A while back, a conversation with an 'Insta-friend' - i.e. someone you have never met but talk to on Insta from time to time - had me seriously re-thinking my approach to my skincare routine. The fact that this Insta-friend was extremely knowledgeable (she's a makeup artist) definitely got me hooked, but the fact that she has absolutely stunning skin, even more so. (Check her out @yacinediallo on Instagram and read the first skin type blog I wrote that was inspired by her advice here.)
My skin type
I thought it made sense to explain my skin first, so, when I first started this journey, which was basically 20+ years ago (!) I believed that I had oily skin, very, very prone to breakouts, particularly of the hormonal and dairy-related variety. However, since, my convo with Yacine, I've realised that I am more than likely a combo type; oily areas along the brow, down the nose and on my chin, but with cheeks that are prone to a little dryness - which is a pain in the ass when you actually get a breakout there. Anyway...
Products I've ditched from my skincare routine (for now...)
I'd always thought that squeaky clean and scrubbed skin was the way to do battle with my issues - because having oily skin surely meant that I must be dirty, right?
Any kind of clay masks that also contained tiny exfoliating beads (natural or otherwise) would be my regular go-to, but I would also use a daily scrub (ouch). So I'd be detoxing until my cheeks were pink and give them a good old scrub at the same time. Then on the evenings I might try Retinol one month (which does actually work - more on that coming to the blog later) before switching to a more acid-based overnight exfoliant. Sounds kinda confused right? Even looking back at the words I've used: why would I ever want to battle my poor skin? Don't get me wrong, my skin has brought me to tears, and near depression, at various times in my life, but I really should have been kinder to it, instead of trying to wrestle it to defeat. So, I ditched all the physical exfoliators and exfoliating masks.
Products I've added to my skincare routine
#1: A chemical exfoliant
So although I wanted to be gentler with my skin, I still wanted to be able to slough off the old skin, allowing (hopefully) fresher, smoother skin to emerge. I replaced daily exfoliating with a weekly dose of Deciem's The Ordinary Peeling Solution 10 Minute Exfoliating Facial. This contains 30% AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and 2% BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid), two acids that do similar things, on different levels. AHAs have long been the go-to when it comes to anti-ageing products; they're perfect for dry or sun-damaged skin, as they improve moisture content at the same time as exfoliating away dead skin cells. AHAs focus on the top layer of the skin, while BHAs can go deeper, making their way through the oil that can clog our pores. This is an oil-loving acid that's also anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial properties, making it the perfect antidote for oily skin. In the beginning I really wasn't sure about only exfoliating once a week, but, one month in, I can definitely see and feel a difference. It's not the prettiest of masks (it basically looks like you've slathered blood all over your face) but immediately after rinsing off, my skin feels much smoother, and softer, which makes a change from feeling dry and smooth after using a physical exfoliant. One thing I've noticed is that I mess with my breakouts a lot less since using this. Without being too gross (sorry, but my name is Charisse and I'm a picker) my spots would be more pronounced when I was using physical exfoliants, almost as if they were reacting to my tough treatment. But with this product, it's almost like it gets right in there and kind of 'melts away' the breakout. Yes, I still get spots, but they seem to be merely surface ones, which also results in less scarring.
After using this, I keep things very simple with a light facial oil, and the next day I will be sure to whack on the SPF50 if I'm headed outside. Next week I might go up to twice a week, to see if that changes anything.
#2 More Vitamin C
A product that I LOVE has to be Mario Badescu's Vitamin C Serum. It claims to retexturise skin to reveal a smoother, brighter complexion, and I think, so far, it's a win, but it really depends on how you use it. Now, Vitamin C is yet another acid (Ascorbic Acid), so, combined with the above acids, you really need to figure out the when and how often to apply each product. The Vitamin C serum should be applied every other night, but as I also use the Deciem peel once a week, I basically end up applying an acid to my face 3 or 4 nights a week. I almost always use the Deciem peel on a Saturday or Sunday night, then I'll use the Mario Badescu serum on a Tuesday and Thursday. On the nights in between I will just apply a facial oil - the heaviness will depend on how my skin's been behaving that week.
As well as using Vitamin C on my face, I'm also adding it to my supplements. I don't take many but I do believe Vitamin C is an essential ingredient to bright, healthy skin - and it's been proven to heal scars and repair tissue. I take Altrient C Liposomal Vitamin C 1000mg (almost) every day, first thing in the morning. While I can't prove that it's having an impact, I do feel it's helping in conjunction with everything else I'm doing. Yes, I do eat fruit and vegetables, but our bodies cannot store Vitamin C, so I'm just giving myself an extra boost.
#3 An oil cleanser
I've dabbled in oil cleansing in the past but with varying results. Lately I've been using SuperFacialist Vitamin C+ Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (3 for 2 on this brand right now at Boots!) and I love it. It's super light but it really feels like you're giving yourself a facial. I love massaging it in and taking my time (I might use a makeup wipe first to take off excess lippy and mascara). What's more, it smells amazing, and is a great mood-booster, thanks to sweet orange. Once you've finished massaging it in, apply some warm water and the product turns to a milky, watery texture. Then you rinse off and do your second cleanse - I would not advise just rinsing and then applying a moisturiser; you will need to remove the excess oil. Again, I go for a SuperFacialist product, one I've turned to time after time - the Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash. Salicylic Acid is your best friend if you suffer with spots; it deep cleans and detoxifies without leaving you dry and red.
So, what's my skin like now?
It's less red
When breakouts occur, they are on the surface, as opposed to more painful, deeper spots/pimples
But...DAIRY is the devil
A couple of weeks ago, I ate pizza, on two separate occasions. No biggy I hear you say, but the effect on my skin lasted two whole weeks - in fact, it's literally only today that it has calmed right down. I love dairy, I love cheese, but no amount of it can erase how I feel when my skin is f*cked. It makes me feel ugly - pure and simple. Plus, I'm annoyed that I spent time and money on the above products, and almost obliterated the positive results, simply by putting dairy in my mouth. I'm not saying I will never eat cheese again because - why? But at the same time, I do want to take care of my skin, and I want to be happy in it, for a long time.
Are you facing any skin issues right now? Let me know! Or maybe you've found your skincare routine Holy Grail? If so, please share below in the comments!