Every fall, my skin freaks out—no ifs, ands, or buts—regardless of how stellar its behavior had been the entire year previously. However, this year, I thought things might be different. My skin had maintained its best manners (maybe ever) all summer long, and I'd even fallen victim to the enticing idea that my adult skin woes, for the most part anyway, had been solved for good. Yeah… not so! Even though my skin might have been okay and more equipped to cope with L.A.'s autumnal onset of dryness, cooler temperatures, and Santa Ana winds, it wasn't prepared for the hormonal roller coaster it took an unexpected ride on—beginning with my discontinuation of a medication and culminating in the arrival of a period that had been MIA for pretty much years. Thus, you can imagine the red, bumpy havoc that's been wrought on my complexion recently—especially in the signature "hormonal" areas like my jawline, chin, and mouth. A seasonal reset was definitely in order, and what better time than fall to re-evaluate my current skincare routine, bearing in mind my skin's newest bad habits and the environment's newest surge of symptoms?
Back in August (when my skin had just started to flare up with more congestion than I was used to), I had the opportunity to see Beverly Hills–based celebrity facialist Olga Lorencin for the first time ever. Her work is a red carpet fixture, and she's been known to cater to the skin-blessed likes of Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Sofia Vergara, and many more.
Almost immediately after my arrival, Lorencin pointed out that while I had "genetically off-the-charts-beautiful" skin (her words, not mine), it was pretty congested with comedones, whiteheads, and blackheads. She proceeded to give me one of the best facials of my life and then told me to come back to see her again. But this time, she asked I bring every single skincare product I used regularly and even semi-regularly so she could sleuth out any possible issues or skin-aggravating perpetrators. Fast-forward a little over a month, and I found myself back in Lorencin's Beverly Hills digs, a truckload of products in hand, and more broken out and desperate than ever.
First, we chatted diet. Was I eating dairy? Sugar? Lots of carbs? Processed foods? My answers were no, no, no, and no. In fact, I told her that my diet the last three weeks or so had been perhaps the cleanest it had ever been thanks to Sakara's plant-based challenge and my recent epiphany that my body loves veganism (a worthwhile read but a separate story altogether). So it was time to dig into my stash of products. I hunkered under the cozy blanket on her table and watched and narrated as Lorencin—bless her—took the time to evaluate each and every one of my jars, tubes, pumps, and potions. After roughly 15 minutes, she was lathered and lacquered with my full, 18-count collection (I warned you)—sniffing, rubbing, and googling ingredient lists (if they weren't plastered on the back) along the way. Her conclusion: She wasn't mad at my routine. In fact, she said the skincare I was using was very nice. However, in my current state of blemished frustration, it also wasn't doing me the swiftest of favors and could even be aggravating my condition in a few key ways. Curious to know what went down next? Keep reading for the three main issues with my summer skincare routine and her tips for transitioning acne-prone skin to a complexion-clearing product routine just in time for fall.
As I unloaded my collection of cleansers, serums, masks, and creams, Lorencin gave me a look. "You know," she said kindly yet pointedly, "this is most likely your problem right here." A comment which, to be honest, I kind of expected. I'd been dreaming of an effective yet slightly pared-down routine for months.
Lorencin explained to me that while there's nothing objectively wrong with a large skincare routine, someone of my age and my skin issues (acne, largely) doesn't need something so product-heavy and extensive. In fact, such a large repertoire might actually cancel out certain ingredients and overwhelm my skin with a confusing array of formulas. The gist: As far as treating my acne effectively and quickly, a smaller routine with more active ingredients might be a strategic shift. When I arrived to Lorencin's office, I had 18 products in total that I rotated and used on a routine basis. When I left, I had eight—one of which was to be used only on an as-needed basis. So technically, I'd be keeping it far more minimal at seven products total for both morning and night.
2. Increase Hydration
Coming from the arctic depths of Minnesota where dry and subzero winters left my skin decrepit, I always underestimate the sly deceit of dry-as-a-bone L.A. weather (despite the fact I've now lived here for over a year). Surrounded by dry heat and, more recently, crazy Santa Ana winds, my skin was parched with a capital P, and the season change was likely only making the condition worse, as Lorencin told me.
During my facial and following 15 minutes of extractions (Lorencin's anthem for me is "clean it, peel it, maintain it"), she amped up an amazingly luxurious gel mask with an extra hit of plumping and quenching hyaluronic acid. Additionally, the new regimen of products I'd start would also help maintain my skin's moisture levels.
3. Eliminate Potential Irritants
As I said, Lorencin wasn't mad at the majority of skincare products I brought in for review, but she did have a problem with a handful of my elixirs. Or rather, their smell. "These are lovely, sensorial skincare products," she explained to me. "But are they actually doing anything for your skin and acne? I'm not sure. These types of products are great for women who have perfect or mature skin, but that's not you. You need something more active, more targeted and less catered to senses and experience."
For instance, when she smelled a variety of the products, she immediately looked at me with concern and told me they weren't doing my skin any favors. "There are just too many essential oils in here, and for someone with breakouts like you, essential oils can be extremely irritating." To prove her point, after Lorencin washed her hands and arms of product, she held them out for me to smell. "See? I just washed them off my skin and I can STILL smell them." The consensus: not good.
The New Routine: Morning
Interestingly (and to help preserve those aforementioned hydration levels), Lorencin told me I might not necessarily have to wash my face in the morning. A practice, over the years, I've actually found my skin to like—may my lazy side rejoice.
"If your skin isn't too oily, I think you can honestly just skip washing your face. Or just use a toner!" she instructed. However, if my skin does feel oily or like it needs a quick cleanse, she recommends a short yet strategic routine consisting of her rehydrating cleanser, her rebalancing toner, a few drops of IS Clinical's cult-classic Pro-Heal Serum, and if necessary, a dab of her weightless moisturizer.
The New Routine: Evening
In the evening, I'd follow the exact same routine with just a couple of minor tweaks. First of all, Lorencin said a nighttime routine (unlike my morning one) was mandatory. Second, I'd be subbing the morning-perfect rehydrating cleanser for her foaming and purifying cleansing gel (see below). Then, I'd continue with the same rebalancing toner and the Pro-Heal but would also add a few drops of SkinCeuticals C + AHA with the intention to drive up my skin's guzzle of vitamin C—something Lorencin said I was in desperate need of. "You just need some really great C in your life," she attested.
And that's it! If I felt like my skin was dry and needed an extra layer of hydration, Lorencin said I could top off the concoction of serums with the same weightless moisturizer I'd be using in the morning, but she said it wasn't particularly necessary. "Let's see how your skin does on this," she mused.
Last but not least, Lorencin also recommended this corrective antidote featuring 5% benzoyl peroxide and 3% sulfur for those destitute times when I have a really icky breakout or a particularly stubborn bump. It's designed for dry to normal skin, and used as a spot treatment, will deeply penetrate troubled skin to loosen up clogged pores by disrupting debris and hardened oils in its wake. Plus, it simultaneously soothes inflammation and nixes bacteria.
Of course, I've only just started my new routine and still have plans to go back in to see Lorencin for a much-needed peel (to further rid my skin of all the gunk), but in the meantime, I'm excited for my new skincare ritual and think it's exactly what the doctor ordered for the fall season—ritual rewind, indeed! And don't you worry. I'll be back in a few months to report how it's going!