Monday, February 27, 2012

My Skincare Routine

My skincare routine is a work in progress.

I got my acne under control several years ago, but there are still some issues that I’m working on – mainly large pores and an uneven skin tone due to old acne scarring. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, I am getting older and while I don’t really have any major lines and wrinkles (except the gigantic one across my forehead that I’ve had since I was a kid. Seriously.  I guess I furrowed my brow too early and often.), I am hoping to prevent as many as I can. 

I started using Retin-A about five years ago.  At the time, it was mainly to treat acne but I knew that it had anti-aging benefits as well. It has definitely helped clear and smooth my skin, and I continue to use it now to help keep my skin in check.  

While I love the results from the Retin-A, it can dry out my skin and cause some serious flakes from time to time (mostly when the weather is cold and dry, like now). As a teenager and into my mid twenties, my skin was super oily. Now, even when I go off Retin-A for weeks at a time (which I do sometimes when I get particularly dry), my skin is more normal now than oily.  It isn’t the least bit sensitive – I don’t usually have reactions to products or break out after using new stuff. Actually, in some cases, skincare products don’t seem to be potent enough to have much effect on my skin. I did recently become allergic to chemical sunscreens after years of using it, but that’s my only issue. I still break out, but they’re strictly hormonal breakouts around that certain time of the month.

So the rundown – I have extremely resistant, acne-prone, normal to dry skin. And here’s what I’m using these days with fairly good results. (Though I am always looking for something better…)

Cleanser I used to buy expensive cleansers with ingredients like AHAs, BHA or Vitamin C, but then I stopped to consider the fact that a cleanser really isn’t on your skin long enough for the ingredients to penetrate and decided it was better to save that money for a serum or cream. , In my mind, you just need a good basic cleanser that doesn’t dry out your skin, clog your pores, or irrirate your skin in any way. In the morning, I use Olay’s Foaming Cleanser for Sensitive Skin. It doesn’t dry out my skin but still gets my face nice and clean.  In the evening, I use either makeup remover wipes like Neutrogena’s or olive oil to remove my makeup.  Then I use my Clarisonic with Aveeno Smart Essentials Pore Purifying Facial Wash to really clean my skin.

Vitamin C- I always like to have a vitamin C product in my routine because it’s a great anti-oxidant to prevent free radical damage and can help brighten the skin. I had been using Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Vitality Facial Serum and liked it very much – I’ve actually gone through several bottles of it – but then I got a tube of Garnier Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, which contains vitamin C, in my New Beauty Test Tube and decided to give it a go.  I use in the morning after I’ve washed my face and before moisturizing. I like it, but definitely not as much as the Avalon Organic Vitamin C serum so I’ll be going back to that when I use up the Garnier product.
Garnier Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Moisturizer – As I’ve mentioned, my skin is drier since I started using Retin-A so it’s taken me a while to figure out what type of moisturizer to use now. Currently, I layer 2 different moisturizing products because I find that works best for me. In the morning and at night, I start with an oil. I’ve been alternating between Josie Maran’s Argan Oil and Tarte’s Marajuca Oil just because I have a bunch of them from kits I’ve gotten, but I also use Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil sometimes. I like all three pretty much equally.  After the oil has been absorbed, I use First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream, which is meant for dry, parched skin.  I actually only started using it a couple of months ago after getting a deluxe sample, but it’s made a huge difference in my skin this winter.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue to use it in the summer – it’ll depend on how dry my skin is.
Josie Maran Argan Oil, Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil, Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream - 2 oz. tube

Retin-A – To keep my skin from getting too dry, I don’t usually use Retin-A every night in the winter. Instead, I use it two to three times a week, alternating it with an AHA product (and something else that I’ll mention later). When I use the Retin-A , I put it on my skin alone, without anything under or over it, so it can really go to work.

AHAs – On the nights that I don’t use Retin-A, I usually use an AHA product. I have two that I like right now – Alpha Hydrox 14% AHA Swipes and dermaE AHA Beauty Fluid. I use the Alpha Hydrox Swipes when I want intense exfoliation and the dermaE Beauty Fluid, which is an all-natural product, when my skin may be a little dry and needs something gentler.   I usually give the AHA product about an hour to really penetrate my skin and then follow with my usual moisturizing routine.

Alpha Hydrox 14% AHA Swipes & dermaE AHA Beauty Fluid

Eye Cream – Both morning and night, I use an eye cream to keep that delicate area nice and moisturized. Right now, I’m using Alpha Hydroxy Eye and Upper Lip Cream. I’ve tried countless eye creams over the years, and to be honest, I haven’t really noticed any difference from one to another. I’ve even used my face moisturizer under my eyes a time or two and that works just fine as well.

PMD (Personal Microdermabrasion System) – For Christmas, my sister gave me this little gadget (mainly because I think she was sick of me whining about it for so long).  It’s an at-home microdermabrasion kit that’s definitely not as hardcore as the treatment you’d receive at your dermatologist, esthetician or spa, but it provides pretty intense exfoliation . (I’ve given myself a little red mark on my nose that took a couple of days to go away because I hung over on that one spot a little too long.) I’ve used it once a week for about a month now and while the results aren’t drastic, I think my skin texture has improved. I’ve also noticed that my other skincare products seem to penetrate a little bit better after I’ve used it.  I usually use the PMD at night and because it provides serious exfoliation, I don’t use Retin-A or AHAs the night before, the night that I do it, or the night after.  Instead, I just moisturize.
PMD (Personal Microdermabrasion) Tool

Acne Treatments – When I do get a breakout or monster zit, I either use Alpha Hydroxy’s Acne Spot Serum, which contains 2% salicylic acid, or Clean & Clear’s Persagel, which has 10% benzoyl peroxide. I use the Alpha Hydroxy serum on minor spots and the Persagel when I’ve got one of those big, honking zits that needs some serious attention.

What’s your skincare routine like?  Are there specific problems that you’re looking to address? Do you have any holy grail products that have transformed your skin? 

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