Happy Friday guys! I wanted to post an update on my nightly skin routine because it has changed so much in the last few months, and I’ve been getting some questions about how I like some of the products now. As a backstory, I have naturally oily skin that is very prone to hormonal cystic acne (welcome to having PCOS and endometriosis) and I did five months of Accutane last year because the acne was not responding to topical treatment. Accutane can really change your skin, and I would say that I deal with a lot more dryness now. I have been fine tuning my skin routine to help heal my acne scarring, and I’ve found a lot of things that have helped clear me up. Hope this might help you too!
1. Oil Cleanser
I usually like to use an oil cleanser at night because it removes every last trace of makeup and leaves me feeling more hydrated than a foam cleanser. I’ve gone through a few bottles of DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and I love how gentle it is. If I have on more makeup than usual, I’ll double cleanse with a foam cleanser to make sure I get it all off.
I use a an exfoliant every 2-3 days. Dr. Brandt’s Age Defying Microdermabrasion is a long time favorite of mine. I get the most out of it by gently massaging my face with the scrub for 2-3 minutes. This is a step that has definitely helped reduce my acne scars and makes my makeup go on more smoothly in the morning. I notice my pores look smaller after using this too. A reader of mine pointed out to me that this also contains lactic acid, so you get the added benefit of that too!
I’ve been following a Korean skincare routine for about five years now and I love what the water based steps in the routine do for me. I make sure to apply my toner while my skin is still slightly damp from washing it for optimum absorption. Right now I am using the Earth Recipe’s Energy Boosting Toner and I’ve been really happy with it. I got it from Glow Recipe, a new favorite Korean natural beauty shopping destination for me!
I’ve read that this is considered to be the most important step of a Korean skincare routine. I don’t know about that because for me that would probably be retinol, but I never skip an essence in my nightly routine. The more water based steps I can layer into my routine, the more deeply moisturized my skin is. The SKII essence is everything it is hyped up to be. It brightened my face so much when I started using it. However, it is pretty darn pricey so for the time being I am using Miisha Time Evolution Essence (a Korean skincare classic that prices for around $30).
Normally I use Natural Pacific’s Fresh Herb Origin Serum. I’ve been hooked on it for a few months and I am dying for my next bottle to arrive. It is a sticky and rich serum because it has a good amount of oil in it, and you have to shake it before you use it. It can sting a bit when you first put it on, but with continued use it stings less and less. I was really impressed with the brightening effects of this serum the first time I used it. It’s a really great serum for an affordable price (my first bottle was $14).
I literally just ran out of the Natural Pacific Serum so in the mean time I have been using the Ordinary’s 100% Plant Derived Squalane. It is intensely rich and hydrating, definitely well-suited to dry skin and night time applications.
I have been using the Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion and I am really happy with the quality considering the price. I probably will be buying the stronger 5% formula next time though. My skin is used to retinol because I’ve been using it for a few years, but if you have not used Retinol ever before be prepared that it can make your skin irritated at first. The first few weeks of using retinol I experienced a lot of redness, peeling, sun sensitivity, and stinging. It takes a while to get used to but once your skin is acclimated to it, you will reap the benefits. It is however very important to use sunscreen when you are using retinol! Retinol is the number one proven thing to help reduce sun spots, acne scars, wrinkles, and pore size. Both of the dermatologists I saw about my hormonal cystic acne were adamant about using one.
6. The Special Sauce
I made an awful discovery this year…awful for my wallet that is. Sunday Riley’s Good Genes lives up to all of it’s hype. It is the only product I’ve ever used and woken up the next morning thinking “Wow, I feel like a grew a whole new face overnight”. It is really great for healing acne scars, a problem that I have been dealing with since a cystic breakout of epic proportions last summer. My pores feel tighter, my complexion is seriously cleared up, and it makes the rest of my skin routine work better. The rub is that a single bottle will cost you $105. Ouch.
I did some instastories about the miracle that is Good Genes, while lamenting it’s price tag. I had a few readers send me messages saying that the Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Superficial Peeling Formulation was a good affordable alternative. I ordered a bottle right away to see if they were right. While I really like this product, I don’t think it is quite as good as Good Genes. I was still really happy to have it and made this compromise: I will use the Ordinary’s Lactic Acid every other night instead of Good Genes so my bottles will last twice as long. It’s a good way to stretch the product while still getting the daily benefits of lactic acid.
At this point in my routine I like to apply a night oil and do a 3 minute facial massage. Lately I have been using Tata Harper’s face oil and I absolutely love it. The smell is really relaxing and pleasant, and the hydration it provides is intense. I actually like to use a small drop of this oil in the morning prior to putting on my foundation, it makes my makeup go on really smoothly.
Another oil I love to use is Sunday Riley’s Luna Oil, which is a great 2-in-1 product because it’s a retinol oil! If you have cystic acne, I think you would love what this oil can do for you. It was a godsend for calming my complexion down before I got on Accutane.
This is only a “sometimes” step for me, if I feel my skin is particularly dry. Or, if my skin is very oily that day, I will skip moisturizer and just use an emulsion. An emulsion is a more liquid, lotion-like moisturizer. If you really like to layer your skincare, you may enjoy adding one to your routine. I love to use emulsions to dilute my Ordinary Lactic Acid for AM usage, actually. I use E Nature’s Zeo Brightening Emulsion which you can buy on YesStyle.
At night I like to apply a water based moisturizer as a finishing step. I am currently using one by Dr. Roebuck that seems to have been phased out of the line, so I apologize for not being able to provide a link! It’s like a much richer version of the Laneige Water Bank moisturizer if you have tried that, and when I run out that is likely the product I will replace it with. I like a water based moisturizer because between the toner, essence, squalane, facial oil, and emulsion my skin is already pretty hydrated at this point. A water based moisturizer is hydrating without being too heavy.
10. Eye Cream
Lastly, I use ring finger for a light application of eye cream. I am using the Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Cream by Fresh right now, I think anything with a bit of caffeine in it is great around the eyes. I use a very small amount of eye cream because I read in a magazine years ago that you can create saggy deposits around your eyes if you use too much. Not sure if that is true but it has always stuck with me, so I err on the light side of application.
I hope some of this information was helpful to you! I want to do another post soon about some of my favorite special treatment steps, like masks and peels, as I have a few that have been game changers for me this year. Stay tuned for that and let me know if you have any great product recommendations in the comments! I hope everyone has a great weekend.