This is a long one, kids, but I promise you it’s worth it.
TL;DR If you don’t care about how I discovered Dr. Dennis Gross, nbd. Just scroll down, and you’ll be able to see what products from their line I’m using, and how to do an at-home facial
I don't usually talk about makeup or skincare on Honestly, Though. And that's because I don't understand it + I feel so confused by it. Growing up, I had great skin — or rather, I didn't notice the few pimples I got on my forehead and no one made comments. And I wasn't vegan; I ate whatever I wanted + I loved it. When I first went vegan, my skin was still awesome. It was great basically all through high school until my senior year. And even then, my "acne" was a few bumps that were barely noticeable. In college, it was the same. My skin mostly looked fine + I didn't really care if I wasn't wearing makeup. I don't even remember thinking about it.
But as many of you know, I’ve been majorly dealing with an onslaught of what I legit believed was adult, cystic acne. It began this past winter — with weather being moodier than a teenager entering puberty — and my skin said "enough is enough,' and broke out worse than I ever had in my life.
I had just quit my job out of nowhere + without having a new position in place. So my fiancé and I blamed it on stress, but when I landed a new gig + loved my position, it didn’t go away — it got worse.
So I got emergency facials, and I tried wearing makeup as infrequently as possible. I already barely eat sugar or fried foods, but I continued trying to cut it all out. I guzzled water as if I was in the desert. But nothing budged. Dark spots across my cheeks, black heads along my nose — everything.
And as we do when we get breakouts, I packed on the makeup to conceal the redness and blemish. And then I’d wash my face after work to reveal whiteheads screaming at me. I would wash my face and blob on toner and I refused to use any exfoliator or peels after a woman that gave me a $15 facial told me that exfoliation would make me break out.
BUT, two things changed and my skin is clearing up: I discovered Dr. Dennis Gross + I went to a dermatologist (more on that another time).
I discovered Dr. Dennis Gross in a such a weird way. I was aggressively tipsy after a Sunday brunch and stumbled into Sephora looking for face masks to accompany my afternoon rosé. A saleswoman was there showing off Dr. Dennis Gross’ pro facial steamer — like, the whole "get a $200 facial at-home" sort of deal. I personally LOVE getting facials for the steam, and every time I’ve been to a steam room at a spa, my face looks 100000x better because case in point: your skin + at-home-steaming were made for each other.
Why should you
care about steaming?
Steaming opens your pores, improves your complexion, improves your skin + is the ideal way to prep your skin for masks, exfoliation, moisturizing, etc. From just a few weeks of steaming, my face feels healthy + looks brighter.
ANYWAYS, this woman was showing off the steamer and no one was interested in a demo. So obviously I jumped in there like, “make me beautiful, woman.” (side note: you are beautiful without a steamer, I just really love steam).
The demo was pretty obvious and self-explanatory — fill with water, turn on, steam yo’ self. But I was convinced that I needed one even before I sat in the chair. Many people (including me) will steam with a pot of boiled water and tea leaves and a towel over their head. That's awesome, but the Pro Facial Steamer meant I could take it with me on-the-go and has zero prep/clean-up/hassle.
SIDE NOTE: Men love steaming + peeling too. Maxim and I do it over a glass of wine + Netflix.
Oh, and did I mention that LITERALLY the week after I started using mine, The blogger behind The Skinny Confidential, Lauryn started loving it and the steamer was literally blowing up (in a good way).
I bought the steamer and went home right away to take off my makeup + get my steam on. Once you start using it, you’ll NEVER want to stop. Your skin is literally left glowing and happy and I can straight up see HUGE improvements from using it. When I discovered who was behind the brand, though, I inquired: Isn’t Dr. Dennis Gross just a line of harsh chemical peels?
Dr. Dennis Gross IS famous for their line of daily peels + pads, BUT their company is 100% vegan, a PETA partner, and cruelty-free to my surprise. The husband-wife team began in the early 2000s when peels that didn't require needles + downtown were super out of the norm.
My dermatologist actually super loves the company too, and gave me a double thumbs up to use their products with the antibiotic I’m taking. Apparently a lot of people that suffer from adult acne have turned to Dr. Dennis Gross and never looked back (me included).
So I switched to using a LOT of their products both in the morning + before bed and have seriously fallen in love. I threw out basically all of my other face products except for the occasional face mask. I was always scared of peels and "alpha beta" and collagen serums (that sounds like a painful injectable that comes from a horse's bone marrow), but my skin is finally clearing up and looking healthier every day.
Still reading? Scroll down to discover the products I'm using and why I'm loving them:
Dr. Dennis Gross Products I SWEAR BY:
Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisturizer • here
What I really love about this moisturize is that it’s oil-free and light. It feels amazing to put on first thing in the morning or before bed. I have combination skin (think: so dry I’m peeling around my mouth + jawline and so greasy I blot multiple times a day on my nose + forehead), so I’m uber cautious about what kind of moisturizers I use on my face. But this one works SO well (like better than my previous face moisturizer, Origins Ginseng!).
C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum • here
It’s no secret whatsoever that Dr. Dennis Gross is OBSESSED with Vitamin C. He recently said that, “ounce for ounce, [Vitamin C] is probably the most powerful anti-aging ingredient there is…because it directly stimulates collagen.” I’m not saying that I already need anti-again, but as you guys know, when you’re in your twenties, it’s ALL about prevention.
But what I really love about the serum is that it helps to improve hyper pigmentation, dark spots (like from acne scars) and general tone on your face. It’s helped me so much that there are days when I just throw on the serum + moisturizer + SPF and walk out of the door — no makeup necessary.
There’s something to be said for a product that makes you feel confident naturally.
Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel • here
This peel (that has no downttime and is safe enough to use DAILY) helps to smooth your skin, improve dark spots + clear your pores.
I did not know this, but apparently the Alpha Beta Daily Peel is the product that started it all for Dr. Dennis Gross! Carrie, his wife + CEO (#BossBabe), complained to him that the peel should be available at home and to consumers who couldn’t come to NYC for appointments. And that was back in 2002!
But even after finding that out, I was honestly so nervous about using a daily peel, and tbh, I’m still not at the daily level yet. But that being said, I seriously LOVE it. I was given a few when I bought my steamer to use after my daily steams. It's two pads that are rubbed into your skin one after the other. They're not aggressive at all and I seriously see SUCH a difference in the amount of acne + agitated skin I have.
And don’t be scared off by the word “chemical.” It’s a v low amount of chemicals and is gentle — and coming from someone with uber sensitive skin, that means something. Just make sure to moisturize after you use the peel.
Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Peel • here
I like to think of this peel as a "preventative" peel to help with anti-aging. It's a giant pad that is massaged into your face to combat uneven skin texture, wrinkles and signs of aging. Probably twice a week I use this peel post-wash + steam. I’ll pat my face dry, give it a minute, and then use the peel, followed up with moisturizer (seriously, don't skimp on moisturizer).
Do you use Dr. Dennis Gross? Love them? Let me know your thoughts below.
step-by-step at-home facial
wash your face • fill your pro facial steamer with distilled water • steam for up to 9 minutes • pat your face dry • use alpha beta peel or ferulic + retinol peel (massage pad into face) • massage 1-2 pumps of c+ collagen serum into face • finish off with moisturizer over entire face + neck.
HAVE AN AT-HOME FACIAL WITH DR. DENNIS GROSS
** PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DERMATOLOGIST BEFORE STARTING A NEW ROUTINE. I AM NOT A DOCTOR, JUST A BLOGGER SHARING WHAT WORKS FOR HER **