Let me start by saying I am the least qualified person to give skincare advice. Seriously. I would be lying if I said I have never stuck a needle into a particularly painful zit in the hopes of draining whatever monster lived in there. This has worked 0% of the time and often makes things worse. So. Much. Worse. I also don’t use sunscreen like I should, I never remember to use eye cream, and I can’t keep my hands off my face. I turn innocent little pimples into raging psycho boils because I can’t help but pick at them, and you would think after years of doing this I would learn to, I don’t know, maybe STOP?! But I can’t. I also tug at my eyes A LOT and at this rate I will have the wrinkles of a 90 year old on my 26th birthday (which is in March in case anyone was wondering and/or wanted to buy me my own Sephora).
BUT. I have been asked enough what I use on my skin that I thought I would share what has generally worked for me, unpredictable hormonal acne aside. I am mainly talking about skincare in this post; however, here I will share a few things regarding makeup that I know I have mentioned before…but bear repeating for this post:
- I have discovered there are certain ingredients in makeup it’s best to avoid or use products that have less concentrated amounts of them: talc, starch, dimethicone, silicone, chemical sunscreen, coconut oil, mineral oil, and most ingredients ending in -xane and -cone. It is near impossible to avoid all of these, and even some of these are in my favorite products, but generally if a foundation or primer is silicone based, I know it will end in disaster for my skin. Same goes for products that are heavily laden with coconut oil, which works wonders for some people but is known to be highly comedogenic (aka pore clogging). I will always end up with angry, deep rooted cysts that take months to heal. I tend to reach for water based foundations as the safer option, and I read ingredient lists like my life depends on it. Products that have high amounts of starch, talc and chemical sunscreen can be aggravating to acne-prone skin, but not always.
- REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP EVERY NIGHT. Even if you tired. Even if you are tipsy. Even if you are mad. Even if you are in the middle of a great book. Even if you have to make your loved ones pause the movie. REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP EVERY SINGLE NIGHT BEFORE YOU SLEEP. Unless you are my coworker Lisa who literally sleeps in her makeup and has the glowing smooth skin of a child. I DON’T AND WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. Some of us just walk in the light, I guess.
- Your makeup only looks as good as the skin underneath it. Foundations, primers, highlighters-these only go so far to make your skin look pretty. Skincare matters! This is so important even if it is coming from someone who tried to puncture her own blemish with a sewing needle.
- Hydration is key. Even if you are incredibly oily like me, moisturizing is essential. It may seem like you don’t need it, but you do! I recently learned that your skin can be dehydrated AND oily at the same time. Drying the crap out of your skin to reduce oil or acne ends up creating more issues later. Oily skin that is not getting the hydration it needs will kick into overdrive and produce even MORE oil. Find an oil or a moisturizer that will not break you out but keeps your skin deeply hydrated. Easier said than done, I know.
- Wash your makeup brushes and sponges! I don’t even want to imagine what kind of bacteria live on my brushes and sponges that touch my face every day, and spreading that bacteria around can lead to acne in more places. There are several brands that make specific brush cleansers but what has worked the the best for me is baby shampoo or dish soap. It also helps that these are by far the cheapest options (brush shampoo is, in my opinion, wildly overpriced). I have also used Dr. Bronner’s multipurpose liquid soap with great success! Just make sure to let your brushes dry with the brush head pointing down, shape the brush best you can before laying it down to dry, and don’t let the hot or warm water run directly into the ferrule of the brush because that will loosen the glue that keeps the bristles in place. Pro tip: make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the line of brushes laid out to dry because he will somehow KNOW which one you spent the most money on/love the most/use the most and promptly chew it to death.
Makeup Remover: Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is to me what coconut oil is to everyone else in the entire world. I use this on EVERYTHING. I spread a dollop of this onto my dry face to remove my makeup (it even removes waterproof mascara and glitter, y’all), I use this on healing blemishes and acne scars, I mix a few drops in with my moisturizer, I use this on the ends of my hair, I use it on my cuticles, I would pour this all over my husband and dog if they let me. It doesn’t break me out and helps any crusty blemishes heal faster. I wouldn’t classify it as a dry oil but it’s light and fast-absorbing so it doesn’t feel heavy on my supremely oily skin. It actually seems to balance my skin and keep my skin feeling normal as opposed to an oil slick. Oil for oily skin? Yeah, sounds crazy. But it works!
Cleanser: Soap and Glory Vitamin C Face Soap and Clarity Facial Wash + Cerave Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin
This is where things get a little extra. Yes, I use two cleansers and yes, I am aware that’s excessive. After massaging the grapeseed oil into my skin to remove my makeup I use the Soap and Glory cleanser because it takes off all the oil and makeup remnants and leaves my skin squeaky clean. Almost TOO clean. Which is why I then reach for the Cerave hydrating cleanser. The S & G cleanser can strip my skin a little bit too much and I find that the Cerave one helps balance my skin and add some moisture back in. I would use the Cerave cleanser by itself but it doesn’t remove makeup well enough for me and I wear a lot of makeup so I need the heavy duty stuff, ya know? This combination keeps my skin clear-ish (hormonal acne you are a betch) and I will use both of these despite whatever thoughts you are having about me right now, such as “wow, Katie is more high maintenance than I thought” or “yeah, she seems like the type of girl to use more than one cleanser.” Let a girl live.
Chemical Exfoliant: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
I have seen this product recommended over and over in magazines, blogs, YouTube videos, etc. but I never really knew what it was or what it did. And now that I’ve tried it I can’t go without it! This is a chemical exfoliant with salicylic acid (a BHA, also known as beta hydroxy acid) that clears away the dead skin, oil and dirt that makes skin look dull and clogged. It helps with pores, blackheads, cell turnover and uneven skintone and I can honestly say I’ve noticed a difference in my skin since I started using it 5 months ago. The directions say to use 1-2 times a day but I only use this once at night before applying my moisturizer. I imagine using this twice a day wouldn’t irritate my skin but using once a day helps enough that I don’t feel like I need more than that. I would not say it feels “greasy” per se but it does feel a little tacky. Once I apply my moisturizer any tackiness absorbs with the moisturizer and I don’t notice it anymore!
Moisturizer: Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion + grapeseed oil
You already heard me wax eloquent (or did I…oil eloquent?!) about grapeseed oil so you know I love to mix it with my moisturizer. I use the Cerave night moisturizer as opposed to the daytime one because that one contains sunscreen and sunscreen in skincare/moisturizer is like a flashing neon sign saying DON’T USE ME. It always leads to breakouts and call me crazy but I’d like to avoid those. This moisturizer is simple but absorbs quickly and moisturizes my skin without clogging my easy-to-clog pores.
Spot Treatment: Paula’s Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide
This is a sample size but since I don’t use it as an all over face treatment and only as a spot treatment, it has lasted me about 4-5 months. I find that my skin reacts best to benzoyl peroxide even though the most common acne treatments contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is great for exfoliating my skin but I always reach for benzoyl peroxide when I look like a crater face. I apply this over healing spots that I couldn’t keep my paws off of, but I also apply this to cystic spots that I can feel forming under the skin. You know, those incredibly painful and annoying spots you can’t do much about. It doesn’t make them go away overnight but it does diminish them and make them less angry.
Physical Exfoliant: Dr. Brandt Pore Dermabrasion Pore Perfecting Exfoliator + Dr. Brandt Pore Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator
Full disclosure: I received both of these in my Boxycharm subscription so these were not purchases I made on my own. Since I use the Paula’s Choice chemical exfoliant, I don’t use these exfoliators but once or twice a week. To be frank, I can’t tell the difference between either of them but I like and recommend them both! I’m suspicious about physical exfoliants because some of the heavily marketed ones contain particles that can create micro-tears in your skin and do more damage than good. Luckily both of these scrubs don’t contain the harmful particles and actually have beneficial ingredients such as lactic acid and jojoba extract. They don’t feel harsh or abrasive and using these once or twice a week helps my skin stay smooth.
Mask: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask + Apple Cider Vinegar
This mask comes in powder form so it is not a ready to wear mask which I’m okay with because I feel like a scientist mixing up my own face mask. You can mix the powder with water but I prefer to use apple cider vinegar because of my oily skin. Fair warning-this will make your face smell like sweaty feet. I’m okay with it because I have sweaty feet and this is not a smell I’m unfamiliar with. I found the mask at the Vitamin Shoppe and you get a massive amount for less than ten dollars. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this container for two years and haven’t seen the bottom yet. It may leave your skin red afterwards (the label even lists that as a side effect) but it doesn’t last more than an hour and if you feel any tingling, that is also normal. This mask is marketed with the tagline “feel your face pulsate!” so you know they mean business. After I wash it off my skin feels cleaner and like the mask REALLY got down into my pores. I have this thing about my pores so anything that promises to keep them clear is something I am very much here for.
With love and lashes,