Sometimes I have a hard time reiterating my skincare routine because as I’ve gotten older I know my skin so well and what it needs. So I definitely mix it up.
But I get a lot of emails asking for an exact skincare routine. And I caveat that all I can do is share what works for me. I am not a derm, I’m not a miracle worker, I just know my skin and what it likes + doesn’t like. This comes from being very curious about skincare, being willing to be a guinea pig, and (of course) from having tried and tested a LOT of products. I have dry skin that can sometimes get oily (nose and chin). I’m 38 in 2 days so anti-aging is also a very big focus! Today I’m going to share my exact skincare routine… I’m going to try to do this at least 2-3x a year as things change (because my routine is constantly changing as I try new things!).
Before diving in a few other good posts to read are: my Dr. Bader Review, my post about wrinkles, my thoughts on retinol, why you actually do need toner, and my review of Beautycounter’s new anti-aging line. I also wrote a post about affordable skincare.
Also if you are new here and confused about what order to apply products, start with this post!
My Evening Skincare Routine.
My evening cleansing routine is pretty much always the same. I start with a cleansing balm and right now that is Farmacy Cleansing Balm. This is my favorite cleansing balm – it takes off all my makeup, it feels amazing, and it rinses clean so skin is never greasy. It’s also a lot more affordable than many other cleansing balms (so many are like $80 and I don’t like spending a lot of money on a cleanser since it’s not on your skin for very long.) I apply this to dry skin and let it really melt into my skin.Then I massage it on for 30-60 seconds to loosen any makeup.
If I am feeling like a double cleanse I will do a gel cleanser after that. I love the Farmacy Clean Bee cleanser (it’s super gentle and smells faintly of honey) or for something more purifying I will do this one from Indie Lee or this malachite one from Goop. After I cleanse, I always use toner. Toner gets off any last bits of dirt and oil and also helps to ensure your serums really sink in. My favorite is this one, from Acwell! (I talk more about toners in this blog post.)
What I do AFTER I cleanse really varies based on how my skin is feeling. It centers around retinol bc retinol is in my opinion one of the only products that makes a longterm difference with aging.
1-2 nights a week: Retinol. I am constantly trying new retinol serums for the blog (right now I’m testing the new retinoid from Wander). Sunday Riley A+ is my tried and true fav, but the Beautypie one is great too. And for something totally clean I love Herbivore’s Bakuchiol Serum.
1-2 night a week: Farmacy Honeymoon Glow (this stuff is strong but so effective – you glow like an angel the next day). I pat on face oil over afterward.
Any other night: Just plain old Dr. Bader; the rich cream. Nothing before or after.
On the non Dr. Bader Nights, I use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence before retinol/honeymoon glow/Kiehl’s, and a really rich moisturizer like Weleda Skin Food (or the lighter one) or the Primera Water Cream. Or sometimes I will do an oil. It just depends how my skin feels. My favorite oils are Vintner’s Daughter (technically a serum but I use it like an oil), or the Herbivore Emerald one. And Everyday Oil, too (I use this on my body as well).
Eye cream: I am big into eye cream right now. If it’s a Bader night I just pat on extra Dr. Bader to my crows feet, etc. Otherwise I use this one from Tatcha.
My Morning Skincare Routine.
Are you still with me? GOOD. I know this is a lot. Mornings are much more simple.
I splash my skin with water. I don’t usually wash my face since I’m so thorough at night but sometimes I wake up feeling oily so I’ll do a gel cleanser (the Clean Bee is nice as again it is SO gentle). After that I do toner, and then Dr. Bader. Right now I am testing out a new hyaluronic acid serum from Dr. Barbara Sturm (her products are a splurge but they’re DIVINE) so instead of Dr. Bader I have been doing that and then the Beautycounter soft cream.
For eye cream, I like the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright eye cream for day. I’ve talked about this before but it’s specifically formulated to work WITH your concealer so there’s no yucky cakiness.
You’re going to crucify me but I don’t wear a separate sunscreen every day unless I am going to be in direct sun – I use Beautycounter Dew Skin pretty frequently and that has an SPF. I’m not in the sun very much, and I just don’t like how mineral sunscreen feels on my face and I won’t use a chemical one. If I am going to be outside for more than a 10 minute walk I do put on this Coola CC cream – I like that it’s matte and not greasy at all.
My Favorite Treatments!
I get asked a lot how often I do a mask or a treatment. This really just depends on what’s going on with my skin/life. In an ideal world I would do a mask 2-3 nights a week but frankly, I often forget!
favorite face scrubs: I love the Seaweed Bath Co scrub! It’s the best scrub, clean, and really affordable. I do this whenever my skin feels rough (a couple times a week?)
before a big night: There’s nothing better than the Tata Harper resurfacing mask. After that I’ll put on something super hydrating that I can tissue off, like the Sisley Black Rose Mask or Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. I love a good tissue off mask before an event. Your skin is plumped up and glowy and foundation+concealer goes on really evenly.
sheet masks: I’m actually not a huge fan of sheet masks bc you have to lay down to do them. I do love the SK-II sheet mask; it’s incredible… your skin looks noticeably more even, glowy, firm, etc. after using this.
when I need a good deep clean: Sometimes my skin just feels oily and gross. The Tata Harper clarifying mask is great for that (I’ll even just put it on oily spots like my chin and nose).
Closing Notes / Product Testing Process.
The above products are my CORE products. I know the evening routine is particularly complicated; you don’t need to have all those things (for example you could probably choose between the Kiehls + Honeymoon Glow/Beautycounter Peel; they’re pretty similar with what they do). You’d probably even be fine just doing a regular night cream most nights and retinol 2x a week. I am extra with my skincare routine.
I generally try to test just one or two new things at a time. For example for my project with Sephora I replaced my retinol with Bakuchiol two nights a week for a month to see if it measured up to my beloved Sunday Riley (it did), and only used the Primera Water Cream (instead of Skin Food). My core routine is so tried and true/effective that it’s really easy to tell when something doesn’t measure up (or surpasses my expectations). In a perfect world I would test every single product for at least a month or two but my standard is a two week minimum.
I make exceptions, too, depending on the product – for example, Beautycounter’s new anti-aging line is several products that all work together so I used the whole line together when I tested that.
photo by Carter Fish.