When it comes to self-care, there’s something a tiny bit unnerving about bringing technology into the equation. We tout the benefits of ingredients from nature, the upside of going green, etc. etc. And while I’m an outspoken proponent of clean products and only putting stuff on your body that you wouldn’t mind eating (but please, don’t eat your cleansing balm if you can help it), there is something to be said for adding a few tech-savvy tools to your routine.
You see, sometimes there’s stuff a plant just can’t do — or that gadget can do better. And while a lot of the self-care gadgets out there are simply gimmicks to get you to add yet another tool to your beauty arsenal, some really are worth it.
Take, for instance, this ingenious ice roller from Vanity Planet. Sure, you could dunk your face into a bucket of ice water every morning, then jade roll, then repeat. Or, you could throw this baby into the freezer and let it work it’s magic in a matter of seconds. The Revive Professional Ice Roller is a dream product, no plant-based serums involved. Roll it over your face, your neck, your chest — heck, roll it anywhere you please — for near-instant de-puffing thanks to its stainless steel-icy temperature combo. It also helps calm redness, irritation, sunburn and bug bites (helloooo, summer skin).
While we’re talking temperature-aided tech tools, let’s not forget Vanity Planet’s Hot & Cold Rejuvenating Facial Wand. While the magic this want imparts isn’t quite Harry Potter-level, it’s pretty magical in the different things it can do for your skin. Shifting between hot and cool settings (alongside sonic vibrations), this wand helps to 1) open pores to better absorb serums, creams and moisturizers and then 2) closes those pores to lock in whatever you’ve applied and help tighten up your skin. To get these same results sans wand, you’d need a freezer, a bunch of ice cubes, a steamer/a very hot shower, and a totally sterile environment. This cuts steps and tools way, way down.
Still feel like you can’t get your skin clean enough? (One note on this: Skin can be “too clean.” Stop scrubbing — it’s bad for the flora and fauna and general natural balance of your dermis. And while it may feel nice for a bit, it’ll ultimately do more harm than good if you keep insisting on a squeaky clean face.) If you promise to proceed with caution, I’ll tell you about the Glowspin Facial Brush to cleanse, exfoliate and generally keep the skin on your face happy, clean and glowing. Not only does it get into your pores to lift the dirt and makeup your regular cleansing might miss, it also helps gently remove dead skin cells to brighten your complexion.
And while you’re at it, why not lean on gadgets to get your whitest, healthiest smile ever with this baby? Take it from someone who relied on a standard toothbrush for years, only to have a very sobering dentist visit where she learned she had five cavities at once — an electric toothbrush is one-thousand percent worth it. Not only does your mouth feel impossibly clean after each use, the Dazzlepro lets you customize your brushing experience — seriously, it knows you — and sanitizes your bristles with UV light so none of your bathroom bacteria finds its way into your mouth.
See, sometimes tech isn’t all that bad if you know how to get along with it.
Short on time but high on skincare needs? Lucky you — sheet masks are on the rise and primed to only get bigger, more specialized and more effective.
Another lucky turn? These babies are super affordable, easy to use, and come in so many different varieties/ingredient combinations that you could probably use a new one every day for five years and still have versions you’ve never heard of. (But don’t do that — your skin would be VERY confused.)
If you have dry, sensitive skin…
…try ENATURE’s Squeeze Green Watery Sheet Mask. They’re not joking around when they call this thing “green” and “watery” — and that’s a good thing. Packed with chlorophyll and parsley, two dryness-fighting, moisture-packed green machines, this sheet mask is like a big glass of green juice straight to the face.
If you need some light exfoliation…
…try Joanna Vargas’ Dawn Mask. Physical scrubs can often do more harm than good, especially if you’re going about it with a heavy hand. Instead, rely on an acid-based exfoliant, like the mandelic acid in this mask, to gently slough away dead skin. No more dead skin means skin can regenerate quicker, which means a smoother, more even texture.
If your skin is stressed and irritated…
…try the Cicaherb Restore Sheet Mask from ENATURE. Kick environmental skin stressors in the butt with this mask’s main ingredient: centella asiatica, an herb that’s been used for centuries to reduce swelling and improve circulation, treat wounds, and calm topical flare-ups.
If your skin needs a quick pick-me-up…
…try ENATURE’s Bio-Zeup Sheet Mask. Soaked in an essence that’s packed with fresh paprika extract (antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial) and lactobacillus ferment (the good bacteria), this sheet mask will leave you with instantly refreshed, glow-y skin.
If your skin needs a bit of plumping…
…try the Forever Glow Mask from Joanna Vargas. Forgot to drink your eight glasses of water yesterday? Have no fear, Joanna Vargas (and her masks) are here. Let this masks olive leaf extract, algae extract and rose water work their plumping, hydrating magic on your thirsty face to seriously refresh your skin.
If your pores bother you…
…try Whamisa’s Sea Kelp Mask. Make like the little mermaid and embrace the power of ocean plants. Seriously, kelp not only soothes and hydrates skin, it also works to remove toxins, clean out your pores and reduce inflammation. The seaweed is always greener indeed.
If your sensitive skin needs to be restored…
…Joanna Vargas’ Euphoria Mask is your best bet. “Euphoria” may be a strong word for how you feel about your skin but after donning this sheet mask for a bit, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a word that better describes how you’ll react, particularly if you started with a red, irritated face. Thanks to calming ingredients like calendula, rose water and ginkgo biloba, the bamboo mask calms and nourishes angry skin.
If your skin is looking a little “meh”…
…try ENATURE’s Vita 8 Nutritive Mask. “Meh” shouldn’t ever be how you feel about the state of your face but I get it—some days are better than others! Thankfully, the essence this mask is soaked in is so chock full of vitamins (C, E, F, H, B5, B6, B9 and B12) and nutrients that, upon removal, you’ll barely recognize your newly-energized and refreshed skin.
Sure, there are some products that provide quick fixes, but for true, lasting results when it comes to the health of your skin, you’re gonna have to play the long game.
One of the great (or terrible, depending on who you ask) things about living during this time is the ability to get nearly anything instantaneously. The amazing new book that came out this morning? Check. A 4am burrito because you’re so enthralled with the book that you forgot to eat dinner? Check. A new duvet because you spilled the burrito all over your bed? Check. A last-minute cleaning service because you forgot you were hosting book club and don’t want your friends to see the rice and beans under your bed? Check.
But with all this near-instant gratification comes something less gratifying: the inability to deal when you do have to wait for something. No matter how many times you open an app, snowball season will still be months away, water will always take way longer to boil for pasta than you think it should, and introducing a new skincare product in to your routine will not result in the best skin of your life overnight. Sure, there are some products that provide quick fixes, but for true, lasting results when it comes to the health of your skin, you’re gonna have to play the long game.
As a general rule, the more work that needs doing, the longer the product is going to take to show its effectiveness. For example, a basic pimple that springs up suddenly can be remedied in a couple of days with a spot treatment. A real here-today-gone-tomorrow situation. But if what you’re applying to your face is meant to change the structure of your skin’s cells — like vitamin C or retinol — get ready to wait. And wait. And maybe wait some more.
While this isn’t an exact science, most moisturizers will make a noticeable difference as soon as you apply them. Since they’re only working to plump up the very topmost layer of your skin, they don’t need a lot of time to prove themselves. Other hydrating products like hyaluronic acid serums will show up on your face quickly too for the same reason. That said, this also means they won’t stick around long and will come off easily after cleansing.
As far as masks that promise immediate brightening/toning/lifting/clearing results, proceed with caution. Sure, you may notice a difference upon washing the mask off, but it’s just a temporary, superficial fix. Even masks that “remove blackheads” are really just removing sebaceous filaments (totally normal and health hair follicles with some dead skin in and around them), which will replenish after a few days.
These quick “result” products aren’t bad, just don’t rely on them. Instead, focus your energy on the long-term effects of the following types of products that can cause real, lasting change at a deeper level.
Some patience needed:
Believe it or not, your skin needs a couple of weeks to get used to a new cleanser as it shifts your skin’s pH balance. This is a delicate process, one the should take some time so your skin doesn’t freak out, so if you find that a new cleanser is having a real effect after just one use, it may be too good to be true.
Same goes for all-over acne treatments (not just spot cases) like toner or salicylic acid serum. Since the concentration of acne-fighting ingredients is lower here to preserve the general health of the skin and not dry it out, you may be waiting up to two weeks to see a difference.
Anything that requires your skin to change on a cellular level can take a long (long) time to be visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working beneath the skin’s surface. Acne scars, hyperpigmentation, sun spots — be prepared to use a product for at least three months before any noticeable change occurs. And even then, it may be small. But slow and steady wins the race when it comes to this kind of skincare; it may feel like it’s taking forever but stick with it. I promise it’ll be worth it.
Chances are that at this point in your life, you know the wonders that a great night of sleep can do for your skin. And you also know what a really good face mask can do for your skin. So why did it take us this long to combine the two?
If they aren’t already, sleep masks — or overnight masks —are about to become your new favorite skin secret weapon. Applied just before bed as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine, sleep masks are moisturizing powerhouses. You see, no matter how many serums and oils you may apply pre-bed and no matter how moisturizing their ingredients may be, there’s nothing to stop them from evaporating throughout the night.
It’s like if you put a bunch of super-cute puppies in a yard without a fence; sure, some of the puppies might stay behind obediently, but many of them will probably make a run for it. Now, if there was a fence, you’d get to keep all those super-cute puppies. Same goes for skincare: you need an occlusive barrier (a layer that keeps water in) on top of everything to make sure you’re getting all the moisture you so rightfully deserve. Because not only does that occlusive top layer mean your other products aren’t escaping like those puppies, it also makes sure they’re penetrating your skin better while still being light enough that your skin can breathe while you sleep.
Now, you may be asking, “Ok but what’s the difference between a sleep/overnight mask and a regular moisturizing mask?” To that, I say, “good question!” But I also say, “How long do you leave a standard mask on your face, on average?” The beauty of a sleep mask is that it provides prolonged, deep treatment for your skin. Since you’re zonked out while wearing it, a sleep mask is totally undisturbed and so can really get to work at a deeper level than a standard mask you wash off after 15 minutes.What’s more, sleep masks are also often more gentle on your skin than their quickie counterparts. Since that 15-minute mask only has 15 minutes to get its job done, the concentration of powerful ingredients is super-high, which may not agree with your skin. Sleep masks, however, have those same powerful ingredients but at a lower concentration so they do their job gently and over time, not in a slap-dash sort of way.
For example, at nighttime, if you’ve got oily or problematic skin but find the serums and treatments targeted to you are too drying (because the concentration is too high), look for a sleep mask with hyaluronic acid to hydrate without clogging your pores or drying you out. If you want to even out skin tone but find retinols irritating, a sleep mask with a low dose of retinol could be the way to go for a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach. If you’re dealing with redness and inflammation, look for soothing ingredients like rose water and ginkgo biloba to bathe your skin in their healing powers all night.
Listen, you’re already sleeping every night, so why not add a layer to your routine that takes minimal effort and will have you waking up glowing every morning? It is called beauty sleep, after all.
Sure, the official first day of spring may have just happened, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s never too early to start thinking (and dreaming) about summer.
Get your hair healthy.
The healthier your hair is going in to summer, the less sun, chlorine and sea salt damage will affect it. Make a habit of deep conditioning your locks once a week, whether with a handful of coconut oil or a mask.
Start exfoliating now.
Get into the habit early and often. Scrubbing your whole body may seem tedious in the shower, but it genuinely makes a big difference not only in the overall health of your skin, but also in its ability to absorb moisturizing products. And not for nothing, but shaving your legs will be a whole lot more pleasant if you slough off those winter layers of dead skin first.
Clean out your medicine cabinet.
Seriously. Check expiration dates on your green products. Make sure everything smells like it’s supposed to. A winter living in your steamy, artificial-heat riddled bathroom may have compromised your skincare products. And if there’s anything you haven’t used since last summer that you were hoping to save for this summer…be wary.
Re-evaluate your skincare routine.
Summer skin is a different thing than winter skin. If you’ve been using heavy oils and creams all winter to fight dry skin, kudos to you. But you’ll want to consider something lighter come summer, and possibly with an upped SPF in anticipation of more hours spent outside.
Test out lighter makeup.
Summer is hot; you don’t want to walking around with a face full of the same makeup you wear when it’s cold. Not only will it likely run when you sweat, but it can also lead to clogged pores. Let your skin take advantage of the warmth and humidity that comes with summer and get comfortable with different products now so the switch will be seamless when temperatures rise. If you’re used to full-coverage foundation, consider a sheer CC cream. Instead of a dark matte lip, play around with a berry-hued tint.
Stock up on sunscreen.
Like I said earlier, the green products you relied on last summer are likely expired (or will be by the time you need them again this year). Before the rush to buy sunscreen starts, consider buying a new one for your body and another for your face. That way, when the first really nice day rolls around unexpectedly, you’ll be ready to head outside without fear of sunburn or expired SPF.
Switch up your deodorant.
If you’ve been waiting to make the change to all-natural deodorant, do it soon rather than later. Your body will need time to purge itself of any residual chemicals left over by your conventional stick, so your body’s natural odor may change (i.e. get stronger) for that transitional period. Plus, natural deodorants work better with time so if you get started now, your pits will be in great shape for the dog days of summer when the deodorant really gets to work.
Stop ignoring your feet.
When sandal weather finally graces us with its presence, don’t let the feet and toenails you ignored all winter long stop you from sporting an open-toe. Yes, they’ve been bundled in thick socks and snow boots for months now, but be proactive with your foot care. Use a sugar- or coffee-based scrub weekly to soften up those calluses. Slather on a heavy-duty moisturizing salve at night to smooth cracked heels. (Pro tip: Put socks on right after to make sure the moisturizer stays put and really soaks in.) Give your nails and cuticles some love with an oil designed especially for them. And for the love of all that is holy, take off whatever chips of last summer’s nail polish are still lingering—it’s time for something new.
Feeling a little sluggish after months of hibernating? While you wait for the bounty of in-season summer produce that awaits, consider detoxing a bit now with whatever fresh produce you can get your hands on. Whether it’s adding a scoop of greens to your morning smoothie, upping the healthy bacteria in your gut to fight winter bloat or experimenting with some vegan dishes, baby steps now will mean you have the energy to get out and actually be a person when the weather calls for it.