Skincare: it’s hard to deny the difference a regular skincare routine makes in the overall appearance and health of our skin, especially on the face and neck. Sure, genes and lifestyle choices play a big factor in our appearance as we get older. Plenty of water and diet are the first line of defense against premature aging and poor health: what you put inside your body is of course the most important factor, but what you put on the outside comes in a close second (see my post about safer skincare). Cleansing, treating, and hydrating the skin are one of my favorite ways to treat myself every day. If I don’t pay attention to these aspects each week, I definitely notice an increase in dehydration, dullness, large pores, and fine lines.
With the exception of a few, these are the products I’ve been turning back to over and over for the past year or so. I do not use all of these products twice every single day! I’ve tried that approach too, and it’s just too many constant layers for my complexion; it’s unnecessary and can get expensive. Instead, I pay attention to my skin’s needs and adjust my skincare accordingly. I cleanse my skin at least once a day, exfoliating my whole face twice a week. I’ve learned that if I spot exfoliate 3-4 times a week, I can avoid the blackheads that tend to to form so quickly on my nose and chin. Keep reading for my regular skincare routines and favorite products.
CLEANSING & MAKE-UP REMOVAL
I’ve been reading it in magazines, books and interviews for practically forever: take off your makeup before bed! Never sleep in makeup! It’s an important rule, and a good one. Well, I’ll be the first to admit, that occasionally I don’t do it. I’m not perfect! But most nights I cleanse my combination skin thoroughly with a gentle but effective foaming cleanser. If my skin is feeling dry or extra spackled with makeup and grime, I’ll double cleanse by using an oil first. In the mornings I usually spot-cleanse my T-zone with foaming cleanser or just rinse my face. During summer when my skin is oilier and my skin is tolerating more sunscreen and sweat, I definitely wash my face twice a day.
- CLEANSING OIL/BALM: I used to use coconut oil, and I admit I love the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm too much to actually use it as a cleanser. For the past few months I’ve been loving 100% Pure Blood Orange Cleansing Balm because of it’s gloriously luxurious blend of skin-loving oils and the barrier-forming properties of shea butter and beeswax. And because it smells so good! When I’ve worn more makeup than usual or just feel extra grimy, I warm a dollop of cleansing balm in my fingers and massage over my face. I’m always up for some exfoliation, so I usually remove it with a muslin cloth. Then I double cleanse with a gentle, non-drying foaming cleanser.
- FOAMING CLEANSER: My top favorite cleanser, Beautycounter’s Rejuvenating Cleanser, is being re-manufactured so I’ve had to find alternatives for now. I picked up a bottle of Avalon Organics Brilliant Balance Cleansing Gel last summer on a trip and have been liking it very much for now, which is good because it has been lasting forever. Cleansers are only on your skin for a matter of seconds, so I don’t count on them for fancy anti-aging or firming benefits. I just want a cleanser that foams and lifts away dirt and oil without stripping my skin or leaving it feeling tight, dry, or burning.
- PURIFYING CLEANSER: I use the Charcoal Cleansing Bar by Beautycounter on my face 2-3 times per week in the shower, and more often in summertime. Charcoal soap purifies the skin by helping to deep cleanse and remove toxins. This stuff leaves my skin literally squeaky-clean, but somehow not dry or flaky. I also use it on my armpits and zit-prone back every day (read the review here). This is a cute round sample bar shown in the photos, but the regular bars are square and last for months as long as you don’t leave them sitting in water between uses.
I have tried all the face scrubs, BHA/AHA cleansers, cream exfoliators, and I always just turn back to gentle manual exfoliation. I use a piece of exfoliating cloth with my foaming cleanser so I can really get into the nooks and crannies and control the pressure and amount of exfoliation. I find it so much more effective than products with little “beads” in them. You can find cleansing cloths like this online or at many health food stores and markets. I bought a body-size one years and years ago and snip off a new square a few times a year. It’s the most economical tip in my arsenal! I cut a little hole in one corner so I can hang it from my cleanser bottle.
For the drier, more delicate skin on my cheeks and neck, I am very gentle and only exfoliate once or twice a week. The thicker, oily skin on my T-zone will develop blackheads and/or flakiness pretty quickly, so I exfoliate more thoroughly every other shower to keep my skin clear and smooth. I don’t use the cloth on my lips. Instead, I make a quickie lip scrub up fresh each day by keeping a little container of sugar in my bathroom cabinet. I swipe my finger over the old Herbivore lip balm a friend gave me (mmm, rose…) and then dip it into the sugar. I rub this over my lips for a minute, rinse quickly, and apply more balm if needed.
TREATMENT & HEALING
I’ve always loved treatments, but now I appreciate the importance of non-toxic products that are gentle and sustainable. As a former retinol user (Goodbye, Sunday Riley blue…), I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a product to replace it with. But my skin actually rebounded and has been much healthier since I stopped using it! Instead, I rely on targeted moisturizers, serums, and powerful essential oils to prevent and reduce fine lines, age spots, and improve clarity.
- Beautycounter Rejuvenating Radiance Serum became my favorite last year, when I stopped using BareMinerals. The Rejuvenating Serum is gentle enough for daily use, but still packs in the antioxidants, clarifying fruit acids, and age-fighting marine extracts. The results aren’t drastic like a peel or anything, but I swear I can tell a difference when I don’t bother using this. It’s the first product I put on after cleansing almost every morning and night. One pump is enough for my face and neck. Any extra product left over on my hands I always apply to my forearms and backs of my hands. No need to let it go to waste!
- Beautycounter Rejuvenating Eye Cream is an extra step I added last year, because why the hell not? Everyone needs help in that area, especially me with the bags and growing web of smile lines! This cream is my favorite because a teeny tiny bit goes a long way, delivers skin-boosting benefits through marine extracts and caffeine, hydrates well yet sinks in quickly, and wears well under makeup. I tap about half a pea-sized amount around my eye area, morning and night.
- a DIY blend of dōTERRA certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils: Frankincense and Geranium. These oils have been used for thousands of years to promote skin health and beauty. I made up a small bottle and it’s lasted for a long time. I add a drop or two of this to my fingertips and lightly pat over the extra-troublesome areas that are forming fine lines or spots. Or I’ll add a drop or two to my regular facial oil after applying serum. Frankincense essential oil, also known as Boswellia extract, packs powerful anti-inflammatory and regenerative qualities that can help protect and renew skin cells. Geranium essential oil contains clarifying, toning, and all-around skin-loving benefits as well. (Editor’s Note** I wish I hadn’t added the seven drops of Lavender to this blend; it’s a little strong around the eyes for the first few minutes!)
Facial oils are where it’s at for me. Once I found that my makeup stayed on and even looked better after long wear, I never bothered to repurchase a face lotion. What’s purpose of those fillers, films, and sticky build-up? If you’ve ever experienced greasy skin after applying a facial oil, perhaps you have applied too much or chose the wrong formula for your skin! I rub a few drops of facial oil around between my fingers and then press the oil slowly into my skin. No rubbing, tugging, or crazy pulling here! Just pats and light pressure. I use this time as a sort of mini massage as well, pressing and lifting the skin and muscles. Mmm, it all feels and smells so good!
- My Beautycounter Facial Oils are my go-to choices, whether it’s the balancing formula or the hydrating one in winter. Stay tuned for a new line coming March 7th!
- Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil roller gets toted around in my purse with me for the occasional touch up. This a lovely blend of skin loving oils in a handy little package. Often, my under-eye area gets extremely dry from makeup and sun exposure, and I like to dab some of this around my eyes while out and about for a smoothing pick-me-up. It also doubles as highlighter, lip oil, hair smoother, and snaggled-cuticle tamer in a pinch!
There you have my favorite, time-tested, tried and true skincare routine. As much as I love trying new products, I’ve consistently returned to the ones that make my skin feel best. Of course these products might not all be the best for your particular needs. Feel free to fill out the free Skincare Survey for a personalized skincare recommendation!