Photo: Courtesy of Delaney Rowe

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“I’m really imperfect with skin care,” says Delaney Rowe. “I go to bed with my makeup on, a full face, maybe once a week. There are just times where my bad mood — or maybe my drunkenness — takes over and I won’t take it off.” She knows some skin-care obsessives will flinch at the thought, but it’s candor like this that has earned the actress and comedian just under half a million followers on TikTok.

On TikTok, Rowe recently joked that her best tip for achieving a glow is to “move to a horrible little apartment in Los Angeles with no AC so you’re just sweating a little bit all of the time.” But the reality is a bit more complicated, as she’s recently learned.

“Before I turned 25, which was pre-pandemic, which was also pre-TikTok, I thought about skin care in the same way that I previously thought about exercise: It doesn’t matter if I do it or not because nothing changes,” she says.

Then COVID-19 hit, and Rowe began noticing the stress on her skin. “I remember so clearly seeing lines along my mouth, and being like, Those are new. What the hell?” To be clear, the TikToker is just 26 now but “everything” changed: her skin, her body, and even her hair. She remembers, some days, “[I] was so puffy I didn’t recognize myself.”

Rowe went a bit “crazy” trying to undo the damage with a 20-step skin-care routine. She saw improvements pretty quickly, but she also came to understand: “It wasn’t the fancy products. I was just really moisturizing my skin well for the first time,” and perhaps more importantly, “taking my diet more seriously. Like, if I’m not getting in vegetables and getting good sleep, it’s over for me.”

She’s cut back the 20 steps to just one — sometimes two — in the morning and keeps it under ten at night. And she’s come to see products as just a minor piece of the puzzle. “Do I need to have all these?” she asks. “Probably not. But they’re not hurting me, and using these beautiful products is part of stress management for me; all of a sudden I feel sort of turned off and a little bit lathered and luxurious.”

Below, a look at Rowe’s go-tos for very dry skin, including the balm that dissolves every bit of makeup, the “best” exfoliator she’s ever used, and the eye cream that truly depuffs.

“I learned about Bad Habit from Emma Chamberlain. She is somebody who has a similar skin situation as mine — just tends to look really tired — so when she was talking about this oil, I was like, ‘I’m gonna get on that.’ Their description says something like, ‘When you’re very not dull night gives you very dull, dry skin.’ And I’m a drinker. I go out, and I fall asleep with my makeup sometimes, but when I wake up, wash my face, and put this on, it’s like an instant burst of light. My cheeks look flushed, and it leaves the most dewy, beautiful glow. It weirdly stings my eyes a lot. That is literally the only downside.”

“Honestly, I forget to wear sunscreen a lot, but when I’m good about it — like when I know I’m going to be outside working out — I will use this one. It’s SPF 50, and it’s really thick, which I really like because I feel like my skin just eats products. It smells expensive, you know what I mean? It was a gift from Violet Grey; this is not something that I would probably just buy — I’m pretty low-maintenance about sunscreen.”

“By the end of the night, I feel like my makeup has become part of my face. It’s like … fused. I need something like a dissolving balm; I can’t just go straight into my cleanser. So I use this. When I’m done with it, you can see all of the melted makeup that’s been sitting on my face. It looks crazy.”

“I used to think that if your cleanser didn’t make your face feel like it’s burning off, it wasn’t working. But this is the opposite of that. It is so gentle, and it smells like crisp laundry. Actually, I love all of the three Covey products. I love Emily DiDonato, the co-founder. She’s pregnant right now and she’s using this cleanser, too, which makes me feel like she did a very good, honest job with the brand. Plus, it passes my packaging test.”

“This is the best exfoliator I’ve ever used. I grew up, like everyone else, using the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, and that’s child’s play compared to this. It feels kind of like sandy water, but the beads aren’t big and chunky — you can’t even see the beads because they’re so fine. I use it once a week. Some people use it as a mask, which I get nervous about, so I use it just like any other cleanser.”

“Another product I discovered by way of Violet Grey — Cassandra Gray, who started Violet Grey, is so insanely beautiful, and I would put anything on my face that she recommended. It has hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. It has a very sexy dropper, which I love, and it smells like a pastry, sweet and delicious. The serum is also pretty thick, whereas a lot of times serums are really watery and runny.”

“This is a lactic acid treatment. I don’t use it every night — if I’m also using my Goop exfoliator, I don’t need this, too. It’s really thick, and it smells so good, like sunshine and tangerines. If I have a horrible chin pimple, it leaves behind a dark spot for a few days, so I’ll use this.”

“My sister introduced me to this face oil. It’s blue, and it looks so pretty, but then it also saturates your skin so well. I love the way I look after using it: I’m never worried about looking shiny. I’ve never worried about looking greasy. I also like looking a little sweaty; I think it looks really youthful. Dryness is my No. 1 concern so I’m just like, ‘Bring it on,’ and this is so rich. It’s meant specifically for the nighttime because it has a retinoid in it. Honestly, I could use just this and not a moisturizer, but I like to use both, especially at night.”

“I like Youth to the People a lot. Their moisturizer has ashwagandha and reishi in it, which makes it smell a little earthy. It’s also really rich — like a mousse — and that’s what I want. I don’t want to have to put on several layers, which sometimes I have to do with other moisturizers because my skin is so dry.”

“I learned about this eye cream from Violet Grey. It smells a little nutty, like cashews or maybe oat milk. I love how smooth it goes on, and it doesn’t sting my eyes. A little bit goes such a long way, too. I’ve had a container for maybe four months now, and I’m not even halfway through this tiny thing — but I also use the tiniest little amount. I always notice a difference, especially in the morning. I don’t really get dark circles; I get puffy, and this really helps. It’s especially good if you’ve been crying.”

“I have really dry lips and I need something that doesn’t immediately absorb; I needed the product to sit there for a long time. So I like lip oils rather than just balms because I can take a ton of moisture on my skin and it just soaks it right up. And this is amazing. It says ‘sleeping mask’ but I use it all day long. I have it in several different flavors; my favorite is the peach iced tea. Versed has a Silk Slip Conditioning Lip Oil that’s really good, too.”

“The vagus nerve runs along your neck and all the way down to the abdomen. It regulates the nervous system, and when you activate it, it is said to help you relax. This oil is meant to give that area some love. I already bring my products down to my neck, except for my eye cream, but I’ll massage this in for an extra de-stressing moment. It smells kind of like tea tree and eucalyptus, like a spa. I love that it gets on my pillow because then I can smell it in the middle of the night or the next day.”