Brandon’s Transition to Clean

My skincare journey started rather late. It’s just not something I cared about for the first 20 years of my life. I was self conscious enough that my Mom would sneak facial cleanser into the shower, or give me Proactive to treat the acne on my neck (which didn’t work), but I was so apathetic to skincare that it never really became part of my routine nor something I actively sought out.

It wasn’t until I got to college and subsequently started growing facial hair, that I was sort of forced into caring about skincare. However, shaving sucks, and because of the acne on my neck I couldn’t use disposable razor blades or off-the-shelf shaving cream, which made it suck even more. Come to find out when your neck is already irritated, removing a layer of skin doesn’t help… I researched ways to avoid this that didn’t involve rubbing raw potatoes on my neck  (a thing the internet suggests) or just giving up and going full caveman. I eventually landed on using a safety razor, beard oil, and a beaver tail brush. This made shaving easier, and meant that I wasn’t further irritating my already irritated neck. Plus I liked the smell of the beard oil (clove), and it made me feel like a rugged old-timey man when I did it.

But the acne was still there, and I figured rather than finding a way around it, I would just address it once and for all. I purchased a Clarisonic and a myriad of cleansers before settling on one that worked. There was a lot of trial and error involved that I don’t think I would have stuck with had I not already found a shaving treatment that worked. The cleanser plus the shaving routine finally got me to a place where I could see results, and didn’t feel like I was conducting a blood letting. Once I could see the benefit – and really understand it – that opened the door for me to seek out products that solved for other specific skin issues.

I have big pores so I use an extruder semi-frequently to help remove blackheads and whiteheads.* But if I reduced the size of my pores I didn’t need to focus on that as much. My hair is pretty oily and washing it with traditional shampoo dried it out which only amped up the oil production, so I started to do no-poo (baking soda and water solution) with a cider vinegar rinse that kept the oil in balance. And since I was no longer over-producing oil, the acne on my neck all but disappeared. I also discovered that I could minimize breakouts if I treated my neck and face with a simple hydrating face cream. I’m very much olfactory driven, so I started buying products that had woodsy smells (like vetiver or cedar), or floral (like lavender), which meant that I grew to really enjoy my routine and look forward to it, which made it more habitual.

But in the last few years I kind of just stopped. I had gone through a really challenging time with some family issues which cratered my self-confidence. And that little spark of motivation I needed to keep up with the routine just disappeared. We were also on a really tight budget, so apart from a sunscreen and my shaving routine I really didn’t have much in terms of resources to dedicate to skincare, and my skin kind of suffered as a result.

It wasn’t until I found MadeWith that I was able to jumpstart that routine again. I liked that the products were natural because I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I get rashes when I use certain products (especially those that use titanium dioxide or petroleum byproducts), so I felt confident that I wouldn’t have any issues with what was being sent to me. That familiarity with certain products was helpful to get back into a routine because the knowledge base was there. And the fact that someone with more experience than me was selecting products for me meant that I didn’t have to go through the same trial and error I experienced a decade earlier with acne treatment. But honestly – from an emotional level – it’s a silly thing, but the fact that my skincare mentor checks in once a month with new product recommendations based on my skin profile keeps me engaged and gets me to take a beat and check in on my skin’s needs.

*MADEWITH does not recommend tools like these unless you are an expert and have a clear understanding of how to properly use

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