I have never had really “good” skin. It’s always been sort of fine. I never dealt with cystic acne or closed comedones or anything like that. Post-puberty, my skin has been dry and flaky with underlying redness sort of all over my face (note: I am not cool-toned; I’m neutral). I have large pores on my cheeks, black dots all over my nose, and noticeable small pores on my forehead and chin. I have texture all over my face; my skin does not feel smooth to the touch. I also have a decent amount of hyperpigmentation from lying out in the sun when I was younger. My routine is all about adding moisture to my skin, minimizing pore size, eliminating texture, and beginning some anti-aging to help my skin look its best down the line.
Step 1: Remove makeup. I use a gentle cleanser like the Simple Micellar Cleansing Water ($7.99 at Ulta) and some cotton rounds to get my face and eye makeup off. If I didn’t wear makeup that day, I just go straight to my cleanser.
Step 2: Cleanse. I love the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18). You can use this cleanser on wet or dry skin, and it’s really effective at both cleansing the skin and taking off the rest of your makeup that you might have missed. Reddit’s Skincare Addiction subreddit (where I learned a lot about how to take care of my skin) also recommends the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($14.99 at Ulta) and a lot of people seem to love it, but I found the Glossier to be slightly more hydrating. No matter what you choose, make sure your skin does not feel tight after cleansing, as that means you are over-stripping your skin and can cause dry skin types to flake and oily skin types to overproduce oil to compensate.
Step 3: Actives. This includes acids or things like Vitamin C serums. Keep in mind, it’s important to pay attention to the order you put these products onto your face. It’s also important to not overdo it. You can layer these pH-dependent products in order of lowest pH to highest pH. Or just remember Vitamin C serum, BHA, then AHA. I currently am only using a BHA and an AHA. I use BHAs to minimize the appearance of my pores and fix my skin when I have hormonal breakouts. I use AHAs to even out my skin texture, fade hyperpigmentation, and begin anti-aging. I have not experimented much with BHA’s and have really only used Stridex Maximum Strength pads ($8.19 on Amazon or you can find them in any drugstore). For my AHA, I was previously using Sunday Riley’s Good Genes ($105….don’t judge me). It works well, but I wanted to find something cheaper. I just finished up my Good Genes and bought a bottle of Alpha Skincare 14% Intensive Rejuvanating Serum ($18.99 at Ulta). I like this product but the design of the bottle is horrendous. The serum is very liquid-y and just shoots out of the bottle everywhere. I always end up wasting so much product because I can’t control how much comes out of the bottle. Both of those AHAs are not for new acid users, though. Build up to it with weaker concentrations or use only once a week. I use my AHA and BHA approximately every 2 days or so, depending on whether I am close to my period and the state of my skin. NOTE: Wait 15-30 mins between each active for the previous one to dry, and if using an AHA, make sure to wear sunscreen EVERY DAY. AHA increases skin sensitivity to the sun.
Step 4: Essences. I have just recently started getting into Asian skincare, especially Korean, with the help of Reddit’s Asian Beauty subreddit. I bought the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($21.00 at Ulta). Yup, it’s made with snail mucin. There’s a bit of an ick factor there for me, but so far, I actually think I really like it so I’ll put up with the snaily-ness. Snail mucin is a powerful ingredient that repairs your skin, hydrates it, and makes your lotion and other hydrating products more effective. I have not been using it long so I can’t 100% say GO BUY THIS, but so far so good. I’m interested in trying other COSRX products.
Step 5: Night cream. I love a really rich cream for my face at night. My favorite for the past year or so has been the CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream ($16.99 at Ulta). This stuff is just so good. A little goes a long way and packs a powerful punch of hydration. It contains hyaluronic acid and niacinimide, both great hydrating ingredients. I don’t use an eye cream; this cream is hydrating enough to be used as one.
Step 6: Face oils. Apply your face oil after moisturizer. Every time. Oils can penetrate through moisturizer, but not the other way around. Oils applied over moisturizer can also seal in the moisture, rather than creating a barrier between the lotion and your skin. I currently use Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil ($105……….yeah) which I won’t be repurchasing because I haven’t really seen a big difference. Anyone have any good face oil recommendations?
Step 7: Spot treat. I like Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion ($17.00 at Ulta) to treat individual breakouts. It works for me, but I will say I don’t get many breakouts and they usually aren’t that bad when I do get them. So your mileage may vary.