At 30, things are better than ever. I’ve got the security of a home, job, and family, with enough money to buy a few extras here and there. Things are good, for the most part. Except for my skin. WTF is going on with my skin?! The acne that should have left 12 years ago is still hanging about, but now I have fine lines to go along with it. My face is like one of those topographical road maps.
In the past few months, I’ve discovered some little nuggets of information that have totally transformed my skin. No, this is not an informercial. I’ve found that skin care does not need to be complicated or even expensive. It just needs to be effective. You need a few key ingredients and a solid routine.
In my 20’s, I believed that more was better. I would slather on serums, eye creams, moisturizers, toners, illuminators, and then go to bed expecting to wake up with beautiful skin. It never worked. Why? Because despite the price tags, most of the products I was using didn’t actually have effective skin-changing ingredients. Just a lot of bull-shit on the label about crushed pearls and precious minerals.
It’s time to cut the shit, ladies. Skin care does not need to be rocket science. Repeat after me. CLEANSE, EXFOLIATE, MOISTURIZE, PROTECT.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wash your face morning and night. Skip the fancy, high prices product here since you are going to wash it down the drain. You want to look for something gentle and effective. You don’t need fragrance, scrubby beads, or miracle mud. Frankly, all you need is something that will cleanse your skin without stripping it. The rest is just hype.
If you have dry skin, look for something removes makeup and dirt without stripping the skin, like Olay 4-in-1 Daily Facial Cloths.
Combination skin will do well with Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, which removes makeup rather well and leaves skin clean, not stripped.
Oily skinned ladies may choose to go with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid (although it’s debatable if the cleanser stays on the skin long enough to be effective). I like Neutrogena Deep Clean cleanser- it’s a little drying, but not so much that I won’t use it.
An additional step for those who wear foundation is to consider using a makeup remover before washing your face. If you dry your face with a white towel and see some color on the towel, you should use add a makeup remover. I like Sephora’s Triple Action Cleansing Water.
2. Treat the Wrinkles, Acne, or both with a mild exfoliant. Basically, you want to remove all the dead skin cells hanging around on your face that makes it look dull, wrinkled, scarred, oily, red, and blackhead prone. This is not the same as using a facial scrub. We’re using chemicals to break down the bonds that hold those scraggly cells to your face. You’re probably going to fall into one of two camps: AHA or BHA. AHA exfoliants include glycolic acid and lactic acid. Glycolic acid is unique in that it is one of the most highly effective acids (due to the size of the molecule) you can buy over the counter. BHA exfoliants (like salicylic acid) are great for treating acne and oily skin.
If your skin is dry, I recommend Peter Thomas Roth’s Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer. The bonus here is that it includes moisturizing ingredients, so you can skip a step. But you still need SPF.
If you are fighting both acne and wrinkles, I recommend Peter Thomas Roth’s AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel. This item totally transformed my skin and was the first skin care product I used that actually worked.
If you are not fighting wrinkles, you should be. See above.
3. Moisturize and Protect. Depending on your needs and time of day, you’re gonna get a little variety here. If your exfoliator includes moisturizer, all you need is sunscreen (during the day). Otherwise, you’ll need either a tinted moisturizer with SPF, or a moisturizer with SPF. At night, a regular moisturizer will do. My personal preference is to use a moisturizer with additional AHA or BHA, to get maximum effectiveness out of my routine.
If your skin is dry, Olay makes a wide range of products to suit your needs, but pick one with SPF.
If your skin is Oily/Combination, I like Estee Lauder’s Daywear Advanced Lotion.
If you wear foundation, I like Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30.
I generally skip the SPF at night as I’d rather not put excess product on my skin. I opt instead for a moisturizer with glycolic acid and layer it on top of my treatment.
So that’s it. An effective skin care routine can involve as little as 2 or 3 products and you’re on your way to better skin. Want more? Read on for the extras I like to have around.
4. Physical Exfoliating Brush. Once or twice a week, I use my Clarisonic Mia 2 exfoliating facial brush. It helps remove all those skin cells I’ve been working hard to loosen up with the AHA/BHA routine. It has made a tremendous difference in my skin, and in my life (more on that in another post).
5. Eye Cream. A little known secret in the skincare industry is that eye cream is total bullshit. There are no regulations or standards for what should be in an eye cream, so most manufactures go with the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. That said, my eye area is not oily, so I like a heavier moisturizer on the delicate area around my eyes. My trick? Samples. I use whatever deluxe sample comes my way. Since you really only need a sesame-seed sized amount of product, the samples last forever. I never buy eye cream.
6. Mask. Sometimes. When you feel like it. Preferably when the kids are asleep, and you are in the bath tub with a glass of wine. I like clay based masks because it helps draw up oil, but if you have dry skin, look for something like honey, yogurt, “anti-aging,” or whatever strikes your fancy when you’re wandering around Target. A mask won’t make or break your skincare routine.
Disclaimer: These tips are for women who are OK with aging naturally and not under the care of a dermatologist. If you want skin that never wrinkles, you’re gonna go the retinol and botox route. That’s not my thing or personal philosophy, so I don’t have much info on it.
My Skin Care Routine Looks Like This:
Morning: Wash with Nuetrogena Deep Clean. Apply Nars tinted moisturizer with SPF. Done.
Evening: Remove makeup with Sephora cleansing water and oil-free eye makeup remover. Apply PTR AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel. Apply PTR Glycolic Acid Moisturizer as needed. Use free eye cream sample. Go to bed.
So that’s it! No magical, botanically derived, mineral infused, precious oil shenanigans. Just simple, effective ingredients and you’re on your way to smoother, more even skin!