A Skincare Line I Discovered Amid Quarantine Helped Me Embrace My Bare Face
The kickoff to quarantine back in March had my skin in a really strange place.
It looked really dull and dehydrated, and I was even breaking out. Okay, by "breaking out," I mean a few blemishes around my mouth and chin—not a full-blown acne attack. But I'm very fortunate to not usually break out at all, so yes, this was uncharacteristic and I wasn't into it. It also took me by surprise because I was eating healthier than ever before and still working out regularly and drinking plenty of water. Really, I had no idea where these pesky pimples hailed from (don't mind my post-workout selfie below—zits circled and all!).
While I was still incredibly diligent with my skincare routine, I hadn't dermaplaned my face in quite some time and I was kind of seeing what would happen, because why not? spoiler alert: I will never go that long again. Anyway, the skincare industry has been absolutely bustling from the start of coronavirus and stay-at-home orders. I can't tell you how many pitches I've received to review a new skincare line or product. While I absolutely enjoy the perks of my job, I don't oblige to a pitch unless there's a real use for it. Otherwise, it's a waste for everyone.
That said, when I'd hit rock bottom with my breakouts, I reverted back to a pitch from a rep for La Jolla, California-based skincare brand, CLEARstem. I replied to one of her emails and explained my issue. She assured me that the brand's products can be used on mild blemishes in addition to more serious issues. I figured I had nothing to lose at this point, and told her I'd be happy to review the collection she'd been pitching. Keep reading for everything you need to know!
The Products (can be purchased individually or in a set for $159)
GENTLEclean Vitamin-Infused Calming Wash ($39):
The first step in the kit, this AM/PM Vitamin C and green tea-infused wash is designed to remove makeup and oil from the skin. This can be applied generously, and as a precursor to the VITAMINscrub. If you're not wearing makeup or you're not a double-cleanse kind of gal, you can skip this step.
VITAMINscrub Antioxidant-Infused Scrub Cleanser ($44):
Also packed with Vitamin C, this AM/PM scrub is additionally infused with bamboo and can be applied generously. The perfect second step in a double-cleanse, this can also be used solo (especially if you're not wearing makeup). This product is designed to decongest and smooth, prime and glow, and make pores appear smaller.
CLEARity AHA/PHA Serum ($64):
Packed with the powerful chemical exfoliant mandelic acid, this overnight serum is designed to reduce the appearance of acne scars and other skin damage. It also contains superfood skin ingredients and collagen boosters, which aim to make the skin glow, hydrate and appear renewed. Following application, wait 15 to 30 minutes and apply CELLrenew (see below).
CELLrenew Collagen Infusion Serum ($59):
This collagen stem cell serum is packed with hyaluronic acid, among a slew of superfood skin ingredients, designed to hydrate and renew the skin. Following 15 to 30 minutes of CLEARity's application, this serum should be applied once, then reapplied again after it settles into the skin for a few minutes.
Whenever I try a new skincare line I'm previously unfamiliar with, I have typically low expectations (which is silly because most of those "buzzy" products are backed by influencers or a ton of marketing dollars—not backed by actual doctors, dermatologists or biologists). But I was in a bind—and for obvious reasons, I didn't have acne products chillin' in my beauty cabinet. I liked the idea that CLEARstem's products would allegedly alleviate my minor breakouts without providing the intensity of a full-blown acne clearing kit. I didn't want (nor need) the dryness or irritation that more heavy-duty acne lines are said to cause.
I immediately put 3/4 products to work. The fourth (CELLrenew) exploded in my package en route to being delivered, so it never got the use it deserved. Regardless, I went ahead with the others right after dermaplaning my face for the first time in months. The combination of these new products and my freshly exfoliated face was a winning recipe! My skin looked instantly brighter and alive.
I continued using the three-part set for weeks to follow and never experienced dryness or irritation—seriously all I got was glowing skin. This was at the height of social distancing, so my personal interactions with people were few and far between. But two weeks into my new skincare regimen, I went walking with a skincare-obsessed friend, who took one look at my face and said, "Wow, you're glowing!" I'd noticed the permanently dewier skin as well, but to hear it from an outsider confirmed my thoughts.
As I receive new skincare products to review for work, I often bounce around with different serums and cleansers, but I've found that there hasn't been a more reliable trio for me amid all of the pandemic than this right here. There's a noticeable difference when I stop or continue using it for a while. Now that I know it's worth it, I'd love to actually throw CLEARstem into the mix moving forward since it never got a fair go. I can't imagine an even greater result. Below is a photo of me three weeks into using the system, and I'm not wearing any makeup!
People have been asking me throughout the pandemic what I recommend for mascne or even general breakouts, and it's been really fun suggesting a brand they likely aren't familiar with (yet). It's hard for people to commit to a full line off the bat, so if I were to suggest one product in particular, it'd be the VITAMINscrub. Just one use leads to brighter skin with more even complexion. Both washes come with a lot of product, and you don't need to use much each use to get the job done.
While the set as a whole is a little costly, if you break the items down individually, they're actually not bad at all. Also, each of the four formulas is free of alcohols, parabens, silicone, hormone disrupters and secret pore-cloggers. Though I can't speak to what this does for full-blown acne, I will say my minor blemishes dissipated within three days of use. Going off of what I said above, I absolutely recommend giving this a go if you're experiencing mascne, for example. The line also contains anti-aging properties, which make it a good go for all ages and skin types.
Curious how beauty bloggers determine which products to review on their site? Click HERE for our interview with a skincare guru.