Face Care Confessions of a 30-Something

by - November 04, 2017

I spend a lot of time outdoors gardening, taking the kids to the park, and watching the chickens, and after 36 years, my age, the sun and hormones are getting the best of me. This isn't really something sudden. I've always been loaded with freckles and have struggled with hormonal acne since college. I remember my freshman year being up at 2 am, really homesick, and watching an infomercial for Proactiv and making my first purchase over the phone. I've used cheap scrubs and prescriptions off and on, which was fine for awhile. During pregnancy and following, I used nothing on my face but Palmers Stretch Mark Cream, which was the only thing that didn't make me break out.

But goodness if some of those freckles in the past couple years haven't started growing into their own continents on the map of my face. And then there were these new spots where the skin would crease and kind of stay that way in the dry patches. And dang, where did my color go? I'm not even going to talk about the things my forearms do or what my youngest kid observes when I bend my elbow. It's just life and it shouldn't be embarrassing, but it is. This year I got fed up with my dull complexion and increasing sunspots. I've been trying some new products, focusing on vitamin C to improve collagen synthesis,  retinol (vitamin A) for the wrinkles, acne and sun damage, and hyaluronic acid for hydration and anti-aging --- because that's what beauty blogs told me to do. Just kidding. I also read plenty of dermatologists' sites and the heated posts on both sides of the retinol debate. I tried to find plant-based products and those without parabens and sulfates. I'm going to link the products I have tried here and will let you know what I liked, what I would buy again, but I won't comment too much on how well they work because everyone has very different skin. I have a fair but freckled complexion and possibly what is referred to as combination skin. I'm perpetually dehydrated.

My current daily routine is to rinse with water and follow with a vitamin C serum, toner, retinol serum or cream (this should just be at night, but I've not always followed that recommendation), then a moisturizer with SPF in the morning or a heavier cream at night. A few times a week I use a salicylic wash in the shower or scrub with a clean washcloth and warm water, and I use  SheaMoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Facial Mask in the tub maybe once a week. I also use a store-brand 10% benzoyl peroxide for spot treatment. Over the past year I have noticed my face looks and feels fresher. I'll even throw in that I've been carded more this year than last. Maybe that means I'm just buying more beer (or my breakouts make me look like a teen?? I hope not). I'll let you make a guess. I don't know that any sunspots have faded, but they seem to not be quite as bold. However, the monthly breakouts on the chin and jaw are still going on - no miracles have happened in that regard. Apparently breakouts are very common for women in their thirties, even women who never had breakouts in their youth, and I probably need to visit the dermatologist. When I use the retinol consistently, they do seem less severe. I also need to make some lifestyle changes like drink more water and eat less sugar and always wear sunscreen to at least give my skin a fighting chance. Anyhow, here's what I've tried. I'm sharing this partly so I can go back and remember what I liked. This isn't a paid post, but the links are through my Amazon Associates account which gives me a kickback if you buy them. Before you buy anything, shop around. Read reviews. Ask a friend.

I first tried a brand that showed up in lightening deals last November, LilyAna Naturals. I liked the price, the packaging, the reviews and the description online (paraben free, no animal testing, no added fragrances). I liked that is was a newish small company, and I felt like a pioneer of sorts. The customer service was great and the product was 100% guaranteed. I would definitely get the Retinol Cream again. It didn't dry my skin out much, and I probably could have used something stronger, but I felt like it brightened my complexion and gave it a little moisture. When I first started using it, I only used a little once a day. There was some initial flakiness, and some initial purging, but after a couple weeks, I felt like even the breakouts were clearing up faster. I couldn't tell if the Vitamin C Serum was part of this or not, but the texture was great and it made my skin feel great. Although I didn't like the scent of the serum, it ran out quickly as I used it fervently. I've read in the comments that the formula was changed since I used it, but I haven't tried it again yet. The Eye Cream lasts a long time. I've tried to use it all over my face, but it's a little greasy for the rest of my face. It feels like it sits on top of the skin rather than soaking in.


When I ran out of vitamin C serum, I stopped in at Whole Foods and stood by the shelf until another customer pointed out some brands she liked. I selected Mychelle Perfect C SerumAndalou 1000 Roses Toner, and Andalou Naturals Ultra Sheer Daily Defense Facial Lotion SPF 18. They were all on sale at the time, otherwise I might not have tried the serum. Good news was that I loved them all. I have already run out of the serum, but I'm still using the toner twice a day and use the lotion daily when I haven't left it in a bag from a recent trip to the mountains. The Andalou products both smell incredible and are affordable. I will definitely replenish these when they run out.


I seem to run through the serums quickly and suspect I'm using too much on at once. The first two vitamin C serums I shared seemed to take more product than recommended to get coverage... that or my skin is just very thirsty. The new one I'm trying, Amara Organics Vitamin C Serum for Face 20% with Hyaluronic Acid, is thinner, and it tends to run if I'm not careful. I was about to run out of my retinol cream and thinking I needed to try something stronger, I have just started using another product I found on Amazon - ToLB Retinol Serum - 72% Organic - Clinical Strength Retinol Moisturizer. I have nothing to say yet other than it was cheap and had rave reviews. I know Amazon reviews can't always be trusted, but I went for it. It is too soon to say if it's making a difference as I hadn't used retinol in a couple months and my skin is a little angry about it. There is no odor, so that's positive.

Finally, a product I've used at night is OLAY Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Micro-Sculpting Cream. This doesn't score well on the EWG skindeep database due to fragrance and parabens, but I bought them before I knew better. I may see if Andalou has a night cream. I still use my Palmer's stretch mark cream on my face on occasion. What do you love?

I have many friends that swear by Beauty Counter (links to my consultant friend, Regan), and I have tried their Color Pinch Cream Blusher but not skin care products yet. I personally love a tinted moisturizer, so once mine from Stila runs out, I will give Beauty Counter's Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage SPF 20 a try since sun protection is something I really need as a gardener. 

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