My skin is super unhappy and I have no idea why. I did a huge detox in January – like 19 days of protein, vegetables, no processed sugar or alcohol and so much exercise. It’s like my skin is just DONE with it all and I’m breaking out on my chin and forehead (curious if it’s masks and hats?). Or, am I trying too many products on it, in a desperate attempt to make it happier?? The only things I think could attribute it to are A. Chin acne is a possible side effect of intermittent fasting, B. My skin is so overly dry without a facial in over a year that nothing can really penetrate the skin and C. I’m getting older and just am not using the right products. Sure, I still love some of my products but NOTHING makes it feel as moisturized as it wants to be. While I am definitely looking for some answers I do have few ole’ trusties that I’ve been using and still love:
Supergoop! Glowscreen: We all know by now that sunscreen is an essential step in skincare and this one by Supergoop is so lightweight and easy to apply. Plus you know, the glow doesn’t hurt.
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment: I’ve been using this for years as an exfoliating mask and it’s a noticeable difference when done with it. I think they call it the “10-minute facial” or something super catchy like that. Plus, it’s bright green so it feels like it MUST be healthy for my face.
St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse with Mitt: I speak self-tanner fluently and this is my favorite at-home treatment (so far) that I’ve used for years. YOU MUST use that mitt, but if you apply it right, you look tan, not orange and it’s super even and lasts for 4 days (depending on how often you shower). I literally dreamt of this product when I was a teenager before it existed.
Like I said, my skin still needs help, so I asked my team to share their favorite products. Get ready, folks, because this might just be our biggest, most in-depth skincare post EVER. Let’s get to it.
1. Shani Darden Cleansing Serum | 2. iS Clinical Super Serum Advance Plus | 3. Shani Darden’s Texture Reform | 4. Youth to the People’s Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream with Ashwagandha + Reishi | 5. Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen | 6. Supergoop CC cream | 7. Lipscreen | 8. Tatcha’s Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream | 9. Microneedling Tool | 10. hyaluronic acid | 11. Naturopathica’s Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel | 12. Humidifier
In the past, I kinda dreaded any sort of skincare post because I felt like I had nothing to contribute. My skin has always been dry but “good enough”. Not perfect but also not requiring any special attention… how naive younger Jess was. So while blemishes have always been manageable, guess what new friends have been claiming squatter’s rights?? If you guessed wrinkles and sunspots you are right! So this past year, in an effort to take better care of myself, skincare products and devices have become my new obsession. Like I literally just started listening to a skincare themed podcast. WHO AM I????? This is a girl who used to begrudgingly maybe washed her face once a day and frequently fell asleep in her makeup without a second thought.
So this is where all of my money has been going and my guide/idol in this newfound journey is celebrity esthetician, Shani Darden. I listen to most everything she has to say because while she loves a good gadget, she has a “keep it simple” ethos that I really appreciate. Most of the products I am using are her recs and to be totally transparent are not cheap. But if I’m honest I’m a total sucker for a “fancy” product. I think it’s what helped me FINALLY commit to this routine that I genuinely look forward to twice a day. Is that good and/or necessary? No, but it’s what works for me. So with that in mind let’s dig in with my routine(s)/dissertation:
Shani Darden Cleansing Serum: One thing that I’ve learned from Shani is to be wary of face oils. They can work for some people but in her opinion they mainly just cause congestion. This really rang true for me because I was noticing way more blackheads around my nose. NO THANK YOU. So I switched my face wash to her Cleansing Serum because I was previously using an oil cleanser. I also got this headband because it’s cute and I wanted it.
iS Clinical Super Serum Advance Plus: If it’s the morning the next thing I use is the iS Clinical Super Serum Advance Plus which I LOVE. It brightens my skin, gives it the vitamin C it needs plus helps with fine lines, uneven skin tone, and protects the skin from free radicals! So basically a superhero product. (Perviously I was using the C.E.O Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil which I think was sadly attributing to the blackheads. So sad because it really made me glow!)
Shani Darden’s Texture Reform: If it’s the evening, after cleansing I use my Texture Reform from Shani’s line. This is another superhero product and is made for sensitive skin. I’ve been using it for almost a year now and have totally noticed a difference in my skin. I actually just ordered her stronger award winning version called Retinol Reform because I think my skin is up for it. We will see! Retinol is the main thing (aside from sunscreen) that Shani swears by and thinks everyone should find and use the right one for them.
Tatcha’s Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream: My next step is moisturizing my eye area. Currently I am using Tatcha’s Silk Peony which I really like. But as soon as I finish it up I am going to try Shani’s eye cream that she just launched (I promise I don’t work for her, I just love her products and advice so much).
Youth to the People’s Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream with Ashwagandha + Reishi: Then for the all over my face, neck, and chest moisturizing, I use Youth to the People’s Deep Moisture Cream which is currently sold out at Sephora and Nordstrom if that says anything to you:) It’s light, highly moisturizing, and has some incredible plant-based ingredients that make you believe in magic. (I believe I recommended their eye cream in a Link Up once but for me and my sensitive skin, it sadly irritated it. Just an FYI for my sensitive skin peeps out there).
Sunscreen! If I could go back in time and quiet my mother’s voice in my head that said, “if you wear sunscreen you won’t tan” I would and freaking wear sunscreen every. damn. day. I love my mother but man that was some very bad advice. So now I put on sunscreen on my face, neck, arms, and hands every day even if I don’t actually go outside. So now I use Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen (my fav) for my face but also have their Glowscreen which I’m not 100% in love with anymore. I kinda feel like it enhances my lines and wrinkles with the shine. But that could be in my head. I did just order their CC cream and can’t wait to try it because some coverage sounds nice. I also throw on their Lipscreen for extra protection and shine. Lastly, finish off with Sun Bum’s body sunscreen (which makes me smell like summer:))
Ok let’s talk tools. I love love love at-home microneedling. I’ve now been at it for a month (twice a week) and I really feel like it’s making my skin come alive. This is the tool I have (there’s A TON of options out there), this is the rubbing alcohol I use (you must must keep your tool clean and DO NOT share it) and this is the hyaluronic acid I apply before and after I use my dermaroller. I do really like it but after it’s done I really want to try iS Clinical’s Hydro-Cool Serum. I want to keep exploring:) But before I stick a bunch of tiny needles in my face, I use Naturopathica’s Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel. I’ve actually been using this mask for about 2 years and it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s brightens, smoothes and softens. I will probably use it forever.
I also got a humidifier because Shani told me to. Especially in the winter months, when the air is so dry, she says that humidifiers are key to keep your skin moisturized. I bought this one and am super happy with it. It’s quiet, pretty and has a bunch of settings. To be honest I should have probably gotten the one that was $10 cheaper because “the warm” setting is well not warm at all. But this company has a bunch of options so there’s something for everyone.
My next venture is my body’s skin. I don’t know about you but I want my arms to look as good as my face in the future (well, as good as I can make them!) So I haven’t tested these yet but they’ll probably just arrived when this post goes live. Here’s the list Ouai Body Creme, Honest Organic Body Oil (both Shani Darden recs), and then what I am MOST excited about is Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Alpha Beta® Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel. I was influenced hard by Stephanie Yeboah and now can’t wait to start getting rid of my little red bumps and get firmer, brighter skin all over!
Lastly, I am going to save up for at least one of these – Shani Darden Sculpting Wand, and LightStim for Wrinkles because this face obsession is full-blown. Also if anyone knows how I can get a Déesse Pro Mask Next Generation for free I will love you until the end of time.
1. Now Foods Variety Moisturizing Oils Sampler | 2. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Face Soy Moisturizer | 3. Cetaphil Normal to Oily Skin Daily Facial Cleanser | 4. Facial Massager Black Obsidian Roller | 5. CeraVe Eye Repair Cream for Dark Circles and Puffiness | 6. Glam Up Facial Sheet Masks | 7. Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum | 8. Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater
Now Foods Variety Moisturizing Oils Sampler: Sweet Almond, Avocado, and Jojoba Oils: I get very dry on my t-zone and around my mouth, so applying lightweight oils after moisturizing helps to seal in moisture and keep my skin feeling soft. These are a must-have in the winter when my skin gets extra dry but I love that I can still use em in the summer because they’re so lightweight & not greasy.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Face Soy Moisturizer: After washing my face, if I don’t moisturize, I feel incomplete…like I’m missing a layer of skin. I have been using this as my go-to moisturizer since college and it gets the job done without feeling heavy or watery.
Cetaphil Normal to Oily Skin Daily Facial Cleanser: At the end of the day I look forward to washing my face because it’s like washing away the day & every time I use this, my face feels especially clean and fresh.
Facial Massager Black Obsidian Roller: This is one of my favorite ways to sneak in 5 mins of easy self-care. Is it necessary? Nope. Does it help? Absolutely. After I moisturize, this helps waken my face, before applying my facial spray. I put it in the freezer before use and if feels so good on the skin, while also helping with any stress/fatigue induced puffiness. I chose black obsidian because of the stone’s protection properties.
CeraVe Eye Repair Cream for Dark Circles and Puffiness: I have always struggled with dark spots under my eyes and puffiness — when I need sleep, it shows! — and this cream has been the only one so far to make any bit of a difference.
Glam Up Facial Sheet Masks: Another bit of self-care I try to treat myself to, at least once a week, is masking. A new to brand, I love the assortment of options, depending on what my skin needs that week. Each sheet feels so thick and soft on my skin… very decadent.
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum: Finally a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a heavy, white residue on my face…or any residue. It applies just like a moisturizer and days when I know I am going out, sometimes I apply it as my only moisturizer.
Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater: Sometimes my face needs a pick me up — be it to start the day or just before bed — and I love the refreshing feeling on my skin with just a few sprays. It’s such a great way to punctuate my the rest of my skincare applications, whether it’s just one or all.
A little about my skin: My face is a very frustrating mix between oil-slick oily and dessert-dry dryness…there’s almost no happy medium. So when I get adult acne (can we just call it acne now? There’s something so demeaning about calling it “adult acne” as if I’ve failed as an adult for still getting breakouts), it’s greasy and flaky all at once…oh yeah, and texturally, it’s a bit rough around the edges. Hurrah! I tend to fare best with cream cleansers that really pick up the gunk from my pores, a light focus on blemish-stopping ingredients, and deep-down moisture. Haven’t ventured into the retinol arena just yet, but I’m curious.
Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing Gel: I started using this cleanser after months of reading good things about it but doing what I do best: avoiding it. Like I said, I prefer cream cleansers as I feel they do a better job on my face, and gel cleansers have always been very drying for me, but I LOVE this cleanser. It has really helped my maskne, does a pretty good job of removing makeup, and the tea tree oil is wonderful for my hormonal breakouts. I’ll probably be using this for quite some time.
Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil: Another love from Biossance. If you’ve never heard of this brand, WAKE UP. It’s your time. Clean, cruelty-free products that actually work. If I were to have only been able to include one thing in this roundup, it would have been this face oil. I’m not kidding, it has revitalized my skin. My forehead, which used to be quite bumpy, even when not broken out, is super smooth now. It has completely retexturized my skin. This is the kind of thing you use, and I promise, everyone will stop you on the streets and demand you tell them about your skincare routine. And you can quote me on that.
Pore Clarifying Toner 10% Glycolic Acid: I’m pretty sure I’ve linked this toner up before, but it’s another true marvel. I have low expectations for beauty products because I feel like they are full of lies. BUNCH OF LIARS. But this, just like the other two things I’ve shared, is different. Products like this have reignited my trust in skincare. The glycolic acid in this toner is perfect if you’re trying to smooth out texture or looking to shrink your pores (at least visibly…not sure anything actually shrinks pores). Not drying in the least, either.
I first have to thank my parents or whoever in my genetic line up is responsible for the skin that I have. I’ve never had major problems with it, but there are a few things that I have to address daily in order to keep my skin free of blemishes, bright, and smooth. My skin, on a scale of dry to oily, definitely leans more dry especially in colder seasons, and it’s normal during spring and summer. It is very sensitive, so abrasive treatments send my skin into a frenzy. I tend to have a little bit of darkness around my mouth area and under my eyes, so a lot of the products I use have vitamin c to help brighten my skin and even out areas of hyperpigmentation.
Daily Cleansing Routine: My daily skincare routine is very simple. I love this daily cleanser by Derma-E. It’s a gentle face wash that doesn’t strip my skin of it’s natural oils. The activated charcoal removes toxins from the surface. I always say that this cleanser washes away “the day” from my skin. When I want a deeper clean I use another Derma-E product that has Vitamin C and ancient rice for a gentle exfoliation. This product is a paste and it doubles as a cleanser or can be used as a mask. I get both products at Whole Foods. I shop for food and my skincare all in one place. “WIN WIN WIN WIN!”
Daily Moisturizing Routine: I use only two products for moisturization: good ole Cetaphil or a solid serum from Lush. I’ve been using Cetaphil cream for years. I have a very mild case of eczema and it’s the only daily lotion that keeps me from itching all over like a mad woman. Funny story: I used to be the type of person to only put lotion on the areas that showed lol (I know I’m not the only one that does that.) I went to the dermatologist about 5 years ago because I was itching so much it was keeping me up at night. So I paid a $40 copay to see a specialist just for them to tell me I need to put on lotion EVERYWHERE (specifically Cetaphil). And guess what? The itching stopped. So it’s a part of my self care to lather up everyday. I actually enjoy it now. I buy my Cetaphil cream from Costco. It’s much cheaper that way! But another product that I use daily for my face is this solid serum from LUSH called “Full of Grace”. This is usually my night time moisturizer, or my moisturizer that I wear on my makeup free days. I usually lather the palms of my hands, and massage it into my face in an upward motion. This is important! Always moisturize upward and outward instead of downward.
My Fancy Routine: Now to address the darkness under my eyes, I love love love Bobbi Brown’s Eye Cream. I take the pillow of my ring finger (the squishiest part) and massage the product from the inner corner to the outer corner of my eyes. And then whatever is left on my finger, I massage around my entire eye in a counterclockwise motion. I usually do this as part of my nighttime routine. And lastly, my favorite mask that gets my skin baby smooth is the Goddess Clay Mask by Charlotte Tilbury! It’s a bit of a splurge but it’s the best mask to apply before putting on makeup. It fills in pores, and it doesn’t dry the skin out like other clay masks do.
1. Kate Sommerville Exfolikate Cleanser | 2. Vitamin C Serum | 3. Glossier Invisible Shield | 4. Glossier Priming Moisturizer| 5. Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment | 6. Mario Badesco Facial Sprays| 7. Hanacure Mask
My skin issues are pretty standard considering my lineage and fair skin. My forehead is seemingly always dry and flaky, I have some impressive fine lines for being 26 years old (apparently I am going to age in record time! woohoo!) and I constantly have redness on my cheeks and forehead. In short, I have bad skin and it’s really starting to rear its ugly head. My routine is still fairly new but these are the products in rotation right now that I really love and will continue using.
Kate Sommerville Exfolikate Cleanser: My latest cleanser is this by Kate Sommerville and I have to say I mostly love it because it smells like fresh Meyer lemons. There is something about a citrus-forward cleanser that makes me feel so fresh and clean and this one is no exception.
Vitamin C Serum: I use this vitamin C serum to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and for anti aging purposes. It’s funny, when I was younger I used to say that I would “age naturally” and “not care about wrinkles” but OH BOY does that sentiment go away fast when those lines start popping up. It’s unfortunate that I care about wrinkles but alas, I live in the year 2021. All that is to say that I actually do think this serum works and after I use it I can actually feel my skin tightening and becoming more firm.
Glossier Invisible Shield: Sunscreen is an absolute MUST for me and I apply it everyday even if I don’t plan on going outside. I love this one by Glossier because it is extremely lightweight and applies evenly and smoothly.
Glossier Priming Moisturizer: This is the moisturizer I am using right now and it’s nothing special but it is very hydrating. It’s fragrance free, does not irritate my skin and lasts a lot longer than my old favorite moisturizer by Origins.
Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment: I use this Color Correcting Treatment everyday to keep the redness on my cheeks and forehead down. It’s a bit of an investment but it lasts forever and it’s probably the most important step in my skincare routine. I also love that it’s multi-functional as it has spf, so I always feel my skin is extra protected from the sun.
Mario Badesco Facial Sprays: My life is not complete without these facial sprays. I mostly use them to cool myself down because my face can get flushed often especially when I am working (why is that by the way?? Is it the blue light from the laptop? Probably.). Other than that, they help keep moisture locked in to my skin and help me feel fresh and rejuvenated.
I’ve written posts about my skincare regime on here before. I’ve gone through phases where my routine has 12 different steps. But during quarantine I really pared back what I was doing (mostly because I got pretty lazy), and my skin actually seems really happy. Gotta find those silver linings where we can, I guess? Anyways, my core routine is still the same – wash, tone, serum, moisturize, SPF – and I’ve practically totally cut make-up out of it. I tried to put on a “full” face of make up the other day (which for me was always just a CC cream, blush, and mascara anyways), and I panicked. I ended up throwing some bronzer in which looked super fake tanned, did my eyebrows too heavy, and forgot how lightly I’m supposed to apply my blush. I walked out of the bathroom, looked in the mirror in the living room, and walked right back into the bathroom to wash it all off. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING ANYMORE. But I still feel really confident in my skincare, and I feel like it’s gotten more laid back than ever.
Step 1. Wash – I use a melting cleansing balm from Versed, which you can grab at Target. I’ve been using this balm for several years now, and I still keep coming back to it even after dabbling in other cleansing balms.
Step 2. Tone – I’ve been using PCA’s Nutrient Toner for several years now as well. It’s a perfect gentle exfoliant, it smells amazing (like a crisp fall day), and leaves my skin feeling really healthy.
Step 3. Serum – During the day I use a Vitamin C serum from Hyper Clear. I was once told that, besides SPF, vitamin C was the best thing I could do for my skin, so I figure it’s worth throwing in there. At night, instead of a Vitamin C serum, I use PCA’s Clarifying Retinol. I really, truly feel like I’ve been seeing a difference in my skin since I started using this several months ago. Start your retinol early folks, constant vigilance.
Step 4. Moisturize – I’m still using Living Libations Best Skin Ever Sea Buckthorn Oil (same bottle!), and it’s still my favorite moisturizer. Putting it on feels like drinking a giant kale smoothie, but for my skin. I was trying to make a funny analogy, but I don’t think it will land, and what I really mean is it just feels really healthy.
Step 5. SPF – Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is the last step, whether or not I’m leaving the house (not leaving the house still happens 90% of the time these days). Gotta protect my face from those computer screen UV rays or whatever harmful things are shooting at my face as a result of modern living.
And that’s it! I know it still sounds like a lot, but I do this all in like 6 minutes.
1. Glossier Milk Jelly | 2. Keihl’s avocado eye cream | 3. Honest Vitamin C radiance serum | 4. Neutrogena hydro-boost moisturizer with spf | 5. Coola cucumber sunscreen | 6. The Ordinary retinol serum | 7. Aveeno moisturizer
Okay guys I am NOT a skincare expert whatsoever and I think I’ve been writing about starting my skincare routine on this blog for over a year now (that’s correct–I did not have one prior to this). So, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve officially read one article from Good Housekeeping and decided to finally do it. Here’s the lowdown for what I’ll be doing for my FIRST EVER skincare routine:
Glossier Milk Jelly: I finally gave in and tried this cleanser and believe me: it’s worth the hype. All other cleansers now feel inferior.
Keihl’s Avocado Eye Cream: I got this in a sample (yes a sample!) and completely fell in love. Also the post I read about how to have a skincare regime said I need an eye cream and this guy fit the bill perfectly.
Honest Vitamin C Radiance Serum: Everyone has told me I need a vitamin c serum and I’ve been wanting to try this brand forever. This one makes my skin feel awesome in the day & I love their beauty resurfacing serum for nighttime.
Neutrogena Hydro-Boost Moisturizer with Spf: My sister turned me onto this and I’m not disappointed. It’s so moisturizing it’s insane! A little goes a loooong way.
Coola Cucumber Sunscreen: Do I really need to explain how good this is again? I will. Because it’s that good. I was so bad about wearing sunscreen consistently until I found this guy. It’s so light plus the cucumber smells so good that people compliment me on the smell of my face.
The Ordinary Retinol Serum: The Ordinary is the best brand if you’re just starting out because their stuff is great at an INSANELY good price.
Aveeno Moisturizer: I had been buying a bunch of different face moisturizers and then my boyfriend bought this one time and I realized it’s the best one for my face. Yes, I use it on my face even though it’s technically body lotion (it’s basic, I know but this stuff WORKS).
I’m skipping toner all together for now because I hear it’s optional and I’m trying to go as simple and approachable as possible because I know myself and I can get lazy about taking care of my skin other than wearing sunscreen. So THERE YOU HAVE IT. I’ve been doing this for a week and so far my skin is looking better than ever! It’s screaming at me like “why did you take 23 years to actually do this” but oh well better late than never!!
1. Meltaway Cleansing Balm | 2. Exfoliating Cleanser | 3. Pore Control Complex | 4. Hyaluronic Acid Serum | 5. Hydrate Glow Oil | 6. Moisturizing Eye Bomb | 7. Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream | 8. Glowscreen | 9. Resurfacing Mask
My skin is very sensitive, but otherwise pretty normal and dry-leaning – I have been known to get some patches on my right cheek and on my forehead during the winter. My main concerns: I have some everlasting hormonal chin breakouts, I’d like to even out my skin tone a little bit (I can get red!), and there are some pretty deep early-onset smile wrinkles that I’m just trying to manage. I was never a skincare person until this year and even Cerave and Cetaphil turn me red, but for whatever reason, this is the routine that finally sticks and makes my skin happy. TBH I normally only do it once a day, but that’s mainly because I’m not really going anywhere. Otherwise, I’d use the same products day and night!
Meltaway Cleansing Balm: I don’t normally wear makeup (because like, pandemic, but also just lazy when it’s not a pandemic), so I generally use this first thing in the morning if I sleep in an overnight mask. The texture is AWESOME.
Exfoliating Cleanser: This guy has an awesome gritty texture that’s just right – I don’t feel like I’m stripping my skin, but it also feels like it’s pulling up residue and dead skin. I love it.
Pore Control Complex: I see that Arlyn also recommended this toner, so you know it’s good!!! I don’t use this all over – just on my breakouts and on places where I’m seeing a lot of open pores or redness – and it’s helped clear my skin up a lot.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum: I love, love, love this hyaluronic acid serum. My skin soaks it up so quickly (I normally brush my teeth after applying this and it’s totally absorbed by the time I rinse) and it does an awesome job of evening out the texture.
Moisturizing Eye Bomb: This is technically for your eyes, but I use it in tiny quantities on my forehead and in my laugh lines, too.
Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream: This may be too thick for some folks, but it’s a dream for me. Most moisturizers turn me super red and make my skin feel tight, but this one just feels calming.
Glowscreen: WE ALL LOVE SUPERGOOP! I love the above division between the Unseen Sunscreen and the Glowscreen. Since I’ve historically had super dull skin, I lean towards this one. (I also think it looks SO GOOD whenever one of the above ladies wear it on Zoom).
Resurfacing Mask: Here’s another gem that I’ve talked about on the site before. CoJ described it as “a facial in a mask,” and I agree. When I slack off and things just get a little out of control, this is like pushing a reset button. My skin looks SO GOOD when I wipe this off. Love, love, love.
See? I told you this would be A HUGE skincare post and I don’t know about you, but I learned a ton and may have added an inappropriate amount of products to my cart. Do you have any all time faves we should be aware of?? Are you also having breakouts for seemingly no reason? Let me/us know in the comments. xx
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Portland Reveal: How the Bathroom I Was Most Nervous About Turned Out to Be My Favorite