My skincare routine

8 May 2018

Our skin is something many of us don’t appreciate in the present, only looking back and realizing “those were the good old days” a few years out. I’ve been guilty of that, for sure — I had angst about the condition of my face in my teens and earlier twenties — but I’m happy to say that I really, really appreciate my skin these days. It’s not perfect, but I’ve worked hard to take care of it and I now realize how good I have it!

Though beauty and style ranked near the bottom in the list of your favorite topics in my most recent survey, many of you requested posts about my beauty and skincare routines in the open-ended section… so here we go! Happy to oblige :)

To give you a little background, in high school I used prescription topical treatments like Differin and Tazerac to help with some acne, mostly on my forehead. I never really felt like they did much, and I wouldn’t say my skin cleared up until I stopped sucking it dry and started giving it more moisture. Though I rarely breakout, my face can be both dry and oily, and moisture, I’ve found, is the key to balancing it all out.

Most of the products I use I’ve found either from blog recommendations or makeup artists with whom I’ve worked. There aren’t many products I’ve tried over the years that have impressed me enough to place a reorder (the ultimate stamp of approval!), but the majority of the ones I’m sharing here have stood the test of time.

morning skincare routine

Rise and shine! Here’s my morning routine:

1. Wash with charcoal soap. This soap was a game changer for me! It and the moisturizer in my evening routine are my two MVPs. This soap went a long way toward balancing my oily/dry issues and improving the texture of my skin. It leaves my skin feeling clean but never tight. Plus, at $12 per bar, it is an INSANE bargain — I have been using my first bar for a year this month, and still have half a bar left to go!! Insider tip: cut your bar into four smaller bars using a sharp knife – it’s more manageable to hold and I think helps it last longer! I keep mine on a little butter dish next to the sink.
2. Moisturize. True story: after reading this Beauty Uniform on Cup of Jo, I went out and bought almost everything this girl recommended — I guess her skin was very compelling!! The Ordinary products didn’t end up working out for me, but I really like this lightweight moisturizer for daytime. One pump is enough for a light application all over my face.
3. Remove any remaining eye makeup from the day before. After trying several drugstore removers that hardly did anything and burned my eyes, I returned to the ridiculously expensive but extremely effective Bi-Facil. A bottle lasts me about a year.
4. Apply sunscreen. I am hyper-vigilant about wearing sunscreen on my face and neck every day, and for me, sunscreen in another product doesn’t cut it. If there’s ONE piece of advice every dermatologist gives, it’s this one, so I figure it behooves me to take it! Right now I’m using a basic Neutrogena SPF 45, but my current tube is almost empty and I’ve ordered a highly-rated Elta MD sunscreen to try. We’ll see if I like it enough to justify the price!
5. Apply deodorant. I’ve used natural deodorant in the past (Schmidt’s), but didn’t like that I had to apply it with my fingers and never felt like it was particularly effective. The geranium Primally Pure one, though, has made me a big fan! It’s not an antiperspirant, so I do still sweat when wearing it depending on my activity level, but I smell good at the end of the day :)
6. Swipe on lip balm. I also use Primally Pure lip balm, but I’ve been known to use Chapstick in a pinch!

evening routine

Time for bed! This is how I end the day:

1. Wash with charcoal soap. I use a makeup eraser cloth to remove most of my eye makeup at the same time.
2. Swipe on toner with a cotton round. Honestly, I’m really not sure what this toner does for my skin… and thus I’m not sure I will reorder it once I finish the bottle! However, since I’m happy with my skin overall, removing any one step makes me nervous, ha! This recommendation came from the same beauty routine post I mentioned above.
3. Dab on eye cream. This is a reasonably-priced, often-recommended product that many people I know use, but I’m not sure it’s made any difference for me. I have some pretty serious laugh lines, so maybe that’s just my thing, but I’d be open to trying something new once this one’s done!
4. Moisturize. I saved the best for last! I’ve used a few different deep moisturizers over the years, but this one is hands-down my favorite – and possibly the linchpin in my whole routine (along with the charcoal soap!). Skin Dew feels so light and sinks so effortlessly into my skin, yet is SO moisturizing and balancing. It’s expensive, but a pea-size amount goes a long way for me, and the price is totally worth it for the results I see. Plus, I love supporting a Southern small business! In the past, I’ve used Moon Fruit, Hydro Boost, and Skin Savior for this step, but Skin Dew outshines all of them, in my opinion.

Two more things:
— I do these steps every day, without fail.
— I almost never touch my face during the day. I think I read this advice in a magazine in middle school, and it stuck with me very strongly, ha!

So there you have it – a mix of drugstore, high-end, small business, and household names. I would love to hear the standout skincare products in your routine, and whether you use an eye cream that you think actually makes a difference! :)

P.S. I have an unopened container of Skin Savior I’d love to pass along to someone, if you’re interested! Just leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner at the end of the week :)

Affiliate links are used in this post!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
May 8, 2018 6:29 am

It’s fun to read about how your routine has changed since the Easy Does It + Skin Savior Days (love you, One Love Organics)!
I was using the Beautycounter Nourishing Eye Cream for about nine months since it came with the starter set I purchased when I joined, but I never felt like it made much of a difference (I don’t have bad dark circles or anything, so I was content with feeling like it was simply preventative)…but then I tried their newer eye cream, the Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream and literally thought my eye area looked brighter overnight. I was like, oh, this is what eye cream is supposed to do! If you want to try it out, let me know!

May 8, 2018 8:10 am

I use eye cream as well, and I don’t think it makes a huge difference. But, from what I’ve heard, the reducing of collagen around your eyes (which is what eye cream supposedly “helps”) happens gradually, and by using it early, you won’t have to play catch up when you’re older. Apparently it’s the same with retinol as well – early prevention is easier than more intense treatments when you’re older. At least that’s what I tell myself :)

May 8, 2018 9:12 am

I love reading about people’s skincare routines! As far as my own skincare, I really like the Ole Henricksen Truth serum, I think it makes my skin look brighter. For eye creams, I’ve tried a bunch of different ones and the only one that I felt like it actually did anything is Origin’s GinZing eye cream. It definitely makes the under eye area brighter. My biggest issue with eye creams is that I feel like they just “sit” on my skin. After my eye cream runs out I’ll probably buy an oil and see if that works better!

I love One Love Organics, too! I have their Vitamin B Enzyme makeup remover & cleanser, and really like it. I would love to try the Skin Savior!

Do you use any masks, or exfoliates?

P.S. I knew when you linked that Beauty Uniform, it would be that particular girl. I was inspired by her as well, ha!

May 8, 2018 9:35 am

Guilty of touching my face way too much all of the time. As someone who struggles with awful breakouts all the time I feel like this helps (!?) even though I’m sure it’s making it worse. I’ll have to share the things I use on my face too as I’ve found a few goodies like you that have recently stood the test of time. Eager to learn more about eye creams other gals use and low. Mama’s laugh lines are getting deeper and deeper over here!

May 10, 2018 4:34 pm
Reply to  Em

More so I meant it helps if you have bad break outs that are tempting to pick at #oops!!! And my typo there? Not sure what I was trying to say!

May 8, 2018 9:50 am

Interesting post! I would be interested in One Love Organics, I’ve never seen these products before. I’ve been testing a Tatcha eye cream, comes in a purple bottom I believe. I had been using a rodan fields eye cream but this Tatcha one has really been helping with my laugh lines lately. I’ve also found the Glow Recipe Waterman Glow sleeping mask to be AMAZING! My skin is so soft and glowy in the morning after sleeping with it on. And it doesn’t get on my pillow. :)

May 8, 2018 10:05 am

I read the same post on Cup of Jo and immediately bought a bunch of things! I’m currently using the Ordinary products she recommended, but haven’t noticed much of a difference but I’m also scared to pull things out of my routine and throw the whole thing out of wack! I’m really into glossier products right now. I love the moisturizer and just got the Solution the other day–excited to try it out!

Ana Rocha
May 9, 2018 9:44 am
Reply to  Em

YES! Boy brow is the absolute best–it’s the one “makeup” I don’t leave the house without! Also-just thought of this but have you tried micellar water? It’s the BEST makeup remover and it’s not oily at all, just feels like water. I use bioderma, which is a little harder to find, but the garnier one works well, too, and it’s at every drug store!

May 8, 2018 10:13 am

Skincare has been on my mind A LOT for the past week, so this post is right up my alley! I swing back and forth between being super into skin care, and doing the bare minimum (i.e. wearing sunscreen, always washing my face at night, and *maybe* moisturizing with whatever I can find in my cabinet). Last week I purchased The Ordinary’s Buffet serum and Cerave night cream to add to my nighttime routine. Where I’m struggling right now is finding a product that truly takes all my makeup off. My Dove bar isn’t cutting it anymore!

Kelly Strawberry
May 8, 2018 11:20 am

I think consistency is key. My routine for years has been Cetaphil face wash every night and Kiehls moisturizer.

May 8, 2018 1:00 pm

Hi Em! I wanted to say thanks for such an honest, helpful post (as always) that includes such a great mix of products. I’m the “30-second skin care routine” kind of girl but this has really inspired me that it doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective! I’d love to try out Skin Savior, and am definitely going to try charcoal soap — SO ready for a change! :)

May 8, 2018 1:24 pm

I also bought almost all of the products off of that Cup of Jo post!!! My skin is more combination than dry though, so I tried to modify her routine to fit my needs and I’ve been very happy with the results. My routine is Oil Cleanser, CosRX Low PH cleanser, CosRX toner (same one that you use!), serums (different for day and night), and then sunscreen in the AM. I put sunscreen on the tops my hands too- I was told way back that the hands give your age away every time and it stuck with me!

May 8, 2018 1:26 pm

I read that same beauty uniform post a bought a bunch of things! I have the cleanser and toner she recommends. I think the toner has really helped some of my clogged pores.

Quick plug for oil cleansing too – I use mineral oil to remove makeup and cleanse, and it’s definitely the thing that’s made the single biggest difference for my skin! No more weird dry patches, and less overproduction of oil in general, since my skin is more moisturized.

May 8, 2018 4:13 pm

I also loved the COJ post :) I rarely use sunscreen on my face and this post reinforced my need to do so! I also really want to check out the charcoal soap!

Allison Crawford
May 8, 2018 6:09 pm

I love skin care posts like this! I am really excited to try the charcoal soap!

Katie L
May 8, 2018 8:21 pm

Although I’m not really a skincare guru, I love to read about other people’s routines to get recommendations for other products. Years ago I tried One Love Organics Easy Does It and Skin Savior from your blog post, and I’d love to try the Skin Dew! Thanks for this post!

May 8, 2018 8:39 pm

Though I am a product junkie at heart and enjoy trying new things, I NEVER change my face wash. I have used Purity gel by Philosophy for a solid 10 years and while it is a smidge pricy it is worth every penny for me.

May 9, 2018 8:41 pm
Reply to  Marissa

I’ve never used any Philosophy products, but John just started using a cleanser by them – Clear Days Ahead! The jury is still out on whether he likes it :)

May 9, 2018 7:34 am

Hi Em- great post! I’m trying out face oils by ordering samples through the detox market. I thought you might like this “hack” – trying things out before investing more $$ in products. Plus, for items like face masks, they give you enough that you can use them as a treat, even if you don’t buy the full size in the end. I know you mentioned you weighed sunscreens…I’m still on the hunt for a good one that doesn’t cause breakouts but I thought I’d pass along this EWG link – something to consider. You always look radiant – and part of that is how often you smile!

May 9, 2018 8:43 pm
Reply to  Emily

Thank you, friend!

May 9, 2018 7:34 am
May 9, 2018 9:06 am

Love this post and definitely interested in trying some of your recommendations (including skin savior)! I am 28 and finally feel like I’m past that oily breakout hormonal skin stage but have combination skin like you’ve described. I am trying to nail down a good routine but my skin is super sensitive so I have to be careful I have good quality, mostly natural ingredients. Thanks for sharing!!

May 9, 2018 8:44 pm
Reply to  Kate

I hope you like my picks!! Sounds like we are in a similar situation, skin-wise!

May 9, 2018 1:19 pm

This is a timely post as I am trying to finalize a simple skincare routine. I think I found my ideal routine for my dry sensitive skin, but it was costing me a little too much so I am trying some new cheaper products to see if I can reduce the cost, haha! Ideal is MUN Skincare Akwi Face Cleanser (this is the best Cleanser I have ever used but it is too expensive for me to continue using regularly especially because I am essentially washing it straight down the drain), Jacqueline Evans Rooibos Toner (it has my favorite skincare ingredient aloe), Leahlani Aloha Ambrosia Elixir (for AM), Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Tinted SPF 30 (expensive but this is just so good and I have repurchased it twice), S.W. Basics Makeup Remover (this is not that expensive and I love it), and Leahlani Mahina Evening Elixir (smells so good). That is not what my skincare routine looks like right now at all because I ran out of everything except the MUN Cleanser. I am trying some stuff from The Ordinary right now, but not in love. I love the price though lol! When I was using the above my skin looked great aside from some post-baby cheek redness. Leahlani Skincare is my favorite brand though! Alternatively you should try coconut oil for eye makeup removal! It works so great.

May 9, 2018 8:46 pm
Reply to  Victoria B

I have heard great things about coconut oil! Do you just wipe it on and then wipe it off the eye area?

May 9, 2018 4:51 pm

Serendipitous timing! I am currently on the hunt for a new moisturizer. I have been intrigued by OLO for so long and haven’t committed to trying it just yet, but I think you may have convinced me :) I swear by the Whole Foods generic version of Cetaphil- finding a budget friendly cleanser that I love has allowed me to invest in more expensive moisturizers over time.

May 9, 2018 8:47 pm
Reply to  Elizabeth

I have truly loved every OLO product I’ve tried – as mentioned above, I used Easy Does It and Skin Savior for years! Such a great company!

May 9, 2018 11:05 pm

I would love to try the skin savior. My “routine” is embarrassingly short and simple and I would love to start taking better care of my skin. I am definitely going to purchase the charcoal soap and love your way of making it last longer as well as fit better in your hand!

Kate R.
May 13, 2018 6:23 pm

Love this post! Sounds like we have similar skin problems, and I have been on the hunt for a new moisturizer for months! Hopefully, some of these products will be the solution :)

May 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Thanks so much for sharing – love hearing about the products you use and would recommend! I, too, have a hard time finding products that I end up reordering, but One Love Organics is, for sure, an exception. I used Skin Savior last spring/summer/fall and Skin Dew over the winter – what a difference it makes for dry skin! I am eager to try charcoal soap now, per your recommendation. :-) I’m wondering if you have any other eye creams you’ve tried? Still trying to find one I like.

May 18, 2018 11:07 pm

Although it’s the most expensive beauty product I’ve ever bought, the Rodan and Fields eye cream really and truly makes a difference for me. I’m not the most consistent when it comes to my night time skin care routine, so I don’t use the cream daily. But I definitely notice a difference when I haven’t used it for a few days. It helps smooth any fine lines and lessens any bags I have under my eyes. And although expensive, it lasts for a really long time. I’ve only used about 2/3 of the pot in a year.