My Skincare Routine Is Boring, But It Works

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You know when someone is visiting from out of town and they ask for restaurant recommendations in the area and the convo goes something like this: “Well, there’s this deli I love that has a great lunch special, but it’s more of a grab-and-go sitch than a date night place. Oh! There was this cool Thai restaurant I went to that had a nice ambiance.” (You Google the restaurant. It says it closed during the pandemic.) “OK, how about pasta? You’re gluten-free. Since when?!”

This is often how it goes when people ask for skincare recommendations, which is why I’m a bit hesitant to give them at first. Partially it’s because there are many variables to consider, like your skin type, budget and preferences in scent, texture, etc. And partially it’s because my current routine is as bland as it gets, and I don’t want to disappoint you with how boring it is.

Yes, I am a beauty editor with access to thousands of products, but I also have skin that breaks out easily unless I’m careful, and it doesn’t help that a big part of the job involves testing new launches regularly. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was trying out a retinol cream and ended up with a bad case of retinol burn, so I had to scale back my routine to just three steps: cleansing (gently), moisturizing (a lot) and applying sunscreen (meticulously, by the quadrants of my face).

In chatting with my friend, it appears her 3-month-old son and I share a near-identical routine. “He was dealing with baby acne and dry skin, and doing this really helped clear things up,” she told me. Same, little dude, same.

Now whenever I’m lured by the siren call of a shiny new serum, I repeat a mantra to myself that I heard a life coach once say on a podcast: Simplify to amplify.

She was applying it as a time management tool. As in, simplify your daily tasks to amplify the things that actually need your attention. (Also, you know you’re a millennial when you quote podcasts.)

Anyway, it’s solid advice, and I think it applies to most areas of life, including your skincare. Simplify what you put on your skin to amplify the results you’re after. Whether that’s clearing up a patch of acne or brightening up some dark spots, it’s better to use just one product on the “issue” rather than to throw the entire kitchen sink at it. I’ll get into this more next week. Until then, let us be gentle on our skin barriers and ourselves.

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...