The Skin I Live In: February’s Empties

I know you’ve been waiting for this one.

Skin care is like dieting. You have to invest time and effort. There is no instant miracle cure.

Karen Grant

First of all, no I am not dropping my skin care routine. Sit down.

What I am talking about is my skin goals, progress and what I’ve learned so far in 2020.

So, to start with I’ve always had fairly imperfect skin; hyperpigmentation, acne, etc. It wasn’t ever anything to be worried about, to be fair it still isn’t. But for a while I’ve just always wanted to know what it’s like to see myself in glass clear skin.

You know what I’m talking about– the skincare ad campaigns…

Anyway, I would say I’ve been a work-in-progress for a while. I had a mini crisis over the summer when I had like 15 different breakouts all happening too close to each other. I couldn’t deal with the fact that I had invested so much time and money into finding the right skincare, the right products and all that. The significant thing about it though, is how my self-esteem deteriorated as well as my skin.

Even now I’m still working on detaching sense of value from more physical things we have no control of. I think it’s going well. Granted, I did try a couple new products and they have been working so well!

But I’m gonna wait till I tell you what those are. For now, here are some of the products that ran out this past month.

R-L: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, Cosrx Advanced Snail Mucin Essence

To start off I have oily skin that gets quite dry in the winter. I used these products with the exception of the azelaic acid over the winter break because I wanted to get some well-needed moisture into my skin. I’ve been using some kind of hyaluronic acid serum since I first heard it tumble out of Jackie Aina’s lips.

Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally-occurring substance on the skin and it is used to draw in and retain moisture. It also helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid has a pH balance of 6.5-7.5, it’s cruelty-free, vegan, oil-free, nut-free, alcohol-free and it is a water-based product (water is the main ingredient and the first one listed in the ingredients list). This is a very popular product, I was at an Ulta on Black Friday in Chicago, quietly moving through the bodies in there so I could find the Hyaluronic Acid undisturbed.

I don’t know if it’s just me but I don’t like to ask store attendees for help.

Anyway, by the time I had eventually found it there were art least four other people asking the store attendees for the exact same product.

It’s affordable; you can get it for $6-$7 at Ulta or $14 on Amazon, I don’t know why it’s so much higher though; I usually buy it from Ulta.

You may be skeptical if you have oily skin but in my opinion, this is exactly what oily skin needs. So it doesn’t exactly have a light texture or anything like that but it feels rich. You know what I mean. It makes your skin feel supple; which is good because when your skin is dry, it just produces wayyyyy more oil.

And listen, it’s getting warmer outside, you’re not trying to look like a HOT mess this summer are you? Right, I thought so.

I usually use this right in the middle of my moisturising routine, twice a day, every day. Because I’m not losing an OUNCE of moisture dah-ling.

Okay so ever since I heard about the 10-step K-beauty routine I knew I was too bougie to not be doing it. I love Korean skin care, not only is it wise and honest but the packaging is adorableeeeeee. I also love that there’s always an ingredient I haven’t heard of that’s out there doing the Lord’s work.

And for right now, that’s Snail Mucin. Yes, the slime of a snail. Let’s talk about it.

Snail Secretion Filtrate is the slime a snail produces. Its benefits when used on the skin, include boosting collagen production, moisturising, soothing irritation and providing the skin with important vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A & E; which are great antioxidants. I have relied so heavily on this product for my moisturising routine especially when I’m putting on make up because as an oily girl I’m gonna reach for the mattifying shelf; which as everyone knows (and I hope you do) will only dry out my skin.

For moments like that (I’m talking full-face glam sessions) it’s good to get your skincare right and as I’ve already said, moisturising is important.

Unfortunately, while writing this post I did learn that snail slime is only produced when snails are under stress. The issue is still somewhat contentious to me because CosRX has said to a spokesperson from the K-beauty blog The Klog that “The snails are placed over a mesh in a dark and quiet room. For about 30 minutes, the snails are left alone to freely roam the net, leaving mucin in their trails. Throughout the process, there is no external process applied to the snails or the mesh to force mucin production.” And I do know for a fact that animal cruelty is banned in South Korea, so maybe CosRx isn’t being sketchy behind the scenes, but I don’t know about other brands…

All in all, I don’t know nor do I claim to know what’s going on. It seems weird regardless and I don’t think I’ll be buying another bottle after this one runs out because I want to try other more sustainable and less-fishy avenues.

I had my first brush with azelaic acid last summer after the great regression of my skin. I went to see dermatologist in Germany and she prescribed me a combinations of Differin and Azelaic acid; as well as a water-based cleanser and sunscreen. I read as much as I could about azelaic acid because I was so desperate for it to be this magic treatment that everyone said it was.

Azelaic acid, while made from wheat (or something like that) is gluten-free! It helps fight inflammation because it contains antibacterial properties. It fights acne, it helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, melanoma, rosacea, all that. To my knowledge, it also helps improve skin texture, so that’s your pesky pores and those tiny rash-like bumps that stop you from looking like a delicious glass of water on a hot sunny day.

So there was my fascination, it was already hitting my two main concerns, hyperpigmentation (my face is literally three different shades of black) and acne; so I was excited to see the wonders it would do for me.

Instead what did I get? Burning, itching, drying. It was a nightmare y’all. The product I had been prescribed was 15% azelaic acid; which is normal. It’s only really easy to get prescriptions in 15% and 20% but apparently you can’t get those covered by insurance?? So they cost like hundreds of dollars??

Come on, America!

That really just pisses me off because I doubt I even got my prescription for 40 euros, but I digress. Over-the-counter options exist though the science to validate the effectiveness of lower concentrations just isn’t there apparently? Anyway, I never really knew why azelaic acid just didn’t like me, I just attributed it to my bad luck.

After a bit of educated research, I’m thinking maybe it was an allergy.

Anyway, Paula’s Choice is a respectable brand for three reasons: they’re products aren’t drugstore price, they provide information (science-y types) on ingredients, how to use products, etc and finally because rich people (or people richer than a college student) use them.

Was that the same as the first one?

Don’t get me wrong, not all expensive products are good (before you believe that statement, remember that I’m too broke to even be attempting to convince you of that) but do you know how many kinds of things you can get off of Amazon just because they’re cheap? People will put ANYTHING in a bottle and call it skincare, so make sure you’re doing your research.

Some expensive products are also just trash, like Kiehl’s.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid booster has science on it’s side, they have the research to back up their formula; which you can read all about on their website. It’s a cream-gel formula (veryyyyy light) that contains salicylic acid and licorcie (for soothing) in addition to it’s main, powerhouse ingredient.

I noticed improvements after like, four days. I’m not joking.

I had a pretty bad breakout before a photoshoot. My azalaic acid came in on Friday, by Monday I was already feeling a lot better about my skin. So in short: buy it.

Did I also mention that it’s $36? Yeah, you don’t get something without giving something else. I bought the travel size for 10$ initially because a) I’m poor b) I wanted to test it and see if I would have the same reaction to a lower concentration. Now I see that the fact that this product has liquorice; which works to soothe the skin, is obviously an unfair advantage, but I don’t care. I already threw the other azelaic acid in the trash. I’m buying the full-sized one soon and I hope I don’t regret it.

The most important point though isn’t what you put on your face, it’s what you put in your mouth. If you’re eating dairy, not drinking water, eating sugar and trying to compete to see how fast you raise your levels of cholesterol, then don’t even bother wasting your money on skincare products, you disgust me.

No hard feelings though!

xx

Naomi.

P.S: the snail mucin isn’t empty because I bought a new one before I went back to Nigeria in case it ran out over the break. Also, that bottle will last you a lifetime; which is fair considering it’s $21. But I’m not saying buy it, I’m also not saying don’t buy it…

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