An ode to road-worn skin

by Sarah Jaffee

Sarah is just a girl standing in front of a mirror asking her skin to look as good as she feels inside. Currently residing in Brooklyn, her face is constantly bombarded by free radicals and street slime and has only recently discovered the importance of a good skincare routine. More importantly, an affordable one given the high cost of living in a city such as New York. She works as a Tour and Production Manager for touring musicians and often finds herself lacking heavily in the self-care department while on the road, so a routine that is travel-friendly is of top priority.

I admittedly have neglected my skin for most of my life. I take it for granted. I think of it not as an organ, but a protective layer, like a plastic bag or Tupperware— let the exterior take a beating so long as all the important stuff sealed inside is kept safe. It has only been within the past year that I have begun treating my skin with even a skosh of respect. I’d say I spend 60-70% of my year traveling and have only recently made an honest effort to understand the importance of nourishing and giving back to my skin. Skincare has become a form of meditation on the road. I know that every night after a hard day’s work I get to spend some much needed time extracting the grit and grime from my face to come out a better version of me on the other side of the mask. My regimen goes something as follows:

Stage 1: Micellar water or a charcoal-infused wipe. Which product I use depends on what is most accessible at the time. Often, the wipes are priority since they are easy to travel with; I don’t have to check a bag to bring them, or think about buying them on location. However, when I get a moment to do a little shopping around whatever town I happen to be in that day I will indulge in a bottle of micellar water. Using a cotton ball or pad, I moisten the applicator with some micellar and wipe away the dirt of the day. Micellar draws out impurities while simultaneously retaining skin’s moisture and to my knowledge is generally effective for all skin types.

Stage 2: Desert Essence 100% Australian Tea Tree Oil. If you’re not using tea tree oil, you’re not living your best life. This natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal is truly heaven-sent. It can be used for myriad ailments, including athlete’s foot, various rashes, yeast infections (think bellybutton and armpits, not crotch), and above all, acne. I began using this long before serums and masks, and used it exclusively. I apply it via travel size spray bottle, typically containing a 5:1 ratio of water to oil. I give the bottle a shake before each use and spritz liberally onto my face and occasionally scalp to combat dandruff. If I sense a devastating breakout on the horizon I dip a Q-tip into undiluted oil and apply directly to the lurkers. The oil seeps into your pores to battle the acne-causing grime and dries it out. Because it is known to dry out the skin, it is imperative to follow up with…

Stage 3: Skinlab Collagen + Elastin Treatment Serum. Collagen supplements are all the rage these days, promising to deliver the youthful glow you once had before realizing how hard being an adult is. I began using it to combat the dull, lifeless complexion I developed after years of mistreatment. Collagen itself is said to improve skin’s texture— reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. However, what drew me to it was the effect it has on dark spots and under eye circles. As much as I would like to believe my under eye circles are a product of genetics, the fact remains that no amount of orange concealer truly remedies them; concealer is, after all, a temporary fix. The elastin enhances the effects of collagen by giving life back to my complexion through assisting in moisture retention which creates supple, soft skin. I can honestly say that after only 3 days of using this serum I noticed a huge difference in how even my complexion became. My skin went from splotchy and acne-scarred to even-toned and glowing practically overnight.

Stage 4: Coconut Oil / SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Spot Correcting Serum: Although the aforementioned Collagen and Elastin serum does provide hydration, I like to round out my routine with a good ole fashioned moisturizer. I have found some great and basic serums at drug stores composed almost entirely of what appears to be liquefied shea butter. Rich in vitamins A, E, and F, Shea provides the skin with essential fatty acids and nutrients necessary to promote collagen production. These vitamins also have anti-inflammatory properties that diminish unsavory puffiness and uneven texture. When I’m low on serum or when I want to mix it up I substitute organic, virgin coconut oil. A little bit goes a long way. Like tea tree oil, coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, but instead of drying the skin out it penetrates deeply and supports moisture retention.

Once a week I also indulge in a face mask. I incorporate the mask between stages one and two. Often I purchase multi-packs of those cute and trendy sheet masks printed with animal faces at a small store in Chinatown, but you can find similar masks by Pretty Animalz at almost any Target. Each one has different benefits, but I typically go for masks with pearl essence. Masks with pearl extract are often chemically engineered, but they are rich in antioxidants and amino acids that strengthen skin and improve its texture and tone over time. When I am feeling wealthy, I enjoy using the Luminary Beauty Mask by Bar Soap Brooklyn. This mask is made with all-natural ingredients and unlike sheet masks, this one is applied by mixing the powder with water, milk, or aloe and left to sit for 15 minutes. It looks like I’m getting ready for a date with the creature from the Black Lagoon, but it smells so earthy and delicious I can’t help but feel like I am doing something right.

Well, that’s all folks. That is what keeps me sane on tour and my skin looking like a sweet baby angel. It’s been an uphill battle but I have finally found an affordable and accessible way to treat myself and work on bettering the appearance of my road-worn skin.

Photography by Alaina Latona