My Skin Care Miracle Workers

My skin hates winter. Every year, no matter how good I think I am about moisturizing, it always goes into full scale rebellion sometime around the end of November, and continues to revolt until the end of January. Breakouts, dry patches, redness, the whole works. It's frustrating, but I've gotten better about managing it over the years. Gentle chemical exfoliation, spot treatments for acne, and light but intensive moisturizers have been my skin savers this winter.

For some reason, I've been having more issues with acne this year that I have previously. My skin historically has not reacted well to the most common acne fighting ingredients, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but I was having too many bad breakouts not to give them another shot.

The two different products work in different ways. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant, and works by removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and from your pores. Benzoyl peroxide works primarily by killing the bacteria that cause acne.

This is what ladies do in skin care commercials, right? Get water all over their bathrooms and rub bottles on their faces?

This is what ladies do in skin care commercials, right? Get water all over their bathrooms and rub bottles on their faces?

Some reading that I did suggested that I might be able to counteract the irritation they caused by doubling down on the moisture. The benzoyl peroxide, unfortunately, still left my skin red and inflamed, like I'd gotten a sunburn, but I had better results with a salicylic acid toner. I've been using Neutrogena's Stress Control Toner, and it's been working pretty well so far. I use it every couple of days in the areas where I tend to break out the most, and I have noticed a definite reduction in the number and severity of my zits. I would like to find a product without alcohol, though, because it can be a little over-drying.

Right now, I'm using the "carrot and the stick" approach to skincare. If the drying but effective salicylic acid toner is the stick, than hyaluronic acid serum and snail extract sheet masks are definitely the carrots.

Hyaluronic acid is one of those products the people tend to tout as some kind of miracle cure. It's supposed to plump up your skin and help with wrinkles (I can't speak about any of that because I'm 27), but I love it because it's really, really moisturizing without leaving my skin feeling greasy. I purchased Reviva Hyaluronic Acid Serum from Ulta, which is reasonably priced and very effective. I use it under my regular moisturizer at night, and I mix a drop of it in with my foundation, which helps it go on smoothly.

Not to be taken orally.

Not to be taken orally.

I've talked about my love of sheet masks before, and they really are a total skin saver. For a while, the weather was bitterly cold, with temperatures hanging out in the negatives and icy winds howling down from the north, and I was getting dry, scaly patches of skin on my cheeks that none of my other products were touching. Snail serum might sound like a gross thing to put on your face, but it's a very popular product in Korea. When you think about, snails are constantly healing their feet, which they use to cover rough, abrasive terrain, so it kind of makes sense that their slime would do good things for your face. Fifteen minutes with a snail serum sheet mask left my skin smooth and hydrated when nothing else was helping. I bought mine at the Korean supermarket just outside Chicago, but you can also order them off of Amazon.

There are other changes that I've been making to try and keep my skin in check. I've been cutting back on my caffeine intake and making sure that I drink plenty of water. I'm also trying to take cooler showers, which is really hard because I prefer to boil myself alive even in the warmer months. I've stopped smoking, but I haven't cut back on booze at all because I'm not a saint, ok? I have to have some vices.

Sealed with a kiss.

Sealed with a kiss.

In other news, my 30 days of lipstick challenge is going pretty well so far. I didn't actually start it until the 3rd (the first day I, uh, left the house after the new year), but I have worn lipstick every day since then. It's funny - when I wasn't wearing lipstick all the time, it seemed like I had so many different colors, but just a couple of weeks in and I feel like I need to add to my collection. I really don't have a soft pink? Or a orange based red? A nude that's actually nude on me? A pretty coral? Looks like I've got some holes to fill.