Inspired by FB's post today on skincare, I decided to share my own.
You might say that I have been blessed with perfect skin my entire life... or as close to perfect as human skin can get before it dips into the uncanny valley.
As a pre-teen, my first brush with "blemishes" occurred when I developed an acne-like rash on one cheek. My mother, bless her heart, has always wanted to give me/make me the best, so I was immediately taken to the dermatologist, where I was diagnosed with the vague catch-all that is "dermatitis" (I'm sort of prone to sensitive skin ailments, like rashes - gross). I came away from that appointment armed with a tube of Differin, plus instructions to throw away my Seabreeze cooling bar facial soap, and replace it with a bar of Cetaphil, along with a PM application of Curel body lotion to my face.
Since that day (probably more than 14 years ago) my routine hasn't changed much. Sure, I've experimented with weird and fancy products, but I always find myself reaching for my basics. No combination of products I've tried works more gently or consistently.
Now, before you think I'm peddling anything, let me say that I know plenty of people for whom Differin didn't work - to each her own. For instance, Proactiv works like hell. No, really, you can feel it working in a really hellasciously effective, burning way. Retin-A definitely works, but in a really visible, peely sort of way. I tried Rx-only sulfur-based lotions and washes (Klaron, Plexion), but they were so stanky, the twice daily application nixed any aesthetic gain.
So, without further ado, this is what works for me:
Wash face with a little bit of Cetaphil bar soap after brushing teeth (a lot of toothpastes have ingredients that can cause perioral dermatitis, so I like to wash after brushing, just in case). Pat dry with washcloth set aside exclusively for facial use, and quickly apply moisturizer before face dries completely. Frequently, especially in the winter when my skin is hurty and dry, I'll just use my Curel fragrance-free body lotion. I know, SPF=0 - I'm terrible. In the summer, I for sure use an high SPF lotion like La Roche-Posey Anthelios 40.
Wash face with Cetaphil again after brushing teeth and flossing. Pat dry. This time, I let my skin dry completely. I apply Differin almost all over the face, minus the eye/nose/mouth area. Afterward, about every other night - and here's where it gets a little scandalous - I pat some Retin-A under my eyes (not too close) and along the top of my cheek bones. You know that tell-tale shiny look Retin A gives you? I think it looks terrible when it affects the entire face, but wonderful when it's confined to the cheekbone area. Plus, I'm not getting any younger in the eyes, and this is definitely keeping the fine lines at bay. Then I answer a couple emails and wait a while for everything to sink in, wash and dry my hands, then moisturize my dry areas with Curel.
It's relatively inexpensive (with insurance for the Rx's), effective, and an efficient use of my time an energy, because I know it works.
Remember the sulfur products I mentioned? Instead of using them daily, I use a sulfur mask when I feel like it. I used to use the Proactiv mask like FB, but now I use Serious Skin Care's Continuously Clear "Unmasked". I prefer the texture and the tub (vs. tube) packaging, but they're essentially the same product. Occasionally I'll use the glycolic acid mask from the same line if I'm in the mood for some exfoliation.
As for makeup, I don't wear much. About once a year, I wear Bare Minerals foundation to appease my mother. About half the week I can't be bothered with makeup, and the other half I wear some under-eye concealer, blush, mascara (+eyelash curler), and chapstick. It takes less than 5 minutes, and I do admit I look far more rested with it than without it.
So that's that! Basically, when you've got some work-horse basics like Differin or any other kind of retinoid (Retin-A, Tazorac, etc), the best thing to do is to keep whatever else you put on your face simple and pared down, and be consistent with your routine.
Oh yeah, and drink water and eat food. The end. ;)