The Story of My Skincare Struggle, and the Products That Saved Me

The skincare struggle is real, people. That’s why it’s like, a billion dollar industry. And I am all for it.

I didn’t used to be. In fact, I hated skincare. Absolutely hated it. You know why? Because anything that adds ten minutes to my morning routine is not welcome. No thank you, sir. But then I became a college student, and my skin rebelled. Apparently as an adult, I still have teenage skin, because it is angry and oily and loves to erupt in acne right before important social functions, such as fraternity date parties, and my college graduation. Sigh.

So I got desperate and started trying everything. I tried my roommate’s put-toothpaste-on-it trick, I tried using spot treatments but all over my face, I tried moisturizers, Proactiv, Exposed Skin Care, everything. I kept playing Whack-A-Mole with my face: Every time a pimple popped up, I squashed it, and then another pimple would pop up next to it. Finally I knew it was time to get my butt into the dermatologist.

Taking the bitter pill

At some point, you have to suck it up and do an acne treatment that sucks for a few months before it gets better. I had cystic acne, which meant I had those awful monster bumps deep under the skin that won’t go away. My derm patted me on the arm and said, “We will beat this,” like I had some kind of horrible disease. And then we did. We beat the crap out of it. I knocked the thing out with Doxycyclin, a powerful antibiotic that I was very happy to stop after three months. The bad news: I had to start a skincare regimen. With prescription products. And because one of those products is an antibiotic, if I didn’t do it right, if I wasn’t consistent, the products would stop working. Eek.

The new skin workout

I told myself that I would rather have to take ten minutes out of my day to fix my problem, than face another cystic mountain zit. People face worse things. People have worse health problems with worse treatments. So why was I so frustrated? Maybe because it still felt unfair that I had to deal with this while other girls have beautifully clear skin. Bu that was stupid thinking, because everyone has their thing they need to deal with, and I’m lucky that my thing is skin. Because, hallelujah, I could fix it!

My prescription products include a daily face wash, an antibiotic lotion, and prescription Retin A. Beyond that, I mix it with other products to keep my skin feeling fresh, clean, and happy. No more angry zits.

My current skincare routine, with life-saving products

Some of the products I use are prescription, but for the ones that aren’t, I provided links!

Every day

Morning: I start by washing my face with PanOxyl, a benzoyl peroxide face wash. Then I apply prescription face lotion (this prevents the cystic acne). The benzoyl peroxide kills all the bacteria, which not only helps acne, but also makes sure my skin doesn’t get used to the antibiotic lotion that I put on after.

Sometimes I do see a little pimple starting to pop up, especially if I’ve slacked on washing my face, so I’ll apply a spot treatment.

Next is SPF, the most important step. I’ll put on a BB cream with SPF in it, or a primer with SPF, or I’ll wear a tinted sunscreen moisturizer. SPF is so, so important. Not just for preventing wrinkles, but also for preventing cancer. 

Finally, I’ll usually wear a foundation specifically for acne-prone skin. Lately I’ve really liked Clinique! It gives me moderate coverage with acne-fighting, medicated ingredients.

Night: Remove makeup, cleanse face, then apply Retin-A (well, the generic version of Retin-A). Retin-A is a retinoid, which is basically a vitamin A derivative that helps unclog pores and speed up cell turnover. Mine is prescription strength, but you can find retinoid creams over the counter, too. Whether you have acne-prone skin or not, they’re super beneficial for improving lines and discoloration.

Important Note:If you use a retinoid, only use it at night (sunlight makes the ingredient stop working) and be sure to use SPF in the morning!

Once every few days

At night, sometimes I’ll use a sonic facial cleansing brush (like a Clarisonic, but a different brand) and a sonic face wash to give my face a deeper cleanse. I would never have tried a sonic brush if I hadn’t worked in beauty PR, but now I’m a believer. It’s like an electric toothbrush, but for your face.

I’ll also put on moisturizer every couple days, because even oily skin types need hydration! It’s easy to forget that when your skin gets too dry, it can overreact and start producing even more oil, causing more breakouts. I also have a lot of redness, so moisturizers help calm it the eff down.

Once a week:

I love face masks, and I try to treat myself to one every week. Depending on how dry the weather is and how oily my skin is feeling, I’ll switch up my routine with a mask and put on an episode of This Is Us. And try not to cry the mask off.

I also use sleep masks, which are ideal for dry times. You just put it on, go to bed, and let the mask do the work.

Once a month/Whenever I can afford it and I’m feeling rich:

Occasionally, I’ll get a professional facial! It honestly feels better than a massage. The Dermologica Skin Bar at Ulta Beauty is pretty awesome and inexpensive– you can even get the 10-minute facial for $10, if you’re like me and you’re short on both time and money! But really, it’s worth a splurge, because it’s your skin. And your skin deserves all the pampering you can give it!


There you have it…my skincare story! Have you overcome any skincare struggles? Let me know in your comments, and be sure to share your secrets to success!

XO,

CC

Fave Five: Rocking the red lip in fall

Growing up in southern California, I never experienced the fall season at full force. Now, in the middle of Missouri, I love nothing more than the crispy cold air, the gold and red leaves, the endless corn mazes, and the excuse for fall fashion and beauty. Well, and the excuse for pumpkin spice lattes. But you already knew that. And who really needs an excuse for PSLs, anyways?

What I love about the fall is the drama it brings. Halloween parties? Haunted houses? Hayrides? Thanksgiving break? Outdoor concerts? Football games? It’s all the prime opportunity for some dramatic beauty looks, and no dramatic look is complete without the right red lipstick on hand. Because when the leaves turn red and the basic girls start dressing as vampires, it’s time for your lips to follow suit.

In this Fave Five post, I’ve rounded up my top five lip products for achieving the bold red lip, with both mass and prestige products to pick from. Let’s rock ‘n roll, shall we?

Fave Five Lipstick (1)

  1. Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour: Chanel lipstick is iconic. So iconic that no respectable lipstick roundup would leave it out. It’s a classic for a reason– it makes you feel like Coco herself. After all, it was Coco Chanel who said, “If you’re feeling sad, add more lipstick and attack.” Wise words from a wise woman. Buy her lipstick.
  2. NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Kitten Heels: I love how smoothly this goes on, and you honestly can’t beat the $6.99 price tag. It’s sold in places like Target, so you can easily pick it up next time you’re getting groceries. An excellent dupe if, like me, you don’t currently have the resources to spring for Chanel.
  3. Ulta Lipstick in Chili Pepper 203: A deep brownish red that fits flawlessly into fall. This is my weapon of choice for hayrides and bonfires, and because it’s such a small, convenient size, I keep it in my purse at all times for when I’m seeing red and need to add a lip on the go.
  4. Kylie Cosmetics Mary Jo K Lip Kit: I first tried the Kylie Lip Kit when I got the holiday edition for Christmas (Santa gets me and my beauty needs), and I. Am. A. Believer. In spite of my skepticism, I wore the lip kit out one night to a Christmas bar crawl, and it stayed perfectly in place like nothing I’ve ever seen. For a long haul like Halloween or football tailgates, the Lip Kit is a lifesaver. Try it in this shade of true red.
  5. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in F-Bomb: With a name like F-Bomb, how can you not buy the shade? This is a classic red cream color for when you need to summon your inner Marilyn (Monroe, not Manson) and bring the drama. F-Bomb is truly The Bomb.

Which lipstick makes you feel your most badass during the fall? Comment below if you have your own favorites!

XO,

CC

Lip color: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in F-Bomb