The phrase “self-care” has been popping up now more than ever as we collectively navigate our new normal in this pandemic. We’ve all needed to take moments for ourselves and our mental health, whether that be through meditation, journaling, exercise, etc. One simple thing that has brought me a sense of comfort is my nightly skin care regimen.
Having struggled with acne and rosacea since my pre-teen years, skin care has become an important part of my daily routine, and it’s only become more necessary in the pandemic. Like many, I’ve needed to wear a mask over my face for long periods of time, and I’m here to tell you that “maskne” is very real. If you’re battling irritated, sensitive skin because of your mask, or want to learn how to incorporate certain calming ingredients into your routine, read on!
Before we begin, I’d like to clarify that while I’m passionate about skin care and have experience using these products, I am not a doctor; if you have serious concerns or issues with your skins, you should always contact an expert for medical advice. That being said, let me walk you through some of the best skin care ingredients that are gentle yet effective for most skin types.
The Order Matters
Before we get into specific ingredients, I want to emphasize the importance of layering products in the correct order. In general, you want to go from the thinnest consistency to the thickest to avoid aggravating skin.
Here’s a basic order to stick with:
- Oil-based cleanser or balm (if you’re wearing makeup or sunscreen)
- Water-based cleanser (second cleanse to actually clean skin after taking makeup off)
Next, here are the products I’d recommend for a skin care routine that covers all the bases and leaves your skin feeling clean and nourished.
2020 is truly the year for niacinamide. Niacinamide isn’t exactly new but it’s being featured in more and more products this year, and for good reason. As a form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is known for being both gentle and anti-inflammatory. It’s wonderful for sensitive skin because it helps repair your skin’s protective barrier. Both oily and dry skin can also reap its benefits, as it tightens pores and locks in moisture. Niacinamide can be found in all types of products, but I like to make sure it’s in my moisturizer for the best effect. At night I use Olay’s Hungarian Water Essence Calming Facial Moisturizer. It has one of the most simple ingredient lists I have found and is fragrance free, which is always desirable if you’re working with sensitive skin.
Anything with the word acid in it used to have me running. I thought all acids would essentially burn my sensitive skin. It turns out I was very wrong! Not only is salicylic acid one of the most tried and true skin care ingredients for unclogging pores, but it’s also anti-inflammatory. Using it in a wash is the one of the most gentle methods for clearing acne if your skin is easily irritated. My favorite salicylic acid product is CeraVe’s Renewing SA Cleanser; it’s affordable and kind to any skin type.
You’re probably thinking that a retinoid would wreak havoc on your already inflamed skin, but hear me out. Incorporating a retinoid into your nightly skin care routine just 3 times a week can tremendously improve adult acne, as well as fight wrinkles. Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that increase cell turnover in the skin. This means your skin will always look fresh and wrinkle free. However, not all retinoids are created equal. My skin has gotten used to Tretinoin, which is prescription strength retinoic acid. If you’re just delving into the world of retinoids, I recommend trying retinol first. It has a lower, more tolerable concentration of retinoic acid. You can also try bakuchiol, which is a plant extract that will deliver similar results without the irritation.
Plants have been used to take care of skin ailments for centuries, so why mess with a good thing? Three of my favorite plant-derived ingredients are evening primrose oil, rosehip oil, and oats. Rosehip oil has vitamins, anti-inflammatory properties, and won’t break you out. I don’t use oils daily, but it can be a treat to put this on with a jade roller after applying moisturizer. Evening primrose oil and oats can both be calming to the skin. One of my favorite products for days where my skin feels dry and inflamed contains both! Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate is great if you’re experiencing rashes or chafing from your mask.
I’ve experimented with so many skin care products, but these are the ones I’ve found the most effective for calming, nourishing, and protecting sensitive skin. Improving the look and feel of your skin can sound like a frivolous goal, but I’ve realized that a consistent skincare routine is a powerful act of self-care. All of us lead busy lives, and taking care of ourselves is a way to ensure that we are in the best position to take care of others.