I figured I’d start with something easy. I’ve been working on my face for a long time now and it’s time to act like an expert, okay? But really, I’m only an expert on my own skin. So read the ground rules, settle in, and get ready to spend at least twenty minutes a day on your face. I promise, you have time.
One of the fancier things I did was give up my manicure budget (about $100 some months, depending on whether I did the gel thing or got my toes done) and put it towards professional facials. Ideally, you’re getting a facial once every four weeks. It helps with skin turnover and resets/jumpstarts your home routine and all that. BUT WHO HAS TIME OR MONEY FOR THAT? My facials run me about $175, plus tip, and then I spend another $50 or so in products while I’m there. Last year, I got three facials. This year, I will probably only be able to afford two.
There is much (MUCH) to be said about what you do at home. A one-time fancy treatment cannot take care of everything. But even aestheticians get facials, y’all. I don’t know all of the things my girl does to my skin, but I do believe it’s magic. She is also incredibly helpful at identifying what type of skincare I need at home, another reason to get thee to a professional STAT.
So, the routine. At home, I wash my face twice a day and do not touch it in between. I try not to reapply makeup and if I have to so much as adjust my glasses, I do it with the back of my knuckle. My mom always told me her daddy always told her, “a lady should never touch her face.” I am a rule follower. I also wear sunscreen every single day of the year, no matter what. I wear a hat every single time I go out in the sun during the summer. I’m a freckle-faced gal, and those freckles began joining together as soon as I turned thirty. I’m also the fruit of two sun-loving, skin cancer-surviving family tree branches, so I’ve got to be careful.
In the morning, I wash with a cream cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, moisturizer, and sunscreen. In the evening, I remove my makeup with coconut oil and rinse off. Then I wash with a decongesting cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, eye cream, eyebrow growth serum, moisturizer, and a sleeping pack – an even heavier moisturizer to lock it all in. A few times per week, I use an electronic spin brush during cleansing. Also a few times per week, I use a clay mask during the evening routine. This step falls between the toner and the serums. Also ALSO a few times per week, I perform a little at-home peel with a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids. This falls between the toner and the serums (after the mask, if I do it on the same night).
Without even knowing it, I have slipped into a Korean skincare routine. Google it! The Korean folks basically believe that every skin problem ever experienced is due to dehydration. Their experts don’t understand why we Americans implement such harsh practices like bar soap and spin brushes. They practice skincare in small, tedious, isolated steps in order to soak in each ingredient and provide maximum hydration. I have absolutely no problem addressing issues with my skin one by one. It does not feel tedious to me. It actually feels incredibly life-giving to spend a few minutes in the morning and evening taking care of my face. I close the bathroom door, turn the air vent on and grab a few peaceful, prayerful moments to myself.
As far as the other family members go? I slather my little kids in coconut oil head to toe a few nights per week, and use Lucas’ Papaw Ointment on their faces each morning and night after brushing teeth. My teenagers do their own thing but are hilariously receptive to “spa nights,” where I try my lotions and potions and masks on them. My husband washes his face nightly with just water or bar soap (I’ve tried to get him off of it, but he’s allergic to nearly everything). He follows that with a men’s moisturizer and wrinkle prevention/treatment system by RoC. He uses the same moisturizer in the morning, since it has sunscreen in it.
And now, the goods! I’m going to list some concepts and ingredients below as a down-and-dirty tutorial. I’m also going to share products I love (Glossier will get its own post soon), with links if I can find them. Some are affiliate links, which give me discounts on future purchases if you use them. No pressure. Here we go.
Cream cleanser – gentle for mornings and makeup removal. I like the milky jelly cleanser by Glossier and the gentle milk cleanser by Au Thermale Avene. I rub it on my face dry, like a lotion, and then it produces subtle suds when I add water.
Decongesting cleanser – more powerful ingredients to get things rolling for the nighttime routine. I like Skinceuticals. This bottle has lasted more than a year and I don’t think I’ll wash with anything else anytime soon. I noticed results (cleaner pores) in less than a week.
Toner – balances skin pH and preps the skin for serums. I am currently using PMD (gentle) in the morning and Revision (exfoliating) at night. I swipe on with a cotton ball after patting my face dry from washing. This is not the harsh, drying astringent stuff we killed our skin with as teens.
Serums – powerful concoctions of incredible ingredients that activate cell regeneration. They can be watery or viscous. Serums brighten, plump, tighten, attack dark spots, clear acne… you get the picture. I’m currently trying out a bunch of products by The Ordinary. They’re relatively new on the scene, and disrupting the skincare world by offering a price point 10x less than competitors. I’m very happy with Biossance, which is also affordable. My skin actually shines and glows for hours after this stuff. I have also experienced good results with Glossier Supers. The serums are non-negotiables, guys. Washing your face is really just prep for these babies.
Retinol – reduces fines lines and wrinkles, enhances the work that peels and serums do. I am currently using CVS wipes and am very pleased with the brightening effect! I apply after serums and let it dry while I brush my teeth, before moving on to the next step.
Eye cream – works on those fine lines, circle, and bags, depending on the issue you have. Circles and fine lines are my biggest issue, but I haven’t found a cream I completely love yet. I’m currently using RoC. I have very sensitive eyelids and am prone to eczema, so I typically rub Lucas’ Papaw ointment on those.
Eyebrow serum – nothing else to say except I physically and literally watched my eyebrows grow back with NeuBrow. I’ve gone through two bottles over the last two years and will not need to purchase again.
Moisturizer – seals in all of that hard work. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, which can hold a bajillion times its weight in water. It hydrates the mess out of your skin while the serums do their work. I am currently using Glossier Rich and Moon Mask as my sleeping pack.
Here are some fun, random, off-the-top-of-my-head tips… I love the occasional sheet mask for detox and hydration. You can get them really cheap on Amazon. Cutting back on dairy and increasing my water intake has drastically improved my skin, better than any skincare product I’ve found. A lot of companies and stores and spas offer samples for free, and they last for months! Just reach out. If you’re ever confused about the order in which to apply products, go thinnest to thickest. Korean products are some of the most cutting-edge and the most affordable. When I learned about their routine, I wrote down each step of the regimen and listed the products I already had that worked. For sensitivity issues, I try to only add one thing into a routine at a time. I refrain from purchasing new products until my existing items are completely used up. I try to never mess with blemishes, but I do like Mario Badescu for spot treatments.
I think that about sums it up! I hope this was helpful and not overwhelming. Personally, my skincare journey has been a joyful, exhilarating experience within the context of learning to steward my body well. It also happens to be fun and rewarding, with visible progress along the way. Icing on the cake! Now, go wash your face.