You know those people with naturally radiant skin? I’m not one of them. For years, I’ve been battling dry, flaky, sensitive skin that’s highly reactive and prone to hormonal breakouts (the painful, under-the-skin kind) around my jawline. I see a dermatologist, I’ve tried a few prescription treatments, I bought a clarisonic… but nothing made too much of a difference.
Recently, I decided to try an experiment. For 30 days, I would eliminate silicones (with very few exceptions; see below) to see how my skin would react. Before you tell me how silicones are non-comedogenic or how the molecules are actually too large to be absorbed by the skin, anecdotal evidence suggests they may be irritating for some people. And, well, it’s winter so I’m hibernating and have too much time on my hands.
While it’s too soon to tell for sure, my skin seems more balanced since eliminating silicones. It’s far less red and reactive, my flaking is gone, and I find that I can tolerate certain ingredients (hyaluronic acid in my moisturizers!) that used to sting before. In all fairness, I still had a hormonal breakout last week BUT the blemishes were pretty superficial, and they all healed within days (as opposed to weeks). Now I’m working on addressing that post-inflammatory pigmentation. Enough chatter for now — check out my routine and products below.
Step 1: Cleanse
In the evening, I have been using a 2-step cleansing process + toner for a few weeks now, and I love it. The oil cleanser does an excellent job of breaking up makeup and (theoretically) drawing oil from my pores. I follow up with a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser. I’m currently alternating between Derma E Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, and Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. All three are excellent products, super gentle, and don’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry.
Final step in the ‘cleansing’ process is to tone — the idea is you neutralize the pH of your skin so targeted treatments (next step) can be more effective. Whatever. It feels nice.
In the a.m., I skip the oil cleanser. I don’t have makeup to take off, and I don’t have time to waste before I need to make it to morning rounds. 😉 2-3 times per week, I’ll use my clarisonic for a deeper clean.
Products: The Face Shop – Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil, Derma E Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, Thayer’s Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera
Step 2: Treat
Here’s where you pick your treatments based on specific skin concerns — dryness, wrinkles, dullness, sun damage, acne… you name it. My biggest skin concerns are acne and the hyperpigmentation it leaves behind. I’ve listed the actives (acids and antioxidants) I use below and why.
- Tretinoin/retinoic acid (Rx only): A form of vitamin A thought to increase cell turnover via boosting collagen production, making it excellent for treating acne as well as reducing discolorations and fine wrinkles.
- Beta hydroxy acid (BHA): Lipid soluble formula that penetrates and dissolves oil clogging your pores, making it another excellent choice for acne-prone skin
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA): water-soluable formula that promotes cell turnover by breaking bonds between damaged/dead skin cells, exfoliating skin’s outermost layers.
- Vitamin C: Antioxidant protection shields the skin from unavoidable free radicals (sources include pollution, oxygen, and sun damage) and reduces skin discoloration from previous damage.
While I use all 4 products, I don’t use them at the same time. In the mornings, I use the AHA only. In the pm, I rotate between BHA/Tretinoin every other night, followed by the vitamin C serum nightly.
Products: Tretinoin Gel Microsphere, 0.04%, Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, Andalou Naturals Turmeric + C Enlighten Serum
Step 3: Moisturize
This has been the hardest part of my routine as of late, since so many moisturizers contain silicones! Luckily, natural oils (like argan oil) are ‘cone free. Because the silicones are what trap moisture on the skin many of the ‘cone free moisturizers I’ve used are lighter and seem to very quickly absorb into my skin. I find combing my traditional moisturizer with an oil in the evening gives my skin the TLC it needs.
Products: Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer, ECO. Organic Argan Face Oil, Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster, Dr. Schwab Flawless Skin Fluid, Acure Organics Day Cream
And that’s it! As I mentioned above, the jury is still out but so far this routine seems to be working very well for me. I like all of the products above but am always interested in learning about more options, so please comment below if you have any cone-free products you love. Thanks for reading!