The “I Have Fucked Up” Skincare Routine: Low Spoons Edition

In some ways, maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to give skincare advice. Or rather, maybe you shouldn’t listen to it. My skin isn’t perfect even after years of fiddling with my routine, and I have been known to slather 10% benzoyl peroxide over my entire face at least three times in adulthood, when I should absolutely know better.

Still, I have thought about doing a skincare post for a while and after fucking up the way I have…you know, lemons and lemonade, etc. etc. etc.

Basically, due to chronic illness and bad-brain problems, I don’t always have the spoons for skincare. Sometimes I don’t have the spoons for getting out of bed, much less exfoliating and toning or even splashing water on my skin, even if I know I need to. I’m just coming out of such a slump, and now I have to deal with it, no matter my reasons for getting there. I have a few rules when reckoning with post-episode skin, and mostly they center on treating myself as gently as I’m able. That means not berating myself, first and foremost, but also resisting the urge to use a lot of scrubs, clay masks, peely-things, and most everything else fun and joyful in my skincare collection. I don’t usually have the spoons to do those anyway so soon after clearing out of the hell-brain fog, but god do I want to when I see clogged pores on my face. But I try to know better, and here I am, sharing my wisdom with you.

I want to mention that I saw a similar post on Snow White and the Asian Pear a few weeks ago, which also nudged me to do this post now. They have looooooads of Korean skin care recommendations, if you’re into that, and I also quite like their own skincare philosophy as they explained it in the post. Check it out if spoons are not usually an issue for you and you don’t mind a few extra steps!

Steps 1 & 2: Cleanse, Goldilocks. 

I’ve gotten in the habit of doing a two step oil cleanse morning and night and I hate to say that it absolutely makes a positive difference. Previously I had done a two step cleanse at night and just massaged grapeseed oil onto my face in the morning to cleanse, but since I started using Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil I’ve really enjoyed it more followed with the Glossier Milky Jelly. The Palmer’s formula is thinner but also doesn’t sink into the skin even after lots of massaging like the grapeseed oil, (which I like and dislike) and combined with Milky Jelly (which, dammit, I have been unable to find a real dupe for) all my makeup, sunscreen, etc. is totally gone without leaving my skin at all stripped, red, or two-sizes too small.

Two cleansers when you’re low on spoons and coming off of maybe not even washing your face at all for any amount of time might seem excessive, and some of y’all may not need it, but I definitely feel the difference in terms of getting my skin clean and avoiding those clay masks I so love to do but aren’t the best when I’m dehydrated, flaky, and also clogged up, all of which inevitably happen after hellbrain happens to my routine. What I’m saying is to Goldilocks it — your cleanser needs to work to remove the grime you’ve accumulated but not strip your skin and send it haywire overcompensating for a stripping cleanser when you’re already toeing the line of breaking out.

Step 3: Tone, if you can be assed to 

When I’m low on spoons I can’t say this is my priority, but a nice rosewater spray (I’m trying the Mario Badescu one right now) really makes me feel a bit special. I love rose anything, and if I have the time and ability for a spritz or two I love to use something that’s useless in all reality in terms of skin care benefits on its own but is really just there to make me feel nice. Coming up from an episode I need all the help I can when I’m feeling vulnerable or crummy.

Step 4: Moisturize, but not too much

I’ve been using the Palmer’s Skin Therapy Face Oil regularly for coming on over a month now and I will definitely repurchase it. It’s a nice midway oil — not to thin or too thick, absorbs easily and actually seems to do something for my face (and looks hella under my Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer if I wear it during the day). And while I love it, when I’m already a bit clogged from a lapse in my routine I like something even a bit lighter — Sweet Almond Oil or Argan Oil, especially during the day, and my beloved Rosehip Oil at night. I’ll use the Palmer’s every other night in this case, sometimes underneath the rosehip.

My usual daytime sunscreen is this Andalou Naturals Un-Tinted BB Cream but when my skin is especially sensitive the high zinc content in this can feel stingy and a bit drying and just not nice. I’ve also tried to use the L’Oreal Age Perfect Hydra-Renew SPF 30, which I love in some ways and absolutely hate in others. If you know of another sunscreen oil I’d love to hear about it. This one feels more silicone-y than nourishing like an oil, doesn’t fully absorb, and makes me smell like I’ve been rolling in my dad’s cologne even from several feet away which in turn makes my eyes stream like I’ve just watched an ASPCA commercial marathon.

But I do love it, in theory.

Undoubtedly, I will break out in some way even after all this. It’s unavoidable but not the end of the world; I spot treat as usual with BP or Neosporin at night and go about my life with my KA SSE shielding me from the world and earning its hefty price tag and place in my makeup bag until it clears up.

When my skin is feeling more balanced after a few consistent days — even a week or more, ideally, if I can wait that long — of the above, I may go in with a scrub, (this one remains my favorite, which looks like it would be harsh and scary but is quite gentle) which I only really use every two weeks or so anyway, and may throw in a clay mask, though obviously not on the same day. Not even within several days of each other, probably. The only other thing I’m sure to do is go in with my ELF Lip Scrub as religiously as I’m able and follow with my very glamourous Medicated Blistex and some type of ointment-like balm, either Glossier Balm Dot Com or Aquaphor. My lips get fucking shredded gnarly so easily, this is necessary to feel human again.

All in all, I just try to be easy with myself in all ways when I’m coming up from what feels like the pits of hell and try to be careful to view my skincare as self care as opposed to “fixing” the many various problems on my face, a lot of which are admittedly self-inflicted. I don’t beat up on myself for not being able to stick with a strict routine when the badbrain happens, I really, truly try to not pick at my face, and I keep the new routine simple as I can (Cleanse, moisturize, spritz if possible) to ensure I can stick with it as I’m getting my feet back under me.

But post bad-brain hair recovery? That’s a whole other animal. I’ll get back to you when I work that one out.

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