Friday, January 8, 2016

Goals: Fix My Skincare Routine

So. I've decided this is the year I'll fix my skincare. How's that for a lofty goal? But really, it's something that has turned into a bit of a pressing issue for me.

I've actually always had a pretty good skin. It's always been a bit dry and sensitive, but then I never had to deal with the oily skin some (most?) people seem to have to deal with. I've not have acne or big breakouts. Even as a teenager I never had more than the occasional small pimple that would clear on it's own in a few days. And by occasional pimple I mean like twice a year. I'd never popped one until Jake insisted I squeeze a nasty one in his back. The joys of dating! But I digress. What I'm trying to say my skin was pretty good without any effort from me.

I became a vegetarian when I was 16. It sparked a interest in me for more natural cosmetics, but to my disappointment, they didn't suit my sensitive skin. I'm guessing products back then were too potent for me. After trying several and angering my skin each time, I stopped trying and just stuck to regular products.

Then I started university and almost immediately started to develop an angry rash on my hands, elbows and sides. I thought I had the plague at least. I was diagnosed with atopic eczema. I'm not sure that's the correct translation, but it's basically like having asthma of the skin. You are sensitive to everything and can never be sure what will push it over the edge. I don't know why I so suddenly developed it, maybe the stress of uni was too much for my system. From then on I had to be even more careful with what products I use. It was still pretty much a case of trial and error, and resulted in a lot of disappointments, angry rashes and wasted money. I did find a few products I could use, and then pretty much stuck to those.

Few years later, still in uni, I started to develop blisters around my eyes. Freaked me out, I can tell you. I went through a few diagnoses and a round of antibiotics, before send to a cosmetic allergy test. I was diagnosed with a methylsothiazolinone allergy. Sigh. It's a preservative, and turns out it's in everything. I had to throw away my shampoo and conditioner, all my cleaning products, and all my make-up. Groan. I had even less products available to me. So, I just gave up. I resigned to the fact that there was one soap that didn't irritate my hands, one shampoo that didn't give me a rash, one moisturizer that didn't make scratch my skin off. Quite a few products, such my cleansing oil and lip-balm, I made myself. I knew that methylsothiazolinone isn't used in natural cosmetics, but I figured because of my other sensitivities and past experiences, that those too were out. The products I was using were working OK, at least I wasn't getting any rashes or blisters, but they weren't doing anything special for my skin either.

Fast forward to last year, when I at a friends recommendation looked into a company called iHerb. I browsed through their products on their web site and read reviews on the products, a lot from people with sensitivities. The products were very affordably priced too, compared to natural products in Finland. So figuring out I had very little to loose, I decided to order some. And then a few more. And a few more. And these products were a far cry from the natural cosmetics of my teenage years, when natural products seemed to be mostly olive oil and a cocktail of essential oils that burned my skin. These products were very much like "normal" products and not only natural, but gentle, too. I could, after all, use natural products.

So! Long story short. I've decided that this is the year I'm going to find and invest in good products that are both effective and work for my skin!
Ha-ha, can you tell I never take selfies? But I felt a long post about my skin should have a picture of the said skin. So here ya go. A picture of my bare face. I've just woken up and moisturized  my face. Just... just ignore the hair.
The current situation is this: my skin is still pretty clear and good. Even color, no pimples. It's also as dry as Sahara. You don't even have to stand that close to see it flaking. Sometimes in the winter, especially after showering it get's almost painfully dry and red. I have a prescription of cortisone ointment, but I prefer not to use it. But there have been a few nights I have had no other choice, and it feels so good when I do, such a huge relief I can almost hear my skin sigh, even though I know it's practically poison.

Now that I know many natural products will work for me, I'd prefer to take care of my skin with them, if possible, without having to resort to cortisone. I'm not looking to have a medicine cabinet full of tubes and bottles of skincare, but I'd like to replace my very basic products with ones that actually enhance, and please, moisturize! my skin.

This is my current, very basic, skincare routine. My doctor advised me to use water as little as possible so as not to dry my skin. So in the morning I don't wash my face. I brush my teeth then I put on moisturizer, eye cream and lip balm. That's it. In the evening I wash my face in the shower with a homemade oil cleanser (one part castor oil, nine parts extra virgin olive oil). Sometimes I use plain baking soda for exfoliating. I moisturize my body when it's still wet from the shower to avoid friction. I've never used anything on my face at night, because when I was a teenager I read (from Dr Hauschka, I think) that your skin gets rid of toxins and renews at night and it should be left to do that in peace. Well, anything apart from the occasional cortisone ointment. I wash my hair twice a week after sauna with a bar shampoo. I don't use a conditioner. That's the whole deal. Whoa. Writing all that down it seems even more bare bones than I thought. Hmm.
Here's a sad picture of everything I have in my shower: from left
neti pot, baking soda, oil cleanser, cuticle stick, shaver, shampoo bar and soap bar.
My plan now is this. I want good, excellent if possible, products, not just something I'm not allergic to, my criteria so far. I want at least to replace all my existing products with effective ones. So, that is a good moisturizer, eye cream and oil cleanser. I like my current lip balm, so that can stay. I recently ordered a toner, which I intend to start using in the mornings. I'm also contemplating on getting a serum or a face oil or, gasp, possibly both. And with my skin so hot and tight in the evenings, I'm even thinking of foregoing my "nothing on my skin at night" rule. Maybe a serum? I'm happy with my soap and body moisturizer. Neither is natural, but they work so well for me that I'm going to continue using them for now. I'd also like to do something to my hair, which is pretty dry and frizzy, but it's not as pressing an issue right now.

So there. If anyone read this all, I'm amazed! If you have any recommendations for good products for very dry, sensitive skin, possibly something anti-aging, I'd love to hear. Or if there is a type of product that I'm not using and should. In any case, I'll report back on my progress.

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