Everyone has their unique skin type, but I never considered how a physical environment factors into it. Sure, the stress of moving can certainly have short-term effects on your complexion, but what about a complete climate overhaul?
As someone who has grown up in swampy Northeast Texas, I’ve always attributed my combination-oily skin type and complexion to genetics. The dark-haired, oily-skinned lineage seemed to run deep, but we are also a deep-rooted group, having spent six generations in the area.
After some big life changes (hello, pandemic divorce, new jobs galore, etc.), I made the decision to relocate from the Piney Woods to the Chihuahuan Desert in Far West Texas. While other states may not bat an eye at an inner-state move, my new environment could not be more different. The altitude is 4,000 feet higher, the climate is unbelievably dry, pollution is basically nonexistent, and there’s something about the water. Did I also mention that straw hats and sunscreen reign supreme? It’s the hi-desert, after all.
While it’s a move that required some major uprooting, I didn’t expect my complexion to pack its bags and reinvent itself, too. After all, when you’ve spent your entire adult life skirting thick moisturizers and creams, this has been a whole new adventure in every sense. Here’s how my skin has changed (and coped) since my Marfa move:
Extreme cold from the winter storms in Texas had jump-started my skin issues before I had even fully made the move: cracked lips, bleeding heels, and extremely dry, crepey-looking skin on my arms and legs. Let’s just say that I wasn’t primed and ready for the hi-desert — I arrived in a pretty beat-up condition, both physically and mentally.
Once I had unloaded the moving trailer and spent my first mornings in my new place, I experienced nosebleeds, face tightness, and the driest lips imaginable. While I would have laughed at the idea of purchasing a humidifier back home, I took to my laptop and ordered a Canopy humidifier immediately. I wanted something that wasn’t going to spritz heavy mist into the air, came dermatologist-recommended, and of course, looked nice on my nightstand. That alone was a complete game changer — I woke up feeling like myself again and I even noticed my eyes were less puffy. A sign that my skin didn’t feel the need to retain as much water, perhaps? I’ll take it.
Repurposing My Routines
My skincare routine in Dallas-Fort Worth was pretty laid-back: cleanser, a BHA toner to tackle T-zone blackheads/comedones, Good Genes in the morning, and a retinol serum before bed. Confession: sunscreen wasn’t a familiar face in my routine. Fortunately, the desert changed all of that. Waking up with face tightness and a heightened appearance of wrinkles around my eyes and mouth woke me up more than my morning espresso.
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I typically shunned a multi-step skincare routine in the past because I felt that I didn’t have the time to stick to it. Because life moves at a different pace around here, I stopped thinking of my skincare routine as a task, and more of a morning treat for myself. I wake up, prepare coffee and lemon water, put on some music, and take my time. By the time I’m finished, my complexion resembles a glazed donut (another rare commodity out here, by the way) and I’m prepped and ready to take my dogs for their morning walk downtown. By the time we return to the casita, my products have fully absorbed.
What Works Now (That Didn’t Before)
The dry air, lack of humidity, and ever-changing temperatures (it’s sometimes a 30-degree difference throughout the day!) mean that I go through lotion and clothing layers like none other. If I step out wearing sandals or short sleeves, any amount of exposed skin is covered in Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula — a cruelty-free, paraben-free cocoa butter cream from the local Dollar General.
When I lived in Dallas, I felt that my products were never fully absorbed into my skin. The idea of a multi-step skincare routine never appealed to me because it felt like piling on gunk on my already oily/shiny face. In the hi-desert, the products absorb very quickly. Even just air-drying my hair only takes about an hour, when it was an all-day affair in North Texas.
For this new dry climate, I’ve found that thicker creams have become my go-to. My daily a.m. and p.m. routines are as follows:
- Ceramic Slip Cleanser
- Martian Mattifying Water-Gel Toner
- C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum, mixed with 2-3 drops of C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C and Turmeric Face Oil
- Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
- ICE Ceramide Cream on my temples and neck (I reapply throughout the day if I experience any skin tightness, or if I’m about to venture out for a walk)
- Auto Correct Eye Cream
- Light Hearted SPF
- Blue Moon Cleansing Balm
- Ceramic Slip Cleanser
- Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence
- A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum
- Luna Sleeping Night Oil
- U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Oil
- Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment
- Auto Correct Eye Cream
- ICE Ceramide Cream on my temples, neck, and décolletage
It doesn’t bother me that my skincare routine has doubled in steps because, honestly, it took my skin suffering for me to realize what it needed. I’ve experienced minimal weekly changes to my skin, but if I slip up and head to bed without turning on my humidifier or drinking enough water (oops), I notice tightness and dryness the following morning. I’ve since incorporated a light spritz of Pink Drink to gently resurface and prime, more vitamin C products (a serum, treatment oil, and moisturizer!), and I even finish off with an eye cream. Oh, and SPF is now front and center on my vanity, in my purse, in my car… you name it.
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