*This a loooong post with lots of products mentioned, so to err on the safe side let’s cover all eventualities: PR Samples/Existing Brand Relationships/Gifted/Aff. Links*
I used to share my skincare routines quite regularly on here, but it’s been absolutely ages because I’ve been mixing and matching for so long that I didn’t feel comfortable talking about one routine, just to drastically change it a few days or weeks later. This routine is one I think I’ve stuck to with more commitment than ever before, and it’s working like a dream – my skin is the best it’s ever been and I could not be happier.
A few points of note; firstly, my skin is dry-combination and prone to breakouts and sensitivity, so an absolute bloody nightmare to balance, as you try to treat one issue, you exacerbate the other. I have found that the best thing for me is to build a generally very gentle routine with one or two powerful actives. I also make sure that I have a couple of products around to act as buffers when the actives are a little too aggressive for my annoyingly reactive skin. With that in mind, here’s what I’ve been using, loving and reaping the rewards from:
I start my skincare routine as soon as I get home, by using a micellar to remove the majority of my make-up. I’m not especially loyal to any particular product, but I do really like the Garnier (find them here – link) ones as they’re cheap and very good. Other great ones are Bioderma and SVR. I do this a few hours before my main routine, which then starts with a double cleanse. I use an oil first, and again I’m not hugely committed to one particular brand, but I do really like this one from Elemis (here it is – link) and I also like the Murad and Julep offerings too.
The main cleanse is my opportunity to try out new products and have a bit of a play, since the rest of my skincare routine is quite regimented. Having said that, these are the three I currently turn to most; the Omorovicza Cashmere Cleanser (here – link) is my everyday choice, as it’s incredibly gentle, yet thorough at removing all skincare and leaving my skin ready for my routine – I really do love it and currently chose it above all others. If my skin is feeling a little more congested, such as around my period, I’ll reach for another long-term favourite, the Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm (here – link), which is just amazing at providing a deep cleanse without leaving skin feeling stripped of moisture – it’s an incredible, one-of-a-kind product. My newest cleanser love is the Botanicals Gentle Cleansing Melt (here – link) which is the lightest balm cleanser you’ll ever feel, so I reach for this when my skin feels particularly sensitive or dry.
After my cleanse, I always follow with a treatment with the Aurora Light Therapy Face Mask (full review here) – I cannot recommend this enough as I really do believe it’s what keeps the majority of my breakouts at bay. I realise not everyone can afford such a fancy bit of kit, but if you struggle with breakouts then definitely look into LED Light Therapy as it’s great for gently but really effectively treating breakouts. The Neutrogena mask is a really good alternative, as are the spot treatment devices from Dr Dennis Gross (here it is – link) and FOREO (find it here – link). I’m pretty religious about using this every night and I use the blue light setting for spots, although if I have an event, I’ll use a couple of the other settings too – there’s actually a couple of settings that work their way through the various options in one treatment, for those of us who can’t decide!
After the light therapy, I tone with The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner (here – link) mainly because it’s very gentle and it’s my last step before the all important Retinol. I know toners are controversial, but I use mine because firstly I’m always a bit nervous about there being any residual cleanser on the skin – as someone who is breakout-prone, I want to eradicate all risks! Secondly, it’s because it can get a bit sweaty under the mask and I don’t want to leave any kind of film on the skin, especially when I’m following up with the main actives. I tone, then I leave a good 30-60 minutes to let my skin calm down before moving on to the next step. I really do recommend giving skin a chance to settle right down before using the Retinol, if you have skin that can be reactive.
Now on to the Retinol! I’ve dabbled with a few different Retinol products and never really found them that impressive, but I think the main reason is because Retinol does take a while to show it’s full capability, so if you are trying out a Retinol product, do really give it plenty of time before deciding whether you like it or not. I have skin that shows change quite quickly, but even I didn’t see any great reward for at least 5-6 weeks. I also struggled with the idea of introducing it slowly, as I work best with a set routine, so I would keep forgetting to introduce this and got nowhere with it. I then decided to use a buffering product to help to ease my skin into experiencing a Retinol.
The Vichy Mineral 89 (here – link) is a brilliant buffer product for Retinol as it provides a light layer between your skin and the Retinol, but still allows the Retinol to work, so it’s a great product to have in your routine when you’re allowing your skin to adapt. I’m using Mineral 89 less now that my skin is used to the Retinol, but I will be moving up a level soon, so I’ll start using it again as a buffer. I found a great way to use it was ever other night under the Retinol, but if you’re really struggling with dryness and irritation, then use it every night until the issues subside, then start cutting it down. As you can see, I’m on a low dose of the Obagi Tretinoin Cream at just 0.025% and this definitely impacted my skin enough to cause dryness and irritation for a few weeks, but once that settled, OH MY GOD, the difference it made – my skin is so smooth, plump and glowing. What an ingredient!
I treat the Retinol element of my routine quite carefully, so after applying a pea-sized amount and working it in to my skin, I leave it for another half an hour before following with my next step, which is the Obagi C-Therapy Night Treatment, which is a mix of vitamins and Hydroquinone which acts as a skin lightener. I use this because one of my biggest issues is pigmentation, but this is the best thing I have ever used for addressing pigmentation issues – within a short time of using this my post-pregnancy Melasma was gone, and it’s also great at speeding up the fading of post acne marks, which is something I also really struggle with.
Finally, possibly my favourite product of all-time (I think I’m on bottle 9 now??) the Obagi Hydrate, which is the best moisturiser I have ever used and I can’t ever see myself using anything else, which makes my job quite difficult, but there you go. Obagi Hydrate is rich, hydrating, plumping and extremely nourishing, so it’s great to use alongside actives like Retinol and AHAs. I melt through this as I use it in the morning too – I use one pump AM and one pump PM and I’d say a bottle lasts me a month, if I’m lucky. Definitely not an investment product as I get through it so quickly, but I don’t care as it’s unbeatable and my skin adores it.
Two out of three of the Obagi products I use are prescription only (Hydrate is fine) so if you fancy trying them out, you’ll need to find a practitioner here – link. I go to see the fabulous guys at Rita Rakus here – link.
There we have it! My full evening routine, which is a bit faffy, but totally worth it. I know all people who are big on skincare bang on about how when you invest the effort and time, you’ll reap the rewards, but it really is true. I’ll be sharing my morning routine soon, which is a lot more simple!