For my first official blog post, I decided to write about something I get asked about the most: What is my skincare routine?
As a model, it’s important to have great skin. Up until a couple years ago, I thought that was completely unattainable for me. My complexion was dull, and my face was completely covered in deep, cystic acne and clogged pores. You can imagine how self-conscious this would make me, especially when I booked gigs. I would feel embarrassed when clients would hire makeup artists or shoot closeups on me. I almost wanted to leave a set I was on when a makeup artist told me I needed to take care of my skin. “I know…” was all I could get out while holding back tears.
At my skin’s worst, I decided I needed a complete lifestyle overhaul. I quit my day job that caused so much stress that a huge patch of grey hair began sprouting and I was talking in my sleep. I cut back on alcohol and drank more water instead. I incorporated more vegetables into my diet and cut back on the sweets and junk (although I never cut it out completely or I'd be h-angry all the time). As soon as I left a gig and got to my car, I would wipe off all of my makeup immediately so my skin could breath. I also swapped Starbucks for Nektar Juice Bar to get healthier energy since caffeine can be dehydrating. My skin would glow from within when I would do juice cleanses and I started doing a couple chemical peels as well, but I’ll save all that for another post.
Below are my BEFORE photos taken on January 2012 and my AFTER photos taken on February 2016. Please note that each of these photos are not photoshopped whatsoever. Posting the 'Before' photos was a really difficult decision for me to make. I know that once these are out in the internet space, there's no turning back. This was a very painful and insecure time for me, but I thought it was extremely important to post them so you could see exactly where my starting point was and where my skin is today.
I’ve tried numerous skincare lines and I would plateau in results after about 3 months of use. Moving from line to line can be quite expensive and not to mention frustrating as the products build up. It wasn’t until I started working for an oral surgeon’s office that I met my saving grace, the Obagi Nu-Derm line. I had seen the skincare line before at a couple of medical spas in Asia. Asian countries are known to be obsessed with skincare, so if Obagi was highly regarded there, I knew this must be good stuff.
So I took the plunge, and long story short…here is my entire routine from start to finish!
-Cleanse: Foaming Gel
-Spot treat: Therapeutic Lotion
-Vitamin C Serum 15%
-Step 3: Clear
-Step 4: Exfoderm
-Elastiderm Eye Serum
-Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50
-Cleanse: Foaming Gel
-Spot treat: Therapeutic Lotion
-Step 3: Clear
-Step 5: Blender
Cleansing with my Clarisonic is a MUST. Once I added this miracle device to my routine, I noticed how deeply clean my face felt. Makeup wipes do not completely dissolve makeup and in fact, you can see all the residue left behind after using a wipe on the Clarisonic brush head. It’s disgusting to think of all the years I went without my using it and how much gunk was building up on my skin. I’ve tried tons of knock-off devices and none of them have worked as well as the Clarisonic. I initially purchased the Clarisonic Pro, but I have found that the Mia 2 (which I currently use) is just as great and cheaper in price. I swap out my brushes according to season to keep my skin from getting used to the device and I use mine day AND night religiously!
I cleanse with the Foaming Gel and follow with toner morning and night. Although the Foaming Gel is technically for the oily skin types, I prefer this over the Gentle Cleanser because I prefer a little bit of lather and feel like my skin is cleaner after I rinse off. After cleansing, I apply the toner with a round cotton pad. Most people don’t think toner is necessary and often skip this part, but it is really is important. Cleansing throws your skin’s pH balance off and toning returns that balance.
I am obsessed with Obagi’s Therapeutic Lotion from their Clenziderm line (dedicated acne line). It is truly like no other spot treatment I have ever used! I find that it dries out breakouts whether they are hormonal related or simply congestion much faster. Sure, you can buy any kind of benzoyl peroxide found at drug stores but physician strength formulas are much more effective. What makes the Therapeutic Lotion different is how fine the Benzoyl Peroxide molecules are so that they can penetrate your pores better than over-the-counter BPO. I use this morning and night on my trouble areas (my chin, hollows of my cheeks, center of forehead) and it helps keep those breakouts at bay. Even if I considered swapping out the Nu-Derm line for something new, I will continue to stay loyal to the Therapeutic Lotion because that's how amazing it is!
After I spot treat, I apply 5-7 drops of the Obagi Vitamin C-Serum 15%, but only in the day time. The Obagi rep told me the Vitamin C remains active for 19 hours, so applying day and night would be a waste of product. Vitamin C is a miracle worker. It helps provide protection from free radicals, brightens, tightens, and lightens! Vitamin C also helps soothe inflammation and retains moisture. Once I added this step to my skin routine, I noticed my complexion really did look brighter and the texture felt even smoother.
Step 3: Clear is used both day AND night. This is your first dose of Hydroquinone which corrects the appearance of age and sun spots. This product works on the discoloration found on the surface level of your skin.
Step 4: Exfoderm is used only in the day after Step 3: Clear. It’s a lightweight lotion that helps exfoliate the top layer of the skin by removing dull, old skin cells, while revealing new skin cells for a brighter complexion.
Step 5: Blender is used only at night after Step 3: Clear and is your second dose of Hydroquinone. This formula works at the cellular level of your skin to lighten sun and age spots as well as other types of discoloration.
I use both the Elastiderm Eye Serum for day and the Elastiderm Eye Cream at night. When I worked at the oral surgeon office, this was the #1 seller and employee cult favorite. Although some of the employees couldn’t commit to the entire Nu-derm line because of how extensive it can seem, EVERYONE agreed they noticed a difference when using this eye cream. Aside from fighting fine lines and wrinkles, the serum comes with a roller-ball applicator that goes on feeling cold. I have bad allergies so I often wake up with swollen, puffy, and itchy eyes. Rolling over my eye area helps reduce the swelling and the cool metal roller ball helps soothe the irritation. The other difference between that the serum has caffeine in it to further help with de-puffing the eye area and I definitely need all the help I can get! Depending on the season, sometimes I find that my eye area is not quite moisturized enough with the serum alone, so I’ll follow up with a tiny bit of the cream to help keep them from feeling dry and tight.
Although I know it’s important to wear SPF on a daily basis, I am guilty of not following this every single day. However, I do apply consistently when I know I will be getting a lot of sun exposure during the day. I love the Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 formula. It provides both UVA and UVB protection, is non-comedogenic, and has a matte finish to it. I love the matte finish particularly because I find that other SPF formulas leave me looking extremely shiny.
My hands down favorite moisturizer I have ever used is the Hydrate Luxe. Although it is technically an evening moisturizer, I love using it during the day as well. It has a balm-like texture and is formulated with peptides that are designed to release over time for long-term moisturization.
After a 2 months of being on this line, I started getting comments on social media and from friends how nice my complexion has gotten. I would have girlfriends stop mid-conversation or interrupt me just to ask what I had been doing differently because it was such a drastic change! Not only did my skin go through a transformation visibly, but it changed skin type as well. My skin was extremely dry that I would have to reapply moisturizer or facial oils 2-3 times after washing. Now, I’m more on the combination side and my skin doesn’t feel as tight as it used to be.
Although this is only my daily routine, I do rotate between several masks and microderm throughout the week. My skin is extremely finicky, so I have to be diligent with an intense regimen. I will definitely go over my other skincare items including the different Clarisonic brush heads that I use, the masks I rotate through and why, the tool which I microderm with, as well as the chemical peels and laser facials I have done in the past that have helped me through the extreme breakout phase prior to discovering the Obagi line.
Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different and what may have worked for me won’t necessarily work for everyone. However, I will note that I have yet to meet someone that has fully committed to the line say that it did not do a thing for them. If you are looking to start, it is extremely important that you use Clear, Exfoderm, AND Blender or you will not see the optimum results. And as always, consult with your physician before starting this line since Steps 3-5 are prescription strength.
When starting any new skincare regimen, your breakouts may intensify before they get better. Power through this stage! This is all the congestion that is stuck beneath your skin that needs to come to the surface and clear out. If you have severe acne, I would suggest using the Obagi Clenziderm line first and then the Nu-Derm line to address the rest of your complexion after. The price point of this line tends to scare some people off as well. The fastest thing you will run out of is your cleanser and your toner, which is the cheapest out of the entire set. Clear, Exfoderm, and Blender are little more on the spend-y side, but these 3 products actually will last you quite a bit. I was told one bottle was a 3 month supply, but it lasted much longer for me. Your skin is your largest organ, if you have the means to, invest in it!
Thank you for reading and good luck boo boos!