Skincare: My routine for flaky, dehydrated, dry skin
By nature I’m very prone to dehydrated skin, which basically means my skin has trouble holding onto moisture, or at least that’s what my dermatology specialist told me. This has the incredibly attractive effect of causing my skin to a) have flaky patches and b) overproduce oil in an attempt to compensate for the lack of moisture. Age has also brought me an ongoing case of moderate/severe acne and most of the treatments for that (benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, etc) make the dehydration issue soooo much worse. Right now I’m taking a course of accutane, which has made my skin less oily overall (yay!) but the dry-flakiness increased hugely (booooo). I know there are other people out there in the same boat, and for those of us in the northern hemisphere – WINTER IS COMING. Less humid air + heaters running constantly = thirsty skin. Obviously everyone’s skin reacts differently to products, environments and…. everything, so what works for me may not work for you. As always, if you have any serious skin concerns you should talk with your friendly neighborhood dermatologist. That said, here are some strategies I use to help my skin
not look like a gremlin hang onto that precious moisture.
Give my face a swipe with a soft wet washcloth – I don’t actually wash my face with cleanser in the morning because I find it dries me out too much. Be sure not to scrub! That can not only cause raw spots but actually increase flaking since stripping off the outer layers of skin can cause moisture loss.
Moisturize – I use First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, which is officially my most-repurchased skincare item ever. I don’t use a ton of moisturizer in the morning, just enough to make my skin feel nice. I let it soak in while I dry my hair.
Sunscreen – it was the very first thing I ever reviewed on my blog (here) and I’m still using EltaMD UV Clear SPF46. I like this one because it works well for sun protection, but it also has some nice skincare goodies:
- Silicone base – silicones act as a barrier to keep water in without feeling as heavy or greasy as oils or petrolatum.
- Niacinamide – is anti-inflammatory and helps fade hyperpigmentation, both nice things for my acne-prone skin
- Sodium hyaluronate – helps draw moisture to the top layers of the skin
I’ve found that applying a half pump at a time keeps it from leaving me shiny, and also keeps it from balling up on top of my moisturizer (probably because I don’t have to rub it in as much). I let it soak in while I make coffee and eat breakfast.
I’m clearly not one of the people who buys into the idea that makeup is the devil if you have problem skin, but I do make an effort to choose the right products. Some products and application methods can make skin problems worse, but there are a bunch out there that can actually help.
Primer – these days a moisturizing primer is a must for me, and I prefer a thicker one to help smooth out flaky areas and other uneven texture. I use a tiny bit of Hourglass No 28 Primer Serum, and it makes a world of difference in how well my makeup applies. More importantly, it keeps my skin from losing moisture over the course of the day. It has a thick silicone base to keep moisture from escaping, ceramides to help moisturize, and a whole slew of botanical oils and extracts (this might possibly be an issue if you’re allergic to things).
Foundation – up until the last couple months, I gravitated toward mattifying foundations but I haven’t needed them as much since my skin is getting less oily. Lately I’ve been using more natural/dewy finishes like Clinique Even Better Makeup or YSL Touche Eclat. Basically anything that doesn’t contribute to drying my skin. I try to touch the brush to my skin as lightly as possible to avoid stirring up flakes, and I only use each foundation brush once before I wash it (I rotate a few of them).
Lip balm/lipstick – my lips have been very dry and peeling, usually too much to make lipstick worth the trouble. For moisturizing, I’m in love with First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, Fresh Tinted Lip Treatments, and ChapStick HydrationLock lip balm. When I do wear lipstick, the most comfortable ones I have are Guerlain Rouge G, Bite Beauty, Urban Decay Revolution and Givenchy Le Rouge, since they’re all fairly moisturizing.
This is where the magic happens, and it’s also the most time-consuming part. It sounds like a ton of work, but it’s really not that bad.
Remove makeup – I do a full face of makeup almost every day, so I use a makeup remover wipe to get most of it off. I like Yes to Cucumbers – they’re alcohol-free and non-drying.
Oil cleanse – I use a little bit of mineral oil to take off my eye makeup (most of it won’t budge with a water-based makeup remover) and to get rid of anything left behind by the wipe.
Regular cleanser – After the mineral oil I use a regular facial cleanser to remove oil residue and any remaining ickiness – basically, I double-cleanse, which I didn’t even know was a thing until I started hanging around skincare forums. I lather the cleanser with my (clean) hands and then wipe it off with a soft washcloth. Again, don’t scrub. I like First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser or CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.
Moisturizer – First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream again, but I apply it pretty liberally at night. I let is soak in for about 10 minutes, you can Get More Info about this products directly in their website.
Moisturizing oil – At first I didn’t think moisturizing oils did anything for my skin, but I stopped using them for a few days and noticed a big increase in flakiness. My favorite right now is passionfruit seed (aka maracuja) oil, since it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and absorbs well. I’ve been using a free sample of Tarte Maracuja Oil, but I’ll probably buy a full bottle from Garden of Wisdom – they’re the exact same thing, but the GoW version is much less expensive ($17.30 for 4oz).
Occlusive – After my skin soaks up all the goodies I apply a thin layer of Aquaphor to hold all that moisture in.
So there you have it. I still get a little bit of dryness over areas that are broken out, but this routine keeps flakiness and dehydration at bay otherwise. If you’ve got tips for keeping dry/dehydrated skin happy through the winter months please leave a comment below!