I Have Psoriasis, and This Skincare Routine Keeps My Flare-Ups at Bay
Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat—or not. From the 18-product maximalists to the one-and-done movers and shakers, everybody's skincare routine differs. In A.M. to P.M., we explore the morning and evening routines of people with different skincare concerns, from targeting acne to embracing vegan beauty.
Skin Type: Dry, sensitive skin
Skin Concerns: Psoriasis
In college, I developed a serious dandruff problem and what I thought was ringworm on my legs and arms. However, it turned out to be a really bad case of psoriasis—and it got worse before it got better. I tried everything under the sun to get my condition under control: woo-woo homeopathic remedies, prescription shampoos, and steroid creams that ended up making my itchy red plaques triple in size. It wasn't until I did serious research that I was able to get my healthy skin back.
Psoriasis is so much more than an annoying skin condition, but it's still widely dismissed as such when in reality it's an autoimmune disease, just like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. This means that once you have it, there are no treatments that guarantee to put it into permanent remission. What's worse, once you've been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, your chances of developing another one increase dramatically if you're not careful.
I've spent countless hours researching everything about psoriasis control and treatment, and I've managed to keep my skin healthy. Here are the products, practices, and natural supplements I've put in place over the past two years that help put my psoriasis into remission without oral prescriptions, injections, or steroid creams.
My morning skincare routine plays a major role in keeping my psoriasis in remission, and for me it goes a lot further than surface level. Before getting out of bed, I do a 10-minute guided meditation to bring down my stress level. From there, I start the morning by drinking a 16-ounce glass of celery juice and follow that with a whole lot of supplements. I've found that a combination of high-absorbency turmeric; vitamins A, B12, C, D3, and K2; digestive enzymes; L-glutamine; magnesium; milk thistle; omega-3; probiotics; reishi mushroom; selenium; and zinc citrate works best for me.
After taking care of my supplements and celery juice, I wash my face with cold water, use my ice roller to bring down any inflammation, and apply The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG. I love The Ordinary for its relatively clean ingredients, and this product in particular has been a game changer. I used to have intense dark circles under my eyes, and this serum has helped brighten my under-eye area without causing any irritation or flare-ups.
Next, I use a little 48-hour moisturizing and anti-pollution cream from Nuxe. I first tried this French moisturizer when I was in Paris a few years ago, and the cedarwood and orange blossom scent has made me love it ever since. The algae-based ingredients also do wonders for my psoriasis, and as a city dweller I love that it was formulated to protect against free radicals like city pollution.
While I'm well aware of the scary effects of the sun, it's actually recommended to get at least half an hour of natural light exposure per day to help keep psoriasis-prone skin in order, so I usually pack my Nuxe sunscreen in my bag and apply it after I've gotten a few minutes of sun exposure. I love the combination of sweet orange, Tahitian gardenia, and coconut—but the selling point for me is the super sheer and non-greasy formula.
My phototherapy light has been another serious game changer when it comes to spot-treating my psoriasis, but I make sure to only use it when I can feel my skin starting to flare. The bright phototherapy light slows and limits the growth of psoriasis skin cells by drastically reducing inflammation and infusing the skin with targeted vitamin D. I always apply sunscreen around the area I'm treating and wear goggles to ensure I don't damage my healthy skin or hurt my eyes.
Whether I'm experiencing a flare or not, I always apply a little Sisters of the Valley salve to my problem areas: my elbows and knees, behind my ears, and my hairline. The California-based skincare company is run by a team of nuns who make each CBD-based product. Plus, every jar is saged to the moon cycles, set on the new moon, and bottled under the full moon—which is a little woo-woo for me, but hey, my skin seems to agree with it!
Because of my job, I've been lucky enough to visit a lot of luxury hotel properties around the world (pre-pandemic, anyways) that are stocked with gorgeous Byredo, Hermès, and Maison Margiela products. However, I've learned the hard way that I can't stray from my tried-and-true, psoriasis-friendly bath products or my skin will pay dearly for it. The following aren't the most glamorous, but I'll take healthy, clear skin over sophisticated-smelling products any day.
I wash my hair every two or three days, and Neutrogena's T/Gel Shampoo has been my number one for over two years now. This stuff is seriously the worst while also the best; it smells like a melted old leather shoe, and the scent lingers long after my hair dries, but it's the only shampoo I've found that doesn't irritate my scalp. Studies show that coal tar extract (this shampoo's star ingredient) prevents itching and flaking, which is such a blessing during a flare-up when all you can think about is scratching.
When my scalp psoriasis was particularly bad, I would alternate between raw apple cider vinegar mixed with water and The Seaweed Bath Co. Conditioner, but these days I exclusively use the latter. Its cofounder crafted the formula in response to his own psoriasis battle, and it's a wonderful product. It's made from a blend of U.S.-grown seaweed that's packed with vitamins and minerals needed to slow cell production, and it leaves my hair looking moisturized and smelling like I just spent the day at a spa.
Like my shampoo and conditioner, I have to be extremely intentional about my body wash, or my knees and elbows will break into a scaly disaster—so I stick with what I know works. I'm so happy I found The Seaweed Bath Co. and its eucalyptus and peppermint formula. Not only does it keep my skin healthy, but the combination of scents puts me into a relaxed state.
I tend to only lean into magnesium oil when I feel my scalp or knees getting a little itchy, but when I had psoriasis plaques covering most of my head and legs, I used it as a topical treatment every evening. It burns a lot when applied directly onto flare-ups, but it does offer instant relief for inflammation and helps convert vitamin D into its active form, which is necessary for slowing skin cell production.
Before heading to bed, I use a toning solution and a retinoid from The Ordinary and follow up with a healthy dollop of Crème de la Mer Moisturizer. Like The Seaweed Bath Co., La Mer products are also made with healing seaweed extract. While it isn't as economical as my other go-to products, I deserve a dose of luxury considering all the annoying rituals I follow to keep my skin clear. Plus, it's one of my favorite skincare indulgences.
I keep a bottle of the eucalyptus and peppermint body cream by The Seaweed Bath Co. on my nightstand to keep the spa vibes going as I crawl into bed. I find that keeping my skin extra moisturized is key to warding off any flaky patches, and unlike my Sisters of the Valley salve, this seaweed-based formula is lightweight and doesn't make me feel sticky or get my sheets greasy.