My Skincare Essentials

Ever since I’ve turned thirty, something in my head clicked. I did not feel older or wiser, but somehow I felt more in touch with myself and more responsible for the body I have. I cleaned up my diet, got serious about my workouts (4 times a week turned out to be my sweet spot!) and started to tune in to what my outer shell tells me. In the next couple of posts, I would like to engage with my readers in all things beauty, fitness, and diet so we can swap ideas and muse on what works, what hasn’t and how to have a healthy routine.

Today, I’d like to talk specifically about skincare. In the last two years, I have experimented, made mistakes, removed what failed and kept what works. I looked at my diet for allergens and realized that cow’s milk makes me break out and drinking tons of water does zilch to hydrate my skin. I bounced between all organic, ethical skin elixirs and high-potency medical grade creams. I microneedled,  sprayed lemongrass-infused tonics and rubbed castor oil into my brows. Looking back, it all seems comical. But I’ve learned a lot. Through trial and error, I managed to minimize my routine to the most potent basics that work to hydrate, preserve youthfulness and give me that no-makeup-needed clarity and glow.

I start my morning skincare routine with Bioderma Micellar Water. It is a magical product that is non-irritating for even the most sensitive skin types. I have discovered this product through my mom’s consultation with a dermatologist in France. My mom was diagnosed with rosacea, and everything burned her skin. The dermatologist banned all the water-soluble cleansers, and Bioderma worked its magic in calming mom’s skin. Since then I started using it too and feel that it is much gentler on complexion, especially in the morning when you don’t have to cleanse off makeup and buildup of the day.

I follow with SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum. This serum, though pricey, is very effective in clearing out pigmentation. Frolicking in the summer sun is finally paying us back aplenty. No more Saint Tropez or Tulum without a wide-brim hat! Once the serum soaks in, I dab a drop of Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil and follow with a strong SPF. I cannot stress enough how important it is to use sun protection! I’ve lived in California for the past ten years, and the sun here is brutal (pleasant though it may be weatherwise). I used to be inconsistent with SPF, but after starting to use retinol (more on this in my nightly routine section), I do not leave the house without it. Why would you spend hundreds of dollars on pigment correcting serum and then sabotage it with sun exposure immediately after, right? My point exactly. I use MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk in 50+ strength and love it. It is the only SPF that I found to be light enough and not leave a sticky residue on the skin. It also has a pleasant smell and gives you a light glow. It is Korean, and they take skin sensitivity seriously there, so it’s an excellent bonus for reactive skin.

Once the day comes to a close, it is time for a thorough cleanse. If I am wearing makeup, I pre-cleanse my eyes and lips with Bioderma Micellar Waterwhich is a stellar makeup remover, and follow up the rest of my face with SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. This cleanser is great because it combines alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to remove dead cells from the skin. A great exfoliator, it does its job without causing irritation or breakouts. On the contrary, it keeps complexions prone to flare-ups calm and clear. I find it essential since I never break up and using SkinMedica GlyPro Renewal Cream in the past has made me look like a teenager. I guess my skin tolerates AHA/BHA combination better than glycolic acid. Lesson learned.

After I cleanse the skin, I wait five minutes to let it dry and apply retinol. Retinol use needs a separate tutorial for the first-time users so, instead of being redundant, I send you to this and this highly informative articles. I started with a lower dose of 0.25 retinol and have now switched to 0.5. I use SkinMedica Age Defense Retinol Complex 0.5 every other day. I built up to this frequency over a month, and it is my safe tolerance level. I apply the retinol and wait about fifteen minutes before following up with SkinMedica Replenish Hydrating Cream. The cream works for me, but it is pretty bare bones. I think any quality moisturizer will do. The reason I wait five minutes before and fifteen minutes after applying retinol is that it works more efficiently this way and retains its strength without causing irritation. IMPORTANT NOTE: Always use SPF when you add retinol to your routine. Retinol makes skin sun sensitive and can cause sunburn and pigmentation that we are trying to get rid off 🙂

On the days that I skip retinol application, after a thorough cleanse, I use SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. It is incredibly light (feels like water) and has a high dose of hyaluronic acid and skin-repairing vitamin B5. I highly recommend it as it is versatile and you can use it day or night, whenever your skin feels thirsty. Fun fact: Hyaluronic Acid can retain over 1,000 times its weight in water within the cells of your skin! You can see how it can be an excellent moisturizer. After I use B5 Gel, I apply my regular moisturizer and off to bed I go.

So this is pretty much it. To some, it may seem like a lot of products and a significant investment. I won’t disagree. I built my collection over time, testing each product patiently, adding each new cream or serum one at a time. It made a positive difference in my skin. If you have to narrow down this routine, I’d suggest keeping the retinol, a versatile cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. Then, if you feel it necessary, add more products and see what works best over time!

Feature Photo credit: Tatler