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This year has been one of the worst years for my skin. 

To give you a little background about my skin: I have dry and sensitive skin, which can be especially troubling during the winter. I also have acne on my cheeks which first appeared my freshman year of college. On top of that, I have eczema. It’s complicated. 

Quarantine has not been good to me...The days spent inside eating junk food and not working out has wreaked havoc on my skin. And on top of that, my eczema came back. 

The first time I had eczema was when I was only a year old. The second time was when I was in high school and it was only a quarter sized patch on my arm. This time it was more noticeable, the eczema appearing around my eyes.

 I’ve tried everything for my eczema. I took recommendations from Hyrem on TikTok and advice from my friends, but nothing worked. I was stumped. I went to the dermatologist, but all the advice he could offer me was to keep that area moisturized as it was too close to my eyelids and any medication can only thin out the skin on my eyes. I realized that I had to do my own research.

Cleanser:

I’m less picky about the ingredients in my cleanser, simply because cleansers have had neither a negative nor a positive impact on my skin. But for many, cleansers can be a dealbreaker, and finding the perfect one can be a lengthy journey. If you have active acne or sensitive/eczema prone skin, I recommend staying away from anything with Vitamin C, alpha hydroxy or salicylic acids, as these can aggravate eczema.

The cleanser that I have been using has been the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser. This cleanser is super gentle, but foams up just enough to get the job done.

Another good alternative at a more affordable price point is the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar (fragrance free). This was a direct recommendation from my dermatologist. It doesn’t irritate the skin, it isn’t stripping, it just does the job!   

Toner: 

The toner I use currently is the Indie Lee COQ-10 Toner. Initially I wasn’t using a toner. But then I realized that my skin was still a bit too dry with just a moisturizer so I looked for a toner. Toners benefit your skin by bringing the PH of your skin down to the optimal level (4.7-5.75) after it has been exposed to water, which has a more basic PH of 7. 

With so many toners on the market, finding one can be a hassle. So here is my recommendation: many toners on the market contain witch hazel, and while witch hazel works for some people, if you have open wounds/cuts or eczema, any toner with witch hazel or alcohol WILL dry out your skin! Stay away, I unfortunately had to learn this the hard way. 

I can not say enough good things about this toner! It is so moisturizing but at the same time it has been the only toner that I have used that did not irritate my skin at all, even when I had a cut on my skin. This toner is formulated with cucumber, aloe, papaya, and chamomile, both used to calm the skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid to keep your skin moisturized all day. 

Moisturizers:

My dermatologist told me to start using a non-irritating moisturizer, and I obliged. The one he recommended for me was the Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin. This moisturizer is dye free, fragrance free, masking fragrance free, lanolin free, parabens free, and formaldehyde free. It only has 11 ingredients! 

I originally was using the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, a recommendation I took from TikTok. But unfortunately, the ceramides in it irritated my sensitive skin, so I stopped.

On days when my skin is super dry, I use Uruoi Deep Moisture Gel in addition to the Vanicream Moisturizer. I would apply my toner, follow up with Uruoi moisture gel, and then the Vanicream lotion. On the Uruoi website, it describes it as an all-in-one toner-essence. It is, of course, fragrance free and dye free just like all the other products I have in my skincare regimen. It is gentle and non irritating, perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. 

On areas of my skin with severe eczema, I use the CeraVe Healing Ointment. Aside from using prescription steroid creams, this ointment is a miracle worker! It kept my skin protected from winds in the cold weather but more importantly it was able to soothe the areas of my skin that's irritated. It is a bit on the greasy side so use sparingly, a little really does go a long way. Remember, if you have eczema, you have to consistently keep the dried out areas of your skin moisturized throughout the day.

Sunscreen:

I can’t  emphasize enough how important it is to wear sunscreen. Yes, everyone must wear it. For those with acne or those using medicated products on your skin, please use sunscreen. The sun is very damaging to your skin, especially if you are using products such as retinol on your face, your skin becomes especially sensitive. 

The sunscreen that I like to use is the Supergoop Play Sunscreen SPF 50. Another good option is the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50. Both are non-irritating on my sensitive skin. Additionally, they are also suitable for people of color as they don’t leave a white cast on your skin like some sunscreens do. 

Finally…

There are no  hard and fast rules for skincare (except for sunscreen -- everybody needs sunscreen!). Something that can work for someone might not work for you and that’s okay. I know someone who has never washed their face or used moisturizer and has the clearest, healthiest skin. 

And to all the people out there who are going through skin difficulties like I am, it’s okay. Don’t ever feel embarrassed about it. The journey to clear skin is a difficult one and the path that is taken is different for each individual. Don’t ever let yourself down because you aren’t seeing results. Keep pushing. 

Serena is a senior editor for the NYU campus. She is a rising senior studying economics and psychology. Her interests besides writing for Her Campus are keeping up with the latest high fashion trends as well as testing new beauty products. If you have any questions or just want to chat, hit her up on Instagram/TikTok @rens.nyc
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