My routine, in one picture
This picture right here is an overview of the products I use in my routine. I know, it's a lot. And I know it's not too convincing for people who have no idea what to do with their skin to hop on the skincare train, but here me out-everything has its purpose. Before I dive into my tips and what is used for what, keep one rule in mind (well, two now that I think about it): 1. These are guidelines based off of what works for me. If you don't have the same skin type or preferences as I do, these might not work as well or at all for you. 2. This is a trial and error process. You know how your mom told you "You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince"? That applies here.
Now the first products I'm going to show you are what I like to call the tetrassentials. in other words, these are the four [types of] products I think are essential and absolutely necessary to have in or start out your skincare routine. I'll go into depth about why I think these are the essentials, and I'll also go over and suggest other products I think are great second-in-line or add on products.
I should probably mention my skin type. I have super dry, sensitive skin. I am definitely redness and flaking prone, and have recently become prone to mild acne. Lets go~
1) The first thing you need in your routine is a makeup remover. I've been trying out the Simple Cleansing Water and it has quickly obtained holy grail status. This does a really good job removing makeup-and the best part is, you don't have to rinse! This can work for all skin types, but I find it really soothing for dry skin. You're probably wondering, what about my beloved Garnier Cleansing Oil? I still LOVE it, don't get me wrong, but I've been wanting to try new things and this is just easier than a full on oil situation where you have to rinse at a sink (or wherever). This also works as a cleansing toner, which is pretty neat.
2) The next essential is a straight up cleanser. Not going to lie, I don't have a favorite cleanser. I pretty much always go with Clean and Clear (this one is the cleanser for sensitive skin). They are great quality, drugstore price, and its really easy to find a product for your skin type. I actually really love this one for sensitive skin. It's a really gentle, foamy gel that smells like a field of lemongrass. Cleanser is important because you need to purify your skin of all the dirt, leftover makeup, and natural oils that build up over the day.
3) Next essential is a moisturizer with SPF. I am currently loving Neutrogena oil-free Moisturizer with SPF 15. They have various options up to SPF 50, but it's actually redundant to put anything higher than 30 on your body, and doesn't do a whole lot more for your protection besides piling on more chemicals (source here). Optimally, I would have gone for 30, but they only had 15 when I needed it so I had to settle. It is important to both protect yourself from the damaging UV rays of the sun, and to moisturize your skin. Even if you have oily skin, you still need to moisturize, so don't skip that step if you're in that boat (just stick to an oil-free moisturizer).
4) And finally, the last product I would call essential would be an eye cream. This is really a matter of importance to the individual, but I never skip out on my eyes when caring for my skin. The area around your eyes consists of very thin, delicate skin that requires certain ingredients to keep it happy. The eye cream I use is Anew Platinum by Avon. Eye cream is a very specific, personal type of product that depends on what you're looking for. If you're just looking for something to moisturize the skin around your eyes, then what I have is a great option (be warned, it contains dimethicone, which some people are allergic to). It's just a thick, creamy formula that is ultra-hydrating. However if you are looking for anti-aging or dark circle fighting properties, you might want to look out for something with retinol and other lightening ingredients.
Here are some more close-up shots of the tetrassentials~
Simple Cleansing Micellar Water
Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming cleanser
Neutrogena oil-free moisture with sunscreen
Anew Platinum Eye and Lip cream
The next products I'm going to tell you about that are still essentials for me, but that I don't think will be essentials for everyone. I might not use some of these every single day, others I might. I'll get into all those details as we go along. I'm going to break these into categories by use so they make a little more sense in organization.
I think an exfoliator is great to have in your rotation for days that you're either super flaky, super dirty, or feel like you need a little something extra to cleanse. I use the Clarisonic Mia with the Normal head, which is gentle enough for every day use. Having this in my cleansing portion of the routine pretty much eliminates you ever having the need to exfoliate, since it prevents dead skin cells from building up. This kind of product is an investment (I got mine for Christmas on year), so if you're just starting out, or aren't convinced that you need something like this, look for an exfoliant with a VERY FINE grain to it. The St. Ives Apricot Scrub is a terrible example of a good exfoliator to use on your face. Although it's great for your body, it has the potential to tear up and aggravate your skin, and possibly make you break out in redness or acne. A great example of a smaller grained scrub is the Garnier Invigorating Daily Scrub. It has a really intense minty scent and tingly sensation that leaves you feeling SO clean, but is better for normal to oily skin (although I still use it occasionally and am fine). A great option for more sensitive skin is the Olay Pore minimizing scrub, or the Olay Fresh Effects scrub if you like fun colors and scents. The grain on these scrubs is so fine that it is almost a smooth (yet rough) consistency when you move it around between your fingers. My mom has oily skin and swears by the original Olay Pore minimizing scrub; she uses it as her every day cleanser and loves the results.
An Alternative Cleanser~
Clarisonic Gentle Hydro Cleanser
I wanted to give a quick mention to the Clarisonic Gentle Hydro Cleanser. My mom gave this to me for my birthday this past year to use specifically with my Clarisonic. I use it interchangeably with my Clean & Clear and it's alright, but not my favorite. I prefer gel-based cleansers that foam and lather, like my Clean & Clear. This one has a milky consistency that doesn't lather whatsoever. I don't use this unless with my Clarisonic because I feel like it doesn't get my face clean on its own. I think this cleanser would be great if you had really dry, much more sensitive and acne prone skin than mine
A Spot Treatment~
Clean & Clear persa-gel
Another little add-on to your routine, especially if you breakout (everybody does every now and then, right?), is a spot treatment. I use the Clean & Clear persa-gel because this is benzoyl peroxide based, and my skin HATES salicylic acid. For almost everyone (in my experience) it's either one or the other that works for you. So just pay attention to your skin and when you're treating acne, see what kind of product works to actually diminish breakouts in a timely manner.
~A Mask Treatment
Formula 10.0.6 Skin Clarifying Mud Mask
Something I think is nice to have is a mask of some sort. Again, this will be extremely personal based on what you like and what you want. A lot of brands have one time use packets so you can try different varieties to find out what you're looking for. I personally like to use masks that tighten when they dry, feel really minty and burn while they are on, smell really good, and deep clean pores. I stumbled upon the Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure mud mask about two years ago and found everything I was looking for all in one. This smells like super sweet (and minty) strawberries and burns pretty strongly (which I really like). The best part is that whenever I have an active breakout, I can apply this all over (or just to the breakout), let it dry for 10 minutes, and it dries up any breakouts I have. Whatever is in this stuff, it's potent, and it works. FYI-this is not a peel-off, you have to rinse well to get it off.
Sephora Super regenerating oil-serum
So, I've recently become an extreme serum enthusiast, so pardon me if this next bit is a tad biased. I got this generous sample of the Sephora Super regenerating oil-serum as a 100-point perk earlier this summer. At first, I didn't use it too consistently. I liked how fast absorbing it was and how soft it made my skin feel, but I didn't truly appreciate it for what it was doing for me then. I now use this consistently at night before my moisturizer. I let it sink in for a few minutes, and it makes my skin so incredibly smooth and soft. I wake up and my skin is brighter and less red, and this might be in my head, but I'm pretty sure it makes my moisturizer work better. Serums are, yet another, item that you can have fun experimenting with and finding what works. I recommend doing research about different purposes they can serve, and going to Sephora and getting yourself a few samples and trying them out. Bottom line- get your essentials down, and as soon as you've got them, get a serum. You won't regret it.
A Night Cream~
Simple Replenishing Rich Moisture
I know I already included a moisturizer in my tetrassentials, but before you call me excessive, hear me out (or rather, read me out). First of all, night creams do more than moisturizer. They usually have some form of glycerine that makes a pretty big difference in how your skin absorbs the product and retains moisture throughout the night. Second, I know this isn't a night cream. I needed something at the time that didn't have SPF to use on my face at night, so I got this. Another thing-why put the extra chemicals on your face for your body to absorb if you don't need them? Since I sleep indoors and not near an open window, I won't put anything with SPF on my face at night. I'm currently using the Simple Replenishing Rich Moisture up and I know I'm going to get Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream as soon as it runs out. This isn't too moisturizing for me, but works really well with the serum, and I'll apply it in layers if I have to.
Simple Soothing Facial Toner
Let's talk about toners. To be honest, I'm not too sure what their designated role is in a skincare regime. I've done a lot of research and the conclusion I draw is that every one does something different and you get to figure it out as you use it. For a while, I was using the Simple Soothing Facial Toner as my morning cleansing item (my skin hates being washed in the morning). While I think that is still a good use, I have my cleansing water that I use that for now. I'm still saying you should get one because they are good multi-purpose products. If your makeup remover didn't get all your foundation off, toner. If you're feeling oily throughout the day and need a pick me up, toner. If you feel like you need a step that's not cleansing after a treatment/mask, toner. And the list goes on. It's important to make sure that you get an alcohol-free toner if you are dry, normal, or combination, especially if you plan on using it a lot. Alcohol in amounts that are in toners will suck every last drop of moisture out of you. If you're super oily, toners with alcohol won't hurt you, just make sure to not skip moisturizing!
A Hydrating Lip Balm~
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick
Last, but not least, you can't forget about your lips. A good lip balm is always a staple, no matter who you are. My mom got me into the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick years ago. This was the thing she always had at least five of in random places liker her car, purse, night stand, and office drawer. In fact, I'm pretty sure that all of the tubes I have now are from her. This is definitely, 100%, the best thing I have ever put on my lips. It is so incredibly moisturizing, healing, and smoothing. I always put this on before bed and when I wake up. It's on the days I forget to wear this when my lips get dry and flakey. I have also used this on dry elbows and cracked skin on my hands and it does wonders for those too. This is, in my opinion, the one specific product (not just type of product) that I truly think everyone needs to have at least one tube of.
In conclusion, start taking care of your skin NOW! The sooner you get into a routine with it, the faster it will truly become part of your routine you don't have to think too much about anymore. Even though the short term benefits may seem minimal, you're fighting aging, sun damage, acne, and much more. In my opinion, having good skin outweighs a day of skipping the moisturizer or just adding another layer of foundation. It might take some work, but stick with it and you won't regret it. If you're just starting and are feeling overwhelmed, just remember the tetrassentials.
Well, I hope you found this useful/interesting/enjoyable. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
Now tell me, what are YOUR tetrassentials?