It’s been over a year since my last post. I have no excuses, but I’ll try a couple on for size: work has been nuts (I got a promotion & extra responsibilities). I’ve been working hard to make more time in my life for hanging out with my friends and family, including monthly game night! My laptop has basically bitten the dust and blogging from a phone or tablet sux.
Anyway. The Husband and I are watching the new episode of Game of Thrones right now, and I usually multitask while we watch that show because I like to look away from the screen during stressful parts (s0, like, half of each episode). And I actually have a topic to blog about!
I’m turning 29 in a few months, which means I’m v.v. close to 30. In my teens I was always really excited for my late twenties and early thirties and they’ve been about as great as anticipated. It’s really nice to be past my early twenties, which in retrospect basically look like a blur of anxiety-ridden parties. However, being at the tail end of my 20s means my body no longer bounces back from awful treatment the way it once did. I’ve cleaned up my act a lot. I’m more or less vegetarian, though I do still eat wild meat like venison on occasion, and I do pretty well at getting my servings of fruit and veg every day. I lost 30ish lbs last year and have kept 25 of those pound off for an entire year,which feels like quite the accomplishment. I need to get back on the exercise bandwagon, but I do make an effort to stretch every day and walk as much as I can. I don’t drink much alcohol and try to get as much sleep as I can (though I still have trouble getting even 7 hours per night…but I try). I try to read books or listen to podcasts instead of watching much TV. I’ve even gotten better about keeping our house tidy. Overall? I feel like some kind of adult.
The most recent thing I’ve changed is skincare. I’ve always been super minimalist with any body care stuff. I wash my hair just a couple of times a week and have used coconut oil as moisturizer for a few years now. I use bar soap instead of fancy bath gel. I tend to buy whatever is on sale. Most days, I do not wear makeup, and if I do, I try to avoid foundation and just do very minimal eye makeup and some blush. I spend very, very little money on cosmetics and personal care items. The idea of adopting a ~*skincare routine*~ felt really daunting to me, and maybe unnecessary…but I really want to maintain my skin as I head into my third decade. Also, my skin has historically been sensitive and finicky (I’ve been known to break out in hives when I use certain shampoos) and I worried that trying out a lot of new products would do more damage than good (a few years ago I started using Neutrogena bar soap on my face, which is really mild. It BURNED my face, and I was bright red and peeling for days! So sensitive.). I decided to look for products that are a) not super expensive b) have good reviews c) are easy to use and d) don’t irritate my sensitive skin.
I also did a lot of research about dry skin, something which I’ve dealt with for years, and came up with some changes that have really helped. For one, I stopped using “squeaky clean” cleansers and switched to moisturizing cleansers. That has taken some getting used to, but it’s pretty clear that I’ve been stripping my face of its natural oils for a long time and was actually causing my own dry skin problem. I avoid astringent toners (which I never used regularly before but always seem to be kicking around in my medicine cabinet) and went for a more mellow witch hazel toner. And finally, I’ve started using a thick night cream on my face before bed. Dry skin supposedly helps wrinkles form, so I wanted to focus on correcting that issue. Happy to report that my skin has responded really well to these changes and I’m not even sure I consider myself to have dry skin any more!
Without any further storytelling…here’s my routine.
- Cleanse: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. I use this in the shower and use a brush to apply it if I want some gentle exfoliating. (No link to the brush I use because it came from Forever 21 a few years ago and was like $2. Just search for facial cleansing brushes or check them out at Sephora, where they have some affordable ones. I’m not talking a Clarisonic, I’m talking a soft little brush that you use by hand.)
- Toner: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Rose Petal Toner. I apply this with a cotton ball. Here’s a post about why toner is an important step. Turns out, it’s mostly about pH. Who knew? This stuff smells AWESOME and leaves my skin feeling kinda…soggy? But in a good way. Apparently that’s the point, because moisturizers (the next step) are better absorbed by wet skin.
- Moisturizer: I am still working on finding a daytime moisturizer that I like. I currently use either Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50+ or Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15. I find that both of these moisturizers make my face simultaneously chalky and greasy, and put a weird white cast across my normally olive-toned skin. Turns out, this is a common problem with SPF lotion made in the US. I’ve ordered some Japanese facial lotion which apparently should help, but it won’t be here until June! For the time being, I cut my SPF lotion with Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer, which is more of a body lotion and does not contain SPF. That means I’m losing some sun protection, but it helps with the chalky/greasy feeling. To be clear, I do not strongly recommend either of those SPF moisturizers because of the way they make my skin look and feel after use. I’ll report back on the Japanese lotion.
- Makeup, if I’m wearing it. (Usually not the case.) (I might do a makeup post to share my super minimal routine & products.)
- Remove Makeup, if I’m wearing it: Simple Micellar Water. This is where things go into crazy-skincare-town. Micellar water sounds totally made up, but it really does remove makeup. It’s much gentler on my skin than most makeup removal cloths, and doesn’t leave my face feeling super greasy like some remover pads do. I sometimes use the micellar water even if I’m not wearing makeup, because it feels kinda nice.
- Cleanse: either a repeat of the Cetaphil cleanser I use in the morning, OR Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser. Sometimes both, because Pond’s does leave my face feeling a little greasy. It is extremely effective, though, and doesn’t strip moisture at all. Pond’s is super old school and has an awesome smell that reminds me of my grandma. Its main ingredient is mineral oil, which I used to think was evil (thanks to “natural” skincare companies), but I’ve been reading up on it and decided to give it a shot.
- Toner: Thayer’s again.
- Moisturize: Boot’s No. 7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream for Dry/Very Dry. This stuff is HEAVY DUTY. My husband always comments that I look very “shiny” when I use it. It has done so much to resolve my dry skin problem, so I’m not fussed.
- Exfoliate: This is something I do very, very occasionally. My sensitive skin does not hold up well to exfoliating, and rarely needs it. I got a sample of MAC Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator. It is gentle-ish in that it doesn’t irritate my skin if I use it carefully, but if I were to rub it in roughly, it would definitely make my skin unhappy. The grit is a little intense. This is also a very, very messy product. Use it in the shower. It leaves my face feeling super soft. This product doesn’t qualify as “affordable” so I’m not sure if I will buy more once my sample runs out.
- Sheet mask: This is another totally new thing for me. I use a Korean brand: Dermal Collagen Essence Masks. These are pretty cool. The soft cloth-like mask is soaked in a goopy “essence” that sits on your face for about 30 minutes. Very cooling and soothing. Leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized. No clue if they’re really doing anything, but they aren’t too expensive and they’re fun to use.
- I use this method for pore “shrinking”. Read the whole post; lots of good info (and that blog in general has been a total wealth of skincare knowledge). I don’t use the exact products in that post. I use Stridex pads as the BHA element, an ancient bottle of pHisoderm 5 Minute Mask as the clay mask (no link because it is no longer produced, which is probably an indication that I should toss the bottle I have…), and Pond’s Cold Cream as the mineral oil element. I haven’t had the experience of pulling “grits” from my skin (ew!) but it leaves my skin feeling SO soft and smooth. It’s unreal. I think that I might buy the exact products she recommends to try out, since I’ve had pretty good success with my version but would love the full effect.
So, that’s what my current lineup looks like. All of these products are about $15 or less, except the exfoliator which, again, I got for free. It’s kind of bizarre to be spending a chunk of time on my skincare routine, twice a day, but there’s something soothing about it.