It’s time for Part 2 of my Skincare For Trans People post! We discussed skincare for trans men in my previous post, so it’s time to talk about skincare for the ladies and nonbinary folks who are taking estrogen, spironolactone, etc.
If you are taking estrogen or spironolactone, you may notice that your skin changes. If your skin was oily/combination before beginning hormone therapy, the hormones will clear your skin up, which is a nice side effect. Before I get into your daily skincare regimen, I want to talk about facial hair removal and facial hair camouflage. No matter what method you use to remove facial hair, you are going to irritate your skin. Irritation in skin starts up inflammation, resulting in redness, irritation, and sometimes localized swelling. The absolute best way to treat skin that has undergone any facial hair removal process is to use anti-inflammatory products on that area. Anti-inflammatory active ingredients include: cucumber extract, red, green, white tea extracts, chamomile extract, calendula extract, rose water, aloe vera, oatmeal, comfrey extract, oat extract, etc. Choose a product containing any of these ingredients, but make sure it’s appropriate for your skin type. For example, if your skin is more combination, look for a lighter weight product like a serum or a gel that contains anti-inflammatory actives. If your skin is more dry/normal, look for a slightly heavier weight product with anti-inflammatories. Besides reducing the inflammation that occurs during facial hair removal, you also want to be able to address any ingrown hairs that may occur. The best way to deal with ingrowns is to use a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid to reduce the thickness of skin layers over the ingrown hair. After treating it with an SA product, apply some antibiotic ointment. Repeat this process until the blemish is lessened.
Okay, on to your daily regimen! Before I begin, one very important piece of information you need to have before venturing into the shark-infested waters of women’s skincare is that everyone is full of shit. The bitc-I mean, ladies at the skincare counters are evil personified, and will try to convince you that you need 65 products in your regimen to even approach looking like a human. Skincare reps don’t know science, and get their talking points from marketers. No one is trying to help your skin. So here is my advice:
DRY SKIN: If your skin is dry, or if you are a woman of a certain age, you want to use a cleanser that is mild but deeply moisturizing so that you are cleansing your skin without stripping it of oils and moisturizing factors that you desperately need. You should only wash once a day to prevent stripping these necessary oils from your skin. No foaming face washes, nothing with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Avoid harsh surfactants like SLS. Look for rich oils and butters like shea butter, avocado butter/oil, pomegranate seed oil, etc.
SENSITIVE SKIN: If your skin reacts to everything, you want to make sure your skincare regimen is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients. Avoid fragrance in products if possible. Look for barrier repairing ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Your face wash should be mild, lotion-based, and have the above ingredients. No foaming face washes or harsh surfactants. You should only wash your face once a day also, to prevent drying your skin out.
NORMAL SKIN: Wash once a day with a mild, lotion-based, anti-inflammatory cleanser.
OILY/COMBO SKIN: Your primary face wash should be mild, lotion-based, and anti-inflammatory. If your skin is very oily, you should wash twice a day.
EXFOLIATION: Everyone, regardless of skin type, needs to exfoliate. The only difference is in how often the exfoliation happens. For dry/sensitive/normal skin, you only need to exfoliate once a week. For combo skin, 2-3X a week. For severe acne, use a cleanser with salicylic acid every other day.
TONE (all skin types): Now that you’ve washed your face, it’s time for toner! Toner is important for two reasons: it hydrates your skin, and it restores it to its slightly acidic resting pH. Why do you care about resting pH? Because your moisturizer is made to deliver the most active ingredients to skin at a slightly acidic pH. If your skin’s pH is not slightly acidic, those active ingredients are delivered in far lower amounts than is needed, or not at all. Not toning means anything you apply after cleansing will not work, and you have wasted your money. To use, spritz it on, and either let it air dry or wipe it off. Unless your skin is wildly oily, avoid astringent toners and stick to soothing, anti-inflammatory ones.
MOISTURIZE: DRY/AGING: If your skin is dry, you may find that you need to use both a serum and a cream moisturizer to keep your skin properly hydrated and happy. Apply the serum first, and once it soaks in, apply the cream. If you are 35+, you should invest in a good eye cream and use it every day. The eye area is very thin, and is unsupported by bone, so it is very easy for the skin in that area to become dry and wrinkly. If you’re purchasing an anti-aging eye cream, look for retinol in the ingredient list. Retinol is one of the best anti-aging skincare actives around. It stimulates the skin to make new skin cells, increasing skin cell turnover, resulting in lessening of wrinkles and a dewy appearance. Your night cream should contain retinol as well for optimum anti-aging goodness.
SENSITIVE: It is possible to have dry sensitive skin or oily sensitive skin. Regardless, both skin types need anti-inflammatory actives to prevent irritation. For those of you with dry sensitive skin, you may need to use both a serum and a cream moisturizer. If so, use the serum first, then the cream. If your skin is oily/combo and sensitive, you likely do not need a cream moisturizer and can use a serum or gel moisturizer.NORMAL: If your skin is normal, you need products with lots of antioxidants, as antioxidants are your skin’s best friends and keep your skin safe and happy and not oxidized. You likely will not need a cream moisturizer for daytime. For eye cream, you can use any eye product you’d like.
OILY/COMBO: You still need to moisturize even if your skin is oily. However, you want to avoid heavy, pore-clogging products. Oils to look for in your products include jojoba, grapeseed, hemp seed, evening primrose, and andiroba oils. I suggest using either a lightweight serum or gel moisturizer that is either anti-inflammatory or oil control, or get both and alternate. You may find that you cannot use a moisturizer during the day in the summer, and that is fine, you can use your moisturizer at night.
A NOTE ON EYE CREAMS: Until you are in your 30s, there is little point to using an anti-aging eye cream. There is no product in the world that will prevent your skin from aging, and if anyone tells you that, know that they are full of shit.
Finally, I want to touch on makeup ever so slightly. If you are wearing makeup and are having trouble concealing your facial hair, try using a color correcting concealer over your facial hair areas and under your foundation. For facial hair, the color you need is orange. You will probably need a full coverage foundation at first, so don’t go out and buy a BB/CC cream or a tinted moisturizer.
Again, I tried to be as general as possible in my explanations, so you could get an idea of what your regimen should look like. I did not include my products in the descriptions, but if you are interested in regimens in my products, I will list them here.
DRY SKIN/ANTI-AGING: WASH: New 20 face wash, Five Fruit once a week.
TONE: any toner, they are all anti-inflammatory.
MOISTURIZE: New 20 Eye Cream (over 35), Skin Zen eye cream, New 20 or Barrier Repair Serums, New 20 Night Cream.
WASH: Skin Zen face wash, Five Fruit once a week for exfoliation.
TONE: any toner
MOISTURIZE: Skin Zen Serum, Skin Zen Night Cream (only if dry and sensitive), Skin Zen Eye Cream
WASH: Calming Cleanser, Five Fruit for exfoliation once a week
TONE: any toner
MOISTURIZE: No Baggage Eye Gel or Skin Zen Eye Cream if under 35; New 20 Eye Cream if over 35. Mega Antioxidant or City Skin Serums. Skin Tight moisturizer if you want a cream moisturizer.
WASH: Calming Cleanser and Five Fruit 2-3X a week for combo skin, Anti-Acne face wash 2-3X a week for oily skin.
TONE: any toner
MOISTURIZE: Skin Zen Serum and Mattifying Serum, No Baggage or Skin Zen eye cream if under 35, New 20 eye cream if over 35.