Prior to beginning my quest this winter, my daily skin care regimen was to apply sunscreen daily. That was it; that was all. I didn’t even wash my face except in the shower. Why? Because since birth I have had the most freakin’ sensitive skin – as in rubbing a warm, damp washcloth on my face caused major irritation. Finding a sunscreen that didn’t feel like I’d set my face on fire was a total fluke.*
My skin tone can be defined as ruddy – it’s reddish and freckled. Case in point? I recently colored my hair red and one of my friends actually said to me, “I love the red hair. It goes so much better with your green eyes and skin tone than you NATURAL hair color.” Despite living in one of the most humid places in the U.S., my skin is also VERY dry – like, super-dry. However, I didn’t moisturize it because, again – face on fire! To make matters even more fun, I suddenly developed acne (primarily in the chin area) around age thirty – THIRTY! – and had to start wearing make-up almost every day. Icky.
So last January my face was dry, ashen-colored with some ruddiness, zitty-ish, and oh yeah – not at all smooth. You couldn’t see it, but if you ran your hand over my face you would realize it was BUMPY! Kinda gross in hindsight, actually. But the thing was, it wasn’t as if I didn’t care or hadn’t tried. Dude, I felt as if I'd tried everything! It was just – FACE ON FIRE!
Six months later - it’s all gone away – the gray, the bumps, the zits. My face is soft and glowy and smooth…and I don’t wear ANY make-up except for lip gloss and mascara thanks to only TWO products. After trying products nearly my whole life – and going through about ten different ones this winter including cleansers, masques, serums, lotions, etc – the key to my face was sitting on the shelf of the drug store the whole time. It’s cheap. It’s effective. It’s amazing.
Are you ready for this?
Product #1 for Cleansing - Pond’s Cold Cream
It would appear that all of those little old ladies knew what they were doing. There’s a reason this stuff has been on the market for years. Throw out all of your organic, all-natural crap. This stuff is amazing. Now, it did take awhile for me to adjust to using it. There’s something counter-intuitive about slathering a cream with the consistency of Crisco on acne-prone skin. However, I piled the stuff on, let it sit for fifteen minutes or so…and after a week I was running home from work each night to lather this stuff on my face.
#1 – It really gets the dirt off. I was always amazed by the amount of dirt and make-up that showed up on the tissue when I wiped it off – even after showering!
#2 – It doesn’t irritate your skin. Midway into week three I had a scare because after applying it, OMG! FACE ON FIRE! Then I realized that such only occurred when I used it after drinking red wine.** I applied this every night for months, and now that summer’s here (and I no longer wear make-up) I use it a few times a week.
#3 – It actually draws crap out of your pores. Seriously. I’d put this stuff on (don’t rub it in) and come back ten minutes later, and I could literally SEE the little dirt globs that had popped out of my pores. Note: this was only in the very early stages when my skin was probably SUPER dirty. Don’t believe me? Dab it on a blackhead, and try it for yourself.
#4 – It heals like Neosporin on Crack. Another inadvertent discovery, but once I realized it, I plopped this stuff on every healing cut, zit, you name it that appeared on my face and left it on while I slept.
General Directions – Follow the ones on the jar. Apply it. Let it sit for a spell, and then gently wipe off with a tissue or some toilet paper. Let the excess soak into your face. (It will eventually.) I’ve read a few reviews where people use astringent or a face wash after using the Pond’s. Dude, this is like slapping on paint thinner after painting a house. WTF? Try it for at least week because I swear for the first few days you will feel like you are coating your face with something disgusting, and you will still feel it, even after the wipe down. Give it time. You will adjust.
Product #2 for Moisturizing - Oil of Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid for Sensitive Skin
This stuff is the bomb. I realized that it truly works the best when you slather both in the morning and at bedtime (and ALWAYS after showering). Keeps your skin fresh, dewy, and hydrated. Don’t rub it in too much. It will absorb on its own. No fragrance. No irritation. I’ve since read reviews saying to stay away from the version that contains sunscreen as it is totally not the same – just FYI, haven't tried the SPF version myself.
So yeah – after years of prescription crap, expensive creams, and everything else, my skin came alive with two products that cost less than $10 and have been available to the general public for years.
The Caveat – My skin got worse before it got better. There was A LOT of junk in those pores as it turns out, and the full process took about four months. Weeks 3-9 were especially ugly. Someone ran into me when I wasn’t wearing make-up during this period and literally asked what the hell happened to my skin. If you try these products, and it happens to you, hang in there. Your skin is just purging all of the nastiness it’s been holding onto. It’s not the products that are making you break out. Also, when the color first comes back to your skin, it may be patchy. The reds are redder, the pinks pinker and when you see yourself in fluorescent light, you’ll want to scream.
Is my skin perfect today? No, but it’s better than it's been in years, and I’m still amazed to wake up in the morning to clean, clear, colorful, healthy-looking skin. Plus, I swear I look just a *teensy* bit younger.
* I use a sunscreen made by Skinceuticals. It's pricey, but I come from a long line of natural redheads and skin cancer victims. My grandmother's face was practically scaly by the time she died. My mom's had a full CHUNK of her nose removed, and my sister had a melanoma in her early twenties. We wear sunscreen every day in this house - and then we go smoke and drink.
** After worshipping the red wine gods for many years, I have drastically cut back on my red wine consumption and switched to Lone Star Light Beer of all things. But OH! the happy, unintended effects. Wine never made me feel full – so I’d often drink the whole bottle in one sitting. Now, I feel stuffed after about two cans of LSL. The difference? Well, there are about 800 calories in a bottle of wine and 100 calories in a can of beer. This adds up over time, especially if you’re prone to snacking after drinking an entire bottle of wine. (As in, "Ohmigosh, I suddenly feel drunk. Must EAT SOMETHING NOW TO GET RID OF THIS FEELING!") Suffice to say, I’ve lost somewhere between 5-7 pounds over the last six months. My liver probably enjoys the reprieve as well. And then there’s the cost. A twelve pack of LSL is $9 and lasts me for at least a week. A bottle of wine is $7-10 and last 1-2 days. At my bar, a glass of red is $6-8 and an LSL $2-2.50. You do the math on that one. And then there’s the fact that beer doesn’t stain your teeth.
So yeah, great skin, weight loss, money saved, and whiter teeth – not too shabby.
The downsides? I can no longer drink wine or margaritas on an empty stomach. (My tolerance is too low.) Plus, with increased sobriety comes a heightened awareness of reality. This kinda blows, but I'm learning to deal.