Routines Skin Diary Skincare

How to Prioritize Skincare When Life Gets In the Way

“I don’t have time” is probably my biggest go-to excuse for anything: things I want to do, things I don’t want to do, things I am afraid to do, and things I don’t know how to do. And between being a mom, a wife, a full-time marketer, a Japanese student, blogger, occasional YouTuber, and household runner, time is often in short supply. So as excuses go, it’s a great one.

But you’ve probably heard what I’m about to say: We rarely run out of time for things that need doing; we just don’t prioritize them. Our priorities reflect our actual values, and the things we don’t make time for are the things that we don’t value. At first glance, that makes sense, but upon deeper inspection, that fact can be bitterly uncomfortable. “I do care about having a clean house,” we tell ourselves. “I’m just too tired/too busy/too stressed to do anything about it.”

While I’ll grant that under some circumstances (most notably depressive episodes) people really can’t take care of the things they truly do care about, for most of us the problem is that we don’t care as much as we think we do. Caring about something is not a thought or a feeling. Caring about something means taking the actions necessary to protect and nurture it in our lives. Caring is not a feeling: it’s an action.

I once had a knock-down drag-out argument with my son about his grades. “I care about getting good grades!” he cried. Yet his in actions in no way bore that out. He liked the idea of good grades; he did not care.

For lots of us, this is true of our skin as well.

The unfortunate part is that sporadic skincare does not yield results. Cleaning, hydrating, treating, protecting every once in a while is a useless activity. Skincare requires consistency to see improvement. It needs to happen every day, regularly, to yield any kind of meaningful results. Which means if we want our efforts to pay off, we have to prioritize our skincare.

Caring about something means taking consistent action to protect and nurture it. Caring is not a feeling: it's an action. Click To Tweet

So if you care about your skin, you take care of it. Not when it feels good or you have nothing else to do. Not when it’s convenient. Caring is taking action. It’s consistent behavior.

So how can those of us who are really good at excuses prioritize skincare when life gets in the way?

Don’t Ritualize It

As much I enjoy the idea of a skincare ritual, putting too much stock in the word “ritual” can actually be detrimental. If that works for you, great. But not everyone has the time or desire to set aside 30 minutes to an hour each day for a “skincare ritual”. If you fall into this camp, throw the idea of a ritual in the garbage. It doesn’t have to be this sacred, hallowed adventure. It can be as pragmatic as brushing your teeth or taking out the trash. And it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Wash your face, then cook dinner. Apply a serum; vacuum the living room. Put on your lotions and your oils; read a book. Work small actions into your day without attaching higher meaning to them. The goal is to get it done.

Don’t Put It Off

I try to live by these two pieces of advice: 1) Pay yourself first, and 2) Sex comes first (which is really just the sexy version of Rule #1). Don’t wait until the bills are paid to put something into savings. Don’t wait until the end of your rare night out with your spouse to make love. Do these things first, otherwise you run the risk of their not happening at all.

In line with this advice, don’t wait until dinner is made, homework is done, dishes are put away and kids are in bed to take off your makeup. Take it off right when you get home. Everything else is gonna get done: you won’t forget to walk the dog or give your daughter a bath. But you might neglect your skin, so see to it first. And as advised above, you can do it in spurts. But get started first. Nobody lets their family starve because they were giving themselves a facial massage, so prioritize the facial massage or else it might not happen.


If time is an issue for you, find ways to multitask. Can you wash your face in the shower? Can you run a humidifier while you sleep? Can you exfoliate your lips on your commute? My dental hygienist told me that she often recommends that her patients floss their teeth while watching TV. (Which seems kinda gross to me, but to each her own!) The point is, your skincare doesn’t have to take place in the bathroom in front of the vanity mirror. You can wear a sheet mask while playing video games. You can let your retinol dry while your brush and floss your teeth. You can sprtiz your face with mist while walking from the kitchen to the living room. If you find that taking time to dedicate to standing in front of a mirror isn’t your cup of tea, then make it easy for yourself to kill two birds with one stone.

Schedule It

Even if you’re not sure that you need to see your dermatologist or esthetician this month, if you know you need to see them sometime this quarter, schedule it now. Get it on the calendar so that you are more likely to commit to it. I’m the sort of person who books my next appointment at the end of my current appointment, that way I don’t have to think about it or remember to do it later. For some people, even putting a 7pm reminder on their phone to start their nightly routine can make the difference between making the time to care for their skin and going to bed with their makeup still on.

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

Don’t fall into thinking that if you can’t do it all, it’s worthless to do something. If all you can manage tonight is to wash your face, then wash your face. Do what you can because it’s better than doing nothing. Although my nightly skincare routine is usually a matter of “What do I feel like putting on my face tonight?”, I do have a “minimum playlist” for the nights I really can’t be bothered. And importantly, that minimum playlist is the same every time so that I don’t have to think about it:

  • Remove makeup with a cleansing balm
  • Put on the most moisturizing cream I have
  • Pass out

Establish a bare minimum for yourself, know what it is ahead of time, and make it super easy to do that bare minimum no matter how tired, drunk, or upset you are. Get it done.

Bonus: Keep Sunscreen in Your Car

If you’re anything like me, sunscreen is the thing you neglect most often. Keep some in your car and apply it at the stop light on your way to the grocery store. Keep the spray variety on hand to apply over makeup at the end of a work day before your commute home. You never know when you might end up in the sun for longer than anticipated; protect that skin with a little SPF.

What are some things you do to make it easy to prioritize your skincare when life would rather take you in other directions?

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