As we’re all thoroughly aware, I am a skincare fanatic. I love finding skincare that actually does what it claims it will (what a novel concept), because I’m seriously skeptical of those 43-step processes that involve you shelling out triple digits for multiple serums, moisturizers, toners, etc.
The way I think of it, your skin probably functions similarly to the way most other things in life work—the best approach is balance and practicality. Humans have roamed the earth for a lot longer than complex multistep skincare has been around, and things have been just fine. As I’ve been saying a lot lately in multiple arenas of my life: let’s not overcomplicate this.
I think the key is finding the most effective, efficient mix of products possible, taking into account that there’s definitely a diminishing rate of return.
(In other words, one really solid cleanser and one really solid moisturizer or serum will probably produce pretty similar results to a process that takes twice as many products—and will likely produce significantly better results than a cheap cleanser and a lackluster moisturizer, or worse, using nothing at all.)
Now that my own personal philosophy that you likely don’t give a shit about is out of the way, I want to tell y’all about a cleanser I bought from Megan, my resident plastic surgeon/skincare guru.
The product is actually from her plastic surgeon’s office, which somehow just makes it feel more legitimate; it feels like I'm buying a product that’s medical grade, rather than the result of nice branding and strategic placement on a Sephora shelf. I’m honestly over buying skincare based on packaging and brand names. I almost always end up disappointed, and even if I’m not blatantly unhappy with the results, I’m not happy enough to justify the continued cost.
And I'm sure those of you with skin insecurity can totally relate: when I feel like my skin looks good, I'm legitimately in a better mood. There's just something to be said for feeling—literally—comfortable in your own skin.
On the simplest level, skincare that works—more or less—has exfoliating properties (whether that be chemical or mechanical). This is because most of the common skin ailments, like acne and blemishes, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, are the result of your skin cell turnover process not functioning properly—for any number of reasons.
Your pores either get clogged because dead skin cells aren’t sloughing off, or your scars/spots get darker or more pronounced because the epidermis isn’t being forced to refresh itself (this is an extremely oversimplified explanation, but you get the picture).
Exfoliation is the solution most good skincare relies on, and this cleanser is no exception:
The Skinmedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($47)
Ok, I know that’s a lot of money for a cleanser, but it’s a huge bottle. And trust me when I tell you—it works. I really can’t remember the last time my skin felt this soft and smooth, and not in the superficial “this cleanser is definitely leaving some bizarre residue on my face to make it abnormally soft” way (i.e., the way a lot of hair products work), but more in the “I feel like every dead skin cell that was stickin’ around not paying rent is now off my face” way.
AHA and BHA stand for alpha-hydroxy acid and beta-hydroxy acid—basically, you’re putting super gentle acids on your skin that are dissolving the junk. There are also super small mechanical exfoliants (the little granular pieces that ‘scrub’) that help physically break down the barrier so the acids can do their job.
If the idea of using acids on your face freaks you out, that’s totally fine—just know that my skin is actually pretty damn sensitive post-Accutane and I’ve had no problems with this cleanser. I use it morning and night, with my Clarisonic, and I’ve only noticed an improvement. I feel like the small blemishes I have actually fade a lot more quickly. The purple-tinted discoloration doesn’t stick around long.
Granted, I can’t attribute everything to this cleanser in a vacuum since I’ve also been drinking my body weight in water every day and consciously cutting back on sugar, but I feel confident that majority of the immediate results (smoother skin, improved tone, fewer small blemishes, makeup sits better, etc.) are a consequence of this cleanser.
I follow it up with the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, because I’m still #cheap and haven’t ventured into the plastic surgeon moisturizers yet.
Let me know if you give it a shot. I know they make a sample size, so if you have access to a medispa, I’d stop by and see if you can get a sample first.
All things beauty.