Habit Forming

There’s an important aspect of organizing that I’ve only briefly touched on here: habits.  Being organized on a daily basis is as much about how you use things as it is about where you store them.  Think of forming organized habits as creating life shortcuts: when you make a good habit, it streamlines your day, leaving you more time and energy to address things you really care about.

Where to start?  Think about something you do daily and likely causes you uncertainty: your skincare routine.

There are so many skincare products in the universe, all shouting at you with impossible promises and beautiful packaging, that it’s no wonder our bathroom cabinets and drawers become inundated with countless tubes, bottles, and jars.  And it’s exhausting to live with that kind of clutter, to spend time contemplating the next beauty purchase, to worry about the safety and provenance of ingredients – or to feel like you’re just missing out on all of that because it’s too overwhelming to even think about!

Here are the steps I used to create my skincare routine:

  1. get advice from a trusted authority
  2. fully commit to the routine for at least a month before trying something else
  3. once the routine works, get rid of everything else

The authority I trust is Dr. Kathleen Welsh.  She’s one of the most popular dermatologists in San Francisco for a reason: all her clients have amazing skin and look youthful, but none of them look artificial.  

I basically adopted the routine Dr. Welsh prescribed verbatim, a research based strategy that includes growth factors, retinoids, antioxidants, and of course SPF. There are 7 steps, which at first alarmed me – I was always a moisturizer and go kind of girl, applauding myself for adding eye cream and sunscreen in recent years.  But I now have the routine down and I’d estimate it takes me maybe 4 minutes start to finish.  Not a bad price to pay for great skin!

Your skin is obviously different from mine (mostly dry, a bit sensitive, prone to hormonal acne in the chin region, mild rosacea on cheeks, signs of aging to be expected in a 34 year old), so your routine will be different.  But here’s what I do:

  1. Prescription rosacea medication
  2. Skin Medica TNS Essential Serum
  3. Algenist eye cream
  4. Prescription Obagi Tretinoin Gel 
  5. Prescription Obagi Blender 
  6. Topix Fortified Facial Cream
  7. Algenist sunscreen

I was surprised to learn that two of the products I had fretted over most – eye cream and sunscreen – were the least crucial in terms of getting brand and ingredients exactly right.  Per Dr. Welsh, any moisturizing eye cream that doesn’t break you out and any physical sunscreen of SPF 30+ (must contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both) will work.

You’ll note my brand loyalty to Algenist.  A Sephora associate recommended it to me when I was looking to upgrade my skin care a few years ago, I love the formulas, and Dr. Welsh gave them the thumbs up.  I stock up when Sephora has a sale and store backups as I mentioned in this post.

Also shown: my collection of aluminum-free deodorants (a saga for another day), hair products, and nail products.

I store my skin products in these drawer dividers – love them for their adaptability and the way the bamboo blends into its surroundings.  My bathroom has really deep drawers so it makes sense to stand everything on end, but if I were designing from scratch I’d have shallower drawers and lay products so that labels were visible.

Like any other habit, it does take a little work to find a skincare routine that really works for you.  But I do believe it’s worth it -  I’m now basically immune to the endless stream of skincare advertising that comes my way!