Embarrassing confession: It took me a solid two decades to come up with a bedtime face washing routine that I actually stick to every night. During my teen years, I didn’t wear a lot of makeup, and for some reason I thought that excused me from nightly cleansing on the regular. (This may or may not have had something to do with the acne plaguing my jawline in those days.) During college, egged on my skin-obsessed roommate, my habits marginally improved.
Still, for most of my twenties I subscribed to school of “splash some water and hope for the best.” Shameful, I know—and I’ve since reformed—but, surprisingly, it wasn’t maturity or even a miracle skin care product that finally made me change my ways. It was a pack of $8 hair clips from Amazon.
My sister was the one who made the recommendation: She’s a stylist and encouraged me to buy them so I could better blow-dry my own hair. But while the clips work great for sectioning, they also made me realize something about why I wasn’t doing as good a job as I should about washing my face. I have forever had really long hair that I mostly wear down; I hate pulling it back, and the only time it’s ever up is when I’m at the gym. Part of the problem is that even if it’s just up for a minute, I wind up with a kink where the ponytail holder was. But the truth is that, even in the privacy of my own bathroom mirror, it’s just not a look I like.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t mind clipping it smoothly away from my face. It makes me feel like I’m about to get a fancy facial. Which in turn makes me more excited, and thorough, with the actual cleansing. Somehow the clips turn a chore into something that feels a little elegant.
I keep the them in a jar in the medicine cabinet and pull them out morning and night, fastening several close to my hairline to smooth back flyaways. Then I use another clip to twist up the back so that it doesn’t tumble into the sink. From there it’s wash (I use La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser), maybe exfoliate (La Roche Posay again, the ultra-fine scrub) and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel Cream in lieu of a layer of heavy moisturizer. I leave the clips in for awhile so nothing sticks to my skin, and when I take them out my hair is back to business as usual, down my back, and I climb into bed feeling like Sleeping Beauty.
The best part: I’ve used them pretty much every day for the past year and it’s had an incredible impact on my skin. It’s clearer and dewier than it used to be, even though I’m still pretty much using all the same products on it that I always have. For some reason, adding clips into my routine has turned it into a daily ritual I look forward too, which means that I’m also attentive to areas of my face that might have been overlooked before.
I get all the way to my hairline and can just generally see myself more clearly, which has meant better care for my skin overall—and more consistency has meant fewer breakouts. So sure, technically hair clips aren’t a face washing tool. But they’ve definitely improved my technique. Who knows what would have happened if I had discovered this hack 20 years ago? I’d call that $8 well spent.
Metal Alligator Hair Pins, $8, amazon.com