In what felt like a fitting way to finish off 2020, over the last few days, my skin has had a full-on meltdown. Overnight, my complexion shifted from “dry, but manageable” into a red, flaky, painful mess that had me cursing my go-to beauty products. To remedy the situation, I knew I had to do a complete reset, and swap my usual actives for the bare minimum of gentle, hydrating products that would rebuild my depleted skin barrier. This meant taking a trip to the drugstore and picking up two products that derms love to recommend: CeraVe Hydrating Micellar Water ($10) and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($14).
There are a number of reasons why skin can become excessively dry, and mine likely occurred thanks to a combination of two factors: the environment and product overuse. During the winter months, a lack of humidity in the air, plus sitting at home with the heat on high blast, can lead to skin dehydration. Combine that with my desire to pile on aggressive actives—like exfoliating acids and retinol—and the result was sensitized skin. While there isn’t a whole lot any of us can do about the weather (winter, man), there is a way to hack your routine to help the sitch.
“There is a benefit to skin fasting if you are having irritation from skin-care products with certain actives and your skin is burning or irritated,” Morgan Rabach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in New York, previously told Well+Good. “Going off all products and then reintroducing slowly can help.”
First things first, it’s important to press pause on any aggressive actives that may have stripped your skin in the first place. Then, you’ll want to replace them with hydrating and skin-strengthening ingredients that will help build back your skin barrier. In my case, that meant swapping my usual gentle cleanser with micellar water, which is known to be one of the gentlest ways to wash your face without any risk of irritation. In addition to the micelles that work to whisk away dirt, makeup, and debris, CeraVe’s version of the stuff is made with moisturizing ceramides and soothing niacinamide. Next (and arguably most importantly) comes the moisturizer. CeraVe’s moisturizing cream has long been a dermatologist favorite, thanks to the fact that it’s packed with the moisturizing power couple of hyaluronic acid and even more ceramides.
After only a few days, my skin has started to return to normal. And once it’s back to its former glory, derms say it’s A-OK to slowly return to regularly scheduled programming and start introducing my usual serums back into my routine. But until then, I’m seriously enjoying my two-step, under-$25 regimen… and all the time and money it’s saving me.
Shop now: CeraVe Hydrating Micellar Water, $10
Shop now: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $14
To learn more about the best hydrating ingredients for your skin, check out the video below.