In the last few months, I’ve overhauled my entire skincare regimen and thought my experience might help others. I started to notice small hard bumps on my cheeks and other random acne, and after a visit with a new dermatologist, discovered I had developed milia (tiny non-inflamed bumps that form from dead skin cells). The rich Estee Lauder and Clarins moisturizers I had been dutifully slathering across my face and neck were, in fact, too rich for my (in the words of my derm) “non-mature, young skin” (bless her)!

I’ve been on this new regimen for 2 months now and have noticed a substantial difference. My skin is much clearer, and the milia are starting to slowly subside (as an aside, there are only 2 ways to deal with milia – letting them clear up over time or letting a derm break the surface and suction the crap out for several hundred bucks). The dark spots on my cheeks are fading and I am starting to feel glowy and confident about leaving the house sans-makeup again.

Here is the complete product list, followed by a breakdown of reviews:

  1. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser: This is a wonderful, basic cleanser that is creamy, yet gentle and effective. A little goes a long way…all you need is a dime-size amount to create a nice lather. One tube will last many months.
  2. Vivite Daily Facial Cleanser: This was given to me by the derm, and it is powerful stuff (15% glycolic acid). I found that using it twice a day was too drying, and my face felt too sensitive when I would use it at night along with the acne medication. It is a very creamy cleanser (almost lotion-like), so I mix it with the Kiehl’s to get that lather I love and a squeaky clean (but not dry, never dry) feeling.
  3. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser: I raved about it here. It’s basic, easily found, cheap, and works amazingly well at removing makeup (esp. when used with a Clarisonic).
  4. Clarisonic: I have been using this about 3 times a week over the summer, and it’s done wonders for keeping my skin glowy and flake-free as it adapts to the Ziana. I find that in the warmer months, my skin can handle more frequent uses.
  5. Salma Hayek Walnut Facial Scrub: I use this scrub all over my face about 1-2 times per week. Even though my skin is delicate and sensitive, it can handle this scrub, and I credit this and the Clarisonic with helping exfoliate away my milia. It’s only available at CVS, but you can always find coupons! I find this especially useful when I plan to wear makeup for a day or night out…it helps everything glide on and look dewy in a non-oily way.
  6. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin: I bought this on a whim, fed up with spending $40+ on department store moisturizers that I hated but was too lazy to return. This has never irritated my skin and is nicely, but not overly, moisturizing. It might not be enough for the winter months, but so far, it’s great.
  7. Cerave cream: Another one I’ve raved about, and the only rec that stuck from my past derm. This is gentle, yet heavy, so I tend to just dab it on dry spots after the Ziana. For travel, I store a bit in an old Clinique sample eye cream jar, and use it for nighttime moisture as well as an eye cream.
  8. Clinique Repairwear Intensive Eye Cream: Reviewed here and so happy with it still. The first and only eye cream to have never irritated my skin. Hooray!
  9. Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Daily Liquid Sunblock: No matter the season, a sunblock alone is never enough moisture for my skin. I’ve found that combing a few drops of this with the Oil-Free moisturizer creates the perfect base for summer, and my skin has neither burned nor gotten much darker since I’ve been using this combination. The bottle is teeny, yet holds a good amount and seals shut nicely, making it perfect for travel or a day at the beach.
  10. Ziana: This replaced my beloved Differin. It’s tretinoin (a touch stronger than Differin) plus Clindamycin (antibacterial). My skin transitioned quite well, and after 2 months, I’ve had noticeable skin clearing and fading of scars and dark marks. It was a pain to obtain this through my insurance, so hopefully others might have better luck.

That’s my skincare in a nutshell! Funny that as a I get older, I find myself going back to the tried-and-true drugstore brands for most of my skincare needs. Up next – my summer makeup!