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)
In 2018, we’ve definitely noticed that the way we use makeup is changing (unicorn brows, anyone? JK, this trend made my eyes bleed). Specifically, we’ve seen a lot more honesty from celebs and normals alike about how much of a role makeup plays. Think: Kardashian-esque contouring, YouTube beauty tutorials, #nomakeup selfies. And often, it’s been empowering to watch people openly celebrate both natural looks and the transformative power of makeup. But recently, the tone has shifted. While the idea was once more “everyone has flaws and that’s ok,” it’s now about having such naturally perfect features that makeup would only detract from them. These treatments are typically semi-permanent (aka not a full nose job/brow lift—so ‘90s), always expensive, and basically give you an Insta-filtered face. Here are some of the semi-permanent treatments celebs are using to get that perfect “effortless” look.
I’m lumping these two together, not because they’re all that similar, but just because these are the beauty treatments we’ve all known about and made fun of since the ‘90s. Both treatments have gotten a lot more sophisticated—so the Samantha Jones raw meat face doesn’t happen after peels anymore, and people with Botox can (kind of) still raise their eyebrows—but they’re still the basic anti-aging treatments we all know and wish we could afford love.
@amberrose we couldn’t love that beautiful smile more. We love when you come to see us! #repost • • • • • Fresh faced @drjasondiamond’s office! I got a re-up on Botox! ???? Everyone in his office is so sweet and helpful! Hit up Dr. diamond for Botox, fillers or any type of Facial plastic surgery! He’s the best in the business ????❤️????
Microneedling is a procedure in which a tiny needle pokes holes all over your face. (If you’ve ever used a dermaroller, it’s the expensive version of that.) This then promotes collagen production as your skin heals, which reduces the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, pores, and acne scars. You know, all the things that make you look like a human, which is no longer desirable. Treatments cost up to $1,000, but then your skin is as good as Kourtney Kardashian’s. (You didn’t really think it was her diet that made her skin good, right?)
@kimkardashian having a Microneedling treatment with @drjasondiamond ???????? Microneedling is great for fine lines and wrinkles and to increase the collagen production in the skin! We offer this for just £49 per Treatment! To book call 07590652233 ???? #LipEnhancement #LipFiller #CheekFiller #CheekEnhancement #ChemicalPeels #Microneedling #Manchester #Cheshire #Aesthetics #KimKardashian #TheLipKing #TheLipKingAesthetics ????
Injections is kind of a vague way of putting this, but that’s because injections can do so many different things. You can use filler to fix bad under eyes, smooth out your jawline and cheeks, and really just smooth out any imperfections you’re worried about. While I’m certain that most celebrities over a certain age have had some sort of filler put in, some of the most vocal users are the cast of Vanderpump Rules. In fact, Lala Kent and Tom Sandoval recently took a joint trip, where Lala got something called “Diamond Facial Sculpting.” (Fillers, but fancy I guess?) Lala says Tom was there for “moral support,” but I swear I saw him in a chair in the background of her IG story. Hard to believe Sandoval would willingly skip out on a beauty treatment.
No, I’m not talking about laser hair removal. (Though I’m certain that any celebrity who’s ever worn a bikini has gotten that too.) I’m talking about lasers used as facial treatment, which, like fillers, come in many varieties and have many uses. Basically, lasers can be used to fade pigmentation (*glares at rosacea-ridden face*), even out texture and tone, and basically act as “permanent concealer.” MUST BE NICE. Both Kim Kardashian and Jhené Aiko have recently raved about their laser treatments—and if they’re not #skingoals, IDK who is.
This one is along slightly different lines, because it’s not about skincare. BUT, now that we are officially living in the Age of Eyebrows, it’s pretty freakin’ important. Microblading is getting semi-permanent tattoos draw onto your brows with teeny tiny strokes that resemble real hairs. This then gives you the appearance of naturally full brows for roughly two years. It also costs around $1,000 upfront, plus a mandatory touch-up two weeks later. So yeah, I’ll be getting that when I’m 70 and win the lottery, and will be drawing on my brows each morning until then. Irritatingly, I cannot tell you that celebs like Cara DeLevingne have used this treatment. Instead, it’s a whole bunch of awfuls including Bella Thorne and Lena Dunham. Microfeathering is another version of this treatment, which basically just fills in instead of drawing you a whole new brow.
Happy Tuesday with Bella's new brows #Repost @microbladingla with @repostapp ・・・ Microblading LA was featured on Bustle! ????????Actress Bella Thorne @bellathorne came back to our studio for her touch up with Julia @juliaaffaria and Bustle wrote a piece about it this morning. Check the link in bio for the full article! ???? We'll post before and after pics a little later today so stay tuned… Brows by Julia @juliaaffaria ????????????
Do I have anything against these treatments, beyond the fact that I can’t afford them? Yeah, a little. I definitely have a problem with celebrities who pretend they haven’t had ANYTHING done. I respect their privacy and all, but I’m a grown-ass woman and I find myself getting upset about my own visible pores. This isn’t something that bothered me even two years ago. But now, every picture I see on Instagram features skin that doesn’t look like skin. And just a few years of being bombarded with those images has been enough for me to think there’s something wrong with my face because of it. Which is all to say, I’m truly worried for young kids who are growing up surrounded by that kind of illusion, and not being repeatedly and aggressively told that it is, in fact, an illusion.
Ultimately, I think it’s probably positive that these treatments are public enough that I can even write this article. Yes, the treatments themselves are becoming more mainstream. But the information is available—if you look—about why exactly these celebs can post #nomakeup selfies that make me feel like a garbage rat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to start a GoFundMe because all these procedures cost more than my rent.
Images: drjasondiamond, thelipking, lalakent, jheneaiko, microbladingla_juliafaria / Instagram
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I’m not exactly a skin care expert. My dermatologist, who gently told me to throw out most face products I own earlier today, would agree on this. On the bright side, I have now sought professional advice and am here to share my experience/her wisdom. Today’s topic is dermarolling: an at-home skincare treatment boasting celebrity users including Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Gwyneth Paltrow. (Yes, the one who stuffs jade eggs up her vagina. But her skin is glowing, no?) In my ongoing quest for flawless, “I can afford weekly facials” skin, I bought a $24 dermaroller two weeks ago. Here’s what you should know before you buy.
What Is Dermarolling & What Does It Do?
If you’ve heard of microneedling, dermarolling is just the at-home version of that. Both treatments involve creating small punctures all over your face. This (in theory) enhances collagen and elastin production. As your skin heals, the collagen boost helps smooth out wrinkles/fine lines, firm up sagging skin, and improve overall texture/tone. Both treatments can also improve the appearance of acne scars, dark spots, and large pores. As a general rule, microneedling will be more effective than dermarolling for many reasons. It’s kind of like the difference between doing a mask and getting a facial—the version performed by a professional with higher-tech tools is always going to come out better. Plus, microneedling tools can create deeper punctures than at-home dermarollers (for obvious reasons), so they naturally have a stronger effect. (Wondering why anyone would bother dermarolling? Because microneedling, like most things Gwyneth Paltrow supports, is prohibitively expensive, at $500-1,000 per session.)
Face Microneedle Dermal Roller System
How Do You Use It?
A dermaroller basically looks like a razor with a rolly head covered in needles on top. Before using it, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you disinfect it. Dermarolling with a dirty roller is literally injecting your skin with bacteria. (Sidenote: really love lecturing you all knowing full well that I “disinfected” my dermaroller with tequila. Whatever, at least I’m trying.)
To use it, you roll the needle-wheel (not the real name, do not refer to it as such) all over your face. One section at a time, roll five times in each direction (up/down/left/right) until you’ve covered the areas you want to treat. Redness is a known side effect, but I didn’t notice much. Just like, the amount you’d expect for having rubbed needles all over your face. After dermarolling, your skin will be primed for absorbing hydrating products—so load up on your fave serum/moisturizer to finish.
Not quite my experience, but you get the idea:
What Are The Effects Of Dermarolling?
The day after using this, I was the most annoying person on earth. I disappeared to my office bathroom maybe 60 times to take yet another “#nofilter” selfie. Even the most heinous of fluorescents couldn’t dim my #glow, and I felt like there was a noticeable difference in some roughness/bumpiness that had been bothering me on my cheeks. While effects like taming discoloration require long-term, consistent use of dermarolling (and my day-after glow didn’t really last), I definitely noticed a difference. Mostly, it was just a kind of shine/plumpness (I hate that word but I can’t think of a better description), plus the glow I won’t shut up about.
For reference, here was my scary face before dermarolling:
And here is my post-dermarolling glow:
Real results. Not FaceTune.
All that being said, dermarolling is not without its dangers. Common side effects can include infection, inflammation, breakouts, and damaged skin. Most experts say this can be avoided with proper cleaning and technique, but unless you’re going to dermarolling seminars on the regular, chances are you could fuck up. A lot of these issues do stem from improper cleaning practice, so please buy proper cleaning solution and be rigorous about it. Or just like, replace your dermaroller fairly often—I know you spend more than $24 on less important shit.
When I asked my dermatologist about it, she didn’t say dermarolling was bad, but she didn’t say it was good either. Mostly, she thinks of it as a less effective version of microneedling, and cautioned that dermarolling on any existing inflammation or pimples was a surefire way to spread the irritation to the rest of your face. I also found out that those bumps/redness on my cheek are in fact my new, fun mild rosacea (getting older is great), so whatever improvement I noticed after dermarolling was almost certainly in my head. Whatever! At least I was glowy!
Is this a wholehearted recommendation for dermarolling? If you caught me the day after, it would have been. But after hearing my dermatologist’s advice, I’ve sobered up on the idea of making this part of my routine. While I love buying trendy beauty products way more than as much as the next girl, sometimes less really is more—especially if you’re not sure how your skin will react. A dermatologist, on the other hand, is always a good investment.
Images: Dermstore; Giphy (3); Chris Howard / Pexels