The quarter life crisis is the new midlife crisis, and when I had to tell someone I was a rising junior in college the other day, it hit me—I’m getting old. I mean, I’m not actually getting old, but at this end of this year I’m going to turn twenty (?!?!), and for me, one of the largest consequences of that is that I will no longer have teenage skin. Now, some people might be glad to leave behind the pimples and drama usually associated with the teenage years, but for me, I’ve always had pretty good skin without having to do much. I blame this mostly on the fact that I have pretty dry skin, so there weren’t any oils on my face to break me out. While that sounds really great, dry skin lacks that natural preservation that leads to the black-don’t-crack phenomena that has people constantly asking my mother if she’s my sister. When I was younger, that was no big deal to me. But now, the compliment towards her feels more like a threat to my youthfulness, and I’ve decided to start taking my skincare more seriously. However, I don’t really have taking my skincare more seriously money, so it’s taken a little trial and error to find products that do the job without breaking the bank. While I go on this skincare journey, I decided I should share my successes with y’all.
I’ll start by describing my skin a little more. Like I said, I have really dry skin, and I don’t really have any major issues with acne—most of my breakouts happen on my temples or my chin during my cycle. My primary issues are hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation all over my skin, which is really common for black women. These are for sure the aspects of my skin that have made me the most self conscious, especially when surrounded by all the East Africans with perfect skin that attend my school. Speaking of problems associated with college, especially after two winters in cold and dry Ohio, I’ve had to find some methods to add moisture back into my skin.
I’ll go in order of how I use these products, which means I need to start off with my face wash. Now I’m gonna be honest—I’ve never really been a big face washer (cue y’all calling me crusty). I know, I know, but when your skin isn’t really producing any oil, and especially during the summer when I’m usually makeup free, there’s rarely anything physical to wash over, and I used to just rinse my face with water (or worse, the soap I used on my body) while I was in the shower. Now, I’m using a Shea Moisture African black soap bar that I did not purchase—I got it from a friend, so I’m not ashamed about using it. I’m not gonna lie, though, I really like it. I’ve used traditional black soap on and off, and I really liked it, even though it was a little stripping for my dry skin. Shea Moisture’s soap is dyed black, which probably means it’s not as good as the black soap you can buy from the beauty supply store or your local hotep establishment, but this soap has more oils blended into it, so it’s much more moisturizing for my skin. I use this product at night with a muslin cloth, and in the morning I just splash my face with water to get the catbutt out my eyes.
Finding a nice soap to use was easy, but the things that have really upgraded my skincare game are also the things that are most expensive and most nerve-racking for me to use. Every skincare expert on Youtube said that I needed to be using an AHA, an Alpha Hydoxy Acid for exfoliation. This sounded very scary, so I wanted to start with one that was gentle and affordable, so I’m using the Pixi Glow Tonic with a flat cotton round. It’s been a great introduction to chemical exfoliation, and while it’s not blowing my mind, I am seeing slow changes in the smoothness of my skin as I continue to use this. It’s a lot more expensive than I wanted to pay for (you know how many times I can eat for 15 dollars?), but it’s a decent amount of product, and you don’t have to use it everyday. I use the Glow Tonic every night and some mornings, but like I said, I’m crazy and I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s also good to change the chemical exfoliants you use every once in a while, so I’ll use this till it’s gone and try something new.
My new favorite step, and the product that I think every black girl struggling with hyperpigmentation needs is a vitamin C serum. I researched some on Amazon and while I was nervous about my purchase, the Amara Organics 20% Vitamin C Serum had great reviews, and now I see why. This serum is good y’all, like “saw an immediate difference” good, like “got rid of hyperpigmentation I didn’t know I had” good, like “one of the best things I’ve ever purchased” good. They say to use four or five drops of this all over your face, but I basically use half a dropper's worth (I know y’all, I’m wild), and place it on my face and neck. It does tingle a little bit, but it doesn’t sting or particularly make my skin feel more sensitive. Still, you’ll need to use a sunscreen if you’re using this product because it can increase photosensitivity, aka make you more vulnerable to the sun, which can put back the hyperpigmentation we’re trying to get rid of, but you’re supposed to use sunscreen anyway. I use it every night, without fail, and I’m glad about it.
Finally, it’s time to get to moisturizing. I love to use oils on my face, because nothing packs in the moisture like they do. My favorites are avocado oil and sweet almond oil, which I’ll blend together or switch between every night, depending on my mood and the season. I use this every night, and most mornings. The avocado oil is definitely a little thicker, and it’s my winter preference, whereas I tend to go with the almond in the summer, but honestly I usually buy a big food grade bottle of one or the other and use that till it’s gone, which usually takes me about 4 months, with me using it on my skin, hair, and nails. That’s not bad for about twelve dollars.
The product I’ve been using on my skin the longest is the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, which is the thickest cream you can buy at the drugstore. It’s another one of those things that costs a little bit more than I want to pay for it, but it honestly lasts forever and I don’t go anywhere without it. It’s really popular, even though it’s nothing flashy, and it does the job when it comes to sealing in moisture on my face. My skin is so dry it absorbs this in a minute flat, so I apply more than I probably should, but girl, we can’t be out here looking ashy. I use this every night, and every morning I don’t want to be crusty in public.
The final step is the hardest one for us brown skin girls. Sunscreen is a must, especially if you live in a sunny place like South Carolina, but no one wants to look like a Gross Sister out here in these streets. I plan on trying some more sunscreens soon, but for now I use the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen, and it does the trick. It’s SPF 30, which is the minimum you should be using if you’re using Vitamin C and chemical exfoliants like AHA, and it doesn’t leave any white cast. I try to reapply it every three hours that I know I’m gonna get direct sunlight, so I keep it in my purse. It does give me a little bit of an oily finish, but since my skin is so dry, I like the way it looks. I use this every morning I’m not being a trash individual.
I’m still learning a lot about skincare, but I think my quarter life crisis has been avoided by the retail therapy taking care of my skin has provided. Remember you should always consult a dermatologist if you have questions, especially since I know nothing about chemistry. Share some of your skincare tips with me!