Hacking My Skincare Routine To Do More With Less

Hi again. It's been a while. Again. So...short story: I have depression. Which isn't anything new, it's something that's been hanging around my whole life. On a recent episode of the Snailcast with my Other Self, Fiddy Snails, I talked about how it led me to Kbeauty shortly after my daughter was born, but aside from that, I kind of skirted around it. So now we're here.  

A couple of months ago, this basket wouldn't have been able to house even just my AM routine, but that's everything.  I was gifted this adorable chipmunk and its snaily friend by Tracy T. (@fwetracy).  IT HAS A SNAILY FRIEND, YOU GUYS.

I started antidepressants for the first time a couple months back, which is a pretty big deal, because I prefer the time-honored tradition of "stubbornly ignoring problems instead of treating them" approach. My doctor put me on Zoloft, which ended up not working out for me at all. (I hope this doesn't discourage anyone from seeking antidepressants, by the way. I've talked to a couple of friends, and it seems pretty common that you kind of have to shop around to find Prince Happy Pill.  Again, not a doctor.  Speak to a doctor please.) There were some side effects, a notable one being it kind of trashed my skin. PIH, some cystic acne, clogs that wouldn't come out, ...couple that with a brief experiment in sleeping on my stomach, and my skin looked like crap.

This is kind of an important ego issue, since I blog about skincare, I talk about skincare, and, oh yeah, I make and sell skincare. And I may preach that skincare is a journey, and to not feel bad about your skin's current condition, but it's an exercise in self-reflection when your skin goes from like a low A to a C- in a matter of months, especially when depression is exacerbated by other external factors already.

Know what else I preach? Religious application of sunscreen. I went weeks without it, and days without washing my face. Every now and then I would feel inspired and do like a nice 10 minute oil massage, and oh sweet heaven, the grits that came out were terrifyingly impressive, but that didn't help the PIH from picked acne and lack of sunscreen. 

That was a really long short story. Basically, I've mustered up some motivation in the last few weeks, and have been trying to get my skin back in order.  My motivation doesn't carry to a full a.m. and p.m. routine set, but it gets me out of bed and is pretty forgiving.  Not only that, but with some tweaking, it's exactly what my skin needed to actually look semi-presentable.  My Snailbae Cat of Snow White & the Asian Pear is a big fan of swiping cleansing water on with a cotton pad, but I...personally hate cleansing waters.  Plus, my skin was thick and nasty and needed a little more assistance.

A word before we go further:  please note, if you're going to do this at all, please please please understand the dangers and risks, and use sunscreen.  If you don't want to use sunscreen, please find a different routine to emulate.  This is for your safety.


A.M. Routine:  Lotion P50 as a cleansing water over unwashed skin, followed by Make p:rem sunscreen, sometimes using the Gudetama bb cushion puff that the Beauty & the Cat girls gave me, which I treasure.  When my A.M. routine fails, I use the MUAC 25% Mandelic Acid peel.

What I've noticed lately is I will simply not do an A.M. routine, and because of that, I will forego sunscreen completely.  This puts my skin on the fast track to getting clogged and gunky and rough feeling.  To motivate myself, I've reduced it to two steps.  I have been using Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 as a cleansing water step.  It probably wouldn't make a very good cleansing water in terms of like...removing makeup or "cleaning" since it doesn't have surfactants, but it dissolves out the oil slick from the previous night and exfoliates my skin to keep the dead skin from not building up too much (with the oils and dead skin acting like a buffer to prevent overexfoliation as well).

And because I'm using a strong freaking acid, I follow it with sunscreen immediately.  Because if I wait around and tack on other steps, I'm going to end up with just acid and nothing else.  I have a roundup of over a dozen sunscreens sitting in draft, but just like my current routine, I'm only using one sunscreen at the moment, which is make p:rem UV Defence Me Capsule Sun Gel SPF 50 + PA +++.  The reason I'm using it is because Bisou Beauty sent it to me for review (so it's a press sample)...like...months ago.  (I'm sorry, Cindy.)  It's great actually, as shady as that sentence sounds immediately following a disclosure.  But it gets used because it was the last sunscreen I opened and put on my counter.  Some days, I use a good amount and just slather it on.  Other days, when I'm feeling productive, I get a large amount, slather it on, and then go over it with a bb cushion puff to distribute it more evenly.  Obviously, a bb cushion will suck up some sunscreen, so if you choose to do this, add extra.

Some days, I miss my AM routine, and that's actually fine too.  It's a good opportunity.  I just skip tretinoin in my PM routine (below), and then the next day, I fit in a chemical peel instead.  My current peel of choice is MUAC 25% Mandelic Acid located here.  Please, please note...peels are serious.  Don't use them if you cannot absolutely commit to using sunscreen after.  This is a safety issue.


P.M. Routine:  double cleanse when possible, but my main focus is on that cascade of bottles above the chipmunk.  Curology/Holy Snails lineup keeps my skin from accruing too much crap.

I have found that if I try to oil cleanse, I will be tempted to oil massage out as many grits as I can while watching tv.  This is great, but the problem is I tend to not want to go back and finish the rest of my routine, so I will end up in bed with just an oil cleansed and rinsed face, and pretty much nothing else.  So my goal is if I can fit in an oil cleanse, to do it quickly and move on.  Or if I'm already on fumes for the day, I skip it completely.  This works for me because I don't wear makeup and my sunscreen is meant for daily use and can be taken off pretty easily.  This may not work for those who wear makeup or have more water-resistant sunscreen.  Listen to your skin.

My current oil cleanser is makep:rem clean me Vaseline cleansing balm, which again, is a press sample sent to me by Cindy of Bisou Beauty.  This one though, I don't really care for.  It gets used, again, because it's in close proximity to my sink, and it's the last oil cleanser I opened.  It's like Banila Co's cleansing balm, except it has a very weird baby powder smell to it, which is off-putting for something I have to smear all over my face.  (I don't hate the smell of baby powder, but...I don't care for it?)  But it works enough, so it gets used.  It actually works great for my routine here, because I absolutely can't put myself through 10 minutes of this sitting on my face, and will rinse it off almost immediately after applying it.

My foaming cleanser of choice is CosRx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser because it's amazing and it's amazing and it's amazing.  I think I've been Pavloved into loving the smell.  It gives me hope that I will finish my routine every night.  I can't use only foaming cleansers for more than 3-4 days or my skin will start getting some funky grits, but especially for when we get really backed up on orders or when my kid's school needs a lot from me, it keeps my skin from looking like trash, and I am forever in love.

Now at this point in my PM routine, things get a little different.  Since I use acids in the morning, I don't use it again.  This is good, because then I don't have to worry about pH and waiting times.  Immediately after I pat my face dry (sorry, no patpatpats to air dry here), I slap on my Curology.  This is 0.09% Tretinoin, 1% Clindamycin, and 5% Azelaic Acid.  It kicks some ass.  It takes some names.  But nicely.

And then immediately after that is something that's going to look a lot like blatant self promotion, but really, if I don't use my own stuff, why am I making it, right?  No wait times, I follow up with Snowbang, Shark Sauce, and El Dorado (plus Sheepish on lips) [Again, full disclosure, I make and sell this].  And that's it.  I'm done.  On a night where I have to rush or risk going to bed unwashed, I can knock out the Cosrx/Curology/Holy Snails lineup in literally less than a minute.  So in less than a minute, I would have cleaned my face, and packed it with tretinoin, ceramides, niacinamide, Vitamin C, and a ton of extracts and humectants.  That's a pretty powerful cocktail, and it works well enough that all the PIH I accrued from picking at my face (*cough*still*cough*) when it got all clogged up and not using sunscreen vanished within less than 2 weeks of actually doing this routine.

My point is that, once again, skincare is a journey.  It's not just about finding what improves your skin, and connecting with people along the way.  Sometimes, it means your path gets a little rocky or it disappears completely and you stumble around for a bit trying to figure out which way is north.  Sometimes, life asks a little too much, and you don't wash your money making face for a little while.  Motivation can be really hard to find, but just remember that you know your skin best, you know your self best, and half the fun of AB is figuring out what made your skin radiant in the first place.  Now I'm gonna go wash my face.