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I hit the good-skin jackpot when I got pregnant with my first baby. I’d had great skin growing up, but in my mid-20s, I started to get hormonal acne. I battled it for close to a decade, trying all kinds of skincare experiments to manage it. Then, boom: Pregnancy happened, and all of a sudden my skin was healthy and clear again.
Around the same time, Sephora opened its first store in my hometown and sent me the full line of Josie Maran cosmetics and skincare to try. I fell in love with the argan oil products, and for the next few years my skincare routine consisted pretty exclusively of Josie Maran Argan Oil Cleanser and 100% Pure Argan Oil for moisturizer. From time to time my skin would get a little congested, and I’d use Jason Purifying Tea Tree Skin Oil and Mario Badescu Drying Lotion or Bye Bye Blemish as needed.
That simple routine served me well for a few years, but time marches on, and in addition to not getting any younger, last year I moved across the country to a whole new climate. My skin was looking… just OK, I guess. Which is still better than bad, but I realized it was time to start thinking about leveling up my skincare routine.
Around the same time, a YouTube video sent me down a rabbit hole researching “glass skin.” Google it if you’re unfamiliar, but prepare to spend a whole bunch of time reading about Korean skincare. Basically, glass skin is the objective in those legendary multi-step skincare routines. Your aim is to get skin so clear and glowing and smooth it looks like glass.
I don’t know that I’ll ever achieve glass skin (maybe if I’d started working on it when I was 18…), but since I started reading about it, I’ve taken some cues to change up my skincare routine in a few ways, and I am very happy with the results.
The first thing I started doing was double-washing my face in the evenings. Now, after washing with my regular Josie Maran oil cleanser to remove makeup, I wash again with face wash whipped up in the Nooni Marshmallow Whip Maker. In addition to feeling heavenly and luxurious, the foamy second wash gets my face really, really clean.
Tone It Up
One thing I saw over and over as I read about glass skin is that toner is an important step in the process. I had used a toner now and then over the years, but I always ended up stopping because I wasn’t really sure what it was doing. After reading how vital a hydrating toner (not an astringent toner) is in achieving glass skin, I started using Shea Moisture Kukui Nut & Grapeseed Oil Youth-Infusing Toner after my second wash. It’s alcohol-free and makes my skin look and feel fresh and well-moisturized.
Dry Is A Dirty Word
I spent years — years — doing whatever I could to draw moisture out of my skin. It never fixed my acne problem. Even after I learned to love oil for cleansing and moisturizing, I veered away from other moisturizers, particularly after a couple of bad experiences being burned — literally — by L’Oréal anti-aging products I got through Influenster, which I have since quit. But glass skin is all about moisture and getting a dewy look. So I’ve done a full 180 on moisturizers, and now I’ve gone from avoiding moisturizing products to packing them on religiously.
This winter I fell in love with Elizavecca Milky Piggy Moisture Sparkle Cream. (I’ll admit the cute names are part of the draw of K-beauty products for me.) It’s a thick, intense moisturizer that adds the barest hint of glimmery sheen. At first I was scared about using it — I see a moisturizer that thick and can already feel the pimples rising out of my skin. But thanks to my prenatal hormone reset and new cleansing routine, it turns out my skin can handle a thick face cream. And the extra boost of moisture has had a huge positive impact on my skin.
With summer heat, occasionally the sparkle cream has been a bit too much. On those nights, I substitute Elizavecca Milky Piggy Sea Salt Cream or, if I spy a blemish, my old standby of Josie Maran argan oil mixed with a few drops of Jason tea tree oil.
But Wait… There’s More
As I’ve gradually changed up my skincare routine, step by step, and been pleased by the results, I’ve found myself open to adding… well, more steps. I just started using Skinfood Yuja Water Emulsion after my toner. I also use Benefit Firm It Up! eye serum as well as an eye cream (I haven’t found a favorite yet so I’m working my way through a container of Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream for now). And of course I still exfoliate a couple of times a week with a scrub like Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect Scrub Foam. When my lips get dry, I’ll use nügg Hydrating Lip Mask (basically a very intense lip balm).
Obviously, all these skincare steps add some time to my routine. I’ve made an effort to do my routine earlier in the evening, like around dinnertime or right after the kids go to bed. That way it gets done before I’m tired enough to give in to the temptation to just splash some water on my face and collapse for the night. I also only do all these steps at night. In the morning, I’ll usually just wash quickly with a foam cleanser and then moisturize before applying my makeup.
Is it more time than I want to spend washing my face? I mean, yeah, I’d love to be Audrey Hepburn and just use Ivory soap and still look amazing, but what can you do? The results are totally worth the effort. I’m able to use less concealer, and I’ve actually left the house without foundation a few times — something I haven’t done in many years. My skin might not be the perfect, glassy smooth that’s the stuff of Instagram dreams, but it is healthier and more glowing than it has been… ever, maybe. If it takes a little extra time and effort to get there, that’s a tradeoff I’ll happily make.