I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
It’s been over a month since I first wrote about my horrible breakouts and scarring issues (or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, as I later learned). I set out with a strategy to try a whole bunch of products to see what I could do about it and ended up going on a crazy journey with a few failures, a lot of frustration, and a couple of unexpected products that turned out to be total game-changers.
I altered almost everything about my previous routine in an effort to heal, regenerate and clear, and I think the results really show:
Pretty good right?!
To say I made a lot of changes is a vast understatement, and I definitely didn’t stick to my original two-week DIY and two-week fancy-product plan. I did, however, do a massive overhaul of my routine, and though it was hard at first, in the end it really worked. I’m actually gleeful looking at my skin in the mirror each morning now.
Here’s what I’ve been up to these past four weeks.
I started off right away with my Mario Badescu products instead of trying the lemon juice route due to extreme concern for the welfare of my skin from commenters (thank you!), and I’m so glad I did.
Every single day, I used the Glycolic Acid Toner and Aloe Moisturizer to promote healing and regeneration. I found the toner to be gentle but super effective, and every time I used it, my skin was left more luminous, smooth and glowing. The aloe moisturizer is thick and creamy, and it gave my skin the heavy dose of hydration that it was craving after such a long, treacherous winter.
Not to say that all the other products in this post didn’t work well, because they were all great, but the big game changer for me was Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Pads and Solution. I only added this product to my routine in the last week of my experiment, and they made an insane difference.
The superstar ingredient in this magical little kit is HPR, a fast-working retinoid (a derivative of vitamin A that’s known to lighten dark spots, smooth wrinkles, unclog pores and smooth the skin). Combined with vitamins C and E, and natural botanicals, this treatment promises noticeable results within a week--and wow did it deliver.
I’m not a big believer in "miracle" treatments, but this really blew me away. I rubbed the little pads all over my face every night before sleeping, and found my skin so much smoother each morning. I even started using the pad on my chest and arm acne, and Emmett’s skin, and saw vast improvements in all cases.
Pores looked smaller, I had no more big, deep breakouts, and most importantly, the redness was fading faster in one week than it had over the previous three combined.
I was tempted to use Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser every day because it left my skin so luminous and bright, but the bottle suggests using this product only three or four times a week to avoid over-drying, so I used it four days each week. With sage and chamomile extracts, and glycolic acid (amongst other ingredients), this face wash exfoliated and left my skin feeling bright and clean with a hint of a citrus scent.
When I wasn’t using the Glycolic Acid Cleanser, I was using the much more gentle Rikumo Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask, a Japanese charcoal formula that works as a mask, cleanser, and makeup remover. This super mild soothing product deeply cleanses and removes toxins while nourishing your skin. Apparently the charcoal also releases infrared rays which heat the skin and help open pores, though I can’t say I felt any more heat than usual while using it!
Though I didn’t experience many breakouts after I started using the Philosophy retinoid pads, any new little blemishes were stopped in their tracks with Mario Badescu Drying Cream. With aloe, lemon extract, beeswax and zinc oxide, this cream smells horrible (it reminds me of a cream my grandma used to use), but it really works on pesky pimples.
Weekly or Less
Though I was terrified of chemical peels in the past, I decided to give Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel--designed to dissolve dead skin cells and and improve skin clarity with mandelic, phytic and azelaic acids--a try.
I used the peel once a week (only for the last two weeks of this test period). The first time I used the peel it felt pretty itchy and a bit tingly, so I rinsed it off after a few minutes and didn’t notice much of a difference, but the second time I left it on for about 10 minutes, and my skin definitely felt smoother and brighter.
It wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected, and I’m definitely going to keep using this product, especially on hyperpigmentation areas.
I wanted to work a few masks into my routine on top of everything else, so I made a bi-weekly mask plan to fit into my routine after I used the peel wipes.
I alternated One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Mask, an exfoliating formula that smells like fresh pineapple and really left my skin glowing, and Mario Badescu’s Healing and Soothing Mask, a moisturizing formula with oatmeal designed to calm redness and irritation.
I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to save my skin, so I made a few extra changes outside of my direct skincare routine.
I got my hands two super cute BKR water bottles (one for home and one for the outside world), and tried to drink at least four full bottles of fresh water every day (I think using cute water bottles really increased my intake!).
I also got new satin pillowcases, and started switching out my pillowcases for clean ones mid-week between laundry days to avoid bacteria buildup that could transfer to my face (thanks for that tip, commenters!).
Last but not least, I started using a special towel for my face to avoid getting bacteria from the hand towels on my skin. I traded in my usual model for a super cute pink-striped linen towel, a wonderfully soft Japanese terrycloth design that’s gentle on my skin. It’s hard to say if these little changes made a big difference, but I think they definitely helped to some extent.
And that’s it! My big skincare routine makeover. Though I might switch out a few products here or there, I’m extremely excited to have found a schedule that works for me, and I can only hope my skin continues to heal and stay this clear and even.