I'm skin-care illiterate and I am getting old
August 12, 2017 5:23 AM   Subscribe

So I saw a post or two related to my question but figured there may be some new favorites so I'll ask a similar question. I need help picking out some options among the millions of bottles of lotions, oils, washes, etc., that I can buy so I can look young forever ;)

It has come to my attention that I am getting "old." I'm noticing gray hairs, plucking random hairs from weird places, I found my first wrinkle...you know, all the stuff that tells me that I should become a shut-in forever so I don't scare the children. I'm being a tad dramatic here obviously. I'm only 31. And my patients, friends, and family all tell me I look really young. I even had a patient refuse to let me give him a bath because he thought I was 15...I was 27. So my genes have been good to me.

But now I am starting to notice small differences in my skin and want to try to use some kind of skin care regimen before people start asking me where my wheelchair is at age 50. Here is the big problem: I am skin care illiterate. And the thought of going to sephora or skin care counter looking for creams freaks me out. Basically because I am a bit of a sucker and will buy stuff I really don't need or just get overwhelmed, leave, and pretend that I will look this way forever. I understand what cleanser means and what cream means of course, but I'm lost after that. So please help me!

So here is what I know about my skin:
-It is somewhat dry, but not overly so. I put lotion on every morning but have not found my favorite yet. I have used Clinique's gel lotion (the one in the yellow bottle) and moisture surge, and they were ok, but I still felt like I needed a little more moisture.
-I have dark circles under my eyes, which I cover with a little bit of make up without a problem. But I would like something for the wrinkles around my eyes that are starting to form.
-I have mild rosacea, but it isn't that bad so I don't worry about it.
-I have mild acne which I use a prescription for maybe once every month or so.
-my skin is sensitive and I am pale. I'm a nightshift nurse, I don't get much sunlight XD

What I want:
- I want something easy. I rarely use soap on my face and I really am not interested in starting.
-I would like something affordable. Would be lovely if it was something cheap that I could get at CVS or Target of course, but I'm willing to shell out a little money, but not like La Mer money (that's as extensive as my skincare knowledge goes, don't get excited)
-And lastly, I would like something that I could buy as a trial set if possible, especially if it is a little pricey. I'm not made of money and I haven't found a sugar daddy yet.

Again, I know there was at least one other question similar to this. But new stuff comes out all the time and I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask again.

Thanks so much in advance you all :)

TL;DR version:
I'm skin-care illiterate and lazy. 31 years old, want to keep looking that way if I can. Have somewhat sensitive skin, mild acne, and some minor wrinkles. I can afford something up to moderately priced items, but would really like to buy a trial set if it is available. What skin care line/items would you suggest for a lazy person like me?
posted by Fullofcrazy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Aveeno Ultra Calming daily moisturizer. Has SPF and good moisture, and helps with mild rosacea (for me anyway). It's not store-brand-level inexpensive, but way cheaper than the fancy Sephora stuff. (I don't care for the smell and weight of CVS's version.)
posted by dayintoday at 5:38 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a 39yo white dry-skinned lady person with similar tendencies. My doctor recommended an OTC moisturizer with retinol for my face, and I use Neutrogena day and night creams. I also wear a hat when I'm out and about to keep the sun off. And sunglasses.

As for facial hair, I keep tweezers in the car and pluck at stoplights!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:43 AM on August 12, 2017

I'm a big fan of Neutrogena products- looks like you can get their anti-aging products in a kit.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:56 AM on August 12, 2017

Propylene glycol is a common, but less-recognized, allergen. I had "rosacea" for years that was an undiagnosed propylene glycol allergy.

So, watch out. Lots of moisturizers, and even Neutrogena cleansing bar, have contained propylene glycol. If you're not allergic to it, it's not so much a problem, but it is something a lot of people are sensitive to -- it increases the adhesion/penetration/moisturizing properties of products (and acts as a preservative), so it not only can increase sensitivity reactions, it's an extremely popular ingredient.

I use CeraVe moisturizers, available at the grocery store and local drug store. Are they the best? I don't know, but they are actually non-allergenic for me, and there is a more liquid PM version and a sunscreen-containing AM version.
posted by amtho at 6:04 AM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of DHC skin care products. I use their Olive Originals collection. I also use L'oreal skin care products. Always wear sunscreen! Back in high school, a girl whose mom owned a modeling agency told me that whenever you don't wash your face at night, your skin ages 7 days. No idea if there is any truth to that at all, but just doing the math on that has spurred me to wash my face every night! I'm 48, and good genes, yay! But I am routinely mistaken for a lot younger.
posted by poppunkcat at 6:13 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am mid-forties. Pale to medium skin tone. I'll share some things I've learned about skincare.

I had a dermatologist tell me to use Dove bar or Dove Sensitive bar as a facial cleanser. I use it or Neutrogena cleansers to wash my face. I like the Pore Refining Neutrogena cleanser.

For redness: I used to use Purpose Redness Reducing SPF 30 daily moisturizer -- they discontinued it. Bummer.

Try this: https://www.cetaphil.com/redness-relieving-daily-facial-moisturizer-with-spf-20/

I currently use CeraVe Am Facial Moisturizing Lotion for daytime.

Good inexpensive brands to try: Neutrogena, Aveeno, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Purpose (if you can find it), Oil of Olay, and Dove.

Try a richer formula that you can put on at night, like CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream or Oil of Olay Regenerist Night Cream. There is no need to buy a separate eye cream.

There are two kinds of aging skins -- the "sagging-type" and "wrinkle-type". There is not much you can do about it (apart form surgery, botox, fillers for sagging type) except to use sunscreen diligently, don't gain and lose weight, don't smoke, eat fruits and veg, get enough sleep. I'm a nurse too and you might consider moving to days. Beauty sleep is a real thing.
posted by loveandhappiness at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Day moisturizer with sunscreen. Night moisturizer. Hats. If, God forbid, you smoke, stop now. Your skin, along with the rest of your body, your family, and your friends will thank you. My dermatologist (personal and familial history of skin cancer) recommended the Neutrogena products with retinol as among the few that have actual research backing their claims. Neutrogena makes an eye cream as well as moisturizers. Wash your face before bed with a non-soap cleanser and just splash water on it when you get up. Cetaphil is cheap and available everywhere.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2017

I once met someone who had the most beautiful face ever. Turns out they washed their face frequently, like some people go to the bathroom.
posted by aniola at 6:47 AM on August 12, 2017

And when I say "washed" I mean rinsed, with just plain water as far as I recall.
posted by aniola at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2017

Wear sunscreen every day, even when it's cloudy or raining. (Unless it's completely dark.) Ask your dermatologist for a retinol prescription. It should help your acne as well as signs of aging.
Read through here and look for recommended products for your skin type in the side bar.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 6:55 AM on August 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm old. I have zero wrinkles. I'm white. I stay out of the sun and haven't used soap on my face for 40 years. I put coconut oil on my face at night once in a while, and drink tons of water. I don't use any kind of foundation makeup - I wear eyeliner, shadow, and mascara. That's about it. Between not using foundation and not ever really using moisturizer, I personally think staying out of the sun and not clogging up your skin, which wants to breathe, are my secrets to wrinkle-free skin so far.

I also do facial exercises and exfoliate every day with a buf-puf and warm water. So I spend maybe 5 minutes a day doing stuff to my face.

Summary: drink lots of water, don't use soap, stay out of the sun, don't clog up your pores, exfoliate, and some day in the future you may want to try these facial exercises, although there are a ton of variations out there, and lots of videos.
posted by the webmistress at 7:15 AM on August 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

My dry leaning sensitive skin became a lot more normal when I cut denatured alcohol out of my skin care. I use cetaphil gentle cleanser and cerave lotion, twice a day. At night I mix oil in with the lotion,... I like fancy facial oils I get as samples, but I'm cheap so I use jojoba or emu oil normally. I use a toner with AHA twice a week, I'm working on a sample from a fancy salon, but the pixi glow one is cheap and fine.
Sunscreen: I use a separate product in the summer only, winter in the PNW gets no sun. I use cliniderm sensitive, but it may get only be available in Canada. Good luck, buy cheap stuff. Sephora is a nightmare, but they do returns if a product doesn't work.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:33 AM on August 12, 2017

You want 7 new washcloths and almond oil.

I'm 53 and can tell you that by and large, it does not matter what product you use. It would be dandy if there was a THING that everyone universally knew to be the greatest facial skin care product, but that thing does not exist.

If I could go back in time (we're talking 30+ years), I would save thousands of bucks by not buying any expensive face crap and getting ridiculously expensive facials.

Sleep, hydrate, exercise so you sweat, use sunscreen on your face and neck AND chest, drink some MORE water, avoid products with weird chemicals in them, try the oil cleansing method for a while, exfoliate occasionally and maybe use that inexpensive Queen Helene minty clay mask, then drink more water.

There is no one perfect product for everyone. Trust me when I say save your money in the pursuit of said holy grail facial product.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:38 AM on August 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Retinoids, retinoids, retinoids! Differin is now available over the counter. Sunscreen is a must. I have very sensitive skin too and I will use baking soda as an exfoliant and apple cider vinegar/distilled water 50-50 as a toner. I don't wear makeup much; it really can wreak havoc on your skin. For moisture I rub a bit of jojoba oil or vitamin E oil on my face. I use CeraVe cream on both hands and face. I also use Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme on my hands and wear gloves overnight.

I don't think your skin will age any faster due to not washing it, but if you don't exfoliate regularly your skin won't look as smooth. Drink a ton of water and eat the good fats.

Also, there is a product called Frownies that you can put on your wrinkles to smooth them out at night, and that does slow their development some, but not as much as Botox--however, they're a fraction of the price.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:54 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you have a Kiehl's counter near you, go to them and get advice fitted to your needs and habits. They will give you a trial kit or samples to start with if you ask for it. They were originally an apothecary and their products are safe to use and not fussy.
I'm another old person with no wrinkles, and have used Kiehl's for 20 years. However, when for some reason I haven't been able to get their products, I've bought drugstore products such as Neutrogena based on their advice for what type of care I need, and I probably could have done that all along.
posted by mumimor at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2017

Sleep, hydrate, exercise so you sweat, use sunscreen on your face and neck AND chest,

Agreed, at 31 this is the most important aspect. You do want to use something to clean the sunscreen off, but literally any cleanser will do. Literally any moisturizer afterwards. If you want to keep it simple, use Aveeno, Olay, or Cetaphil products for cleansing and moisturizing.

My one fussy recommendation is to order Biore or Shiseido sunscreens from Japan, or Skin Aqua from Korea. Amazon carries all the good ones. These are for your face, neck, and chest. You can use cheaper Neutrogena/drugstore sunscreens on your arms and legs. (Did you know? Women are prone to more dangerous/advanced skin cancer on their calves because a) skirts b) you can't look at them very well c) nobody routinely sunscreens their legs.)

But seriously, if you don't want your chest to look like wet pink crepe paper in photographs when you're 40, you have to start sunscreening now. It's probably a little late, but every bit counts.

Get that routine well-ingrained, do it for a year. You can add in chemical exfoliants and retinols next year. I just use all Paula's Choice for that, but you can look it all up next year and figure out what you want to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

- Drink HEAPS of WATER (like 3L if possible), sleep at least 7 hours, eat vegetables
- Add hydrating essence and serum to your routine, underneath your moisturizer
- Eye cream!!
- Use sheet masks a couple of times per week
- Cerave PM lotion has really good ingredients
- Don't forget your body skin - make sure to use Cetaphil / aqueous cream / something rich
- Sunscreen!! ALL DAY EVERY DAY - I like this one by Kiehls

More resources: SkincareAddiction (reddit), this thread specifically addresses rosacea, and skincare routines on youtube
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Disclaimers: I am lazy and apathetic for the most part about this sort of thing, and the older I get, the less I even think about how old I look to other people. I honestly have no idea whether I look my age or not and what sort of role skin care products play in that. (I'm pretty sure, though, that sunscreen is the most effective non-medical way to reduce visible signs of aging.)

That said, I'm in my early 50s, and the older I get, the fussier my skin gets. I've slowly been racking up sensitivities and contact allergies all the time, so I've had to shop around and try a bunch of different products, but it became so hard to find anything that didn't irritate or really dry out my skin and that would be available long term without changing formulas, and the things that worked were so expensive, I gave up and started making my own cold cream. I've been doing this and fussing with the recipe for probably a couple few years now, and every time I use anything else, my skin gets angry.

This is my recipe:

Boil about 3/4 c. water and add a pinch of borax to it. Let it cool.

In a separate glass measuring cup, measure out 1/2 c. total noncomedogenic oil (I use sunflower cooking oil because it's cheap and easy to get, and about a teaspoon or so of castor oil), and a scant two tablespoons of beeswax pellets, and heat it up in the microwave or stovetop until the beeswax is all melted in.

Using a stick blender or maybe a regular blender, blend the oil mixture and slowly add about 1/2 cup of the water mixture in a slow drizzle, and blend it until it's emulsified and cold cream textured. If it's too thick and stiff, add more of the water until it's the right thickness and texture for you.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:29 AM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Check out deciem/the ordinary for very affordable retinoids and other fun anti-aging products to experiment with, I switched over from paula's choice.

I use their 2% retinoid every other night and azelaic acid - the prices are amazingly affordable and I've had good results - the retinoid will handle the wrinkles and the acne, just start very gradually or else your skin might get flaky and red, azelaic acid has made me feel almost able to stop wearing foundation which is huge for me.

They have various eye products too - I just use their rosehip seed oil.
posted by lafemma at 10:53 AM on August 12, 2017

Pale, undereye circles, gray hair, don't get much sun... have you had your iron and Vitamin D levels checked recently?

(...before people start asking me where my wheelchair is at age 50... please, don't do that.)

Otherwise, seconding LynNever's Paula's Choice rec, and everyone who mentioned oils. While mineral oil makes me break out (thus ruling out some popular drugstore products), I've had luck with almond, rosehip, jojoba, etc. oils.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:20 AM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kiki G. on youtube is my favorite resource for skincare info. She recently started a series of skincare basics that aren't often covered (i.e. stuff that "everybody seems to know," but I certainly didn't, and have learned so much from her videos as a result. This one is a great place to start, and there are several more in her recent uploads, including one on exfoliation and one on figuring out your skin type, which is not always what you think it is.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Part of it is genetics -- I've always looked young for my age. My daughters look young for their ages.
I almost never wear makeup, so other than a little soap as needed in the shower, I don't manipulate my facial skin.
I do wear sunscreen and bug spray, so it gets washed off as needed. I use -- let me check -- Dove. Or Soft Soap.
I do have wide brim hats that I wear while taking a walk or driving.
I don't smoke. I am losing some weight on keto / modified Atkins, but the sagging skin -- meh.
I've colored my hair when the grey started -- no big deal. I like gradually going "blonde." I hope it goes pewter like my grandmother's hair did.
I don't tweeze. I have tiny facial shaver that gets used as needed.

Laugh lines are beautiful. Spending time and money to change the effects of aging -- boring. I'm gonna be a sexy grey-haired lady, regardless!
posted by TrishaU at 12:02 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not an item, but another skin care tip: sleep on your back! Many people get more pronounced lines on one side of their face because they sleep on that side and their skin literally sags "downhill" while they sleep.

Finally, know that some people with wrinkle-less faces simply have more fat; fat plumps up your face and thinness, especially in the face/neck area, makes lines and wrinkles more pronounced.
posted by pecanpies at 12:39 PM on August 12, 2017

Sunscreen -- Asian or European are best, since they use newer chemicals (that the FDA has been dragging its feet on for 20 years now) that more effectively block UVA, which is what primarily causes wrinkles and signs of aging.

Vitamin C serum -- clinically proven to be effective against signs of aging, and to boost your sunscreen's effects. The best ones contain ferulic acid and vitamin E. Amazon's a good source.

Cleansing: I'm practically a shill at this point for Albolene. It's cheap, and it's great for my dry, sensitive, rosacea prone skin. You smear it on, rub it around, then wipe it off with a damp washcloth.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

i'm older. what goes first is your undereye cream, and once it's gone, you can't rub things into it, because each rub it just stretches and stays there. So, eye cream first. But there are two kinds: the cheaper gel sort, often described as 'light' 'day' or 'morning', which just hides them, and the 'night' or 'heavy' sort, which actually tries to fatten them up and get rid of them. A case of, you have to read the small print and translate it. No recommendations, i left it too late, but the cheap stuff is full of perfume and white particles (presumably to 'hide' them) the smell is highly annoying as is the faintly-tippexed look
posted by maiamaia at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2017

I started a pretty laidback skincare "routine" at 34, and the thing that made the major difference to my skin (I had problem with pimples, spots, etc), was washing my face twice a day with a low-PH cleanser. I know that seems like the opposite of an easy routine for a lazy person but as a fellow lazy person, I found adding "rub cleanser on, splash off" a very low-effort habit to add to "brush teeth". Two low-PH cleansers I have loved - Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild, and COSRX Good Morning Gel Cleanser.

Other than cleansing, I have tried to get into the habit of daily moisturising (at the moment I'm using COSRX Oil Free Ultra-Moisturising Lotion - I really love COSRX products, they're reasonably priced and I like their clean fresh scents, and the light feel of them), and daily sunscreen with some sort of fancy Japanese sunscreen (at the moment, Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which is so light and just sinks in). When I feel like taking more time, I add in other essences, or I use a sheet mask on my face of an evening (I like these Innisfree ones) - slap it on, sit around watching tv for half an hour, take it off, and in the morning my skin looks really bouncy and hydrated.
posted by fever-trees at 10:44 PM on August 13, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you all for your help!! If you ever see me in the Guinness book of world records for looking like the youngest old person, just know that I have every last one of you too thank :P
posted by Fullofcrazy at 5:43 AM on August 14, 2017

I'm relatively new to skin care myself. There's a lot of great advice and suggestions here. The only thing I would add is to go slow and test everything. Any change or alteration to your regimen should be introduced one at a time and done for a week or two before introducing another change. That way if a rash or other unexpected result occurs, you'll be able to isolate the cause.

Also, always test new products. For example, with new facial products I usually patch test on the back of the wrist, then the side of the cheek, and then below the eye. I had to learn the hard way when I used a new alcohol-based sunscreen on my face without testing. (Once my eyes stopped watering, I returned the sunscreen immediately) Speaking of alcohol-based products, it's also good to read the ingredients in products to get a general idea of what's in them.

My goto sunscreen right now is EltaMD. I've used the SPF 30+ UV Lotion and also the SPF 50 Sport. Both are Broad Spectrum and according to the aforementioned r/SkincareAddiction, provide good UVA protection too (PA+++, I believe).

And finally, since you mentioned mild acne, it might be a good idea to think about reducing or completely cutting out dairy. I used to think this was just another dieting trend, but have started to see some results by reducing dairy consumption. Depending on how your body responds and digests it, it's possible you only have to reduce dairy or be all right with dairy that still contains fats (dairy with fats supposedly is better than non-fat or skim dairy for acne)
posted by FJT at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2017

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