Monday, June 12, 2017

Lotions and potions

My skin is in better shape now than I think it's ever been. I've had super oily blemish-prone skin for most of my life, and in the past year or so it's been clearer and more balanced than it's been since I hit puberty. I thank/blame this on finally getting a beauty routine that works for me, heavily influenced by the skincare blogs I started reading a few years ago, followed by some trial and error. Increasing my water intake and cutting all soda/pop I think helped as well.

A couple of friends noticed the improvement in my skin and asked me to share what I'm using, so here goes. I do know it's kind of excessive, but it works for me, and as I've mentioned before, skincare and makeup are one of my favorite pastimes. I would highly recommend a routine of cleanse/acid toner/essence/serum/moisturizer using products targeted to your skin needs. What works for me won't necessarily work for everyone, and I've tried to make note of things that may not work well if you have dry or sensitive skin.

  • SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick a buddy that went to Korea a couple of years ago brought this back and shared it with me, and it quickly became one of my favorite K-Beauty products. I love many things about it: it's gentle, it cleanses without drying, it's easy to travel with, and it smells great. Perks me up in the morning. I use it with a konjak sponge - I've been using a konjak sponge to apply cleanser for a few years now, and I really do think it's helped more effectively dislodge, dirt, oil, and blackheads, so that's one I would recommend to use with any cleanser.
  • After cleaning, I like to go in with an acid toner to exfoliate/improve skin texture. In the mornings, I'm currently using The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution, although I wouldn't recommend it if you have very sensitive or dry skin. I first heard of this brand via my beloved Caroline Hiron's blog. They make targeted, and very affordable, skincare, so this one of the few things currently in my rotation that doesn't cause sticker shock. 
  • I like to follow up the acid toner with a hydrating mist, and current favorite is the Whamisa Organic Flowers Facial Mist. This is a K-Beauty product that I discovered while perusing the Costco website, and it has become a favorite, since I've noticed it helps balance out my skin and it smells lovely...and I appreciate any extra little perk in the morning.
  • Dermadoctor Kakadu C Serum is another Costco website find. I started incorporating Vitamin C serums into my routine about a year ago after reading about all its benefits, and saw results so I kept using them. Vitamin C helps stimulate new collagen, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, helps reduce visible discolorations on the skin, and provides enhanced protection against UV exposure. I can't say this particular Vitamin C serum is the best, but at the Costco price point, it's the best/most affordable I've found. The Ordinary has an affordable Vitamin C serum I may try next.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes is a holy grail product for me. I get itchy if I start running low, and I always stock up when there is a sale at Sephora, because the pricetag on this stuff kills me. I blame the aforementioned Caroline Hirons for my desire to try this. She raved about it, and I have to say, for me, it's been a game changer. It's a lactic acid treatment that clarifies, smooths, and retexturizes - I noticed a change in my skin after just a few days of use.  To me it's worth worth all the bottles of nail polish I cannot buy in it's place. It does tingle, so I would be wary if you have really sensitive skin, but it's a product that works for dry to oily skin. 
  • Final step (unless I'm applying makeup, which adds a few more) is the Paula's Choice Resist moisturizer & spf, which is another holy grail for me. Formulated to be anti-aging AND good for oily skin, it has a very slight tint that leaves my skin feeling balanced, and not greasy at all, unlike many other moisturizing sunscreen products. I can follow up with primer if applying foundation, but all these lotions and potions have helped improve my skin so much that I can just apply some powder and I'm good to go. If I'm going to be outside for awhile, I will layer other products with SPF over it...not only because I am super pale, but because I use retinoid products at night, and I want to make sure my skin is properly protected from further damage.
  • First step in my evening routine is to take off makeup, and my current favorite for that is the Farmacy Green Clean cleansing balm, which has become a bit of an obsession - it melts away all makeup, and rinses clean with no residue, yet leaves my skin so soft. It is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but I love the brand's whole philosophy of a marriage between nature and science. 
  • I have become quite the fan of the Korean double-cleanse method, so I follow-up the balm with a quick rinse using a water-based cleanser. Currently my go-to for this step is First Aid Beauty's Face Cleanser, which I find to be a nice gentle cleanser that rinses off completely and doesn't leave my skin feeling dry/tight, which is what I'm looking for in this step.
  • A few days a week I will throw in an extra step, either or a mask or an exfoliating scrub. For masks, my current favs are both from K-Beauty brand SKINFOOD. For scrub, I'm loving the Black Sugar Perfect Scrub Foam, which smells sweet and lovely, and goes from scrub to foam. For masks I'm enjoying their Bitter Green Clay Smoothing Mask
  • As in the morning, I follow-up cleansing with an acid toner. In the evenings, my current go-to are the Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme, which contain glycolic, salicylic acid and lactic acids, and I think help prep my skin for other treatments. I love these, and they are sold at drugstores, which means they can often be found on sale.
  • Like I do in my A.M. routine, I like to follow up acid with a hydrating spritz. In the evenings, I like to use either the Murad Hydrating Toner or one of my K-Beauty favs, the MISSHA First Treatment Essence Mist. (I love that you can get some MISSHA products via the Target website now.) A couple of times a week I will go for a sheet mask for some extra treatment/mositure - my current stash is all from Leaders Cosmetics
  • Kate Somerville Anti Bac Lotion is another less-than-affordable product I swear by, especially if you have blemish-prone skin. Since I started using this stuff regularly, I rarely get breakouts anymore, other than at that special time of the month. So like Good Genes, I always have to have a backup on hand just in case, because I never want to run out, and I stock up when I see a sale. For a product with benzoyl peroxide in it I don't find it to be drying, but I would not recommend this if you have sensitive skin. 
  • Sunday Riley Luna oil - much like the Good Genes, the pricetag on this stuff kills me, and again I blame the aforementioned Caroline Hirons for my desire to try this in the first place. This oil with a retinol complex has been designed to use at night before bed, and I do notice firmer, clearer skin by morning every time I use it. In the morning I wake with skin that looks polished and radiant, and feels softer. It's like I got a facial overnight. I use it like the precious rare oil it is, and have taken advantage of every discount available to me at the time to buy it, but even with that, it cannot be considered affordable. 
  • On the nights I don't use Luna (because I'm trying to make that preciousness last), I use Differin as my retinol product. Although it's marketed as an acne medication, it's a retinoid, so it's great for anti aging too. And unlike the Luna oil, you can buy this at a drugstore and it won't break the bank. Also unlike the Luna, it's a gel that is not at all hydrating so I will follow up with an oil product after. My current fav is the Caudalie Vine(Activ) Overnight Detox oil, which is nice and lightweight.
  • I will follow up whatever oil I'm using with a moisturizer. Currently obsessed with yet another K-beauty product, the Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb, which is a lovely oil-free gel-cream that absorbs instantly, and plays nicely with all my other lotions and potions. 
  • My last step in the evening is an eye cream. I've been using eye cream almost every night since my early 20s, so that's over two decades of trying to avoid crows feet. Despite the miracle promises of many, I haven't found one that I can't live without...and over the years I've tried a LOT of them, at all kinds of price points. I'm fortunate that I have managed to keep the crows feet at bay. My biggest issue are dark circles, but there isn't an eye cream out there that can cure those, you just need to invest in good concealer. As long as it's a cream that doesn't irritate my skin and feels hydrating, I'm happy enough. I'm currently using a deluxe sample size of the Caudalie Premier Cru eye cream, which came in a set I purchased and works fine at keeping the skin around my eyes hydrated, but when I run out I'll move on to something else, since I don't think it's worth the price point. 

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