How I Got Clear Skin and Turned Back The Clock

My whole life I’ve been told I have oily, problematic skin, and have been given heaps and heaps of advice on how to deal with it. Maybe you can relate. Medicated cleansers, oil-zapping toners, blemish spot-treatments and oil free moisturizers have been piling up in my bathroom for years, none of them ever really remaining effective for very long. Since the blemishes and redness never really went away, I’ve also got a stockpile of foundations, concealers and powders. Predictably enough, none of those products really made up for the shortcomings of my cleansing routine, and this whole skincare thing has become quite a pricey venture.

I decided (in my eighth month of pregnancy) that I needed to revamp my skincare routine yet again, this time choosing not to ask the “professionals” for their advice. Instead, I just followed my gut, and the result has been absolutely delightful.

My entire skincare routine was based around the belief that I had oily, problematic skin. I thought to myself, what if that isn’t actually true? Isn’t it possible that I’ve been over-treating my skin this whole time? It makes sense: I strip my skin of all of its natural oils, causing it to over-produce oil, causing more breakouts, causing me to need more foundation, further clogging my pores and congesting my skin…it’s a nasty cycle. So, I went rogue and put together an entirely different (and effective) skincare routine. Here are the three (or four) secrets to my success:

Origins Clean Energy Cleanser

  1. Quit Over-Cleansing: After hours of research, I decided to try a very mild, *gasp* oilbased cleanser from Origins. It’s called “Clean Energy,” and basically it’s a blend of non-comedogenic (read: won’t clog your pores), olive, sunflower, sesame and safflower oils. Oil is a natural solvent, so it does as good of a job, if not better, at removing make-up and make-up residue than any cleanser I’ve ever used. Here’s the deal though: it doesn’t foam or froth like any cleanser you might use now. You rub a small amount of the oil all over your face, then create a milky looking emulsion by simply adding a few drops of warm water to your skin and rubbing it around. Then you rinse. That’s all. Simple, gentle, and my skin didn’t feel pillaged of its elasticity and natural moisture. If you can get your head around not having suds (it takes a little getting used to), then you’ll love this cleanser as much as I do. Oh, and it smells citrusy, which is lovely.

    dickinsons witch hazel toner

  2. Back to Basics in Toners: Women have been swearing by plain old witch hazel for decades, so why was I spending a fortune on medicated toners? Why not start with toner in its most simple form, and then work my way up the scale as I need to? I spent a whopping $4.00 on Dickenson’s Original Witch Hazel, and I’m never ever going back to the other stuff. It removes the last traces of make-up, soap residue and excess oil from your skin without over drying. There are no artificial ingredients, just plain old witch hazel, and the 16 ounce bottle will last months.Origins Starting Over Moisturizer
  3. Moisturizer as a Nighttime Fountain of Youth: Fact: Dry skin looks more wrinkly than moist skin. I realized that if I kept stripping my skin of oil, the fine lines that I’ve begun developing are going to become more and more noticeable. So along the same lines as the cleanser, I opted for a moisturizer that contains non-comedogenic oils, in addition to mimosa, argan leaf and green algae. It’s called “Starting Over,” and again, I found this gem at Origins. I splurged on this one– $45.00– but it’s absolutely worth the money. A little goes a long way, and with something as vital as moisturizer, I consider it an investment in my future (i.e. hopefully no chemical peels or botox in my later years). I use this ultra-lush feeling moisturizer at night, as it does make my skin shine a bit, and does not contain SPF.Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer
  4. Daytime Protection and Polish: Arguably the quickest way to age your face is by not using sunscreen. (Yes, even on rainy days.) So, my for my daytime moisturizer I chose Laura Mercier’s oil free tinted moisturizer with SPF 20. I chose oil free because I think my skin can be a little oily, and I like how matte it looks, especially if I use a setting powder on top of it. This tinted moisturizer is fuller coverage than most, and as a result I cut foundation entirely out of my makeup routine, saving me valuable time, money and leading to fewer blemishes in the long run. I might use a little concealer under my eyes if I’m particularly baggy, or on the light acne scarring I have on my jaw line, but other than that, I don’t use any additional foundation/primer/whatever. I never in a million years thought I could break up with foundation!

So after a few months of dramatically scaling back my skincare routine, I finally have results I can be proud of. No more fighting with my face! There are two critical steps to success that you need to know if you’re going to attempt the same:

  1. Be Consistent. Cleanse, tone and moisturize every morning and every night. I mean every morning, and every night. Even the nights where you roll into your house at 2:00 AM. Especially those nights. Going to sleep in your makeup is just about the worst offense you can commit against your skin and your pillowcase. It wasn’t until I committed to my routine twice a day that I saw results. Just do it at the same time as you brush your teeth and you’ll be golden.
  2. Don’t Skip Steps. This goes hand in hand with consistency, but it needs to be reinforced. Each step has its purpose and each of the other steps suffer when you leave one out. You’re only cheating yourself out of supple, healthy skin, so for heaven’s sake don’t skip the toner.

So that’s that. Have you revamped your skincare routine recently? Have any products that you swear by? I’m all for the tried-and-true, so if you have any old-school remedies, or tricks your grandma used I’d love to hear them!

Leave a comment


  1. Origins is amazing. I used them for awhile but quit due to cost. My skin is oily and I’m having breakouts like a teenager again. I’ll try the stuff suggested here.

    Laura Mercier is amazing but SOOOO expensive. I can’t justify a product that I know if I had a drop in income I’d have to drop flat.

  2. Lily

     /  September 28, 2010

    Hi I started a new skincare routine beginning of September..
    I use Garnier products for face and Laura Mercier tinted mosturizer which is amazing !
    I use it every morning with Touche Eclat from Yves Saint Laurent (which I recommend you!!) but nothing else, to keep my face “natural”.
    After you advices, I’ll try Origins.

    Sorry for my english, I’m French 😉


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