I’ve always had a problem with consistency concerning my skincare routine. I run into two problems–either I don’t stick to an actual skincare schedule (aka, I’m lazy and sometimes will forget to wash my face before bed) or I get so eager to try out new products I get through work that I mix it up too much for my skin to ever get used to any sort of routine.
For the past four or so months, I’ve been really struggling with my skin and I couldn’t figure out why. I was suffering from bouts of acne, a trait I thought I left behind in high school, as well as skin that was lackluster and devoid of that healthy “glow” that’s so coveted. I knew I needed to stop trying to torture my skin into submission (I was exfoliating twice a day in the hopes of making my breakouts disappear, which is a big no-no) and develop a routine for myself, so for the past month and a half all my beauty brain space has been dedicated to that–and I think I’ve finally nailed it. The products I’ve included below are what I’ve been using every morning, evening and Wednesday/Sunday (for the masks and such)–these creams and oils, combined with lots and lots of water, have left my skin looking much more fresh faced than I was a few months ago. Do I still get a random breakout? Of course–but things are definitely a bit more glow-y around here! Here’s what has been working for me:
The Morning Lineup:
Murad Essential C Cleanser: I’ll be the first to admit this is more than I ever thought I’d pay for a face wash, but the amount of change I’ve seen since starting to use this a few months ago is outrageous. It has a nice bright, citrus-y scent that is a great wakeup during my morning shower, is packed with moisturizers and is specially formulated to counteract daily pollutants and free radicals, something that’s super important in the filth that can sometimes be New York City living. Bonus: it lasts forever–I know everyone says that kind of thing to justify expensive products, but I promise it’s true. I’ve already had it for almost three months and I’m not even 1/8th of the way through…and that’s using it daily!
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum: I’ve been looking to jump into the natural skincare game for a while now, so when a friend sent me some Drunk Elephant Skincare products to try, I was super excited. The daytime serum, which is infused with fruit enzymes and anti-aging ingredients, is definitely one of the favorites in my vanity right now. Can you believe that at almost 25 years old, I’ve never used anti-aging products? I know, probably pretty dumb of me. I guess I just never trusted what they were promising, but I’ve definitely noticed younger looking skin after weeks of using this serum.
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Face Oil: If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought of face oils only as a very expensive way to ensure yourself a breakout, right? I was terrified of skin oil in the past, even though everyone told me not to be. Once I sat down and learned the benefits of it, it was still hard for me to find a face oil that didn’t turn me into a pre-teen again. Truthfully, one of my problems the past few months is that my face has been starved for moisture. Using this oil, or a Josie Maran one (which I’ll talk about a bit later) has made me realize just how parched my skin was. I combo this with the day serum and can usually go without makeup to work (but I don’t know if that’s really saying much, since I typically don’t wear a ton of makeup anyways).
Kate Somerville 24-Hour Pimple Punisher: Yes, using a product called the “pimple punisher” is exactly as gratifying as you’re imagining it to be. I just picture this little cream kicking any blemish’s ass when I dab it on, and that’s just what it does–the stick has an “a.m.” side, which is clear, and a “p.m.” side, which is more of a milky white. I notice that if I spot treat a pimple with this in the morning, it will usually shrink down in 12 to 24 hours. One gripe: the “a.m.” clear cream makes the spot on your skin a bit shiny and obvious, so you still have to layer on a bit of concealor to cover it up.
Clinique All About Eyes Cream: I call this little guy a miracle in a jar, and I’ve been reccommending it to friends for years. It truly is the best under eye cream on the market, in my opinion. I dab this on with my ring finger (need to be delicate!) in the mornings when I get out of the shower to give it a bit of time to soak in, and at night after washing up (you’ll see it in the photo below, too). It completely eliminates puffiness and reduces the appearance of dark circles–vital for those weeks where I’ve clocked long nights at the office or behind the computer blogging.
The Nighttime VIPs:
Murad Clarifying Cleanser and Murad Acne Clearing Solution: As far as I’m concerned, Murad products are the gold standard when it comes to acne skincare. Their acne-specific cleanser is the perfect wash for my face after I’ve spent the day wearing makeup, accumulating grime and probably putting my hands on my face one too many times. I try to make a point to only use the cleanser at night, since in the morning, there isn’t much “grime” on my face and it can be a bit drying if used too often. The acne clearing solution is a great all-over lotion if my skin is having a particularly rough few days. It significantly reduces the appearance of existing blemishes, and stops new ones in their tracks. Again, it can be a bit drying, so if I’m only experiencing one or two problem areas, I’ll try and contain my lotion application to just those spots.
S.W. Basics Toner: I truly feel like toner is the most commonly overlooked step in a nighttime beauty routine. A good toner, like the all-natural version I have from S.W. Basics, a Brooklyn-based skincare company, can help to remove any lingering makeup or dirt post-wash, even skin tone (so you can say bye bye to those dark spots your old blemishes left behind) and balance the ph of your skin, leaving you less oily. This is a step I’m learning I should never skip!
Drunk Elephant T.L.C Night Serum: Truth be told, I never used to put anything on (besides a salicylic acid cream) my skin before bed time. Like a lot of other women, I overlooked the fact that the 8 hours (ahem, or 7 or 6…) of sleep we get a night is the time where our skin has the biggest opportunity to rejuvinate itself. This night serum from Drunk Elephant goes to work with a bunch of alpha hydroxy acids (fancy speak for little resurfacing tools) to slough away dull, dead skin and reveal the fresh complexion below. I honestly sometimes wake up looking like I just got a facial. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s so true!
There When You Need ‘Em Groupies:
Josie Maran Argan Oil Cleanser: Sometimes, when I’m feeling in need of a little pampering, I’ll wash with this argan oil cleanser. It smells amazing, and leaves my skin super soft!
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate: All I can say is, thank god Sephora includes this little tube in their “you know you wanna buy it” display section leading up to the cashier. I picked up the small version (I believe it’s $17 dollars?) on a whim one day because I had heard good things, and immediately became hooked. I usually do this quick mask (you only leave it on for 2-5 minutes) once a week to breath a little fresh life into my complexion. I haven’t really felt the need to buy the full-sized much more expensive version yet, because really the little guy works just fine for me. I end up going through a tube every four or so months.
Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask: Another mask I’ll do probably once a week (usually on a Sunday night). The thick black mask digs deep to remove a whole bunch of gunk and blackhead-forming crap from your pores–plus, it’s really fun to put the mask on, send funny pictures via text and try and scare your roommates. Not that I do that…
Kate Somerville EradiKate: Warning: this product actually smells horrible. I wouldn’t recommend it for the nights when you’re looking to impress someone special, but if you’re alone and don’t mind smelling a bit of sulfur while you nix those ugly, blotchy, red blemishes (especially the ones that are really deep and painful), then this is the product for you. If you dot enough on your face (using a Q-tip dipped into the jar), you usually look like you’re treating chicken pox.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF: Mother Nature hasn’t provided me with much of an opportunity to try out this sunscreen yet, but I’m keeping it on-hand for when the warmer weather hits and I’m looking for an all-natural sunscreen that will protect and heal my skin without any of the irritants that I seem to be extra sensitive to (I always break out in rashes when it comes to sunscreen). I’ve also found that Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen works great on sensitive skin!
top image, kristina soljo for yen magazine
**Please note, I was given the Drunk Elephant products to try out, but I truly fell in love with the line and have been using them constantly. I recommend them whole heartedly, along with everything else here!