I’m not what I’d consider a beauty junkie, but as I’ve been getting into my thirties I’ve become a bit obsessed with skincare. And, I sense I’m not the only one. Thanks to K-Beauty products/regimens and their meteoric rise, everyone wants dewey and glowing skin.
I grew up on Clinique, and went back to it for a while recently, in fact. They are a solid choice, but I was never convinced they were the best available. At least for me. And last fall, I started fiddling around with mask sampler packs… quickly becoming obsessed with products that exfoliate. Moisturize. Revitalize. Refresh. Energize. I wanted baby skin. And I wanted it immediately.
The mask kits led me to Tata Harper, which led me to the world of higher end (pricier) skincare, and for the most part I’ve found a lot of the more expensive products worth the money. I’ve settled into a pretty consistent routine with products, but I’ll likely swap things out from time to time. I read somewhere recently that skin likes consistency, but mine likes a bit of change. Just a bit.
Before I get into the exact products I’ve been using, let me tell you just a bit about my skin, so you know how comparable (or not!) yours is to mine.
I’d classify my skin is combo/oily, and the skin issues I experience are:
- Hormonal breakouts (mainly on my jawline/chin area)
- Enlarged pores and blackheads (Ugh. Gross. I really hate talking about this stuff, but I’m striving for AUTHENTICITY!)
- Some sunspots and uneven skin tone
- Occasional dullness
- Signs of aging (sigh)
Okay, now you know what I’ve got going on, so here’s what I’ve been using.
Most mornings I wake up early enough to spend 20-30 minutes drinking coffee (which yes, I know, is not great for skin!), checking Instagram, reading through the news, etc. And, every other morning (or so), I use a resurfacing mask for about 20 minutes while I’m having my wake up time. Masks in the morning aren’t ideal because so many of us are rushing around, but my routine affords me the opportunity, and I love the way it wakes my skin up.
But HOLD ON because I am getting way ahead of myself! First, I wash my face…
Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
The version pictured is teeny tiny – I’ve been using the little versions that come in the Glow For It kit from Sephora. (Which is a great deal, if you plan on using this AND the next product I recommend, because they both come in it.) I use it sparingly – not because I recommend that for product effectiveness, but because I am cheap. The semi-weird thing about it (that I didn’t learn until months of use) is that it isn’t intended to be used with water. You just get a little dab on your fingers (or a large dab) and rub it on your face, massaging the skin. My problem is that I use such a small quantity that it almost immediately feels dry – so i add in a little water. I know the proper way to use it, and instead I use the penny-pincher method. When I read reviews about this, the main complaints were the cost and that it felt a little harsh for very sensitive skin, due to the little granules of magic exfoliators it contains. My skin holds up to just about anything, so it hasn’t been a problem for me, and I like the light massage in the morning. The results I’ve observed have been some brightening, and smoothness.
Now back to that mask I mentioned!
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
This award-winning product has what seems like a cult following, and I’ve joined the worship. A little more about Tata Harper, since the first two featured products are by her–this is a brand out of Vermont with all natural products, a lot of glass in the packaging for sustainability purposes, and an evident commitment to quality. When I first found the brand, the website had a lot of videos explaining their vision, and purpose – it’s changed quite a bit since then, but is worth checking out. I feel like this mask, at it promises on the packaging – really creates a GLOW. And, here’s a MAJOR tip…Sephora sells the 1fl. oz. bottle (which is the largest size) for $58. The kit I mentioned while talking about my cleanser, has the full size bottle in it, AND the cleanser I mentioned, and a pretty decent moisturizer – for $60.
Next up, serum. Something I’ve never used until recently, but after reading more about K-Beauty practices, I wanted to try one out.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This brand is definitely super buzz-y. I saw an article months ago about how this stuff with the awesome packaging was FINALLY available in the U.S. (or some hype like that), and I bought a bunch of different things. Which, is possible, because they are all very reasonably priced. (A real point in their favor!) This is the main one that I still use, but I’ll be honest in admitting that these products are very intimidating. Just look at the names! You have to be willing to do some research on what each product does, what should and shouldn’t be used together, etc. It’s overwhelming, but not not impossible. I actually came across an article by Refinery 29 this week that goes through all of The Ordinary projects and reviews them. Check it out. Anyway, I’ve heard that this one is good for blemishes (and the Refinery 29 article said good for inflammation and oil control), and I feel like my skin has been a little clearer and smoother since using it. Plus, ya GOTS to be using a serum, ladies. So this is my choice. For now. One word of caution is that you shouldn’t use this at the same time as a topical Vitamin C formula because it reduces the effectiveness of the “C.”
After the serum, comes time to MOISTURIZE!
Dermalogica Calm Water Gel
I’ll be honest – I started using this because it was sent to me to test and review. But I REALLY love it. I am not sure if the gel consistency would be up to the task of my “dead of winter” skin, but for less intensive moisturizing – it’s really nice. It reminds me a little bit of the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel that I used for a long time, but even better. It feels slippery when you put it on, which I actually like, and then dries quickly without any residue. Just soft skin. I’m pretty stoked I got a tube for free, but these opinions are COMPLETELY my own. I might not have found it if it hadn’t been sent to me, because I hesitate to buy from Ulta when I have free shipping from Sephora.
Then I’m done for the morning. Sometimes use Clarins Self-Tanner on my face if I want a little color. (After serum, before moisturizer.)
Once evening hits, and it’s time for the makeup to come off, I have about four steps, and could honestly do more but I usually don’t have a lot of motivation to go through a huge hassle at night.
Makeup wipes first, obviously. I don’t have any real loyalties here, maybe I should. I guess Neutrogena. Generally whatever I can snag at TJ Maxx for a discount.
Then – the face washing again. This time, I don’t use the Tata Harper cleanser, because I feel like I would have to use larger quantities of it to get makeup off, and remember how I said I’m cheap? I’m still cheap when evening hits.
Origins Checks and Balances
And yes, I KNOW Origins isn’t the most economical brand out there either, but it’s pennies compared to Tata. I like this one. It never feels harsh or overly drying. It’s mild. It’s nice. I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as some of the other products I’m mentioning today, but it is a solid choice.
And finally – ACID ON MY FACE! (Such a weird thing.)
When Glossier released this, it seemed like a big deal, and had lots of great reviews from the people who had tried it pre-release. So I ordered it! And have been really happy with the results. In the past I’ve always soaked the cotton pad with astringent, to make sure I’m REALLY getting my face clean, but even three pumps of this never makes me feel like I’m getting much on my face. Which weirded me out at first, but I think it’s supposed to feel that way. (Any Glossier reps out there wanna weigh in?) Plus, the packaging is lovely, and little details like that make a difference. My skin feels clearer, smoother, and brighter. I will be using this long-term. HOWEVER. I just looked it up on the Glossier site, and the site says it won’t be available in the US again until May, so I’m really sorry about the timing of this post, but sign up for the email alert and grab it when it comes back.
Depending on the air, I moisturize (or don’t) again after I use Solution.
So that’s what I do on the regular. I’ll confess I’m really curious about the Drunk Elephant brand, but haven’t been able to bring myself to spend the bucks for it. I’ll keep watching for a sale though – comment if you love that brand and/or if you know any tricks for saving money on it. And leave comments to tell me what YOU love! As I mentioned, my skin likes a little variety, so I would love to find some new favorites based on your comments.
Happy washing/toning, etc!