Over the past year, I went through a listacles phase, especially Buzzfeed, for their quick and easy lists tailored to any number of interests, like skin care or cool home gadgets – usually with links to super-cheap items you ‘can’t live without’ that you can find online. I was particularly interested in the skin care lists, since over the years sun damage and Father Time have been showing up more and more, and as much as I’ve never given a whit of attention to all the miracle claims skin care products tend to make, Buzzfeed’s lists usually included products that were cheap enough for me to be willing to try. And lo and behold, some of them really, really helped.
OK, hands-down, this has been the best product I’ve tried all year. I got the idea from my plastic surgeon, from whom I get Botox every 3-6 months. I asked her what treatments were available for sun damage and hyperpigmentation of the skin, and she recommended something called microneedling, which is expensive and requires recovery time. I researched this online and it did seem to produce excellent results, but the cost and the downtime from the procedure both put me off, and in the process of doing that research I also came across DermaRolling, which is much milder form of microneedling you can do at home. I found a kit on Amazon with the plastic handle and three extra rollers for $30, so I figured I’d give it a go, not expecting much, but willing to try it out for the price. And holy cow – the results were noticeable after using it just one time. I’ve been doing it a few times a week for several months now, and it has significantly reduced the hyperpigmentation and evened out my skin tone, as well as giving my skin a healthier glow in general.
There are a ton of videos on YouTube about how the process works and why, so I’ll just summarize it quickly: before starting, you should apply a serum to your skin; it really doesn’t matter what serum you use, so I will link to a few I like below. The roller has tiny needles on it, as you can see in the picture above – and no, they don’t hurt – and you simply roll the roller over your skin in an up-and-down and then a back-and-forth motion, working in sections. I roll my forehead first, up and down and then back and forth, until the skin turns slightly red, then I move onto my nose, both cheeks, and end with the upper lip and chin. Then, because I have a lot of sun damage on my neck and decollete, I also do the same process in those areas. It’s important not to overdo it – when the skin turns pink, move to another area. After you are done rolling, you apply another round of serum, and then whatever night products you put on your face, and you’re done (oh yeah, don’t do this process in the morning; it’s definitely a night-time treatment).
According to dermatologists I’ve watched on YouTube or read online, the main reason DermaRolling works is because it allows the skin to truly and deeply absorb the products you put on your face before and after you use it. That seems to be the main benefit. It has not only worked wonders for me, but everyone else I’ve recommended Dermarolling to has also been impressed – even my sister, who has acne scars from her teenage years. She even told me shortly after she starting doing it that she is no longer ashamed to go out without makeup on because her skin looks so much better. It did not completely erase my sun damage – no product will do that, I don’t think – but it has improved it so much I don’t notice it anymore. And as I said, I’ve also noticed that when I take pictures, I don’t need the heavy foundation I needed before; I can use my regular tinted moisturizer and it works just as well.
Here are some of the serums I’ve used with the DermaRoller and quite like:
Valjean Labs Facial Serum, Combo Pack of Hydrate, Glow, and Firm
TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face
Elizavecca Hell Pore Control Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum
In addition to the DermaRoller, there are two masks I’ve tried recently and really love. But honestly, if you only try one thing I recommend here, go for the roller. It is by far the most effective.
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
Before I discovered Botox, I used to go get facials once a month, and my technician often used a pumpkin enzyme mask that I really loved, and Buzzfeed reminded me that such a mask exists. This is pricey in my opinion – about $60 – but it can be used sparingly and still be effective. The way I use it is in the morning, before I apply any other products, and I don’t use it every day, just a few times a week because it’s quite strong. The smell is amazing, though! I wet my face, scoop out a dollop of the mask, spread it over my skin, and then – this is an important step – I re-wet my fingers and work the mask in a little with wet hands. I have found that if you don’t re-wet the mask after applying it, it is too harsh and can burn. I don’t know why. I guess it dilutes the product a little. Then, I only leave this mask on for 3-5 minutes, which is the recommended time limit – this is why it’s easy to use in the morning to freshen up the skin. I do NOT recommend leaving this on any longer than five minutes, though, because as I said, this shit is strong. Once time is up, I just wipe it off with a damp rag, follow up with a splash or two of water, and move on to rest of my morning routine.
Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay
This stuff has a huge cult following, and rightly so – it is a serious, old-school beauty mask, and it makes your skin feel amazing. It’s only $10 for a big old tub of the stuff, and I see it at my local grocery store as well as on Amazon. It’s a bit messy though – it is in powdered form, and you can mix it in a little bowl with equal parts water and apple cider vinegar (which is what works for me) or, if the vinegar is too strong for your skin, you can try it just adding the water. I use the water with vinegar concoction, and it creates a paste that I smear all over your face and then wait for the magic to happen. I call this an old-school mask because it’s the kind that dries on your face, unlike the pumpkin mask which stays moist, and you look like a zombie and will scare your dogs while you leave it on. How long you leave it on depends on your comfort level; my skin is not overly sensitive, so I leave it on until it’s completely dry OR my skin starts to feel too tight (you will feel a tingling/tightening sensation that personally I find pleasant, but it may bother others) and then I scrub it off with a rag followed by a splash or two of water. Now, your skin may be quite red when you take this off (one reason why I recommend not leaving it on too long the first time you try it) but not to worry – it fades quickly and your skin will not be red when you wake up, at the latest. But because of the redness, this is another product you only want to use at night. If you check out some of the before and after photos on Amazon, you’ll see some pretty amazing results. I am never sure how much to trust such things, but I still do notice great exfoliation from this and I love how my skin feels afterwards. I also think it has contributed to the lightening of my hyperpigmentation, so there you go.
Now, a moisturizer that is super-affordable and that I feel has also REALLY helped with my sun damage:
Pond’s Correcting Clarant B3 Dark Spot Skin Cream
Amazon lists this moisturizer at $14, but I’m pretty sure I pay a lot less than that at my local grocery store. I use this every morning and night on my face and neck. While I can’t say that this product alone has helped do reduce my sun damage, because I tried all these products at about the same time, I am willing to give it credit for helping; especially since it’s a very affordable moisturizer that is easy to find, includes sunscreen, and doesn’t bother my skin.
Other than these staples, I’ve tried a TON of other eye creams (not found one yet that does anything to reduce dark circles, although I found a few that I liked), serums, masks, and moisturizers that have had varying degrees of success. But most of these are things I either keep around and use because I just like them in general, or discarded and did not re-purchase because they didn’t thrill me and I saw no real benefit. However, can I just address one product I did try that has a huge following and that baffles me completely?
Jade face rollers are huge THING that the internet swears by, but for the life of me I just do not see any difference when I use one of these things on my skin. It does feel good at first, because the jade is cold when you roll it across your face, at least until you’ve done it enough for it to warm up, but other than that – nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No bueno. I know people who swear by these things, so clearly they work for some people, but for the life of me I don’t even know how (In fact, I kept trying to convince a friend of mine to try DermaRolling, and she kept refusing because she thought I meant JADE rolling, and she too had tried it without noticing any effect to her skin at all. We got it straightened out quickly enough, though). 😉
So, there you go. My little recent skin care wonders/recommendations. You’re welcome. Happy Sunday.
This is AWESOME!!!!!!!
Thank you for writing this post!!!
I also tried the Jade roller and was like, wth, no difference, I don’t get it. I do love the clay. But I guess my skin is sensitive because I only tried it once with ACV and ouch it burned I couldn’t even leave it in for a minute. I mix it with water and love how my skin feels afterwards. I’m totally trying everything you recommended!
Oh really – it works even with water? My friend tried it with just water and she said it didn’t work, so I assumed it was that way for everyone. I am going to edit the post to correct that. I can definitely see the ACV being too harsh for some people. It is a little intimidating the first time you add it the entire mixture starts to sizzle and bubble. LOL.
And definitely try that DermaRoller and let me know what you think! It has a 100% approval rate for me with everyone who’s tried it so far!
I just ordered it after posting my comment! I’m super excited to try it!
I just edited my post to add that water alone can work for the Aztec clay. I hope you like the roller! Well the DERMAroller, LOL. We both know that Jade roller doesn’t do sh*t
I’m also checking out the serums you listed, decisions decisions!
The recommended with the roller I bought was the Vitamin C one. But any serum will work ,and I really like the Valjean labs stuff. I have a nice sleep mask by them that I also like.
Awesome, I’ll check them out.
Very timely post! I have been doing a fairly ok skin routine but wanted to vamp it up a notch. I am intrigued by the derma roller but need to research if there are adverse reactions to ethic skin. Thanks for sharing. I have loved your blog a long time.
Check out YouTube – I have seen some videos about the DermaRoller from women of color there. Thanks for the comment 😉
I’m no expert Cynthia but I am a great exponent of Tretinoin, a Retin A cream. How that works is by causing microscopic damage to the dermal layer through the effect of rubbing this acid formulation into the skin. The damage induces the skin to make collagen which plumps and thickens the skin. Dermatologists say this is the only face cream worth using. I buy .05% strength but you can get .1% as well which I find too strong for my skin. I’ve used it for years and it definitely has thickened areas of my skin that had thinned badly. I wonder if the derma roller might be working the same way as I have zero faith in serums. The molecules in skin creams and serums are too large to enter the skin cells so all they do is fill the pores and plump the skin. I use them for this purpose but they have no capacity to do anything but plump. Creams that exfoliate like Alpha Hydroxy Acid will brighten the skin by sloughing off dead skin from the epidermis and I use that as well. Tretinoin can be bought cheaply from overseas firms like All Day Chemist from India. Best to buy in bulk to offset the postage costs although from time to time they offer free postage on orders over $x (forget the amount). We buy nearly all our drugs from them and have done for ten years. 100% legitimate. They used to offer PayPal but I think people were scamming them because you can’t anymore. But perfectly safe to use I can assure you.