My current skincare routine.


My current skincare routine.


The above pho­to­graph was tak­en by my amaz­ing­ly awe­some and sup­port­ive part­ner Mike Kel­ley, who is a pho­tog­ra­ph­er that you should total­ly hire if you’re any­where near north­west­ern Mary­land.

Ear­li­er this year, in the wake of seri­ous depres­sion, I start­ed watch­ing make­up tuto­ri­als as a form of self-care. Specif­i­cal­ly Sinéad Cady’s tuto­ri­als, a la The Make­up Chair. (If you stop read­ing right now and just go sit on her chan­nel for hours, I will not blame you. Maude knows I do it.) This week, Sinéad talked about her skin­care rou­tine as of late, and I thought I’d write a bit about mine as well. This will dou­ble as a mini prod­uct review for every­thing I use.

My skin type, plus a disclaimer.

I have com­bi­na­tion skin, both dry and oily — and some­times in the same places! It’s not unusu­al for my nose and fore­head to be both oily and flaky, which is frus­trat­ing to deal with some­times. In fact, my skin is the num­ber one phys­i­cal rea­son I didn’t wear make­up for years. (There were philo­soph­i­cal rea­son as well, but I’ve writ­ten about those before.)

It’s tak­en me a while to fig­ure out what works for my skin. In fact, I’ve ded­i­cat­ed this entire year to fig­ur­ing it out! So please don’t take what I say to be gospel truth — your skin will tell you what it needs and what works for it, so be sure to exper­i­ment until you find what’s best for you. Pay real­ly close atten­tion to how your skin reacts to dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and treat­ments, and be sure to give them a cou­ple of weeks before deter­min­ing whether it’s work­ing or not. Unless some­thing you’re using is caus­ing rash­es or chem­i­cal burns, then stop imme­di­ate­ly.

My skin­care rou­tine is con­cen­trat­ed at night before bed, so I’ll be start­ing there.

Makeup removal.

If I’ve worn make­up, I start by tak­ing it off. I usu­al­ly use water­proof eye­lin­er and mas­cara, and I’ve found that an oil-based make­up remover works the best for me. My favourite remover to use is Almay’s Long­wear & Water­proof gen­tle eye make­up remover. I pour a lit­tle bit on a cot­ton pad and gen­tly press the pad into the skin of my eye­lid for a few sec­onds, espe­cial­ly con­cen­trat­ing right by my lash­line since I wear a lot of mas­cara and eye­lin­er. I pre­fer the oil because it breaks down my water­proof prod­ucts so much eas­i­er than a water-based solu­tion. After press­ing the pad into my skin for a few sec­onds to let the oil have a chance to start break­ing up the make­up, I just wipe until all make­up is gone. Some­times it does take a lit­tle bit of scrub­bing with the amount of mas­cara I wear, but this has worked real­ly great for me so far. There’s usu­al­ly enough prod­uct left on the pad for me to then run it over my face to start to loosen the rest of my make­up.

If I’m out of this par­tic­u­lar make­up remover, I’ll either opt for an oil like jojo­ba or even a lit­tle bit of olive oil, or I’ll use a gen­tle baby wash heav­i­ly dilut­ed in water to loosen and remove my make­up. (Handy tip: I also use that baby wash to clean my make­up brush­es!)

Cleansing my skin.

Cleans­ing and mois­tur­iz­ing my skin have been the most dif­fi­cult things for me to fig­ure out. Soap-like cleansers dry out and irri­tate my skin, so for a while I nev­er actu­al­ly washed my face. All I’d do is take a warm wet wash­cloth to my skin and leave it at that. When I start­ed wear­ing make­up reg­u­lar­ly and get­ting seri­ous about my self-care and skin­care, I decid­ed to try Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleans­ing Cream. I’d tried it before on a whim 6 years ago and had just fall­en in love…but this time, I real­ized that I’m aller­gic to chamomile. I decid­ed to stick with the Burt’s Bees line and tried a few more of their cleansers. I found a win­ner in their Sen­si­tive Facial Cleanser with cot­ton extract. (Their hydrat­ing cleanser is fan­tas­tic as well, and I may be switch­ing to that over the dry cold win­ter months!) I use about a half-dol­lar sized amount, with warm water, and mas­sage most of it all over my face and neck.

And now for the one prod­uct that, above all else, has rev­o­lu­tion­ized my skin: my Clar­ison­ic Mia. My won­der­ful moth­er gave it to me for my birth­day this year, and I can hon­est­ly say that this has absolute­ly made my skin­care. Basi­cal­ly, it’s like a son­ic tooth­brush for your face — same con­cept, but way more gen­tle of course. It is amaz­ing­ly effec­tive at reveal­ing and main­tain­ing healthy skin. I use the sen­si­tive or del­i­cate brush head, since my skin does tend to react poor­ly to harsh­er treat­ment.

Seri­ous­ly, I can’t say enough good things about my Clar­ison­ic Mia. But I’ll keep it to a top 3 won­der­ful things it’s done for me:

  1. clarisonic-miaMy skin is far more bal­anced than it’s ever been. My cheeks and chin are smooth and soft, rather than dry and scaly as they used to be, and my nose and fore­head are both less oily and less flaky.
  2. While the first cou­ple weeks that I used it, I broke out quite a lot, every­thing evened out after that and I now have dras­ti­cal­ly few­er break­outs.
  3. My nose pierc­ing, which has giv­en me so many prob­lems with infec­tions and stay­ing clean, has become healthy and far eas­i­er to main­tain.

So, how do I use it? What I haven’t mas­saged into my skin of my Burt’s Bees cleanser, I put on the bris­tles of the Clar­ison­ic, then turn it on and go over my face, usu­al­ly con­cen­trat­ing on my fore­head, nose, and chin (with a lit­tle bit of time spent on my cheeks as well). It has a 60-sec­ond timer, so I nev­er have to guess how long I should clean. Once the timer goes off, I rinse my face with cool water.

Acne treatment and piercing care.

My skin didn’t used to to break out very often, but as I’ve left my PCOS untreat­ed the past cou­ple of years, my hor­mones have been run­ning amok…which of course inter­feres with my skin. My blem­ish­es tend to con­cen­trate around my chin and jaw­line, with the occa­sion­al spot between my eye­brows. I use tea tree oil on my blem­ish­es at night, apply­ing with a clean Q-tip. It seems to dry out the spots and not inter­fere too much with my skins nat­ur­al bal­ance, which is essen­tial to me.

As I men­tioned ear­li­er, I have a nose pierc­ing that I’ve had for 3 years that has giv­en me fits (the pierc­ing was done incor­rect­ly, I just don’t have the guts to let it grow up and get it re-pierced cor­rect­ly). So I have to treat it like a some­what fresh pierc­ing. I clean it night­ly with ster­ile saline spray on a clean Q-tip, swab­bing around the jew­el­ry both out­side and inside my nose. When it gets par­tic­u­lar­ly both­ered, espe­cial­ly if I get the dread­ed nose bump, I’ll do a soak of hot water mixed with sea salt. If that doesn’t clear things up after a few days, I’ll resort to swab­bing the out­side of the pierc­ing with tea tree oil as well, but I always rinse real­ly well a few sec­onds after­wards. In gen­er­al, I try avoid using tea tree oil on my pierc­ing because the poten­cy of it can aggra­vate what is basi­cal­ly an open wound, but some­times it’s just the only thing that’ll real­ly dis­in­fect and get the bump to go away.

Hydration and moisturizing.

As I said ear­li­er, this is anoth­er thing that took me a while to fig­ure out for myself. I didn’t even know there was a dif­fer­ence between hydra­tion and mois­tur­iz­ing until I watched this video from MadeU­Look Twice by Lex. After watch­ing it, my expe­ri­ence in try­ing to keep my face from being too dry makes a lot more sense! A lot of lotions seemed to leave me either too greasy or too dry, no mat­ter how much I used — and now I know it’s because I didn’t hydrate my skin first. Ear­li­er this year, I read some­where that jojo­ba oil was very close to the nat­ur­al oil that human skin pro­duces and is thus a fan­tas­tic prod­uct to use if you find that your skin isn’t hydrat­ing itself well enough. Once I tried it, I just haven’t need­ed to look back. I use 3–4 drops per major area of my face at night, and that’s all I usu­al­ly need, no mois­tur­iz­er nec­es­sary. If my skin is par­tic­u­lar­ly dry, usu­al­ly in the win­ter months or after doing some facial hair removal (my face does not like harsh chem­i­cals), I’ll add a drop or two of Vit­a­min E oil to the jojo­ba, then apply a lit­tle bit of Cetaphil lotion on top to seal in the hydra­tion.


In the morn­ings, I don’t exact­ly wash my face. I’ve found that if I wash it too often, it dries out and is just gen­er­al­ly unhap­py. (This is my skin type, though! Your mileage may vary.) So rather than wash­ing my face in the morn­ings, I’ll either use a warm wet wash cloth or else ton­er on a cot­ton pad. The ton­er I use is actu­al­ly just pure witch hazel, mixed with a cou­ple drops of laven­der oil to tone down the smell and to sooth my some­times aggra­vat­ed skin.

That’s about it!

I do try to shake things up a bit every now and then, try some­thing new or stop using a prod­uct to see what my skin will do. I’m always open to tips and tricks from oth­ers. What does your skin­care regime look like? How did you decide upon it? Let me know!

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