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Here's How I Started My Very First Skin Care Routine (And It Actually Works!)

Is skin care one big mystery to you? Are you intimidated by a full routine? Same. Surprise, I totally winged it. Bigger surprise – it actually worked.

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Hey hi hello my name is Francine and, until very recently, I had never had a skin care routine.

Prior to having a skincare routine, I was inconsistently exfoliating/washing my face/slathering on random products from time to time and hoping for the best. I still don't even know what skin type I have, or how a person finds that out...but my skin is pretty oily, and prone to acne. My two biggest concerns going into a skincare routine were spending money on skincare, and being consistent. In the past, I've struggled with dermatillomania, so I have avoided a skincare routine for years out of fear that it would backfire – focusing on my face/skin/acne and touching my face can trigger me into picking again. ~So0o~ for the most part, I've been completely ignoring my skin for the past few years, which has worked to stop picking; but not so much worked for acne, scars, oily skin, and so on. I was inspired to start a skincare routine after watching Queer Eye (shoutout to Jonathan ily please adopt me), and realizing a skincare routine is just another way to love yourself and take some self-care time. My plan was this: half my routine would be to consistently use skincare products, and the other half would be to change my diet and drink more water, two things I was working on doing anyway.
Yi Yang / BuzzFeed

Prior to having a skincare routine, I was inconsistently exfoliating/washing my face/slathering on random products from time to time and hoping for the best.

I still don't even know what skin type I have, or how a person finds that out...but my skin is pretty oily, and prone to acne. My two biggest concerns going into a skincare routine were spending money on skincare, and being consistent. In the past, I've struggled with dermatillomania, so I have avoided a skincare routine for years out of fear that it would backfire – focusing on my face/skin/acne and touching my face can trigger me into picking again. ~So0o~ for the most part, I've been completely ignoring my skin for the past few years, which has worked to stop picking; but not so much worked for acne, scars, oily skin, and so on.

I was inspired to start a skincare routine after watching Queer Eye (shoutout to Jonathan ily please adopt me), and realizing a skincare routine is just another way to love yourself and take some self-care time. My plan was this: half my routine would be to consistently use skincare products, and the other half would be to change my diet and drink more water, two things I was working on doing anyway.

The idea of having a skin care routine was intimidating. It sounded like something people do who have much more money and time than what I'm working with.

So I started my routine by buying two products – an organic baby lotion for dry skin (that I also use on my hands), and a travel size Thayers rose petal witch hazel toner. Every other skincare product I used were things I had (mostly laying around unused) already – like the Ariul 7 Days Phyto Body Wash I use in the shower, or Bio Oil (a product I've used v inconsistently for years for acne scars). Starting with what I had felt like less of a risk, and I figured if all went well, I would invest in a face wash or try different face masks after graduating from my beginner routine. Tbh I was not expecting much at all from doing a skincare routine, but I was hoping for fewer breakouts 😬.Here's all the products I've been using:Bio Oil ($23.99 on Amazon). Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel ($5.25 on Amazon).Ariul 7 Days Phyto Body Wash ($12.99 on Amazon).Skinfix Gentle Lotion ($5.71 on Amazon).Gaia Herbs Golden Milk ($12.34 on Amazon).Redmond Clay ($15.99 on Amazon).Apple Cider Vinegar ($8.20 on Amazon).Burt's Bees Facial Wipes ($4.87 on Amazon).
Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

So I started my routine by buying two products – an organic baby lotion for dry skin (that I also use on my hands), and a travel size Thayers rose petal witch hazel toner. Every other skincare product I used were things I had (mostly laying around unused) already – like the Ariul 7 Days Phyto Body Wash I use in the shower, or Bio Oil (a product I've used v inconsistently for years for acne scars). Starting with what I had felt like less of a risk, and I figured if all went well, I would invest in a face wash or try different face masks after graduating from my beginner routine. Tbh I was not expecting much at all from doing a skincare routine, but I was hoping for fewer breakouts 😬.

Here's all the products I've been using:

Bio Oil ($23.99 on Amazon).

Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel ($5.25 on Amazon).

Ariul 7 Days Phyto Body Wash ($12.99 on Amazon).

Skinfix Gentle Lotion ($5.71 on Amazon).

Gaia Herbs Golden Milk ($12.34 on Amazon).

Redmond Clay ($15.99 on Amazon).

Apple Cider Vinegar ($8.20 on Amazon).

Burt's Bees Facial Wipes ($4.87 on Amazon).

Every morning I wake up and do the first half of my skin care routine, which is to make a green smoothie with Golden Milk supplement.

Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

The contents of the smoothie vary, but it is basically this: 1/3 liquid (I use organic aloe vera juice which is supposed to be v good for skin, but you can also use water or coconut water), 1/3 fresh fruits, as many supplements as you want (I use Golden Milk, Ultimate green Zone powder, and occasionally some chocolate hemp protein), any nuts and seeds you may want for extra protein, and 1/3 fresh greens. I have experimented with a variety of greens in smoothies, and I have found that any type of spring mix or lettuce greens have the least amount of ~vegetable taste~. Broccoli kiwi watermelon is also a weirdly good combo?!? The raw broccoli gives it a sort of nutty flavor/texture.

I was worried replacing breakfast with smoothies would leave me with much hunger, but I actually have way more energy in the mornings now with less to digest. I also drink tons of lemon water throughout the day – about 10 glasses each day. Out of all the changes I have made and things I have tried in my diet in the last month or so, I would say Golden Milk has made the biggest difference for my skin care. It is turmeric based, which can be really beneficial for your skin, and is also delicious in warm coconut milk. Some people like to drink it at night to help them sleep, but when I drink this, I get suuuper energized, so I don't understand those people at all, I would be up until 3 am.

Get Gaia Herbs Golden Milk on Amazon for $12.34 or Jet for $12.99, the Ultimate GreenZone Powder for $33.52, and the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein for $17.43 or from Jet for $18.69.

My first step of my nightly skin care routine is to wash my face with an exfoliating glove and my lil' 7 Days Wash.

Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed, Devric Butoh / BuzzFeed

The exfoliating glove helps because it minimizes how much I have to directly touch my face, plus exfoliating. Double win. The wash is clean smelling, moisturizing, and good for sensitive skin. I really don't go too wild with the washing, just enough to get the dirt and grime off before I move on to step two.

Get a four-pack of exfoliating gloves from Amazon for $8.99 and the Ariul 7 Days Phyto Body Wash Cleanser for $12.99.

Step two is a bentonite clay mud mask. Yep. Every night.

Devric Butoh / BuzzFeed, Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

I know I was just complaining about not having the time to take care of my skin, but I also know myself. If I don't see dramatic results quickly, I am going to give up, and bentonite clay is very dramatic. I first encountered it when my dad was bitten twice by a brown recluse spider on his back, and he had me apply this bentonite clay mixture to the bites every day (If you get bit by a venomous spider pls go to the doctor, I am not a doctor and neither is my father — alright moving on) to "pull the venom out". I thought this was the worst idea, but it worked.

Last summer I developed a disgusting giant cyst on my shoulder, and I went out and bought the first bentonite clay I could get my hands on. Which brings us to present day! If this stuff works to pull whatever the hell fills a giant painful cyst out in a few days, it will probably work wonders on pulling the gunk in your face out too. And for me, it did! I just mix a spoonful of this with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, and stir it up.

Get Bentonite Clay from Amazon for $14.49 or from Jet for $10.99. Get apple cider vinegar from Amazon for $9.99 or get it from Jet for $5.98.

Just apply the mask, let it dry, and then wash it off with warm water.

Devric Butoh / BuzzFeed, Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

I usually watch Netflix, do the dishes, or walk my dog while I wait for the mask to dry, so it doesn't feel like I'm just sitting and waiting forever. I usually leave mine on anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick I made the mask that night. I layer it on a little thicker on breakouts and problem areas (like the acne along my jawline), which seems to help keep it in check. But just keep in mind the thicker you make the mask, the longer it will take to dry! Even the thinnest mask I have used has left my skin feeling softer and refreshed, so there is no need to be that hardcore about it if you're pressed for time.

P.S. the mask left my skin a little red, but my redness went away after about ten minutes. If straight up apple cider vinegar is too strong for you (has a v pungent smell), you can also try half water and half ACV when mixing the mask.

After I wash off the mud mask, for step three I apply Thayers witch hazel toner with a cotton ball all over my face and jawline.

amazon.com, Devric Butoh / BuzzFeed

Again, minimizing contact with directly touching my face! I wanted to try Thayer's ever since reading this post about it, but I also despise the smell of witch hazel. Any slight smell and I woulda been pretty sad. But I tried this smaller one, and by some miracle it does not smell like witch hazel at all! Just smells like roses. I also like that it is not alcohol based like most other toners — no burn, just a great toner for evening out any redness.

Get the travel size Thayers Witch Hazel from Amazon for $6.82 or from Jet for $8.76. Get the 12 oz bottle from Amazon for $6.99.

Step four: After using the toner, I apply Bio Oil to my face, especially my cheeks where I have a lot of acne/picking scars.

Bio Oil is possibly my favorite skin care product out of everything I use. It can take a while to see the results, but for now it feels great on my skin and smells like sunflower oil.Get the Bio Oil from Amazon for $6.99+ (available in three sizes) or from Jet for $14.99.
Devric Butoh / Via BuzzFeed

Bio Oil is possibly my favorite skin care product out of everything I use. It can take a while to see the results, but for now it feels great on my skin and smells like sunflower oil.

Get the Bio Oil from Amazon for $6.99+ (available in three sizes) or from Jet for $14.99.

After the Bio Oil soaks into my skin, I finish off my routine with step five: Skinfix lotion for some much needed moisture!

This lotion is free of fragrance, parabens, and anything else that may irritate skin. So even though it is marketed as a body lotion, I feel safe using it on my face. It just leaves my skin feeling super hydrated and soft. As someone with oily and acne prone skin, I have always been wary of moisturizing my face. I was worried it might clog my pores or make my skin even more oily. But then I learned my body could be producing excess oil to make up for the fact that my skin is in dire need of a moisturizer. Oh, the irony. Since starting a skin care routine, my skin is much much less oily. Plus, if you are doing a mud mask every day, you better be moisturizing and replenishing your skin as well! Otherwise your skin may get v dried out. Get Skinfix lotion from Amazon for $6.50 or from Jet for $5.71.
Devric Butoh / Via BuzzFeed

This lotion is free of fragrance, parabens, and anything else that may irritate skin. So even though it is marketed as a body lotion, I feel safe using it on my face. It just leaves my skin feeling super hydrated and soft.

As someone with oily and acne prone skin, I have always been wary of moisturizing my face. I was worried it might clog my pores or make my skin even more oily. But then I learned my body could be producing excess oil to make up for the fact that my skin is in dire need of a moisturizer. Oh, the irony. Since starting a skin care routine, my skin is much much less oily. Plus, if you are doing a mud mask every day, you better be moisturizing and replenishing your skin as well! Otherwise your skin may get v dried out.

Get Skinfix lotion from Amazon for $6.50 or from Jet for $5.71.

Throughout the day I also use Burt's Bee's facial cleansing wipes twice to wipe away dirt and oil, and to smell like a grapefruit angel.

Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

I. Love. The. Smell. Of. Grapefruit. so I use these amazing smelling, all natural wipes! Because who has time to actually wash your face four times a day? Not me. I usually use two of these a day, one at work when I am feeling ~oily~ and one right when I get home from work when I am feeling ~grimey~.

Get a 30-pack of wraps from Amazon for $4.54 or from Jet for $5.21.

So I've been doing this skin care routine for about a month now, and my skin truly looks better than ever.

Uhm hello?!? I am glowing! My breakouts on my chin, jawline and cheeks have reduced by about 80%, and when I do get a nasty cystic pimple, the mask dries it right out in a day or two. By using a lot of products I had on hand, changing my diet, staying consistent, and using a product that gives dramatic results, I found a skincare routine that works for me. I am excited to keep doing it, and eventually try out other skincare products. I no longer feel afraid or intimidated by the world of skincare. The most important thing starting a skincare routine gave me was to take more time for myself and sit with the fact that I am worth that time, as we all are. This routine forced me to set aside time every day to take care of my skin, and the results are incredible. It has encouraged me to take care better care of myself in other areas of my life as well. Doing it at first felt like a chore, and now it feels like a relief, to step out of the chaos and stress life can bring just for a few minutes every day, and focus on me. When I was writing this post, I searched and searched for a good before pic to use to compare with how my skin looks now. I looked all the way back in my phone, and I have not one single close-up selfie of my face without a filter over it taken in the last year or so. This made me realize how much shame and insecurity I still carry about my face. I was ignoring my face in effort to ignore the fact that picking used to be, and sometimes still is, a daily struggle for me to stop doing. My face felt like a walking poster for how well or not well I was dealing with dermatillomania. Now, it feels so so good to do something good for my skin every day. I get to see my face heal from the years of damage and acne it has endured. So I don't have a dramatic before and after shot for you, but I do have this photo of myself to share as I am now: glowing, healing, loving my skin, and unashamed to take an up-close selfie with no filter for the first time in a very long time.
Francine Hendrickson / BuzzFeed

Uhm hello?!? I am glowing! My breakouts on my chin, jawline and cheeks have reduced by about 80%, and when I do get a nasty cystic pimple, the mask dries it right out in a day or two. By using a lot of products I had on hand, changing my diet, staying consistent, and using a product that gives dramatic results, I found a skincare routine that works for me. I am excited to keep doing it, and eventually try out other skincare products. I no longer feel afraid or intimidated by the world of skincare.

The most important thing starting a skincare routine gave me was to take more time for myself and sit with the fact that I am worth that time, as we all are. This routine forced me to set aside time every day to take care of my skin, and the results are incredible. It has encouraged me to take care better care of myself in other areas of my life as well. Doing it at first felt like a chore, and now it feels like a relief, to step out of the chaos and stress life can bring just for a few minutes every day, and focus on me.

When I was writing this post, I searched and searched for a good before pic to use to compare with how my skin looks now. I looked all the way back in my phone, and I have not one single close-up selfie of my face without a filter over it taken in the last year or so. This made me realize how much shame and insecurity I still carry about my face. I was ignoring my face in effort to ignore the fact that picking used to be, and sometimes still is, a daily struggle for me to stop doing. My face felt like a walking poster for how well or not well I was dealing with dermatillomania. Now, it feels so so good to do something good for my skin every day. I get to see my face heal from the years of damage and acne it has endured. So I don't have a dramatic before and after shot for you, but I do have this photo of myself to share as I am now: glowing, healing, loving my skin, and unashamed to take an up-close selfie with no filter for the first time in a very long time.

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