I change my skincare routine around a fair bit, not too often to cause irritation but frequently enough to keep my skin happy and not stuck in a rut. I won’t go into the whole history of my skin issues, there’s definitely some blog posts that will cover that from last year. Today we’re just gonna go through the routine I’ve been using for the past 3 months or so, which have helped keep my skin smooth, reduced blemishes and hyperpigmentation and brightened the overall tone of my skin. I have been sent some items as PR, but considering how much money I’ve spent on my skin to help with the issues I had, please know that I would never use something on my skin for the sake of hyping up a brand, however, I will mark all of these products with an *. There are plenty of products I’ve tried and don’t recommend or write about, and I only use what I like and think works. The only brand I have an affiliate link within this post is Bybi, whose products I’ve been using since many months before earning the small amount of money I get from people using my link. Everyone’s skin is different, and if you’re struggling with serious skin issues – my biggest recommendation is to go to a specialist such as SKNDOCTOR, a dermatologist or your GP. If you need help with the order of skincare products and building a routine, I have a blog post for that here.
if my skin is super dry, I might skip a cleanser and just wet my face – but honestly, the way I’ve been keeping my skin hydrated this is rarely an issue for me anymore. Instead, I cleanse my face with the Low pH Good Morning Cleanser from Cosrx (£17). You’ll see this cleanser throughout my blog consistently because it really is my favourite all-around cleanser. It’s gentle yet powerful, amazing for oily skin types as it contains salicylic acid – not to a highly exfoliating level, but just enough for a cleanser. It’s not stripping at all, none of that tight stretched feeling when you rinse it off. It might seem a bit pricey but Look Fantastic have discounts all the time so just keep your eye out or sign up to their emails.
I normally skip toning regularly because I don’t think it’s a hugely important step in your routine. It can certainly have benefits in the form of hydration or when actives of a good concentration are involved but honestly if you don’t tone, don’t worry about it. Good Molecules sent me some of their products and they sat there for a while before I finally started using them. I had never heard of the brand before so I think that’s where my reluctance came from but I have actually been pleasantly surprised by the products I’ve been trying out so far. I started with their Niacinamide Brightening Toner (£11.35)*, and I just apply it to my face without cotton rounds or anything like that straight after cleansing on a damp face. Niacinamide (vitamin b3) is a miracle ingredient for making pores seem smaller as it reduces sebum production. It also has a great impact on evening skin tone, and when paired with vitamin c which is also known for it’s brightening properties, you can see why I have started toning more regularly. This was one of those products where you literally wake up to a brighter face, and you’re low key confused by how that’s possible. Vitamin C also helps with collagen production and protection from free radicals (pollution – this can make your skin really dull, thanks London!). Old research suggests Niacinamide and vitamin C can’t be used together, but this was based on using an unstable form of vitamin C instead of a stabilised version.
I still don’t use this every single day, more so three times a week, alternating between evening and morning use – it’s a time thing, not cos I feel like any more would be a bad thing. You really don’t need a lot, it’s a great consistency where it doesn’t run off your face or take forever to rub in. Niacinamide and Vitamin C are high up on the ingredient list, meaning their concentration is pretty high, and the bottle is brown to ensure the vitamin C is stabilised/protected from sunlight. The price point of this brand rivals much loved The Ordinary but without the Estee Lauder investment and too large product catalogue.
Now, typically I would use straight up Hyaluronic acid here, but the two products I like to use have been out of stock for a long time, and I’m fussy and didn’t want to buy a brand I’d never used before. If you do manage to find a good Hyaluronic acid serum, it is best applied to a damp face and patted in the skin. It’s a humectant, not an exfoliant, despite the name. A humectant draws moisture in from its environment, and it’s the reason for my hydrated and plumper than my ass cheeks lookin’ skin. The two I use are Cosrx Hyaluronic Power Essence, and The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid. The Cosrx one is still sold out but the inkey list is available right now (I think cosrx have changed their packaging to be this one now). Anyway, I took a chance and bought a different product based on some other people’s reviews; The Ordinary ‘Buffet’, which contains hyaluronic acid as well as peptides and amino acids. Peptides such as Matrixyl 3000 stimulate collagen synthesis and therefore assists with repairing scars, and of course, as I said hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate the skin. The only scam of this product is the inability to use peptides with acids and vitamin c, so I have to be careful when I use it. I really do love this serum and I think it’s on a level with HA, but for ease, I would stick to a normal hyaluronic acid serum.
I apply Niacinamide serum almost daily to help reduce sebum production – this is what gives the look of reduced pore size (you can’t actually shrink your pores, it’s physically impossible but you can make them look smaller by reducing the amount of oil). As I said before with the toner, it also targets uneven skin tone and dullness as well as texture and strengthening the skin barrier. Niacinamide is that bitch. I have tried the one from The Ordinary, but honestly, the texture was off-putting, it was really tacky and my skin just didn’t take to it. I was given this as part of the set from Good Molecules (£4.86)* and I have only good things to say about it. The price point does not reflect how great this serum is. The thing I noticed the most quickly was how it reduced the redness in my skin, which is a big deal for me as I struggle to find products that can achieve this with consistent use.
Much like most people, I’ve tried various different moisturisers. My skin is hella dry and has only started to get a bit oily too in the past 12 months. During the summer months, I tend to reach for moisturisers that are lightweight and make up for the less hydrating aspect with an oil. I was sent this from Lixir Skin alongside their acid product, which I wasn’t a massive fan of. However, their moisturiser “Universal Emulsion” (£29)* really surprised me; they strike me at first as one of those Instagram skincare brands that get all the hype but their products might not be up to the job. However, I can’t seem to stop reaching for this moisturiser every morning – it’s just perfectly lightweight and hydrating with shea, glycerine, squalane and evening primrose oil, they’ve created a perfect concoction of ingredients to give dewy but not greasy skin. It’s the best kind of ‘basic’ moisturiser you can get. My only gripe is the price, it’s very expensive but I would genuinely pay out of my own pocket for this. To make it last longer, I only use it in the mornings.
I love oils, and when I had to stay off them when I was battling millia, it was the hardest time of my life. Although my skin is mostly dry, I do have to deal with a bit of oiliness and I make a point of saying this because those with oily skin tend to shy away from oils for fear of adding to their sebum production. There are definitely good and bad oils, and by bad I mean pore blocking and greasy. Bybi helped me fall back in love with oils when i was struggling to find one that didn’t have me looking like I’d fallen into the frying pan. The one I keep going back to is their strawberry seed booster (£12)* due to it being full of omegas which help plump and repair the skin. The strawberry oil they use is a by-product of the juicing industry which would otherwise be chucked out, and it’s cold-pressed too so there’s no waste and low carbon. I do have a code DEMI20 where you can get 20% off if you spend £20. I have a whole review on a lot of their range which I will link here.
Lastly, I would finish with an SPF, which I have a blog post about here with my favourites. I’m also currently trialling a new SPF which I will be reviewing on my Instagram soon.
If you’re wearing makeup or SPF (which you should be), then you should always cleanse with an oil before washing your face. Oil cleansing works on a like for like basis; it removes oil-based products that might be missed by a ‘normal’ cleanser. You can use many different oils such as grapeseed or sweet almond from health shops, and you can also buy an oil cleanser specifically for your face. I was sent some solid products from sustainable brand Ethique; I have been using their solid shampoo and conditioner and was surprised how they worked with my afro hair. It took me a little longer, but I decided to try one of their skincare products too. Their Superstar solid face cleanser and make up remover (£14.99)* is actually…a really good product. Is it a little messy? yes, but you can definitely minimise that by having a little dish for the bar you’re using which they actually sell on their website and in Holland & Barrett. It works by mixing it with warm water in your hand and then applying it to your face, massaging it in and then rinsing it off (I use a damp muslin cloth). It’s hydrating and non-irritating but does contain a small amount of orange essential oil. I am quite opposed to essential oils due to them being sensitising and pointless. I allow it for this product because I wash it off immediately with another cleanser rather than letting it soak into my skin. I would like to see Ethique remove it though, scents in skincare are so unnecessary. There are 3 or 4 little bars in the box, which makes it easy to use and travel with. Solid skincare is going to become more popular I feel, as we become more conscious of the sickeningly high amount of plastic used in the beauty industry.
The second cleanser I use is from Bybi, and it’s their Crystal Clear cleanser (£24)* [don’t forget I have a code DEMI20). It contains salicylic acid and the probiotic inulin to deeply cleanse and nourish your skin at the same time. I have a few different cleansers in my bathroom that I could use but I always pick this one due to how gentle it is. Don’t be fooled by the plastic look of the tube either, it’s actually made from sugarcane 🙂
TONE AND THEN HYDRATE
So when I’m not using the niacinamide toner, I will go straight to hydrate post-cleansing and then use a treatment serum. I don’t exfoliate every day because over-exfoliating and fucking your moisture barrier is a thing and I’ve done it. It’s real ugly. I have a few products I’ve been rotating the past few months. The first is an old favourite from Paula’s Choice – their skin perfecting 2% BHA liquid exfoliant (from £10) which is like liquid gold. I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t loved this product and you really will thank me for it. It’s salicylic acid which I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this post; it targets blocked pores so that’s your blackheads and whiteheads. It’ll shift the crap out of them and work on smoothing your skin at the same time. I’m sure the instructions say daily use is fine, but honestly, even though I’m used to acids I would only use this a few times a week. I’ve also been enjoying the Herbivore Bakuchiol serum, which is an alternative to retinol and was quite a shocking product to me, it gave me an unreal glow and smoothness to my skin that I didn’t expect from such a *natural* brand. However, as I’m writing this it seems that it’s not in stock anywhere and has been completely taken off their own website so I have a feeling it’s been discontinued. I have heard amazing things about the Bakuchiol serum from Bybi, which I have not tried yet but will when I finish this bottle! Moving on, I’ll discuss a product that has been helping target my hyperpigmentation – Cosrx Centella ampoule (£21). I only discovered this ingredient this year – Centella Asiatica extract is a gentle but effective ingredient to soothe and treat redness in the skin. Korean skincare does not fuck around, and this brand seems to select their ingredients very carefully, there’s no silly filler just directly targeting products. The pigmentation my cheeks has gone down dramatically, which I thought would never happen considering I’ve not gone months without a chemical peel. Again, this product seems to be out of stock but it looks like Cosrx are just re-jigging their packaging and it might be this one (£26) instead.
I wrote a little Instagram post review on this cream. I never believed in the concept of needing a night cream, but the way Night Nutrition from Bybi(£26)* resets my skin every night, I had to admit I was wrong. It’s full of fatty acids, ceramides and lipids to plump and repair skin. Never greasy and absorbs really well and leaves your skin with that pre-bedtime dew that will fulfil all your gloating “if your skin doesn’t look like this after doing your routine, you’re not doing it right” selfies. Bybi is another brand who really take their ingredients seriously, never using ingredients that aren’t plentiful and as local as possible and researching how beneficial they are to the skin, not just whether they’re ‘trendy’. I’m also really pleased to say that Bybi really pulled their finger out during the Black Lives Matter marches and spent a great deal of time providing resources and education to their followers.
I like to give my skin just a bit of a heavier hand at night, and so I reach for the replenish serum from S5 (£52)*. It’s quite thick so I really only have to put a couple of drops into the moisturiser to feel the effects, but it’s amazingly soothing and hydrating. When I am recovering from a chemical peel, this is the product I use because it is packed full of omegas and antioxidants and lipids and provides instant moisture and calming. It just packs a bit more of a punch than the strawberry seed oil, which is fine for night time but a bit too heavy for the day.
I keep at a routine for around 3 months, occasionally adding in new things if I find my skin really dislikes something. As I wrote earlier, my skin has had some highs and lows and I work really hard to get it where it is. I am not immune to breakouts, they’re just very minimal, minor and quick compared to back in the day. If you have skin issues similar to or worse than what I experienced, the best thing you can do is get a professional opinion instead of wasting money on drugstore products.
This routine works for me, but there’s a chance your skin might dislike some or all of these ingredients. There can be a lot of trial and error but I do take a lot of time checking ingredients and working out what my skin prefers and what it hates, which is the best recommendation I can give you. A simple routine can work wonders so don’t feel bad for not having the perfect full shelfie, just work towards having healthy skin.
Demi – Colleen x