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.
1-2 nights a week: Kiehl’s Deep Wrinkle Concentrate or BeautyCounter Overnight Peel. These two products are pretty interchangeable. The Kiehl’s is more effective but the Beautycounter one is clean.
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.
after a lot of travel: The Clark’s Botanicals Moisture Mask is my holy grail when I get home from a trip. The Jet Lag mask is great for that too.
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.
I like how specific you are! Thanks for sharing your skincare routine! ✨
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
You’re so welcome – thanks Charmaine!
Bookmarking this post! As someone who recently turned 41 anti-aging or at the least anti-skin dulling is my priority as well and I like the way you stepped through the routine – thank you! Looking forward to reading how it changes or if it does in the winter months. Excited to try the Herbivore’s Bakuchiol Serum and Ole H Banana Bright next 🙂
Let me know how you like them!
This is SO helpful, thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I feel like I have a really solid routine with cleanser, toner, moisturizer, eye cream, vitamin C and masks, but I’ve been wanting to incorporate the Honeymoon Glow and the Bakuchiol. I just wasn’t sure where they fit in, so this is amazing!
You’re so welcome – I’m glad it was helpful!
Thanks for this brilliant pieces of advice. I’ll try to implement them into my life.
This is extra, but also incredible. I honestly wish I dedicated this much time to my skin. I go in waves with it and have way too many products here to not use them enough, no excuse except laziness. I recently got the Sunday Riley retinol and loving it. I also am a huge toner fan and the one by Pixi is great! Noting the Farmacy Honeymoon Glow for the next Sephora sale. Thanks for all of this.
Let me know how you like it! Sidebar: would not recommend the Honeymoon Glow with the Pixi Glow Toner – it would be a lot of acids at once (I see Pixi Glow more as an acid than a toner – it’s strong!!!!)
I am in need of a new toner and will give the Acwell one a try! I’m a huge fan of the Farmacy Honeymoon glow, the Indie Lee cleanser, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, and the Jet Lag mask. Thank you Grace!!!
Ah we have so many favs! I LOVE the acwell toner. It’s so so good. I hope you like it as much as I do; keep me posted!
This is ENORMOUSLY helpful!
I am so happy to hear that! Thank you 🙂
Such a helpful post, thank you so much 🙂 I think you may have finally convinced me to give the SK-II Essence a try (I already use P50, Kiel’s wrinkle cream, & Dr. Bader)!
Oh you must; it’s a good one!
Have you ever done any office treatments – like lasers or chemical peels? I am 36, no longer have big breakouts, but for most of my life, I struggled with acne (some cystic) and am living with the scars. I can’t get over the look of my skin in pictures because makeup highlights the scars, especially in pictures. I feel like I have tried every OTC product (even Tata Harper resurfacing serum, Dr. Bader Cream, AHAs, Glycolic Acid, and more) and the next step is one of the above. Looking for advice or any testimonials.
Hey Claire! I’ve done gentle peels but that’s really it.
I have very dry skin and rarely break out so I don’t have scarring.
You should check out my friend Kali’s instagram – https://www.instagram.com/myfacestory/
She’s been through a lot with acne and has tons of tips and recommendations both for skincare and makeup!!!!
Thank you for this!! I will be referring to this for a very long time! Always love your recommendations.
happy it was helpful!
You absolutely DO NOT have to lay down to Sheetmask. You are missing out.
Well I do, so maybe my face is shaped differently from yours. I like to sit at my desk and work while I mask!
I received one of the Farmacy products and loved it, hoping to try more! So I used to take Retinol when I was having a huge hormonal acne issue in my mid-twenties a few (+ more) years ago. I haven’t used it since then just because my skin feels sensitive. Have you tried Rosehip oil or heard anything about it as an alternative?
chevrons & éclairs
Hey Grace! I loved this. A good way to share this with us might be to lay out a week of skincare, so like Monday you did this in this order, Tuesday you did this, etc etc. Then it’d be super clear how you add in treatments and when to use Bader etc. Just an idea. I’m skincare obsessed, so maybe just me 🙂
I thought about that but every day is different so this format made the most sense 🙂
Great post, thanks for sharing! Curious if you’re still using the Lotion P50 and it’s just not a part of your everyday routine?
Not so much; I think it’s pretty similar to the Farmacy Honeymoon glow and perfer the honeymoon glow!
I just turned 37 and have been battling mild rosacea and eczema so I’ve been going as “clean” as I can outside of my rx treatments – Herbivore is hands down my favorite and has done wonders for my skin (dry on my chin, nose, cheeks but oily forehead and get hormonal acne around my jaw line #sigh), especially the blue tansy products as I can use them year-round! For the LONGEST time, I felt the same way as you about sunscreens but wanted to share that my skin has absolutely loved CeraVe’s Ultra-Light Moisturizing Face Lotion with Sunscreen – SPF 30. I have to do a layer of their regular moisturizing lotion then this on top, then “foundation” (I’ve been using Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 25) over that so I feel doubly protected even though I know it’s not as effective as mineral sunscreens, etc. But like you, I’m stuck in an office all day so my sun exposure is minimal in NYC even though I tell myself it’s protecting me regardless 🙂
I’m so glad you love Herbivore as much as I do! THanks for sharing your routine!
I agree with SO many of your product picks!! I love everything from Farmacy…they can truly do me no wrong. I just bought their Green Defense sunscreen and I love it…I’ve got really sensitive skin and my skin just loves it. I also love their night balm for a rich moisturizer. Thanks for sharing!
I completely agree – they are just the best!!!!
Have you heard of Melatonik? And this post is sooooooo helpful just added a bunch of stuff to my carts. Your skin looks like like you are 15 so your routine is working!
I will have to look into them, no I have not!
I agree with many of the products and also just bought a few via this post! Can you clarify ome thing. You said that on the non Dr. Bader Nights, you use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence before retinol/honeymoon glow/Kiehl’s, and a really rich moisturizer like Weleda Skin Food or oil.
Is the “moisturizer or oil” part before retinol/honeymoon/Kiehls too? Or after it?
Yes! Moisturizer is the last step! Over serums, etc. to lock in those powerful actives! I did a post about the correct order for skincare here! https://thestripe.com/correct-order-apply-skincare-products/
The Seaweed Bath Co scrub link is unavailable at Target. Is it the body scrub? Is that okay to use on your face? Thanks!
Anazon has it! https://shopstyle.it/l/92aV
Would not recommend using body scrub on your face; it’s likely too harsh!
Thank you for sharing such an informative post. Skin care is a sensitive thing and should be done properly. Enjoyed reading your routine skin care program.
Couldn’t agree more which is why I spend a lot of time reviewing every product that goes on the blog! xx
Love, love this post! 2019 has been the year of skincare for me, and your skincare posts are always my favorites!
Yay to the year of skincare! I am so happy to hear that! xx
Hello, I love this post! Thank you – I need to focus more on my skin and this is so helpful! One question – you mentioned this for night routine, “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.”
So you recommend using cleanser, toner, SK-11, retinol/honeymoon glow, and THEN moisturizer, OR cleaner, toner, SK-II, moisturizer, and then retinol/honeymoon glow. I haven’t used a retinol product in awhile but I assumed I would put that on before moisturizer.
Moisturizer is the last step! More on product order here: https://thestripe.com/correct-order-apply-skincare-products/
Also recommend checking out the new beauty hub! thestripe.com/beauty
Hi! It might be too late to leave a comment on this post – but I am trying to make May the month I get into a good skincare routine, so I’m trying to do my research from the expert!! Question on your opinion – I’m a pediatrician and have started (due to pandemic!) taking a shower when I get home from work every day around 4pm. I have 2 little kids so am pretty active and outside and gross with them until they go to bed. Would you recommend doing my nighttime skincare after that shower? Or just washing my face again before I go to bed at night and doing it then? Not sure if washing my face three times a day is too much! This is probably a silly question, but thanks for reading!! And thanks for your blog. I love it!
Hi! Honestly, I wouldn’t stress it! I’d probably just do your nighttime skincare when you get home, as long as you aren’t putting makeup on, you rae fine!