Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Skincare Routine: Part 1

Picture Credit: The V Effect

Many women notice that as they grow older, their skin becomes dry. I am no exception. When I was a teenager, I was spared the indignity of teenage acne but my skin was fickle, oily and prone to breakouts. Like many that age, I tried every skincare gimmick advertised on TV---pads, skin creams, foams, name it, I tried it. If I could have only eliminated oil from my skin...

In my twenties, the oil calmed down a little bit so I was pretty happy. I was on the birth control pill and the hormones helped prevent any potential breakout from starting.  By that time, I was out of college and into my first couple of "real" jobs. The income allowed me to step up my skincare routine and I began purchasing skincare systems from department stores. Clinique's system was the first one I tried. I'd use it until it was finished and try another one, never to be satisfied.

In my thirties, it was much of the same. Towards my late thirties, I did begin getting monthly facials and this was when I discovered that my skin was getting dry. That was also when I branched out into slightly more specialized skincare products. Sothys, Dermalogica, Murad...By my late thirties, I had also been tanning for almost twenty years. Twelve months out of the year I hit the tanning beds and then I tanned at the beach or pool during the summer. Despite having fairly pale skin, I was able to maintain a pretty good tan. 

The summer of 2004, I visited the Outer Banks in North Carolina and got a terrible sunburn. My face was lobster red and swollen. It was so painful and puffy and it really "woke me up" to the danger of sun exposure. Once the tan went away, I was left with a brown "mask" all over my face. That's when I learned about sun damage. 

Shortly after that I stopped tanning and began searching for something that would fade the dark mask. Luckily, I was introduced to the Obagi Nu Derm system. It consisted of a face wash, a toner, a moisturizer and a product with hydroquonone. The program also included a prescription for Retin A, which I had always thought was strictly an acne medication. For the next six months or so, I religiously applied the Obagi products and the Retin A. My skin got dry, peeled and dry again but eventually, most of the discoloration disappeared. Obagi was expensive (about $300 for the series of products plus a separate prescription for the Retin A) but worth it. The pictures below are not of me, but do a good job of illustrating the level of excess pigmentation and the placement, as well as the results of Obagi.

After that, my dermatologist prescribed hydroquonone (the spot fading ingredient in the Obagi system) and Retin A on its own. After about six months using that combination, I only had a few small brown spots on my left jawline. It was during this time that I began to wear a sunblock on my face and chest every day.

Continued in My Skincare routine, Part 2