beauty

At 29, I Tried An Anti-Aging Skin Regimen For One Month

by Olivia Jakiel

When I was in the sixth grade, some kid named Mark told me he could “play connect the dots with the zits on your forehead and spell my name.” I’m not sure if that’s the only reason I’ve always been self-conscious about my skin, but those feelings of insecurity linger to this day.

Now, at the age of 29, my skin is relatively clear, though I still suffer from the occasional breakout, as many women in their late 20s do. The current issue I’ve found myself grappling with is its tone and texture. It’s like my skin turned to crepe the second I turned 29 — and not the good kind you get at brunch. 

On top of these new, weird texture issues and near-constant redness, I’ve also noticed that my skin now tends to scar very easily — the evidence of a pimple I got in November will hang around ’til Memorial Day. And don’t get me started on the clusters of wrinkles that have begun to emerge, mostly on my forehead, where they stick out like an entire bouquet of sore thumbs to me.

After having a minor (OK, major) freakout earlier this year about the whole Turning 30 thing, I decided to do something productive about my specific skin issues for the first time in my life. I was going to employ a personalized anti-aging regimen. Going into it, I knew that my biggest challenge would be finding products that would brighten my skin and fade my dark spots and scars while preserving the freckles under my eyes and across my nose and cheeks — the one aspect of my skin that I honestly love.

I wound up choosing nine (nine!) different products to apply throughout my month-long skin experiment, which didn’t include any other day-to-day life changes. In order to gauge the success of the trial as accurately as possible, I generally ate the same, exercised the same, consumed the same amounts of wine, and stayed out of the sun. Here’s what happened. 

The Supplies

The Supplies
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(I take major pride in my medicine cabinet and the fact that it’s filled with skincare products that are cute AF.)

Here’s the first group of products I used:

The Ordinary’s “Buffet” serum, which fights signs of aging.

The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% serum, which reduces spots and discoloration.

The Ordinary’s Matrixyl 10% + HA serum, a wrinkle reducer.

The Ordinary’s Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F serum, which brightens skin tone and reduces signs of aging.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Week 1

Week 1
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HELLO RED SKIN, how art thou?

This is how I wake up every morning, and today, I am especially grumpy for two reasons:

1. I haven’t had coffee yet, and

2. It looks like someone smashed a tomato all over my face while I slept. 

I pour a few drops each of The Ordinary’s Buffet and Matrixyl 10% + HA serums on the back of my hand, mix them together, and apply them all over my entire face and neck, avoiding the eye area as recommended on the bottle. It feels sticky, and when I look in the mirror I look like I’m wearing one of those plastic Alison masks from Pretty Little Liars. 

Pretty Little Liars Mask GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’ve never been a big fan of slathering stuff on my skin, even lotions, so I honestly feel really weird right now. Like, why should there ever be some slimy barrier between my skin and the air? (I’ll probably bring this up to my therapist at some point; it’s likely related to a bigger issue I’ll need to address another time.)

But I digress. Because my skin is my skin and acts a fool 99% of the time, the redness intensifies a little bit post-initial application, then eventually returns to its normal state of redness. This is going well. I then apply the eye cream, wait for it to absorb, apply my makeup per usual and get on with my day.

Week 2

Week 2
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I’ve been doing the same morning routine for a little over a week now, along with applying face masks every two to three days while watching Vanderpump Rules reruns on Hulu with my dog. (Side note: There’s something so satisfying about sitting in sweatpants, hair pulled up off your face in a messy bun, and drinking a glass or three of wine while you let a face mask do its thing. It’s pretty much exactly what my younger self thought my adult self would be doing at this age.)

I start to see a little improvement in my face’s tone and texture by the beginning of week two. A lot of its usual redness has subsided, and my skin sort of feels like velvet. To me, that means there’s *something* in these serums that’s actually starting to affect my skin — and in a positive way, no less.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

My nighttime regimen is a little different than my daytime routine: I mix a few drops each of The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% serum and Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F on the back of my hand, apply it to my face, wait for it to dry, then finish with my eye cream. The routine makes me feel like one of the sorority girls in Legally Blonde, except I live alone and my “sisters” are half-drank bottles of wine and a male dog named Jones.

At this point, I think my skin looks dewy, plump, and hydrated—and my acne scars are starting to fade little by little!

Week 3

Week 3
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Okay, I’m REALLY starting to see some differences here. I feel like my skin looks super glowy and, dare I say, lit from within (something that’s only happened to me on a night out on the town, up until this point in my life). Bonus: Some of my acne scars have faded, but my freckles haven’t!

I’ve decided to add The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone to my nighttime routine at this point in my experiment, a product I didn’t use initially because I didn’t want to overwhelm my skin right out of the gate. (A warning with this one: The product tingles when it’s applied, and not in a “refreshing” or “cooling” way. It kind of feels like tiny baby bumblebees are giving my cheeks a Shiatsu massage. But hey — beauty is pain?)

Week 4

Week 4
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Oh heyyy! This is my skin with ZERO makeup on. #Nofilter whatsoever. I can honestly say that for the first time in almost 20 years, I feel like I can leave my house without a stitch of makeup and walk the streets of Los Angeles with the confidence of someone wearing like a full-on Kardashian-Jenner contour.

Kim Kardashian GIF by KUWTK - Find & Share on GIPHY

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Even after not-so-carefully scrubbing makeup off my face after a long day, I feel like my skin still looks a million times better than it did at the beginning of Week 1. How could my skin change this drastically in a mere four weeks? Why did I keep complaining about my skin for so long instead of, you know, actually doing something about it? Is this what actually taking responsibility for something feels like?

The Conclusion

The Conclusion
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I’m not gonna lie: I’m more than a little excited about the results I experienced in just a over a month. While my forehead lines faded a teeny, tiny bit, the thing that most surprised (and impressed) me was how these products changed the texture and tone of my skin. For almost two decades, I’d been trying to figure out how to get rid of my red skin and acne scars; who knew the solution could be found in products marketed as wrinkle-smoothers?

This experiment made me realize how important — and life-changing — a proper skincare routine can be. And with the mind-blowing results I’ve seen in such a short period of time, there’s no way I’m going to back to my non-skincare routine. Ever.