I’m a bit of a Veruca Salt when it comes to skincare. I wouldn’t consider myself to be as greedy or stingy, but I’ve definitely uttered “I want the works—I want the whole works” in response to a new product launch. With all of the different products that come across my desk, I feel compelled (and am oftentimes required) to try each and every one of them.
As such, my skincare routine has turned into something that causes me to occupy the bathroom for far too long. I’ve also covered at least 75% of my bathroom vanity with all of my products. (It’s here where I formally apologize to my boyfriend for both offenses.) My daily routine goes a little something like this: gel cleanser, toner, treatment serum, facial oil, SPF, moisturizer, and a little bit of topical acne cream if I have any breakouts. Some days I’ll also throw in a contouring cream, sheet mask, or charcoal mask if I feel like my skin needs a little extra love. With the amount of different products I insist upon using, it’s a miracle I haven’t fallen down a chute or been chased by Oompa Loompas.
One other thing to add: I tend to only use prestige products. This isn’t because I’m a pinky-out kind of girl (I practically only used drugstore brands until I entered the beauty biz) but because they’re so readily available now. I figured that the efficacy of my products was in direct correlation with their steep price tags, and hoped that my occasional extra steps of masks, oils, and the like would give me skin like a Victoria’s Secret model. But much to my utter dismay, my skin was still dry, broken out, and lackluster. Are pricier products actually worth the money? Are all of the extra-important steps I’m told to do day in and day out just a farce? I decided to visit a dermatologist and have her give it to me straight.
I headed over to Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology in NYC. She grabbed a pen and paper and told me to list off every product that I use as she wrote each item down. However, after I would mention a product, she’d take a pause and utter a bit of a concerned “hmmm.” Yikes. My palms started to sweat. The paper overlay on the examining chair crinkled as I shifted nervously. But I was ready. Let’s hear it, doc.
“Where are your anti-aging products?” Dr. Nazarian asked. I gulped.
“Hmm, I guess I don’t really use any,” I answered, ashamed.
Perhaps it’s because people still ask me what year I’m graduating college when they first meet me that I’ve put anti-aging creams on the back burner (even though I know they should be placed up front), and the tone of her voice only validated that.
She also asked me what my main skin concerns were, so I told her: “Dryness and the occasional breakouts.” She peered down at the list again with a look of questioning.
“Okay, so only when you see a breakout you hit it with a high-powered acne cream?” she asked. Precisely. Again, as much as I knew this wasn’t the right answer, it’s the truth, unfortunately. (Do as I say, not as I do).
Just for fun (or perhaps because I’m a masochist), I asked Nazarian what grade she would give my skincare routine.
“A for effort,” she replied. “But in all honesty, probably a B-.”
Okay, not as bad as I was expecting, but the truth hurts. After a bit of back-and-forth, she essentially told me that I needed to revamp my entire routine. She suggested I use a gentle wash like CeraVe Cleanser ($13), followed by Neutrogena Hydro Boost ($19) to deeply penetrate into the skin, then a prescription retinol cream for anti-aging, a super-hydrating moisturizer like Vanicream ($11), and lastly Aczone, a gentle prescription acne cream that I should apply all over my face twice daily.
She told me I can continue with a gentle toner, but when I asked her if I could still use my favorite face oils, she shook her head and said that at my age and for my skin type, the oil isn't giving me the right level of moisture that I need. Drat! As disappointed as I was that I basically needed to nix all of my usual products, the plus side is that everything she suggested is something I can pick up at the drugstore or (in the case of the prescription creams) get for next to nothing with insurance. My skin and my wallet will thank me.
After about two weeks of following the regimen that Dr. Nazarian gave me, I can happily report that my skin looks awesome. I haven’t had any patchy dryness, and my skin has cleared up quite a bit. My foundation—the same foundation I’ve been using for years—now lays better on my skin than ever before.
However, I can’t say that I was surprised—Dr. Nazarian is a gem in the industry, and I knew her advice wouldn’t fail me. I also have to admit that I appreciate that my routine now takes much less time. I can get ready for bed quicker and prep my skin in the morning with lightning speed. Here’s hoping this new routine will continue to score me an A, or at the very least, put me on the honor roll.
Keep scrolling to shop my prescribed regimen!
What grade would you give your own skincare routine? Sound off below!