There are moments in your life when you’re able to see yourself as an omniscient observer—those out-of-body experiences that propel you to look at your life and ask in a Talking Heads refrain, “How did I get here?” One such moment occurred on a recent vacation, when I experienced a pang of terror after accidentally applying a face serum in my nine-step skin care routine in the wrong order. Reading that now, it sounds like a no-sweat misstep, but at the time, it was a nerve-racking game ender that sent me into a spiral of self-loathing. I wish I was exaggerating. How did I get there, you ask?
As a beauty editor, it’s an occupational hazard to amass skin care products in droves. Through recommendations by facialists, chic colleagues, and seriously gorgeous interviewees, I had built an arsenal that consisted of one face wash, one toner, three serums, three creams, and one sunscreen, occasionally throwing in a rosewater spray for good, hydrating measure. The entire routine took at least ten minutes. That’s ten minutes of rubbing and massaging my face. And it all felt so luxurious . . . until I effectively coddled my skin into becoming the corporeal equivalent of a spoiled child willing to publicly embarrass me at the slightest offense.
Things had gone too far. I needed an intervention. For this, I called the New York City dermatologist, Jeannette Graf. “I’m a beauty hoarder, too,” she admitted sympathetically over the phone before offering up a reality check. All I really needed for clean, healthy, and happy skin was one cleanser, one sunscreen, and one retinol-based product. “You want to protect your skin during the day and defend it at night,” explained Graf, who suggested that I ditch the toner, and instead rely on a “pH balancing cleanser” that was designed for my skin type but wasn’t overly fragrant, stripping, or mechanically exfoliating. After which, a simple moisturizer would do the trick; dry complexions like mine could find the right moisture balance with an antioxidant serum followed by a face cream—and one with hyaluronic acid, like Mario Badescu’s Hydrating Moisture cream, would pack an extra punch.
After sealing things off with sunscreen—Graf recommended EltaMD’s Broad Spectrum for its “elegant” use of zinc oxide—I’d be ready for the day with four products or less. Better yet, my nighttime routine could be even simpler—amended by switching my morning serum for a retinol and forgoing the sunscreen. Graf likes Avène’s Eluage because “its natural form of Vitamin A is nonirritating.”
It sounded straightforward enough, but, for a second opinion, I reached out to the ultimate beauty minimalist, fashion stylist Stevie Dance, who manages an enviously healthy complexion without the help of so much as mascara. Naturally, she takes an even more laid-back approach. “I think skin is more reflective of your lifestyle and mental health than it is of an expensive cream, serum, or surgery—when you’re happy, your skin has a different texture than when you’re miserable.”
That being said, Dance does keep a few products on hand, including Tracie Martyn’s Amla Purifying Cleanser (which is rich in alkalizing Vitamin C), SkinCeuticals’s CE Ferulic Acid (an antioxidant serum she refers to as “magic”), and Dr. Hauschka’s Revitalizing Day Cream to lock in hydration.
Combining the advice of both Graf and Dance, I stashed my overcompensating routine and stocked up on five straightforward products—with the exception of Caudalié’s hydrating face mist, which I will never feel complete without. When it comes to the new products that make their way across my desk on a daily basis, I’m getting better at making a tighter edit. Today, my medicine cabinet has never been cleaner, my gym bag and luggage never lighter, and my skin never more balanced. Here’s to doing more with less.
The post Confessions of a Skin Care Addict: What Happens When One Vogue Editor Stages Her Own Intervention appeared first on Vogue.
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