Throughout a large chunk of my life, I’ve been pretty lazy about my beauty routine. Until recently, the most makeup I typically wore was tinted sunscreen, I had no idea what a serum was, and I rarely actually washed my face (splash of water seemed good enough…right?). This lazy beauty routine worked well for me for most of my 20s, but unfortunately, this would not last forever. One beautiful spring day (about two and a half years ago), I switched to a new body wash in one of my absolute favorite scents: Jasmin. No more than 24 hours later, I notice a small rash on my right arm. It quickly spread. all. over. my. body! Assuming it was a reaction to something in the body wash, I decided to make a switch to more natural products. I started using a minimalist bar soap (an olive oil-based soap with only three ingredients), made my own shampoo and conditioner, and bought Jojoba and Tea Tree oil for the first time ever (they’re both naturally suppose to help with skin issues). It was my first time using essential oils. I’d leave my shower smelling vaguely like a koala who’s been binge eating salads, but if this is what it would take to keep my skin nice, it’d be worth it.
Turns out I actually have a rarer form of psoriasis—an auto-immune disorder where your immune system starts attacking your body’s largest organ, your skin. So, I could have totally skipped what I now dub my “koala phase.” But something good did come from all of it: I discovered the benefits of using a bit of Tea Tree oil on my face in place of harsher acne treatments (bonus tip: unlike some of the other acids used to treat acne, Tea Tree oil won’t stain your pillow case if you apply it right before bed.) The over all experience also forced me to start putting more thought into how I treated my skin, which would become necessary within the next year. By the end of that summer, I moved to China for work. For most of my life I was lucky to have pretty minimal acne, but after little time living in China, it was a whole new ball game. It wasn’t super horrible acne, but it was constant and the most I’d experienced so far in life. My skin was not a fan of the air, or the food, or any other number of things that could have been causing my skin to freak out. When I moved backed stateside I was super hopeful my skin would go back to normal. Nope! It got worse (I guess it’s common to go through a period of really bad acne while you’re skin gets rid of the toxins it absorbed from the pollution in the Chinese air). While my skin isn’t nearly as bad as it was after I got back from China, it never felt the same from the whole experience.
The time had come to establish a beauty routine. Over the past six months, I’ve set out on a mission to find the best routine for keeping my skin looking and feeling its best. I read blogs, watched GRWM YouTube videos, and asked friends and my dermatologist for advice. I tried a range of different face masks, cleansers, lotions, oils ,and serums. Honestly, going from a very little beauty routine to a full-on, give-it-all-a-shot routine was both time consuming and unsustainable for my lifestyle. So by the beginning of 2018, I decided it was time to narrow down what works (for me) into a simple, easy to maintain beauty routine (everything else I found wasn’t worth the time and/or money to keep up with):
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.