Thursday, July 25, 2019

Skincare and other Snippets of Self Care and Improvement

Hello! It's been a weird week, so much so that the call I got yesterday in the middle of a work meeting from my credit card company asking if I'd make a $7,000 purchase at a Canadian online pharmacy was barely a blip on the rader. (Sadly, I had not made that purchase, though I wondered what the itemized receipt would say. That card has now been canceled, just as I'd memorized all the numbers for my online shopping.)

Happier times with my mamas on Friday

But! I was texting with my sister on Monday night about skincare and remembered a blog commenter had asked me about my routine on this post, so I thought I'd go ahead and write all the things down.

I've written a bit about skincare in the past: this post, asking for recommendations, and then this one, after I started on some new products. This is my routine now, after about 3 years of adjustments, grilling my dermatologist at my too-frequent skin-cancer-related appointments, and trying a new product every now and then (posted with about a thousand extra words and non-affiliated links because I like it when other people make online research easy for me):
  • Morning
    • Cleanser
      • CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser - my standby; it's gentle, doesn't dry out my skin, and seems to keep things clean.
      • SkinCeuticals Simply Clean - got this one as part of a SkinCeuticals set at the dermatologist and REALLY liked it, just not enough for the price difference from my usual CeraVe.
      • Philosophy Purity Made Simple - possibly the most recommended cleanser I've purchased, but honestly, I found it to be just okay. For a free sample, I'd use every drop, but when it has come to purchasing on my own, I like the CeraVe more and it's cheaper.
    • Vitamin C Serum - a MUST and by far the most recommended product by my dermatologist; it is one of very few things that actually will help repair skin and also protects against sun and free radicals/pollution in the air.  
      • SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ("fountain of youth") - expensive, but amazing and the only one I've used and will continue buying without question. One bottle lasts about 9 months, so I'm on my 4th bottle in 3 years and consider a worthwhile investment.
    • Moisturizer
      • SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer - my new favorite; it's cheaper than the other Skinceutical moisturizers I have tried and is much lighter. I use a pea-sized amount of this each morning and evening and am pretty sure the jar is going to last me 18 months or more.

        status after 5 months of 2x daily use
      • SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter Moisturizer- got this as part of a set and it's a great, rich moisturizer, but it's too expensive and ultimately too heavy for my skin. If I was older and lived somewhere really dry, I'd be slathering it on.
      • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer- my fave before I found the Daily Moisturizer, this is a lighter lotion that I liked in the summer but wasn't quite enough for me in winter (my skin is naturally quite dry).
    • Sunscreen - EVERY DAY
      • SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 - I like this one a lot; I first got it in a starter kit at my dermatologist, but I've since repurchased. It's slightly tinted and I use it as a base on the weekends when I don't wear any makeup. (You could also wear it under makeup, I just usually don't.)
      • Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 - my fave. Super lightweight and clear but still zinc-based thanks to the magic of science.  The only sunscreen I can reapply over my makeup and have my face look untouched. I keep one in my purse always. 
    • I.T. Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream- this is actually my first step of makeup, but since it has SPF 50 and it makes my skin look AMAZING, I'm including it with skincare. I use a tiny bit of this, blot it on a with a big brush, and then do a little blush and my eyes, and I'm done. One tube lasts me about 9 months.
  • Evening
    • Cleanser (with Clarisonic Mia 2) - I use the same CeraVe at night (I literally have bottles scattered around my bathroom: shower, bathtub, and by the sink), but I add my Clarisonic to the routine.  After an hour (or six) of yoga with sweat running down my face and rubbing my makeup into my skin with my sweat towel, I feel like the buzzing brush really does clean out my skin better.  Before I started using it I was getting my first ever visible/clogged pores (thanks to using better/heavier face products and makeup) but I haven't had any of that since I started with the Clarisonic about a year ago.
    • Retinol - another must and the only thing besides the Vitamin C serum that can actually change your skin over time. I started using the lightest one (0.25) 3x a week (my skin is super sensitive) for a year, then bumped up to daily use for a year, and have now moved to 3x a week of the 0.50 dose, with the plan to slowly (over the next year) move up to daily use of the 0.5. There are much stronger doses available, but it can have a drying effect and my dermatologist stressed that you're much better off with daily use of a lower dose than sporadic use of a higher one.
    • Moisturizer - same as above, I use the Daily Moisturizer.  (PSA: if you're using Retinol you should wait at least 15 minutes before moving on to your next step to let it soak in.)
    • Eyelash Serum- I added this about 3 months ago after YEARS of deep disappointment and despair over my very short, very invisible eyelashes. And it's working! I mean, my lashes are still shorter than those of most babies (and certainly all 3 of my childrens'), but you can see them! Mascara actually extends them! At night I pet them in front of the mirror and tell them I'm so proud. Sometimes the superficial can bring about great joy and that's okay.
      • Rodan and Fields Lash Boost - I started with this one after hearing great reviews. It's working! But it's expensive, so I plan to try the next one when my first tube runs out (we're on month 4, so it seems to last a while).
      • RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum - Already waiting in my drawer for trial 2.
  • Occasional
    • Mask (SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask) - purchased when my pores were getting clogged from using too heavy of a moisturizer (before I bought the Clarisonic) and I ALWAYS forget to use this, but have liked it the 3 whole times I've remembered. 
    • Chemical Peel- done in my dermatologist's office, this was amazing and made my face all glowy. It took about an hour, wasn't very expensive, and my skin wasn't red after. It was great to sort of "reset" my skin when I just starting to create and stick to a skincare routine.  Ideally I'd do one ever 3-6 months, but so far I appear to be on the "once ever 3 years" plan (because I've done one and it was 3 years ago).
    • IPL Photofacialamazing. Super expensive (to me, I mean, it's way cheaper than anything surgical and lots of other professional treatments) and takes a few rounds (I did 3), but my dermatologist recommended it after I expressed despair for the sun damage on my neck and chest.  She also noted that because the IPL actually pulls damage out from the layers of your skin to be sloughed off from the surface (it's so weird, freckles basically form where you didn't have any and then over the next few days, brush off), it can and does remove damaged skin cells from beneath the top layer of skin that can turn cancerous.  It's not a preventative by any means, but it does have therapeutic elements as well as the aesthetic.  And the aesthetic is huge.  By the third treatment so much of skin damage was gone and my face was so clear and glowy- it really made a noticeable difference, and helped when I was feeling discouraged from skin cancer diagnoses and a past of skin damage even while I was trying to do better in the present.  This made me feel like I was starting from a better place. I plan to do it again in 3-5 years.
So! That's a lot of words, but this has become a big topic for me.  In practice my routine takes up 3 minutes in the morning (cleanse, serum, lotion, SPF) and 5 minutes in the evening (cleanse [longer with the Clarisonic brush], Retinol, lotion, eye lashes) and reapplying SPF throughout the day as needed. The products all last a long time (you use so little!) and I don't waste time or money researching or buying anything different. This is one of the few routines I've really stuck to and people comment on my skin all the time, including strangers, which seems pretty good for a fair-skinned, sun-damaged, cancer-scarred redhead of 36!

makeup-free selfie in my new favorite shirt!

In other bits of self-improvement, it has been 45 days since I last had a Diet Coke. Since I used to have one most every day at lunch, this is a big change. I've long wished I liked the million varieties of sparkling water (I hate them all; yes, even the one you like that you swear tastes different than the others, they all taste like copper pennies in my mouth no matter what the label claims) or that I just liked water by itself more, but I don't and so when I want something different with lunch or at my desk in the afternoon, Diet Coke it was. But then I read this fascinating article about women and Alzheimer's and for whatever reason it did what no other article has done in making me decide I just don't want to drink soda anymore. And so I don't. Iced tea is my "special" drink of choice and the million hours of hot yoga I'm doing a week is making regular water seem far more attractive. I've craved my bitter, bubbly Diet Coke less with every week and now really don't even think about it, even when I'm having a burger or nachos at lunch- two meals that ALWAYS went with Diet Coke for me.

Apropos of nothing: new rainbow yoga pants!

And speaking of healthier choices, having teacher training every night has also meant that I'm not drinking any wine during the week, which was another goal. And doing 85 million hours of yoga has made me very deliberate about my food choices- hearty and healthy and not too heavy is all that sounds good, and the few times I've had fries or something less than nutritionally substantive midday, I've been shocked at how blech and yucky I feel later. Not that I won't still eat the occasional fries or nachos, but I'm implicitly less interested in the indulgence when I know I'll feel it like a load of lead in my belly on my yoga mat. So I'm working out more and eating and drinking less and feeling much stronger and lighter (7 lbs. lighter!) and really truly BETTER than I have in a while. I'm hoping eight weeks will be enough to set the routines enough to not completely revert when training ends!

Which is not to say there isn't still time and belly space for fun and celebration. I went out last Friday to a new local winery with my mama friends to celebrate a birthday and it was glorious. 5 wines to taste for $12, I found myself joining the wine club and now greatly look forward to my leisurely glasses of the local red I brought home on Friday-Sunday nights.

Going to bed earlier is the next goal, but we can only make so many changes at once, and getting home from teacher training at 10:30 with a need to unwind and cool off does not lend itself to a pre-midnight bedtime. There's always next month!


  1. I'm so glad you posted your skin care routine. I've been trying to decide if the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is worth it and you've definitely sold me on it. I was also trying to decide between a round of chemical peels and the IPL. They were close to the same price since the chemical requires more rounds of treatment, but I was pretty nervous about recovery.

    Thanks! Here's a pro-tip from my sister, the hair/makeup artist: Get a $2 bottle of castor oil. Before bed each night, use a cotton swab to rub castor oil into your lash line. Within a few weeks your lashes will look longer and thicker. The castor oil doesn't really promote growth, but it cleans away buildup around the follicles which can inhibit growth and it moisturizes to prevent lash breakage. We both use castor oil and L'Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise and gave up false eyelashes.

    1. Thanks!! I will definitely do the castor oil as soon as my LashBoost is gone! The C E Ferulic really does seem to be worth it- I had never spent more than $12 on a skincare item before buying it, but I'd been diagnosed with my first skin cancer that day and was feeling vulnerable and ready to make changes (changes that had nothing to do with skin cancer, but still, I needed to feel like my skin wasn't betraying me in some way!). I really think it's made a difference in protecting and healing my skin! (And, from what I read, part of the expense is that the ferulic acid makes the Vitamin C more shelf stable and potent, whereas other Vitamin C serums really aren't effective after 30 days or so.) On the chemical peel v. IPL, I found the chemical peel was a great, superficial rejuvenator but the IPL genuinely pulled a lot of the skin damage underneath my skin. My skin looked fine a few hours after both, though you need to avoid heat for a while longer after the IPL.

  2. Thanks for sharing! Your skin IS beautiful!

    1. Aww thanks :). Minutes after publishing I was like oh god, now everyone is going to think I'm holding myself out as a skincare model and I'm not and this is mortifying. But, inner demons aside, I couldn't figure out how to delete it from my phone and then I remembered I love when other people link to things and then you left nice comments and it was a whole journey.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your routine! I'll be ordering a bunch of products from your list tonight. Will also have to try a chemical peel.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been meaning to deal with this for myself and kept putting it off so this gives me enough actual information to get started. Your skin does look fantastic. I'm also a big fan of microderm and would recommend. I mostly did this in lieu of a chemical peel since my skin is ridiculously sensitive and I was worried about the recovery time. Every time I'd almost schedule a chemical peel I'd imagine having to call off work and making up some excuse other than "I accidentally made my face look like a tomato in the name of vanity...."

    1. Thanks!! And I have never done microderm! I have a pretty sensitive skin and the chemical peel had almost no recovery time for me, but I did the very lightest one on the recommendation of my dermatologist.

  5. Thank you for sharing! Your skin is definitely beautiful! As a 30 y/o who still gets blemishes I'm always willing to try what others recommend. :) If you could only pick one thing to start using/doing first, what would it be?

    1. Thanks Jenn! I'd say either the Retinol or the Vitamin C. My understanding is the Vitamin C is more protective with some corrective properties, while the Retinol is purely corrective and makes the skin replenish itself (so smooth!), so it depends what your goals are. Or just start with Retinol because it's cheaper :).

  6. What color do you get in the IT cc cream? We have similar coloring so I am hoping yours would work for me!

    1. I get the "Fair-Light." At first they only had a few options, so I had to mix Fair and Light on the back of my hand, which was less than ideal, so I was excited when they added more in between colors!

  7. Thank you for posting! I was one of the readers who asked. :) I could have an entire conversation with you about this. Thanks to you, I have purchased some of those items from Lovely Skin, and I've tried their house brand (Lovely Skin Luxe) equivalent of some SkinCeuticals items, including the Cellular Anti-Aging Peptide Serum and Vita-CE with Ferulic Acid. As for the eyelash serum, I did research and bought GrandeLash. I was very skeptical the whole concept and concerned about toxic chemicals or eye reactions. Fortunately no adverse affects and I'm happy with the results. Similar to another comment, I do microdermabrasion (sensitive skin, no issues) and currently researching mild chemical peel vs. IPL for next treatment. Again, thanks for sharing! :)

    1. My mom and sister use GrandeLash! I'm adding that to my list of ones to try after my tube of LashBoost runs out...

  8. Thanks so much for this! FWIW, I like the "SeoulCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum" knockoff on Amazon as much as the much pricier SkinCeuticals - seems to work just as well.

    1. Oooh which is it?? Currently scrolling Amazon- is it the TruSkin serum? Does it stay potent/light colored for a long time? One main advantage I've noticed of the Skinceuticals formulation is it seems to be shelf stable longer, but that's a huge price difference so actually, buying the knockoff more often would still be cheaper... I may try that next!


    I've had the bottle almost a year and it's held up well!

  10. My comment disappeared! My Q is about whether you painstakingly put any of these into little travel sizes for on the go reapplications - or just reapply SPF? - elisabeth