As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I am somewhat of a beauty addict (just check out my "shelfie" to the right). I admit to spending a large sum of my time scrolling through Sephora’s “Just Arrived” list and reading my favorite beauty gurus’ collections of must-haves. As someone who has struggled with my skin since my early teens, I’m always eager to try the latest and often priciest elixirs to get the job done and there are certainly solutions that pass the test and those that don’t. Here is a list of the things that are actually worth it for the price, time, and (occasional) pain.
One of the biggest changes I made to my skin routine as I’ve gotten older, is regular exfoliation, and I’m not talking St. Ives Apricot Scrub, 90’s babies. The market is saturated with exfoliation products, from devices to acids, but which ones are actually worth it? As someone who spent about $100 on the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, I can say that the pain on your face, and the pain in your wallet, is not worth it. The products I would recommend, that come in at lower prices and are more effective are the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask and Peter Thomas Roth’s Peeling Gel. Both of these products are effective and gentle in eliminating dullness and dead skin. They’re the perfect way to prep your face for your next products to ensure they soak in effectively. The mask and peeling gel clock in at $45 and $48 respectively.
For Emergency Spot Treatment
As a 20-something who thought zits were a teen issue, I was less than pleased to be ravaged by acne in recent years. With all the products out there, it can be daunting to find one that works. For me, I found I had the greatest success with a shift in my diet and prescriptions from my doctor (more on that below). However, there are a couple over-the-counter products I found that get the job done quickly, if you don’t have the time to get a cortisone shot. My favorite acne warriors are Peter Thomas Roth’s Therapeutic Sulfur Masque and Kate Somerville’s Eradikate Acne Treatment. Both of these products are sulfur-based, which admittedly is not the dreamiest if anyone is getting up close and personal with you (the smell is GNARLY). BUT, sulfur works by causing the top layer of the epidermis to dry and peel off, revealing healthy skin below, and you know acne and dryness don't get along, so GOODBYE ACNE. The mask and treatment cost $48 and $26 respectively.
For Dark Spots
As someone with olive complexion and a history of pesky blemishes, I am no stranger to the scarring and hyper-pigmentation left behind by these vexations. Once your blemish clears up, the last thing you want to do is have to continue to cover up the leftover mark. Luckily with some research, I learned that certain vitamins (C, and E) and something called viniferine (thank you, Caudalie), are extremely effective in reducing dark spots. After being introduced to Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, I will never look back. They have been integral in brightening my complexion and eliminating the spots to the point where makeup can be optional. While Rome wasn’t built in a day, they have become my lifesavers and worth every dollar of their $79 (each) price tags.
For Radiance and Glow
As I mentioned prior, serums are really effective in enhancing radiance over time. For a quick fix that LEGITIMATELY changes your complexion in minutes, I give you Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. Praised as the holy grail of skin products, I wanted to try this cult-favorite for years, but recoiled at the price (a full-size 1.7oz bottle is a whopping $158!!!) So, when Sephora released the Flash Fix Kit complete with a 0.27oz bottle of Good Genes and a 1oz bottle of Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser for $28, I jumped on it. The reviews don’t lie. This lactic acid-based product TRULY makes pores disappear and plumps your skin to eliminate fine lines in under ten minutes. It’s magic. I’m still working through my mini bottle and when it’s gone, I’m going to have to make the painful decision on whether to buy up or just re-buy the mini (HA). Stay tuned on that...
But when all else fails….
Who doesn't love to be pampered, am I right? I'm a sucker for a good R&R session and it's never a bad thing when that relaxation also comes with a good complexion. In New York, it can be pricey to get a facial regularly, but Heyday, a newer boutique specifically for facials, is both reasonable and accessible. Touted as the blowout bar for your skin, Heyday is great for quick, thorough, and reasonably-priced skin treatment.
I’ve become pretty close with my dermatologist over my years of skin-related woes, and when I faced my worst breakout to date last summer (NYC: your pollution and humidity is a BITCH), I returned to seek out professional help. Not eager to start the beast that is Accutane (read: regular blood tests and icky side effects), my doc armed me with an arsenal of Rx-grade skin-saving weapons. Of the six (!!!) products she prescribed to me, the two that I continue to use, and are by and far the most effective, are topical gels Onexton (made with benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin) and Tazorac (basically the strongest acne-fighting topical). With my insurance, they come in at about $40 apiece, which in the grand scheme of things is 100% worth it.
Writing this part of this post is by far the most depressing for me as a foodie. After my visit with my lovely derm, she told me to quit carbs, sugar and dairy. I looked at her thinking, you have to be kidding me. I practice moderation fairly well, so the thought of cutting anything out of my diet for some pesky zit here and there seemed ridiculous. With the topicals she prescribed, my skin had been faring quite well, until a few months after moving into my new apartment in New York (dangerously close to a delicious pizza spot), I faced another uncontrollable breakout. I had definitely increased my intake of carbs and dairy (HELLO NEW YORK PIZZA) and having not altered anything in my routine, could render my diet the primary culprit. So, I began to weigh my options. Aware that a life without carbs or sugar would be a really sad and difficult existence, eliminating dairy seemed like my best bet. Other than cheese (which TBH, I only started eating in college), I don’t consume dairy much. So, I began this cleanse about a month ago, and despite a few cheats along the way (that also completely screwed with my gut), lo and behold, my skin cleared up. In fact, my colleague told me my skin was glowing just last week. As much as I miss burrata, I certainly don’t miss those painful breakouts. I can’t say I won’t fall off the wagon again here and there, but living a generally dairy-free life is not the worst.
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