I know you've heard THIS one before, but I'm going to try to get back into blogging again! I've got some new ideas to keep me motivated and interested in posting, so hopefully it'll stick this time.
So, on to today's post! This will be long, but please bear with me. I love to help people build a skincare routine that works for them, and I spend a lot of time explaining what I use and why I like it, so I thought I'd put it all in one place here (something I've been meaning to do for years, actually) so I can reference it in the future. For your information, I am 25 years old and have the epitome of combination skin: my forehead and nose get very oily, my cheeks are always normal, and my chin and the area around my mouth (as well as my lips) get very dry. I am also highly acne-prone.
I'm not going to pretend I'm a Skincare Saint and I always do everything exactly as I should every day. Sometimes I get lazy, and since I know sometimes you get lazy too, I'm going to be honest here! This is a bit backward, but I'm going to start with my evening routine (you'll see why later on):
1. EVERY NIGHT - Remove makeup, dirt, and grime with a makeup removing wipe. I use the Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Removing Wipes (in the lavender package). I've tried all four variations of the Neutrogena wipes and also wipes by many other brands, and I keep coming back to my mainstay - it feels and smells refreshing, thoroughly removes all my face makeup (including long-wearing foundation), leaves no residue behind, and has never broken me out. That's the most important part to me. These will remove regular mascara with very light rubbing, but I can't get waterproof mascara 100% off using just these wipes without rubbing the heck out of my eyes, which I refuse to do. Usually, Lazy Kristina appears at this point and I just don't bother to fully remove my mascara (see? Honesty!). There are no other wipes I like anywhere near as much as these, but if I had to give them up, I'd start using the regular Neutrogena wipes in the blue package.
2. SOME NIGHTS - When I'm not feeling quite as lazy, I use Sonia Kashuk eye makeup remover with Shiseido Facial Cotton pads to remove the remaining eye makeup. My second favorite eye makeup remover is Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover and my second favorite cotton pads are DHC Silky Cotton. If you throw Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover or Lancome Bi-Facil at me for free in a GWP, I like and will use them, but I don't experience any better results from those than I do from the Sonia Kashuk or Neutrogena eye makeup removers, so I wouldn't buy them because I don't find they're worth the extra cost. I do, however, believe that the Shiseido and DHC cotton pads are worth the (minor) added cost versus cotton pads you might buy at the drugstore. They truly are lint-free and far less scratchy than "normal" cotton pads; you don't realize how scratchy normal cotton pads are until you start using Shiseido or DHC and then have to go back to drugstore cotton pads. OUCH. When you're talking about your sensitive eye area, it's worth it.
(Yes, that's right, I don't use a regular cleanser at night unless for some reason I'm exceptionally grimy.)
3. SOME NIGHTS (the nights when I've fully removed my eye makeup) - I follow it up with Natura Bisse Eye Recovery Balm. Right now I'm really liking the texture of this. I don't have wrinkles around my eyes so I can't speak to whether this will help with those, but it makes my undereye area look and feel smooth, silky, and rejuvenated. Another eye cream I have used extensively and like for the same reasons is Dior Hydra Life Pro-Youth Sorbet Eye Creme, but I dislike that it comes in a jar. Around the holidays, you can sometimes get a value set from Sephora and from Dior counters where, when you buy the Dior eye creme, you get very generous sample sizes of other Hydra Life products along with it for free.
4. EVERY NIGHT - I drip approximately 8-10 drops of Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid into my dry palm, rub my hands together vigorously, and rub the watery product gently but throughly into my face, neck, and upper chest. This is the most important step in my entire routine and the most life-changing product I've ever used. I've been through so many bottles of it I've completely lost count - at least 10. If Paula's Choice ever decides to discontinue it, I will furiously drive to their Renton facility in the middle of the night, break in, and steal all their remaining stock. Er, I mean... *shifty eyes* ... anyway. You can only buy this on the Paula's Choice website, but their customer service is excellent, they ship very quickly, and frequently run sale promotions. The reason I love this so much is because it smoothes out my skin overnight and keeps me blemish- and blackhead-free, without fail, and it has for years. When I'm consistently using this every single night, I never need to use any other scrub or physical exfoliant. I LOVE THIS STUFF! My boyfriend uses it too and has requested that I add on his behalf: "Each night that I use the 2% BHA Liquid, there's a noticeable difference when I shave the next morning. When I use it, I get less razor burn and a smoother shave. I also get noticeably fewer breakouts when I use it regularly."
5. AS NEEDED - I use Paula's Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Acne Fighting Treatment on the occasional hormonal zit, perhaps once a week. It's got a very milky consistency and a little goes a long way, so my tube has lasted me years. It's not even close to empty, but I should probably get a new one soon anyway... I'm sure it expires at some point, haha. I prefer this over Persa-Gel and other benzoyl peroxide treatments that are more readily available in stores. The consistency is thin enough that if for some reason my skin is going bonkers (like if I try a new foundation that doesn't get along with my skin), I can apply a thin layer of it all over my face and not dry out like a raisin in the sun, which I can't say is true for the other benzoyl peroxide treatments I've tried.
That's it for my night routine! So, here's what I do in the mornings:
1. SOME MORNINGS (if I didn't remove all my eye makeup the previous night) - I cleanse my whole face and remove all remaining eye makeup residue with Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil. Another cleansing oil I like when my skin is feeling slightly drier than usual is Lumene Lift Touch Rejuvenating Cleansing Oil. Both fully remove my makeup effortlessly, feel good in the process, and don't leave any residue behind. If you've never used a cleansing oil before, you rub it into a dry face with dry hands until all makeup is dissolved/broken down, then you rinse it all clean. In my opinion, with a good cleansing oil, you shouldn't need to follow it up with a separate cleanser, and I don't follow either of these up with another cleanser. If I was Diligent Kristina the night before and I start my morning with no leftover eye makeup, I cleanse with Fresh Soy Face Cleanser (another product I've been using for many years and absolutely adore). It's refreshing, soothing, and not overly drying. It won't fully remove heavy-duty/waterproof makeup, but again, if I'm looking to remove heavy-duty makeup I use one of my cleansing oils instead.
2. EVERY MORNING - I drip some Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore Reducing Toner onto a Shiseido Facial Cotton pad and wipe it all over my face, neck, and upper chest. I find this toner tightens pores a little and helps keep my oilies in check without drying out my chin, perhaps due to the niacinamide. It tingles a tiny bit immediately after I put it on, but it's a pleasant tingle and dissipates quickly. Another toner I like is Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener. As far as I can tell, that one doesn't do all that much, but it smells and feels totally refreshing and wonderful! Both of these toners are alcohol-free.
3. EVERY MORNING - I massage about a nickel-sized amount of Boscia Revitalizing Black Hydration Gel into my face and neck. This stuff is fascinating. Yes, it is a black-tinted gel and it has tiny gold shimmers in it (I have no idea why). Yes, it's got an airtight pump mechanism built into the jar so the product stays uncontaminated... and also so you can't tell when you're running out. However, my skin LOVES it. It's thoroughly moisturizing, really does feel revitalizing (it perks me up every morning!), melts into my skin effortlessly, and the black tint and shimmers completely vanish as I rub it in (and I'm about as pale as they come). It also seems to work very well with both my oily areas and my dry areas. Another moisturizer I really like is Dior Hydra Life Pro-Youth Sorbet Creme, but as with the eye cream, I hate that it comes in a jar you have to dig your fingers into each time. I've actually decanted mine into an empty pump bottle I had from another Dior product I used up but won't repurchase.
4. SOME MORNINGS - I use one of the eye cremes mentioned above. I say "some mornings" because sometimes I just plain forget.
5. ALMOST EVERY MORNING - I follow my skincare routine up with an excellent, full-spectrum protecting, mattifying sunscreen. I've been using Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 for about a year and really like it a lot. It's the best replacement I've ever found for my old, discontinued, beloved Shiseido SPF 55 Lotion (no good for me anymore since they reformulated it around 1-2 years ago). The only time I don't use the Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 (hence the "almost" above) is when I'm using my Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 as foundation, because that has sufficient SPF in a stable enough base to protect my skin to the extent that I require. I'll review that separately later on, but I quite like it. I also recently learned of a tinted version of the Elta MD sunscreen (there's a great review on Cafe Makeup), which I may be trying next.
The only other product I want to mention here is the Paula's Choice Lip and Body Treatment Balm. I've been using this for years and have used up more jars than I can count. I keep one in my purse, one in my desk at work, and one in my car. Despite the fact that my apartment is only about 900 square feet, I also have multiple jars stashed throughout the apartment. I love that I can put this on at night and still feel it hard at work on my lips the next morning, and when my lips have been chapped and I've been picking at them (a nasty habit of mine) so they're all flaky/scabby/nasty (I know, I know!), it heals them STAT. I'm a big fan. It comes in a big jar, so I've even melted it down in the microwave and mixed it with pigments or lipsticks before to create my own tinted lip balms. Easy custom colors!
That's all, folks! If you actually read all this from start to finish, I commend you and thank you. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I'll try to address them the best I can!
Disclaimer: I purchased the product(s) featured in this post myself.