The Great Skincare Purge: What Happened When I Stopped Using Everything

On the road, free from the shackles of unnecessary skincare... Just kidding. I miss you, babies. 


Ever since I got serious about my skincare, I've watched my skin go from horrifying, uncontrollable nightmare to something I love and obsess over the way one would a hard-earned six pack or a master's degree. At least, that's how I imagine it being, since I possess neither of those.

But let's be honest - if you're reading along here, or follow me on Snapchat, or even have seen  one of my #itgtopshelfie posts, then you know I have a mask for every day of the week. I make 10-step Korean beauty rituals seem efficient. I have too much stuff.

I started to wonder, what was actually working? How could I even tell anymore? With a temporary cross country relocation looming, and a corresponding aggressive purge of all my worldly goods, it seemed the perfect time to go hella KonMari on my skincare ritual. Not only would I be saving space, but I could also feel confident in my recommendations. So I decided to follow the same steps I used when I was trying to determine what foods were making me feel terrible go full, cold-turkey on everything and then slowly reintroduce ingredients - paying close attention to how everything made me feel.

So, with a house full of boxes and more things to do than hours in the day... I just stopped everything. I didn't even wash my face. I put on my prescription Epiduo, and that's it (because it's a prescription it seemed impudent to cut it, and also going through the retinol purge again seemed like a bad idea.)

Read on for a detailed account of how it went, or just skip to the bottom to see what survived the cut...

Day 1:
Did not even notice. Can't believe I am moving back into my mom's place so I can spend the weekdays in Chicago with my husband. How many shoes can I reasonably bring for a "temporary relocation" without being the Imelda Marcos of packing?

Thoughts on skin: None, totally taking it for granted because it's still pretty good. Did have a hard time falling asleep - thought it was excitement/fear of impending move, but as I lie awake in my bed I'm wondering if it somehow has to do with missing my bedtime ritual. Sigh. 

Day 2: 
People want to see me, but I don't want to see people. I feel gross. I feel like I look gross. What box did I pack my self-confidence in? Doesn't matter, can't find it. Were my pores this big two days ago? Next thing going to Salvation Army is all the mirrors in this house.

Thoughts on skin:  Not good. Not noticeable to anyone but me, but then again all the mirrors are gone now, so who cares. 

Day 3:
Why hasn't anyone noticed I stopped posting selfies? Do not turn that camera on me. I guess if I wanted to be scientific about this I should take pictures but I can't handle it. Hello again, orange peel skin my old "friend" and by that I mean I hate you.

Thoughts on skin: Still not sleeping well, definitely miss lying in bed with all my pots and jars. Was so soothing. I'm so stressed, this was a stupid idea to subject myself to this. Fortunately, I am so exhausted I am almost (almost) grateful not to have to put in the effort to lift my arms to my face. Constantly feel very aware of skin, but in an unpleasant way, like it's the wrong size for me all of a sudden. I feel dry and itchy. I feel disgusting.  



Day 4: 
Had to wake up early today to teach spin. Could not tell what was worse, the throbbing panic of the alarm at 5am or the throbbing panic of the gigantic cystic zit that swelled on my chin. It hurts. It's hot. It throbs. Contemplated putting makeup on it for teaching. Realized that would make it worse. Popped it instead like a pyscho. Was totally unsatisfying and very obvious that I didn't get it all out, now spend any idle mind time contemplating if wearing makeup home alone is insane, slash knowing that will only make it worse. Now using packing as an excuse to avoid leaving house.

Thoughts on skin: Efff you, traitorous wench. 

Day 5:
Zit has given birth to other zits. Whole colony of zits on chin now. Have given up trying, am now wearing only clothes I want to throw away before we move. Spend all my time trying not to touch my face which is now dry as the desert and somehow sticky/oily. Hate my life.

Thoughts on skin: You win, time to get these products back on rotation.

EVENING DAY 5: Pore Ritual
Seriously, it was time to go defcon 5 on this acne before I did something like wear make-up to a spin class (or give up working out entirely.) Did entire pore ritual, followed by staring in wonder at my face for 5 minutes. How did it magically look so better? This is not how it's supposed to work.

Finished with Lotion p50, stung like a bee-tch - sure sign skin is out of balance, big time.  Also, zapped the crap out of my face with my Portable High Frequency Machine, oh little buddy, how I missed you. Also added back in Miracle Repair Serum for tiny white heads that have now come out to torment me.


Day 6: 
Turned a corner on the zits. Can tell they are dried out/healing. Small ones totally gone. Face still painfully tight, time to add in moisturizer. Starting with Glossier Priming Moisturizer. Face instantly "plumps" up. Pores look less noticeable, although not, sadly completely gone.

Thoughts on skin:  What should I add back in next???

Day 7:
Ok pores, it's time for you to go away. Was using the Korres Rose Oil, but don't love the smell. Decided on Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate at night before bed, rose oil during the day because I realized I love rubbing oil on my face.

Day 7 lunchtime:
Gawd, how is this working so fast? I can't resist, I'm adding my Kiehl's daily oil back in. SO. DEWY.

Day 7 dinner:
Ok, Nuface, I missed you. Let's do this.

Day 7 before bed: 
Should I take a selfie?

Day 8: 
Pores, you are not resolving yourself as fast as I want. Face no longer feels tight, looks dewy and plump, acne almost gone, but those pesky craters near my nose are guzzling concealer like a camel at the oasis. Adding in second wash with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser + Clinique Sonic Cleansing Brush.
Day 8 lunch:
Ugh, they really do look smaller and less noticeable. Was really hoping this was going to be the step I got to skip - hate washing my face. Was possibly cat in previous life?

Thoughts on skin: OOOh, I do not look 33. Just got carded to buy wine, hallelujah. 

Day 9:
Something is still missing. What should I add?!? I know,  Paula's Choice Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA. Also masks. All the masks. Give self hour long home facial. Start with AHA, let sit for 10 minutes. Oils + moisturizer, Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate,  then my Jenu UltraSonic Infuser. Finish with  Modeling Rubber Mask, hoping it will also trap all those other goodies in there too.  I'm back to being an insane person, but damn my skin looks good again.

Summary:
I realized at some point that it's not just the products that made me feel beautiful, it was the act of tending to myself - loving applying paper thin layers of luxurious smelling potions makes me feel good. Walking around the house with a goofy mask on makes me smile. The act of massaging my face is something that helps me with my stress and anxiety. It soothes me. I love the textures, the smells.

While the acne and pore size was a noticeable and measurable difference, my self-imposed hibernation was a sign of how much I rely on my face skin  to feel good about myself. There was something about loss of it that made me feel unhealthy, and healthy is all I really want to be.

By Day 10 we were on the road and I was misting (Glossier) like a champion, and applying all my oils and potions in cycles to combat the stress and dry air and dehydration. I was proud of myself for resisting the lure of makeup, which also reinforced my belief that acne is a truly vicious cycle. I

may never break myself of my product addiction, even now as we speak I have a pile of goodies by my bed to report on, but at least now I know I can survive a few days without about 10 pounds worth of serum.

And now the good stuff...

Product List: (in order of application)

Morning:
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser + Clinique Sonic Cleansing Brush
Lotion p50
Nuface + Aloe Vera Gel
Miracle Repair Serum
Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
Korres Rose Oil
Kiehl's Day Oil
Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Night
Bobbi Brown Extra Balm Rinse 
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser + Clinique Sonic Cleansing Brush
Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
Epiduo (by prescription)
Glossier Priming Moisturizer or Hydrating Mask (depending on how dry I feel)

WEEKLY PRODUCTS:
(Tuesday) Paula's Choice Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA
(Wednesday) Peach & Lily + Caolion Perfect Pores Kit  
(Thursday) Boscia Luminizing Black Mask
(Friday) Modeling Rubber Mask 
(Sunday) Glossier's Cult Favorite Green Galaxy Exfoliating Mask 

PS: Use my Glossier to get 20% off your first purchase. Milky Jelly cleanser is back in stock and I just bought like, um, 12 of them. 


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