The above photograph was taken by my amazingly awesome and supportive partner Mike Kelley, who is a photographer that you should totally hire if you’re anywhere near northwestern Maryland.
Earlier this year, in the wake of serious depression, I started watching makeup tutorials as a form of self-care. Specifically Sinéad Cady’s tutorials, a la The Makeup Chair. (If you stop reading right now and just go sit on her channel for hours, I will not blame you. Maude knows I do it.) This week, Sinéad talked about her skincare routine as of late, and I thought I’d write a bit about mine as well. This will double as a mini product review for everything I use.
My skin type, plus a disclaimer.
I have combination skin, both dry and oily — and sometimes in the same places! It’s not unusual for my nose and forehead to be both oily and flaky, which is frustrating to deal with sometimes. In fact, my skin is the number one physical reason I didn’t wear makeup for years. (There were philosophical reason as well, but I’ve written about those before.)
It’s taken me a while to figure out what works for my skin. In fact, I’ve dedicated this entire year to figuring it out! So please don’t take what I say to be gospel truth — your skin will tell you what it needs and what works for it, so be sure to experiment until you find what’s best for you. Pay really close attention to how your skin reacts to different products and treatments, and be sure to give them a couple of weeks before determining whether it’s working or not. Unless something you’re using is causing rashes or chemical burns, then stop immediately.
My skincare routine is concentrated at night before bed, so I’ll be starting there.
If I’ve worn makeup, I start by taking it off. I usually use waterproof eyeliner and mascara, and I’ve found that an oil-based makeup remover works the best for me. My favourite remover to use is Almay’s Longwear & Waterproof gentle eye makeup remover. I pour a little bit on a cotton pad and gently press the pad into the skin of my eyelid for a few seconds, especially concentrating right by my lashline since I wear a lot of mascara and eyeliner. I prefer the oil because it breaks down my waterproof products so much easier than a water-based solution. After pressing the pad into my skin for a few seconds to let the oil have a chance to start breaking up the makeup, I just wipe until all makeup is gone. Sometimes it does take a little bit of scrubbing with the amount of mascara I wear, but this has worked really great for me so far. There’s usually enough product left on the pad for me to then run it over my face to start to loosen the rest of my makeup.
If I’m out of this particular makeup remover, I’ll either opt for an oil like jojoba or even a little bit of olive oil, or I’ll use a gentle baby wash heavily diluted in water to loosen and remove my makeup. (Handy tip: I also use that baby wash to clean my makeup brushes!)
Cleansing my skin.
Cleansing and moisturizing my skin have been the most difficult things for me to figure out. Soap-like cleansers dry out and irritate my skin, so for a while I never actually washed my face. All I’d do is take a warm wet washcloth to my skin and leave it at that. When I started wearing makeup regularly and getting serious about my self-care and skincare, I decided to try Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream. I’d tried it before on a whim 6 years ago and had just fallen in love…but this time, I realized that I’m allergic to chamomile. I decided to stick with the Burt’s Bees line and tried a few more of their cleansers. I found a winner in their Sensitive Facial Cleanser with cotton extract. (Their hydrating cleanser is fantastic as well, and I may be switching to that over the dry cold winter months!) I use about a half-dollar sized amount, with warm water, and massage most of it all over my face and neck.
And now for the one product that, above all else, has revolutionized my skin: my Clarisonic Mia. My wonderful mother gave it to me for my birthday this year, and I can honestly say that this has absolutely made my skincare. Basically, it’s like a sonic toothbrush for your face — same concept, but way more gentle of course. It is amazingly effective at revealing and maintaining healthy skin. I use the sensitive or delicate brush head, since my skin does tend to react poorly to harsher treatment.
Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about my Clarisonic Mia. But I’ll keep it to a top 3 wonderful things it’s done for me:
- My skin is far more balanced than it’s ever been. My cheeks and chin are smooth and soft, rather than dry and scaly as they used to be, and my nose and forehead are both less oily and less flaky.
- While the first couple weeks that I used it, I broke out quite a lot, everything evened out after that and I now have drastically fewer breakouts.
- My nose piercing, which has given me so many problems with infections and staying clean, has become healthy and far easier to maintain.
So, how do I use it? What I haven’t massaged into my skin of my Burt’s Bees cleanser, I put on the bristles of the Clarisonic, then turn it on and go over my face, usually concentrating on my forehead, nose, and chin (with a little bit of time spent on my cheeks as well). It has a 60-second timer, so I never have to guess how long I should clean. Once the timer goes off, I rinse my face with cool water.
Acne treatment and piercing care.
My skin didn’t used to to break out very often, but as I’ve left my PCOS untreated the past couple of years, my hormones have been running amok…which of course interferes with my skin. My blemishes tend to concentrate around my chin and jawline, with the occasional spot between my eyebrows. I use tea tree oil on my blemishes at night, applying with a clean Q-tip. It seems to dry out the spots and not interfere too much with my skins natural balance, which is essential to me.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a nose piercing that I’ve had for 3 years that has given me fits (the piercing was done incorrectly, I just don’t have the guts to let it grow up and get it re-pierced correctly). So I have to treat it like a somewhat fresh piercing. I clean it nightly with sterile saline spray on a clean Q-tip, swabbing around the jewelry both outside and inside my nose. When it gets particularly bothered, especially if I get the dreaded nose bump, I’ll do a soak of hot water mixed with sea salt. If that doesn’t clear things up after a few days, I’ll resort to swabbing the outside of the piercing with tea tree oil as well, but I always rinse really well a few seconds afterwards. In general, I try avoid using tea tree oil on my piercing because the potency of it can aggravate what is basically an open wound, but sometimes it’s just the only thing that’ll really disinfect and get the bump to go away.
As I said earlier, this is another thing that took me a while to figure out for myself. I didn’t even know there was a difference between hydration and moisturizing until I watched this video from MadeULook Twice by Lex. After watching it, my experience in trying to keep my face from being too dry makes a lot more sense! A lot of lotions seemed to leave me either too greasy or too dry, no matter how much I used — and now I know it’s because I didn’t hydrate my skin first. Earlier this year, I read somewhere that jojoba oil was very close to the natural oil that human skin produces and is thus a fantastic product to use if you find that your skin isn’t hydrating itself well enough. Once I tried it, I just haven’t needed to look back. I use 3 – 4 drops per major area of my face at night, and that’s all I usually need, no moisturizer necessary. If my skin is particularly dry, usually in the winter months or after doing some facial hair removal (my face does not like harsh chemicals), I’ll add a drop or two of Vitamin E oil to the jojoba, then apply a little bit of Cetaphil lotion on top to seal in the hydration.
In the mornings, I don’t exactly wash my face. I’ve found that if I wash it too often, it dries out and is just generally unhappy. (This is my skin type, though! Your mileage may vary.) So rather than washing my face in the mornings, I’ll either use a warm wet wash cloth or else toner on a cotton pad. The toner I use is actually just pure witch hazel, mixed with a couple drops of lavender oil to tone down the smell and to sooth my sometimes aggravated skin.
That’s about it!
I do try to shake things up a bit every now and then, try something new or stop using a product to see what my skin will do. I’m always open to tips and tricks from others. What does your skincare regime look like? How did you decide upon it? Let me know!