A few notes about my skin in its current state:
- my skin is typically combination-oily, with some dehydration and dryness in the winter
- my biggest concerns right now are texture and hydration
- I take birth control (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone, oral) and get a very mild hormonal breakout once a month
- I tend to have very persistent post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) and in general, any mark on my skin can be pretty obvious
- my skin isn't super sensitive, but it can be fussy - I don't react to much, but when I do, I react pretty poorly
- I have a tendency to pick at my skin and always regret it - I've gotten better but do regress when I'm stressed
These are pictures of my face without makeup from this morning. You can see that I have some PIE from my healing breakout brought on by The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (which I mentioned on Instagram and have ceased using). I also have some redness around my nose, and am a little dry around my mouth right now.
Before I went on birth control when I was 18, I had moderate acne throughout most of my teens - not bad enough to warrant Accutane, but enough to make me self-conscious. It started to clear up when I was 16-17, but I don't actually know what my skin would look like as an adult without being on the pill. I assume a combination of growing up and using a hormonal medication have changed the state of my skin in the last ~8 years. I don't have perfect skin, but I don't have overly problematic skin, so what this routine does isn't create miracles. I'm fairly consistent with my routine, and can't actually remember a day I haven't done it in the last year.
- Wash my face with Glossier Milky Jelly. I've been using it as my morning cleanse for about three months now, after finishing up my favourite Marcelle Comforting Cleansing Milk. Milky Jelly is fine, but it's more expensive, and the Marcelle cleanses + gives a dose of moisture.
- Put on sunscreen. Currently I'm trying out Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++. It's okay, it works well enough and doesn't interfere with my skin or makeup, It's got a texture like a light moisturizer, but it doesn't feel especially moisturizing. It doesn't leave a cast and has a slightly mattifying finish. I'll be going back to my favourite, Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk SPF 50+ PA++++, which has a slight blurring effect and makes me look...well, brighter.
- I let my sunscreen absorb for 5-10 minutes before putting on my moisturizer, Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer. This is my favourite skincare find from 2017. It gives me a lightweight dose of moisture, keeps the oil that likes to make my T-zone shiny at bay all day, and works as a great primer. Plus it's $10.
- I usually put on a layer of lip balm and let it sink into my lips while I eat breakfast, put the bare minimum effort into styling my hair, do my makeup, and then I wipe it off before putting on lipstick. I've been using Geek Fire lip balm in Mother of Dragons, which is perfectly fine. Not my favourite, but it does the trick.
- Remove my makeup with Bioderma Hydrabio H20 Micellar Water. I used to use Sensibio, but my mom got me Hydrabio for Christmas 2016 and I like it much better. It's more effective and and yes, hydrating. I don't wear waterproof mascara or eyeliner, so I rest the cotton pad with Hydrobio on my eye for a few seconds and it gets it all off.
- Wash my face with Formula 10.0.6 Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser. Every so often I will use NIOD Sanskrit Saponins instead, since it's a very intense clean, and I don't like to use it every day. The Formula 10.0.6 is a good cleanser for the end of the day - it's bright and fruity and leaves my skin feeling clean and not being stripped. I usually rinse off my cleanser in the shower, since I prefer to shower in the evening.
- Once I get out of the shower, I use Pixi Glow Tonic. I mentioned my brief foray with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which I had hoped would be a much cheaper version of that step in my routine, but obviously not. The Glow Tonic does give me a glow, and is a good, light exfoliator, even if the pH may not be optimal.
- Every other night, I use The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. I'm basically using this to see its effects in 20 years, but it also does have the side benefit of helping keep my skin clear and I had no purging, so yay.
- Once a week, on a night I'm not using my retinoid, I do a stronger acid, CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. It helps deal with some texture and smooths my skin. I let it sink in for about 20 minutes before using the next layer.
- Next up is Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream. I didn't notice the effects of this until I went without. My skin loves snail - it's magic on blemishes, it plumps and hydrates my skin, and it even combats redness.
- I've been using The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG on my undereyes for the better part of a year, but honestly I don't know if it's doing much. It's dirt-cheap and a bottle lasts forever and at least two people have told me I look more awake since I've been using it, but I don't have really bad undereye circles or puffiness to combat to begin with. I'm going to finish this one and probably dispense with using it. I bring my moisturizer into my eye area anyway.
- My last layer is The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which is sometimes supplemented with The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane when I need a boost of extra moisture. I really like NMF: it's not too heavy, but is really moisturizing and doesn't feel too greasy.
- Night lip balm is currently Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, which I have a sample pot of. I'm also working through the remainder of my Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cocoa Butter, but my real love is Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm. I'll be going back to that once I finish the others.
I'm pretty The Ordinary-heavy right now, which I expect to change once I work through the backups I've stocked up on while Deciem is imploding. If that continues, I'll be looking for dupes for my staples here.
The last part of my skincare routine is masks. I like to do masks a few times a week, usually during the week as a self-care/relaxation tool. And also to boost my skincare. My favourite mask is a DIY honey mask, courtesy of Lena of Faceonomics. I mix 3 parts of raw honey, 1 part Formula 10.0.6 Keep Your Cool Skin Calming Gel Mask, and three pumps of CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. I keep it on for at least an hour, and then I see real effects: lots of hydration, lots of smoothing and evening my skintone, and reduction of any breakouts I might have.
I usually have a few sheet masks around for a treat - I like trying them but have never found any that did anything drastic or different from others I've tried. I also find them a little wasteful so try not to use them regularly - it's a once in a while splurge kind of thing.
I also keep a couple of clay masks around. Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack is my favourite - it has all the oil-reducing power of a clay mask but doesn't leave my skin tight or dry feeling. I also like Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure Skin Clarifying Mud Mask - it smells really good and is a decent budget clay mask. It also tingles while drying down, so as a believer in "if it stings, it's working," I appreciate that.
Anyway, that's it. It feels like a lot of steps, and my partner likes to occasionally whine about how long it takes (which is not that long and honestly, cleaning my contacts takes longer, so there), but it's a nice few minutes of relaxation and routine.