This content includes referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.
Okay, so if you’re a skincare junkie, you probably won’t find this post to be very informative. I want to talk to all the newbies, those looking to switch things up in the skincare department, and, those who are after that glow.
So yes, it’s time to learn from my mistakes and see how I was able to transform my skin. And to my fellow skincare lovers- I’d love to know what are some of the things you wish you’d started doing for your skin, sooner?
This, right here, is your secret to the youthful, even-toned skin. Wear it daily, rain or shine. Sun exposure causes skin damage, it causes your skin to age and wrinkle much faster than it would, had it not been exposed. This means photoaging, sun spots and, of course, wrinkles. With things like these, it’s much better and easier- to prevent, rather than treat. If you want to find a good sunscreen for your face, see this article.
You should always use 1/4 teaspoon on your entire face (at least SPF 30), applying it AFTER your moisturizer, before makeup.
The earlier you start incorporating sunscreen into your skincare routine, the better, but it’s never too late to start. Use of sunscreen is especially important when using AHA/BHA or Vitamin C products (pretty much anything that helps fight hyperpigmentation- not wearing proper sun protection while using these products can leave your skin vulnerable, and produce reverse results e.g. your acne scars will get darker, instead of getting lighter).
Put that apricot scrub away, sister! Scrubs, like a lot of things in the skincare world, have their limits: they only treat the top layer of skin and unfortunately, most of the trouble-making build-up cells are way beyond their reach. Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, dissolve the bonds and intercellular cement between skin cells, allowing it to ease away. Not to mention that a lot of scrubs are way too harsh to use on skin and can leave microtears on your skin. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs i.e. glycolic, lactic acids) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA- salicylic acid) are chemical exfoliants that are most commonly used in skincare.
AHA and BHA products can be very easily incorporated into your skincare routine, depending on your needs. Some of my favorite chemical exfoliants are:
–Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid ($29) – this is so much more than just your regular toner- it’s a non-abrasive leave-on exfoliant that I love using in the morning; it’s gentle enough for daily use and helps keep your pores clear. Great for those with acne-prone skin.
–Amlactin AHA Ceramide Therapy Lotion ($15) – I use this pretty much every night, especially during winter when my skin gets very dry. Not only does it hydrate and help with dry, flaky skin, but it also helps to even out your skin tone (I actually use it on my underarms as well to brighten the skin, as recommended by my dermatologist). If you get razor bumps from shaving, ingrown hair or suffer from KP, get dry and flaky skin on your legs and arms, this lotion can help with all these issues. As this has AHA, it does tingle a bit when applied.
–REN Ready, Steady, Glow Tonic ($35) – this is one of the newest additions to my skincare routine; if your skin is used to acids, you will love it, but if you’re on the sensitive side this might feel a bit too strong. It helps with uneven skin tone and dullness.
–Pixi Glow Tonic ($15 – $29) – I mean, how could I not mention this cult classic? It’s probably one of the most gentle AHA products out there that helps balance out the skin; if you’re a beginner or want to introduce acids to your routine, this product is a great place to start.
–Sunday Riley Good Genes ($108) – one of my favorite lactic acid treatments that is amazing at battling dull complexion, dark spots, and wrinkles. Definitely one worth the splurge.
–Complex Beauty AfterGlow Mist ($34) – I have a bit of a thing for facial mists, and this one is very different from most mists out there. It’s formulated with glycolic acid, MSM and fruit enzymes and it’s for a quick pick-me-up for the skin that also adds a nice glow with regular use.
–Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion ($29) – an AHA gel/lotion that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin- love using this at night before my moisturizer.
–The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA ($6.50) – I have yet to try a product from this brand I didn’t like- this one, in particular, is great for gentle exfoliation and with long-term, continued use, it gives results similar to what you get with Good Genes.
–Stridex Pads Red Box ($8.00) – amazing BHA treatment that is also super affordable- anyone with acne-prone skin needs this in their skincare collection! You can find this at pretty much any drugstore, it will help keep breakouts under control, you can also use these on your back or legs if you get razor bumps.
–Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha-Beta Peel Pads ($17-$150) – I’ve been using the extra strength version of these for years and love what they do for my skin. It’s a two-step treatment that comes with pre-soaked pads (a mix of glycolic, salicylic, mandelic and lactic acids) these helped my skin tremendously when it was at its worst
I think it’s needless to say that I do not use all of these products at once, but I do like to have options, depending on how my skin’s needs and condition. Again, when introducing acids to your routine, start slow and gentle and always remember to use sunscreen.
BE MORE GENTLE
If there was one piece of skincare advice I wish I’d given my younger self is “please, for the love of God, stop trying to scrub your acne away!” I’ve tried pretty much every single cleanser, scrub, cream, toner, and treatment targeted at the acne-prone skin and sadly, a lot of them are way too harsh and drying (especially if we’re talking drugstore products here). They strip your skin leaving it feeling tight, dry and itchy- stripping your skin from its natural oils is not the way to cure your acne. I also noticed a huge difference when I swapped harsh face brushes for regular, cotton and microfiber washcloths.
Regardless of your skin type, your skin should never feel dry or tight after cleansing. Go for fragrance-free, gentle formulas. Some of my favorite gentle cleansers are: Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser– both are on the foamy side and rinse very clean and are super gentle; MUN Akwi Cleanser -this one is great for dry, flaky and sensitive skin and those who love double-cleansing.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
I love, LOVE the online beauty community. But I die a little inside when I see some of these very popular websites, “beauty influencers” and even magazines offer horrible skincare advice- like using pure lemon juice or baking soda on your skin. Natural beauty is awesome, but always make sure to do your own research and patch test every single time, before trying any DIY projects that will go on your skin. I know that this is probably quite obvious to most of us, but it’s definitely something that some of the younger “beauty junkies” should be more aware of.
The same thing goes for spending your hard-earned money on hyped up products. Before splurging on skincare, remember to look at the ingredients and keep in mind that fragrance or pretty packaging is not what changes skin- powerful ingredients do. When I was much younger and still liked visiting stores like Sephora in-person, I very often got talked to into buying expensive products that did absolutely nothing for my skin or, did quite the opposite and caused horrible flare-ups or breakouts. Always, always do your research and remember to patch test. Whenever possible, try to get your hands on samples!
Skin is the largest organ in the human body and a pretty awesome one at that. It helps us stay warm when it’s cold, helps us stay cool when it’s hot and its primary purpose is to protect our inner organs from outer elements. Your skin also plays an important role in detoxification and if it’s invaded with toxins and dead skin cells, it can’t do its job properly. This is where dry brushing comes in handy.
We already talked all about dry brushing in detail in this post. Dry-brushing is one of my FAVORITE little beauty + wellness rituals and when I forced to stop it for a few months, it absolutely showed on my skin. I mean, post my accident I literally needed help with things like showering, so asking the husband to also dry-brush me from head to toe seemed like a bit much. :)
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Well, here’s the thing. For me, personally, cutting out dairy and going plant-based is what helped get rid of the cystic acne (along with adding an Omega3 supplement). I also know a bunch of other people whose skin transformed once they changed their eating habits. At the same time though, I also know some people who love their junk food, drink soda on the daily and have flawless skin… like, glowing, luscious-looking skin.
I mean… who said life was fair, right?
Still, if you do notice your skin lose some its luster or if it’s looking dull and a bit grey, maybe it’s time to look at your diet a little closer. It’s not as complicated as it seems, promise. I think that a lot of people over-complicate the whole “eating healthy” subject and get discouraged very easily when trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
I, myself went through years of trial and error until I found what works for me and I found that planning ahead + staying organized is key. I started with this book which really simplified a lot of things for me. You gotta remember that prepping is important. The main reason we reach for unhealthy foods is that it’s easy, convenient and quick. We don’t always have the luxury of being able to take 2 hours to prep a super healthy dinner, so simplify things for yourself by prepping, by not keeping junk in your fridge and making a few smart swaps (like ditching the sugary soda and “juices” for water with lemon, keeping a healthy snack in your purse so you don’t feel tempted to walk up to that vending machine, etc.)
Another bonus tip for those with acne and sensitive skin: switch to a fragrance and dye-free laundry detergent and change your pillow cases at least once a week. This helped me SO much with random rashes and allergic reactions; since switching to a “clean” laundry detergent I was able to stop reaching for my prescription antihistamines.