DURING the first days of quarantine, my skin cleared up despite the high stress levels I was under. And now, a month into quarantine, my skin has changed and unlike before when I had a multitude of options at my disposal to adapt to the changes, quarantine has forced me to be creative.

When life was still normal, I had on rotation about a dozen products I used depending on how my skin felt day-to-day and I did have a separate routine in the morning and in the evening. But since quarantine closed many of the online stores selling the products I use, I had to stick with what I have. Here are the products that I have been making work this quarantine.

(NOTE: Since it’s summer, my is more normal-to-dry instead of the usual dry-to-drier.)

Let’s start with cleansing, I ran out of my Avene Extremely Gentle Milk Cleanser (200 ml for P1,280 in Watsons) so I switched to the ever reliable Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (250 ml for P462 in Lazada) as my morning cleanser, then at night I currently use Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil (150 ml for P595 in Rustans) because my favorite, Calmia Oatmeal Therapy Cleansing Oil (200 ml for P570 in Althea Korea), ran out. The Palmer’s cleanser has a more waxy scent because of its cocoa butter and vitamin E — neither oils are known for being fragrant — so those who don’t like that kind of scent, please stay away. It also has a thicker texture than Calmia but Palmer’s rinses away faster, which blew my mind. And since I double cleanse, I currently use Senka Perfect Whip Moist Cleansing Foam (120 g for P279 in Lazada) which thankfully I haven’t run out of yet. If there’s one product I’m scared of running out of, it’s the Senka, because I wasn’t able to buy any more — I have no extras and no substitutes.

For toner, I am using Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion (170 ml for P685 in Lazada). It’s a thick, almost gel-like toner with hyaluronic acid that I rarely use in the morning because I prefer lighter toners like my recently used-up Goodal Camellia Moisture Barrier Toner (200 ml for P1,000 in Zalora) but since those under quarantine can’t be choosers, I had to use the Hada Labo in the mornings. The trade-off is I rarely use moisturizers now — both in the morning and at night — because I get all my moisture from Goodal Camellia Moisture Barrier Ampoule (200 ml for P1,450 in Zalora). The Goodal Camellia line has ceramides that protect the skin from pollutants and retain moisture. This is such a good line that I’ll be buying some more once everything is over.

On top of the ampoule, I use my Kiehl’s serums: the Midnight Recovery Concentrate (30 ml for P2,950 in Kiehl’s website) that has squalane and evening primrose oil for the evenings, and the Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate (50 ml for P3,900 in Kiehl’s) that has 12.5% vitamin C to brighten skin and has antioxidant properties. Both serums have been mainstays in my routine for years.

This brings me down to just four products in the mornings and six products at night. I just ran out of my AHC The Pure Real Eye Cream for the Face (30 ml for P920 in Watsons) so no more eye creams for me for now.

But what I did learn from this toned-down routine is my skin probably doesn’t need as many products as I usually use and it can still function perfectly with less products. Does this exercise make me think of making this my real, everyday routine? It depends because my skin is probably behaving so well because I’m indoors all the time and my skin is not being damaged by pollution or the sun as much. Let’s re-evaluate once we get our normal lives back.

And has it stopped me from loading my cart with skincare products and placing an order expecting delivery after quarantine? Nope, because skincare for me is self-care and therapy. It’s an expensive hobby but it does make me feel like I have my life together even as a pandemic rages just outside the front door. — Zsarlene B. Chua