New Skincare Rituals

At the start of the year, I had hit a wall trying to get my skin to a better place. I'm now in my early 30s and I was cleansing every night, moisturizing like crazy, drinking lots of water, etc. But if anything my skin was redder, drier and more sensitive than it's ever been (granted, part of that was due to the colder-than-usual winter we had). I knew I had to make some changes when my Clarisonic became torturous, even with a sensitive brush! So of course I turned to the internet, as well as a close friend who's an esthetician. (I wasn't ready to see a dermatologist, and now I don't feel like I need one.)

This chronic dryness has also been a super weird thing for me, because I had terrible acne starting in high school that lasted long after college. Now I'm classic combination skin - I'll still get the occasional breakout and some oiliness in the t-zone, but for the most part my skin is like:

And it's an odd adjustment after combating acne for half my life.

Long story short, what's worked for me has been switching to chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic and glycolic acid, and keeping to a daily routine that hydrates, calms and treats. Progress was made thanks to my esthetician friend's recommendation of Peter Thomas Roth products, coupled with finding the awesome blog of Caroline Hirons via a great post by Brooklyn Blonde. This post on cleansing from Caroline is a great place to start. 

However, it does mean I've had to pony up for good quality skincare products. Of course I've spread the cost out over the course of the last seven months, so it's not like it hit my wallet all at once, but you just can't expect to find effective stuff at the drugstore. (Hairspray and shampoo, though, all day.) Also helpful are Sephora insider points. Cash in, girl! I've been able to test out a lot of products that way. 

I know I'll always have a pinky-red complexion, that's just the reality of genetics, but my goal has been to finally clear up some old acne scarring and not feel so exposed when I go without makeup. To me that's well worth the investment.

And thus far, I'm happy to report, the results have been what I was hoping for. Fading scars, no more patchy dry spots, minimal oiliness, very few breakouts, and I'm noticeably less red - which all translates to a decreased use of foundation and concealer. Woo!

In the morning:

  • Simple Cleansing Water. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I find it a gentler alternative to my city's water, and it's cheap. 
  • Pixi Glow Tonic, which has made the biggest difference BY FAR in reducing pigmented acne scarring, and it's the best price per ounce I've found for 5% glycolic. I'm glad I did my research and stuck with it through the initial dryness, which only lasted a couple days. I think my sensitive skin really likes it because there's no alcohol in it, unlike many other glycolic toners I looked at. That's a brand new bottle pictured because I was getting close to using up the last one and immediately reordered. (It lasted me about two months with twice-daily use.)
  • Aveda Botanical Kinetics eye cream. I love this because it's thick enough but absorbs well, and you don't need much. Comparable to Bobbi Brown's but quite a bit less $$.
  • Aveda Beautifying Oil if I'm feeling dry...which is nearly every day. This stuff lasts forever, absorbs well and smells amazing. I usually mix it into my body lotion too. I press a few drops of it into my skin and brush my teeth while it absorbs before applying the Avene moisturizer.
  • Avene Redness Relief Soothing Cream. It has the slightest green tint to help with redness, and the formula is the perfect thickness to moisturize while doing well under makeup. Plus it has SPF, which is now a requirement because of the toner. Travel-friendly packaging is a bonus. I'm on my third bottle after seeing Lisa Eldridge use it on a client.

At night:

  • Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm to take off all makeup. I haven't found anything gentler on my eyes (and I've tried a LOT of removers), plus this is way less messy than coconut oil. If I use a lot of eyeliner and mascara on the weekends I have to go in twice to really get it all, mostly because I'm so blonde you can really tell, but I find that to be the case with just about any product.
  • Aveda's shammy cloth (not pictured) to remove all cleansers and masks. It's incredibly gentle and makes me so happy because I'm not splashing water all over the counter and myself. 
  • Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel after the cleansing balm (the bottle is going to last me at least a year, it's huge). The glycolic acid in it boosts the effect of the Glow Tonic.
  • Pixi Glow Tonic after cleansing.
  • Aveda Botanical Kinetics eye cream
  • Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which I'm not sure if I'll repurchase because it didn't really help my redness, but my skin does drink it up.
  • Clinique Repairwear Sculpting Night Cream. This was part of a gift with purchase and I'm surprised by how much I like it. It has more of a gel consistency than cream, which has been great in the summer heat, and kind of locks down the Kiehl's serum so I wake up moisturized but not oily. But I'll probably switch to Aveda Tourmaline Cream once I use this up, because once again Aveda is the better bang for your buck and equally effective.

As needed:

  • Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx Peeling Gel once or twice a week, which really helps soften my skin and speed up any breakouts that are healing.
  • Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask, which I picked up after reading this rave review by That Grace Girl. It tightens up my giant pores without drying me out and I would gladly pay more than $25 for the bottle.
  • GlamGlow Thirstymud, which I leave it on aaaaall night. :) I can never bring myself to buy the full size, partly for the sticker shock, but mostly because 0.5 oz lasts me about two months with biweekly use and I feel like the full size might dry out before I finished it. Sometimes I even use this on no-makeup days as a moisturizer. 

Sounds like a lot of stuff, I know, but now I actually look forward to my morning and evening rituals, no matter how tired I am. PROGRESS.

And that's my long-winded report. Have you guys experienced any skin changes like this? What are your desert island skincare products you can't live without? I'm now on the hunt for a good tinted moisturizer/BB cream for casual weekends, any recommendations?


P.S. The candle pictured is Teakwood and Tobacco by P.F. Candle Co. It burned out about 10 minutes after I finished taking these photos, which means I need to pick up a new one this weekend because it smells soooo good. Highly recommended if you're like me and don't like overly sweet or floral scents.