I shared my skincare routine on Insta stories a month or so ago, and I got a LOT of questions. So here I am with more details 👍
First let me say: I know that I don’t have great skin. I’ve had acne since I was like nine, and I likely always will. But my challenging skin has led me to lots and lots of research about skin protection, skin improvement, and skin treatment.
But I’m here to share what I’ve learned from a literal lifetime of problem skin. So, take it or leave it, these products work for me and improve my way-less-than-perfect skin.
Now that I’m in my late twenties, I’m facing an issue that I’m sure a lot of you are, too: aging skin AND blemishes on the same face. I have fine lines on my forehead, eyes that are getting crepey, and tech neck. Finding anti-aging treatments that don’t exacerbate my acne has been a CHORE. But I’ve gotten there! My acne is under control, and my wrinkles are improving. (Seriously, my eyes look less wrinkled than they did in my wedding photos a year ago!)
Obviously, what works for me likely won’t work for you. We’re all SO, so different. These are the products that work for me, and I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) developing this routine.
I see skincare as a major investment. Since I’ve had problem skin for basically as long as I can remember, skincare products are necessary, not optional. A new red lipstick is definitely optional. A new anti-aging serum or blemish control product is an investment, and I am willing to treat it as such. There may be awesome drugstore skincare, but I haven’t ever found any.
Once I’ve vetted a product, I am more than willing to pay for it. But I have two rules before I click Add to Cart.
- Read, read, and read some more. Find your beauty resources. I read reviews on Amazon, reviews on Sephora.com (did you know that you can sort based on reviewers that have your same skin type?), and the expertise of makeup artists that I love. Kayti at the Beyouty Bureau and Katie at Katie Jane Hughes are both FULL of wisdom. I don’t have the same skin type as either these two women, but I have learned so much about different products and general skin care needs from them.
- Try a sample! At Sephora, they will give you a sample of ANYTHING. Try a sample of a face serum, a moisturizer, an eye cream, whatever. Introduce this ONE new product into your routine, assess how your skin changes (positively or negatively) over a few days, and then choose to purchase or not. (Also, another tip: Sephora will allow you to return any purchase, even one that’s been used. This is incredibly wasteful, obviously, since they just throw away the unused product. So please try the free sample first!)
Lots of you asked me where I would suggest investing first. This is a difficult question, since everyone’s skin is so different. Ultimately, though, I think that treatments are the smartest initial investment: serums, anti-wrinkle solutions, Rx acne meds. These treatments are applied to your bare skin, so they’re absorbed most readily. Spending money on those products will likely get you the most bang for your buck.
I’ve detailed my morning routine and my evening routine below. I follow this general regimen, which is about what everyone should follow: cleanse, exfoliate, treat, moisturize. How exactly you should follow each step is VERY PERSONAL. If you have dry, sensitive skin, do NOT follow my routine. We are very, very different.
Seeing a dermatologist (initial meetings are often covered by insurance) is your best bet. She’ll be able to recommend next steps for your better skin.
But, this is what I use. I’ve found these products through trial and error, lots of product samples, and the counsel of my dermatologist.
Enjoy! I’ll be sharing my full routine on Instagram stories this week, and I’ll save those in a skincare highlight. Pretty please leave a comment here or there with any questions. I’d love to help!
My morning routine
Cleanse. Wash with OLEHENRIKSEN Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser. I like this, but don’t love it. I likely won’t repurchase. I have plenty of face wash samples that need using, and I think it’s ok to save money on face wash. It’s not designed to soak into your skin, so the ingredients matter less (to me).
Exfoliate. Exfoliate and cleanse with SON & PARK Beauty Water. I squirt some on a cotton round and wipe gently but firmly in upward motions across my face, neck, and chest. It’s important to swipe UP, not down. Aging skin wants to succumb to gravity, and it’s our job not to let it!
Treat. Apply acne medication. Talk to a derm about which type would be right for you.
Serum. Apply OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum, a vitamin C anti-aging serum, to my face and neck in upward strokes, and let it soak in for a couple minutes.
Eye cream. Apply a very small amount of LANEIGE Water Bank Eye Gel to my orbital bone (the curved part of your cheekbone that runs under each eye). Since I have oily skin, I don’t apply cream any higher than this. I don’t want it running into my eyes!
Moisturize. I seal everything in with a light moisturizer: OLEHENRIKSEN Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator. I do not find this to be particularly mattifying, but it’s a nice, light moisturizer that soaks in almost instantly.
Extras! I apply several dots of the DR. JART+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops, a color-correcting treatment, all over my face. I’m still trying this out, but I’m liking it so far! Full review to come.
Yes, this is a lot of steps, but it takes like five minutes. After all this, I apply body lotion and let that soak in while I do my makeup.
My evening routine
Cleanse. Apply one pump of Nature Republic Forest Garden Cleansing Chamomile Oil all over my dry face. Using very light pressure, I massage my entire face, concentrating on areas where I have a lot of makeup (usually my eyes and brows). Once the makeup is broken up, I wet my hands, shake off almost all water, and massage again. Applying this small amount a water emulsifies the oil. You’ll be able to feel the oil getting thicker as you massage. After I massage the emulsified oil for a moment, I begin rinsing with palmfuls of water, repeating until all of the oil and makeup are gone.
Double cleanse. Apply micellar water to my entire face and neck, concentrating on any stubborn mascara. Remember to sweep the cotton pad UP, not down. I’m not brand-loyal here.
Exfoliate. Repeat the SON & PARK Beauty Water from the A.M.
Treat. Acne meds again!
Serum. Apply one pump of the OLEHENRIKSEN Invigorating Night Transformation Gel to my face and neck in upward motions.
Eye cream. Repeat from the morning with LANEIGE Water Bank Eye Gel.
Moisturize. Once the serum has soaked in, top it with a thicker version of my morning moisturizer: OLEHENRIKSEN Counter Balance Mattifying Moisture Crème.
If I’ve got a larger blemish, I top it with one of these: Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Spot Dot. It’s basically a clear dot that sucks the… stuff … out of a blemish. It has cleared up stubborn spots literally overnight on my face. The trick is not to pick at the blemish after you remove the patch.
Once a week, I apply the Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay mask. It is INTENSE. I am the worst at spot-testing products, but I INSIST that you spot test this one before you use it on your entire face. It’s a powder that you mix with apple cider vinegar or water before application. It dries SO tight. Like can’t make facial expressions or talk normally once it’s dry. While it’s drying for 30 minutes, you can feel the blood pulsing in your face. It’s a cult fave beauty product, and I do see a difference with oiliness and blemishes when I use it regularly. It leaves my face RED but very smooth afterward.
Twice a week, I do a less intense mask. I alternate between the OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask (very cooling and refreshing) and random mask samples that I have collected from Sephora.
Things that we could all do more of to improve my skin for free: more water (always!) and less coffee and alcohol. More vegetables. Less sugar overall. MORE SLEEP. But, you know, those things aren’t always possible. 10 minutes at the end of the day to do my serums and creams? I can do that.
Which products do you swear by?