You may remember that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to take good care of my skin in 2015. I’m psyched to tell you that I have been sticking to it, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned, tried and am doing to finally give my face and body the nourishment they need. It only took me 32 years but, hey, better late than never! Today let’s get educated about all the different steps you can take and all the different products you can use to get a glowing complexion. Read on for Belle’s skincare essentials!
First and foremost – did you know that your skin is an organ – and the biggest one you have?! True story. No wonder there’s a bazillion-dollar industry out there dedicated to helping you take care of it. Think what you will about the beauty industry, but I am a product-junkie and I love trying new things and contributing my dollars – within reason – to supporting it.
- ROUTINE: The most important thing to know is that routine is key. No matter what series of steps you take or what price point of products you use, keep it as consistent as you can each day for the best results.
- STEPS: There are a ton of steps you can follow to create your own routine. It’s up to you. I love to make a special ritual of it, so I follow a lot of steps! In today’s post I will cover Cleansers, Toners, Essences, Eye Creams, Serums, Moisturizers and Sunscreens
- PRODUCTS: My favorite brands range from high-end department store brands all the way to drug-store staples. All have value and can produce results from my experience. I love:
- High-End: When Clarins and I struck up a relationship, I was thrilled to incorporate this renowned French brand into my routine and to discover a number of new items to add to my vanity table of skincare treasures.
- Mid-range: Through my 2015 skincare expedition, I’ve also discovered the joys of South Korean skincare regimes via Soko Glam – a website run by Charlotte Cho, a California-born woman intent on bringing Korean skincare products and secrets to Western customers.
- Drugstore: And finally, to reassure that you don’t have to break the bank for good skin, Pixi by Petra, Yes To Carrots, and Cerave have quickly become some of my favorite low-cost brands with well-earned cult followings.
Cleansing is the number one most important step. You should start and end your day by removing your makeup and cleansing your face. No matter what.
There are a million different ways to cleanse – here are the ways I do it:
- Face Wipes – I keep these on hand for quick cleansing when I’m really tired. It’s the quickest way to get the dirt off if I just can’t muster the energy to do anything else. Some people disagree with using these and don’t think they are effective, but take one look at the grime that comes off on one and tell me they don’t do something! I love these Yes To Cucumbers soothing wipes.
- Salicylic Acid Cleanser – I keep this on hand for after workouts to really cleanse the sweat from my pores and fight breakouts before they start. Salicylic acid is one of the ingredients I’ve always had dermatologists recommend to me for my acne-prone skin. It can be really drying, though, so I use it sparingly. I like this SA Cleanser by Cerave. You can buy it at the drugstore for under $15!
- Cleansing Oil – There’s an oil-cleansing revolution going on – are you on board?! I am, and I use this at the end of the day to cut through all the makeup I wear. Many believe that oil breaks down makeup best versus water-based cleansers that don’t penetrate. Why? Because oil and water don’t mix – one beads up on the other, rather than mixing and moving each other around. Most makeup is oil-based and will be broken down and sucked out of your pores by other oil. If you put water on it, it might drip off your face’s surface but it won’t come out from the deep recesses. I like this Argan Cleansing Oil by Josie Maran.
- Eye-Makeup Remover – a separate product for this might not be necessary if you’re using a cleansing oil, but it is really helpful to break down mascara, concealer and liners. Removing eye makeup is really important – not just to prevent raccoon eyes in the morning but to keep your lashes from drying (and falling) out and to keep your fragile lid skin from aging too fast. I use one by Kryolan but I also really like Neutrogena’s, as well.
TONERS & ESSENCES
Toners and Essences are my newest obsession! They prep and prime skin to accept all your other products. Apply them after cleansing. Both are optional, but at least one is highly recommended by yours truly.
Toners – exfoliate, reset your skin’s pH after cleansing and boost skin’s radiance. Plus, it feels really good. I’ve taken on the Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic challenge, and I am so impressed by this product – sold only on the Pixi website – and what it’s done for my skin in the last month. In 21 days, using the product twice a day (saturate a cotton swipe and press onto skin), you are supposed to see clearer and brighter skin – and I really have!
Essences – are new to the Western skincare scene, so I go to my South Korean skincare site, Soko Glam, to find the best ones that I trust. After cleansing and toning, I apply one the same way I do a toner. The molecules of an essence are supposedly smaller and therefore penetrate the skin with moisture to help keep it hydrated and primed to soak in the serums and moisturizers you’ll apply afterwards. Otherwise, they just sit on your skin’s surface and don’t do what they’re supposed to do…that’s wasted money! I love this version by MISSHA. I’ve tried the essence mist and this liquid one (a SokoGlam best seller!), and I recommend both.
This is the one product I’m most skeptical about but have probably spent the most money on. I know that makes no sense, but deep crow’s feet and dark circles really scare me – so I apply eye cream morning and night.
After toners and essences, but before my serums and moisturizers, I apply eye cream all over the eye socket bone area and between my eyes and above my brows. I then massage it in to stimulate blood flow and pull it onto the upper and lower lids to let it soak in. Be gentle on the fragile lid skin – stretching and pulling can cause wrinkles!!!
The two I’ve discovered I like the most are this Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate by Clarins which I wear in the morning with my other Clarins products. And this other one by MISSHA (same brand as the essence above), purchased on Soko Glam, which I wear at night to increase elasticity while I sleep.
I know – this is A LOT to take in. But keep in mind that trying beauty products is my hobby. I’ve tried a lot and would only recommend to you what I really believe in.
SERUMS & MOISTURIZERS
Enter your powerhouses for firming, plumping, softening, treating, tightening, restoring, reversing, and of course, moisturizing. I’ve got a couple different kinds on hand for morning and night, with serum being the superstar.
- Serums – A good serum is the one thing I recommend investing in over anything else. This is your number one anti-aging item that helps restore your skin over night and helps to prime and protect it during the day. I like the Double Serum by Clarins, as part of a daily duo combination with the Multi-Active Day cream.
- Day Moisturizer – I use a separate moisturizer after/over my serum for day to add moisture, to combat aging and to protect against pollutants. Often you can combine this step with the sunscreen step to follow by finding a cream with SPF in it.
- Night Moisturizer – I like to use a different moisturizer at night because I don’t need to protect. Instead I need to restore and renew – which your skin is really good at doing overnight. I like to use this PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by Cerave because it has hyaluronic acid – known for anti-aging properties, among other great beneifts you can read about on the internet here. Coconut oil is another one of my nighttime superstars. It’s a multi-purpose product that I can’t get enough of, especially this one by Cocovit. It moisturizers, reduces wrinkles and removes your eye makeup – bargain!!
This is a MUST for anti-aging. I’ve heard it from everyone I know – my mom, my dermatologist, magazines, TV, my esthetician – that I’ve gotta wear sunscreen everyday, even on the cloudiest days. What’s up for debate is how much of a SPF you actually need. Some say only SPF 15 is enough and will penetrate your skin, while others say the higher the better.
Whatever number you do choose, make sure it is one that is also labeled as ‘Broad Spectrum’ so that you are protected from both UVA and UVB rays, as well as other pollutants and free radicals.
I like this UV PLUS version by Clarins because it complements the other Clarins products I use in the morning and is formulated for your face. I trust that it won’t clog my pores after I’ve just spent so much time cleaning them out.
A lower-priced alternative is this one by Cerave. Both will work quite well!
That’s right! Moisturizing starts from within, so don’t forget to drink your water all day, every day. I try to start and end my days with a mug of warm water with lemon (supposedly aids digestion) and then to chug 6-8 more glasses of regular water throughout the day.
You can combat aging with all the products you want on top of your skin but if your skin organ is dry underneath, it’s going to be hard to see long-term benefits. Plus, (in theory) ridding your system of toxins should help get rid of the crap that might also cause breakouts.
P.S. DON’T FORGET YOUR NECK AND HANDS!
Nothing betrays your age like a saggy neck waddle or wrinkly hands. Trust me! Explore around on the internet and look for photos of celebrities who look significantly younger – now look at their hands and see if they match! A lot of times people forget to apply their anti-aging routines to these two places that are just as fragile as your face, just as susceptible to sun damage and just as visibly wrinkled.
I always draw each of my products down onto my neck and decolletage, and then wipe any excess onto the tops of my hands. Make sure you do this!
I hope you found this informative with several different options for products and routines you can follow! Stay tuned for the next installment of skincare essentials – I’ll cover all the auxiliary tools and routines I’ve been trying, too – like facials, polishers, masks and body care.