It used to be a sacred ritual:
Vigorous – I would scrub my face with a glob of drug store apricot scrub. Then, I would try my hand at every single pore that showed signs of containing oils or dirt. I would slather on the cheapest face lotion I could find in hopes of soothing and erasing all the damage I created while trying to extract my pimples. Finally, I would layer on foundation and powders, cover my eyes with liner and mascara, and hope my complexion would be in better condition next time I faced myself in a mirror.
My ritual was never effective.
I’m sad to admit this past skincare routine is not something of ancient history. My 2017 New Year resolution was a vow to stop picking at my skin, do some serious research, and try a bunch of different products that would hopefully cure my adult hormonal acne.
My research turned up some pretty horrifying results. Although, I cannot say I felt any element of surprise.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice #1: That Apricot Scrub
I had used this stuff since I stole it off the shower rack at Hilary’s (the most popular girl in my middle school) 14th birthday party. Her perfect, soft skin put my acne peppered skin to shame – and as I peed and stared at the face scrub’s matte tube I calculated how it would fit perfectly under my dirty clothes in my suitcase. No one would ever know, until maybe they saw the inevitable metamorphosis my skin was about to experience.
My skin never transformed, and, yeah, Hilary found out I pilfered her face wash and she was (rightfully) pissed.
Even with the lack of transformation, I continued to use that facewash. I convinced myself the little chunks of walnut scraped off a layer of dirt and oil, and left me clean and less likely to find another pimple in the morning (or afternoon, or evening – my acne never had a preferred birth time).
When I started my research I was honestly looking for products that would complement my ongoing use of this terrible product. I was googling the best steps after scrubbing your face when I came across a mound of blog posts and articles raging about the irreversible damage (YES! IRREVERSIBLE!) these types of scrub products do to skin. After reading five or six different horror stories about apricot scrub I went into my own shower rack, extracted my matte tube, and tossed it into my trashcan. I’d been punishing my skin for years in a masochistic attempt to clear my complexion.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice Replacement: Creme Cleanser
I have the driest skin in the winter. Straight up desert status. So every single step of my routine should provide moisture to protect my face’s moisture barrier. Creme Cleanser (sans skin destroying shards of walnut shells) gently cleans and effectively replenishes my skin after a long day at work, a tiring session at the gym, or a sweaty evening dancing the night away.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice #2: Poppin’
No – not my booty.
I would like to think that everyone is guilty of tirelessly extracting blackheads and popping zits that have finally come to head (and sometimes pinching the ones that haven’t in hopes of hastening the natural process). If you’re still guilty of incorporating this into your routine: Stop it. There are hundreds of reasons not to do this. For starters, you’re damaging your skin more, you’re putting yourself at risk for infection, and you’re actually making your face look even worse by accentuating the fact you have a zit.
For me – there are few practices more satisfying than extracting the oily seed buried in one of my precious pores. It’s instantly gratifying, but (cliché alert) unfortunately nothing worth having comes easy.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice Replacement: RETINOL and Weekly Clay Masks
Blackheads are my greatest enemy, and because I was coming up very short while searching for cures for these pesky lil buggers (for every positive review on a product claiming to rid you of blackheads forever there were 10 comments claiming the product was a hoax and waste of money) I decided to go get a facial. I seriously recommend everyone to do this at least once with a licensed dermatologist over a regular aesthetician just so you can hear about the medical structure of your skin. At my appointment I asked if there was actually any over the counter products that are effective at getting rid of the persistent little black heads on my nose and lower forehead. Doc recommended adding retinol to my skincare regimen and to consider using a clay mask once a week.
Immediately after leaving I was on my phone trying to find the holy grail of retinol products and clay masks and quickly found out that top-line products would very quickly break my budget. So I decided to try out some top-line retinol peel products and go bottom line (but with great reviews) with my clay mask.
My life has changed. I have less blackheads, and I’ve discovered that I absolutely love the mindfulness of putting a mask on, waiting for it to dry, and then slowly washing it off to reveal soft soothed skin. Seriously- even if you can’t afford to get on the retinol train just yet, I highly recommend trying out a clay mask once a week. I like to whiten my teeth and mask my face at the same time. Peeling off the whitening strips and rinsing off the mask is almost as satisfying as a extracting the sebum seed from the pore on my nose.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice #3: Not Enough Moisture
As I said before- my skin is a desert. It turns out the garbage moisturizer I was using was actually drying my skin out even more. That’s right. If you’re not using the right moisturizer you may be drying your skin out. I also found out that lacking a toner step in my routine was drying my skin out too. So- I chucked my moisturizer in the same trash vessel as my apricot scrub and went to town learning about products to replace it with.
Horrifying Skincare Routine Practice Fix: A Moisturizer for Dry Skin and a Toner to Follow My Cream Cleanser
I got on all the skincare websites and read reviews. I looked at all the beauty blogs I could find and read about the pros and cons of different products and product combinations. Honestly- I’m still on the hunt for the perfect products for my skin. I’m sure I’ll have a follow up blog sometime in 2017 where I rave about my moisturizer and toner. As of right now, I recommend you read all the literature, test out new products, and ultimately just have fun playing in the world of skincare.
Comment with your horrifying skincare routine practices and how you’ve fixed them! I’d love to learn more about what actually works (and what doesn’t) from my amazing followers!