Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed that different people were asking me the same beauty questions (via DM, on Twitter, and even in my real life) over and over again. The questions varied in subject: some were about skin care, some were makeup-related, and some (since summer is approaching) were about SPF. And although I love gabbing one-on-one with fellow beauty obsessives (I can, and have, spent entire days chatting with the members of our Facebook group “The Beauty of It All”), I decided it might be more useful if, instead of answering these oft-asked questions individually, I gathered them up and answered them here. So, below: The answers to the questions I’m asked most frequently about acne, lip care, and what to splurge on to look your wedding-day best.
I have dry skin and hormonal acne. What should I use that works but won’t dry me out?
Conventional K-Beauty wisdom says that acne-fighting products do not have to dry your skin out. Which means that a lot of Korean products integrate soothing and healing ingredients such as centella asiatica or mugwort that help get rid of the redness and inflammation, instead of high percentages of benzoyl peroxides and salicylic acids (which are popular anti-acne ingredients in most American drugstore products).
Centella Blemish cream, for one, is an acne-treatment cream that helps reduce inflammation and heal pesky scabs, and will never dry you out. Read my full review of it here.
Do you feel like light therapy actually works? What are some of your favorite light gadgets?
Yes! I’ve seen it do magical things for my skin during stress breakouts and my time of the month. When I have super-stubborn hormonal zits, I find that a deep-reaching LED treatment is often the only thing that can shrink them down.
I love the Neutrogena light therapy mask, and tend to use it when I’m having breakouts all over and want to tackle my whole face.
When I just have one annoying lump on my chin, I like to go in with Dr. Dennis Gross’s spot treatment gadget, to give it some pinpointed attention.
What’s your favorite finishing powder?
Interestingly enough, since Fenty’s very matte, full-coverage concealer has come into my life, I don’t find myself setting my under eyes and areas I’ve spot-concealed quite as frequently as I used to. It’s just so matte that I find it doesn’t need a powder to make it stay put! That being said, shine control on my forehead and around my nose remains an issue. So I like to mattify those oily areas with my Glass Powder from Ohii.
How do you reapply SPF throughout the day without ruining your makeup?
The SPF powder and setting spray from Supergoop have made the reapplication process so much easier. You can choose which one is right for you depending on your skin type (I would consider the setting powder if you’re more on the oily side and the setting spray if you’re a little more dry). I put on my SPF in the morning, and then touch up with one of these every two hours.
What do you do if you’re going on a sun-filled vacation? I love a tan, but … sun exposure!
A good sunscreen for your face and body, a cute hat, and some aloe vera sheet masks, just in case, will take you a long way. My go-to is still this sunscreen from Cosrx, because it’s infused with aloe vera, giving it a very calming and soothing effect to the skin, and PA+++, which is the second-highest-level UV protectant available.
If my skin happens to get a little pink somewhere along the way, I slap an aloe vera sheet mask on after I shower for some post-sun moisture and calming ingredients.
Do you have a three-to-four-step routine for people who have to hustle out the door in the morning?
I sweat a little when I sleep, so I do like to clean my skin in the morning. Some people don’t find morning cleansing necessary and that is fine! It’s up to you. So my quick, rushed-but-effective routine is: A gentle cleanse (I sweep some Bioderma across my skin), then I pat some snail mucin into my face, then I moisturize with Supergoop’s SPF-packed moisturizer. Out the door you go! This ensures that my complexion is hydrated, rejuvenated, and protected when I hit the mean streets of NYC.
I can’t decide whether I’m a powder or a cream blush girl. HELP!
You don’t have to choose! I love both cream and powder blushes but I do use them for different occasions. During the day or at times where I want my makeup to look as natural as possible, I tend to reach for my Tata Harper cream blush in Very Sweet (it’s lovely and very natural). I find that cream melts and buffs into the skin a little easier, creating a more natural effect.
What products do you use to double-cleanse? I want to start double-cleansing, but my skin is so dry. Will it be too stripping?
As an eczema-prone, dry-skinned girl, I totally understand your fear. I hate when I wash my face and I get that tight, squeaky feeling. But double-cleansing with dry skin is possible and it’s a great way to make sure your skin is a totally clean canvas for the rest of your skin-care routine. Also, now that I double-cleanse every day, I break out way less. Here’s my evening double-cleanse routine: First, I take my makeup off with Then I Met You’s cleansing balm (which is packed with fatty acid rich ingredients, so it nourishes as it cleanses) …
Then, I follow up with Revive’s hydrating cleansing foam, which is ultrarich and intensely hydrating on my skin. I adore this cleanser, but it is expensive, so a cheaper but still very good (and very moisturizing) alternative would be Klairs’s Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser, which is only $18. As a general rule: If you’re dry, I would always lean toward foams and milks rather than gels (which are stripping!) for the second cleanse!
What are your thoughts on CBD skin care?
Initially, I didn’t really buy into the CBD craze. But I started stumbling across all these testimonials online about how CBD is a must-try for eczema and psoriasis sufferers. And on top of that, one of my favorite facialists in NYC, Sofie Pavitt, swears by it for reducing inflammation and any kind of redness. So I decided to give it a go, and I’ve never looked back. It’s early days (I only really started using it a few weeks ago), but this Apothecanna lotion has kept my eczema and infuriating itchies at bay. I keep it by my bed and slap it on my legs anytime I’m starting to dig my nails into my skin. I still prefer to use my beloved Lavido every day to prevent flare-ups, but when they inevitably happen (nothing is magic), I now like to use this to calm things down.
I’ve also recently fallen completely head-over-heels in love with this beauty serum from Saint Jane. First of all, the packaging is ultrachic and so nice to have on your vanity, and it also happened to help finally get rid of a red, flaky eczema patch that I’d had on my face since February. I really don’t like using my prescription cortisone cream on my face, so finding a product that I can comfortably use when I’m having an eczema breakout on my cheeks was huge. Not to mention that I haven’t had a breakout since I started using it. Coincidence? Only time will tell.
How do you lighten reddish or pink spots post-acne?
The combination of Shark Sauce and a good sunscreen is unbeatable. Shark Sauce is a highly concentrated formula packed with niacinamide, licorice root, and green tea extract — the perfect cocktail for extreme brightening and soothing. And SPF (see above for my choices) helps ensure that sun damage doesn’t make the acne scar darker or more prominent.
I know it’s spring, but my lips are still so chapped. What should I use?
I won’t leave the house without my beloved Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. I have it in the shade Smashed, which gives your lips this slightly bitten flush. This “mask” (I put mask in quotations because I use it throughout the day as I would a regular ChapStick) is truly one of the most nourishing, hydrating lip products I’ve ever used.
My wedding is coming up! I’m desperate for perfect skin on my big day so I don’t really care about prices. What is one product I absolutely need?
This product is very pricey, but since you said you were down to drop the big bucks, I’d be remiss not to inform you of of the most coveted cream in the industry rich now: Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream. I actually have not tried this yet myself but I’ve heard from fellow beauty obsessives that this cream is P50 level life changing. According to folklore, this cream is insanely hydrating, brightening, and pore-shrinking. With all star ingredient list that includes evening primrose oil, fatty acids, and antioxidants, I am absolutely, positively dying to try this cream.
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