I couldn’t call myself a lifestyle blogger if I didn’t write about my skin care routine, right?
Well, I wish that I had all of the magical answers for you as to what products are tested and true. But the truth is, when it comes to my skin, I’m just as clueless as most of you probably are. Stick with me though, we’re going to get through this together!
I was inspired to write this post while wearing one of those Nacho Libre style sheet masks. I stocked up on them during Covid because according to Instagram, that’s how we’re supposed to practice “self-care” during these trying times. As I was applying this gold-infused, sheet of slim to my face, ever so delicately trying to line up the holes for my eyes, nose, and mouth, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I didn’t know whether I was living my best life or at a casting call for the sequel of Silence of the Lambs.
It was at that point when I realized that even in my late 30s, I still had no clue what I was doing when it came to my
life skin. Why does something as simple as “washing your face” have to be SO overwhelming and complicated? If this sounds like you, keep reading.
My 36-year-old skin has been through hell and back over the years. And I mean literal hell. Have you ever had a chemical peel? Skin care professionals are charging an insane amount of money to burn the top layer of skin off of your face with the use of firey chemicals. You can’t get more satanic than that.
Before I get into some of the things I’ve learned about skin care and what products I’m currently using, let’s take a walk down memory lane and figure out how I got here.
Now that my skin is nearly middle-aged, I’ve noticed that the routine that got me through my entire 20s without a stitch of acne no longer applies. Being careless with my skin was a regular occurrence for me back in the day.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned my complete and utter lack of concern when it came to proper sun-care in my youth. But consistently wearing a 30 SPF (or higher in a lot of cases) isn’t the only error of ways I’ve corrected.
For instance, an incident that happened frequently in my 20s, like going to bed in last night’s makeup wouldn’t just be a calamity, it would be the second state of emergency declared this year.
We’ve all experienced the horror of waking up from a crazy night out having slept in last night’s contour. When I look back through all of my college photos, all I can see are the dull stains under my eyes from a blue Wet n Wild mascara wand which was probably caked on with a spritz of Évian face mist (I thought I was bougie, but looking back now, I was just ratchet).
Surprisingly, I was virtually acne-free as a teenager and young adult. I think I can credit my lack of pubescent acne to the fact that my mother always had high-quality products available to me despite my rebellion to want to use what Seventeen magazine was telling me to use. Spoiler alert, Clearasil did NOT get me a date to the prom as promised, I’d like my $3.95 back. Now that she’s no longer fronting the bill, reality has set in that having glowing, acne-free skin comes at a very high cost.
Fast-forward to the present day: I now have a greater knowledge of skin care basics and a bit more common sense when it comes to my face and the care that it needs. Now that I’m approaching my (gulp) 40s, I’m realizing that nailing down an appropriate skin care regimen is quite the rollercoaster ride. It’s more like one of those rickety wooden ones that you really wish you hadn’t gone on.
If someone had told my future self that I’d one day be plastering my face with rose hip oil every night, some of my first thoughts would have been: “Do roses even HAVE hips?”, “Wouldn’t those just be thorns?”, “Why don’t they just call it rose thorn oil?” Secondly, I would have said that I was quite positive my $4 jar of Jennifer Love Hewitt endorsed Noxema was going to keep me wrinkle-free for life.
Just like everything else that comes with age, skin care has become more and more complicated. Have you ever walked into a Deciem store? You have to be a chemist just to buy moisturizer. Shelves upon shelves of medicine-like eye dropper bottles with percentages of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce printed on plain white labels.
I feel like I stumbled into the depths of a pharmacy basement where they keep all the expired prescriptions and all of the failed vaccination attempts for Covid-19. There are a few products from The Ordinary that I have tried despite my overwhelm, but more of this later.
Step-By-Step (oh, baby):
The steps of my skin care routine have also amplified with age. Each night, I allow myself 30-45 minutes at my bathroom sink just so I can apply layers upon layers of cleansers, toners, serums, night masks, and oils. I’m surprised that anything is even getting through to my pores at this point. It’s like Trump built a wall between my skin cells and a Sephora.
After years of doing it wrong, I finally figured out the order of which to apply my skincare products. Here is a little cheat-sheet if you’re also struggling with this like I was:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve filled out hundreds of online and in-store skin care quizzes, and I find them no help at all. They always ask you what problem areas you want to focus on. (Anti-aging? Dryness? Oil reducing? Uneven skin tone?) How do I pick JUST one? Even though they give you multiple choices, sometimes my skin can be dry, oily, and be prone to breakouts all on the same day.
I’m usually forced to choose the combination skin box, but even that doesn’t cover all of the bases. I guess I would describe my skin overall as being combination. But, it’s a combination of old AF and acne-prone teenager. Where are the products for that?
Bottom line is, skin quizzes are never going to give you definite answers, but they can be a good starting point and help to cut out some of the guesswork.
They say that beauty starts from within (blah, blah, blah…), so to avoid working on my self-discovery, I decided to up my collagen production instead! LOL
Collagen was a very confusing avenue for me at first. Have you ever looked into the different types of collagen? They all look the same but have a different animal on the front (cows, fish, one just have a picture of seaweed on it).
And what IS collagen? Am I actually mixing a cows ground up bone morrow in my coffee each morning, because not going to lie, that’s totally what I assumed at first.
What is Collagen?
Well, if you are just as clueless as I was about collagen, here’s the “collagen for dummies” breakdown.
Our bodies naturally produce collagen, it’s made up of 19 amino acids that strengthen our tendons, joints and connect our soft tissue to our bones. It also plays a major role in our skin’s overall hydration.
Collagen production will help improve skin’s elasticity, plumpness, and even help to fight off wrinkles and fine lines. It’s basically botox but, from within!
As we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen (this can start as early as your 20s), hence the need to add a collagen supplement into our daily routine early.
Other factors that can aide in loss of collagen in the body are high levels of refined sugars and carbs in your diet (I’m screwed), excessive sun exposure (I’m really screwed), and smoking (ok, phew!).
Collagen supplements are made from the hide and scales of animals and fish, which I know sounds really gross, but hear me out.
If you’re a vegan, this product isn’t for you, but there are plant-based collagen options on the market as well.
As mentioned in a previous post, I have been using the Vital Proteins Collagen powder daily for the past several months. Not only has it improved my skin’s elasticity, but my hair and nails have benefitted as well. I would highly recommend adding a collagen supplement to your skincare routine, just do your research and find what form works best for you.
Before anyone questions my perpetual love of Sephora, I once painted the inside of my old house in classic Sephora black and white stripes.
There’s nothing like spending a Saturday afternoon wandering around the palate filled aisles, spritzing each layer of my clothing with expensive perfume, and freshening up my entire face with all the make-up testers on display. (I usually schedule my Sephora trips an hour before a night out on the town).
Being able to touch, smell, feel, and try all the luxurious creams and skincare products only increases your desire to want to try something new. In the endless search of finding the next miracle cream, you quickly discover that you can’t afford to test the waters when each 30ml jar of cream costs $70+ dollars!
The only detail that I could probably live without, is being approached by the Kardashian-like contoured 20-year-old Sephora consultant who expects me to put my trust in her to give me anti-aging advice (eye roll). I try to humour her and let her guide me through the store as if I don’t already know where the eye creams are. I pretend to listen as she tries to sell me on the latest $120 serum that I can only assume is made with flecks of 24 karat gold, Gisele Bündchen’s arm hair, and some rare melon extract discovered in the Maldives.
To avoid awkwardly having to tell a sales consultant who’s eyebrows don’t even move when she talks, that I have a hard time even splurging on a jar of almond butter, I leave the store with my tail between my legs and resort to making all future skin care purchases online.
Sadly, online shopping isn’t much better. Trying to filter through all of the product reviews that you KNOW aren’t a true testimony. Of course, you loved this moisturizer, Mindy, you live in dewy south Florida and you’re only 22 years old. You could moisturize your skin with a Dr. Pepper lip smacker and still have the same result.
(Finally) My Current Skin Care Favs
- Clinique Clarifying Lotion l 2. Clinique 7-Day Scrub Cream l 3. FAB Pure Skin Face Cleanser l 4. FAB Ultra Repair Cream l 5. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Oil l 6. The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5 l 7. Lush Oatfix Fresh Face Mask l 8. Lush Mask of Magnaminty Fresh Face Mask
Throughout my journey of trying to make good choices for the sake of my pores, there are a few products/brands that I have stumbled upon that have stood the test of time in my beauty routine:
This brand is a staple in my life. Clinique was the very first skincare line I was ever introduced to as a teen and I still use these products today. Most famously known for its cult-classic, completely customizable, 3-step skin care system, Clinique offers an extensive product line that covers everything from anti-aging to youthful skin types. If you have sensitive skin, Clinique offers clean, fragrance-free products that are dermatologist tested to not cause irritation.
My Clinique Must-haves:
This toner has been on my bathroom counter for years. The Clarifying Lotion is not only a great value at $22, but makes my skin feel clean and refreshed. Just two dabs onto a cotton pad and one quick swish over my entire face, neck, and chest (sometimes even my upper back, especially in the extra sweaty summer months) create the perfect foundation for the rest of the steps in my routine.
I love this 7-Day Scrub Cream because it’s gentle, yet effective. There’s nothing worse than buying an exfoliant that leaves your face red and raw. Unlike a lot of facial exfoliators, this scrub has a moisturizing cream base and just the right amount of grit to really get down into the dirty. It leaves my skin feeling polished and incredibly hydrated at the same time. Living up to its name, unlike most exfoliators, it’s gentle enough to use seven days a week.
Brand: First Aid Beauty
I only discovered the First Aid Beauty line about three years ago, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Similar to Clinique, FAB offers clean, chemical, and fragrance-free products and they have something for all skin types. But, they are especially known for helping to heal sensitive or extremely dry skin conditions such as eczema.
My First Aid Beauty Must-haves:
I use this cleanser religiously. It’s cream-based so it really adds a lot of moister to my skin which is especially helpful in the winter months. But, it’s light enough that I use it year-round. Although the Pure Skin Face Cleanser is gentle, it’s tough enough to remove make-up, excess oil and dirt. This product is also a great value, coming in under $30, and since a pea-size amount is enough to lather over your entire face, a 150ml bottle lasts about 3-4 months.
This moisturizer is heaven in a jar. It’s silky, quick-absorbing, and super hydrating without feeling heavy. I also use this product year-round. It’s ideal for someone with sensitive skin and comes in multiple amazing scents (my favourite is Rosemary-Mint) or unscented if your skin is on the sensitive side. Since the jar is quite large and usually lasts me about 5-6 months, I sometimes use this cream on my entire body and even my hands when they need a little extra attention, especially with all the hand-washing I’ve been doing lately.
Brand: The Ordinary
Despite being very overwhelming, The Ordinary has become increasingly popular due to its offerings of specially formulated products at extremely low prices (and I mean EXTREMELY low, like “start-the-car” low). The company’s theory is, if they avoid fancy packaging and expensive advertising campaigns, they can make their products affordable and ultimately more attainable to their customers. The trick to purchasing anything from The Ordinary is to do your research. There is a lot of info on their website that provides in-depth descriptions about each product and what its benefits are. If you’re physically going into a Deciem store, track down a sales consultant and ask for the low-down.
My The Ordinary Must-Haves:
I was first introduced to rose hip oil about three years ago when I walked into a Deciem store completely clueless and asked the sales consultant for the best anti-aging formulas. She recommended this Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Oil because it has incredible anti-aging properties, such as Vitamin C, that help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and uneven skin tone. I use this only in the evenings, after my moisturizer. A lot of people who have oily skin tend to shy away from face oils because they feel like it’s going to make them look and feel like a grease pan, but I assure you it won’t. You’ll wake up in the morning with the perfect glow.
Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that gets thrown around often and is advertised to be in a lot of anti-aging skincare products found on store shelves. Hyaluronic acid’s sole purpose is to attract water, or in the case our skin, moister. Hyaluronic acid promotes healthy, supple skin and also aids in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. The Ordinary offers a pure Hyaluronic acid serum that is super concentrated for the almost unheard of price of $6.80. I apply this serum day and night before my moisturizer for best results.
TIP: When applying this serum, make sure your face is damp. This serum needs a bit of water to absorb into the skin properly.
Canadian owned and operated, Lush is truly a one-of-a-kind beauty company. Their products are all homemade and are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable, and fresh, meaning they only use ingredients at their ultimate freshness. This allows consumers to use their products at the peak of their effectiveness. Going into a Lush store is also a really fun experience. Unlike Sephora, Lush consultants are a bit more relatable and un-intimidating.
Lush is also famously known for being the inventor of the bath bomb. They offer a variety of different kinds and even have ones with glitter in case you want to look like you just spent three hours in the champagne room at your local peeler bar.
My Lush Must-Haves:
6-7. Fresh Face Masks
My absolute favourite face masks have to be Lush’s fresh masks. They are so fresh that they have to be stored in the refrigerator and used within 10-14 days of purchase. Extremely affordable at under $10 for a 150gm container, they are ideal if you are like me and deal with ever-changing skin issues. One week I may need a moister boost and the next I may need something to even out my complexion and tone. My two favourites in this line are the Oatfix and the Mask of Magnaminty. Both smell so delicious, you feel like you’re slathering your face with a breakfast smoothie. Another bonus with Lush is that if you return five of their black product pots to their store, they will give you a FREE fresh mask!
The reality is, your skin care routine may change weekly, and that’s ok. You might have to purchase multiple products that do different things, when you need them, which is a concept that I’m still trying to grasp without burning a hole in my wallet.
Since I don’t look in the mirror and see a leather glove, I guess I can confirm that what I’ve been doing so far is working. I’m sure that my skincare journey doesn’t end here though. You’ll probably still find me back at Sephora in a few weeks, pretending to be in the market for expensive perfume.