I am a very simple person. I like very simple things.
This is a realization I’ve had to come to terms with as I appreciate the complexities that I do enjoy - in problem-solving, in travel, in analysis, and in writing.
Which brings me to this: I’m a complete novice in most things makeup and skincare. Hell hath no fury like a shaking hand and eyeliner, and I’ve lived on the r/skincareaddiction subreddit for months now.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve refined what I’ve been using on my skin. It’s taken experimentation, getting honest reviews from friends and the Instagram community, and time spent to figure out what went best, what felt goopy or greasy, what left my skin soft, and most importantly, what I could travel with and carry around with ease. I wanted to build an effective, minimal collection that I could take around anywhere, with enough of an arsenal to feel completely prepared, day or night.
Before I jump into what I use, some thoughts.
Invest in what you use. Some brand names in skincare are phenomenal, and for good reason - they work, they work well, and it’s hard to find competition. Alternatively, there’s a ton of great products at drugstore prices that rival anything one can find at Sephora or Ulta. Aim to buy less, but with higher quality (no matter the price point).
Skin will always come first. Try not to let your skin struggle. Put your money toward a good cleanser and moisturizer; and take care of any zits or blemishes as they arise. Never sleep with makeup on. Drink water, stay in your lane, and if you’re anything like me, watch your stressors. My body tends to act and react in tandem with life events. Take it slow, and treat yourself and your skin regularly.
I don’t really have a routine - yet. Embarrassingly enough, I felt behind the pack as I read others’ blogs and experiences with skincare. I don’t have a set morning and evening routine that I follow; I just do what feels right, and slowly, a pattern falls into place.
Note: Nothing I’m showing you is sponsored or gifted; I’ve purchased these all on my own accord.
Starting at the top.
Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser. I use this to take off makeup in the evenings. It’s quite strong - not much scrubbing is needed to take every last bit of mascara off.
Julep - Love Your Bare Face. I use this about three times a week in the mornings (usually on weekends and sometime during the work week), and I absolutely love it. It smells glorious; it is an oil, but I love how soft, even, and supple my skin feels after using it.
Glossier - Milky Jelly Cleanser. I use this sparingly, though I’m desperately trying to finish it. The cleanser feels like a watered-down variation of petroleum jelly. I’ve learned quite a bit about Glossier after investing in many of their products, and I’ve decided never to spend another dollar there again. If there’s something to admire about the company, it’s the marketing strategy.
A Reddit favorite I have yet to try are CeraVe cleansers (both for women and men).
Thayers Witch Hazel - Aloe Vera Formula - Alcohol Free Toner. I use this on cotton pads after washing and drying my face. I love the scent - I can feel it absorbing seamlessly, leaving my skin soft.
Serums, Oils, Sunscreens
I read up on Drunk Elephant for several weeks prior to investing in The Littles, which is a package of travel-sized amounts of all of their best-sellers. Drunk Elephant prides itself on clean formulas, simple ingredients (hypoallergenic and unscented), and the ability to mix all of their products together, which was right up my alley of using as little products as possible to achieve the best possible result.
My skin is combination oily/dry, depending on the hemisphere of face we’re talking about. I don’t break out too regularly, and my pain points are typically dark circles, fine lines, and occasional dry patches.
Do note that Drunk Elephant products are no quick buy - they’re pricey for what they offer, and there’s definitely reasonable alternatives out there. But after using these products for about six weeks, I am a DE believer - with several exceptions. I’ll break it down by product below.
Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser. Your typical jelly cleanser, reminiscent of Glossier. I used this for the first few days I had it, but fell back on my regular cleansers (above). I likely won’t buy this again.
C-Firma - Day Serum (Ascorbic Acid and Pumpkin Extract). I use this on my face after cleaning and toning every morning. It’s quite sticky and smells of pumpkin - I follow it up by mixing in the Protini Polypeptide Cream (green lid). I’ll be investing in both of these products for the long-term.
I use C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream on my under-eye and eyelid. Also a crowd favorite - my dark circles have literally disappeared in a matter of weeks, and fine lines/crow’s feet, less defined. I’ll be investing in this for the long-term.
T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. I use this every night after washing my face, and after it sets, I follow up with the Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. Among rosehip and argan oil, marula oil has been my absolute favorite to use. The formula that Drunk Elephant is light and airy - the oil sets into my skin quickly, without feeling greasy and overdone. I’ll be investing in this for the long-term. I’ve read that The Ordinary has the same oil (but a smidgen less potent), at a fraction of the price.
Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense. This is meant to be a sunscreen, and I barely use this. Something about the way the formula smells and the tint of the cream is a turn off. I won’t be buying this again.
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum. This product is touted as one of DE’s flagship serums, but I haven’t really had the same experience as others. I likely won’t buy this again.
Margano Rosehip Oil. I really, really like this oil. Several times a week, I’ll use a few drops on my face after washing and toning in the mornings, and my skin feels rich throughout the day.
Things I’ve learned over the past few months:
Skincare isn’t meant to be complex. There are so many products out there that it’s hard to sift through the noise. I’ve found that asking close friends/the occasional stranger about what they use is of much greater benefit than reading blogs and testimonials online; with influencer marketing, finding a really good product can get a bit harder than it should be.
It’s better to invest in a few things that actually work. This is a big one when it comes to certain cleansers, serums, oils, etc - if I love the products, making the leap with what actually works is a better spend of money than continuing to experiment with different brands.
But - weigh out alternatives, first. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the packaging (literally, but you know what I mean). The Ordinary is next up on my list to explore - I’ve heard good things, and the price point feels pretty good at first glance.
This is what I’ve got for now - let me know what you use, what you think, and products that you swear by.