Gothamista shares her skin-care tips and holy-grail products.
If you're looking for some major knowledge about all things skin care including what ingredients you should and shouldn't mix, the difference between dry and dehydrated skin, or if the cult product that perpetually sits in your shopping cart is worth the splurge, Gothamista is your YouTube channel. With over a decade in the beauty and lifestyle space as a buyer and in product development, Renée Chow uploaded her first video—a Japanese and Korean sheet masks haul and demo—back in 2015, and Gothamista was born.
The channel has since amassed 639K+ subscribers. If you're not one of them, your skin is missing out. OK, so you've been told you need a vitamin C serum, but are you familiar with the many vitamin C derivatives? Chow is. Thinking of dabbling in prebiotic skin care? Wanna know what the deal is with those Halloween-esque LED light therapy masks? Oh, and you need some assistance with adjusting your skin-care routine from winter to spring? Wait, you didn't know seasonal skin care is a thing?!
Relax, take a breath, and reapply your sunscreen. The skinthusiast, whose skin-care motto is all about being "skintuitive," has got it all covered for you. Well, almost. You won't find any snarky reaction videos to celebrity skin-care routines on the Gothamista channel—Chow's not your average beauty vlogger. She's here to help. You'll likely consider yourself a skin-care expert after viewing a handful of her information-packed videos, from her detailed brand overviews to retinoid tips for beginners. The addictive videos are always immaculately lit, and Chow often signs off with "wishing you great skin health!"
Her middle name should be Research, because she opts for recommending products with formulations that are proven to be great for your skin health and cited by scientific research. Have no fear: There's no room for sunscreens that leave a chalky white cast on Gothamista's #topshelf—the self-described "professional treasure hunter" has an affinity for sharing products that aren't only effective, but are cosmetically elegant. And for that, our skin shall be forever thankful.
We're also thankful that, below, Chow shared with us many of her tried-and-true holy grails, what ingredients will make you the glowiest of them all, and how to defeat maskne once and for all.
How would you describe your skin-care approach? Has it changed during the pandemic?
"My approach is 'skintuitive.' I give my skin what it needs when it needs it. During the pandemic, I wasn't wearing any makeup or spending as much time outdoors as I'm used to, so my skin got a really good rest and it needed less."
What's an important skin-care rule or tip you learned early on?
"Don't drag or pull on your skin!"
What's a product that you've used forever and always go back to? Why?
"Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotions. Because my skin lacks hydration, and these are the OG and still the best skin hydrators around. I also don't hate that they're so reasonably priced!"
Many are still dealing with maskne and mask irritation. What are some effective maskne-fighting ingredients? Can you recommend a few products?
"BHA (beta hydroxy acid) works for maskne in two ways: It will keep the pores clear of mask build-up, but it also has analgesic properties so it will calm inflammation down as well. Acne is inflammation. I love Paula's Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid. Niacinamide is always good at calming inflammation as well. Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster is a favorite."
What's your favorite vitamin C product?
"For brightening the skin, I find azelaic acid to be a great alternative to ascorbic acid, which is also great at treating post-inflammatory erythema. For treating hyperpigmentation and brown spots, retinoids are most effective. Hyperpigmentation in general is a very stubborn thing to treat, so a combination of treatments working in conjunction usually work best."
What over-the-counter azelaic acid products are you into?
What about ingredients to tackle blackheads, unclog pores, and diminish the appearance of enlarged pores?
"Good old BHA, clay masks, and charcoal masks are all effective at unclogging the pores, keeping them clear, and tightening up the appearance of enlarged pores."
Are you against physical exfoliants? The internet loves to drag St. Ives:
"I'm not against physical exfoliants—we've come a long way from St. Ives apricot scrub. There are physical exfoliants with micro particles that aren't scratchy and that can be gentler than chemical ones that can easily cause redness and irritation."
For those wanting to buy a physical exfoliant, what do you suggest?
You've brought your subscribers along on your journey with retinoids. Have you found that tretinoin lives up to being widely known as "the gold standard" for anti-aging?
"Tretinoin is the magic that can give aging skin back its luster and vitality. People on tretinoin have a glow, and it's given my skin a glow! Since starting it, my skin has gotten noticeably stronger and less reactive—of course, unless I'm retinizing. My pores have also become a lot less congested. I don't really have an issue with blackheads anymore, and hormonal breakouts are very rare."
Some say eye cream isn't necessary. Thoughts?
"There is no absolute answer. Some people need it, and others don't. I personally like to use rich moisturizers, but I can't use them around my eyes because I'll get milia and it will make my eyelids heavy. So a separate eye cream that's lighter is necessary for me. I like Peach & Lily."
You can always be trusted to provide product recommendations that not only work, but look great on the skin. On that note, what are your holy-grail, cosmetically elegant facial sunscreens?
"EVY Technology Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50—the children's version is amazing too. Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 50+ PA++++. Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30."
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Top photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@gothamista
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