This time a year ago, I had a very shitty skincare routine. By “very shitty,” I mean “non-existent.” I washed my face (sometimes) when I showered in the morning (with dedicated face soap, at least) and that was it. I did not remove my makeup at night (but then again, I wear makeup at MOST 1-2 times a month), I did not moisturize, I also didn’t drink a lot water, and birth control was turning me into a pimply teenager. (Oddly enough, I did not get a lot of acne during puberty. Nope, that was saved for adulthood.)
Then, for reasons absolutely unknown to me, I started watching a lot of French makeup and skincare tutorials on YouTube. Why French? I don’t know. Do I still watch them? Yes. Do I use any of the products they recommend? Nope. The videos made me want to be slightly less ugly, though, and more methodical in my behavior, and so I began to curate my perfect skincare routine.
Now, I don’t break out as much. I still do, but it is less noticeable (i.e. no one apparently sees this shit but me), less extreme (tiny dots as opposed to face-consuming volcanoes), and less frequent. Those breakouts also almost always coincide with me slipping on my skincare routine, which I especially curated to be as easy, cheap, and fast as possible. So now, I bestow this gift to you, dear readers, so that you too can shed the ugly duckling mask and fuck shit up.
For reference: I have oily skin. I am a ball of grease. C’est la vie.
I have six products in my routine: cleanser, micellar water, toner, day lotion, night lotion, and my life-saving mask (we’ll get to this shit later). In the mornings, I wash my face with the cleanser first, LEAVE the cleanser on in the shower while I do other things, and then rinse at the end of the shower. I apply toner, and get dressed while the toner soaks in and dries. Then I use my day lotion. At night, I wipe with micellar water on a cotton pad and then apply night lotion.
Again, this is all in theory, sometimes I forget the night portion, but so long as I don’t fuck up the day portion, I keep my breakouts to a minimum. (Imagine the glow up if I could actually stick to 100% of the routine for more than 2 days at a time!!!)
Almost all of my products, with the exception of my life-saving face mask, can be purchased on Amazon. I am not sponsored by anyone (though I wish I was, because then I’d do more skincare/books/style blogs), but alas, here is the list:
I tend to use the creamy, oil-free acne wash by Neutrogena. Neutrogena, so far, is the only drugstore, and cheap brand that keeps my face clear. I have tried Clearasil and Clean & Clear, I’ve tried Aveeno, I’ve tried Biore, I’ve tried cleansing oils, and Cetaphil makes my skin burn. This Neutrogena cleanser is the only cleanser under $10 that works for me (so far). A close second is Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleanser, also creamy and smells much better. However it doesn’t make my breakouts go away as quickly as Neutrogena.
I keep specifying “so far” because I have two new products that I’d like to try: Avène’s Gel Cleanser and Cosrx’s Low PH Morning Gel Cleanser. However, if they suck, I will have no regrets going back to this one. It is also worth noting that I do not use any cleansers with microbeads, as they are bad for the environment.
I started using toner only recently because I didn’t understand what it does. I still don’t understand what it’s for. However, my skin seems to like it and got much clearer when I incorporated a working one into my routine. I began with a basic combination of rose water and witch hazel because apparently that stuff is the bee’s knees. It was not. It started to seem like the toner actually made my breakouts worse, as my skin was better when I forgot to use it. After cutting it out, I swapped to the Tea Tree Toner Water from Lush. It is in a nice spray bottle, which cuts down on the time it takes to use cotton swabs. There are also hints of grapefruit which smells really nice and feels refreshing, especially since I hate mornings. While I would love to try out other products, I don’t want to get rid of this ever.
Day & Night Creams
Day creams are nice. They keep your face moisturized, and as a result, you secrete less oil. Less oil means less blemishes. I don’t know why it took me so long to get this. I would originally only use lotion in the winter (which I always spend in very cold, snowy places), because the wind is cold and dry. Creams also have the added bonus of making you age less. I’m hoping that this + my black not cracking will turn me into Angela Bassett. For lotions, I started with Nivea’s Moisturizing Soft Cream, a $5 tub that you can get from any drugstore. No one even recommended it to me, I just saw people buying so I bought it. It was okay, but I felt greasy afterwards for the entire day. It also smells like… fresh sweat. Then I moved on to Avène’s Skin Recovery Cream, which was thinner, lighter, and made me less greasy. However I hated the tube and $35.00 for less than 2 oz. felt excessive. Maybe when I become a #richbitch…
Currently I am using (and loving!) the Sophora Japonica Day Cream and Rhodoila Rosea Anti-Aging Night Cream by Natura Siberica. They smell amazing and don’t feel too heavy. A little goes a long way on my face, and I noticed that my oil production dropped dramatically when I started to use them. Everyone laughed at me when they found out that I used face lotions from Siberia, and doubly so when we noticed that the ingredients list was in Russian (it is available online in English though so who cares), but it smells nice, I look great, and it is much cheaper than many other face creams. I paid $12 each, purchased them 4 months ago, and I still haven’t run out from daily use. My skin feels much softer and smoother after use, especially when I use before bed. Unfortunately, Amazon didn’t have the Sophora Japonica Night Cream available when I went to order, so I compromised with the Rhodoila Rosea, which I actually like more. (The scent is to die for, not too strong but definitely floral.) Natura Siberica seems to be have a bigger, better market in other countries, as the UK and Australian online stores have better selection, and a French friend could actually find this on a shelf. However, I don’t plan on changing brands any time soon.
Micellar water is good for removing make-up and impurities, especially because the water has little beads of oil distributed throughout. There is supposedly a little bit of protein as well, all of which make for happy, healthy, clean skin. I mostly use it because nothing else (at this price, anyway) takes my lipstick off and I am way to lazy to do a full deep face wash at night. Nope. Can’t do it. I decided to go simple (pun-intended) with Simple Micellar Water, pretty cheap (~$6) and easy to find in drugstores. It stinks, but that’s why I use lotion afterwards. I don’t particularly care for this brand, so I will probably try out Bioderma next just for variety.
Super Amazing Life-Saving Face Mask
Now comes my favorite product of the bunch, my face mask, Roses Are Red by Foxie Cosmetics. This mask is amazing for quite a few reasons, and it also tears me up inside a good reason. I use the mask (in theory) weekly. I wash my face, rub this all over, sit and chill for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse. It is very oily and kind of gross. It smells like dirt, and it looks like I’ve smeared blood all over my face and the counter, but I truly love this mask. My first time using, my small forming zits vanished, pores shrank, my hardcore blemishes lessened, and the next day, I had a very serious, soft and clear skin glow. I was amazing after the first use. It is relatively expensive compared to everything on this list (~$26), but I only use once a week so it will last a while and the effect is unmatched.
The downside with this is that it works so well and doesn’t deplete rapidly enough so, while I want to try more of Kayla’s amazing products (Witch of Black Rose, Pink Slime, Little Deaths all call my name) I don’t need them. I would end up hoarding them because I don’t use face masks enough to put them to good use. Also, my face is already clear and glowing so what more can they do?? Investing in these makes me afraid that I am going to tempt the fates with too much good shit. However, as soon as this runs out, I’m not considering anyone else. As a good indicator of her work, everything is almost always sold out. I actually signed up for her mailing list so that I am notified the second things are on sale. Looking forward to splurging for my birthday.
Next up: I am excited to try next Avène’s Gel Cleanser, Cosrx’s Low PH Morning Gel Cleanser, and also incorporate Cosrx’s Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, because apparently essence helps retain moisture in your skin and make your lotions more effective. Also, nothing says “sexy” like rubbing your face in snail excretions, am I right? I’m hoping one of these will completely banish blemishes, but I’ll let you know!
Have you tried any of these products? Would you? What are you using? Tell me more here or on my Mastodon account firstname.lastname@example.org