No actual question this week for What to Wear Wednesday, but a few friends and I have been discussing our whackadoodle skin. The changes in the weather, stress and hormonal shifts have created the zit/general irritation trifecta. Make-up can exacerbate (heh heh, I kind of love that word because it sounds like “masturbate”) the problem, and layering gunk on problem skin will generally accentuate the flaws.
While I am a huge fan of day spas and professional treatments, I am also really cheap and pretty lazy. So my bathroom is its own day spa, if you will. The kind where I don’t have to put on pants or shoes and I can wander around and eat ice cream and don’t need to be worried about farting. (Call me, boys. I am quite a catch.) Disclaimer: I am by no means a licensed esthetician, nor am I a dermatologist. Just a girl who has tried pretty much every beauty product and has found ways to keep her skin in check without shelling out. I need that money for booze.
Step 1: Cleanse! Even if you aren’t wearing any make up, a quick cleanser-and-water will provide a nice blank canvas. If you wear make up regularly, you should be washing your face each night. But we all know that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we fall asleep watching Battlestar Galactica on Hulu and forget to take care of business. Anyway, Cetaphil makes an excellent cleanser for sensitive skin, and also has an option for normal-to-oily. Choose accordingly, and wash up.
Step 2: Open those pores! I am going to out myself as an even bigger dork than you suspected: I own a face steamer. My dad likes to point out that standing over a pot of boiling water would do the same trick. I like to point out that he should shut it if he doesn’t want to end up in a crap nursing home. BUT, Dad is right: if you don’t feel like shelling out for a steamer, put a pot of water on the stove, stand next to it, and drape a towel over your head to “trap” some of the steam. Can’t tell if you’re too close? If the heat hurts, step back. The point is for the steam to open your pores, not burn yourself or be in pain. Hang out for about three minutes or until you’re bored, whichever comes first.
Step 3: Mask! This is the part where you get to scare the crap out of your parents/partner/roommates/pets. Good times! I use several different masks in a rotation, depending on what’s going on with my skin. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Exfoliating: Freeman Cucumber Peel-Off Mask is pretty intense and can leave your skin looking a little red after removal, but your skin will glow the next day. The Pineapple Enzyme Mask is a little gentler, and a nice quick maintenance when your skin is a little dull. Both smell great, and you can find these at Target, Rite-Aid or CVS: perfect for the budget!
Extracting/Deep Cleanse: Again, Freeman does not disappoint with their Avocado and Oatmeal Clay Mask. I notice it also moisturizes my skin a bit, which is a must for me. The green color is great for scaring the hell out of whoever else is in the house. Be careful if the doorbell rings. Origins makes an awesome mask: Clear Improvement Charcoal. This is a little less budget-friendly than the Freeman goods, but I swear I notice a difference for weeks. It is marketed toward oily or problem skin, but my delicate face can handle it, too. It does tend to leave it a little red and sometimes I break out in the next couple of days (it draws some of the gunk out of your pores and purges your skin) but the end result? So pretty! And like the “charcoal” in the title implies, it is dark gray, so warn other people. Or don’t, and watch them freak out when you walk into the kitchen.
Hydrating: Origins’ Drink Up! Mask is like a deep conditioning treatment for the skin. Perfect for winter when the wind and indoor heat has messed up the balance of moisture in your skin.
Follow the instructions for whichever mask you choose, and once you have rinsed move on to…
Step 4: Are you still with me? Time to exfoliate! I use my Origins Never a Dull Moment scrub (OK, timeout: why the hell isn’t Origins paying me for this RIGHT NOW? And Freeman, too, while we’re at it? I mean, good Lord.), but go with whatever scrub you prefer. Not a fan of facial scrubs, or don’t have one? Gently massage a wet washcloth in upward, circular motions. You’re good to go.
Step 5: Tone and Moisturize! Use your favorite toner and nighttime moisturizer. (If you need a recommendation, let me know. I’ve tried tons and can give you good ideas at different price points and for different skin types.) Yes, NIGHTTIME moisturizer. I use a lighter one with SPF during the day, which wears well under make up and keeps my pasty skin looking awesome. Something a little more intense for night helps my dry skin, and I don’t need SPF at night. Duh.
Step 6: Spot Treatment! Now that you have treated your whole face to some much-deserved pampering, time to get rid of any little zits or problem spots. Neutrogena used to make an awesome gel that you put directly on a spot, then they discontinued it, and now I think they have a new one. If someone tries it and likes it, let me know. Origins makes something called Spot Remover that is probably the best I’ve ever tried. In a fit of experimentation, I picked up the Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment. Not too bad, but when I use up the tube, I think I’ll go back to the Origins. Stuff clears up a zit practically overnight, which is great when something pops up the day before a date or an interview or your pole-dancing audition.
Damn, it’s hard work being so pretty! I know this sounds like a labor-intensive process, but you can skip steaming or masks and mix it up a little; this isn’t meant to be a daily routine. I multi-task and Google topless photos of Mark Harmon do housework while I’m waiting for the mask to dry, so it’s not like life must come to a screeching halt. So, go forth and take care of yourself. Your skin will thank you.
UPDATED: If you follow steps 1, 5, and 6 daily, 2, 3, and 4 can be saved for weekly/as-needed maintenance.