How did I ever keep up with this?
My MSc was hard. It was an intense year. Stress is what initiated adult acne for me when I was almost 19. And remained a constant catalyst for MEGA breakouts and skin mishaps. I will share my misadventures in skincare and repair another time. But adherence to this routine kept my skin clear, and pretty much amazing. After a few haphazard months; this is my return to the old routine. A few months have gone by. And my skin is in need of some TLC. For one week, I will try my old tried and tested – to see if it will help return my skin to its former glory.
So here’s the theory. Please note that I have, for reasons I may explain another time, what might be described as combination-oily skin. My skin was always very oily and acne prone. The major part of my skincare journey and the catalyst to my becoming more ‘skincare savvy’ and applying my scientific background to my personal skincare was dealing with very oily skin and SERIOUS acne. Having dealt with that, I now get away with additional moisture that I wouldn’t have before. That said – my skin type still leans towards being oily.
Duration: 8 minutes
When I constructed this I decided to go light in the mornings to make it as quick as possible. The evenings are when I do the real repair. My morning focus is antioxidants to prevent sun damage and skin radical formation, light moisturization (especially in the spring, autumn and summer) as well as SPF cover.
Step 1: Wash
Step 2: Air Dry then Pat Gently with a Thick Disposable Kitchen Towel
This is how I did it. And I explain why later in this article. If you plan to emulate this step, make sure to use and absorbent, thick towel that doesn’t break apart and transfer itty bitty bits of tissue onto your face. (Speaking from experience)
Step 3: SERUM!
I used the Skinceuticals Phloretin cf. THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LITERALLY SPILLED THIS! It isn’t cheap and I have spilled so many bottles of this. It actually once stained my walk in dressing room table. I might do a tour of my itty-bitty-serum-stained-walk-in if anyone is interested.
As for the serum – I can’t tell you what this does for me. Full transparency. Because I don’t know. But I didn’t want to alter any part of my routine. I have used a LOT of Skinceuticals products. I like the products but I hold some reservations here and there.
Step 4: Locking it all in
La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo +. Not sure why. It was recommended to me by an aesthetician a while back. And I like the smell. Voila.
Step 5: THE GOOD STUFF: Moisturizer
Even if you have acne, try not to skip on the moisturizer. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in some form as drying it out constantly (something I TRIED FOR AGES) tends to self-perpetuate a cycle of continuous sebum production. I haven’t read any scientific literature to support this claim – but I experienced it myself. I use Dermalogica Active Moist moist of the time and when I feel like a lighter moisturiser with SPF I use the Alchime Forever Protective Day Cream SPF 23.
Step 6: Sun Protection
Last but not least! Both my dermatologist and aesthetician admonished me to wear SPF. I would sit in the sun for ages without any coverage for years. I travelled around on summer vacations in the blazing sun without any sunscreen on my face or body. I just loved the sun and with my dark skin – thought I was somehow immune to the dangers presented by prolonged sun exposure. Oh, how wrong I was. Minimally from the standpoint of keeping my skin looking and feeling lovely.
Now I use SPF every day. My final morning step was using the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Dry Touch. Forever a fave and a gem for those of us with oily skin who don’t want that “sunscreen sheen”.
Duration: 15 minutes
Bearing in mind that this is my old (successful) skincare routine, without any of the new ‘last minute’ repair measures. Just stable, good and routine.
Step 1: Wash (again)
Washing my face. (Every night!!? YES. I did this every night. Despite almost never wearing make up. And I tell you that this works magic!)
Usually used the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming gel. I find this nice and gentle for the evening.
Step 2: Air dry my face and pat with a kitchen towel (again)
It’s a bit of a repetition game here. But routine is good. Right? I use a kitchen towel because when I had acne, I realised that I didn’t want to transfer the bacteria that might potentially dwell on a facecloth onto my face. This just seemed like the easiest option – outside of purchasing several facecloths and washing them at a frequency that would allow me to use a new one each morning and another new one in the evening. This is the ecological (and reasonable) choice. I was simply too busy/lazy for this. People still wonder why I have a roll of kitchen towel in my bathroom. But they never ask.
Step 3: SERUM TIME!
At a particular point in time I was layering on up to 3-4 serums a night! But in its unadulterated form this is what I did. I will be skipping one of these now as I no longer need it.
1. Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector – I would use this only on the areas where I was still trying to fade acne scars. (Incidentally – an aesthetician once told me that some of them would never fade – this routine conquered that!)
2. I then used the super gentle Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Fantastic for skin texture. I recommended this to friends, family and professors alike. Everyone fell in love with this and noted an improvement in tactile skin texture if they used it for a while. It also helps with mildly evening out the skin tone. This one is a true gem. Let the serums soak in here. There is no rush.
Step 4: Sealing it all in: Lovely, glorious acids
After this I used the Eneomey Stim Renew 8 – Anti-ageing Radiance Night Cream. This is actually the new version. The original one had the same chemical composition in terms of the proportion of the constituent acids but just different packaging and marketing. So not to worry if you happen to come across the old version. This is a little known product recommended to me by a very well known aesthetician. I started out by using this only over the dark hyperpigmentation spots but moved on to using this everywhere. It is very moisturising too – which is why I didn’t use it everywhere at first. But I later discovered that this night moisture does absolute wonders. Again, let this soak in. Do this whilst listening to an audiobook. I used this as my winding down time.
Step 5: Finally – Moisturiser
Maybe an overkilll. But I would always round this up with the Dermaligica Active moist once again. This is the best, all-rounder, light moisturiser for acne prone skin that I have used. If you have acne, ideally you should err towards a water based moisturiser. In the morning this will also avoid that 12pm noon ‘shine’ in the t-zone.
- Physical Exfoliation: Clairsonic Mia 2 or for something more gentle Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining scrub. (LOVE IT). I would replace this with the evening step 1. This is long enough already. I will talk about occasional masks and blah blah some other time.
- Acne (+ fine line) Prevention: The final part of my evening Step 3 about four – five times weekly was the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Corrective Treatment. In Switzerland, 0.3 is the highest concentration one can obtain. In the UK, however, I know that one can obtain retinol up to 1.0 concentration without a prescription. (I appreciate the pump bottle of the 0.3.) I used the lowest concentration as this was sufficient to help me to keep my acne at bay (after it had cleared up). Depending on your skin and skin type this is one to introduce carefully and build up if necessary. If you use a retinoid (at any concentration) by prescription I would strongly advise that you do not use a retinol.
So, here goes! Wish me well!
P.s. I am only starting my week TOMORROW. The reason for this is because I had to reorder one or two of these because I realised they were not all in my arsenal anymore.
*Most of the links are (generally) in pounds. I just assumed this would be easier as I wrote this in London. (Although I am currently posting in Switzerland! Only home for a few days.) I will try to use international shipping sites where possible.