The Emergency No-Breakout Routine


Skincare routines are a lot like exercise. Sometimes you get into a flow and you’re squatting on autopilot for weeks on end, and sometimes the dog "ate" your yoga pants. Oh no, got to skip a day or 12... It happens! Surely it can’t be just me. A few times a month when I’m super tired, instead of double cleansing at night to the max, and instead of working through my bedside routine (which is literally engineered for peak laziness), I just go to sleep. With my makeup on. And while that may be fine for someone who never breaks out, for me this is a big mistake. Big! Huge!

So the next morning I spring into action with a little thing known as my “emergency no-breakout routine.” A routine that I’ve had for years, but only recently named because we had to call this story something on the editorial calendar. Its genesis goes something like this: I have oily, acne-prone skin. If I go to bed without doing my skincare routine—especially if I’m wearing makeup—I’ll wake up with a new pimple a few days later. Now I know you’re thinking, geez lady, why don’t you just wash your face… But after a demanding night of binge-watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta or adding several items from Nalata Nalata to my checkout cart trapped in purgatory, my energy reserves simply aren’t up to the task.

The stuff I use to preemptively calm my skin all live in the pore-clearing, exfoliating family. If it’s summertime, I’m reaching for a clay mask—DDF Sulfur or Origins Clear Improvement. I’ll double cleanse first, slap on the mask, and by the time I’m showered, dressed, and breakfasted that mask is ready to come off. During colder, drier months I avoid clay and go for exfoliants instead. Again I’ll double cleanse, and I’ll follow that with a glycolic peel and a two-percent salicylic acid liquid. And if I’m super worried a zit might emerge, no matter the season I’ll usually do some combination of both methods—like Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Mask, which is the least drying clay mask I’ve ever tried, and Paula’s Choice 4% BHA. Just keep in mind that my skin can endure a lot, product-wise. If you have sensitive skin, I can't recommend Pai's Deep Cleanse AHA mask enough as an alternative, and a good sensitive skin swap for my 10-percent acid peel is Mario Badescu's two-percent Glycolic Acid Toner. As for salicylic acid, you should be fine with two-percent BHA.

And let me tell you, this routine works. No new pimples, even after forcing my skin to bathe in makeup grease all night. Well, no new pimples as long as I follow through with this emergency routine the next morning. And you know what they say about skincare routines...

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG