I’ve Tried Cutting Down My Skincare Routine, But It Keeps Getting Longer
by Kaitlyn McNab
Once upon a time, on the wintry morning of the school Christmas play she was to star in, a seventh grader in New Jersey got her first pimple. It’s me. I was that seventh grader, and I made one of the skin biggest mistakes in that moment by leaning closer into the mirror, squinting, and popping that one zit that had the audacity to disturb my forehead. Little did I know that that one pimple would come back with a hyper-pigmented vengeance, and with a whole pimple posse in tow.
I’ve only achieved a clear complexion a few times since that disastrous day in middle school, and I’m 20 years old now, still trying my hardest to create the perfect skincare potion. Over the years, my sensitive skin has devolved from normal to combination to dry, with regular acne, cystic acne and hyper-pigmentation lurking in the back like three photo-bombing jerks.
I have to do the literal most so that my skin stays on the right track. For example, if I don’t wash my face two nights in a row, I’m just asking for my t-zone to act up. Since I have to work so hard to manage my skin, skincare has become a passion. I truly enjoy my routine and the plethora of products I use, but having a near thirty-minute morning routine takes a lot of self-discipline to not half-ass it daily. I’ve tried at least twice to cut it down to save time, but it never really works out.
When I first tried to go minimal, I went straight to Google and found a bunch of testimonials from beauty writers who swore that minimal skincare delivered better results, and I also found minimalist recommendations for my multi-hyphenate skin type: this foaming cleanser for sensitive skin and that SPF 30 moisturizer with hyaluronic acid.
I made the trek to my local Target and somehow, I left the store with a bag full of products that weren’t on that short and sweet list — toner, micellar water, oils, serums, eye cream, butters, spot treatments, peels, scrubs, masks, and the rest of the kitchen sink. I couldn’t help myself. I was too intrigued, too ready to test out new products.
And in result, I tacked on an extra twenty-five minutes to a technique that, according to Google, should’ve only been five. I take a long time to get ready, much to my boyfriend’s dismay as he sits on the couch, scrolling through Instagram waiting for me as I’m scrolling through Instagram waiting for my toner to steep in. Fortunately, I enjoy the process.
I start with a spin brush and a foaming cleanser, followed by an exfoliant every other day to avoid drying out my skin. Then, I deep cleanse with micellar water and toner with salicylic acid on a cotton ball. When my face is as clean as it can be, I apply vitamin E oil and tea tree oil together during the daytime and vitamin C and a dreamy concoction of baobab oil and sunflower oil at nighttime. I seal the serums and oils in with an SPF moisturizer and nourish my under eyes with hydrating eye cream. I top this all off by spot treating any pimples that dare to show up with a benzoyl peroxide gel.
After almost nine years of falling down the beauty rabbit hole, I’ve learned a lot about my body and my skin. I’ve found that my skin is sensitive, but high-maintenance. My skin doesn’t react well to products with a lot of chemicals or high percentages of acids in them, so most of my beauty shelf holds products with natural ingredients. Mud masks only work for me when I have a lot of pimples, otherwise they make my skin red, raw, and dry. I can only use chemical exfoliants in small doses. I break out when I’m stressed. Nothing works better for my cystic acne than a dermatologist-prescribed topical gel. Wearing face makeup like foundation and concealer on a daily basis isn’t beneficial for my skin — it usually leads to a few pimples here and there. As a result, I only wear face makeup once in a while, on days when I want to achieve a certain look or for special occasions. If I do wear it on a daily basis, I have to make sure I pay special attention to my skin by exfoliating and masking.
My regimen requires high-level commitment, and I do admit that when my boyfriend sighs a second time from the living room and I’m only on my first oil in the lineup, I feel a little bad. But I am so in love with how great skincare makes me feel; it’s affirming to invest time into myself and come out the other side fresh, satisfied, and confident. My skincare ritual is a time for me to self-reflect in the mornings and nights, it’s me-time that I don’t have to fit into my busy schedule otherwise. Skincare is my own little world and the beauty community is full of pioneers and risk-takers that inspire me as I feel pseudo-professional, doing research on beauty formulas and ingredients and chatting it up with my dermatologist.
Skincare has allowed me a new, captivating realm of knowledge. It’s this knowledge that’s transformed me into the go-to beauty guru amongst my friends and family, the one who holds all the secrets of the skincare universe. I don’t think I could ever stop being a beauty junkie because of how exciting the practice of skincare is. Trying something new that may improve my skin in ways I never thought possible, learning about newly discovered skin-friendly vitamins and acids, having fun with masks that contain weird ingredients like glitter, rubber, or snail extract — all of that excites me.
So if you hear about a new superstar serum or step-by-step brightening trio through the grapevine…let me know. I’ll be at Sephora before you can even finish your sentence.
I mean, what’s an extra five minutes in the morning, right?