Welcome to Beauty Diaries, where we’re tracking how much money people actually spend on their beauty routines. Whether it’s rooted in self-care or self-expression, they explain, in their own words, why it’s worth every damn penny.
Today: an interior designer with extremely sensitive skin and a taste for luxury products.
Occupation: Interior Designer
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Salary: My salary is $105,000. It goes toward a portion of rent and all beauty-related purchases. My fiancé pays the other part of the rent and bills.
When it comes to my job, my aesthetic is very minimal. Quality over quantity: always. I think sometimes in interior design, you can make the mistake of layering too many pieces together because individually you may love them all, but together, unfortunately, they just don’t always work. The same definitely goes for skin care. It's all about finding quality ingredients that work for me and keeping it simple.
As an interior designer, I must admit I have bought products just because they looked good in my bathroom. I know I am not the only one guilty of aesthetic-driven purchases. Take Aesop hand wash and hand balm — they're completely unnecessary, but they just look so much better in my bathroom than a bottle of foaming hand wash from the drugstore.
I got really into beauty and completely obsessed with skin care in my early 20s, when I began to realize I desperately needed to get my hypersensitive and inflamed skin under control. For me personally, skin care goes way past trying to have a wrinkle-free forehead and perfectly defined cheekbones; when you have inflamed skin, it physically hurts. It burns like hell, and all I want is to just feel comfortable and not like someone lit my face on fire. Do I wish I had the skin type where I could do a 12-step routine and layer P50 1970, hydroquinone, and retinol all in one night? Yes, but that's just not the case. Still, I will try literally anything if it promises to give me Nicole Kidman's skin.
My first major splurge was Crème de la Mer and it’s been a downward spiral for my bank account ever since. My fiancé knows I spend a fair amount on skin care, but he also knows it’s my own hard-earned money and would never tell me how I should be spending my paycheck. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t ever be with somebody that tells you how to spend your own damn money! I'm the type of woman that would rather spend $300 on a serum (after lots of research on the product before purchasing) than on a $300 top that will be out of style in a year. It’s so much more important to me to spend on an item that will make my skin and my physical self feel better.
My morning routine is pretty simple and consistent. First, I wash my hands. It doesn’t matter if I just woke up and think my hands are clean, I always wash them before touching my face. (This is where that overpriced Aesop soap comes into play). Then, I use La Mer Cleansing Foam ($90; lasts 6 months). I’ve been using this cleanser for years, and it just really works for me.
Following cleansing, I pat a few drops of Biologique Recherche Serum Ammniotique E ($129; lasts 4 months) all over my face and neck. This hydrating and soothing serum is very thin, but I wait five minutes to allow it to fully absorb.
Next, I put on a pea-sized amount of my RhoFade cream prescription ($50 after insurance; lasts 2 months). It’s a cream that performs miracles within 15 minutes of putting it on, but it’s important to mention that it only works while it's on your skin. The moment I wash it off, my skin goes back to being the red and inflamed hot mess it normally is.
After this, I add La Mer Reparative Face SunLotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($135; lasts 6 months) because the sun is my worst enemy. If I know I’m going to be outdoors for long periods of time (I do live by the beach, after all), I skip makeup and re-apply this every two hours.
My night routine is a whole other beast. It really depends on if my skin is feeling sensitive, normal, freaking out, etc. I do have five staples, though. I always wash my face in the evenings with Biologique Recherche Lait U ($41; lasts 4 months) followed by the same La Mer Cleansing Foam I use in the mornings. Lait U is incredibly creamy and gentle and great for getting off any makeup.
Then, while my face is still damp, I apply Skinmedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($178; lasts 4 months). This is one of my absolute favorite products of all time. My skin craves hydration around the clock, so the more hyaluronic acid, the better.
Another favorite product of mine that I cannot go a night without is the La Mer Eye Balm Intense ($205; lasts 6 months). The skin underneath my eyes is incredibly delicate, and this is the only eye cream I have found that does not cause my skin to burn like hell.
To finish, I put on Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex ($19; lasts 6 months) every night right before I go to sleep.
The items I do switch up in my routine are my chemical exfoliants, serums, and moisturizers. When I decide to use a chemical exfoliant (which is not very often because when you have inflamed skin, acids are not your friend), it will be either Biologique Recherche P50 V 1970 ($101; lasts 6 months) or my Finacea prescription (covered by insurance; lasts 4 months), which is an azealic acid that combats acne but is gentle enough for sensitive skin and decreases redness.
Then come the serums. If my skin is stressed, I will use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($98; lasts 6 months) or Skinmedica TNS Recovery Complex ($179; lasts 6 months). On the rare occasion when my skin is feeling normal, I will use La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster ($315; lasts 1 year). This serum makes me glow like crazy and it feels like I’m actually doing something to combat my inevitable crow's feet and laugh lines. If my skin is acting like it’s the end of the world, I will use La Mer The Concentrate ($470; lasts 1 year). It makes my skin so soft and instantly soothes any irritation. I especially like to use it post-IPL treatments.
Lastly, the moisturizers. If my skin is stressed, I will use Chanel’s La Solution 10 ($110, lasts 4 months). It only has 10 ingredients and is basically a godsend when your skin is being super reactive to everything else. If my skin is being somewhat normal, then I will use Crème de la Mer ($315; lasts 1 year) or La Prairie Cellular Ice Crystal Cream ($255; lasts 1 year). I also like to use Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform ($95; lasts 1 year) on areas that are prone to develop wrinkles.
I don’t use that many in an effort to keep my routine simplified, but I do use Biologique Recherche’s Masque Vivant ($70; lasts for 1 year). You know that gross, hot trash smell in NYC in the summer? That’s what this smells like. Even my dog doesn’t want to come near me when I have it on. But it is great if your face is breaking out because of the yeast extract and lactic acid in it. Sometimes, I will mix it with the brands Crème Dermopurifante ($94; lasts 1 year) to make it a bit creamier and more moisturizing.
I try not too wear too much makeup. If I do decide to wear a foundation, I will first spritz my face with Avene Thermal Spring Water ($14; lasts 3 months) and then use one pump of Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64; lasts 6 months). I really want whatever goes on my skin to be very sheer, very breathable.
Other Skin Expenses:
I visit my dermatologist for my prescriptions (in addition to the others, I also take Spironolactone twice a day for hormonal acne; it's covered by insurance), fillers, and IPL treatments. I love to get IPL treatments a few times a year ($350 per session; 4x a year) to combat redness and hyperpigmentation and I get JuvadermVolume XC in my lips ($700 per treatment; 2x a year).
Yearly Total: $7,912