Did anyone else grow up believing the myth that bad skin would disappear with puberty? Turns out that for some of us, acne is a lifelong battle. And while there are a wealth of skincare products that can help, it can get overwhelming, fast. What brands can I trust? What ingredients actually work? It’s all so confusing.
With the help of the internet, I’ve spent years searching for and perfecting my skincare routine, and I’m here to pass on some of that knowledge. Of course, I must include a disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist! These tips are based on my own research and experiences, so they’re not 100% guaranteed. Everyone’s skin is different, but hopefully this can help you in beginning your skincare journey.
GOT A PROBLEM? PAY ATTENTION TO INGREDIENTS
You don’t have to pay $60 for a fancy serum that will supposedly give you baby-soft skin. There are plenty of affordable ways to get the skin you’ve dreamed of, as long as you know what ingredients to look for.
Problem: AcneSolution: Chemical Exfoliants
We’ve all tried scrubbing away pimples with an exfoliating scrub, products with small grains meant to cleanse the skin. But scrubs are physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-tears in the skin or further increase inflammation. Chemical exfoliants offer a gentler way to attack acne, without all the scrubbing. Glycolic acid is a great option, as it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Try: Pixi Glow Tonic ($15 at Target) or The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution ($8.70 at Sephora)
Problem: Dry SkinSolution: Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a miracle molecule which absorbs moisture from its environment, making it the perfect dry skin solution. You can find it in cleansers, serums and moisturizers for maximum hydration.
Try: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14.99 at Target) and Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum ($8.99 at Trader Joe’s)
Problem: Oily SkinSolution: Organic Jojoba Oil
Using an oil to help oily skin may seem counterintuitive. But certain oils like jojoba oil, which has a lightweight consistency, mimic the natural oil your skin produces, called sebum. By mimicking sebum, your skin will produce less with continued use.
Try: Viva Naturals Organic Jojoba Oil ($10.44 on Amazon)
Problem: PoresSolution: Vitamin B3
After using a vitamin B3 serum for a couple of months, I could practically see my pores shrink before my eyes. Smaller pores don’t clog as easily, so B3 also can help prevent acne. B3 also tightens the skin and helps with discoloration caused by acne scarring.
Try: The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum ($5.90 at Sephora) or LifeEssentials B3 Serum ($14.95 on Amazon)
Problem: StressSolution: DIY Masks & Facials
I knew my self-care game was way off when I put on a sheet mask one day and went right back to reading emails. Making a mask myself forces me to take the time to mix it and get in the proper, relaxed mood. Take a 30 minute study break to make a mask or DIY facial and unwind.
Try: Herbal Facial Kit ($32.25 for 5 uses, from Mountain Rose Herbs); make a hydrating mask with ½ an avocado, 1 tsp plain organic yogurt, and 1 tsp of honey; or combine 2 tbsp honey with 1 tsp of cinnamon and juice from a lemon wedge for a calming mask.
PERFECTING YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
You don’t necessarily need to use every type of product listed here, but whatever you do use, it’s important to use it the right way. A good rule of thumb: use thin, liquidy products first and thicker, creamier products last. Don’t forget to wait few minutes between each step for the ingredients to sink into your skin.
Step 1: Cleanser
Wash your face for a full 60 seconds using circular motions for a proper cleanse; 20 seconds on the forehead, 20 on your nose and chin, and 10 for each cheek.
Step 2: Toner
Apply with a cotton pad and sweep over the skin.
Step 3: Serum
Apply directly to skin or on fingers and pat across your face.
Step 4: Spot Treatments
Many spot treatments are drying, so be sure to use them directly on acne or scars as needed.
Step 5: Moisturizer
Avoid any areas you used spot treatments. Gently rub moisturizer in.
Step 6: Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a daytime essential, even in cloudy Oregon.