Strap in your seatbelts, readers, because this is one of my longest posts to date. It’s huge because my routine doesn’t change a lot over a year so I’m making this a rare, annual entry.
My focus on skincare really blows up in the winter, when transitional weather wrecks my skin a little and sends me into a bit of a panic. It’s probably the reason I tend to buy more in the winter and spend the rest of my year adapting my stash to fit the summer.
I wanted to share my skincare routine as I did a while ago but then I also realised that it’s now different all the time – I am pretty much a follower of the skincare ‘wardrobe’ idea rather than a set routine. Therefore, I wanted to share the products I have at the moment although I don’t use them all at once. There is rarely an occasion that I have to, and I’m usually too lazy to do that anyway!
I use Soap and Glory’s Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk (my second bottle!) to remove makeup at the end of the day without drying my skin out. It does this fabulously, although it can sting the eyes if it gets into contact with them. If I want to remove makeup a bit earlier, I use the original Garnier Micellar Water (not pictured) and a couple of cotton pads. I’ll always have cotton pads lying around but I don’t often remove my makeup that way – less waste, you know?
On nights I use actives, I have also been using Innisfree’s Bija Anti-Trouble Gel Cleanser as a second cleanser, mostly due to its low pH which helps to prep for my actives that need it. I’ll be honest: I don’t really see much of a difference from using this before my actives so I won’t be repurchasing it.
I use CosRX’s AHA and BHA Power Liquids about two times a week each – the BHA more than the AHA. The BHA has been particularly great at minimising and unclogging the pores all along the centre column of my face. If I ever feel like I need a break from chemical exfoliants I may gently scrub my face with a scrubby glove or towel.
(My actives are chemical exfoliants. Actives, in general, refer to products with ingredients that actually do their job. In the hyperlinked ‘wardrobe’ post above, I linked to Snow’s post on her wardrobe of actives. She defines actives as such:
Actives are the “workhorses” of my routine, meaning that when it comes to actual effects such as anti-aging, anti-acne, or improvement in texture, hyperpigmentation, and overall appearance of my skin, I don’t rely on cleansers, essences, serums, creams, or any other sort of skincare to have an “active” effect on my skin. I expect cleansers to clean, and essences, serums, and creams to hydrate, moisturize, and soften my skin, but that’s it. If you want your skincare to really do something, in my experience, you’re going to have to buck up and pull out the big guns, and that means actives.
They are not to be taken lightly so please do some research on these before trying them out. In particular, have a solid basic routine including sunscreen all figured out before you even touch the actives. Especially as AHAs make your skin more sun-sensitive.)
First, I use CosRX’s Skin Returning A-Sol as a general spot prevention step as well as treatment for bumps and active spots.
If I have any really big red spots, I use the LJH TeaTree90 essence, which I still am still going through after buying two bottles at the beginning of 2016. It doesn’t do much else for me otherwise, so I am rationing it solely for the big swollen ones because it really works well on calming those. It’s quite pricey without discounts, though at around £22 for a small bottle.
Lastly, if I have picked at any pimples, I’ll use hydrocolloid patches to cover them. I compared a few here. I do pick at mine a lot, so this helps to get all the gunk out, flatten those spots and also provide a physical barrier to me picking at them even more.
Essences and Hydrating Layers
I am currently using up a bunch of Superdrug’s B-Refreshed Essence Lotion that I got during a buy one get one free deal. Besides its annoying sharp scent, it’s a decent, affordable option for hydrating layers. I don’t think I will repurchase this but I will at least finish my two bottles. I’ll sit down, put on an anime episode or something, and every five minutes I’ll slap another layer of this onto my face.
Then, I may or may not slap on a layer of CosRx’s Snail 96 essence. I’ve not seen much of an effect of using snail products so far. Maybe I’ll notice once I run out.
Lastly, Superdrug’s Simply Pure Hydrating Serum is another hydrating layer that also includes some ceramides that help maintain the skin’s moisture barrier. I make sure to apply them in this order – from lightest, most watery consistency to heaviest creamy stuff.
Boots Vitamin E Eye Cream SPF 15. It’s the only eye cream I have tried. I’ll probably repurchase it as it’s a great affordable start to eye skincare and has SPF 15 and has really helped with the dryness on my eyelids with regular use. I know at my age I don’t need anything expensive just yet. Another eye product with more SPF would be more appreciated, though.
My final layer of choice recently has been Superdrug’s Vitamin E Moisture Mask which is a good ‘heavy’ option. It has a gel texture, so sometimes I reach for this Simple Spotless Skin Anti-Blemish Moisturiser if I want something creamier (that I finished up in the weeks I spent writing this post and won’t repurchase so I can try other things) and for a very light layer, I use the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel cream, of which I bought two tubes and am still using up. I haven’t found any consistent likes in products of this category yet.
My balm of choice recently has been the Dr Organic Lip Balm SPF15. I just finished a tube of Ice Mint and now have a Royal Jelly one which works just as well, just with less of a cooling sensation. The range is always on the counter at Holland and Barratt. If I feel I need more, I’ll add a thin layer of something else underneath, like the Dr Organic Hemp Oil Lip Serum to soothe dry patches.
This routine seems long, but honestly, time wise, it’s never been so short. I’ve gone past the phase of feeling like needing every step of the routine and just giving way to a simpler version that I know still works for me.
Evening Routine, Short Version
- Spot treating
- Eye Cream
- Lip Balm
This is the short version of my night routine, which takes only 10 mins ish so it’s ideal for when I’m lazy. I’ve cut out the actives and hydrating layers from the routine.
- Cleansing – sometimes just with water.
- Spot Treating
- Sunscreen – I did a comparison post of the ones in my stash here. My current go-to is the Vichy and Biore Essence simply because I want to finish those products. I’ve realised that now I am at home a lot I prefer the Biore Watery essence since I don’t have to worry about oil control, and the texture of the stuff is pretty dreamy – light and dries quickly with no cast. Vichy Ideal Soleil, on the other hand, takes effort to work into my skin and does leave a cast.
- Lip balm
I know I really shouldn’t skip moisturiser but in the mornings I struggle to muster up that effort. If I do feel like I really need it, I grab a light layer of something and pat it into my face.
I just had a look at my skincare post from 2015, and boy, have things changed. I very occasionally use clay masks now, and I have also scrapped toner (hydrating, pH adjusting or astringent – those aren’t things I need right now) and my exfoliation is done with my actives.
I have also learned the importance of using a separate sunscreen as opposed to a moisturiser/foundation with SPF. Honestly, if I can gloat at my parents in twenty years with a baby face I’ll tell them it was the sunscreen. I’ve been trying to get them both to wear one ever since they got into anti-ageing skincare but to no avail.
Other things outside skincare I do:
- drinking a lot of water
- using separate face towels to dry my face and changing those at least weekly
- switching up my pillowcase weekly.
- I also should be wiping down my laptop and phone screen weekly but I keep forgetting to.
Oh! As a last note to add, mostly for to myself since I didn’t do this last time, this entire routine upfront costs roughly… £130 RRP(!!!!!) Bear in mind, though, that some of these products have lasted me absolutely ages and this is a steady accumulation over the last year, and many of these items I bought on sale or in some cases half-used from friendly community members. I would not have bought the LJH TeaTree90 Essence if not for HKCPlaza discounting them from £22 to £7 a bottle last year! (Link is to a post on last year’s haul.)
This begs the question – do I really need everything? Has my skin actually improved from using up all this stuff? To answer that question, I tried to dig up some old photos of my [bare] face, and you all understand when I say I used to hate taking selfies due to the state of my skin. So there wasn’t much! My ‘bad skin days’ are now not as bad as they used to be, and these days I have far more good/decent skin days than bad skin days, and I think that counts for something. I have been taking more bare-faced photos recently so hopefully next year I can put in a comparison shot.
If you’re looking for a super basic routine, I’d say focus on the cleansing, moisturising and sunscreen steps. Those are the bare necessities, so please don’t feel intimidated by my routine! Any extra steps, add only if you feel like it’s needed.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful!
Thanks for reading!