Casual Wednesday: Stress, Change, and My Skincare Routine

Importance of skincare routine

What do you get when you make a change-averse Fiddy move herself, her family, and her massive and ever-expanding skincare routine and beauty stash (also clothes and furniture and things) out of their home of three pretty accumulative years and into a brand new place?

Disaster, apparently.

Okay, it’s not that bad (though I am posting this from the neighborhood Starbucks because we don’t have a home Internet connection set up just yet), but I really, really hate moving. Something always goes wrong; several things did. The disruption and stress triggered a brief (well, I’m working on making it brief) relapse into depression. I am starting to feel almost normal again now, so I thought I’d share the observations I’ve made over the past few days about the importance of my skincare routine and how I now know that it does make a difference.

The Effect of Neglecting My Skincare Routine

I’m back in the (well moisturized saddle) now, but for the first few days at this new place, I could barely get myself together enough to swipe some cleansing water over my face and apply sunscreen in the morning. My post-shower routine at night was bare-bones, too. Forget about layers of hydration and doublefisted sheet masks. For several days, that was totally not happening, no way. Not when I could just throw on my actives and crawl into bed to quietly drive myself nuts with snowballing worry.

Some of you who’ve seen my routine posts on Instagram may have wondered whether those extensive routines actually made a difference for me, or if there was a point at which the layers upon layers of product became redundant or, even worse, counterproductive. I now have the answer. Yup, all those steps definitely make a difference, at least for my skin. (YMMV!)

Every day that passed sucked more moisture out of it like the tide sucked out of these sands, or whatever.
Every day that passed sucked more moisture out of it like the tide sucked out of these sands, or whatever.

My face didn’t fall apart after a couple of days of neglect, of course, but the decline in my skin was pretty apparent. The glow and bounce were the first things to go. I’m used to having my skin’s hydration levels pumped up to near maximum thanks to several humectant-heavy layers keeping the upper layers of my skin nice and juicy. The absence of those layers really showed.

My skin tone started to suffer, too. Right before the move, I was going without BB cream or cushion on most days and only using teeny little dabs in strategic places on the other days. Dropping several of my anti-inflammatory heavy hitters left me feeling the need to compensate with heavier complexion makeup during the day, especially around my mouth, where I’d just about eradicated some PIH left over from a mustache waxing gone wrong. It is not fun to see blotchiness and PIH starting to creep back in.

Here’s the silver lining: not only did the quick decline of my skin show me the importance of my skincare routine as a whole, it also showed me exactly which parts of my routine are the most important. So now I can pass that knowledge on to you!

The Bare Essentials of My Skincare Routine

I’m not quite back to 100 percent, mentally or…skincareily (facially? complexionarily?). I am, however, creeping back up from about 85 to maybe 95 percent, thanks to identifying the most critical items in my skincare arsenal. Those items are:

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion, which remains one of the most hydrating and plumping products in my stash. Using this, particularly in the mornings, is helping me regain a substantial amount of the juicy bounce I had started to lose.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, whose glow-enhancing effects have me totally hooked. After skipping it just a couple of times, I found myself looking noticeably more tired. A little too close to haggard for comfort, actually.

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which…why would I ever go without this? What was I thinking? I haven’t gone through multiple bottles of it for no good reason. Whenever I skip this product, my skin gets a little blotchier and the texture becomes less refined. I need the soothing, smoothing, softening effects of this in my life. Actually, I need to restock again.

Shark Sauce: Remember I mentioned that PIH I mentioned? It should surprise none of you that Shark Sauce turns out to be the single most effective product I have for keeping that PIH under control and steadily fading away.

Sunscreen: No, I haven’t skipped sunscreen. We’ve moved down to Carlsbad, a beachy resort town, and to an apartment that’s literally a two-block walk from the ocean. I’ve been using sunscreen every day. But there’ve been days when I’ve used less than necessary and days when I’ve misjudged the strength of sunscreen I needed. As a result, I’ve picked up some fresh sun damage. Boo! When it comes to sunscreen, type and quantity really do matter. That’s why I’m about to grab four more bottles each of my Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (for not-going-in-the-water days) and my Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk (for might-go-in-the-water days). In a place like this, protection like that is necessary.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention actives in my list of bare essentials. I did keep up with my morning BHA and my evening Curology every day, even when I could barely bring myself to moisturize, but in retrospect, I actually think that was a mistake—the Curology, at least. Some time ago, I wrote about how my layers of hydration and moisture help me ward off the dreaded tretface. That still holds true. I’m pretty sure that at least some of the increased blotchiness and sensitivity I’ve been experiencing comes from carrying on with my actives while neglecting the supporting steps of my routine (and the increased sun sensitivity definitely comes from the tretinoin). Lesson learned: if I ever see myself slipping again, I’ll drop the actives first.

I have lots more to talk about as I work back up to 100 percent, and I have several reviews almost done, but I’m going to stop here for today. How have you guys been? What new and exciting things have you been putting on your faces? And what are the absolute bare necessities of your skincare routines?

57 thoughts on “Casual Wednesday: Stress, Change, and My Skincare Routine

  1. I recently moved 1600mi and found the same things. The post stress destress whoops there’s that black hole again feeling sucked. I went back to basics too.


  2. I’m de-lurking (or de-cloaking! Pardon my nerdiness) to raise a closed fist in solidarity! I’m moving, too, right now, across country with my husband and two kitties. I hope that this will be the last move EVER for us! Moving sucks! So, you are not alone in the moving upheaval, depression, and everything else attendant with it. I’m thankful for you and your words on this blog….you have helped me in so many ways! Hail to the Snail!


  3. Thank so much for this.

    I struggle with depression as well, and yet, sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed is the thought of actually washing my face with something nice. But some other times I am just going to go ahead skip everything so that I can punish myself properly (God, the fucked-upness of depression). Sort of like “you don’t even deserve skin care” type of self loathing.

    Anyway, my point here is, people, your own mileage may vary etc, but, wash your face. Always. It will make you feel better, even if it’s just a bit, I do promise you that. And if you can build it up from there into an actual routine, then awesome. Otherwise, just go back to bed and rejoice in the fact that you actually managed to wash your face. Tomorrow will be another day and you can try again.

    And please try again. This war on depression thing, we fight it one day at a time.


    1. I cosign all of this, but especially this:

      Anyway, my point here is, people, your own mileage may vary etc, but, wash your face. Always. It will make you feel better, even if it’s just a bit, I do promise you that. And if you can build it up from there into an actual routine, then awesome. Otherwise, just go back to bed and rejoice in the fact that you actually managed to wash your face. Tomorrow will be another day and you can try again.

      Thank you for sharing ❤


  4. Hugs, Fiddy. Moving is indeed extremely stressful. I hope you get internet soon, and best of luck with your unpacking.

    For me, the heart of my skincare routine is keeping my skin calm. The products that are keeping my skin happy right now include Snowbang Essence (so soothing and wonderful and reducing my redness), L’Herboflore Aqua Plus Toner, Shark Sauce (yup, it is the Aueen of getting rid of PIH!), and Cosrx Aloe Gel. I haven’t reintroduced snail or tea tree into my routine yet, but I’m testing the Cosrx Honey Mask all over again, as once upon a time, my skin adored propolis. Post-Hivesgate, I hope it still adores propolis. We shall find out.

    Good luck getting your glow back on! 🙂 ❤


  5. Hi, Fiddy 😊

    Hope you’ll beat it and be 100% soon.
    I’m running out of COSRX snail essence, but I made a Swanicoco fermentation snail lotion (emulsion) order instead. I want to try other snail product and am in need of an emulsion. Have you ever tried it before?

    Now I do wonder, should I restock COSRX snail essence, and simply add another layer of Swanicoco snail emulsion to my routine.. hmm.. 😅😅😅


  6. I’m currently in the process of moving too so I feel you!! Just drove a 15′ U-Haul for 2 hours, and it was nice to read this after I arrived. Thanks for sharing!!


  7. Moving…. ugh, I’m stressed out just thinking about it. But the payoff – an apartment just a mere 2 blocks from the Ocean. You are living my dream.

    Do you think it’s possible to have depression and be in denial about it? My daughter & granddaughter both suffer from bouts of depression and I have come to realize that I also share some of their same symptoms for periods of time. Not sure I ever realize the funk I am in, until afterwards when life seems much brighter.

    Sending you hugs and wishes that the healing ocean breezes brighten you up soon.


    1. Not a shrink (nor do I play one on TV), but in my experience YES, it is totally possible to not realize you’re dealing with depression. (It’s also not a condition that lends itself to logical thought.) It took me years to decide to see a doctor, and it’s one of the hardest, but best, decisions I’ve ever made. Can’t hurt to check.


      1. Yup, absolutely possible. It creeps up on you and your brain tells you it’s totally normal and justified to just want to sleep all day and hide from everything :\


    2. It is definitely possible for you not to realize you have depression, yes. I mentioned it in a response to someone else’s response to you, but for me, it creeps up on me, and my brain starts telling me that it’s totally normal and fine to want to sleep through life and hide from everything. It’s a very insidious illness. I hope you can speak to a doctor if you feel that might be happening to you and I’m sending hugs right back at you!


  8. Two weeks after my mesotherapy, my melasmas have finally lightened. I will have four more sessions and hopefully, they will disappear completely. Unfortunately, postage is just too high for me to get the shark sauce sent to Australia!


  9. I’ve been a silent reader of yours for the longest time, but now I really feel the need to join the sending-Fiddy-hugs gang. My hugs might take a little longer to reach you, though- they’ll have to pass through customs first, and international snail mail can be such a bish. Anyway, I’m moving out of my house of many years as well, and I made the terrible mistake of sending ALL of my skincare products over to the new house a few days ago. (Everything except for my cleanser, but I’m running out of that, so I’m essentially going to be left with nothing.) I’m convinced that my skin might be doomed, at least until I complete the move.

    I might never fully understand your struggle with depression, but I admire your strength in turning it into a learning experience to be shared with your readers. Fighting, and I hope you love your new place! 💪🏻


  10. I’m always amazed that just when you think you’ve packed everything, magically more things still pop up to be packed. Where does it all come from?!?! Hope things continue to become calmer so you can enjoy your new space. I’ve been ramping up my honey product obsession and just starting to use Tosowoong’s sparkle propolis ampoule. It smells heavenly! 😀


  11. Glad you made it to the new place! It definitely takes time to settle in, both mentally and complexionally. 🙂 My bare bones routine is some sort of water based cleanser, either a water mist or a hyaluronic acid essence, and Clinique dramatically different moisturizing gel or Laneige sleeping mask (day or night). Sunscreen is always the beloved Biore! I tend to only have one product for any given step in my routine so I use whatever I have, but these creams are my perennial “safe” option.

    My “force myself to do SOMETHING” routine is cleansing water and (sometimes) Laneige sleeping mask too… but usually just the cleansing water. There, I said it!


  12. I’ve been struggling with depression too for years. It’s tough especially when you have big adjustment periods, and these things probably have an effect on your little boy as well, so I’d imagine your day is spent filling up everyone’s tanks but your own. I hope that things will be looking up from here on out. It’s normal to want to put your loved ones first, as a Mom, but sometimes you have to focus on yourself for at least a little while. Sending you hugs, Fiddy. ❤


  13. I rarely comment (maybe this is the first time?), but I just wanted to reiterate that you’re not alone in any of this. It’s funny – historically, when I go through a really bad depressive episode, I can barely muster the energy to take care of myself in even the most basic ways, and I’ll usually set myself a bare minimum of things to do. But since my skincare regime has gotten more elaborate, that “bare minimum” level has gone up – instead of “If you’re not going to wash it, you can at least splash your face,” it’s more like, “If you’re not going to do actives, you can at least put some Snail Bee Essence on.” It’s almost like these higher standards of self-care overall mean that I don’t fall quite as far off. 😛

    Anyway. I’m sure you know this. But I feel like it’s always helpful to hear that you’re totally sane, and other people go through the same struggles. Keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and look up when you get a chance. ❤


    1. It is very very helpful for me, so thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences ❤ And you’re so right about the bare minimum level going up! You keep on putting those feet in front of each other, too!


  14. I also moved about six weeks ago (and still not finished unpacking – work really gets in the way of real life) and I feel exactly the same way about moving! Pre- and post-move activities really drove my stress levels up and from past experience, it’s always my skin that really reflects the after-math. I managed to use only the very minimum in my regiment, pretty much like yours too – cleansing, moisturizing, sunscreen, actives (COSRX AHA/BHA toner when I couldn’t be bothered to slap on AHA or BHA) and my much-loved Shark Sauce too (I didn’t pack it – I carried it in my bag to work every day!). Surprisingly, I only had a tiny brave zit pop up near my chin! Whereas before, I’d be sporting some clusters on my forehead, hairline, jaws or cheeks.

    In short, I agree with everything you posted above (even the depression). Even though my regimen has fewer steps than yours, my skin really has gotten better, more resilient. I just need to work on my self-esteem a bit more.

    Thank you for posting this, Fiddy!


  15. I just adore Carlsbad! My husband and I went there for our honeymoon and have returned for vacations. I hope some of the amazing pasta dishes help give you happiness!

    This was such a good read. And a reminder to myself to get back on the skincare horse!


  16. Oh, god! I understand you so well. We just moved to another country, with another weather and totally left my routine. I couldn´t find the mood to do it. And now, I am suffering the consequences. First, lack of hydration (in a weather that looks like the tropics for the amount of humidity), the glow is gone (tired is my new name), my skin looks uneven and I have a few pimples and blackheads (the first ones in over a year!). I think the actives and sheet masks are what I miss the most. I had to restock because my suitcase was not big enough. And now, I need to go back to the happy place and motivation and begin the routine again. I found new products to make it more fun, like the Illi Cleansing Oil (amazing by the way), and Hada Labo Premium Lotion (just got it today).
    I hope you are less stressed right now. A moving can be sooooo tiring. I wish you the best in your new place!!!


  17. I feel your pain, Fiddy. I truly do. After all, moving is stressful enough as it is. But if, in addition, one has spent as much time and effort as you have perfecting one’s skin (and it should be noted that you have been enormously successful in this regard), then it has to be most difficult and trying to do without one’s regular skincare routine, even if only for a short time. And, it’s a sad fact that, when it comes to one’s skin, it doesn’t take much time to undo all the good that a much larger amount of time – and effort – has provided. Here’s hoping you get back to your regular routines (not to mention your beautiful self) as soon as possible. Certainly, very few things in life can do more to brighten one’s face (and mental outlook) more than a long, leisurely AB routine, not to mention a sheet mask (or two)!

    Moving can indeed try one’s mental (and physical) fortitude, and that’s why we haven’t done it in 34 years! The last time (and it WILL be the LAST time) was when my wife was pregnant with our first child (my daughter), and we (read she) decided that we needed a larger home with more land around it. Seeing as she was doing all the “heavy lifting” in the pregnancy/birthing process (and feeling quite responsible for having started it all), who was I to say no. And so, we moved – all the way across the street! Now, one might think this would make things easy, but, as we discovered, the Allegheny Plateau can be quite cruel to those who choose to move in February. The night before our moving day, we had an ice storm, followed by a good 6 inches or so of snow, followed by – and for good measure – yet another ice storm. To say that the move was horrendous would be nothing less than a total understatement, and that’s why it will NEVER happen again – and certainly not in February!

    So, with that cautionary tale, rejoice that you are still in sunny southern California – and NOT wintry western Pennsylvania – and have now found yourself in a most lovely place (and all the more lovely because YOU are there) and a mere two blocks from the ocean, to boot! I’m jealous (of your skin, of course)!


    1. Ahahaha that sounds like a nightmare! I really envy you, not moving in 34 years o.O Thank you for the encouragement, Jimmy!!

      (and your wife is lucky to have you for a partner!)


  18. Oh Fiddy, literal same. We moved at the beginning of June and I drastically underestimated the impact is would have on my life and my mental health. Having that history of depression, I know that feeling of having it creep back or suddenly announce its damn presence and you’re like uuuuuggghhhhh my life is complicated enough already, thanks.

    I’m right there with you, sheet masking my way back to sanity….


  19. Oh man, I could have written this. I’m in the process of moving too and it’s all so stressful and depression/anxiety triggering, I too go to bare minimum skincare. I hope you all get settled in soon. Sending love from Santa Barbara ❤


    1. Oh hai from Carlsbad! I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. I’ve been feeling like such a freak for having a hard time getting myself feeling normal again. I hope you’re doing better now!


  20. Thank you so much for this, you aren’t alone. I moved just recently, last weekend, and all I could bring myself to do for the past few days is cleanse, moisturize and sunscreen.


    1. Ugh, today I sank to a new low of using a cleansing wipe (but it was a really nice Goodal Waterest cleansing wipe ahahaha) and sunscreen…but only because I was in a rush to get out and grab my Internet equipment! I hope you get back into your groove soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. As someone who also suffer from depression, I’m sorry. I know there’s not much useful I can say, but good luck.


  22. Depression sucks, I hope your sojourn there is very brief.

    I have a question about sunscreens, maybe you can help. Watery Essence pills on my skin. I don’t have the same problem with Watery Gel (not to the same extent, anyway.) Am I applying it wrong or is it just wrong for my skin or?..


  23. I also just moved. Between selling the old place and buying the new, plus moving plus a full time job with the peak season at the same time, it was extremely testing physically and mentally. Am glad it is OVER! I definitely can sympathize what you went through.

    One random question is with the use of so many skincare products, any advice on what ingredients do not work well together and might reduce their effectiveness? Will be helpful to know so I don’t waste money on some products that don’t work if used together.



    1. It is really trying, isn’t it? I still don’t feel totally normal. Though having Internet back is helping.

      There aren’t too many known incompatibilities to keep in mind really. Some people have a sensitivity to niacin and can’t use low pH acid products immediately before niacinamide-containing products, but that’s fairly rare; beyond that, unfortunately there isn’t enough research into various actives to have tested them all with each other 😐 It’s more important to make sure that the products you use are correctly formulated with good concentrations of actives, IMO.


      1. Thank you. I tried vitamin c serum before about three times, and every time I did my acne came by to say hello! This just defeated the purpose – I was hoping to fade brown spots with the vitamin c serum, not to create more! I then tried a vitamin c serum with vitamin E and feulic acid by Marie Veronique ( you might have heard of it since it is a company in CA ) and I seem not to have the same reaction as before.

        And btw, I recently started using Shark Sauce and Snowbang, no noticeable effect on fading brown spots yet but they seem to help improve my overall skin appearance. Thank you for introducing and recommending them!


  24. I’m sorry to hear about your relapse, but all the best in picking yourself back up! You’re almost there.

    I also have a question, it’s out of topic for this post but I don’t know where else I should ask this but do you find that your diet & eating habits affect your skin? Do you have any food intolerances and do you have any kinds of food that you stay away from because of their propensity to cause acne/flare ups/etc.? I would really appreciate it if you could respond to this, thank you!

    Hugs & well wishes from Malaysia. Hope you’re settling in fine.


    1. I don’t really find much correlation between my diet and my skin condition tbh, but I know that that varies depending on the individual. I’ve heard a lot of people say that cutting sugar or refined starches from their diets is helpful. I just take a bunch of supplements and try to stay hydrated.


      1. Ah yes refined starches. Yup I agree with you on it varying on individuals, I guess I’m just one of the less fortunate ones whose skin is extra sensitive/responsive towards food intake. Thanks for your response! Take care.


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