Because my time this past week, outside of work, has almost exclusively belonged to applying to graduate programs, I haven’t had time to film and edit my Get to Know Me video yet. (I did one take, and then started choking on absolutely nothing. So that didn’t really work out.)

Instead, today we’re going to talk about my skincare regimen! This was requested by the lovely Reenie, whose blog you should go check out if you don’t read it already.

 

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Left to Right: Avène Cleanance gel cleanser, Eucerin Lip Aktiv balm, Vichy Normaderm daytime moisturizer, Avene Skin Recovery Cream, Zapzyt spot treatment

The above is my all-star team. When I first moved to Germany, I suffered a major breakout, and wound up buying the Avène Cleanance line (cleanser, daytime moisturizer, nighttime AHA moisturizer), and it did wonders for my acne. Cleanance cleanser has been my go-to for cleansing my face, twice daily, for a year and a half now. At around €13, it’s pretty affordable. I find it to be super gentle, but effective. If you want to buy Avène in the US, check out their Where to Buy section here.

Having tried just about every lip balm, from Carmex to Fresh Sugar, I think this one is my favorite. And for only €3, it’s a steal. It’s not fancy – it’s completely unscented, with no pretty tint or anything like that. But when I put it on overnight, I wake up to nice, soft, plump lips and that’s good enough for me.

Vichy Normaderm daytime moisturizer is sort of gel-like in consistency, has a pleasant fruity fragrance, and leaves my skin feeling both moisturized and suspiciously matte. It’s an excellent makeup base, which is a must-have for me. The Vichy Normaderm line is very similar to Avène Cleanance, but Vichy is actually available at Ulta now in the US. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more expensive, and they don’t carry absolutely everything. Here’s a list of other authorized retailers, straight from Vichy. In Germany, this moisturizer cost about €16.

Avène is famous for their gentle products. When I needed something super moisturizing that wouldn’t cause my somewhat sensitive skin to erupt, I went to a pharmacy and asked about my options. This Skin Recovery Cream was highly recommended, and I can see why. Personally, I love going to sleep with my face absolutely slathered in moisturizer. My skin is combination, but it tends to be a little dry because of my hypothyroidism. I find that when I wear this at night and the Vichy Normaderm in the morning, it keeps my skin pretty perfectly balanced. I believe this was €13.

Zapzyt! The best spot treatment ever! My sister-in-law introduced me to Zapzyt during our first Christmas together, and I’ve been faithfully using the stuff since then. At the first sign of a breakout, I apply a tiny dab of Zapzyt after cleansing and moisturizing. It definitely speeds up the process, and either takes the swelling down or causes the spot to come to a head. I believe you can get this at many drugstores and even some grocery stores, and it shouldn’t be more than $10.

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Left to Right: REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Stridex Maximum Strength pads, Make Up Artists’ Choice Fade Peel

Chemical exfoliation is the cornerstone of Operation Fade My Scars. I understand that a lot of people have tried to get you to fear “chemicals”. They’re in your food! Your water! Your cosmetics! But… yeah. They’re in everything. Because chemicals make up everything. So don’t be afraid! You just need to know what some of the good ones are, like Alphahydroxy Acids and Betahydroxy Acids. These chemicals help speed up skin cell turnover, which accelerates the healing process. If you have acne scars, they are your best friends.

REN’s Glycolactic (recently renamed Glycol Lactic) mask is my absolute favorite mask, and I use it about once a week. It smells like fresh fruit and leaves my skin looking amazing and radiant. It’s hard to say which product has made the biggest difference in the fading of my acne scars, but I definitely enjoy the morning-after effects of this mask. It’s pricey, at $55 for a bottle at Sephora. Is it a necessity? Nope. Do I love it? Yes.

A much, much more affordable option are the Stridex Maximum Strength pads. These are alcohol-free, so they aren’t overly harsh or drying, but damn do they exfoliate. You can use these every other day, but I tend to use mine once a week given all the other chemical exfoliating I do. What makes these work is salicylic acid, a betahydroxy acid that’s very strong and effective. After cleansing, I use one pad, swipe it all over my cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead. Then I wait about fifteen minutes and apply my nighttime moisturizer. I believe these are around $6-8.

The Make Up Artists’ Choice Fade Peel stings like a motherfucker but it definitely works. MUAC has many different peel formulas, but this one is specifically formulated for acne scars. I use this once a week, only on my cheeks and chin, where my scarring is its worst. I apply this to clean skin with clean hands, leave it for five minutes, and then wash it off and moisturize with pure argan oil. I have definitely seen a clear improvement in my skin since I started using this in January; unfortunately, I don’t have any before and after pictures. This is the small size, and I’m only about halfway through the bottle. For $17.95, I’d say that’s a good deal.

 

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Left to Right: Baby oil, Argan oil, Jojoba oil

I love oils, but it took me a long time to figure out which ones to use when. Coconut oil feels divine on my body, but it simply doesn’t do me any favors on my face. (Caitlin, on the other hand, loves it.)

I use simple baby oil to remove my makeup at night before cleansing. Some people seem to have problems with mineral oils, but I personally do not. It removes absolutely everything by breaking down the oils in every product – from Mac Pro Longwear foundation to waterproof mascara. Once I cleanse with my Cleanance, I can no longer feel any traces of thick oil on my skin. Since I started removing my makeup with oil before cleansing, I’ve noticed a huge reduction in breakouts. For $1-2, I don’t think you can beat it.

Argan oil can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. I bought mine from the organic foods store for €10. I like to use this after my Fade Peel or on nights when I want something a little extra lush. It also works very nicely in my coarse, wavy, over-processed hair.

Jojoba oil is the most recent addition to my regimen, and I love it so far. Jojoba is the most similar oil to the one your skin naturally produces. Sometimes I use it at night, but lately I’ve been mixing a single drop into my foundation in the mornings. It makes the application a little bit smoother, and helps the foundation to blend really seamlessly. It’s also great for my earlobes, which are in the process of being stretched right now.

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Just so you all believe that I know what I’m talking about, here’s a very recent picture of my very bare skin. That scab above my eyebrow? Turns out I’m really bad with a curling wand.

Yes, it’s true… I’m extremely high maintenance.

What’s your go-to skincare regimen? Favorite face mask?