Meet the Blogger Behind @frankies.skin
Hi friends! I was recently interviewed in Priori’s new blogger series called “skincare spotlight” on their newsletter, and I’m so grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on skincare, social media, etc. Unfortunately because it was a pre-made theme we had to cut down the interview to less than 1\10th the original content. So I thought I would upload the full interview here instead so we could get to know each other better! I receive a lot of questions each day, many of them I don’t get to answer due to time and energy constraints. In this interview, I talk about everything from my journey with skincare, skincare tips & tricks, some budget brands I recommend, what tips I would give for new enthusiasts & bloggers, etc! I hope it answers most of your questions, and if there’s anything else you’d like to know, please feel free to leave me a comment below (and I’ll try working on a round 2 interview)
JUST FYI - as a chronically ill & majorly introverted human, there are many times I find myself wishing I had the energy to do lives, IGTV’s, youtube videos, etc to connect more personally with my followers and friends - especially in real time. So for now, I hope this q&a gives us a chance to get to know each other better. If you feel like it, please tell me more about yourself as well, I love reading about other people’s skincare journeys, their dreams, things they’ve learned along the way, etc. :)
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into skincare?
I’m Frankie - a blogger, photographer, & writer based in the Midwest. I post about skincare, beauty, and lifestyle finds at @frankies.skin & www.frankiesskin.com.
My journey into skincare took over 2 decades before I really committed to it. I struggled with psoriasis and eczema as a teenager, and it took a lot of trial and error, research, etc before I would find a way to soothe my skin. In my early 20’s I studied perfumery, and went on to launch a career in the industry for a few years. It may seem like a diversion, but the basic chemistry involved in creating perfumes set me up for a lifelong interest in skincare chemistry. It was like years of skin issues finally made sense! And I was hungry to learn more (I still am)!
However, my interest in skincare didn’t just stop with the chemistry/research side of things. In my early adulthood, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that started affecting my skin, motor function, cognitive abilities, etc. I felt helpless trying to cure it and get back the executive functioning I had lost. So I started eating healthier, switching up my medications, & changing my lifestyle completely. Despite my best efforts, my skin started getting worse due to my autoimmune disease. I would wake up with painful, scaly skin all over my body. It was like all the sebum, collagen, elastin, and fat was sucked out of me - and I was left with leathery, bruised, thinning skin. These days my skin still struggles with these issues but I’ve found ways to cope, and products that help alleviate the symptoms.
Skincare is not only vital to my health, but also to my well-being. It provides an escape from the day to day stress and becomes a place where I’m able to be completely alone, meditate, & breathe. Applying serums and creams might seem superficial to some, but for me it’s deeply comforting and actually eases some of the soreness that comes with severely dehydrated, dry skin. I’ve had to find creative ways to take care of myself while other parts of my body fail me, so skincare has been my saving grace…. a way for me to honor my body and care for it – but also a way for me to honor my emotions, my need for quiet time, my need for escape. It’s one of the few things I can do completely for myself, and because of that, it is deeply meaningful to me. :)
What IS your NIGHT TIME skincare routine like?
My routine changes slightly based on what my skin concerns are that week, but that said, consistency is key. My nighttime skincare routine is ordered in 8-9 steps:
1. Double cleansing method (cleansing oil/balm first, cleansing cream/gel second)
2. Hydrating toner
3. Face mask
3. Exfoliating treatment (this can consist of AHA’s, BHA’s, or a combination of both. Most importantly, I limit this step to 2-3x a week, max, in order to give my skin a break and prevent over-exfoliation).
4. Water based serum or essence (ideally this is where PH dependent vitamin c or other actives would be applied.)
After any actives have been applied, I highly recommend taking a 10 minute break to make sure everything has absorbed before continuing on with other steps.
5. Eye serum and/or eye cream
6. Emulsion type serum or essence
7. Lightweight cream
8. Facial Oil
9. Gel-cream, heavy moisturizer, or sleeping mask
I always finish off with a gel-cream or sleeping mask because I absolutely love the way it seals in my routine for the night. I make sure the gel-cream or sleeping mask is mostly water based, because water cannot penetrate oil, and therefore it sits “on top” of the facial oil at night… leaving me with glossy, dewy, hydrated skin that lasts for 8+ hours!
I figured out this skincare secret pretty early on in my routine, and have been sharing it left and right with anyone who will listen. It’s pretty much a dry/dehydrated skin’s dream routine, and one I recommend frequently to those with a similar skin type. :)
What IS your morning skincare routine like?
When it comes to morning routines I’m MUCH more into simplicity. As a night owl who has chronic insomnia, the last thing I want to do when I wake up is a 10 step routine. Here’s my current regimen:
1. Hydrating Toner (I avoid cleansing in the morning because my skin is dry and clean already from the deep cleanse the night before. I’m not wearing makeup at 10am, I sleep on a clean pillowcase, and my skin doesn’t need a cleanse until nighttime. Cleansing in the morning can further strip your moisture barrier and is unnecessary for us dry skin types IMO. If you have oily skin and want to work in an AM cleanse without stripping your skin, you can splash your face with water instead or use a gentle cleansing wipe or cream cleanser)
2. Water-based serum (this is for dehydration. I don’t apply actives in the daytime)
3. Moisturizer (If I’m planning on wearing makeup I opt for a gel-cream since it usually makes a great base and primer. If I’m staying makeup free, I use a heavier cream)
4. SPF (this step is VITAL! Never leave the house without spf, even on cloudy days. Your skin can get damaged through windows too, so if you plan to open your windows during the day, always make sure your skin is protected)
That’s it! Only 4 steps total! I truly believe most people can protect their skin in 4 steps (or less), and it doesn’t take a huge budget to do so.
How do you go about finding the 'right' products?
It is so difficult to find the right products for your skin type, skin concerns, and textural preferences! I used to look at ingredient lists alone in order to help me decide what products to go with – through educating myself I would be able to successfully guess what the texture, feel, and efficacy of the product would be based on its ingredient list (and the order, concentration, and interaction of those ingredients). Most people don’t have time to do this much research, and to be honest, neither do I. It’s exhausting!
I do think that certain blogs can be an amazing resource when it comes to finding the right products. Caroline Hirons is one of my favorite bloggers because of her knowledge of skincare, wicked sense of humor, and willingness to go against the grain. I recommend finding a blogger you can trust (preferably one who is very knowledgeable about skincare and honest about the products that don’t work for them).
I always tell people to start slow and build up with their routine. Find a fragrance-free, PH-balanced line to start with – that way you can build the foundation of your skincare. Most people don’t even know their own skin type so it can be challenging to know what types of products to look for. Certain brands like Olivarrier, Cosrx, Cetaphil, CeraVe, Iunik, Purito, & Klairs are a great place to start because they offer fragrance-free, PH-balanced formulas at a very affordable price point. They also have a lot of hydrating options (if you don’t know your skin type yet, you can at least assume you’re dehydrated as almost every person on this planet is! Oily and dry alike…) If you’re able to splurge a bit more, then Biologique Recherche, Paula’s Choice, Clinique, First Aid Beauty, & Drunk Elephant are all gorgeous fragrance-free lines that have good basic options for starting a routine as well as more complex formulas for intermediate skincare enthusiasts. Priori is actually one of my absolute favorite lines to recommend to beginners as well as experts because the formulas are SO effective, sensitive-skin friendly, and professional grade. They have basic formulas for beginners as well as really complex super star formulas that treat bigger skin issues.
“Do no harm” should be the first rule of skincare – which explains why fragrance-free, PH-balanced, sensitive-skin-friendly formulas are so important. But once you have a basic routine nailed down, you can start playing with active ingredients, more complex formulas, etc. Priori is great because they offer complex formulas that are gentle enough to be sensitive-skin friendly.
The basics of any routine should be:
2. Moisturize and Hydrate
Once you have the right products down for those 3 steps, you can experiment with more complex formulas. But always patch test, and make sure you only add in one new product at a time to gauge your skin’s reaction!
One last thing... what’s popular is not what’s actually good for the skin 9 out of 10 times. Listen to your skin, go with your gut, and keep it simple! That’s the best way to find the right products. Lastly, never underestimate the power of a small brand. Often times people invest in over-hyped, underwhelming products because they see them everywhere and the packaging is cute. But most of the best products I’ve ever found have been from smaller skincare brands! It’s a wonder that these brands are not the best selling skincare on the market, but what’s good is rarely what’s popular. Don’t listen to what the Kardashian sisters try to sell you, look at ingredients, look for smaller brands, look for science based formulas, and trust your skin. 😊
What are three of your desert island products?
My favorite skincare product of all time is the “Signature Tone Up Water” from a small brand called Aqutop. It has all the hydrating benefits of May Coop’s raw sauce with protective qualities of an emulsion formula – but without any penetration issues. It has that incredibly “silky” feeling that emulsions give you, and provides similar protection for the moisture barrier! Indeed, the toner is as light as water and despite the protective nature, it’s very breathable and will help your other skincare products absorb better too. I measured this with a skin analyzer device and was floored!
Other favorites of mine are:
Best Cleanser: Priori Gentle Cleanser
Best Facial Mist: Complex Beauty Co After Glow Mist
Best Essence: Olivarrier Dual Moist Hyaluron Essence
Best Eye Care: Tula Multi Spectrum Eye Renewal Serum
Best Facial Oil: Olivarrier Fluid Oil
Best Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Protini
Best Gel-cream: Saturday Skin Waterfall Moisturizer
Best Lip Care: Laneige lip sleeping mask
Best Body Care: Priori Hand and Body Replenisher
Best Hair Care: Nature Lab Tokyo’s volumizing blowout jelly
What is your goal with @frankies.skin?
My dream for @frankies.skin is for it to be a place where educational skincare content and creativity/artistry collide. Ideally, I dream of putting out memorable content with lots of substance that is congruent with my photography. It’s been a hard balance for me to strike, because it’s SO much work to create a post that has helpful, unique information and ALSO make sure it matches a beautiful photo. I often fail one one or both of these accounts, haha. But trying to do both has made me a better writer and photographer, because I’m constantly failing! I’m rarely impressed with my photography, despite the time I spend on it! In fact, it takes 1,000 bad shots for every 1 good shot you see me post. :)
Despite my own attempts at perfection (and utter failure as a consequence, haha), I think the MOST important thing to me about @frankies.skin is that I want people to feel welcome and appreciated. My biggest desire is that when people visit my account they learn something about skincare, or at the very least, leave my page feeling encouraged. I spend a great deal of time trying to support other creators and reply to comments, hence my erratic posting schedule. But it’s always been a goal of mine to try to make people feel uplifted. Life is so hard and I know social media can be a toxic place. We all need a break from the stress, so it’s pretty important to me to keep my page honest, welcoming, and positive, at least as much as I possibly can. That’s my hope & dream. :)
What are your tips for up and coming skincare enthusiasts, bloggers, etc who might be new to skincare?
One of the biggest things I need to make clear is that you do not have to spend 2 hours a day, or use 10 step routines to see a difference! Nor do you need 75 products or a huge bank account to take care of your skin. A lot of the messages we get from social media are designed at making us buy more, and feel less - like we’re not good enough, pretty enough, healthy enough, or rich enough. But nothing could be further from the truth! Self care is not about owning the latest product or having perfect hair/skin/nails. Self care can certainly incorporate practices like skincare, but it can also be as simple as starting a meditation or gratitude practice, saying no to things you don’t want, and asking for help when you need it. These things are often overlooked in social media but they are the most important.
For beginners, I want to emphasize that pretty pictures are NOT what skincare is about. Nor is it about perfection. Pretty pictures are such a wonderful way to express your creativity but whether or not you have time, skill, or passion for photography, you belong in the skincare world just as you are right at this moment. You can have an amazing skincare ritual each day, a wonderful self care practice, and a healthy moisture barrier with or without an instagram account! I guess what I’m trying to say is, you do not need to change anything about yourself, your product collection, or your skin. The fact is, you are more than enough exactly where you’re at right now – pimples, wrinkles, and all!
So now that I’ve said my piece, here are some tips from my experience:
1. I truly believe in quality over quantity. So I recommend focusing on products that are effective and straightforward. There’s a lot of “fluff” in the beauty industry – brands constantly releasing new products that aren’t well researched and don’t do much. So I think it’s important to focus on a few really good formulas in the beginning. Invest in multi-taskers so you don’t have to spend as much money building up your routine! Priori has some great options for that, and even though they’re a bit higher priced than budget brands, you’re paying for pure quality IMO. You could invest in 1-2 Priori products as your “multi-tasker/star products”, and then fill in the rest of your routine with budget friendly basics like Avene, Cosrx, The Ordinary, etc. You might not see massive changes from the budget favs in terms of treating pigmentation, acne, wrinkles, etc but that’s where your “star products” come in. You only need 1-2 to really see a difference! So please invest wisely, stick to your budget, and don’t be led astray purely by pretty packaging. If you want a true luxury experience but don’t have the budget for it, I highly recommend lighting candles, putting on soothing music, and finding products that make you feel good, fresh, and pampered – even if it’s a $3 drugstore cream! Drugstore products are underrated but you can formulate a great routine at any price point. You don’t need glass packaging, a gorgeous medicine cabinet, or byredo perfumes to pamper yourself… all you need is an attitude of kindness, some time alone, and a little calming music. :)
2. SPF is vital, and so is protecting your moisture barrier. I’d say that at least 90% of the people I meet (including myself) have a damaged moisture barrier to some degree or another which often comes up in the form of dehydration. If you’re one of the lucky 10%, well, just wait until you age a bit, haha. Most of the people I know with normal skin types are quite young, as we age our collagen and sebum production declines and we’re left with dry, dehydrated, dull-looking skin. The simplest of routines can actually help that – all it takes is a gentle PH-balanced cleanser that won’t strip your skin, followed up by a hydrating toner, and an occlusive moisturizer (SPF goes on last during the daytime!) These simple steps can go a long way when it comes to protecting your skin and treating a damaged moisture barrier. Please don’t underestimate the power of SPF either, it is the number one anti-aging product there is out there, and it’s pretty inexpensive too.
3. Another thing that’s important to touch on is the toxic comparison game. No good can come of it, so please don’t compare your skin, your routine, your product collection, etc to others! Skin issues are not your fault. You’re not “doing it wrong” if you’re in your 30’s and still dealing with severe acne. Social media can sometimes give us a warped sense of reality and with the rise of skincare bloggers and beauty influencers, it can be easy to feel bad about yourself, your products, your budget, your skin – anything. But please don’t give into that. SO many skincare enthusiasts like myself deal with ongoing cystic acne, psoriasis, eczema, closed comedones, pigmentation, etc! I certainly do. The whole point of skincare should be loving your skin exactly where it’s at, and treating it with kindness. It’s not about attaining some false standard of perfection. My skin has certainly improved since I started a more thorough routine, but I still have tons of “off” days, weeks or months where old issues flare up and come back, sometimes for good. You are not alone. Finding a way to be comfortable in your skin is really hard, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor to take. I’m with you on that journey…
What is your favorite Priori product and why?
Oh man, it’s actually really hard to choose! There are a few standouts for me in particular:
- Hand and Body Replenisher
If I had to pick just one, I would go with the Brightening Serum. It’s one of the MOST effective serums I’ve ever tried, and that’s saying a lot since I’m a serum addict! Priori’s adaptive superceutical product line is my favorite because it’s so incredibly effective and multi-functional. The brightening serum has retinol for pigmentation, wrinkles, acne, etc. It also has 15% lactic acid (one of my favorite chemical exfoliants of all time that’s super gentle but also effective), SOD (an enzyme based antioxidant that speeds up cellular turnover, and reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots!), and CoQ10. This serum has done wonders for my dark circles, my acne marks, the blackheads around my nose, and also has decreased my overall skin dullness. It’s an amazing multi-tasker and probably the best Priori product I’ve tried so far! :)
Priori’s Gel Perfector is a close second choice for me, it’s a water-based gel formula that was designed to help the t-zone area and reduce the appearance of enlarged looking pores! Even though I don’t have an oily t-zone, I struggle with breakouts in that area and this product has worked wonders at preventing them. I actually use this all over my face because the results are so impressive. I notice a huge reduction in pimples, pigmentation, and redness in general. My pores appear much less clogged, and my skin is less flaky. This gel perfector is another superstar with retinyl palmitate, vitamin c, vitamin e, and lactic acid. The total actives used makes up 16% of the formula! It also contains 1% salicylic acid, an FDA approved acne treatment that actually works. Lastly, they added in peptides to help boost collagen production along with glycerin, a humectant that draws water into the skin and hydrates deeply. Think of this like a supercharged water based serum that treats all of your skin issues at once. When combined with the brightening serum, my skin has seriously never looked better!
I also have to mention the Hand and Body Replenisher because it’s the best body care product I’ve tried to date! It has the same 16% of actives as the gel perfector, but it’s moisturizing and hydrating at the same time. The formula comes out like the silkiest emulsion ever, it’s almost like a gel-cream, and it absorbs into the skin immediately without any white cast, pilling, or residue. For that reason alone it beats 90% of the body care I’ve tried. But the other reason I adore it is that it has helped my body acne, keratosis pilaris, and dryness SO much because of the concentrated lactic acid, retinol, vitamin c, etc. We often focus on our face and overlook our bodies, and I’m guilty of that as well. Thanks to Priori the skin health of my body is starting to match my face! The Hand and Body replenisher has been especially helpful for trouble spots, my upper arms, elbows, forearms, knees, and calves.
What is your favorite thing about skincare?
I love how skincare is a mix of art & science, health and self-care. It can be used for basic protection from the elements, but it can also be an incredible self-care ritual, an artistic expression of yourself, and a way to connect to others. Skincare, for me, is important from a health stance but it can also be an incredibly luxurious, meditative ritual, and one that I look forward to daily. Since our skin is our largest organ, and also our first line of defense against bacteria/viruses, etc… it’s very important to take care of it and protect your moisture barrier from getting damaged. At first glance, it might seem like a superficial, external thing to some people but as someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease AND lives in a cold climate, it is actually vital to my health and well-being. Taking care of my skin has improved my eczema and psoriasis so much, which actually is one of the ways I keep my pain levels under control. Of course protecting the moisture barrier can be as simple as a 3 step system of cleansing, moisturizing, & applying spf. But if you want to enjoy the more meditative/ritualistic experience you can turn this into a 5 step, 7 step, or even 12 step experience! It’s totally up to you – your time, energy levels, budget, etc.
Skincare touches on so many of my favorite things in one hobby, so I’ve come to deeply appreciate and respect the practice. It has grounded me, provided healing and well-being from the inside out, and made my appreciate my body so much more. It has become a safe haven in each stressful day, one that brings me back to my body and has helped connect me to gratitude. Of course, like anything in life, you get as much out of skincare as you put in. So for some people, skincare might seem like a trivial thing – like an obsession with appearances. It can certainly be that to some degree, for example: a way to try to cover up deep-rooted insecurity. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong at all with wanting to look our best, in fact I encourage people to take care of themselves however they want. But despite what it looks like at first glance, I think skincare can be so much more than skin-deep, at least for me. And for that I will always be grateful. :)
Before I leave you to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I want to end on a tender note. One of my favorite writers, Parker Palmer, recently wrote:
“It seems to me that two of the heart's deepest longings are to feel at home in our own skin and at home on the face of the earth...
When I don’t feel at home with who I am, life is painful. When I don’t feel at home with the rich diversity of beings with whom I share this planet, life is frightening.
"Wild Geese” is a well-known Mary Oliver poem that invites ALL of us to embrace the fact that we are part of “the family of things.”
As we do so, the pain and fear that come from feeling alienated from ourselves and others fade away...and so do the societal ills that are animated by alienation.
Imagine a world in which people feel so at home with themselves AND in the company of strangers that they can make hospitable space for others to feel at home.
Isn’t that the kind of world we all want to live in?” - Parker Palmer
In our divided world right now, in the world of social media and unrealistic expectations, I think we owe it to our hearts to let ourselves, and others, belong. This time of year is riddled with desire & disappointment. With new year’s resolutions and unmet goals. With questions like “is my work good enough? Am I good enough?” buried so deep inside us we’re afraid to face them... New Year’s Eve can be a time of beginnings but for many people it’s a time of endings, and a reminder of what has been lost and the loneliness felt in the process. So while it’s still the holidays, I think it’s the best time to share this poem. Mary Oliver is one of my favorites as well, and I routinely read her work on New Year’s Day, as it so beautifully touches on what my heart needs to hear this time of year. I hope it’s what you need to hear as well.