It's hit minus 6 degrees this past week so I think it's safe to say that Autumn is just about done, snow is on the horizon (quite literally for some), and the heating is on pretty permanently. Also, hello December 1st, it's nice to see you after the year we've had.
Over the past three years - pretty much since the start of this blog, if we're going by exact timeframe - my interest in skincare has dramatically increased. I've shared a few posts on some tips and tricks to help with breakouts in a pinch, and steps to help improve the overall appearance of your skin, but haven't actually done a routine edit yet.
Mostly because skincare is dependent on skin type and a whole host of other things - but I figured that maybe it'd be useful for some of you. Also it includes a lot of the products I've been using recently, as well as some holy grail favourites.
So, bare face - this is what my skin generally looks like. I have a grand total of 3 (dying) spots (yay stress of life), but for the most part my skintone is even, there isn't a great deal of redness apart from around my nose, no noticeable irritation, and I'm perpetually tired. It's not my skin at it's best, but it's average for winter. That little red mark on my forehead was something I was born with.
Step 1 - cleansing:
products used: The Face Shop Rice Water Bright light cleansing oil // Innisfree Green Tea Pure cleansing foam // SkinChemists Caviar Advanced micellar water*
On days where I feel that I need to cleanse my face I'll use my trusty Rice Water Bright light cleansing oil from The Face Shop. It's a great oil cleanser, melts makeup, grime and general day to day 'please get off my face' things with ease. Rice water is also fab for maintaining a clear complexion, and the light weight nature of the formula for this product means that it doesn't feel heavy on the skin.
When using cleansing oils, I massage them into the skin in circular motions, then rinse off with luke-warm to warm water. If I only use a cleansing oil I'll make sure absolutely all of it is off after the rinsing process, and then splash my face with cold water.
If I've had a particularly heavy makeup day, city day, or generally really active sweat day, I'll add a foaming cleanser to my routine for a double cleanse. This makes absolutely sure that anything that's been clogging my pores is out and gone, as the foaming cleanser gently takes away any of the excess oil and muck along with it. Korean foaming cleansers, like the Innisfree Green Tea Pure cleansing foam, are much more gentle than Western foaming cleansers, and are a lot less likely to break the skin out or cause irritation. I've been using the Innisfree green tea pure foaming cleanser for a while now and it's doing me pretty well.
Eye makeup removal
Since I found that the Rice Water cleansing oil made my eyes sting ridiculously, and I'm not putting a foaming cleanser anywhere near them, I've been looking for something that effectively removes my eye makeup without making me want to stab things. I've had a history of not getting on with micellar waters at all - the garnier range does not agree with my skin, I've never finished a bottle; simple broke me out; own brands make my skin cry - so I did roll my eyes a bit when SkinChemists sent along their Caviar Advanced Micellar Water*. I was skeptical that an expensive micellar water would be any different to the more affordable versions. After all, it's just cleansing oil and soft water.
Holy shit was I wrong. I mean, this is wildly out of my current price range but it's beautifully effective. I have a full review coming soon, but I'm honestly gutted that I'll probably have to save up for quite a while to justify the expense but it's a beautiful cleanser.
eye makeup removal (micellar water) -> oil cleanser, circular massaging motions -> rinse with lukewarm to warm water -> double cleanse (foaming cleanser) if necessary.
Step 2 - Toner:
products used: IASO purifying toner
Toning is an important step to rebalance your skin after cleansing, sweep away anything your cleansers may have missed, and prepare the skin for the next steps in your routine. I always find myself falling back into using the IASO Purifying Toner, as it works really well with my skin. Again, it's not the cheapest of products, but a little really does go a very long way. You only need a pump to cover the whole face.
To apply toner, I prefer to spritz a bit onto my fingertips and gently tap it into the skin. I've tried cotton rounds before, but I find that a lot of the product gets lost in the fibres, and while that's fine for fairly inexpensive products, when you're dropping major £££, you want every last bit.
Step 3 - Moisturisor:
products used: SkinChemists Caviar Advanced Night Moisturisor* // Merumaya Overnight Recharge Night Cream (not pictured) // Secret Key Snail Repairing Cream (not pictured)
This is last general step before my routine forks of into what my skin wants day to day. Moisturising is especially important for me in the winter months, as I've suffered from various dry skin conditions in the past and preventing that is a top skin priority, and a hydrated face generally looks way better.
I have a few 'heavy duty' moisture intensive products that I'll bring out when the weather is getting colder - usually they have 'repair' or 'intensive' in the name, and they'll be the last thing I'll put on my face before I sleep. New for this winter: the SkinChemists Caviar Advanced Night Moisturisor*, beautifully packaged in the mirrored sphere, and a solidly hydrating night cream (full review soon, but I'm definitely enjoying it!); the Merumaya overnight recharge night cream, also effective and especially so for the undereyes, though I'm not a fan of the scent. A more budget friendly alternative is the Secret Key Snail Repairing Cream, which is a little lighter, but still very effective.
Masks and packs:
There are three types of masks that I'll use in my skincare routine: sheet, clay or solidifying masks (or packs), and masks that don't solidify (or packs). It really depends on what my skin feels it needs. For a quick pick-me-up, sheet masks are my go to; for a day where my skin feels overly dry or irritated, I'll plump for a non-solidifying mask; and for days when I feel like my pores are super clogged or just generally bleh, the clay/solidifying masks come out.
products used: sheet masks // Skin79 Rose Waterful Mask // Tonymoly Choco Mushroom Pore Pack // Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
A fab product that can be used all year round, regardless of the type. I still find the Asian brands to be miles ahead in comparison to any of the western ones, in generally all aspects but ease of purchase. Currently in rotation: The Face Shop Real Nature Olive Mask // Skin79 Fresh Garden Tea Tree Mask // Missha Pure Source Aloe Sheet Mask // Milatte Fashiony Pomegranate Mask Sheet.
clay / solidifying masks:
I've always loved using clay masks since those 99p types you can get from Superdrug really easily. They're so messy though, I do tend to avoid using them unless my skin really needs it - though with wearing makeup more regularly as well as working out, I'm finding that a pore cleanse once a week using clay masks has really helped my skin wonders.
My current solidifying masks are the Caudalie Instant Detox Mask and the Tonymoly Choco Pore Pack. The Caudalie mask is a bit of a cult product I think? I can definitely see why, my skin feels brilliant after using it, it really does bring out a lot of impurities. Don't think I'm quite used to the fragrance yet, but it's not really noticeable once it's on the skin. The Choco Pore Pack is more of a mid-week pack that I use on my T-zone, it isn't harsh on the skin, but still remains effective (and smells like chocolate).
I'll use these when my skin needs an extra boost of something overnight - generally in place of a night cream, but with an emulsion or more lightweight moisturisor beforehand. Korean brands tend to call their non-solidifying masks 'sleeping packs' or 'sleeping masks', as they're intended to be used as the final step in the skincare routine considering the thickness of the product. There are a number available, and they do a variety of things, such as the Innisfree Jeju Bamboo sleeping pack which calms flushed skin, Etude House does a really cute '3 flavour' bubble tea sleeping pack, as well as their berryAHA bright peel sleeping pack, and SkinFood released beauty recipe sleeping packs this year in '3 flavours' too.
The sleeping pack that I currently have is the Skin79 Rose Waterful Mask, which is a jelly like product that intensely moisturises while you sleep, then rinse off in the morning with lukewarm water. As hydration is something that I really look for in winter skincare, this mask is brilliant for me. It also comes with a little spatula so no fingers in the product!
products used but not pictured: Scrub Love mint temptation coffee scrub* // Sudacrem // Neulii Aloe BHA Soothing Serum
About twice a week I'll use the Scrub Love mint temptation coffee scrub* to deeply exfoliate my face/skin in general. Since the scrubs are incredibly natural and contain a lot of soothing oils it isn't as abrasive other types, and keeps my skin clean and smooth.
Sudacrem is a skincare staple - if you've got an unwanted breakout bang a bit of this on it and it should dry it right up.
Neulii Alo BHA Soothing Serum is again another point spot treatment, or a facial soother if I'm looking a bit red through irritation for whatever reason. Sorts it out a dream.
So, those are the products I use, and generally what I use them for. The routine I use them in:
Eye makeup removal (micellar water) -> oil cleanse -> double cleanse (foaming cleanser) if necessary -> tone -> [optional] sheet mask / emulsion -> moisturise
eye makeup removal (micellar water) -> oil cleanse -> double cleanse -> solidifying mask -> tone -> [optional] sheetmask / emulsion -> moisturise
eye makeup removal -> oil cleanse -> double cleanse -> tone -> sleeping pack/mask
If I'm using sudacrem to combat breakouts, I'll 'multimask' by applying sudacrem to the blemishes, and my final skincare step of the day to the rest of the face.
I do believe that what you put on your skin is only half the battle to a fab complexion though. Staying hydrated (drink your water!!!) will even out appearance, dehydrated areas, and help with elasticity among other things, and a good diet will help manage conditions like light/moderate acne. If you're having problems, please consult a dermatologist before trying off-the-shelf products, as they can put you on the right track skin-wise without you having spent money that you could've elsewhere, and time/effort/stress.
I hope this has been somewhat useful! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! And I'd really love to know what your skincare looks like in winter! Are you a multiple product person, or is simple the way to go?
*some products in this post have been provided courtesy of a PR or company for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own