It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the skincare and beauty aspect of my self-care routines! After answering a friend’s question about skincare and literally writing enough for a blog post…I decided to modify it and turn it into a post, since I’ve gotten to know my skin and what it needs a little bit better than I did the last time I talked about my routine.
Disclaimer: this is not sponsored. Also, I am not a dermatologist or aesthetician.
As a designer, marketer, and consumer, I’m kind of trained to be very brand-loyal. As a creature of habit, I will naturally sing the praises of the products that have helped me the most. So that’s what you’ll be getting here. I will be linking to a lot of products, and to be totally up front from the get-go: I am a huge Burt’s Bees fan-girl. That’s just how I am.
I do want to stress, though — I am not a skincare expert. What I’m outlining here is what I have discovered seems to work for my skin and my life. I don’t guarantee any of these work for you; I can’t possibly do that, because I lack the proper training and I don’t have your skin.
Speaking of the type of skin I have…
My skin type: combo (oily/dry) with infrequent acne.
For the sake of full disclosure, I have what one of my friends calls “irritatingly nice skin.” What she meant by that is I don’t really get acne very often, and my skin tends to look pretty clear and smooth to the naked eye. Of course, I notice the imperfections — I have some redness in my cheeks, and a very difficult combination of an oily T-Zone and cheeks dry as the Sahara. So, of course, this affects my routine.
Morning routine: so short you might hate me.
Along the lines of my “irritatingly nice skin,” I (apparently irritatingly?) almost do nothing in the mornings. Warm clean washcloth all over my face, and that’s it.
If I don’t have time to wait for the water to warm up (I’m not exactly a morning person), I’ll use alcohol-free witch hazel. My favourite so far was a mix of witch hazel and lavender, but what I’m using now is mixed with rose petal.
Acne and/or piercing problems.
When acne is a problem for me, I’ll either use the Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick, tea tree oil, or grapefruit oil. I’ve used all 3 to pretty great effect. They all help the acne go through its terrible cycle more quickly so my skin can get back to its generally smooth state.
Now, my nose piercing can be annoying. Between having allergies, an oily nose, and a piercing that was done incorrectly, I deal with nose bumps and infections every now and again. So, if my nose piercing is aggravated, I’ll use some sterile saline on a Q-tip and clean around the outside and inside of my piercing. With a nose bump, I’ll mix a little tea tree oil (like, one drop) with a lot of sterile saline on a cotton ball that I hold on the piercing, effectively soaking it to draw out the infection. If it’s actively aggravated and infected, I’ll dip a clean Q-tip in my tea tree oil bottle and swab around the piercing, let it sit for a few seconds, then clean off with saline on a new clean Q-tip.
My nightly routine: makes up for the minimal morning, believe me.
What time I gain in the mornings from my minimal routine, I more than make up for in the evenings. One day soon, I’ll do a write-up of my full “get ready for bed” routine which, sadly, takes about 45 minutes. (I am a person of habit.) But for now, this is what I do in the evenings.
Makeup removal: oil is my bff.
If I’ve worn makeup, I take it off with either Almay makeup remover pads (THE OIL ONES. USE THE OIL ONES. The oil-free always has me SCRUBBING at my eyes which is obviously terrible), or I’ll use whatever oil I have handy (currently either sweet almond oil or sesame oil) and rub all over my face. If I’ve used straight-up oil rather than remover pads, I’ll use a little bit of baby shampoo to get it off, then I’ll wipe the whole oily soapy mess off with tissues or toilet paper or a cotton pad — whatever is immediately available.
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: my Clarisonic Mia changed up my skin’s entire life for good. It helps even out the texture of my skin, minimize my pores, and takes care of deep-cleaning my nose piercing. I’ve had almost no problems with that piercing since using the Clarisonic. So. I typically use the sensitive or delicate heads — the normal is far too harsh for my skin.
Foaming cleansers for my face are a big no-no for me. They irritate my skin, leaving it red and itchy and dry. I first discovered cleansing creams when I was on vacation and realized I hadn’t brought face wash, so I picked up the Burt’s Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream and fell in love. At least, until I discovered that I’m allergice to chamomile. After that, I started playing with different cleansers from different brands, but just kept coming back to Burt’s Bees.
Over the past two years especially, I’ve developed a system for which cleanser I use during which part of the year. For the dryer fall and winter months, I reach for the Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration cleansing cream. But as winter gives way to spring and summer, I need the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin cleansing cream.
No matter which cream I choose, I only use a little less than a quarter amount and dab not quite half of it onto my Clarisonic Mia. I’ll splash some hot water on my hands with the cleanser that’s left on my fingers and work it into my skin best as I can. Once it’s massaged all over my face and neck, I wet my Clarisonic and use it for the 60 seconds it recommends. I tend to focus on my forehead, nose (because of my nose ring) and my jawline, which is the only part of my face that ever breaks out.
After using the Clarisonic, I leave the cleanser on my face as I wash the head out with baby shampoo and hot water. Then I’ll use a clean towel to dry it a bit, and…spray rubbing alcohol on the bristles and leave it out to dry. I tell myself the alcohol makes the head last longer and disinfects it regularly, but I can’t really swear that’s what happens. It just makes me feel better, basically.
Now that my Clarisonic is clean and put away, I’ll use a warm wet washcloth to gently wipe off the cleanser still on my face. I do often use a corner of the washcloth to exfoliate my lips and/or around my nose ring. If I wore makeup, I’ll put some witch hazel on a cotton pad and go over everywhere I had makeup to make sure I didn’t miss anything in the initial makeup removal or the cleansing.
It’s time to moisturize, and this is where I do something kind of different, I guess. I’ve found that lotions or “moisturizers” don’t really work all that well for my skin — they end up just sitting on top of my skin rather than actually hydrating it. So, I use sweet almond oil as a moisturizer. I make sure I have enough to cover my face and neck and massage it in really well. I used to use jojoba oil, which I think is still great, but the almond oil was really helpful when my jawline started breaking out semi-regularly.
I’ve also just started using Burt’s Bees’ Brightening eye cream, thanks to the recommendation of my sister-in-law (who runs a pretty awesome blog that you should definitely follow). The jury is still out on whether it works well for me, but I’m cautiously optimistic after using it for a few days. The skin around my eyes seems firmer and a little less discolored, which is definitely a promising start!
About once or twice a week, I deep exfoliate with a natural exfoliant of some kind (I love Acure’s!) before I use my Clarisonic. That’s usually on Hair Night when I’m showering anyway.
About three times a week, I use LATHER’s Honey Moisture Mask with Propolis Extract on top of a thinner layer of my normal almond oil hydration. It works like a DREAM for me, even helping with acne at times. And the first few weeks after my breakup, it was essential to keeping my skin hydrated while I spent so much time crying. It was seriously a life-saver.
Dealing with my facial hair.
I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). After losing my insurance a while back, I spent over 2 years with no treatment for it, which drastically affected my weight, blood sugar, and face. Basically, I grow thicker-than-is-typical-for-someone-DFAB facial hair on the lower part of my cheeks, my chin, and my upper lip.
I’ve tried several bleaches and several hair removers, all of which left my face chemically burned, no matter how short a time I left it on. So, at long last, I started shaving my face. Almost every day. In a way, it’s demoralizing for me (fighting that internalized misogyny and transphobia cis-centric idea that “women don’t have facial hair). But honestly? I’m so much happier shaving than I ever was with any other approach to ridding myself of the hair in order to see me in the mirror.
So, when I do shave, I use Nivea’s Sensitive Cooling Aftershave Balm on the areas I shaved. (I also use that balm as a primer before foundation — and I did that before I saw NikkieTutorials rave about it! I’m so proud of myself.)
How I plan and get all this on the cheap.
Easily the most expensive thing I use is my Clarisonic. I was fortunate in that it was gifted to me, so I only have to pay for the brush heads. So how do I pay for everything else?
There are two methods I use. One is an Ulta membership. I’m so serious. I use Ulta for most of my makeup, skincare, and hair care products, so being part of their rewards program helps me save even more. Since I buy so much of my bath and body and beauty and hair routine products from them, I’m a platinum member, which allows me to save more. I earn double points for every dollar I spend and about once a quarter I get a 20% my total purchase coupon, which I usually use to stock up on all the items I’m running out of. (That’s usually when I get my Clarisonic head replacements, as well.) So I get my Clarisonic heads, face cleanser, blemish stick, and makeup remover pads from there, especially if I can time it so that I can grab them when there’s a BOGO half off sale.
For my witch hazel and face oil, I go to the Vitamin Shoppe and I only typically have to replace either of those every 4 months or so. The rest of the things, like the baby shampoo, Nivea Aftershave Balm, and the cotton pads, I just grab whenever I remember at whatever place I’m shopping when I remember.
Then my only other expensive item is the LATHER moisture mask. I’ll be replacing it sooner than anticipated, since I used it so often those first few weeks post break-up, but I anticipate replacing it about every 4 months as well.
So basically, I keep enough money in my grocery-and-body-care budget to cover these items since they’re not monthly expenses. Most of the products I have I can either double up on during a BOGO event at Ulta, or it really is just a once every few months purchase, which is far more affordable for me than a monthly expense.
What do you do for your skincare routine? How do you plan to replace your products?
I’d love to talk more about this kind of thing and discover more amazing products!