I mentioned on Instagram stories last week that, after many years of trial and error I have finally landed on a skincare routine that really works for me.
I had several requests to share what the routine was – enough that I figured it was worth a quick blog post to lay things out for you. As I started typing it out, I realized it feels a little extensive, but this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had what I would consider good skin, so I’m not complaining!
Before I dive into the details, a few notes:
- I don’t recommend trying more than one new product at a time. I learned the hard way that if I buy and try out three new products and one of them reacts badly with my skin, I have no idea which one is the problem! I’ve learned to only try one new product at a time, and to use it for a minimum of three weeks before I try something else.
- Remember that what works well for me may not work well for you. I tried to copy several different people’s routines and it never really worked. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to everything, and patience is really the name of the game here.
- I do still have occasional breakouts (especially around my period). But, now that I’ve learned the best methods for dealing with them, they don’t last as long and they don’t tend to spread. I’ll detail exactly what I do below!
Let’s dive in, shall we?
My Morning Skincare Routine
- I start by washing my face with Clinique’s Mild Liquid Face Soap.I’ve also had great luck with their Acne Solutions Cleansing Gel, but this stuff is so much more affordable and works just as well for me.
- I follow that up with a homemade toner of 50% Apple Cider Vinegar and 50% water. This is a key step for me, and I’ve learned that if I skip it for even a few days my skin gets a little angry.
- I currently use Clinique’s Smart Custom Eye Repair Treatment in the morning and evening. Just one tiny drop all around my eyes. I really really love it, but when I run out I will probably try to find something a little cheaper (though, I will note I’ve had my bottle for 6 months and have used it every morning and night, and it’s not empty yet!).
- Finally, I use Garnier SkinActive Moisturizer – it has an SPF of 30 and never ever ever breaks me out. I’ve considered upgrading to a “nicer” morning moisturizer, but I’ve used this one for years and it’s never let me down, so I’m sticking with it!
- I also have recently started mixing in a couple of drops of Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops with my moisturizer. It adds a really subtle glow, and doesn’t break me out at all. Last summer I used the St. Tropez Face Mist and I also really loved that!
After that, I’m ready for makeup!
I’ll note that if you struggle with acne and are looking for a new routine, it’s 100% worth it to look at your skincare and your makeup. I noticed a huge difference when I switched over to Bare Minerals BAREPRO Foundation (and I use their Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer on days when I want lighter coverage – I use this a lot in the summer months!) . I use Tarte ShapeTape for my concealer, and those two products have never let me down in terms of good coverage while also keeping my skin clear. Many other foundations and concealers I’ve tried have really irritated my skin, so these are definitely must-haves in my makeup bag.
And finally, I highly (HIGHLY!) recommend picking a day or two of the week where you do not wear makeup at all. Since last March I’ve gotten into a habit of not wearing any makeup on the weekends (and I often pick a third day during the week to skip it too), and my skin is much happier for it.
My Evening Skincare Routine
- On days when I’m wearing makeup, I start by wiping it off with Garnier Micellar Water. I’ve tried a lot of makeup removal techniques over the years (including those fancy washcloths that are supposed to remove it with just water), and this is the only thing that doesn’t cause breakouts for me. I use it with a plain cotton pad – those makeup removing washcloths broke me out constantly, so this is the best method for me.
- I follow it up by washing my face with Clinique’s Mild Liquid Face Soap again. If it’s a day where I’m not wearing makeup, I just start here.
- After I dry my face, I use The Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid. It’s super affordable (as are all of their products), and has done a really great job at preventing breakouts. This is one of my ride or die products, for sure.
- I give that about 30 seconds to a minute to dry, and then I apply Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil. This is the most expensive product in my routine but it’s 100% worth it and it will never not be a part of my routine. It does a fantastic job of soothing redness and irritation and preventing breakouts. If I’m dealing with any breakouts at all, I also use a small drop of this as a spot treatment during my morning routine, and it helps them go away much faster! It’s a pricey product but it lasts forever, and it’s so so worth it.
- Again, I also use Clinique’s Smart Custom Eye Repair Treatment in the evenings – it’s fantastic, but I’m going to test a new one after I’m done with it to see if I can find a more affordable alternative.
- Finally, I moisturize with Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. I’m not married to this particular product, but it doesn’t break me out so I’m happy! When I run out of this one, I may try to find something new – I’m a believer in as much moisture as possible for your skin, and this one is fine but not quite as moisturizing as I’d like.
My Favorite Masks
The last piece of the puzzle here is two masks that I do every single week. These have made a big difference for me, and I 100% notice a difference if I skip using them even once or twice.
- Twice a week (usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays), I use Clinique’s Acne Control Clearing Mask for just 5 minutes. A little of this goes a long way – don’t feel like you need to pile it on. If I’m having a particularly rough week, I’ll sometimes add in a third application. This stuff is so good. I apply this mask in the evenings after washing my face but before doing any other steps of my routine.
- And once a week, usually on Saturday mornings, I’ll do The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. I do it after washing my face and applying toner, but before applying my moisturizer. Make sure your face is fully dry before applying this mask! It will sting a little if you have any active breakouts, and you’ll look a little scary for 10 minutes or so, but your skin will feel so soft and glowy afterwards.
- I haven’t added this to my routine yet, but the next product I plan to try is Clinique’s Moisture Surge Overnight Mask. I got a sample of their Moisture Surge Lotion and I fell in love with it, but it’s a bit expensive for me. This feels like a good way to have something similar at a more affordable price point. When I try it, I plan to do it on Saturday evenings to add some extra moisture after the peeling mask!
- Finally, I really love this Aztec Healing Clay. I ran out and haven’t replaced it in a while, but when I have it on hand I like to do it weekly, and it works wonders on breakouts. I’ll even use it as a spot treatment mask for stubborn acne. Just be sure to mix it with Apple Cider Vinegar, not water. It’s much more effective that way!
When I have breakouts
I do still have occasional breakouts, but now that I’ve spent all this time figuring the best routines and systems out, I know exactly how to deal with them.
- First of all, DON’T TOUCH! I know you know this. I know this. We all know this. It’s so hard. But just don’t do it.
- When I notice a breakout coming, I start applying the Sativa Seed Oil as a spot treatment directly to the affected area in the mornings. I do this until it is fully gone.
- Every evening, I use one of these Acne Patches on any pimples, and I leave them on overnight. They’re magic, especially if you have any acne that has broken open. These are 100% a must-have for me, and they’re so affordable too.
- And finally, when I’m struggling with a breakout I will add in a third day of my Acne Control Clearing Mask.It does a great job of clearing up my skin, and it’s gentle enough that my skin never gets irritated with an extra application.
And that’s what I’m currently doing!
This routine has taken me multiple years of trial (and error) to nail down, and my skin is currently the healthiest and clearest it has ever been!
I’ll remind you that I didn’t buy all of these products at once (and I don’t recommend you do that either!). It’s been a very long process of buying and trying one thing at at time until I finally landed on this routine.
If you’re struggling to find a new skincare routine, here’s what I recommend (keeping in mind I’m not an expert, this is just what finally worked for me):
- Start by dropping everything you’re doing. Go down to the very basics and do nothing but wash your face, remove your makeup, and moisturize. Do this for at least 2-ish weeks to give your skin some time to detox and settle. Play around with different cleansers and moisturizers until you find a combination that you like and doesn’t make your skin worse.
- Then, you can start adding in one new product at a time. If I was starting fresh, I would start by adding in the Apple Cider Vinegar Toner (because it’s so affordable), and then the Kiehl’s Sativa Seed Oil. Those are my two biggest must-haves, and it’s a good combo for morning and night.
- Keep (slowly) adding and testing products until you find the sweet spot where your skin is happy!
I hope this helps for those of you who are still struggling – just know this was not a short road for me. I started looking for a new routine in earnest shortly after Grant was born, and didn’t really settle on all of this until a few months ago, about 2.5 years later. Hopefully the process is much shorter for you – I made a lot of mistakes (like trying multiple products at once) so you don’t have to!
Let me know if you have any questions, or any incredible nighttime moisturizer and eye cream suggestions!