I was in my twenties before it occured to me to do more than scrub my face once a day in the shower. My skin has always been pretty well behaved and I’ve long abused that privilege by doing, well, nothing. It’s not that I was oblivious to the concept of a skincare routine, it’s just that it fell into the same category as regular blowouts and Angelina Jolie makeup tutorials—things which I’ve watched dozens of Youtube videos about but do not actually apply to my Regular Person Life™.
About six months ago I was given a bottle of micellar water and totally bought into it. It replaced my once a day in-the-shower face washing and for a while I really believed it was doing the job. And it was! Except for when it wasn’t. My PMS breakouts which had never been that big of a deal became so bad that I found myself using OXY pads. I’m not knocking OXY, but if you don’t have genuinely problematic skin you should be able to avoid medicated face products. And sure it was just a few days out of the month, but those few days of over-drying threw my skin off for a few more days and by the time everything got balanced out it was happening all over again.
So why not go back to the shower thing that had served me so adequately for years? That would have been too logical—I was panicked and needed control. Instead the following routine developed:
Twice per day I wash my face with the old standard Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash and follow it with Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner which I apply with a clean cotton washcloth because using disposable swabs or pads twice a day seems crazy wasteful. Afterward, in the morning I use Nivea Soft and at night I put on ROC Retinol Night Cream.
This routine is working really well for me and I recommend the general framework of it, but no one of these products is the be all and end all. The Neutrogena wash does the job, but if you’ve already got a cleanser that works for you there’s no sense in changing it. Witch hazel toners appealed to me as a natural option and I chose Thayer’s in particular because it’s one of the few that doesn’t contain alcohol. The Nivea Soft is a great dupe for high-end moisturizers and isn’t as oily at classic Nivea, although it’ll be replaced when I finish this pot because it has no SPF. I have no allegiance to ROC in particular, but using retinol cream has changed my life.
The retinol thing came about because I decided to be a responsible 20-something who wears night cream. To be perfectly honest I’ve never really believed that anything can prevent wrinkles, but even if that’s the case the residual benefits of this stuff are worth it. Apparently it was originally developed as a acne treatment and only later discovered to smooth wrinkles. Retinol is the over-the-counter form of vitamin A and similar, more potent compounds are sometimes prescribed by dermatologists. I’m using ROC because that’s what Target stocks, but most options seem to have roughly the same retinol content and I’d imagine do the same thing. Marshall’s, I later found, sells a bunch of similar creams which of course cost less. Anyway, in addition to supposedly preventing wrinkles, this cream clears up breakouts and I swear minimizes blackheads. If you take anything away from this post, try retinol cream.
If you too are considering going from sane and low maintenance to this level of ridiculous, be sure that you introduce the products one at a time. The patch-check thing is crap. Just because your hand doesn’t have an allergic reaction doesn’t mean your face won’t. You don’t want to have a bathroom full of new products that you’re scared to use because you can’t figure out which one didn’t agree with you. It’s for that reason that I still haven’t found an exfoliant, but even without my skin is smoother and brighter than it ever has been before. I confess, I’m a skincare routine convert.
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