How the Pandemic Helped Me Focus More On My Skincare (And Less on Makeup)
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The pandemic has definitely turned last year (and this year) into a bit of a rollercoaster, upending existing trends and ushering in new ones. With so many people forced to stay home, a few relevant fads have emerged: tie-dye kits, banana bread recipes, Netflix binge marathons, etc. But, in addition to the ways we’ve altered our leisure time, there are also the ways we’re altered our beauty routines: namely, embracing our natural beauty.
One reason for this is probably because putting makeup on for a Zoom call can seem pointless. And, even if you’re headed out, why wear makeup under your mask if it's just going to rub off, cause irritation and lead to the dreaded “maskne"?
So, instead of spending money on makeup I've decided to take this time to focus more on skincare. Don't get me wrong, I still love a full-face look, but it just doesn't make much sense with what my life looks like right now. Plus, working on my skincare routine has become my "me time". It's actually really relaxing to start and end the day with a regimen that lets me focus on myself. I get really excited when I find a great product to tell my friends, family and followers about.
My philosophy is that it’s key to add one product at a time and to try it out before trying more new things. I like to try one product out each month to see if I really notice a difference in the appearance of my skin. If I do, then I keep it as part of my routine and add move on to testing out something else. By trying one product at a time I can get a good idea of what works, what doesn't, and what irritates my skin.
Here are the types of products and ingredients that have transformed my skin during the pandemic:
Cleansing my face isn’t something that’s really new to my beauty routine. I NEVER go to bed with my makeup on and have been really good about washing my face every night since I was in high school. But, since the pandemic hit, I have started double cleansing as a way to make sure all the dirt and grime from the day is off my skin. I think one of the biggest breakout culprits for me was that I wasn’t getting all the makeup, dirt, etc. off of my skin at the end of the day. Double cleansing with an oil or balm cleanser first helps big time!
When choosing a second cleanser, I like to pick one that’s moisturizing and gentle as I have really sensitive skin. I started using CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser For Normal to Dry Skin because so many dermatologists and skin enthusiasts sing its praises on social media. There’s a reason for that! The CeraVe line was actually developed by dermatologists and includes essential ceramides, which are lipids that help form the skin's barrier and help skin retain moisture. Ceramides also help protect the skin against environmental irritants and pollution. Without the proper amount of ceramides, the skin’s barrier can be affected, leading to dryness, itching and irritation.
After cleansing, I like to apply a toner, specifically one that includes Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). Some common AHAs are citric acid, lactic acid, mandolin acid, and my favorite: glycolic acid.
In high concentrations, some of these can be used as peeling agents in dermatology offices, but at home, we use something a little less intense. In lower concentrations, AHAs are great chemical exfoliators for every-day use.
One product I’ve been using for a few years now is the Pixi Beauty Skintreats Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner. When I say this is an “exfoliating” toner, I don’t mean that it’s abrasive. This type of exfoliator relies on acids to break down dead skin cells and promote faster cell turnover. If used correctly, this will lead to softer, younger looking skin.
The Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner uses a 5% concentration of glycol acid to exfoliate the skin. It has moisturizing ingredients like glycerine and aloe. Since the concentration is on the lower side, I’m actually able to use it every day. This product is paraben-free, alcohol-free and cruelty free. It’s an incredibly popular toner with thousands of raving reviews. If you haven’t tried it yet… you should! Just make sure to wear sunscreen when using any type of AHA formula.
I absolutely LOVE this stuff! Hyaluronic acid is a clear substance that is naturally produced by your body. The largest amounts of it are found in your skin, connective tissue and eyes. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist. Hyaluronic acid has a variety of uses. Many people take it as a supplement, but it’s also used in topical serums, toners, eye drops and injections.
When used in skin care products like creams and serums, hyaluronic acid brings moisture to the surface of your skin. Because of its ability to draw and hold water, it can be used as a humectant in your skincare routine. A humectant is a substance, especially a skin lotion or a food additive, used to reduce the loss of moisture.
Hyaluronic acid continually keeps skin moisturized throughout the day. It can make your skin appear more dewy and younger because it improves skin elasticity. Because it helps hydrate and “plump” up the skin it gives you a healthy glow and minimizes the appearance of fine wrinkles. It’s a great ingredient to combat dryness or aging skin.
This was actually the first product/skincare ingredient I added to my daily beauty routine and it had a MAJOR impact on the appearance of my skin almost instantly. I swear by Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 but the Now Foods Solutions Hyaluronic Acid Firming Serum is a great option too.
Niacinamide (also called nicotinamide) is trending in the skincare world, and for good reason! First things first—what is it? Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and is an essential nutrient for the human body. It occurs naturally in foods such as eggs, fish, green vegetables, and cereal grains. In addition to food, niacinamide can be taken as a tablet supplement. However, for beauty and skincare purposes, the most common form is as a serum, or additive in moisturizers and other skincare products.
So, how does it help your skin? Niacinamide supports the skin barrier (outer surface of skin), increases its resiliency, evens out skin discoloration and brown spots, calms acne and rosacea, and improves texture by making pores look smaller and reducing wrinkles. It also helps balance oil production and—get this—is good for all skin types! Studies have also shown that oral niacinamide can help prevent skin cancer recurrence in high-risk patients.
When looking at topical niacinamide, you’ll want to aim for a solution between 2% and 10%. It’s always good to start with a lower concentration and work your way up (especially if you have sensitive skin). The one I’m using right now is the Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Serum.
Depending on what you already do with your skincare routine, you can use either a serum that contains just niacinamide or you can choose a product that has it as a supplementary ingredient, like a toner or moisturizer. A common combination of ingredients is niacinamide and hyaluronic acid (which go great together).
Not everyone uses both an oil and a moisturizer but, considering I live in the desert, having both is a must. I especially like rosehip oil because of its many benefits. Unlike rose oil, which is extracted from rose petals, rosehip oil is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the rose plant. It’s loaded with skin-nourishing vitamins and essential fatty acids. It’s also shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Because rosehip oil includes Vitamins A and C, it can help reduce dullness and leave you with glowing skin (which is always the goal, am I right?!) It is also often used as a carrier oil for essential oils that are too intense to put on your skin directly.
I’ve tried a couple that I really like, but keep going back to Life-flo Pure Rosehip Seed Oil. I apply a few drops to my palms and massage into clean, dry skin. It can also be used as a body oil or on the hair.
Both day cream and night cream are important, but there is a difference between the two. Day cream helps protect your skin against pollutants, makeup and other environmental factors. Night cream adds moisture to your skin before bed and is designed to work for hours to revive your skin.
As we all know, sunscreen is a must.
So, if you want to skip a step in your routine, make sure you go for a day cream that has an SPF component, like CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 or Palmers Cocoa Butter Skin Perfecting Moisturizing Day Cream SPF 15.
For night time, I like something a little richer, so I go for something like Acure Ultra Hydrating Overnight Dream Cream or Uriage Xemose Lipid-Replenishing Anti-Irritation Cerat.
Both are thick, ultra moisturizing and feel luxurious on the skin.
I hope these skincare tips and products help you weather the months ahead with glow. Cheers to healthy skin and embracing your natural beauty!