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Today we're doing something a little different: we're talking creating a skincare routine, developing your own philosophy around products and staying focused in a world of buzzy ingredients...
All that being said, let's dive into the components of my personal routine as a bit of a case study!
At the moment in my 'every single day' routine, I have two cleansers. I personally am more than happy to use my morning cleanse as my second cleanse in the evening and because it's been winter and I have drier skin, I've been reaching for the Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser* | £38 | (how haven't I reviewed this before?!) I can't remember if this one that I opened was the new formula or the old version, to be totally honest, but the version I have in my rotation right now is a creamy cleanser with a veeeery mild lathering effect if you take your time to work it in. It's gentle and non-stripping which are essential factors for a cleanser on my skin. As my first cleanse, I'm currently using the Elemis Pro-Collagen Naked Cleansing Balm | £44 | full review. This is luxurious and effective, melting into an oil to shift makeup and sunscreen and emulsifying easily when I add water. Together, this duo easily covers off all of my cleansing needs.
Hydrators, supporting actives and chemical exfoliation
Again, with me being on the drier side and us only just starting to head into the warmer months, added hydration has been more of a focus for my skin. A great product for me that gives hydration plus a little bit more is the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner* | £20 | full review. This is a more weighty than a traditional toner and with its fermented ingredients it's more in the vein of a Korean essence, plus it contains soothing and moisturising ingredients.
When it comes to exfoliants, I either reach for a peel (used once or twice a week) or a gentle acid toner - it really depends on where my skin is at and how strong the products I'm using in the rest of my routine are at that moment in time. My current peel of choice also doubles as providing me some of the supporting actives that boost my powerhouses, it's the Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel* | £80 | full review. This is a really gentle but effective peel with lots of glycerin to buffer the chemical exfoliants of glycolic acid, salicylic acid and PHAs. What you'll notice is that I usually go for multi-acid formulas, just to get the most bang for my buck and tackle my skin concerns on more than one level - AHAs give a glow and help resurface the skin, BHAs are great for breakouts and PHAs offer a gentle exfoliation on more of a surface level. This also includes ascorbic acid, tranexamic acid and azelaic acid to really target uneven skin tone. Alternatively, I'll take it easy and opt for something gentle but still effective like the Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant* | £32 | full review. This contains blemish-fighting salicylic acid, mandelic acid to target uneven skin tone and gently resurface the skin and a little PHA (primarily for hydration). This is what to go for if you want to use an acid alongside other products with other actives, just make sure you proceed with caution.
Retinoids, Vitamin C, hydrators & supporting actives
This is where the magic really happens, to be honest! I have my retinoid and my personal preference is the Medik8 Crystal Retinal Series* | from £39 | full review. I'm currently on 10, and the idea is that you start with the gentlest option but with each tube successfully finished off, you can move up to the next level. Retinal is the step in-between retinol and prescription tretinoin and it just seems the best balance for my skin between results and minimising potential irritation.
For my Vitamin C, I do often use derivatives but the gold standard in ascorbic acid (which is the most well-studied version of this ingredient) is the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic* | £145 | full review. Obviously, it's not cheap and I'm working through bringing you some dupes but this doesn't irritate my skin at all whilst delivering antioxidant and collagen-boosting benefits. In terms of supporting actives, my Niod Copper Amino Isolate 3 1:1* | £65 | full review | is brilliant from a well-ageing perspective and just in terms of giving me a good skin day. The only reason it's in the 'supporting' category is that it's not really compatible with my other favourite actives and to me: Vitamin C in the AM and retinoids in the PM tend to take precedent.
Then we have a hydrator with gentle 'supporting active' power, because I really appreciate having a serum I can just instinctively reach for when I want my skin to look fresh and dewy, as well as to reap some anti-inflammatory benefits from. Monday Muse's the Juice Daily Serum* | £40 | full review | is exactly that in my routine. It's formulated with niacinamide (a supporting active for my skin), panthenol and cica, amongst other ingredients. Ok, maybe not everyone neeeeeds it but it's great for when my skin feels a little sensitive and I don't want to use my usual actives, it's also an amazing everyday all-rounder for people who don't want to layer on a hyaluronic acid, then a niacinamide and so on as individual serums.
Sunscreen and moisturiser
You honestly don't need to have a separate day cream and night cream: it's all personal preference! I've just been travelling a lot more lately than I have since the start of COVID so I do really appreciate a formula that can work for day or night. For my skin, the Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream* | £45 | full review | is perfection! It's a deeply-nourishing formula that supports your skin barrier but has a light and fluffy quality that makes it perfect for daytime wear. As I mentioned, oils aren't a must for everyone, but I love them for my skin so I always like to have one on-hand. The super-lightweight Zelens Power D* | £95 | full review | oil is gorgeous for nourishment and barrier repair. It's also pretty versatile: you can wear it in the daytime, at night time, under moisturiser, over moisturiser and so on!
Of course, sunscreen is fundamental! Whilst I wouldn't necessarily reach for it if I was going to the beach or on a tough hike, for everyday: the Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+ | £34 | full review | is an absolute dream. It's the perfect radiant primer for under makeup whilst giving high-level broad-spectrum protection. It's a chemical formula so gives no cast and it's made with modern filters, meaning it doesn't irritate even my sensitive eyes.
I really hope you found this useful! Even if you don't agree with my personal priorities or picks - this is really meant to be a jumping-off point or a template for you to adapt to your skin's needs. How do you approach creating a skincare routine?