The skin I’m in—My basic skincare regimen dissected

Someone asked me to do a post (someone asked me to do a post!!) on my basic daily beauty routine, so I thought I would start with my skincare.

My oily skin has been the bane of my existence since I was a teenager. My favorite joke about my skin is that there is enough oil on my face when I wake up in the morning to solve the energy crisis. (There really is.) When women talk about wanting a foundation that makes them look “dewy,” I know that with me, all I have to do is put on foundation and wait an hour and POOF! Dewy.

Much like my perfume-buying habits, I’ve been through practically every oily skin line of skincare trying to find the holy grail of mattifying moisturizer (or cleanser or toner). My conclusion: There is no such thing. The companies will claim to eliminate all your shine, but if you’re as oily as I am, you’re always going to be a little bit shiny. The thing that you can work on, though, is how shiny you’re going to be.

I feel like I need to state that one of the problems with taking care of oily skin is that in an attempt to eliminate oil, we sometimes strip away too much oil. Doing what? Causing your skin to produce more oil to compensate. So don’t forget: some oil good, too much oil bad. I use moisturizer even at night, even though it seems counter intuitive.

I had a fantastic run from March to April this year, where by the end of the work day, I just had a slight sheen, and just needed to dab a bit before going out. I had started a new skincare regimen and also discovered a new line of foundation (that I’ll talk about in the follow up to this post).  What was the magic combination, you’re wondering?

DSC_0999Clockwise from left: Lush Ultrabland, Tea Tree Water, Grease Lightning, Enzymion, Fresh Farmacy Soap

I have friends in Scotland who are big believers in Lush, so I decided to go in and buy a skincare system and see how it worked. The routine was, take my eye makeup off, then use Ultrabland to take the makeup off the rest of my face. This step was something new to me. I had never taken my makeup off my face before cleansing, or, double cleansing. It feels completely counter intuitive to put Ultrabland on oily skin, because it feels oily (and is in fact made with essential oils), but seeing how much dirt came off my face when I used the Tea Tree Water on a cotton pad to take it off, I was amazed. I also did not break out more because of it, and rationalized that it was probably good to be putting some oil back into my face (see factoid above). The Tea Tree Water smells fresh, feels refreshing, and is really a great product. The person who helped me told me she even sprays it on her face during the day to help mattify and refresh her skin (I haven’t tried that for fear of my mascara running, heh).

Next step was to wash my face with the Fresh Farmacy Soap. She chose this cleanser because I do have some pimples, but don’t need an exfoliating cleanser since I use a Clarisonic Mia brush. Fresh Farmacy is made with calamine, so it’s the same color as the old mosquito bite remedy. You can smell it, too. It kind of feels medicinal, but in a good way.  At night I (still) use a prescription retinol on my face, generic Retin-A. During the day, I uses Grease Lightning for oil and pimples. Then I used Avibon (which is a French skincare secret: pure vitamin A retinol, used by French women to keep wrinkles at bay) under my eyes and whatever eye cream in the morning I was using at the time (probably some sample I got), and then moisturized with Enzymion. I’ve heard that they do demos of this moisturizer on people’s hands, showing how it sucks up oil. I’m sure it does, and like I said, it worked really well for a spell. It smells citrusy and fresh, which is especially nice in the morning.

In April, I went to Spain for a week and a half, and I don’t know if it was the traveling, the change in regimen while I was away, or the changing of the season, but when I got back, my skin did not respond to this routine as well. Quel disappointment! So what’s a beauty product addict to do? Go find some more, of course!

DSC_1004Clockwise from left: Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Lotion, Fresh Soy Face
Cleanser, Klorane Soothing Eye Make-up Remover with Cornflower Water, Mia Clarisonic

I went into Origins for one of their mini facials, and kind of gullibly walked away with some products I probably didn’t need. One that I adore, though, is the Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash. I now use this in the morning instead of the Fresh Farmacy, and it’s the perfect thing for a morning wash. It smells likes spearmint, with a touch of bergamot and lavender, so it’s a very nice sensory experience for the morning, and helps to wake me up a tiny bit. I was talked into buying the Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Lotion (say that 10 times fast!), and if I’m honest, I can’t be sure I see it’s made any difference. (I’m still using it, though, cause I paid for it!) I was also talked into buying the Plantscriptions Anti-Aging Serum and was given samples of the Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright to help fade marks left from pimples (despite the fact that I’m using generic Retin-A…). I actually got addicted to the Mega-Bright because it smells so nice and citrusy, and went into Sephora many times for more samples because I wasn’t ready to spend the money on yet another product.

Good thing, too, because shortly after I started this regimen and its working for me, it stopped, and I started breaking out a lot and being extra oily.

Just to recap, if you’re following, the regimen at this point is eye makeup remover (currently, I’m using Klorane Soothing Eye Make-up Remover with Cornflower Water, as I mentioned), Ultrabland with Tea Tree Water, Fresh Farmacy, Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Lotion, generic Retin-A at night and Grease Lightning in the morning, Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum, Mega-Bright, eye cream (to be covered), and Enzymion. Wow, I’m exhausted just reading about it, much less doing it all!

I know part of it was that the season were again changing and it was summer. And this summer, I spent a week in the south of France, a week in Paris, a week in Miami, and New York is just a bubble of humidity all summer, anyway. So I pretty much don’t expect anything but to be walking around all day feeling like I need to wash my face and wanting to claw my skin off. But I started to think that maybe another problem was that I was over irritating my skin with too many treatments. The Planstcription + Mega-Bright + generic Retin-A was probably just too much for my skin, even with throwing in the use of a sample of Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil as a nighttime moisturizer (remember, adding in oil to oily skin is [theoretically] a good idea, despite how wrong it feels).

DSC_1008Back row: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil, Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. Front: Generic Retin-A, Avibon.

Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion has long been a cult product for drying up pimples. So, in my distress, I went out and bought a bottle of that, as well as the Buffering Lotion, which is good for cystic pimples, or the ones under the skin. (And this is with having prescription pimple cream!) I also decided to STOP using the Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum and the Mega-Bright and the Pure Maracuja Oil and to just simplify what I’m putting on my skin a bit to try and stop irritating it and causing it to break out.

Control was finally achieved, only, to my distress, for my skin just a month ago or so to start feeling…wait for it…DRY. My skin has ever felt dry in my entire life! And it’s not as if it feeling dry meant that it got less oily during the day, oh no! So what is a girl to do, when she’s unemployed and can’t afford more skincare? Hit my favorite place in the world: Sephora. Seriously. God bless you, Sephora, and your sampling policy.

Truthfully, though, samples are a skincare addict’s—and, really, ANYONE’s— best friend. Also, I think it’s totally fair to try something out first before throwing down a lot of money for a product that may not work for you. I wish Sephora had been around for this purpose ages ago! (I swear, they’re going to put me on a Do Not Sample list because I get so many.) I decided that I needed a new daytime moisturizer, one that was good for oily skin, that put moisture back into my face, just not too much. It had to walk a fine line between being an oily skin moisturizer and not being too drying.

I currently have around 6 moisturizer samples from Sephora. Pretty much, though, my favorite has been Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus Moisturizer. I’m not going to lie and say that my skin does not get oily during the day. It does. But it also does not feel dry after I wash it, and that’s important, too. I was using a sample of a different moisturizer at night, but finally switched back to the Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil.

DSC_1011Clockwise from back left: Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash, Origins GinZing Eye Cream,
Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Cream, Bite Beauty Whipped Cherry Lip Scrub, Lush Popcorn.

 Another thing I noticed is that the skin under my eyes was looking dry and a little flaky when I put on my under eye concealer. I realized that maybe the Avibon was a bit too strong for an under eye cream, so I’m back to using anti-aging eye cream samples at night. In the morning, I’ve been using the Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Cream I got as a free gift with one of my other Origins purchases since it feels very creamy on, despite being “anti aging.” Some mornings when I look especially haggard, I use the sample of Origins GinZing Eye Cream I got instead.

And, a confession, some nights I’m just too tired for a 2-step cleaning process, so I’ve been using a sample of Fresh Soy Face Cleanser that I got to wash my makeup off with and skipping the Ultrabland + Tea Tree Water. I notice it when I use the toner—I see more dirt on the cotton pad—but c’est la vie, right? And in the morning, I like to buff my lips to prepare them for my lipstick (since I tend to favor bright colors, which makes flaky skin more noticable). I use both Lush Popcorn and Bite Beauty Whipped Cherry Lip Scrub, sometimes even together, since the Popcorn adds more exfoliant to the creamier Cherry Lip Scrub (and they’re both edible [literally]).

Are you lost? (Do you still care?) Here’s where I’m currently at:

Nightime—Klorane eye makeup remover, Ultrabland + Tea Tree Water and Fresh Farmacy or Fresh Soy Face Cleanser (and Clarisonic brush on alternate nights), Mega-Mushroom toner, generic Retin-A, Pure Maracuja Oil, and eye cream (and Mario Badescu products, when needed).

Daytime—Checks and Balances, Mega-Mushroom toner, Grease Lightning, Plantscription Eye Cream, and Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus. And lip scrub.

I just realized I was asked for my basic routine. But when dealing with problem skin, I guess there really is just no such thing!  So I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about my skin or about oily skin in general, but I hope it’s been helpful. As I said, there is no holy grail product. And if there is, most likely something will change, whether it be your skin, the weather, the season, and it will no longer be a holy grail. (But that’s why there are samples! 😉 )

Do you have a holy grail product? What’s your regimen like? Has your skin changed over time? Are you oily, dry, combination? Do you have any recommendations for me?

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