Welcome to You Look Moist, a column in which Man Repeller asks cool people with glowing visages how they achieved their supreme hydration (amongst other things). Today’s story features Marisa Lifschutz, Repeller’s Business and Communications Strategist.
How would you describe your skin?
Very, VERY dry. I’ve had eczema all my life, so that plays a factor as well. While my skin isn’t sensitive to active ingredients, it’s easily damaged by changing environmental conditions, which can produce irritated patches and flakiness. My college-age trials and tribulations with harsh drugstore cleansers and astringents, combined with my discovery of K-Beauty a few years back, guided me to an intentional and well-researched routine centered on moisture-oriented products.
How would you describe your skincare approach in general?
I am extremely loyal to products I know work with my skin. The core of my approach is keeping the right combination of hydrating and active elements in my rotation. Now that I think about it, my routine has a decent amount of steps. One bright spot of quarantine is that it’s created space for me to do my full routine most nights of the week, without it feeling scrambled.
Which skincare products are integral to your routine for achieving your ideal, glowing, well-moisturized complexion, and how/when do you use each of them?
My cleanser needs to be hydrating. I’m happily settled with CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser in warmer months. If I’m wearing makeup, I’ll first use Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm or a swipe of Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water. Soon, I’ll switch over to my winter cleanser, One Love Organics B Enzyme Cleansing Oil, for cooler days when my skin really struggles to retain moisture.
I use a hydrating toner to begin layering moisture into my skin. A gentle, alcohol-free toner is a critical step—I’m loyal to Son & Park Beauty Water. A bottle lasts forever, and it’s kind to my skin year round.
After toning, I’ll immediately pat a few pumps of Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Power Essence into my skin while it’s still damp. I follow up with a liberal layer of Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief Lotion, applied with my hands instead of cotton for extra absorption. I really love this product—it cushions my skin and prepares it to receive serums and treatments with active ingredients.
I prefer to use only one serum in a given routine, so it needs to pack a punch. I alternate between Sunday Riley’s Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Farmacy’s Honeymoon Glow AHA Serum. Good Genes is the priciest product on my shelf—that doesn’t always mean it works well, but this always leaves my skin with a particular plumpness and elasticity to it the morning after use. After letting my serum sink in, I’ll use a small amount of Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni Retinol Cream. I only do this step twice a week, but I’ll forever swear by the powers of retinol to treat and prevent acne with consistent use.
I then apply essence products to lock in moisture ahead of thicker ceramides. My one-two punch is Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Essence, patted into my skin, followed by a few pumps of Cosrx Snail Mucin Power Essence. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring snail mucin to a desert island—it’s that effective and essential. Kombucha is also a powerhouse ingredient for instant brightening.
Thicker lotions with ceramides and facial oils are key to my penultimate stage. For moisturizer, Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré layers beautifully and is a cooling treat if I have any irritation. I’ll finish up with an oil patted into my skin. My go-tos are Julep Rosehip Seed Oil and The Ordinary Squalane Oil. I started applying my oil down my décolletage as a way to specifically treat that area.
I’ll finish up with Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask for overnight replenishment. If my skin needs additional moisture, I’ll layer in a sleeping mask—Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask and Youth to the People’s Superberry Dream Mask are my favorites, depending on the season.
My morning routine has a few adjustments. I skip cleanser—it feels extraneous. For my morning serum, I alternate between FEMMUE Lumière Vital C Serum and Caudalie Vinoperfect Anti Dark Spot Serum. Vitamin C is a key ingredient for brightening and pore control, and grape sap extract has worked really well with my skin to treat dark spots and other discolorations. For moisturizer, I swap Embryolisse with CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which provides a surprisingly deep level of hydration for how airy it is. I’ll top everything off with an SPF: I’ve been enjoying Cosrx’s Aloe Soothing Sun Cream.
What about makeup products?
I’m not really into makeup! I’ve spent so much time wishing for nothing more than to feel comfortable barefaced. I also prefer to spend my beauty budget replacing skincare products.
When I do feel like wearing makeup, I rely on a handful of things that are subtle and highlight my features. I’ve used NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer forever for my under-eye area and to manage any blemishes or discoloration. I adore all colors of Glossier Cloud Paint cream blush. Any drugstore eyebrow gel will suffice to add structure to my brows, and a berry-colored lip oil is a favorite finishing touch. Since quarantine, I really only use the lip oil for a wash of color. I rarely wear eye makeup, but I used to live for applying a nice, long cat-eye with Stila’s Liquid Eyeliner, and I still like that look.
What’s the cheapest product you use regularly and love?
Aquaphor Healing Ointment as lip balm!!! I love stockpiling the 2 oz. sizes to scatter in every corner of my apartment, handbag, and jacket pocket. Also, if I may pick two, Muji Cut Cotton Squares are the crème de la crème of cotton squares.
Is there anything you try to avoid, skincare- or makeup-wise?
For skincare, I’m very cautious with ingredients. I’ve used one too many skin products that were all flash and no substance (I.e., “brightening” toners loaded with alcohol, pricy hyaluronic acids that pill at the first sign of layered products, etc. etc.) I’ve learned to be super thorough in my research when seeking a new product.
My one absolutely-not is a cleanser with active ingredients! I learned this the hard way after falling into the drugstore trap of using harsh cleansers with salicylic acid. I’ve since wisened up—now, I just want my cleanser to leave my skin in a neutral, moistened state to prepare it for next steps. Cleansers can make or break (or at least complicate) your routine, so it’s important to find one that starts your skin off on its best footing.
Any next-level tips, tricks, or services that you swear by to help you look “lit from within”?
Youth to the People’s Yerba Mate Enzyme Energy Facial. It essentially works as a microdermabrasion treatment—minus the uncomfortable suction device, plus a convenient washaway format. I love YTTP, so I had high expectations, but I didn’t expect it to work THIS well: Using it twice a month has completely eliminated any rough textured spots, on top of unearthing a megawatt-bright layer of even-toned skin. I didn’t have a physical exfoliant in my routine before this, and my inner skincare snob convinced me I didn’t need one, but I stand (color) corrected.
Also, I swear by a quality facial spray for injecting dewiness throughout the day. They don’t have a specific placement in my routine; I’ll add a few spritzes whenever to layer and/or top off with additional moisture. My favorites are FEMMUE Camellia Mist and Caudalie Beauty Elixir because they’re so multi-purpose; Avene Thermal Spray also works well in a jam.
What’s your go-to product or trick for fixing a skin disaster?
My skin disasters generally include excessive flakiness and irritation-induced acne. These days, you can bet this combo also includes contact dermatitis around my nose and mouth from the friction of wearing a face mask.
When I feel this coming on, I sprint to apply a Farmacy Coconut Gel Sheet Mask. Coconut gel masks are FAR far superior to your standard cloth-sheet mask: They truly adhere to your skin for maximum hydration. Layering one of these in my nighttime routine on top of my usual moisture products literally “seals the deal.” I’ll top off with facial oil and a sleeping mask, and let the layers melt into my skin overnight to heal dryness and irritation.
What’s something you wish your teenage self knew about taking care of your skin?
To not treat dryness with more dryness!!! Something about American skincare (late-stage capitalism?) really emphasizes this approach as the only path to treat blemishes and other skin issues: alcohol-based treatment pads, drying astringents and toners, harsh foaming cleansers—the list goes on. These products can be incredibly harmful and do so much more damage than good. Traveling to Paris after college and seeing their pharmacies chock full of simple and effective products that work to coddle the skin instead of essentially “stripping it straight” was a game-changer, and something I continue to pass on to anyone! who! will! listen!