4 Things I Learned From Keeping A Skincare Diary

I’ve heard of people keeping food diaries, and even sleep diaries, but never skincare diaries. So when my editor challenged me to keep track of my skincare routine and daily habits to judge how they affected my skin for a week, I was confused. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense – we’re all aiming for gorgeous skin, but when it’s less than glowing, sometimes we’re lost for the reasons why. By keeping track of how our day-to-day life can affect our skin, we know what to do in future to improve it (and, more importantly, what to avoid). Here’s the four things I learnt by keeping a skincare diary for a week…

Switching up my routine to try out weird and wonderful ingredients works wonders for my skin…

I’m such a creature of habit when it comes to my skincare – I use the same face wash, toner and moisturiser (and sometimes eye cream, when I’m feeling boujee!), day in, day out. Keeping track of this for a week made me realise how boring this is; I have a huge collection of skincare, so why wasn’t I trying more of it out?! Of course, if a routine works well for your skin and you’re happy, you should stick with it – but it’s equally important to not feel tied to your favourite products, and to know that you can switch up your routine to cater for the seasons, and to how your skin feels.

As summer is coming to an end (booo) and the colder months are approaching, my skin’s starting to feel a little drier. But as I tend to get greasy in my T-Zone, I didn’t want to switch my moisturiser for anything too heavy, so instead, I swapped out my cleanser. My day-to-day face wash is formulated for oily skin, so can sometimes strip my skin a little too much. I’d read online that products with prebiotics (yup – I thought that was just a thing found in tiny yoghurts, I had no idea it could be included in beauty products either!) were gentle on the skin, and that the ‘good bacteria’ helped keep skin glowing and clear.

To test the theory, I tried out the Gallinee Prebiotic Foaming Facial Cleanser, not only did the ‘good bacteria’ help reduce the texture on my forehead, the natural ingredients and lack of drying soap gave my skin the moisture it was crying out for – without sending it into a greasy overdrive. I’ll definitely be incorporating this cleanser into my routine more often and being a little more adventurous with my skincare; sometimes weird ingredients are the best kind.

I can tell the types of spot I’ll get, depending on the time of the month…

When you’ve lived in the same skin for 23 years, you tend to know it like the back of your hand (yep – I know my hands quite well, too). Which is why I can practically predict my skin’s movements, and when I get a zit, I know what caused it – sometimes I can even pinpoint it down to which pizza slice pushed it over the edge. My skin isn’t too bad most of the time, but the week before my period is a whole other story. That was this week. Sigh.

On the first day of my skincare diary – after three weeks of beautiful, glowing skin that could have rivalled the ‘after’ results in a spot cream advert – I woke up with an angry zit ready for popping, directly in the middle of my left cheek. The next morning, I awoke to find its twin; a matching, red and painful lump on my other cheek – the ‘underground’ kind of spot you can feel but can’t get to. Ugh.

I knew the culprit of these unwelcome visitors; my looming period. If my skin reacts from junk food or not washing my face properly, I tend to end up with little bumps on my jaw and nose, or my blackheads worsen – but the real, big painful spots are all hormonal. I get them every month, like clockwork.

Normally I would have tried squeezing them, making the rest of my face irritated and blotchy in the process. Instead, I tried out a trend I’d seen all over Instagram: spot patches. Peeling a tiny Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Blemish Fighting Zit Zapping Dot away from its backing and sticking it directly onto the offenders, I got flashbacks to arts and crafts lessons (who else painted PVA glue all over themselves so they could peel it off?)

These tiny stickers are small but mighty – they’re packed with charcoal, salicylic acid and tomato extract. I’m not sure what sorcery is in them, but the concentrated ingredients meant that – upon peeling them off the next morning (you wear them overnight!) – the angry spot on my left cheek was all but gone, and the horrible, ‘underground’ spot had come to a head – meaning it would thankfully be over and done with quicker.

Better yet, because all the spot fighting ingredients are concentrated directly on the zit itself, I didn’t have to use super drying products all over my face, so it didn’t mess up the rest of my skin’s balance. I’m now adding spot patches (right next to ice cream and blankets) to my period week must-have list.

Sometimes, the Internet teaches you useful things…

Sometimes, the Internet is bad. It can be full of fake news and social media negativity. But sometimes the Internet is wonderful – like when you stumble across a particularly good meme, or an outrageously cute picture of a dog. Something useful the Internet taught me recently is that, to receive allllll the benefits of your face mask, you should scrub your face beforehand, to really let the ingredients penetrate your skin.

I love a good face mask, but don’t do them as often as I should, out of sheer laziness. I think perhaps I’d do them more often if I really saw results, so I trusted what I read on the Internet (for once), and tried this tip out.

I started by scrubbing my face with the Up Circle Herbal Blend Coffee Face Scrub. I then left it on my skin for a few minutes and washed it off in the shower, as a sort of ‘pre-mask mask’. My face felt so smooth and clean, but also really nourished – not dry or stripped at all. I was tempted to leave my skin as it was, but persevered – all in the name of journalism.

After scrubbing my skin, I used a sheet mask. I find I feel fewer results with a sheet mask versus a traditional face mask, so I wanted to see if the pre-mask scrub affected this. I tried out the Yes To Skin Vitamin C Glow Boosting Peel Off Mask, and – after taking a few Instagram stories (you really can’t do a sheet mask without them) – it was the moment of truth.

The combination of Vitamin C on my freshly scrubbed skin meant my face was really glowing! I literally looked like I’d Kira Kira’d my face – in real life. My skin felt smooth and free of texture due to my extra step beforehand, and the mask’s potent ingredients had worked their magic on the fresh skin the scrub had helped to prep. Thank you, Internet.

Late nights and junk food definitely take their toll…

I’m a freelancer, which means I sleep and eat when I want. This realistically means ordering takeaway for dinner and eating it in bed at midnight, frequently. This, unsurprisingly, makes me feel sluggish and a bit gross, but until I started this skincare diary, I never paid much attention to how it makes my skin feel.

After two particularly bad greasy eating, no water drinking, late sleeping, sat in front of my laptop screen nights (to add insult to injury, these were also evenings where I’d forgotten to do my skincare routine, oops), the next mornings my diary entries were very similar: my skin felt tight and dry, there was texture along my jaw, and I had bumps near my nose. Gross.

To try and reverse my skincare sins, I slathered my under eyes in Mario Badescu’s Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream; the creamy lotion sunk right in, and its smoothing, hydrating properties made me look far more bright eyed than I felt inside. It also felt super soothing for my dry, tired skin. Win win.

I then patted a light layer of Revolution Skincare’s CBD Oil all over my face, it’s super lightweight and non greasy, almost like a ‘dry’ oil – something that really makes this oil stand out of the crowd for me. CBD has hydrating and soothing effects, things my unhappy skin desperately needed. It drank it up like water, and within a few minutes, I appeared hydrated and well rested. Fake it till you make it, guys.