Insta stories, basically anyone can call themselves a skin care expert. While it’s great that we can learn everything we need to know about toners and exfoliators from just a quick Google search, it also means that a lot of us have based our skin care routine on information that might not be accurate. Don’t panic and throw out all of your favorite beauty products just yet, though! Take a look at these busted skin care myths to get all of the facts on how to achieve the glowing skin you’ve always dreamed of.
Myth #1: Anti-Aging Products Are Only For People With Wrinkles
You might think that anti-aging products are for “older” people who have wrinkled skin. What many of those people will tell you is that they’ve had no luck getting their skin to look baby-smooth again like it once did. The truth is, once your skin has wrinkles, there’s no magic cream that can take them away permanently. The most effective way to be wrinkle-free is to start taking preventative measures when you’re young (in your 20s and 30s). That means using moisturizer and sunscreen or another SPF face lotion every day to prevent the development of dark spots and/or other signs of premature aging.
Myth #2: You Only Need Sunscreen If You’re Going To Be In Direct Sunlight
This brings us to our next point: it seems that the only time most of us remember to put on sunscreen is when we are going to the beach, or doing some kind of outdoor activity in the sunny summer months. While it is incredibly important that you use sun protection regularly when you plan to go out in direct sunlight, it’s equally as important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of how sunny or cloudy it may seem. Especially when it comes to preserving and protecting your complexion, a daily broad-spectrum SPF is essential. Whether you realize it or not, even the smallest amount of sun exposure—whether that be through a window, sitting outside, or even through cloud cover—puts your skin at risk for negative effects from sun exposure. We know that getting a sunburn is very bad for your skin, but the sun can also penetrate the layers of your skin and cause damage deeper down, potentially leading to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.
Myth #3: A Set Skin Care Routine Will Work For Everyone
You may be thinking, “everyone with perfect skin is following the same skin care routine, and I need to use exactly what they use if I want to have great skin too.” Yeah, that just isn’t the case. Each person has unique skin needs based on their skin type. A person with oily skin will need to use different products to cater to their needs as opposed to someone with dry skin. The same goes for people with mature skin, or sensitive skin, and so on. Just because one product worked amazingly for one person, doesn’t mean it will have the same effects for you. Take the time to research your skin type, or visit a dermatologist to find out what your skin type is, and the best way to care for it. The good news is there are so many products available that you’re bound to find the right ones for you.
Myth #4: Once Your Skin Reaches Maturity You’ll No Longer Break Out
You’d think that once you make it past your teens, you’ll never have to deal with acne again. Sorry, but we have some bad news. As it turns out, acne doesn’t seem to magically remove itself from your existence once you turn 20. Actually, your skin doesn’t fully mature until you’re about 30 to 35 years old, and even once you’ve reached that age range, you may still find yourself dealing with those pesky zits. But why? The most probable cause of your adult acne is your hormones. Your hormones change a lot over the course of your life, but factors like birth control, menopause, and even just your menstrual cycle can cause your hormones to fluctuate and create acne on your skin. Ughhh, we can’t have any nice things.
Myth #5: A Skin Care Routine Is Only For Your Face
Finally, you’ve perfected your skin care routine and your complexion looks the best it ever has. While achieving that sought-after facial glow does qualify for a well-deserved pat on the back, you may be forgetting about the big picture: the rest of the skin on your body!
You can’t forget to invest just as much time and energy into the skin on your body as you do for your face. Though your routine won’t be the same—our body skin is much thicker, which is why you wouldn’t use the same products on your face that you would on your body (and vice versa). TG, because facial products are expensive.
When it comes to skin care on your body, keep it simple. Wash your skin well with a soap or shower gel to remove the daily dirt, sweat, and other sh*t that collect on your skin. Next, exfoliate your clean skin. Whether you use a dry brush or a scrub to exfoliate while in the shower, it’s important to remove dead skin cells from your body to reveal the healthy skin underneath. Finally, moisturize. Once you’ve finished cleansing and exfoliating your skin, finishing off with a moisturizer is arguably one of the most important steps, as moisturizing serves to replenish your skin barrier, helping to improve its overall tone and texture.
Myth #6: A Skin Care Routine Is Only Effective If You Use A Multitude Of Targeted Products
With the thousands of skin care products available on the market, you may think that your routine will need to consist of 10 products minimum. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated (or expensive). If you want to create a perfectly effective skin care regimen, keep it limited to these three steps: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Cleaning your skin of makeup and dirt, exfoliating off the dead skin cells built up on your face, and moisturizing the new and healthy skin underneath is the simplest way to care for your skin on a daily basis and maintain a clean, clear, and healthy complexion.
However, if you have any unique skin concerns—like acne, for example—you may want to consider incorporating a specialized treatment product into your skin care regimen, as this will work to effectively target and address these areas. An acne cream containing tretinoin, for instance, is great for increasing skin cell renewal, which helps to prevent acne from the inside-out. On the other hand, if you’re concerned about dryness or wrinkles, applying a serum for overnight recovery can help penetrate the skin at a deeper level for better results.
At the most basic level, keep your skin care routine short and simple, and only incorporate more targeted treatments if and when necessary. Make sure to apply these treatments only to the particular areas of your skin that need some additional TLC.
Myth #7: “A Little Dab Will Do Ya”
Most skin care products will say to only apply a pea-sized amount of the product to your face, and this is true when using a product like an eye cream, where a little can go a long way. In reality, however, the suggested amount of product for proper use with most skin care products isn’t enough to give complete results for your skin. If you’re going to cleanse, exfoliate, or moisturize, don’t be afraid to apply a little bit extra. The lighter products like a cleanser or moisturizer can’t really hurt your skin, so if you want to get your complexion extra clean and smooth, you can add a little more than the bottle suggests.
If you do choose to use more of a product than suggested, keep your skin type in mind. For instance, those with dry skin shouldn’t over-cleanse, as their skin will dry out easily, and for those with oily skin, there’s no need to go overboard on the moisturizer or facial oils.
For products like a serum, a chemical exfoliator, or a targeted treatment, you’ll want to stick to the directions on the label, as these products are stronger and can cause damage to your skin if not used improperly or too frequently.
Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels
As we approach week 9 (58? 102??) of quarantine, many of us are noticing that our skin is reverting back to its acne-riddled high school days. Seriously, what the hell? We’re not spending much time outside getting attacked by free radicals and pollutants, and we have more time than ever to do our involved skin care routines. So, what gives? Dr. Shari Marchbein, a New York-based dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, spoke with us about why our skin is still not behaving even when we’re in quarantine, and what we can do about it.
Why Quarantine is Causing You to Break Out
According to Dr. Marchbein, hormones are a crucial reason our skin is breaking out rn. There’s no way to pinpoint just one culprit, she says, since our sleep, work, and skin care routines are all out of whack from sheltering in place. The key ingredient in all of these, she says, is stress.
When we think about hormones, our minds typically wander to testosterone, progesterone, and like, things that relate to the pill or middle school health class. However, Dr. Marchbein explains, the hormone causing our current skin woes is cortisol, “which increases in the blood at times of stress or with lack of sleep and can trigger acne breakouts by stimulating sebaceous glands to make more oil.” Increased cortisol, she says, “can worsen other skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis, as well as cause an increased breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which is the good stuff that gives skin its glow and plumpness.” Yeah, no thanks.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Flare-Ups
To avoid flare-ups in the first place, Dr. Marchbein recommends several ways to de-stress. “First and foremost, get plenty of sleep,” she says. When our body is sleep-deprived, it makes more cortisol, causing inflammation and bodily stress. Staying active is also important, according to Dr. Marchbein. Her go-to ways to de-stress are meditating and taking a yoga class. To help reduce your cortisol and stress levels, you can also go for a socially distanced walk, if possible.
And just like your mom’s been telling you for years, “maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are key.” By following this advice, which tbh you should be doing anyway for your general health, you can be like that meme that’s like, “my skin is clear, my crops are flourishing, my depression is gone” (but like, with actual, non-sarcastically clear skin).
How to Treat Acne Flare-Ups
If you’ve got a particularly aggressive breakout, don’t freak out, because here are a number of treatment methods to try. Under normal circumstances (lol what are those), Dr. Marchbein would advise visiting your dermatologist for a steroid injection. These injections “reduce the pain and inflammation of cystic breakouts,” she says, but at this point, “most medical visits are being done by telemedicine, and in-person visits should be for true emergencies only.” So that’s out.
Then what to do about the acne glaring back at you in your reflection? For starters, Dr. Marchbein recommends certain over-the-counter products to treat existing flare-ups. Retinoids are one useful treatment for acne breakouts—Differin 0.1% gel is the strongest non-prescription one available, she notes. Salicylic acid, a type of acid that can unclog pores, is also helpful.
“I like St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub with salicylic acid and green tea as a gentle scrub, and I use a St. Ives salicylic acid gel cleanser once daily,” Dr. Marchbein says. She also recommends stronger 1-2% salicylic acid gel for spot treatment. Products with benzoyl peroxide, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, can help calm irritated skin too. Dr. Marchbein likes 10% Panoxyl wash and 4% CeraVe wash.
Finally, acne patches deliver active ingredients to a pimple. “By occluding the pimple, these active ingredients are able to penetrate the skin more deeply allowing them to potentially work better,” she explains. Watch out if you have sensitive skin, though—acne patches might be too harsh for you and could make the situation worse.
“Most importantly,” Dr Marchbein warns, “do not pop or squeeze a pimple, as this will cause even more inflammation and can make a potentially bad situation even worse.” I know Dr. Pimple Popper videos can be satisfying, but seriously, don’t do this to yourself.
Skin Care Advice in the Time of Public Face Masks
As much as we’ve been staying indoors these days, we occasionally have to venture out into the real world to stock up on supplies or grab our curbside pick-up order of pad thai. For those of us responsibly following the CDC’s recommendation to wear cloth face masks in public, our skin might be suffering. Dr. Rajani Katta, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Baylor University, warns against using masks made of irritating materials like polyester that trap sweat, in a blog post for the Baylor College Of Medicine. She suggests masks made of absorbent materials like cotton, which can help absorb sweat and prevent breakouts.
If you’ve got dry skin, Dr. Katta advises moisturizing before putting on your mask, but if you’re particularly acne-prone, she recommends skipping greasy products like foundation. “These products can get trapped under the mask and possibly cause more skin issues,” she explains. For healthcare workers on the front lines, Dr. Marchbein recommends avoiding retinoids and exfoliants. Wearing abrasive N95 masks daily, she says, “could cause further irritation and shearing of the skin.”
If your quarantine = breakout central, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of products and habits that can help repair your skin and prevent further flare-ups. Plus, it’s not like many people are seeing you these days. If you’ve got a particularly nasty zit, just turn off your video on Zoom.
Images: Andrea Piacquadio / Unsplash; Vera Davidova / Unsplash; Breakingpic / Pexels
The sodium-filled bags under your eyes will thank you.
Overeating on Thanksgiving is inevitable. Not only is overeating on Thanksgiving inevitable, but overeating some particularly nasty ingredients is also inevitable. (And if you don’t relate to this idea of “overeating” then I’m sure there is another article out there for you somewhere!).
We’ve all heard the shpiel about what “bad foods” and “bad ingredients” can do to our bodies, with the most obvious consequence being weight gain. But, have you ever stopped to think about what these harmful ingredients can do to your skin?
What I’m trying to say is: not only can you gain weight after eating poorly, but your face and skin can go down the drain, too. Certain foods really can affect the quality of our skin. But, as I mentioned, eating these foods on Thanksgiving is going to happen no matter what. So, instead of trying to change our behaviors on the one holiday that we’re basically required to indulge, let’s lean on some amazing skin care products instead to help get us back to our beautiful, fresh-faced selves.
Below I’ve listed out some beauty products you’ll probably need after indulging on Thanksgiving. I also spoke with dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare, Dr. Ellen Marmur, who helped explain why our faces look so
gross different after eating certain foods/ingredients.
Concern: Puffy Eyes From Sodium
Solution: Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks
The excessive sodium we’ll be eating from all of that stuffing, pecan pie, and (if you’re one of those) gravy can lead to some seriously puffy under-eyes. Why? Because “when we’re eating out of balance, the fluids in our bodies begin to pool in areas where there is empty space,” says Dr. Marmur. She explained that you’re probably bloated all over, but you’ll notice it more under your eyes.
So, invest in some stretchy pants as well as The Baggage Claim Eye Masks from Wander Beauty. These eye masks are super soothing and cooling, and also completely stay put on your face. Not that you were planning on being productive on Thanksgiving, but on the off-chance that you get up from the couch and help your mom clean up, you definitely have the option to wear these masks at the same time.
Concern: Dry Skin From Alcohol
Solution: Herbal Dynamics Beauty Hyaluronic Acid & Oat Overnight Recovery Mask
Alcohol is a kicker for many reasons. Dr. Marmur explained that our skin gets super stressed out from all of the sleep we are destined to NOT get after drinking, as well as from the total loss of water our bodies experience when consuming alcohol. She explains, “The water that’s normally in our circulation either goes out to the soft tissue (which also causes puffiness under the eyes), or it gets driven to our kidneys and you end up peeing a lot more than usual.” Which all leads to dryness.
Hyaluronic acid to the rescue! HA is a molecule that “brings humidity to it, and holds it” according to Dr. Marmur. This is why the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Recovery Mask is a miracle worker. It totally plumps up the skin overnight by helping it to retain water. Let’s just hope you’re not too lit to remember to put it on.
Concern: Wrinkles & Acne From Carbohydrates
Solution: Anda Enzyme Serum-Masque & Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment
While there is not much science behind the idea of carbs directly causing wrinkles and acne, Dr. Marmur explained to me the working theory of “glycation,” or that sugar found in carbohydrates causes inflammation (which can lead to acne) and a loss of collagen in the skin (which can lead to premature wrinkles). Dr. Marmur emphasized that some people simply metabolize carbs well, while others don’t. My brand is definitely “metabolizes carbs well.” Anyway, her advice is to eat what feels right to you. If you notice you look particularly swollen after chocolate, for example, then eat less chocolate. Life’s tough, I know.
Carbs or no carbs, we’ll all be wrinkly one day. Accept it! Or, if you can’t, you can use serums like the Anda enzyme serum-masque to gently exfoliate and smooth out the skin. I’ve noticed that my skin looks super luminous with this particular serum! For acne, Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment works like a charm.
Concern: Being Anti-Social
Solution: MMSphere LED Skincare Device
Okay, you caught me—this isn’t a skincare concern, but it’s still arguably THE biggest concern on Thanksgiving. Like, why do I need to entertain my out-of-town cousin at 9am the morning after Thanksgiving when we mutually don’t care about each other?
Enter the MMSphere LED Skincare Device* from Dr. Marmur. You know those ring lights that make us look hot in our selfies? This device is shaped like that, but it actually has real, non-superficial benefits that don’t include getting our ex to “like” our latest Instagram. This device has five different colored lights, each with a different benefit for our skin. The amber light will be of particular use to you this Thanksgiving, as it releases endorphins and is proven to elevate your mood and energize you—it’s even used to treat depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. So instead of waking up and immediately retreating back to your pillow, soak up that amber light and be SOCIAL!
*Betches readers can use code “HOLIDAY19” for any starter pack of your choice with the purchase of a sphere or a 4 pack of masks with the purchase of 3 serums.
Good luck, and happy eating! 😉
Images: The MMSphere; Paula’s Choice Skincare; Kerstin Florian Skincare; Herbal Dynamics Beauty; Wander Beauty
We’ve all been there—you wake up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to seize the day but…there it is, rearing its ugly head and taunting you, a huge-ass pimple. Okay, more like, you roll out of bed, check your phone, then look in the mirror just to face the same inevitable truth: a huge-ass pimple on your face. Your first urge is to pop it, but you know you shouldn’t. Then you look at the five million products you’ve collected over the years and have to decide which one to use today. But will any of them even work?? They all claim to, but every f*ckboy I’ve ever dated has also claimed he would never hurt me. So, yeah. Men and acne medications are why I have trust issues.
To figure out the best practice for dealing with blemishes, I consulted with Dr. Jill C. Fichtel MD of Transformative Dermatology in Nashville. She told me how to deal with pimples (don’t pop them) and what products actually work to treat or minimize them. She also shares her best tips for preventing them in the first place. These are her favorite over-the-counter products to treat acne.
1. Differin Adapalene Gel Acne Treatment
This treatment was previously available only by prescription, but thankfully, is now sold as an over-the-counter product with the prescription-strength acne-fighting retinoid, Adapalene. According to Dr. Fichtel, “It prevents Comedonal acne—the kind that causes blackheads, whiteheads and bumpy skin rather than inflamed pimples—by normalizing pores so they don’t clog.” She adds that it also has anti-aging properties, which are an added bonus for anyone trying to keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay. Get you an acne treatment that does both.
2. PanOxyl Acne Wash
This benzoyl peroxide wash also used to only be available by prescription. THANK GOD all these companies got with it enough to switch them to over-the-counter for all of us peasants who can’t afford monthly dermatologist appointments. Dr. Fichtel said that, while benzoyl peroxide has been used as an antibacterial in acne treatments for many years, it remains an important acne fighter. She says, “This is because it fights acne-causing P. acnes bacteria but does not cause bacterial resistance, even with long-term use.” Propionibacterium acnes bacteria (P. acnes) lives in hair follicles in our skin. According to Dr. Fichtel, “PanOxyl also includes anti-Comedone and anti-inflammatory properties and minimizes irritation in part because it is a wash-off product instead of one that you leave on.”
3. Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster
Dr. Fichtel says, “This product uses Azelaic acid, the same ingredient used in higher concentrations in prescription products like Azelex and Finacea for acne and acne rosacea.” She adds, “Its blend of Azelaic and salicylic acid has pore-normalizing effects that prevent whiteheads and blackheads, decreases the hyperpigmentation that acne marks leave behind.” Because, not only do we have to worry about treating pimples, we also have to worry about the potential scarring they leave behind. F*ck you, pimples. Also note, Dr. Fichtel says this product is good for sensitive skin!
4. CLn Acne Cleanser
According to Dr. Fichtel, this product is a great preventative for acne-prone skin. She says, “It combines salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite, which helps to eliminate clogged pores and kill acne-causing bacteria. It’s also free of steroids, antibiotics, parabens and triclosan and is good for all skin types and ages, including tweens, teens and those with hormonal changes.” So if you know any angsty teens out there with skin issues, let them know this is definitely a great option for them. But it’s just as great for adults who never got acne in middle school and suddenly get huge pimples on a regular basis in their late 20s. Speaking hypothetically, of course.
5. Dr. Fichtel’s Go-To Concoction
Lastly, Dr. Fichtel shared her own go-to treatment for pimples. She said, “Mix benzoyl peroxide-based Persa-Gel 10 Acne Medication with over-the-counter hydrocortisone, let it dry, and put an adhesive bandage over it.” Alternatively, she recommends using a baking soda toothpaste with no color, flavor or mouthwash ingredients, again with a bandage.
Now, for preventing pimples in the first place, Dr. Fichtel shares six key tips:
- Wash your face every morning and night.
- Only use makeup, sunscreen and other skin care products that say “noncomedogenic” on the label. That means they don’t cause blocked pores that lead to acne. If that is missing from the label, you’re an acne magnet.
- Clean your makeup brushes and sponges regularly. Otherwise, they will develop bacteria that you will be rubbing directly onto your face.
- Don’t use old makeup or skin care products. Once the preservatives that prevent the formation of bacteria and fungus break down, applying those products is like inviting a pimple invasion.
- If you’re doing everything right and you still have outbreaks, try using hormone-free milk and dairy products. The hormones in milk can cause acne.
- Not all pimples can be prevented. If OTC products and good skin care still leave you struggling to keep your skin clear, speak to your dermatologist for prescription solutions.
So there you have it, straight from a dermatologist! Pimples suck, but fortunately there are methods to preventing them and products to treat them.
Images: Judeus Samson / Unsplash; Target (2); Dermstore; Amazon
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I first started hearing the words “skin care diet” back in January, when everyone was trying out their favorite wellness hack in honor of the new year. The premise was simple: after ODing on expensive skin care products and indulging in complicated, ten-step routines, some consumers were now deciding to scale back the time and money spent on skin care. Ironically enough, the skin care diet trend (or “minimalist skin care routine”) is also a K-Beauty trick—specifically, one invented to “decrease irritation” caused by overly complicated, multi-step routines. By paring back down to the bare minimum, the theory goes, you’ll slowly coach your skin back to life.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a trend at all if everyone’s 10-step routines were going perfectly. Vice interviewed a number of people embarking on their own skin care diets, and all affirmed that, ultimately, the fancy, active ingredient-laden products they had been so excited to buy only made things worse. For several of these skin care dieters, they only realized there was an issue after seeing a dermatologist—others realized after a change in environment, where they were temporarily separated from their skin care products, made them realize that layering on serums wasn’t the best way to control their skin.
my other organs: please help us .
— sam (@smeezi) July 26, 2017
For the dermatologists Vice spoke with, this is an increasingly common occurrence. Rachael Cayce, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, said she’ll have patients come in who list arsenals of 15+ products they’re using—daily. Cayce invariably tells them to cut back: “I see 30 patients a day and I’m having this conversation with 15 of them,” she says. “Usually what I’m doing is just decreasing their products.” KraveBeauty founder Liah Yoo agrees that this decrease is necessary. “People have been piling on so many different products that they’ve developed redness, sensitivity, and even worse—contact dermatitis,” she shares. That’s why she’s now recommending a simple routine of cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. The key? No “harsh active ingredients.”
I had my own come-to-Jesus moment a few months back, when my skin—for lack of a better term—shut down. All my special toners, moisturizers, and anti-redness gels, so lovingly applied, sat on top of my skin: refusing to sink in, and (I imagine) laughing at me. I had many theories about why this was happening, and like a devoted skin care student, I ran right to my dermatologist. This is the first and only time I’ll dermatologist bash (maybe she was having an off day!) but essentially, she told me it was all hormonal, that oil production increases as you get older (rude!), and that I should (I’m paraphrasing) chill out. Then she gave me some moisturizer samples (score) and sent me on my way.
My derm to me:
do a face mask and move on
— ?? (@romanrochelle) January 16, 2017
As anyone who’s read my articles on mental health will know, “chilling out” is not something I engage in lightly. Instead, I remembered the accounts of skin care diets that I’d read back in January (this Byrdie one and this Very Good Light one I both find a little excessive, but solid). While the accounts I read still included products like serums and essences in their scaled-back routines, I stuck with the bare-bones approach recommended by Yoo: cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. My only addition was twice-daily Finacea, a dermatologist-prescribed rosacea treatment I didn’t care to live without. Yoo also recommends that you don’t wash your face at all for a full week to “reset” your skin before starting. But in the interest of not losing my job, I opted out of that step too. Finally, most of the skin care diet plans I read about recommend not washing your face in the morning—just using a swipe of toner or micellar water.
me w/ scars,acne, oil: cleanser, toner, gel, moisturizer, topical cream
person w/ smooth clear skin: i use water sometimes soap pic.twitter.com/8KYumMwPNd
— have analis’s kids (@AK1NNA) April 4, 2017
The results? I bet you wish I had pictures, but to be honest, the biggest change wasn’t something that would show up on camera. After about a week, my face finally felt smooth to the touch again. Not sticky with stubborn moisturizer residue, not greasy with excess oil production, and not that super-pleasant roughness I’ll sometimes get in dry patches on my cheeks. In the end, I wasn’t using so many excess products I needed to cut out: I wistfully stopped using my amazing-smelling toner, I stopped cleansing and moisturizing in the morning (but still applied SPF!), and I chilled out on the drugstore masks I’d been applying three times a week.
To be honest, I was shocked that this actually made a difference—I’d been thinking of the toner as my saving grace all winter. Maybe my dermatologist was (partly) right and I’d had a hormone shift, or maybe the warmer weather was making my skin react different. Either way, I spend less time on skin care than I have in years, and tragically, it did the trick. My skin’s not suddenly a luminous, pore-less version of itself (I’m still convinced I would need Kylie-level money and a team of professionals to achieve that): but the stubborn texture problems I was having finally went away.
the first person to exfoliate their face had 2 have done it accidentally right, like tripped and face planted in the sand- wow feels smooth!
— pw (@petewentz) September 13, 2017
Like I said before: no one would be doing this if they were already reaping the benefits of a rich and full skin care routine. All the people who wrote skin care diet accounts were dealing with inflammation, flare ups, and acne that none of their products could fix—and that’s when they opted for a reset. So if you’re happy with your skin care products, please don’t throw out $400 worth of moisturizer after reading this. (Send it to me instead, for when I decide to switch things up again in a month.) If you’ve been cycling in new serums for as long as you can remember, and are still struggling with flare ups, though, a skin care diet could be exactly what you need.
Images: @smeezi ; @AK1NNA ; @romanrochelle ; @petewentz / Twitter
As someone who reads and writes about skincare on a daily basis, I find myself hitting something I call “skincare fatigue.” Just when I’d mastered toner (kind of), I start hearing about serums, retinol creams, and whatever the f*ck an “essence” is. Thankfully, the concept of day cream vs. night cream isn’t new to me—but actually using a different moisturizer for morning and evening is. I’d always kind of figured that “needing” two different moisturizers was just a way for companies to sell you more products. But three weeks in to my new regime, I’m sold. Here’s why.
Night Cream Needs Time To Sink In
The purchase that kicked off this whole venture is Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream, a moisturizer I feel confident in calling pure magic. From the moment I got my hands on all that silky lavender goodness, I loved it so much I wanted to take a bath in it. This moisturizer has brought my skin back to life after a night out, scared burgeoning pimples back into hiding, and—praise be—NOT activated my rosacea, which just about every other celeb-approved moisturizer does. (Looking at you, La Mer. I wanted so badly to love you.)
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
Now that my shameless Tatcha evangelizing is out of the way, on to the real point. Because I was so excited about this moisturizer, I was using it morning and night—and quickly realized my mistake. I have a four-step routine I stick to: cleanser, toner, treatment, moisturizer. Because the sun exists, and because my skin is so dry that sunscreen alone does not moisturize it, I have to follow up that four-step routine with an SPF cream in the morning—all before adding any makeup.
Now, anyone who’s tried to quickly apply five different face products and then add foundation on top will immediately see the problem here. My beloved Tatcha moisturizer is on the thicker side, which is perfect for my dry skin—but it takes a solid 15-20 minutes to be completely absorbed. That would be fine if it were my only morning skincare step, but I also have to give my toner and treatment steps 5-10 minutes each to sink in. That gets us up to 30 minutes on pre-make-up skincare, minimum. In my week of trying to use the Dewy Skin Cream as a day cream, I don’t think I managed to put foundation on once. Since I never had enough time to let the moisturizer sink in all the way, even my sunscreen was barely getting absorbed—which means I was going out looking like a greasy, white-tinged mess.
Note: Dewy Skin Cream isn’t advertised specifically as a night cream—there’s a different night cream from that product line—but that’s how it works best for me. As a rule, night creams will be thicker than day creams, and are formulated to moisturize while you sleep.
Me, waking up post-Tatcha moisturizer:
Day Cream Protects; Night Cream Repairs
Day cream, I learned, has one major job: to protect your face from the sun, so basically to contain as much SPF as you can stand. (For reference, I use SPF 46—do not come at me with your SPF 15 liquid foundation). Like I said before, I have a special breed of lizard skin that requires me to pair said SPF 46 lotion with a second day cream—but if you have the option of combining these steps, I strongly recommend you do. I love this one from Origins (so brightening), or this SPF 50 IT Cosmetics CC cream. (No, I don’t know what a CC cream is, and my head will explode if I research further.) I own this cream, and would refer to it as somewhere between light coverage foundation and tinted moisturizer.
Scott Disick knows what’s up, a sentence I never thought I’d utter.
If you are like me, and SPF products aren’t moisturizing enough on their own, I recommend a super lightweight cream that sinks in quickly. My personal fave for this is Cerave, which makes both a day cream and a night cream.
While day cream bears the brunt of sun protection, your night cream can and should have active ingredients too. We’ve already discussed the benefit of adding retinol to your daily routine, and 2019 is heading toward being the year of glycolic acid. These ingredients are both great, because they help speed up cell turnover, AKA get rid of the dead skin and bring in the new, better skin. Very scientific, I know. However, both of these ingredients also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. I can personally attest to this—this past December, I used a retinol oil and then went out for a day of skiing. Within 24 hours, I developed dark, rough patches of sunburn on my face like I’d never seen before, and they lasted well through New Year’s Eve. Happy 2019 to me!
So, while retinol and AHAs are a good addition to night creams, they should absolutely be avoided in your day creams. On the flip side, you’re welcome to put on SPF at night—but unless you’re sleeping at a campsite, I’m not sure why you would.
Ultimately, you could just say f*ck it and use the same lightweight moisturizer with zero active ingredients for both day and night (plus sunscreen, obv). But if you have skin that’s on the dryer side, I highly recommend investing in a thicker night cream—and not making the mistake I did of piling it on in the morning, too.
Images: Tatcha; Giphy (2)
Judging from all the “gifts to give yourself” guides out there this season, I gather I’m not alone in treating December as “spend yourself blind” month. (Also: go get the Skin Laundry facial that list recommends; it’s amazing.) And what better way to spend a sh*t ton of money invest in yourself than by amping up your skincare routine? In the past two weeks, I’ve added a serum, a facial oil, and an “elixir” to my fairly basic four-step routine. But within twelve hours of my exciting new purchases, I realized I had no idea how to use them correctly. Skincare products all tend to list “apply daily to clean, dry skin,” but that’s about it. So, in an attempt to not waste my new goodies, I actually sat down and researched. Here’s what I’ve learned about the best order for your skincare routine.
Step 1: Cleanser
All authorities I consulted concurred on this. The first step in any skincare routine should be cleaning your face. If this strikes you as surprising, then I have the perfect gift for you. Enjoy!
Step 2: Toner
Byrdie offers a little dissent here, suggesting that Step 2 should be exfoliator, not toner. However, my skincare-savvy readers will know well that not all skin types require and/or take well to regular use of an exfoliant. And very few exfoliants are suitable for anyone for daily use. (You can go shave your back now Byrdie!) Anyway, exfoliate if you need to, but consider it part of the cleansing step of your routine. Toner then clears away any remaining makeup/product, as well as doing whatever else the bottle promises (tightening pores, evening skin tone, giving you eternal life, etc.).
I’ve written more about toner types here, but Cosmo offers a key tip I’ll include. If your toner contains an AHA (like glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (like salicylic acid), you’ll want to wait a “full five minutes” before moving on to your next step. Otherwise, you’ll neutralize the acids, rendering the active ingredient useless. (Moment of silence for all the toner I’ve wasted on my face please.)
Me @ my toner:
Step 3: Serums/Eye Cream
Once again, all my sources voted to use a serum as step 3. Cosmo describes serums as “shots of extremely concentrated nutrients, hydrators, and antioxidants.” Like with toner, you’ll want to pick the specific one based on your skin’s needs. The one I’ve recently invested in contains Vitamin C, a common dermatologist recommendation. But you can also use different serums in the morning and at night, in which case you could swap in a hydrating serum at night. Again, all depends on your skin.
Eye cream, which I’ve realized over the course of my research is still lacking in my skincare routine, is a slightly more conflicted issue. Cosmo says to apply after serum and before moisturizer, since eye cream “tends to be lighter and thinner,” and can’t “penetrate thicker products,” AKA your moisturizer. Dermstore suggests using it before serums in the morning, but after serums at night. (And it stresses the importance of applying twice daily from a young age—good thing I have endless money and time, am I right??) For Dermstore, the key thing is to apply eye cream before your “treatments” (more on that in a minute), to “protect your eye area against potent ingredients.” Both of these rules make logical sense to me, so if your serums has potentially irritating ingredients, do eye cream first. And def do it before moisturizer.
Side note: this research has also convinced me that I’ve been applying my new serums at the wrong time, in addition to neutralizing my toner.
Step 4: Treatment
If you’re thinking “treatment? what’s that?” you either have perfect skin and I hate you, or you need to get to a dermatologist ASAP. “Treatment” can refer to a spot treatment (active ingredients will vary depending on whether you’re treating acne scars or regular old pimples), or prescription treatments for acne or rosacea. (For example, I use my Finacea foam for rosacea during this step—though for the past two weeks I’ve been using it before my serum. Ugh.)
Dermstore again recommends different things for your night routine here. At night, they suggest you add any “mists, essences, beauty waters, or hydrating (hyaluronic acid) serums” to your toner step—applying “from thinnest to thickest.” (I can’t really begin to wrap my head around what those products are, but Dermstore sums them up as “skin care boosters” whose purpose is “mainly to hydrate.” Cool.) Then, Dermstore recommends chasing your nightly eye cream with whatever treatment serum your skin needs that night. So, not just blindly slathering on every product you own (strike three for me).
Specifically, they advise against using an exfoliating treatment (AHA/BHA pads, peels) the same night as any prescription meds or retinol creams, since the potency can quickly become irritating. And they recommend using an exfoliating treatment no more than three times a week. In simpler terms, it sounds like alternating a prescription treatment or retinol with an exfoliating treatment is the best way to go.
Step 5: Moisturizer/Face Oil
Once you’ve gotten to moisturizer, you know you’re nearly there. (Good job! Now you just have a 16-step makeup routine to get through). For your nighttime routine, Dermstore recommends adding face oil before your moisturizer, with the warning note that “if you are using the right moisturizer…nothing is going to get through it.” Cosmo, however, vehemently disagrees, stating “no products can penetrate an oil, which means they need to be applied last.” Cosmo also recommends putting a retinol-based product between moisturizer and face oil, while Dermstore lumps in retinols with your pre-moisturizer treatments. One of my new products is a face oil that contains retinol, so no matter what I do I’ll be f*cking up one of these rules.
My best advice here is to try it both ways (the order of your oil/moisturizer/retinol), and see what feels best to you. Since oils and moisturizers vary in thickness and active ingredients (and everyone’s skin is different!), do whatever feels best for your face. In my case, I’ve found that mixing the face oil with moisturizer is most effective for absorbing both products.
Step 6: Sunscreen
This is a morning-only rule, obvs, but it’s also one you need to follow every single day. Is it annoying? Yes. Does it feel like it will solve all your problems, like serums and essences do? It does not. But just do it, because otherwise you’ll get dark spots and sun damage that only a laser can fix. And that’s way more expensive than even the fanciest sunscreen option.
Hilary Duff may not be able to name babies, but she can still give good skincare advice!
What have I learned from this article? Well, I’ve wasted at least $50 of skincare products in the past week, that’s for sure. And my vague inkling that I was loading on too many products every day was validated. My final note here is that if any of this advice goes against what a dermatologist has told you—go with the dermatologist. My dermatologist gave me the simple outline of “cleanse, treat, moisturize, sunscreen,” and actively warned me against incorporating anything else. It’s only because I’ve followed her advice faithfully for six months that I feel comfortable building back in other products. So, listen to your doctor, listen to what your skin tells you, and if you have an eye cream you like, hit me up in the comments—I’ll be spending the rest of my afternoon shopping.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (4)
As you can probably tell from the title, this skin care diary entry will be less sexy than others we’ve published. Welcome to the world of sensitive skin. I graduated college a little over two years ago, and it’s been an absolute whirlwind watching my skin and metabolism compete over who can deteriorate faster. I’ve never suffered from serious acne (*knocks on every piece of wood in the tri-state area*), but my post-grad skin has offered up plenty of dullness, dryness, and increasingly visible pores. I also developed what I refer to as “my problem cheek,” and my dermatologist refers to as “rosacea.” Basically, one stubborn patch on my face is perpetually red with some bumps—not quite pimples but just not smooth.
Before I finally caved and saw a dermatologist about it, I was convinced I had chronically dry skin and was layering on fancy oil-based serums and thick moisturizers every night. I genuinely believed that the more I spent on a skin care product, the better it was for me. But here’s the honest, tragic truth about my (highly sensitive) skin. Just about anything I do to it beyond doctor-recommended cleanser, treatment, and moisturizer only makes it worse. As my dermatologist explained, the rosacea means that my skin barrier is damaged. So any products I’m applying don’t actually soak in. They just settle in the top layer, creating that fun bumpy texture I was describing.
Long story short, many of the fun, bougie skin care products I’d love to try are off-limits to me. All those “intensely moisturizing” products I used to swear by? They make my oil-prone areas worse, and ultimately clog my pores. Any physical exfoliants just activate my redness-prone rosacea patches. And forget about face makeup. Any time I go for a full face of foundation, or—God forbid—highlighter, which I seem to be allergic to in every brand, I accept that my skin’s overall appearance will take a hit for the next three days. So, I’ve worked very hard to assemble a routine that keeps my sensitive AF skin smooth, even, and pimple-free. If your skin is more dramatic about a change in routine than you are when asked to attend a 9am meeting, read on. Here are the products I’ve found really work.
My sensitive skin every time I try to introduce a new product:
Face Wash: I wash my face morning and night with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. My dermatologist recommended it, and it makes my face feel crazy soft. I’ll double cleanse on days when I bothered to put on make-up, or if I skipped my routine the night before. And while I’m sure that a Clarisonic or the equivalent would make it even more effective, I frankly just do not have the time or patience to use one. Plus, I kind of hate reusable skin care accessories because I’m a germophobe and convinced they’re growing bacteria. This is a problem I imagine could be alleviated by like, cleaning it, but once again I am lazy/perpetually short on time.
Toner: I follow (most) cleanses with Belif Witch Hazel Herbal Extract toner. In the words of my dermatologist, it’s “not really doing anything,” but she graciously invited me to finish the bottle I’d just purchased. Despite her (rude) commentary, I like the idea of an additional cleansing step while living in the cesspool of dirt known as New York City. Also, it smells refreshing and makes me feel fancy. As I mentioned before, most products that fit that description give me some kind of weird reaction, so I really appreciate the ones that don’t.
Prescription: Once my doc determined that problem cheek = rosacea, I was given a prescription for an azelaic acid called Finacea Foam. It treats the redness and bumps caused by rosacea, and I use it twice a day after cleansing and before moisturizing. While it hasn’t 100% cleared up the problem, I’ve gone from having bumps spread across both cheeks to one small patch (damn you, problem cheek!). The overall texture has also greatly improved, and what was once a weird blotchy redness now shows up as more of a flush after hot showers/working out. Highly recommend.
Spot Treatment: This is not dermatologist-approved behavior, but if I see a pimple coming on I’ll dab some spot treatment with salicylic acid on the area before locking it all in with moisturizer. It’s a little annoying because I have to wait for an additional layer to dry, but fully worth it if you can stop a burgeoning zit in its tracks. If I go a little too nuts and start using it daily I end up getting dry and triggering some redness, but in moderation I find this kind of product to work wonders. My two faves are Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment and Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel.
Sunscreen: I use EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 every morning, at my dear dermatologist’s behest. Apparently rosacea can be triggered by sun exposure, so I guess this plays a role in calming it down. Honestly, I struggle to get excited about any product from which I don’t see immediate effects, but I know it’s good for me and I feel lightly smug for using it for that reason. Also, it sinks in quickly enough and replaces my moisturizer in the morning.
Moisturizer: I use CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion every night and some mornings, depending on how dry my skin is feeling. I love it because it’s lightweight, has the same silky feel as their cleanser, and doesn’t sit on top of my skin like all those fancy jar moisturizers I was buying for years did. Does it make me feel rich and chic? No, but it also doesn’t cost me $50 every six weeks, and my skin is way softer. I’ll take it.
Serum: Eminence Facial Recovery Oil. My dermatologist all but begged me to throw this out (in her words, “I don’t think more oil is what you need right now”). But I’ll still dab a little on my forehead every now and then because I can’t help myself. Nose, chin, and cheeks are off-limits for this riskier product, but I’ll mix a little in with my moisturizer and apply to my forehead a few times a week. It smells amazing and my sister swears it’s improved her fine lines.
Morning: Cleanser, toner, Finacea, sunscreen. I have a week-old pimple on my cheek, and last night I put on a bunch of spot treatment and extra Tretinoin on the area, plus Neosporin since I keep picking it open. (Don’t @ me, it works.) The pimple is finally fading from view, but I see two to three more bumps lurking below the surface. Problem Cheek, will you ever set me free??? I’ve tried changing pillowcases, changing what side I sleep on, never holding my phone to that side of my face… nothing works. I take a few pictures in hopes of taking you on a visual journey, but I’m on week 7 of a 10-week shoot and the bags under my eyes/general lifeless demeanor are a little much to take.
Evening: Cleanser, Finacea, moisturizer. No spot cream or toner because I just worked 14 hours. Moisturizer I applied lying down maybe three seconds before passing out. I manage to apply more Neosporin to my cheek spot, though, because at this point I’ve been wrangling it for nearly 10 days and it’s all I can think about. To anyone reading this: do not pick your face until it bleeds, no matter how fun and genuinely helpful it seems in the moment! I fall asleep praying it will heal overnight.
My poor, picked-at skin:
Thursday morning I don’t have to be at work until 9am. This would be better news if it didn’t mean I’ll be there until 11pm. However, the extra time in the morning means I can cleanse, tone, apply Finacea, and put on sunscreen all in the comfort of my home. I’m sad to admit I sometimes apply sunscreen on the subway, which I am aware makes me gross. I have a thing about layering products too quickly. I worry I’m just diluting one product with another if I don’t give them time to dry. If I’m totally wrong on this, PLEASE call me out in the comments. I would love to stop putting on sunscreen with hands that just touched subway poles.
I’m not home until 11:40pm, as expected. As I dutifully cleanse, tone, Finacea, and moisturize, I realize something miraculous. Cheek pimple is, if not totally invisible, highly faded. Neosporin saves the day again. I stare at my nearly clear cheek and think about how I definitely would have skipped washing my face tonight if I weren’t writing this diary. This makes me think I should start journaling my food, too. Then I eat four bite-size candy bars I stole from work and fall asleep.
Today is an exciting skincare day for you all! I’m working from home until 6:30, so I don’t get out of bed until 11. I don’t do anything to my face because I want to work out first, a dream it takes me two hours and 15 minutes of yoga to give up on. I wash my face in the shower, then put on Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque. It’s my go-to for all generalist, make-my-skin-look better needs. It’s great for calming down redness and inflammation, improves overall tone, and just makes your skin look clear.
After, my skin is looking the best it has all week. The cheek pimple is totally gone, and those bumps I was complaining about on Wednesday seem to have died down too. I add toner, Finacea, and sunscreen. After sunscreen, I add my new favorite no-makeup makeup product: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. This is the closest thing to foundation I can wear without triggering a breakout, and despite being sheer, I swear to God it visibly blurs away my flaws. Friday night, I cleanse/Finacea/maybe moisturize? I spent my evening getting high and watching Vanderpump Rules, so I honestly don’t remember. I do remember eating a Twix bar at 1am and thinking the single greatest thing I could do for my health is cut down on sugar, so take that as you will.
Me: I should cut down on sugar!
Also me every time I go out:
Saturday morning, I cleanse and tone, and get dressed in a rush waiting for toner to dry. Then I add Finacea and try to find my insurance card for a doctor’s appointment for 10 minutes. Two hours later, I remember to moisturize—hope it still counts for something. No sunscreen today, oops. Saturday night I make a genuine attempt to go out. But I still end up asleep on the couch before midnight. At least I manage to wash my face before crashing. I tell myself I’ll put on Finacea and moisturizer in bed. I don’t.
Sunday morning I’ve slept for an annoyingly long time. I cleanse, tone, Finacea, and moisturize—no sunscreen. My skin’s feeling dry since I fell asleep without moisturizing the night before, and I don’t really plan on spending time outside anyway. I go to the movies, where I realize the junk food and half-hearted skin care Saturday has resulted in two new bumps rearing their heads on Problem Cheek. I tell myself I’ll do a mask and spot treatments that night. Instead, I drink two margaritas at 5pm, and barely manage to cleanse/tone/Finacea/moisturize. I suck.
I wake up at 4:30am, regretting Sunday’s margaritas with every bone in my body. I seriously consider quitting my job for five minutes, then get out of bed and cleanse, tone, Finacea, sunscreen. Monday night, I get home “early” (7pm), and treat myself to some salicylic acid spot treatment following my cleanse/Finacea/moisturizer routine. No toner because I’m already tired at the prospect of the spot treatment, but the bumps I saw at the movie theater Sunday don’t seem to be going anywhere on their own.
Tuesday morning I cleanse, tone, Finacea, and liberally apply sunscreen to try and make up for the fact that I don’t have time to apply moisturizer (and wait for it to dry). At work, I read a different skin care diary in which someone who clearly has more money and better skin than me also swears by salicylic acid for clearing breakouts. Even though the salicylic acid product is the only one in her routine I can remotely afford, I allow myself a brief moment of smugness. I also remind myself that fancy $100 skincare items have never done anything but made me break out.
Tuesday night, I cleanse/tone/Finacea, and add more spot gel (Clean & Clear) to those bumps on my cheek. I can’t be sure if they’re actually pimples or just rosacea bumps, but I feel hopeless if I can’t even pretend I’m treating it. I tell myself I’ll moisturize in bed, and as I’m sure you can guess, I do not. At 3am, I wake up, realize my mistake and moisturize. It’s terrible.
All in all, the moral of my not-so-exciting skin care routine is that I’ve (reluctantly) stopped chasing Instagram-perfect skin. And both my wallet and face are a lot happier for it. I don’t use drugstore products because I’m low-maintenance and don’t GAF. I use them because the alternative is spending $78 on a moisturizer that sits on top of my broken skin barrier and makes me break out. So if you have sensitive skin like me, remember that the #1 investment you can make is a dermatologist, and when you’re rich, biannual microneedling and injections. Can’t wait.
Images: Giphy (4)