Let me tell you about I learned that I had dry skin - I was in my freshman year of high school. I was doing the normal teen thing of doing everything that everyone else was doing, including emulating their skincare routines. My friends scrubbed their faces everyday with harsh acne products, so I did too even though I didn’t have acne. All went well, until the day I woke up with huge scabby patches on my cheeks. I’d inadvertently given myself contact dermatitis, which means that I’d dried my skin out so much that the upper layers had turned into scaly scabs. Luckily an emergency trip to the dermatologist informed me that I could heal the damage by applying lots of water and Eucerin cream to the skin until it healed, which it thankfully did.
From that point on, I began my journey to understand my skin and how to best care for it. I’ve battled dry skin all my life and I’ve gone through a mountain of products to try to combat it. While I’ve had my bouts with acne, luckily I haven’t had to deal with much of it and it’s sporadic at best.
So what did I incorporate into my skincare routine?
Step 1: Double Cleansing
Double cleansing arrived in the US from Korea a few years ago, and it’s become a really popular method. Like the name suggests, it’s basically washing your face twice - first with an oil-based cleanser, and then following up with a water-based cleanser. The theory behind double cleansing is that you need the oil-based cleanser to remove sebum and other oil-based impurities on your skin, while sweat and grime are removed with a water-based cleanser.
I only double cleanse in the evening, and the oil cleanse is also my opportunity to remove my makeup. I’m currently using the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil but I’m exploring drugstore versions because the Josie Maran is a little pricey. After oil cleansing, I immediately follow up with my water-based cleanser - either Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or Tatcha Deep Clean Exfoliating Cleanser (which one I use depends on the next step).
Step 2: Exfoliation
For years I dealt with random acne, and little bumps on my forehead, and I assumed that I’d always have to deal with them. Then I read a random article somewhere that noted that people with dry skin need to exfoliate more, because their skin doesn’t naturally slough off. That dead skin can get trapped in pores and cause acne. Armed with that knowledge, I started testing various exfoliating products, from scrubs to chemical exfoliants. Unfortunately most products are just too harsh for me - if I’m left with a tingle in my cheeks, I know it did too much.
After much trial and error, I’ve finally landed on the products and schedule that keeps my skin healthy and glowing, but not irritated. I alternate daily between physical and chemical exfoliation, and I use a gentle chemical exfoliant. For my physical exfoliation I use my Clarisonic Mia cleansing brush with a sensitive skin brush head, and I wash with the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser. On chemical exfoliation days, I use Pixi Glow Tonic toner after I use my Tatcha deep cleanse cleanser. I found that using both the Clarisonic and Glow Tonic on the same night left me with irritated skin, but alternating them allows me to remove dead skin without irritation.
Step 3: Serum Instead of Moisturizer
I know what you’re thinking - “you said you have dry skin, how are you skipping moisturizer?” I know this sounds absolutely crazy, but hear me out. Refinery29 ran a story in late 2018, in which the author shared that she hadn’t used moisturizer in 2 years. Instead, she turned to exfoliating and using serum, on the advice from a dermatologist. I was already in a good exfoliating routine, so I decided to try it out, and I was surprised to see fantastic results. To end my evening skincare routine, I use Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum Moisturizer, and if I need a little boost, I’ll also add a few drops of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum as well. The Vichy serum does an amazing job of leaving my skin feeling hydrated, but not greasy or heavy.
Best Skin Ever
At age 36, I think I finally have the best skin of my life, thanks to finding a great skincare regimen. I use great products but its really the combination of techniques that have yielded the best results for me. It also helps that it’s a relatively simple routine to follow, which has really helped me stay consistent.