Let’s just start by saying that for a 36 year old woman, my skin care game was laughable. Thank heavens black don’t crack, because it really was rather embarrassing. Think St Ives Apricot Scrub… Yeah – it was bad – don’t judge me! Having said that, my rather basic routine had been working just fine until about a year ago when all of a sudden, breakouts hit my face with a vengeance- I looked like an adolescent. I wondered whether my eating habits had something to do with it, and even with changes to my diet, it didn’t let up. I decided to take my skincare a bit more seriously and did some research on routines, active ingredients and serums as recommended by dermatologists and other skincare experts. Check out my faves, Nadine Baggott, Caroline Hirons and Dr Sam Bunting on youtube.
I have now settled on a skincare routine that works well – so much so, that I hardly wear foundation. As a general rule, I tend to use unscented products because of my sensitive skin. I also layer my skincare based on the viscosity of the product, always finishing with SPF. It does take time to do (I leave about 5 minutes between the layers from serums to SPF). However, I get to do other things at that time e.g. dress, have breakfast, pack lunch etc.
As you know by now, I’m all about affordability and value for money. Great skincare needn’t cost the earth. So, below is my new morning skincare routine and some of the best affordable products on the market – and no, they are not all from The Ordinary! There are some great finds on the market – all listed below for you.
Step 1: Cleanse
This is the first step in my morning and evening skincare routines. It is important that the cleanser you use does not strip your skin of it’s natural oils. I therefore stay away from foaming cleansers and only use gentle ones that nourish the skin. My personal favorites are the Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Conditioning Cleanser (I tend to use this in the summer) and the Boots YourGoodSkin Hot Cloth Nourishing Cleanser. I have also just started using the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser which I’m loving.
Step 2. Exfoliate
Out went the facial scrubs and in came the chemical exfoliants (AHAs and BHAs) aka acid toners. There is a school of thought that says the daily use of chemical exfoliants does thin the skin. Others say that a low formulation would only get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells and encourage the skin to regenerate. I’m no expert, so my take is to alternate between an acid toner (I use the Pixi Glow Tonic glycolic acid) and a mild toner (I use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner – it has a mild formulation containing apricot and avocado oil).
Step 3. Antioxidant Serums
The third step is to treat and protect my skin using an antioxidant serum for it’s anti ageing and skin brightening abilities. Most people will use a Vitamin C serum in the morning to protect the skin from pollution and free radicals. On the other hand others argue that there’s no need to use Vitamin C in the morning because it oxidizes when it is exposed to light and is therefore useless. Also most Vitamin C serums are gritty and the texture doesn’t lend itself to use in the morning.
To get around this, I use the Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum which is a less known but wonderful miracle product that has several benefits including protecting the skin from free radicals and oxidative stress, treating pigmentation, reducing wrinkles, lowering sebum levels, reducing drynes etc. Basically everything Vitamin C does and more. Another great serum I have used is Indeed Lab’s Q10 booster which contains antioxidants (vitamin c and e).
Step 4. Hydrate and Moisturise
First up is the Vichy Mineral 89 hyaluronic acid. I absolutely love it. Even though this is an acid, it doesn’t exfoliate the skin. Hyaluronic acid is ten times more hydrating than water and therefore boosts the skin’s moisture content, making it look plump. I follow this with my old favourite, Nivea face cream to lock the moisture in. My skin feels nourished and not greasy after application, which is the look/feel I am going for.
Step 5. Sunscreen
SPF is the final step of the process. And yes, you should still use SPF if you are dark skinned and your melanin is popping! It is a must – even in winter! I use a broad spectrum SPF (minimum SPF30) for protection from UVA/UVB rays. Finding a good SPF that doesn’t cost the earth without my face looking like Casper the friendly ghost has been a challenge. I have been using Paula’s Choice SPF which is very good (but equally very expensive in my opinion), and have been on the hunt for other products (see below). I will be putting some of these to the test in due course.
So that’s everything I’m using in the morning. I’ll be sharing my night time skin care routine at some point.
Comment below with your skin care process and products you use (budget, mid-range or otherwise).
Have a lovely week!
The Girl Who Wears Heels xoxo