As much as I’d love to be at a point in my life where I use $450 La Mer serums or moisturizers infused with microscopic gold flecks, the fact of the matter is that my skin (being oily and temperamental and all) has high demands that my limited student budget simply can’t keep up with. Thus, I’ve had to work my way through a plethora of skin care products before I really narrowed it down to a few holy-grails that get the job done for me. I’ve included a nifty price and longevity score (out of 3) of each product below!
Of course, everyone’s skin is different. What works miracles for me might accomplish fuck all for you. Nevertheless, if you are looking to try out some new products or maybe want to step up your skin-care game and learn a thing or two about it, feel free to give this a read. My problematic skin has made it so that I have become very affluent in the ways of skin care if I may say so myself.
Step 1: Removing My Makeup
Depending on how lazy I am feeling when I get around to taking my makeup off, I may not always get around to using all of these products. I will use AT LEAST ONE of the three possible makeup-removing options below before I carry on with the next step of my regime and cleanse my skin, but if I have time to spare I tend to make sure I do a thorough job and cover all of my bases.
Makeup Wipes: Neutrogena All-In-One Makeup Removing Cleansing Wipes
Necessary? ☆ ☆ ☆
I just use the standard Neutrogena all-in-one makeup removing cleansing wipes. They recently came out in this new box format, so instead of just relying on that flimsy little plastic flap to protect the MOIST-ness of your makeup wipes, you can actually seal the package shut to keep the wipes from drying out. I’ve tried a few makeup wipes and I have to say that these are my favourite because the formulation on the wipe isn’t intense enough that it irritates my skin, but it is still strong enough to wipe off my pesky full-coverage makeup.
Cleansing Water: Bioderma Sebium H2O
Price: $ $
Necessary? ☆ ☆
You can blame the trip to France that I took in the eleventh grade for converting me to integrating the use of fancy French waters in my skincare routine. One of the benefits of living in Canada? You can buy Bioderma super easily – check out any Shoppers Drugmart in that random high-end looking French skincare aisle. Otherwise, the one by Garnier is also a pretty solid dupe.
I’ll soak a cotton pad with this solution and massage it into my face after wiping my makeup off to remove any more stubborn remnants from my skin. If I am taking off particularly heavy eye-makeup, I’ll also often opt for placing soaked cotton pads on my eyes and gently massaging the makeup off instead of wiping it away with a more abrasive wipe like the one mentioned above. Don’t make the mistake I did in high school and rip off all your eyelashes – be gentle when removing eye makeup. :’)
The specific kind of Bioderma I use is also supposed to be optimal for oily skin by “biologically regulating sebum quality” and limiting oil secretion and keeping your pores from becoming clogged. I don’t know about all of that pseudo-science sounding shit, but this stuff does get the job done, and it is suppose to contain purifying agents like zinc and copper sulphate, which have proven to help clear my skin in the past.
Cleansing Oil: Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil
Price: $ $ $
Since I like to go overboard, I’ll sometimes use this cleansing oil to remove anything else left on my skin.I apply this by dispensing one or two pumps of this oil onto my dry hands and then gently massage it all over my dry face. I’ll do this for about 30 seconds or so before I cleanse my face with water. Of all of my skin care steps, I find that this one is the most expendable; it isn’t 100 percent necessary for ridding my face of the day’s makeup but it certainly pays to make sure you get all that makeup off before you go ahead and commence the next steps of your skincare routine.
This is one of the cheaper ones that you can find at Sephora that really thoroughly cleanses my skin and leaves it feeling refreshed. I’ve had some bad luck using some drug-store brand makeup cleansers, so I likely won’t venture into that realm of products unless my skin starts to really behave and I have time and money to throw away to test more products out.
Step 2: Cleansing
Face Wash: Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser
Necessary? ☆ ☆ ☆
This is one of my staple skin care products. I don’t really have too much to say about it other than it gets the job done and I don’t get any nasty side effects from it like dry or irritated skin. To wash I just apply one or two pumps of this stuff on my hands and then work the soap into a lather by rubbing my palms together before massaging it into my face for about 30-60 seconds, then wash all the residue off with warm water. Sometimes I like to wash my face a second time a few hours later to really make sure all of the dirt and makeup from the day has been thoroughly washed off. There is nothing that screams clogged pores more than makeup that stays on your face. If you plan on sleeping with your makeup on you may as well slather a bunch of bacon fat all over your face and call it a day, because I guarantee you the effects are about the same :’)
A brief rant about money: When it comes to washing your face, hastily lathering a product onto your skin momentarily before you wash it off and it all goes down the drain, it really isn’t worth your money to buy something super fancy – at least, from my experience (though that may just be the broke college student in me crying out). I find that, even if you just wash your face two times a day, you end up going through cleansers fast enough. Certainly quicker than the lifespan of a tube of mascara. And seeing as most of your product (and likewise, money) ends up merely washing dirt and grime off of your face and then literally going down the drain, I just don’t see the point in spending so much money. It’s not like buying a nice shampoo or conditioner, where the product makes a lasting impression on your hair before you wash it out. There are so many better products out there that can meet your skincare needs, and they STAY on your face too. So, my two cents of advice that no one asked for? Stick to just a plain old cleanser that works and saves the big bucks for the kind of skincare that actually changes the quality of your skin instead of on a product that just wipes the crap off of your face.
Step 3: Toning
After cleansing, I make sure to let my face completely dry before I apply any more products to it. I do the same with my hair before I apply conditioner to it. Here’s my logic for why I specifically do this, and I learned this from a good friend of mine in high school after swim practice one day. She told me that, before she gets in the pool, she always makes a point to douse her hair with water. She said that dry hair absorbs things better than wet hair, and since she doesn’t want all of the chlorine from the water in the pool to get directly soaked into her dry hair, she wets her hair first so that not as much of those nasty pool chemicals get absorbed. Genious right?!? So I essentially apply the same rationality to my hair and face: I make sure to wring out my hair after showering before I slather it with conditioner (because I want that product to sink in and fix my dull hair, my split ends, my relationship, my bank account), and I make sure to dry my face out before I apply skin care products (because I also want these products to be fully absorbed). Does that make sense? Kinda? Would my old computer science professors be satisfied with that logic there? Probably not to be honest.
Toner: Clinique Acne Solutions Toner
Necessary? ☆ ☆ ☆
I usually use this in the summer, when the humid heat makes my skin produce so much oil it makes America jealous. I recommend this to anyone that has rather oily, acne-prone skin, as the main ingredient is salicylic acid, and I find that this really dries my skin out, effectively killing any malicious bacteria on my skin. Salicylic acid is a great exfoliant, it encourages dead skin cells to slough off all the while dissolving any back up of dead skin cells in your pores. However, If you don’t have super oily skin, then this product is NOT for you, but I would highly recommend any other of Clinique’s toners. When my skin behaves I like to use Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion 2, which isn’t nearly as harsh and drying on the skin, and it’s great for shrinking pores and adding moisture to your face.
Step 4: Lotions & Other Topical Treatments
Moisturizer: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion +
Price: $ $
Necessary? ☆ ☆
Although it sounds super contradictory to apply moisturizer to oily skin, moisturizer actually ends up reducing oil production and providing a better, smoother texture for your skin (and therefore, a perfect plush canvas for when you do your makeup)! It is important that you don’t dry out your face, even if you have oily or acne-prone skin like me! Your skin relies on its lipid layer to keep out entities such as bacteria and fungi, all the while maintaining a consistent cell turnover. If you dry your skin out too much, it’s ability to do these things will become limited. Without this cell-turnover, the skin cells on the surface of your skin can be very easily irritated and inflamed, which if you have been in the acne-game long enough, you will know full well that this means that your skin can then turn into a potential breeding ground for acne. I like to use these products that accomplish the extremes:
-a toner that strips all the nasty oily and kills all of the nasty bacteria on my skin
-a moisturizer that brings a healthy dose of good moisture back to my skin
Over-Night Skin Mask: Lily Of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel, Inner Fillet
Necessary? ☆ ☆ ☆
I swear to god, the beauty community is SLEEPING on this skincare hack while they are too busy swooning over coconut oil and gimmicky sugar bear hair “vitamins” endorsed by the Kardashians. No matter what your skin type you may be, I highly implore you to try using aloe vera gel as this kind of leave-in mask that you sleep in. It dries up really quick and it is a LIFESAVER. You know what I mentioned about cell turnover? Well, Aloe vera gel contains hormones that reduce skin inflammation and stimulate the growth of new cells. This allows your skin to heal quickly, with hardly any scarring, not to mention it is also super moisturizing.
I’ll usually apply this all over my face (with concentrations on my problem areas) at the end of my skincare regime, 30 minutes or so before I go to bed so it has enough time to dry on my face. The brand I get is my Lily Of The Desert, and I specifically get the “Inner Filler” variety because that has the THICCest gel. The THICCER the gel, the better the results ;p
Acne Treatment: Benzagel 5% Acne Gel
Necessary? ☆ ☆ ☆
Usually, all of the products listed above keep my acne in check, but sometimes you can’t really do much about your body regulating its hormones and all that good stuff. Sometimes I’ll get characteristically painful and obnoxious bumps on my skin that need that extra little kick to be eradicated. In that case, I like to use Benzagel, which has 5% benzoyl peroxide in it, a compound that kills acne-related bacteria by destroying their cell walls. While the bacteria on your skin that may be causing your acne can develop a resistance to a lot of the skincare products that you use (which is why you may see people switching up their routine every once in a while), this isn’t the case for benzoyl peroxide. However, because it is such a harsh compound, it’s very likely you might get worsened breakouts and sensitive skin, which is why it’s important to make sure you are providing your skin with proper hydration! If I applied my aloe vera gel well before I go to sleep and my acne is acting out, I make sure to dot this creamy solution on all of my problem areas and let it dry out before getting some sleep.