Too many hours of my adolescence were spent pouring over the videos of prominent YouTube beauty gurus. I routinely absorbed their gospel, blowing my meager allowance on overpriced makeup and skincare products. All the women in my family were born with naturally glowing skin. I put my faith in the potentiality that the right combination of name brands would make my skin look that way, too. I remember being painfully insecure in my early high school days, wearing scarves multiple times a week as a shield. Any woman that I saw – real or advertised – would be a marker of comparison for my own face; the reality of airbrush and Facetune never consoled the critic in my head as I scrubbed my face red with products containing salicylic acid and sulfates. It seemed that the more I put on, the worse it got. These days my routine is far simpler. I’ve noticed, like many people, that during times of high stress and PMS, my skin will do what it wants regardless of my attempts to control it. However, by maintaining a gentler and more hands-off approach over the last few years, I’ve seen marked improvement in the texture, dewiness, and sensitivity of my skin. In high school, I failed to recognize how getting four hours of sleep a night would do some damage. Now, I am a loyalist to the idea of beauty sleep, and I swear by the fact that a good night’s rest improves the brightness and smoothness of my face. In addition, drinking plenty of water or tea has the positive byproduct of improving your complexion. And though I don’t do it often enough, making sure to wash any makeup brushes you are using once every few weeks or so ensures that you are not adding excess oil and bacteria into your skin. The frequency of my breakouts decreased dramatically simply by abiding by a more health-conscious lifestyle. In terms of products, I wash my face with the CeraVe foaming facial cleanser in the morning and at night. This face wash was recommended to me by my dermatologist; my skin responded extremely positively when I substituted this gentle cleanser in place of harsher, beaded exfoliants. Thanks to this skincare column, I’ve recently added facial oils into my routine. Though I was dubious at first, these oils really have made my skin softer and glowier—and, though I feared it, they have not made my skin more oily. In the morning, I apply a few drops of the Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil. After letting it sit, I follow up with the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion on my face and neck. At night, I repeat that routine except I apply a few drops of Rosehip Seed Oil. I used to have a bad habit of popping blemishes on my face before they were ready; no matter how satisfying it was in the moment, the resulting scarring and swelling was never worth it. Rosehip Seed Oil reduces scarring, and I’ve noticed that it also calms down any redness and sensitivity I may be experiencing. I also apply e.l.f’s Illuminating Eye Cream in the morning and at night to reduce under-eye puffiness, prevent against wrinkles, and wake me up. Other than these few steps, I occasionally play around with drugstore face masks—if anyone has any recommendations, I’d love for you to send them my way! The bottom line is that my confidence increases on days I feel good about my skin. Over the last few years, opting for fewer products with fewer ingredients has worked wonders for me, while also saving my wallet. Of course, I am no professional, and I do still experience bouts of breakouts. For those days, I highly recommend the Clinique Airbrush Concealer in whatever your shade may be. Although it is a bit more expensive than a drugstore product, I cannot leave the house without it. Finally, while I, like many people, strive for perfect skin, it is equally important to remember that the language we use to speak about our skin— “blemishes,” “bad skin,” etc.—all work to stigmatize the extremely normal and common experience of acne. Remember that the notion of “perfect skin” is an abstract and unfounded concept created to profit off your insecurity. No matter what your skin looks like, find a routine that makes you feel confident!