Thirties Equals Skin Changes. Apparently.

Welcome to another edition of The Thirties Series, as I’m haphazardly calling it.

I’ve previously written about my reactions to being in my thirties here and here, in case you want to catch up. I’ve even written about a previous epiphany I thought I’d had about the right skincare products for me.

As evidenced by this update, I’m still adjusting three years in. And if someone had told me when I was in my late twenties that I would experience a major skin change by the fair age of 33, I would have scoffed and laughed in her face.

I have had oily, acne prone skin since….forever. I became aware of my skin type probably around the time I was in junior high. I didn’t know back then to buy products based on skin type; I merely bought for symptom treatment purposes.

In response to the ads screaming, “Keep your filthy teenaged zits at bay!” I would haul myself off to the drugstore to plunk down my little allowance on what I thought would work.

Back then, the types of products I purchased were Clearasil, Clean & Clear anything, foul-smelling Noxzema, and Oxy Pads. I never assumed they wouldn’t work exactly as advertised. I mean, YM and Seventeen magazines wouldn’t lie to me, right?

For the occasional splurge, I’d get my mom to buy me the Clinique Clarifying Lotionastringent, also known as “Clarifying Lotion,” which only came in one type back then, and it was pretty much just pure alcohol. I firmly believed that a stinging sensation must be a good thing. Fun times.

I grew tired of it, though, as I realized it definitely did not help keep the oil away. Of course I didn’t know that my skin was overcompensating being dried out by producing ever more oil.

When I was 25, however, I resorted to getting a set of Proactiv, since I was going through some kind of quarter-life adult acne flare-up that was not being kept at bay with traditional methods. It worked for the time I needed it and thankfully, I was able to move on from using it long-term. (I think it’s safe to say that it works by drying out your skin as if you’re in a tannery.)

This year has brought with it better physical health (I have no more gallbladders to suddenly crap out on me) but also a major change in skin type, something I clearly wasn’t anticipating.

I noticed it earlier in the year when my usual foaming cleansers began drying out my face really badly. I’d get out of the shower and my skin would be tight, red, dry, and flaky. Completely the opposite of what I’ve been accustomed to the last twenty years. The cleanser I was in love with, one by La Roche-Posay, was suddenly too strong and drying. I switched to Purpose by Johnson & Johnson, one of the mildest foaming cleansers you can buy. It’s basically baby shampoo for the face. I didn’t think I would need anything gentler.

Yet my face continued to kick and scream with tight, red, dry skin. At this point, I was blaming the water, thinking we had way too hard water or something. But we actually have pretty great tap water here in central Illinois and I needed to face facts and keep experimenting.

I finally tried the Oil Cleansing Method, which for a brief shining moment, I believed to be the answer to my problems. (I highly recommend trying it if you want to get away from traditional cleansers and you don’t have “problem” skin. Crunchy Betty really knows her stuff!) I was using pure Castor and Sweet Almond oils on my face each night and my skin was definitely moisturized and soft. I firmly believed that I would be “washing” my face with oil until I was a little old lady.

But it didn’t take long for my face to become irritated once again. Despite my oil method at night and rinsing only with water and/or a teensy fraction of a teaspoon of Purpose cleanser in the shower, I could not seem to emerge without having inflamed skin that was throwing a temper tantrum, begging for cooling moisturizer. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that moisturizer didn’t automatically calm my skin down. I began wondering if I was allergic to the SPF, which would have been a living nightmare for me, since I need to protect my fair skin. Even the “Ultra Calming” moisturizer I had bought wasn’t helping. (Can you tell I’ve spent quite a bit of money so far?)

It got to the point where my skin began feeling stinging and inflamed even if it wasn’t red (we’re up to August now). I’m sure feeling stressed about my skin wasn’t helping, either.

The only thing that was remotely working on my skin was Philosophy’s Miracle Anti-Aging Moisturizer, which I was using at night but began putting on before my SPF moisturizer in the morning, thinking that it would prevent my skin from breaking out and/or getting inflamed. To make matters worse, if my skin wasn’t inflamed, I was experiencing chronic acne on my chin, something I had never dealt with previously. I was getting desperate.

I began to do more skin research and landed on a website where I’d purchased a few treatment products previously but hadn’t invested in an entire line or anything. That website was Mario Badescu.

The information on the MB website is thorough and incredibly helpful. I suspected I was in the couperose/rosacea/combination skin categories and short of going to a dermatologist (something I could not afford at this point in time, so please consult one if you have the resources!), I decided to take one last stab and self-diagnose and treat my strong suspicions. I was still reeling from this new change but ready to plow forward.

Overall, here is what I have invested in. From left to right: Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, Keratoplast Cream Soap, Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Kera Moisturizer, Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15, and Silver Powder (the last being a gift).

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Some of the miracle workers.

The Glycolic Foaming Cleanser has been with me since before this problem arose. It is meant to be used twice a week in place of your regular cleanser, as the ingredients naturally exfoliate the skin. It smells great, is quite gentle, and really works. Even going through The Change, I have still used it sporadically since exfoliation is still important.

The next product is the one that has absolutely saved my skin: Keratoplast Cream Soap. This baby not only smells amazing but does exactly what it promises: calms red, blotchy, inflamed skin. It is non-foaming and rinses in a breeze. It leaves my skin feeling soft, smelling lovely, and most importantly: keeps the skin temper tantrums at bay! I can use this twice a day if necessary, since it doesn’t dry my skin out and gently prepares my skin for moisturizer.

Next up we have the Enzyme Cleansing Gel. This is also a non-foaming cleanser that I thought would be terrific because it’s designed for “All” skin types. HOWEVER: the fruit acid in this cleanser over-tightened my pores and I have found I can not use this one regularly. Oh well. It also smells really “green” and fresh.

The next two items are also part of my new miracle regimen:

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Hello, loves.

After trying samples of the above two moisturizers based on the MB recommendations and reviews, I bought the full-sized bottles.

The Collagen Moisturizer is lightweight and absolutely perfect for combination skin. I had tried a different SPF moisturizer from MB previously for oily skin and ended up throwing it away. This one will remain as my go-to until my skin inevitably changes again. The Kera Moisturizer is meant for dry skin that also gets inflamed. I take a teensy amount of this stuff and pat it on my cheeks, chin, and forehead. I find that it adds a little boost of moisture where I need it most and keeps my skin from stinging later in the day. I can’t go full Kera because otherwise my skin overproduces oil and then I’m blotting it like crazy midday. My skin is feisty like that.

Last up, there’s the Silver Powder. This is excellent for people like me who have pores the size of Jupiter. It unclogs and tightens them right up. A friend of mine uses this with her Clarisonic brush and swears by it. It has excellent reviews on the MB website.IMG_9881-Edit

I have kept away from using it as my skin adjusts to its new routine but I will be re-incorporating it eventually.

Summation points:

Based on my being a skincare product junkie for a long time now, I have bought all manner of things. One product I knew that might work in lieu of toner is La Roche-Posay’s Thermal Spring Water.

I know. It almost seems like it could be a scam but it really does work. It is not just water in a spray can. Its active ingredient is Selenium, which soothes red/inflamed skin. I have been using this stuff right before I moisturize and it locks in the moisture, keeping my skin dewy and happy. If my skin starts feeling remotely sting-y, I spritz myself with a travel can I bought and keep at work. And…it works!

La-Roche-Posay-Thermal-Spring-WaterSo, here’s a final rundown. This post is entirely too long but I really wanted to share all this in case anyone else is desperately seeking some skincare help.

  • Cleanse with Keratoplast (1-2 times a day); occasionally use Glycolic Foaming Cleanser for exfoliation.
  • Tone/refresh with La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water.
  • Moisturize with Kera Moisturizer and Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15.
  • Night creams/moisturizer: Philosophy Miracle Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Mario Badescu Chamomile Night Cream (only have a sample right now–gentle and REALLY moisturizing), Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer (working with a sample, has a floral scent and is wonderful for combination skin).

The best parts about MB products: they’re not tested on animals, they utilize pure ingredients, they smell fabulous, they’re extremely reasonably priced, and they really work. It doesn’t get much better than that. They also have shampoos and conditioners and a men’s shaving line of products. I can’t talk up this company enough.

I feel incredibly grateful to have found a product line that does what it says it will and is keeping me from being a guinea pig at the dermatologist’s.

Mario Badescu….to the rescue!

Note: I applaud you if you read this entire post. It’s very TL;DR but it couldn’t be helped this time around. Gold star for you!

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The Magic Formula

Having made it through my ‘deathly’ illness, I am thrilled to tell all you lovely readers about my joyous discovery. This must be what Indiana Jones felt like when he sipped from the Holy Grail and knew his face wouldn’t be melted off. Yes, it’s that good.

After months and months years of searching and much trial and error, I have finally found my “magic formula” in the realm of moisturizers and SPF.

I’ll wait for anyone who thinks skincare is boring to click away now. Really, it’s okay.

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This discovery definitely does not pertain to everyone, since mostly it will only work for those with oily skin, like myself. Actually, combination skin people could benefit from this, too. Being a fair-skinned woman who gets pink easily and wants to properly defend my epidermis in these harsh ozone times, I have been slathering on moisturizer with SPF since I was a young adult. I got a vicious sunburn when I was 17 and the bridge of my nose took years to heal from it. Apparently I thought I was invincible and thought I could force my cells to produce melanin and I’d tan. My skin promptly burst into flames and said, “Screw you.”

Since then, I have devoutly worn my moisturizer and facial sunscreen. I have lost count how many brands I’ve tried, each with their pros and cons. But for whatever reason, the skincare gods decided it was time for me to stop floundering and answered my prayer to find exactly what I needed. Us Oily Skin People have it rough because it usually means we’re contending with easily clogged pores and/or acne, looking shiny in photos, and sometimes forgoing wearing SPF because we’ll find a perfect moisturizer that doesn’t grease up our faces but then we expose our skin to the damaging rays of the sun.

In the last year, I have tried moisturizer/sunscreen products from Lancôme, Mary Kay, Olay, and Mario Badescu. They all have their pros and cons but the one common denominator amongst all four was how the SPF affected my skin.

I actually really like the Mary Kay moisturizer for oily skin but don’t even get me started with what’s wrong with Mary Kay. Another post for another time. However, when you add in their separate SPF product with the moisturizer, it negates the lightweight feel and I’m back at square one sopping at my face with Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets multiple times a day. Lancôme is okay but very pricey; the scent is nice, albeit a little strong, but it’s only SPF 15 and the moisturizer is heavier than I can tolerate. Olay’s SPF 30 is really thick but I have been wearing it because it’s not too expensive and doesn’t clog my pores too much. However, my pores swim throughout the day. Lastly, when I tried the Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 30 (something I thought really might be the ticket), I was soaking through two oil-absorbing sheets sheets by 11am, two hours after putting it on. It went back.

Finally, after having my 4,280th conversation with one of my good friends on skincare and this plight we find ourselves in on the regular, I decided to take yet another risk and buy two more products that I prayed would work. They are:


I mean, Clinique of all products! For whatever reason, Clinique has always flown under my radar. I never liked their facial soap or toner and I think perhaps once when I was a teenager, I used some of their Dramatically Different Moisturizer in the small square bottle. It never stuck in my mind that it was something that worked for me. But when I saw that they made a gel that is even lighter and specifically for oily and combination skin, I pounced on it. Also, my friend reported that City Block Sheer was really good stuff and had a mattifying feel, not to mention an SPF of at least 25 (and in fact, you can get a tube in SPF 40).

The angels sang when I began using these products. The moisturizing gel is absolutely perfect for oily skin. You feel like you’re giving your skin a drink but it absorbs really quickly and leaves your skin soft with no heavy perfumes. The fact that it’s lightweight means I don’t worry about my pores throwing up oil on me throughout the day.

And what can I say about the City Block Sheer? It’s absolutely perfect. It is lightly tinted, which normally I shy away from, but even on my fair skin it goes on sheer. It lives up to the hype! Unlike most SPF moisturizers where I rub it into my palms before applying it to my face, there is no need to do that with this one. It actually goes on better when applied directly from fingertips to face and you only need a nickel’s worth. Because of the tint and matte feel, it actually makes for a great makeup base. And last but not least, I can choose whether or not to wear bronzer, blush or mineral powder without feeling like I HAVE to in order to absorb the inevitable ooze. I can like, you know, wear makeup for makeup’s sake without wearing it to compensate for protecting my skin.

When I have had to use a blotting sheet, it has been ONE in the middle of the day. But there have been days when I haven’t had to use any and you can’t put a price on that. (Well, you can, it’s the price of this stuff.)

I’m on Cloud 9 with these two products and if any one of you out there has been in my shoes on that Eternal Search, go to your favorite makeup store (I got mine from Sephora) and get your hands on these miracle workers! The best part is, they’re worth every penny but the price doesn’t break the bank.

I guarantee that you will have chosen…wisely.