Good Skin For All: CVS Edition

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A huge part of my personal philosophy is making skincare more approachable and accessible. That’s Why I’m Cool With Non-Professional Skincare. I wanted to expand on that and REALLY help you guys put together an effective routine, no matter where you’re shopping. As I’ve stressed so many times before, it comes down to using the right ingredients for your skin type and concerns, so I’m going to put together a full skincare routine for each skin type based off of labels alone. I’m going to leave professional skincare recommendations to the professional who knows your skin best, so I’m going to be working with CVS, Target, Ulta, and Sephora. In the case of CVS, I’m going to leave out brands such as Clarins, Dermalogica, etc. as those can be bought from higher end stores or professionals. These posts are going to be really long just because there’s SO MUCH, but I’ll do my best to condense and label things well for easier scrolling!

disclaimer

I have not personally tried every product I’m going to suggest. 1.) That’s too damn expensive, and 2.) the vast majority of these products are not suited to my skin type. I’m making these recommendations based on ingredients and my ingredient knowledge alone. Be smart and stay away from things you know your skin is allergic or sensitive to; discontinue use immediately of any product that isn’t agreeing with your skin. Professional skincare may produce better or longer-lasting results due to higher concentrations of active ingredients. While I recommend professional lines for things like exfoliants, serums, and treatments, the point of this series is to piece together a comprehensive routine using OTC skincare only.

oily

Goals for oily skin: balancing oil without drying out the skin, and keeping things clean to reduce potential breakouts. Oily skin requires more cleansing and exfoliating than other types.

What to avoid:

  • Things that make your skin tingle-I’m looking at you, Noxema. That tingling feeling is meant to evoke illusions of cleanliness, but really it’s your skin screaming in irritation from drying ingredients like menthol and SD or denatured alcohol. The goal is to BALANCE oily skin, not dry it out to the point that it produces even more oil to compensate.
  • Things that are overly thick or emollient-bar cleansers, stick foundations, occlusive moisturizers, and balms leave ingredients that mix with your skin’s excess oil and add to the greasiness. These things can also clog your already acne-prone skin.

The routine:

Be sure to find a sunscreen you’ll use daily. Just because your skin will age slower to due to your higher oil content, doesn’t mean you don’t need sun protection.

dry

Goals for dry skinto stop damaging the outer layer by avoiding drying, abrasive, and damaging things such as bar soaps and unprotected sun exposure; to use good exfoliation and proper hydrating products to build up the damaged outer layer. Dry skin also tends to age quicker, so products that utilize vitamin A and glycolic acid are vital.

What to Avoid

  • bar soaps
  • water-soluble cleansers
  • irritating ingredients such as menthols and abrasive scrubs (fruit, shell, or nut fragments)

The Routine:

combo

Goals for combo skinbalance. That’s pretty much it. Combo skin is tricky because you need to treat the oily areas with products designed for oily skin, and dry areas with dry products. For the sake of this series, I’ll recommend products based on the “combo” category on the CVS website.

What to avoidone size fits all skincare.

The routine:

acne

Goals for acneic skinclearing the skin and keeping it clear WITHOUT drying it out or causing more damage.

What to avoid

  • anything inflammatory, as acne is an inflammatory disorder
  • anything drying (menthol, harsh detergents, over concentrated acids/peroxides/alcohols)
  • overdoing the cleansing; keeping the skin clean and exfoliated is crucial, however, you CANNOT wash away your acne. All you’ll do is irritate it!
  • unprotected sun exposure (no, sunscreen will not give you acne, and no, sunlight does not “clear up” acne)
  • thick, waxy textures

The routine:

  • Cleanser: nothing harsh, stripping, drying, or abrasive. That’s a tall order for drugstore skincare. Here are some good ones: Yes to Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser ($9.99, or $2.96/oz); Derma E Very Clear Acne Cleanser ($15.49, or $2.58/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Purifying Cleansing Gel ($9.99, or $2/oz).
  • Toner: the major concern with toners for acne-prone skin is avoiding anything that is too astringent. Again, you cannot dry out your acne; you can’t scrub it away, wash it away, sting it away. The only one I found that is worth the money without doing further damage is Andalou Naturals Clarifying Pore Minimizer ($12.99, or $2.16/oz). “Pore minimizer” is a bit of a misnomer, because you can’t minimize your pores once they’ve been stretched out. But it is a lovely toner all the same. Run away from anything that has denatured alcohol (sometimes listed as SD alcohol) anywhere near the beginning of the ingredient deck; this is what dries your skin out and makes it tight, which makes you think it’s working, but it’s just making your skin angry which leads to more breakouts.
  • Exfoliant: a leave-on AHA or BHA is ideal, because exfoliation (GENTLE exfoliation) is key to keeping acneic skin healthy. That can be hard to find outside of professional lines, so the next course of action is to find a good scrub. Acne scrubs are so, so abrasive and irritating. Here are the most gentle acne scrubs I found: Derma E Very Clear Acne Scrub ($13.99, or $3.50/oz); Reviva Labs Microdermabrasion Pomegranate Scrub ($18.99, or $9.50/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Pore Refining Scrub ($9.99, or $2.50/oz).
  • Moisturizer: just like with oily skin, you might be tempted to skip the moisturizer in the name of keeping your skin clear. This is a huge mistake! When your skin is stripped of the oil it’s putting out, it puts out more oil, which causes more breakouts. The key is to find a moisturizer that is light but still hydrating. The ONLY one that I can happily recommend is Burt’s Bees Acne Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($17.99, or $9/oz). CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM ($14.49, or $4.83/oz) is an alright choice, especially since it’s SPF 30 and contains niacinamide, but it has a lot of preservatives for the price. I’m not anti-preservative or paraben, but I do believe there should be more active ingredients than preservatives in products.
  • Masks: I stand by my bentonite clay powder recommendation for oily skin. You’re going to want to find something that is purifying without drying, lightly hydrating, and soothing. I’m gonna be real honest, drugstore acne masks are shit. The best options I found are these two: Beauty 360 Detoxifying Perfecting Black Facial Mask ($11.99, this one has a decent ingredient deck AND IT’S BLACK), and Queen Helene The Original Mint Julep Mask ($4.99, or 62 cents/oz). I hesitate to recommend the Queen Helene mask because although it has some great ingredients for the price, it also has two or three possibly irritating ingredients in higher concentrations. So watch out.
  • Serums/treatments: spot treatments are great for minimizing individual spots, but they aren’t a long-term or all-over treatment. They won’t keep spots from coming back. Keep that in mind when shopping for one. Most of the drugstore options are crazy drying and overpriced for how much active ingredient is in the product. Even my good friend Burt’s Bees had denatured alcohol as the first ingredient (damn you Burt). Derma E Very Clear Acne Spot Treatment ($11.49, or $21.28/oz) is the only good option I found. When you look at the price-per-ounce, you might consider another option.

antiaging

Goals for anti-agingthis is such a tricky skin concern because everyone expects miracles that will turn back the clock as quickly as the signs of aging appeared. Only surgical procedures and injectables will give you (almost) instantaneous results. You want to incorporate as much of the following ingredients as possible: antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; glutathione; selenium; green tea; soy extract; grape extract; pomegranate extract), skin identical/skin repairing (ceramides; lecithin; glycerin; hyaluronic acid; sodium PCA; collagen; elastin; proteins; triglycerides), cell-communicating (niacinamide; retinol; synthetic peptides; lecithin; ceramides). Sun protection is an absolute most because the most visible signs of aging are due to sun exposure and damage.

What to avoid:

  • “miracle” products that claim to mimic the effects of Botox and other medical procedures. Nothing can fully replicate the effects of those measures.
  • irritating products. As your skin ages, it doesn’t recover quite as quickly. It’s very important to avoid anything that could prolong that.

The Routine:

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One thought on “Good Skin For All: CVS Edition

  1. […] Target is one of my favorite places to shop because I like to be a basic bitch and get a chai latte to sip on while I shop. As far as skincare goes, you have to dig! But, Target carries Andalou Naturals, which is my most recommended non-professional line, as well as Derma E and SW Basics. While I’m on the subject, I’m not a “naturals only” esthetician. I believe there is a time and a place for everything, and products need things like preservatives to give them shelf life. However, most drugstore/OTC lines that are not “natural” do not have a good concentration of active ingredients, whereas drugstore “natural” lines do. As with CVS, I’ve left out higher end lines that can be bought elsewhere. Unlike CVS, Target’s website doesn’t include the price-per-ounce, and I failed every math class I ever took, so if you’re looking for the best price using those parameters, you may need to do some in-store comparing for yourself. (If you’re just now coming in, please see my disclaimer from the Good Skin For All: CVS Edition post.) […]

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