I think it’s time to finally sort my skincare routine out. Although I’ve often clung onto the ‘Black don’t crack’ phrase (which I had to explain to Lucy for the first time last year), ever since I turned 30 I don’t feel invincible any more. If I haven’t been sleeping much or eating well, then it’s pretty obvious when I look in the mirror and I want to start forming better habits.
So what’s a girl to do when it’s time to start from scratch? Looking at my history, I’ve never really had ‘problem’ skin. Sure there was the odd break-out (I seem to remember taking some sort of pill but not the pill a few times) but everything seemed to sort itself out by my early twenties. Now I end up using whatever products are hanging around, an inconsistent mix that’s anything from Boots own brand to This Works & Pixi. I think my gene pool is pretty good (people sometimes think my Mum is my sister and my grandparents don’t seem to age) but I’m concerned about hydration, dullness and hyperpigmentation. Basically I’m looking for the skincare equivalent of 6 weeks in Jamaica.
These days I’m fortunate to have a lot of products to try, but I don’t always know what’s really working and what I’d repurchase. It’s not as easy as trying a colour product like foundation, where I know instantly if the shade match is accurate. There’s so much information out there and it seems like everyone on the Internet has their routine sussed, when I’m just sat Googling ‘WTF is retinol?’ There’s also been a few interesting debates on current skincare trends and it’s easy to think that you need a complicated routine.
Since I’m finding things a bit overwhelming, I thought I’d share my initial research and the hyped-up products I’m going to start off with. I want to start testing things properly, taking pictures of the results and finally figuring out what my skin needs. Wish me luck!
Products are a mixture of gifted and purchased items
What I did
Emailed the Ordinary – Yes, I too got excited by all of these products that are mainly under a tenner, but didn’t have the foggiest as to what they did. Fortunately you can email the customer care team with your concerns and they’ll get back to you within a few weeks. I mentioned my concerns and they recommended the Hyaluronic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Natural Moisturizing Factors, Azelaic Acid Suspension and Rosehip oil.
Stalked Glossier – Being the blogger I am, I’ve kept a lot of these products unopened since May as I wanted to photograph and start testing them properly. I also took the obligatory selfie outside their New York showroom and bought the Milk Jelly Cleanser, Priming moisturiser and Coconut Balm Dotcom lipbalm as a starting point.
One thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was their Invisible Shield daily sunscreen. I knew it was something I needed to start wearing, as darker skin still needs protection all year round and I’d been oblivious for most of my life. Ooops. However, it can be tricky to find one that doesn’t leave a ghostly residue on my face. I loved the branding of the Glossier version and the fact that it’s a clear product on all skin tones but the price put me off. I finally treated myself over Black Friday and fortunately the price has been brought down slightly, but you still don’t get a lot of product.
Found people who break things down – I’ve been dipping in and out of Caroline Hirons’ blog for a while now and her cheat sheets are invaluable if you want to know what to use and when. Think of it as a refresher lesson, I’m trying to incorporate elements slowly and I’ve stocked up on flannels so that I always have a clean one to use (plus my bathroom also feels a bit like a posh hotel).
Anna’s post is also a great place to start and it reinforces the fact that skincare is a bit of a personal journey and there’s no quick solution. There’s also been a few articles specific to darker skin, like Refinery 29’s piece on the routines of black French girls who can be left out of the typical narrative and Self’s tips for people who also thought ‘Black don’t crack’ would save them. The main takeaway is that SPF needs to be my new BFF.
Turned my room into a spa – I can still remember how my skin looked after my first Antonia Burrell facial over three years ago and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. The thing is, most people agree too and she can often get booked up quickly. Her answer is the Facial In A Box, an affordable solution that allows you to try out her cupping massage technique and really understand the process.
I tried it out for myself (albeit on my very unglamorous bedroom floor using mixing bowls) and followed the YouTube video instructions as best as I could. It made me realise that I rarely make proper time for my skin and it’s actually quite nice to spend time on certain areas. Even though the mask was missing from my box, my skin still felt great afterwards and it really helped with the smile and forehead lines that were concerning me. I could definitely see myself using this every few months to give my skin a bit of a boost.
The Journey So Far
So three weeks ago I switched to the Glossier cleanser, moisturiser and SPF on a daily basis with sporadic usage of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid and Rosehip Oil. Then I got a little bit brave and started using the Pixi Glow Tonic just over a week ago, forgot about it for a few days and started using it again. Now I’ve broken out. It’s strange, there’s bumps everywhere on my face (even on my ears) and it’s the worse case I’ve seen since I was a teenager.
It’s just typical that me thinking that I need to refresh my routine has left my skin looking worse than I started (you can see a glimpse in my latest vlog)! I have a feeling it’s the tonic, though I’m going to do a little detective work and adjust if things don’t seem to improve. The plan is to keep things really simple when my skin hopefully improves and try one product at a time. It just goes to show that every product that gets raved about may not be for us, no matter how Instagram-able it looks. Of course I’ll keep you updated, hopefully in the long run it’ll mean that I have less things hanging around and more direction.
Is anyone else overwhelmed? Also if anyone has any tips as to how I can make drinking more water as appealing as my emergency cappuccino, I’d love to know.