Skincare: Before and After


Today’s before and after highlights the importance of a great skincare routine.

In the first photo, I’m actually wearing MORE makeup, including concealer on breakouts and a powder foundation. In the second photo, I’m not wearing any foundation whatsoever, though I put a little concealer under my eyes to cancel out blueness. I’ve obviously improved my makeup skills and styled my hair (and gotten happier!) but I’m wearing Dark Autumn cosmetic shades in both pictures.⁣

I’ve always had oily, acne-prone skin. I remember my struggle with blackheads beginning around age 12, and to this day I can wake up without any blackheads and magically have five by noon. For years I tried to combat my skin issues by using apricot scrubs, charcoal soaps, and harsh alcohol-based toners. I rarely moisturized because I was afraid I’d break out, and I only used sunscreen on my face if I was going to the pool. The result? I was 25 in the first photo with dull, extremely sun-damaged skin, and my face always looked flushed. ⁣

A couple of years ago I began researching skincare and I learned that my skin was likely dehydrated, causing it to feel dry and tight even though it was overproducing oil. At first, I bought soooo many products without properly researching them and actually made my acne issues worse. I backed away from skincare for about a year after that, just doing a basic cleanser and moisturizer. I also struggled mightily with hormonal cystic acne during this time, and visited a dermatologist. She put me on a topical acne medication called Aczone, which I adored because it never dried out my skin, and an oral medication called Spironolactone, neither of which I am using at the time of this writing.

When I started exploring skincare again, I did significantly more research and acquired a dream team of products that work for me, including several chemical exfoliants (I don’t use all of them every day- I space them out to avoid overexfoliation), a cosmetically elegant SPF50 (which I wear rain or shine, even if I’m just getting in the car to drive to the library), a low-Ph cleanser, and lightweight hydrators. My skin is no longer particularly oily, though it’s still acne-prone and needs some babying.⁣

You can spend a little on skincare or you can spend a lot, and I recommend thinking about your skin goals before buying a single thing. Are you looking to combat acne? Fade sun damage? Plump wrinkles? Hydrate? Brighten? Honestly, I’m looking to do all of the above, but at the beginning of my journey my main goals were to fade sun damage and combat acne, so I searched for products that did just that. Google obsessively, read reviews on Reddit and blogs, search COSDNA to see how the ingredients stack up. I search every potential product on COSDNA to make sure the ingredients are low on the comedogenic scale. ⁣

I used to buy tons of makeup, always hoping for that magic glow, but now I realize that glow comes from the skin. I still wear and enjoy makeup, I still think it's important to wear seasonally appropriate shades for maximum harmony, but I concentrate my beauty spending on skincare. My skin looks (and feels!) bouncy and hydrated and luminous, and I plan to take care of it for a long time to come.

By popular request I've put together a catalog (with commentary) featuring my skincare dream team. These are affiliate links and I receive a small kickback if you purchase through my link from some (but not all) of these sites. I have only listed products I personally use and love . I fiddle around with my routine on the regular, so I will do my best to keep this current.