this is how we do it: SKINCARE

I figured I’d start with something easy. I’ve been working on my face for a long time now and it’s time to act like an expert, okay? But really, I’m only an expert on my own skin. So read the ground rules, settle in, and get ready to spend at least twenty minutes a day on your face. I promise, you have time.

One of the fancier things I did was give up my manicure budget (about $100 some months, depending on whether I did the gel thing or got my toes done) and put it towards professional facials. Ideally, you’re getting a facial once every four weeks. It helps with skin turnover and resets/jumpstarts your home routine and all that. BUT WHO HAS TIME OR MONEY FOR THAT? My facials run me about $175, plus tip, and then I spend another $50 or so in products while I’m there. Last year, I got three facials. This year, I will probably only be able to afford two.

There is much (MUCH) to be said about what you do at home. A one-time fancy treatment cannot take care of everything. But even aestheticians get facials, y’all. I don’t know all of the things my girl does to my skin, but I do believe it’s magic. She is also incredibly helpful at identifying what type of skincare I need at home, another reason to get thee to a professional STAT.

So, the routine. At home, I wash my face twice a day and do not touch it in between. I try not to reapply makeup and if I have to so much as adjust my glasses, I do it with the back of my knuckle. My mom always told me her daddy always told her, “a lady should never touch her face.” I am a rule follower. I also wear sunscreen every single day of the year, no matter what. I wear a hat every single time I go out in the sun during the summer. I’m a freckle-faced gal, and those freckles began joining together as soon as I turned thirty. I’m also the fruit of two sun-loving, skin cancer-surviving family tree branches, so I’ve got to be careful.

In the morning, I wash with a cream cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, moisturizer, and sunscreen. In the evening, I remove my makeup with coconut oil and rinse off. Then I wash with a decongesting cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, eye cream, eyebrow growth serum, moisturizer, and a sleeping pack – an even heavier moisturizer to lock it all in. A few times per week, I use an electronic spin brush during cleansing. Also a few times per week, I use a clay mask during the evening routine. This step falls between the toner and the serums. Also ALSO a few times per week, I perform a little at-home peel with a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids. This falls between the toner and the serums (after the mask, if I do it on the same night).

Without even knowing it, I have slipped into a Korean skincare routine. Google it! The Korean folks basically believe that every skin problem ever experienced is due to dehydration. Their experts don’t understand why we Americans implement such harsh practices like bar soap and spin brushes. They practice skincare in small, tedious, isolated steps in order to soak in each ingredient and provide maximum hydration. I have absolutely no problem addressing issues with my skin one by one. It does not feel tedious to me. It actually feels incredibly life-giving to spend a few minutes in the morning and evening taking care of my face. I close the bathroom door, turn the air vent on and grab a few peaceful, prayerful moments to myself.

As far as the other family members go? I slather my little kids in coconut oil head to toe a few nights per week, and use Lucas’ Papaw Ointment on their faces each morning and night after brushing teeth. My teenagers do their own thing but are hilariously receptive to “spa nights,” where I try my lotions and potions and masks on them. My husband washes his face nightly with just water or bar soap (I’ve tried to get him off of it, but he’s allergic to nearly everything). He follows that with a men’s moisturizer and wrinkle prevention/treatment system by RoC. He uses the same moisturizer in the morning, since it has sunscreen in it.

And now, the goods! I’m going to list some concepts and ingredients below as a down-and-dirty tutorial. I’m also going to share products I love (Glossier will get its own post soon), with links if I can find them. Some are affiliate links, which give me discounts on future purchases if you use them. No pressure. Here we go.

Cream cleanser – gentle for mornings and makeup removal. I like the milky jelly cleanser by Glossier and the gentle milk cleanser by Au Thermale Avene. I rub it on my face dry, like a lotion, and then it produces subtle suds when I add water.

Decongesting cleanser – more powerful ingredients to get things rolling for the nighttime routine. I like Skinceuticals. This bottle has lasted more than a year and I don’t think I’ll wash with anything else anytime soon. I noticed results (cleaner pores) in less than a week.

Toner – balances skin pH and preps the skin for serums. I am currently using PMD (gentle) in the morning and Revision (exfoliating) at night. I swipe on with a cotton ball after patting my face dry from washing. This is not the harsh, drying astringent stuff we killed our skin with as teens.

Serums – powerful concoctions of incredible ingredients that activate cell regeneration. They can be watery or viscous. Serums brighten, plump, tighten, attack dark spots, clear acne… you get the picture. I’m currently trying out a bunch of products by The Ordinary. They’re relatively new on the scene, and disrupting the skincare world by offering a price point 10x less than competitors. I’m very happy with Biossance, which is also affordable. My skin actually shines and glows for hours after this stuff. I have also experienced good results with Glossier Supers. The serums are non-negotiables, guys. Washing your face is really just prep for these babies.

Retinol – reduces fines lines and wrinkles, enhances the work that peels and serums do. I am currently using CVS wipes and am very pleased with the brightening effect! I apply after serums and let it dry while I brush my teeth, before moving on to the next step.

Eye cream – works on those fine lines, circle, and bags, depending on the issue you have. Circles and fine lines are my biggest issue, but I haven’t found a cream I completely love yet. I’m currently using RoC. I have very sensitive eyelids and am prone to eczema, so I typically rub Lucas’ Papaw ointment on those.

Eyebrow serum – nothing else to say except I physically and literally watched my eyebrows grow back with NeuBrow. I’ve gone through two bottles over the last two years and will not need to purchase again.

Moisturizer – seals in all of that hard work. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, which can hold a bajillion times its weight in water. It hydrates the mess out of your skin while the serums do their work. I am currently using Glossier Rich and Moon Mask as my sleeping pack.

Here are some fun, random, off-the-top-of-my-head tips… I love the occasional sheet mask for detox and hydration. You can get them really cheap on Amazon. Cutting back on dairy and increasing my water intake has drastically improved my skin, better than any skincare product I’ve found. A lot of companies and stores and spas offer samples for free, and they last for months! Just reach out. If you’re ever confused about the order in which to apply products, go thinnest to thickest. Korean products are some of the most cutting-edge and the most affordable. When I learned about their routine, I wrote down each step of the regimen and listed the products I already had that worked. For sensitivity issues, I try to only add one thing into a routine at a time. I refrain from purchasing new products until my existing items are completely used up. I try to never mess with blemishes, but I do like Mario Badescu for spot treatments.

I think that about sums it up! I hope this was helpful and not overwhelming. Personally, my skincare journey has been a joyful, exhilarating experience within the context of learning to steward my body well. It also happens to be fun and rewarding, with visible progress along the way. Icing on the cake! Now, go wash your face.

Ground Rules.

Before/during/after you read any of my “this is how we do it” posts, please review the following ground rules. Thank you!

  1. I’m a firm believer that while we can teach as we learn (in fact, it’s one of the best ways to learn), some parts of our journey are meant to be experienced in the quiet, diligent, sometimes difficult spaces. For that reason, I will only share about topics I’ve been tackling with some form of victory for at least one year or more.
  2. I have kept the comments section of my blog closed for several months, and I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While I’m open to feedback and conversation via email (contact form at the top), I simply do not have the margin to cultivate and maintain community on this space.
  3. I’m only going to say this once. Please do not insert yourself into my life. For my sake, for yours, for the sake of the One who made you uniquely and wonderfully. There is a very small chance that we are at the same stage of life with matching resources, dynamics, and personalities. Read my stuff, take away what you’d like, adjust some habits if it’s helpful, but stay perfectly you the entire time.
  4. There is not a single topic about which I share that could take place successfully without my husband. Christopher is my rock, my love song, and my constant reminder of Jesus’ love and sacrifice. So keep that in mind when you read about time management, or task-related things, or even self-care. And see #3.
  5. There is not a single topic about which I share that could take place at all without my Savior. I filter every rhythm, every idea, and every breath of my life through a Christian worldview. My personal experience with salvation has been tried and tested, and it’s the only way I know how to do life. So while it’s totally fine if you read my words through a different lens, I need you to know that you’re missing out if you don’t know Jesus.
  6. I might add more rules as I think of them. It’s my space, after all (who remembers MySpace?).

Grateful. Excited. Expectant. Let’s go.

This blog is weird but I love it and I’m back for awhile.

Around December of 2015, I felt a buzzing in my fingers and in my spirit. I had “made it” through a dark season of depression. My family was operating atop a somewhat smooth collection of rhythms and routines. I had transitioned jobs without turmoil and now found myself with more margin and, dare I say it? Free time. I had traveled a bit, was planning to travel a bit more, and felt refreshed. It was time to start writing regularly. I wrote down some goals, one of which was to post weekly, if not more. I even toyed with the idea of no longer writing captions on my Instagram? I think to make me write here more? Thankfully, my best friend and my husband talked me out of that one. Nevertheless, I was ready to write. A lot.

But then January came and the Lord spoke clearly, once I gave him permission. I’ve shared a bit of that story, but God graciously and mercifully gave me a heads-up that life was going to get more difficult in 2016. He gently rebuked me and told me that I was unprepared. He said it was time to put some discipline back into my life in a way that would soften the blow when it came, whatever it was. What’s more, God told me to put speaking and teaching and writing on hold for the time being. He asked me to be faithful in the small and in the daily.

And so I spent 2016 learning how to have a quiet time and actually spend time with Jesus. I went through Holy Yoga teacher training, which I now fondly refer to as “a mini-seminary coupled with a bendy boot camp.” I returned to school to pursue another nursing degree. I developed a regular exercise routine. I spent more time with my kids than ever. I began to build the tiniest beginnings of authentic community with women nearby. I explored new ways to take care of myself as I age. I dug deeper into intimacy with my husband.

The blows came, and Jesus in me handled them, with only a few bruises. My family and I just kept pressing forward, and I shared little snippets as we went. Along the way, you women pointed out that you had been watching all along. Some of you had followed me since I first hopped onto the Internet nearly fifteen years ago, and others were only just now getting to know me. You sent direct messages, emails, and texts. You left comments and asked questions. Mostly, the questions were peppered in amongst a whole bunch of much-appreciated encouragement. But I’ve begun to notice that a lot of them cover similar themes. You want to know how I do this or what I think about that or how my family makes it work.

So recently, I asked the Lord for some clarity, and I think he said to go for it. I asked my husband for his blessing, and he absolutely said to go for it. Over the next few months, I’m going to start writing again. I’m going to share some of the topics near and dear to my heart. I’m going to talk about the rhythmic and the mundane, the routines and the disciplines in my life that seem to bring God the most glory and me the most good right now.*

When I asked you about it on Instagram, you gave me the oomph I needed. Your suggestions were incredible and gave me a head-start on some topics to cover. But as always, I’m open to feedback. Just click the contact form at the top of this page to send me an email. Thanks for all of the grace and the cheerleading and the prayers. I think this is going to be a sweet, sweet journey.


*I can't help but smirk at this a little. I spent the first few years of blogging exploring my feelings, trying to be dramatic and poetic while finding my voice. Then I chronicled new family life, with a wedding and births and breastfeeding. Then I decided I was most definitely NOT a mommy blogger, and I stopped sharing so much as a picture of my kids on this space. The blog is a weird and beautiful thing. I'm grateful the Lord uses it how he sees fit for each season; I'm just here to be obedient.