Tiffany Oluoch / Gavel Media

Daily Rituals: On Skincare as Meditation

Daily Rituals is a series celebrating the various little everyday routines that both comprise and sustain the human condition. Here, our writers share their own everyday habits and best-kept secrets.


I am proud to say that after twenty-one years of ignoring my mother and assuming my face would stay fresh forever, now I finally take care of my skin—and partake in a daily skincare routine. Unfortunately, it came about after a nasty breakout on my previously-unblemished skin. Going from strangers complimenting my complexion having cousins ask “So, ummm, what happened to your face?” was definitely a wake up call for me.

I studied abroad last semester, and although my life didn’t change in that quintessential ‘abroad’ sense, when twenty pimples erupted across my forehead and chin it became safe to say that “abroad changed me.” After multiple failed attempts to control the breakout, I went back home defeated and terrified to look people in the eye, fearful of judgement on account of my skin. Granted, my breakout wasn’t as aggressive as it is for those who have cystic acne, but it was obvious enough to make me feel supremely uncomfortable. I found refuge in creating a skincare routine that worked for me, one that helped me to restore my self-confidence as I began to see noticeable results.

So, after a miracle microdermabrasion facial that reset my skin—not to mention the wonderfully cold Boston weather that reversed the effects of Australia’s humidity on my face—I have finally developed and perfected my three-step nighttime skincare routine.

1. Cleansing

After a long day of only wearing a little makeup—and a lot of sweat—washing my face is my ultimate form of meditation. I use an oil-based cleanser to initially remove all the makeup, including waterproof mascara. I massage Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser into my skin to break down the makeup, and I then rinse it off with a warm face cloth. I then use a Thai Rice Milk Soap to wash everything down. I love the rice milk soap as it acts as a toner, and helps to dry out my usually very oily skin.

2. Toning

I follow up cleansing with MUJI Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Toning Water, which I dab onto a cotton pad and lightly sweep across my face. This toner really gets the remaining gunk out of my face and leaves my skin feeling fresh. I let the toner sit for a minute before I follow up with my favorite product ever: Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector. This chemical exfoliator has really kept all of my breakouts at bay and has evened up my skin tone immensely. I pay most attention to my t-zone and chin with this solution and have even noticed that my acne scars have faded significantly.

3. Moisturizing

I usually let the Glossier Solution sit for about five minutes before I put on any moisturizer. My moisturizer is weird; it's a face lotion that I have used since I was a kid. This wonderful Indian woman in my old hometown in Tanzania makes it for me, and she has never changed up the formula (whatever it is). My mum usually ships it over to me every time I run out, and it remains my best-kept skin care secret. Before I head to bed, I gently massage the moisturizer onto my face and put some Ellie Bianca Peppermint Lip Balm on my lips.  

My morning routine is very simple, consisting of cleansing my face with my rice soap, moisturizing with my mysterious Indian cream, and topping it all off with EltaMD UV Facial Sunscreen. Yes (cough cough), black people need sunscreen too (cough).

But I’ll let you in on one more thing. The biggest skin secret of all? Drinking a shit ton of water.

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