WHAT SKIN CARE PRODUCTS SHOULD I USE?
When I started doing hair in the early 2000s, you couldn’t speak to men about styling products, let alone skin care--you would get shut down with a grunt that indicated if the conversation went any further, he’d have to spend the rest of the evening bear hunting to make up for the perceived loss of masculinity.
THANK GOD FOR “QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY.”
This show came along, coined the term “metrosexual”, and taught men of the world that caring about your appearance didn’t detract from your masculinity--it enhanced it.*
Fast forward a decade plus and hair products and their usage have become commonplace conversations in shops across the world--now, I’m starting to get questions about basic skincare and what that looks like and I
For this very first skincare blog, I’m going to restrain myself from burrowing down the rabbit hole--getting into different skin types, various skin challenges, skin type-specific products--and start you off with the FOUR MOST BASIC COMPONENTS, in order of importance, that comprise a solid investment in your face-meats.
And just to be clear (and cover my butt, legally): I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN. I am but a humble cosmetologist with a (probably unhealthy) obsession with skincare. You should absolutely consult a dermatologist about these things and my recs do NOT factor in conditions such as rosacea, eczema, etc. I will do a specific blog about these, down the line...but today is not the day.
If you choose to do only one thing for your skin, make it this one.
Sunscreen is the heavyweight of skin care--it prevents the sun from breaking down your collagen (the stuff that’s responsible for smooth, non-wrinkly skin), keeps you from developing those brown spots, known as hyperpigmentation, and of course, prevents cancer.
Apply a quarter-sized blob of sunscreen every morning (before you leave the house) and then reapply anytime you are going to spend more than 15 minutes outside.
Also make sure that you are using a sunscreen that’s specifically formulated for your face...the first time I saw my husband nonchalantly hose down his face with the 70 SPF Coppertone spray I use on my body, it gave me the horror-vapors and required smelling salts to snap out of it. Find one that’s non-comedogenic (won’t make zits) and again: FOR YOUR FACE.
2. WASHING YOUR FACE AT NIGHT
If you decide to do two things for your skin, make the next addition washing your face at night, before you go to bed.
Doing this ensures that your skin can spend the sleep cycle focusing on maintenance, repairs, and zit prevention...and not fighting off all the free radicals and physical and chemical debris that coat your face during the day. When you hit the pillow without washing this shit off, it breaks down your collagen, resulting in saggy skin and wrinkles. Still to date, one of the most recommended face wash by dermatologists is a humble bottle residing at your local drugstore: Cetaphil. This stuff is miraculous, in that it’s highly effective at deep cleaning but also THE gentlest, and therefore ideal for every skin type
Dispense one pump of cleanser, coat your dry face with it. Give yourself a little massage all over ‘cause you deserve it. Rinse it off with water that’s not scalding hot (please stick to the lukewarm variety). Gently pat your face dry with a towel--and for the love of all that is holy, don’t vigorously yank and rub...that makes me cry. When you’re rough with your face skin, it breaks down the collagen faster and you get wrinkles. Pat, pat, pat.
This is the next super important one--but also one that can get a little overwhelming and scary, so I need you to take a deep breath, promise that you’ll start off SLOW (no extra points for pushing the process faster), and trust in your heart-of-hearts that you’ll make it...and the results will be glorious.
Retinol encourages skin cell turnover, which means it’s one of the most powerful anti-aging products out there. It also helps clear up acne and because of the cell turnover part, it also helps fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation (brown spots). If you’ve mastered daily sunscreen and washing your face at night and you want to move on up the skincare ladder, here lies your quest.
Start off by using retinol only ONCE. At night. Then wait a week. Did you have any redness or peeling? If not, that next week, you can apply it (at night!) on TWO of the days (and keep ‘em far apart, like a Sunday and a Thursday).
If you DID have redness and peeling, you need to stick with using it only once a week until that stops. After your week of using it TWICE, if you still have no reactions, you can move it up to THREE times a week. I think you get the picture. This is some hardcore shit, which means the benefits are also hardcore shit...but take it easy, take it slow, don’t push too fast. Some people like to work up to using it every night...I--myself--prefer using it only three times a week. That’s my sweet spot. Your sweet spot is the weekly usage that doesn’t result in redness and peeling. FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT.
A pea-sized amount is plenty. Gently distribute it on the pads of your fingies and then apply it on the forehead, the cheeks, and the chin. AVOID the eyes, nose, neck, and lips. Retinol will just piss those areas off and it’s unnecessary. (NOTE: there are retinol eye creams you can use and they’re specially formulated to NOT piss off the area).
Again: you absolutely CANNOT use this product if you’re not going to be super diligent about sunscreen...your face will turn into raw hamburger meat. I’m sure blistery beef-face is a kink somewhere, but finding that particular tribe could prove exhaustive.
This particular retinol has incredible reviews. Expensive doesn’t always mean better
4. VITAMIN C
The fourth investment in your skin should absolutely be a vitamin C product. Think of vitamin C as the glow booster--’cause that’s exactly what it is: it helps undo damage the sun has done by encouraging cell turnover, acts as an antioxidant (protecting your skin from those obnoxious little fuckers, free radicals), inhibits melanin production to prevent brown spots...dude, IT DOES EVERYTHING! The only reason it doesn’t come before retinol is because it can be notoriously difficult to find a good vitamin C serum, so it requires a little bit of patience and a little bit of research. L-ascorbic acid (its scientific name) is highly unstable, which means formulation and packaging are crucial--look for professional recommendations, expect to spend a little bit more, and completely disregard any products that come in clear packaging and/or allow for the product to be touched before it’s dispensed. Vitamin C, like Gollum, requires dark and cool and complete separation from the world beyond its cave...until it’s yanked out of the cavernous depths for the usage of filthy Hobbitses. Dark or opaque packaging with dispensers that don’t allow you to dig your fingers in.
Start off by using your vitamin C IN THE MORNING, every other day for a week or so, then up it to every day; for best results, splash your face with water and gently pat dry. Then apply. and for the love of all that is holy, apply it and then follow DIRECTLY WITH YOUR SUNSCREEN. Like retinol, vitamin C encourages cell turnover and this will make you super sensitive to sunburn.
Drop about a dime-sized amount in your palm, distribute it in your hands, and they apply everywhere but the eyes and mouth.
I’m going to link to one of my favorite Vitamin Cs below here...I discovered it after reading two separate interviews with dermatologists who recommended it.
*I have alllllllllll kinds of feelings about toxic-masculinity and the attendant environment we’ve been cultivating for centuries and its deleterious
effect on, really, just about EVERYBODY and that it shouldn’t have taken a freaking TV show to give humans permission to fucking bathe properly BUT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN SO I WILL SAVE THAT RANT FOR ANOTHER TIME.