First and foremost, please allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this post. Due to unforeseen technical difficulties I was unable to complete it last weekend, and before I knew it the workweek had come and gone. I know a poor complexion is no laughing matter, and we all want to look our best when we face (pun intended) each day. In my opinion, having great skin – and by that I mean truly great, not just great-looking when made up – is a huge confidence booster and one of the biggest ways you can transform your appearance for the better (right up there with tweezing your eyebrows and getting a flattering haircut). So, in the spirit of not giving up on our resolutions this year, let’s get started.
There are many different types of skin concerns that we tend to obsess over. In fact, ask any female over the age of 9 and she probably has some sort of grievance with her skin. Too oily. Too dry. A little too much of both. Acne. Wrinkles. Dark spots. Dark circles. Not enough glow. The good news is, there are products out there that address each of these problems. The bad news is that I have not tried them all. However, while I will provide a list of skincare products that I recommend for some of these issues, the majority of this post will be about techniques and best practices that can help us all improve our complexions, while also helping maximize the results from whatever products and treatments we do decide to use. No matter what our skin concerns are, we all have to start in the same place:
Have a Plan: A skincare plan, that is. Basically, the number one most important thing you must do in order to have nice, clear, glowing skin is stick to a regular skincare routine (I’ve written about this before, and if you want a more in-depth look at my plan you may want to refer to Fresh Faced). Those with oily skin do well with a twice-daily cleanse-tone-moisturize routine, such as the Clinique 3-Step program. In fact, step three, the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, is one of the all-around best moisturizers available for any skin type. If you have skin that’s on the dry side, like I do, you may find toner to be too drying for your skin – I usually skip it during the winter. I also only use a cleanser at nighttime – I simply splash my face with warm water in the morning – I find that over-cleansing my skin makes it look worse. If your current once-or-twice daily washing routine doesn’t seem to be working for you, try adding or subtracting a daily cleansing and see if your skin balances out. If you don’t currently have a regular routine, start one! And let’s face it, even with the best of intentions there will be a night or two when you just cannot bring yourself to walk into the bathroom and properly wash your face. Do your skin a favor and buy yourself some cleansing cloths to stash beside your bed. There are many good ones available now that are packed with good-skin extras and leave your skin soft instead of stripped. I love the pomegranate wipes by Korres and the drugstore line Simple.
Be a Quitter: This should go without saying but I know it often doesn’t. If you are looking for an easy way to drastically improve the health and appearance of your skin, and are currently a smoker, quit smoking. Even though we all know it’s bad for us, vanity can be the biggest motivator when it comes to stopping smoking. And it’s easy to convince yourself that smoking doesn’t make that much of a difference in something like your skin, but it really, really does. I have seen first hand how much better a person’s complexion looks after successfully quitting cigarettes. Did you know that smoking is one of the biggest contributing factors in whether or not you have dark circles under your eyes? Speaking of eyes, would you like the fine lines around yours to diminish? Or perhaps you’d like to look five to ten years younger in general. I promise you, quitting smoking will make your skin look so much better you will hate yourself for not quitting sooner.
Treat Yourself: As I mentioned above, there is a treatment for any and every skin concern you may have. Once you find one that works for you, it is incredibly important that you use it regularly. Just having a miracle potion in your medicine cabinet will not make your skin glow – you must actually put it on your face! It’s like going to the salon, buying the serum your stylist uses to make you look amazing, and then forgetting to ever use it yourself and wondering why your hair never looks as good when you style it at home. I know lots of ladies with potent products sitting on their bathroom shelves who never take the time to kick back and relax for the duration of a 15-minute purifying mask. I recommend picking a day and making your treatment a part of your regular routine. Maybe you’ll have more than one! For example, I often use an at-home peel on Friday nights and do a face mask on Sundays. Make your specific skin treatment part of your regular skincare plan so that you can see consistent results. The goal is to have great skin all the time, not just when on vacation or when we happen to remember. (Not sure what treatment to use? See my list of recommended products, below, for a few suggestions.)
Clari-fy: It’s time to bring out the big guns. Even if you’re already doing all the things listed above, there’s still room for improvement. You can clean your face cleaner. Your treatments can treat better. How? By investing in a Clarisonic.These oscillating skin cleansing brushes are expensive, yes, but they really do live up to the hype. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but my skin feels softer every single time I use it. The brush uses sonic technology to gently clean skin and remove impurities that are trapped in pores. Not only does this lead to cleaner skin, which means fewer breakouts and blemishes, but it also allows any products that are applied after cleansing to be better absorbed by the skin, making our moisturizers and treatments more effective. The Clarisonic comes in a variety of colors and sizes; I personally own a Mia, which is a slightly less expensive travel-sized version. Again, these babies aren’t cheap, but they come with a warranty and are worth every penny.
Get Some Sleep: This tip is two-fold. First of all, like smoking, chronic lack of sleep is terrible for your health and wreaks havoc on your skin. It’s another leading cause of dark circles (obviously) and it also leads to that overall dull and lifeless look that none of us is going for. It really is amazing what a few consecutive eight-hour nights of sleep can do for a person. Especially when you practice part two of this tip: take advantage of this downtime to really ramp up your routine. Nighttime is the right time to slather on those thick creams and heavy treatments that go the extra mile. With a full eight hours to soak in, overnight treatments can do your skin a lot of good. My latest skincare obsession is Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. This jar of magic contains a super thick cream with a delightfully sweet and rosy scent. I smooth it all over my face and neck, and wake up with skin that is insanely soft and glowing. The kind of glow that renders makeup optional, if not downright unnecessary.Not only that, this stuff leaves you looking well-rested and refreshed, even on days when you are feeling anything but rested. Pairing the sleeping facial with the Clarisonic is such a skincare double whammy that I kind of feel like I’m cheating at life when I do it. I highly recommend it.
Recommended Products: This is in no way an exhaustive list, but I figured I’d share a few of the things that have worked well for me. I’m always testing new things so if you have a question about a specific product or are looking for a certain treatment, feel free to leave a comment here or on the Questions? page.
Anti-Aging - In addition to clearing and brightening skin, minimizing pores, and decreasing excess oil, Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel smooths fine lines and wrinkles and instantly firms skin. I like to follow it up with Philosophy Miracle Worker, a firming, plumping and softening moisturizer that protects the skin against all signs of aging.
Exfoliators – Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream is a great gentle scrub, even on sensitive skin. Murad Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask uses fruit enzymes to dissolve dull and dry skin and leaves you looking bright.
Eyes – I really like Clinique’s All About Eyes line. I use the de-puffing eye-massage roll-on to cool and brighten on rough mornings, and the rich eye cream at night to help prevent dark circles and crinkles around the eye area.
Pimples and Pores - No surprises here: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is still my top recommendation for shrinking pores and eliminating pimples and blackheads.