“It’s been a while” would be an understatement, but then again, so would “I’ve been busy“, so let’s get the formalities out of the way: hey, hi, how are you, I missed you, I love what you’ve done with your hair, OKAY GREAT here’s another relentless screed about skincare.
Once upon a time, my skincare routine was ever-changing. I was chasing that dragon of the perfect #shelfie and would rotate a new product in every two weeks like clockwork. I got a lot of joy out of that, but at some point, I stopped feeling joy and just felt stressed and guilty and broke. So, I stopped. I’ve been using this exact routine for about a year now, and I love it, my skin loves it, my bank account loves it, everyone is happy forever.
(No judgment whatsoever on anyone who buys lots of skincare – I would still be doing it if it brought me any joy, but it doesn’t, so I don’t. I’m 30 going on 80 and I love my boring, predictable, delightful routine.)
Here, in all its wonderfully rote glory, is my current skincare routine:
Keep reading for mini-reviews, photos, and tenuous sports analogies.
My Skincare Team
My husband plays fantasy football the way some people, y’know, breathe, so I tend to think in football metaphors around this time of year. When brainstorming this blog post, I found myself dividing my skincare into three sections: offense, defense, and special teams.
Offense: the products that actively fight specific skin ills. Without offense, my skin would just maintain a baseline without making any forward progress.
Defense: the backbone of my skincare routine. Without defense, I open my skin up to all manner of attacks from the other team (e.g. P. acnes bacteria, pollution, sun damage, etc.).
Special teams: I don’t need ’em every day, but when a specific issue pops up, I’m so glad they’re around with their targeted skill set.
My daily offensive team consists of four products.
Stratia Vitamin C prototype: I know it’s not completely fair to include this, since no one can buy it yet, but I use it every morning. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and also stimulates collagen production, fades dark spots, helps undo sun damage, and more. I hope to launch this in the next few months!
Curology: I’ve been using Curology (née Pocketderm) for 3 or 4 years, and I have no plans to stop, maybe ever. It’s a monthly subscription service that matches you to a dermatologist, who prescribes a custom formula for your skin and ships it to your door. Mine consists of 0.02% tretinoin, 4% niacinamide, and 5% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.
Paula’s Choice CLEAR Extra Strength 2% BHA: my hands-down favorite BHA. It has the traditional concentration of OTC salicylic acid – 2% – but it’s formulated with methylpropanediol, a penetration enhancer, which ensures that same 2% salicylic acid gets deeper in your skin and functions more efficiently. This is only for seasoned BHA users and not for the sensitive-skinned.
Stratia Soft Touch AHA: a 10% mandelic acid gel. I feel weird reviewing my own products; they are my babies. I’ll just say that I wouldn’t have launched a product if I didn’t love it and use it every day.
Heimish All Clean Balm: a great little cleansing balm. It removes makeup easily, rinses cleanly, and doesn’t have too strong a smell. What more could a girl ask for?
Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk: my super-dry skin is easily stripped by foaming cleansers, so I need a very gentle moisturizing cleanser. Honestly, even if no one ever bought a single bottle of this, I’d still make it for myself.
Klairs Supple Preparation Toner: this is a cult classic for a reason. It’s a real workhorse: it’s not flashy, but it quietly makes everything in my routine work a little better, absorb a little faster, reach a little farther. It’s essentially a hydrating and brightening penetration enhancer, which is a fantastic way to start off my routine.
Stratia Rewind: I make it, I love it, you’re not coming here for objective Stratia reviews.
Stratia Fortify: My skin can’t live without facial oils, and I make this because it’s my favorite facial oil.
Stratia Liquid Gold: Yeah, duh, I love it. Moving right along.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment: But hark, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment is the sun. This stuff is my heart, my soul, my life. It’s 40% petroleum jelly, so it’s an incredibly powerful occlusive, but it’s also got a lot of great healing, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. I use Aquaphor:
- As a sleeping pack (mix a pea-sized amount with 2 pumps Liquid Gold)
- As a nightly eye cream
- As an overnight intensive lip balm
- Over small cuts and burns
- Around my nose when I get a cold
I’m sure there’s more. The moral of this story is: I don’t want to live in a world without Aquaphor.
Shiseido Senka Mineral Water UV Essence (aka Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Essence): I’ve used this sunscreen every day for about three years, and I never plan to stop. It’s the perfect sunscreen for my dry skin: slightly moisturizing, skin-like finish, 50+ SPF, completely unscented.
Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion: since I’ve been taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements twice a day, I haven’t had to deal with many deep hormonal cyst-type pimples. But when they do rear their ugly, ugly heads, Buffering Lotion is now and forever my first line of defense. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works on cysts before they surface. The second I feel that deep aching pain of a cyst-in-development, I apply this every night. It usually keeps it from ever surfacing, reducing the inflammation and healing it much faster than it would on its own.
Mario Badescu Facial Spray: this is just a special treat on hot summer days and evenings after a long day in the sun. It’s nothing magical, it’s just a beautifully simple, soothing spray.
Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water: My thirties, I think, are about embracing the person I am, rather than the person society tells me I should be. I should be a person who always has the energy and motivation to do a full double cleanse every night; I am a person who falls asleep watching Party Down reruns at 9:45. Micellar water lets me embrace the person I am: sometimes I can’t get it together to double cleanse, and that’s fine. Some of this squirted on a cotton pad isn’t quite as good as a full cleansing routine, but it’s close enough.
Makeup Artist’s Choice 25% Mandelic Acid Peel: I break this little guy out about twice a month. For a chemical peel, it’s incredibly gentle and hard to screw up. I apply it with a q-tip, leave it on for 3 minutes, rinse thoroughly, then slap on some aloe, facial oil, and a sheet mask. It leaves my skin smooth, even, and bouncy with no down time. Plus, it’s super affordable and lasts forever.
That’s my routine, and I love it.