This New Skincare Brand Taught Me How to Craft a Routine Based on My Skin’s Daily Needs

And every product in its lineup is under $25.

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Current State

I am opposed to anything overly prescriptive or categorical. Most things in life do not fall into neat little boxes, and if they do, it’s not a permanent designation. For example: I am both an introvert and an extrovert; I have an anxious attachment style, though sometimes avoidant or secure. The same goes for my skin. In the dry, combination, oily spectrum, my skin is usually oily but sometimes dry or combination, too. My skincare goals and issues aren’t stagnant — they change according to the seasons, my hormones, and my lifestyle. But when you’re creating your skincare routine, especially if you use those guided online quizzes, you’re asked to reduce your skin to a two-dimensional entity where one checked-off box supposedly reflects the situation. 

Current State, a new skincare brand from Emily Parr, founder of Holifrog, wants you to take an intuitive approach to your skin. Instead of sticking to a set-in-stone regimen, the brand is all about listening to your skin before picking the cleansers, serums, and moisturizers that reflect its current state. 

Off the top of my head, this is the first skincare brand I can think of doing this, and it makes sense. I approach most aspects of my life intuitively: I wait for my body or mind to tell me what it wants, rather than stick to a stringent regiment, so why is skincare a different thing? 

To really make sure I understood the scope of the products and that my skin had time to reflect that, I have spent the last month using the entire nine-product range of Current State products. During my one-month trial, I did not experience a single bout of irritation (very rare for my frustratingly sensitive skin), and my complexion became hydrated and bright. 

The process also taught me to listen to my skin more than I ever have before. Every morning and evening, I’d look at and feel my skin before deciding what products to apply. In doing so, I was able to identify certain things in my life that were either helping or harming my skin, like my diet and environment. Regardless of the exact products in my skincare lineup, Current State has permanently changed my approach. 

By following my skin’s needs, I ended up using every product at least once but these are the standouts I use most often: the Salicylic and Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser, Sunflower and Oat Melting Cleansing Balm, Vitamin C and Super Greens Brightening Serum, and Retinol and Marula Renewing Serum

Salicylic and Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser


Current State

Shop now: $17;

For the last year or so, I have relied almost exclusively on Panoxyl face wash, which I use once or twice a day. But following my Aviclear treatment (it reduces oil production and therefore, acne), my go-to has felt too stringent to use more than once a week. Current State’s Exfoliating Cleanser hits the perfect sweet spot: It reduces the ever-present congestion in my nose and chin, makes my face feel clean but not dry and tight, and doesn’t irritate my skin to avoid a beet-red look when I’m done. 

Even though I have moved out of my Current State-only skincare routine, this facewash remains on my bathroom sink; I reach for it at least three times a week. 

Sunflower and Oat Melting Cleansing Balm


Current State

Shop now: $20;

I like the idea of having the ritual of a cleansing balm, but have never really taken to one. They frequently come in tubs and I hate having to claw out the balm — it feels unhygienic and I always find remnants under my nails in the hours to come. I also find them simply too moisturizing, to the point where my skin usually feels smothered by the formula, and I spend the rest of my day or night acutely aware of the residue it left behind. 

Current State’s Cleansing Balm is the complete opposite of everything I just described. First of all, it comes in a tube, which truly thrilled me. Second, its texture is a light balm that thins out as you massage it across your face. It’s great at removing makeup and debris from the day, but doesn’t feel like I’ve dipped my face in wax. 

I am not a big believer in a double cleanse in place of toner, but the combination of Current State’s Exfoliating Cleanser and this Cleansing Balm actually did the trick. 

Vitamin C and Super Greens Brightening Serum


Current State

Shop now: $20;

I am not immune to the allure of a vitamin C serum, but most of the time, I find it to ultimately be a siren song. Most formulas are too strong for my volatile and sensitive skin, and I have no patience for how quickly many of these products oxidize. 

This thin cream pairs vitamin C with a host of natural extracts including broccoli, spinach, grape, and aloe. It’s gentle, hydrating, and nourishing on the skin; some days, I was able to skip moisturizer altogether because my skin felt like it got everything it needed. It took two weeks for me to see results until I saw that some very stubborn, there-for-forever dark spots had faded and disappeared, while the pores on my cheeks, nose, and chin were no longer small craters. A bonus is that it uses two stable forms of vitamin C, so oxidization is not even a possibility. 


Current State

Shop now: $22;

I understand the importance of retinol, but once again, my skin is simply too reactive to many potent ingredients. This one has made its way into my medicine cabinet where only one other retinol lives, which incidentally also contains marula (Are marula and retinol a new power duo?). 

I found this serum to be very moisturizing and soothing, and I again opted to skip moisturizer some days because this seemed to do the trick. After weeks of use, my skin looked less lackluster and dull — free of some of that grayness I now think were dead skin cells the retinol shed to reveal a more vibrant and smooth complexion. 

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