Whether it's a testament to my profession or the condition of my skin I can't say, but one question I've always been asked is: What do you use on your skin? I'll admit, I've been told more than once that I have "perfect skin". I've always tried my best to assure people that this is definitely NOT the case; I owe the illusion of perfect skin to a hand deft in the application of concealer, foundation and highlighter. Having said that, I've always taken care of my skin, and though the specifics of the routine change, there are some fundamentals that I never stray from. Here, then, is what I do to keep my skin as close to perfect as possible.
Cleanse- Philosophy Purity Made Simple
Generally I use this twice daily; once at night to remove makeup and once in the morning to refresh. I love Purity because it removes all of my makeup without drying out my skin. Being as obsessive about my skin as I am, I'm actually a double cleanser- at night when I'm removing makeup I actually wash twice, just to make sure everything is gone. I don't really think this is necessary with this cleanser, it just makes me feel better. Also, since my skin ranges from normal/dry to severely dry, sometimes I don't cleanse in the morning. Provided that I've been good and removed my makeup the night before, I may just splash my face with water when I wake up, then proceed with my normal routine. For a more detailed look at this product, you can check out my review here!
Treatment- Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
I've recently returned to this old standby. I searched far and wide for a serum to soothe and protect my skin from environmental damage, while offering a nice moisture boost. Something with hyaluronic acid was a must- this wonder ingredient holds 1000 times it's weight in water, so it not only adds hydration, but helps your skin to retain what's already there. After months spent browsing product ingredients on-line and in-store, I decided I needed to return to my roots, and I'm so glad I did! I already knew of the soothing properties of this serum (I've even used it on sunburn before!) it's also got great antioxidant properties- back in my days at the counter, we'd cut open an apple and slather this on the cut side of one half- the treated half of the apple won't brown because it's being protected from oxidation (aka free radical damage.)
Despite it's name, I actually use this as my daytime treatment- the light and non-greasy texture make it perfect for under makeup and of course, skin needs free-radical protection during the day as much as it does at night!
The moisturizing component of my skin care routine is probably the one that changes most often. Constant technological development in this realm means that many creams and lotions skirt the line between moisturizer and treatment, so I often find myself switching up this element of my routine in search of my holy grail.
One aspect of my day time routine that has NEVER changed is that I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen. If I have anything to be vain about, it is the fact that for a 32 year old woman, I have very few wrinkles. (I've actually had relatives sling thinly veiled Botox accusations!) The fact is, I haven't left the house a day in almost 2 decades without sun protection on my face. That, dear readers (and relatives) is why I've had very few wrinkles.
I'm currently testing the Canyon Ranch moisturizer; a medium-weight lotion that contains a physical (as compared to chemical) sunscreen. While this may be a plus in some people's books, I personally prefer chemical barriers; I find them generally more comfortable on my skin, and physical sunscreens zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can feel chalky and make skin appear unnaturally white in photos.
This moisturizer does have anti-aging and antioxidant complexes, as well as ceramides to help keep the skin's protective barrier in tact, so there are some definite pluses. I've only been using this one for a couple of weeks, but stay tuned for a more in depth review of this product in the coming months.
For night, my routine only changes slightly. On the off chance that I've used waterproof mascara (basically, if I've been swimming or to a wedding or funeral) I'll remove it with a dual-phase eye makeup remover like Sonia Kashuk Eye Makeup Remover. Then I cleanse just as I do in the AM.
Treatment- Prescription Tretinoin
Tretinoin is available by prescription only under several brand names, the most popular being Retin-A and Renova. It is also available in a generic form. Tretinoin is a member of the Vitamin A family, and is the only chemical that has ever been approved by the FDA to reduce wrinkles and sun damage. Tretinoin isn't cheap- even the generic of the drug runs about $90, and of course you also have to pay for an office visit to a dermatologist to get a prescription in the first place. I finally took the leap because I felt like I was wasting my money on over the counter treatments. There are so many serums, moisturizers, masks, peels, etc...out there that are writing checks that their ingredient lists can't cash. I finally figured, if I'm going to spend the money, I'm going to spend it on something that's scientifically proven to work. Makes sense, huh?
Tretinoin is available in different concentrations and formulas- since I'm sensitive and dry skinned, I'm starting out with cream in the lowest concentration available (.025%)- which is still 20 times more potent than it's non-prescription counterparts. Since the cream base contains several emollients, I often don't need a separate moisturizer, which makes the price seem less of an issue.
Moisturize- CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
On the nights that I need extra moisture, or that I don't use my Tretinoin (since I'm still transitioning into it, my skin sometimes gets irritated and I may take a day off to recover) I've been reaching for this drug store staple. As far as night creams go, CeraVe Cream is pretty bare bones- it contains ceramides to help strengthen the skin's protective barrier, as well as glycerin and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and help skin retain moisture. It's also time released, non-comedogenic and fragrance free.
Before I used my Tretinoin, I would have insisted on a souped-up anti-aging cream, but now that I'm confident I'm getting those benefits elsewhere, I kind of like the simplicity of the CeraVe. Having said that, the line recently released a PM lotion that contains Niacinamide- an anti-aging multi-threat. Though I'll likely never run out of my CeraVe Cream (it comes in a honking 16 oz jar!) I'm increasingly tempted to pick up the new night version.
If anyone is wondering, I don't use a separate eye cream for my eye area. Those of you who have been with me for a while may recall my realization that eye creams are basically the same as most facial moisturizers, except they're 3 times smaller and twice the price. I even had my suspicion confirmed by celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Benabio.
Otherwise, that's about it. Yes, there are a few intermittent "helpers" that I turn to (Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner when I'm flaky, MAC Fix+ for a quick moisture boost when I'm feeling tight, even plain old Vaseline for my lips and nose when they get chapped and raw.) But this is the foundation of my routine. Keep in mind, what works for me may not work for you- skin type and concerns are vital indicators of what your best skin solution will be. I don't imagine I'll ever rest on my laurels where my skin is concerned- skin types change over time, and particular concerns with them. Just think of me as a skincare mixologist looking for the best cocktail of products. Of course, you can count on me to spill them all over when I find them!