How Moving to New York City Changed My Skin Care Routine
Curious to know how my once non-existent skin care regimen received the upgrade of its life after I changed zip codes? You’re in luck. Read on for details about how my transition from suburbia to big city impacted my skin care routine!
I’ve been #blessed with very few skin-related problems from a young age. (Here’s to not jinxing it!) Sure, I’ve been victim to the occasional hormone-fueled zit, and freckles—reminders of the negligent sunscreen use of my past—are no stranger to my cheeks. But, for the most part, my skin has rarely let me down, earning me many a compliment from both strangers and loved ones alike. Considering a solid skin care routine was regretfully absent during my teen years, I always chalked up my problem-free skin to a combination of good genes and just pure luck. Now though, it’s possible I’ve been neglecting another factor: location.
I hail from a small hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island. At age 18, I hightailed it to Manhattan and never looked back. I’d be lying if I said the transition from a quiet and quaint neighborhood to a highly-populated and polluted city didn’t make me nervous. I expected a culture shock of sorts, but I could never have predicted the way this move would impact my skin care routine. Ahead, I share exactly how moving to NYC changed the way I care for my body’s largest organ. Spoiler alert: You’d now be hard pressed to find me without face mist in tow.
I CLEANSE & MOISTURIZE TWICE PER DAY
I learned quickly after my move that even a quick walk down a Manhattan avenue will likely expose skin to cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and a host of other pollutants. You may not see or feel these environmental aggressors on your skin, but they’re present and can certainly wreak havoc—think: breakouts, signs of aging, or dull-looking skin. While I did make an effort to cleanse my skin of impurities in my youth, I was not super thorough. Walking from place to place, I spend much more time outdoors now than I used to on Long Island. As such, my skin care routine desperately needed an action plan to address the harmful (and often drying!) effects of the elements, as well as the increased exposure to pollution and UV rays.
Today, I use a cleanser on my skin twice per day, followed by an application of moisturizer. During the AM hours, I reach for day cream formulated with sunscreen (more on why that’s important later) and/or moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. At night, I apply a night cream formulated with anti-aging ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol. To up the ante while I snooze, I swap in a hydrating overnight mask a few times per week.
Editor’s note: Signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines may not appear on my complexion right now, but I still make sure to apply anti-aging products onto my skin. Why? Because a prevention plan is always better than a treatment plan. It’s that simple.
MY BLEMISH-FIGHTING ARSENAL HAS EXPANDED
I’ll admit, my skin suffered its fair share of stray pimples before I moved to Manhattan—most of which were manageable with only a few applications of spot treatment—but things started to head south in the acne department not long after settling into my new home. As such, my dermatologist introduced me to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—two popular acne-fighting ingredients—and my beauty cabinet became stocked with products formulated with these ingredients to help address pesky zits.
BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN IS A MUST
If I could turn back the clock and apply sunscreen from head-to-toe before the long beach days or time spent exposed to UV rays for an extended period of time during my youth, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I don’t have that opportunity, and there’s nothing I can do to reverse any skin damage that occurred as a result. But instead of wallowing in my mistake, I’m making sure it doesn’t continue into my adult years. Before heading outdoors, I apply broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher onto all exposed areas of skin (rain or shine!), and reapply as needed at least every two hours. Not only can protecting your skin against harmful UV rays help ward off sun-related signs of aging, it can also help keep some skin cancers at bay. The earlier you kick-start your sunscreen use, the better. Trust me.
ANTIOXIDANTS ARE MY BEST FRIEND
Remember all that air pollution I told you about earlier? It can lead to the development of free radicals, which can latch onto your skin and break down the fibers that help to make your skin appear youthful. The result? Premature skin aging, including loss of radiance, fine lines, wrinkles, and more. To help protect my skin from the bad guys (aka free radicals), I apply topical antioxidants like a vitamin C serum.
Editor’s note: Applying antioxidants onto your skin is a good idea regardless of whether you live in a big, heavily-polluted city. I wish I knew that earlier!
A NEWFOUND APPRECIATION FOR FACE MIST
I was first introduced to face mist by a friend who swears by it, especially when the weather is hotter than hot. After one too many experiences on a congested, hot, and uncomfortable subway platform, I now swear by face mist too. But it wasn’t always that way. Ask me eight years ago if I use face mist in my routine and the answer would’ve been a big, fat “no.” In fact, I likely wouldn’t have known what the benefits of using face mist are. Sadly, many people still fall into that camp. Face mists are excellent products to use when your skin needs a refreshing pick-me-up. Depending on which one you choose, it can be rich with antioxidants or minerals that can also help improve the look of your skin.