As I’m getting older, one thing that I’m learning to prioritize is how to take care of my skin. All throughout middle school, high school, and even college, my skin was never really prone to breakouts, redness, or excessive oiliness/dryness, so I never had a solid skincare routine in place besides wiping my makeup off with a Neutrogena makeup wipe and washing it with whatever face cleanser was in my bathroom.
However, it wasn’t until I had a really random (& freakin’ terrible) cystic breakout in the middle of December of last year that I started to incorporate more things into my skincare regimen. The breakout threw me off guard because it was out of nowhere, nothing like I had ever experienced before, and only continued to get worse no matter what I tried. And trust me, I tried EVERYTHING–from Curology, to Clinique’s Acne Solutions line, to African black soap, you could find me trying just about everything on the market to try to get that breakout to just go away, but nothing really treated it. Curology did initially bring the size of my acne down the second day I used it, but over the next month, more and more pimples were popping up on my skin and it inevitably left some really bad post-inflammatory erythema on my face once the pimples did go away. PIE is pretty much like hyperpigmentation, but instead of the spots on my face being dark & brown, they were pink and red. So that’s when I started looking into other treatments to try to fade those marks. I tried Sunday Riley’s Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Luna Oil, OLEHENRIKSEN’s Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner, and Thomas Roth’s Potent-C Vitamin C Serum, but I felt like none of those did anything to help lighten the marks.
After testing all kinds of products, I realized my skin didn’t like the ones that had a lot of chemicals, drying alcohols, and synthetic fragrances. My skin became dull with patches of redness, had a lot of texture with small bumps along with my bigger blemishes, it lacked moisture, and yet for some reason would randomly produce excess amounts of oil. I started learning more about the importance of certain ingredients and how they can benefit your skin in the long-run (and even for short-term solutions like a pimple that’s about to surface). So I began looking for clean beauty products that were free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances to see how my skin would react. And let me tell you… I’ve never seen so much progress in my skin in so little time! The redness subsided, my skin started to feel plump and hydrated, the texture evened out, the radiance and natural glow in my skin came back and made my face just look so much brighter, and my post-inflammatory erythema finally started to fade! I seriously haven’t had a pimple in SO LONG, even during that time of the month. And while my skin is still not 100% back to being as clear as it once was, the clean beauty products I’ve been using are definitely getting me there and I couldn’t be happier.
These are the products that I use nightly. I don’t have a set morning routine besides using a Vitamin C serum and Cerave’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion, because I usually shower in the morning and don’t feel that my face needs an extra wash or tone when I wake up, especially since most products are able to absorb into your skin better while you’re sleeping at night. I’m still looking for a good sunscreen to add to my morning routine, so if you have recommendations, please let me know!
After wiping off my makeup with a Neutrogena makeup wipe, I wash my face with Niu Body’s Purify Aloe + Amino Acid Gel Cleanser. What I love about this cleanser is that it leaves my face feeling fresh without stripping my skin of its natural oils. Sometimes I double cleanse if my face feels extra gross or if I wore a lot of makeup that day, but 5-6 pumps of this stuff usually does it for me.
- Aloe Vera – This moisturizing ingredient does amazing things to hydrate your skin, and even contains salicylic acid to combat and prevent breakouts.
- Amino Acids – This formula contains glycine, proline, arginine, and histidine. Glycine and proline help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, while arginine and histidine soothe and repair skin damage.
- Green Tea – Green tea is loaded with tonnnnns of antioxidants! It helps to purify and soothe the skin, as well as reduce signs of aging.
- Cucumber – Another extremely soothing (and moisturizing!) ingredient that helps relieve puffiness.
To tone my face, I use Krave Beauty’s Kale-Lalu-yAHA. My skin looooves this stuff! (As you can tell, since the bottle’s almost empty LOL.) You can say bye-bye to discoloration, sun damage, fine lines, and dead skin cells! This product has really helped to calm my redness from PIE, as well as give my skin the boost it needed to get its hydration back. I pour a little bit of this on a cotton pad, wipe it all over my face (especially my problem areas where I have marks, aka my cheeks), and wait for it to dry before going on to the next step in my skincare regimen. *NOTE: If you still see a lot of makeup on your cotton pad after toning, you are not cleansing properly, so make sure you double cleanse before using toner.
- Sugar cane-derived Glycolic Acid, 5.25% – Everyone knows about physical exfoliation (I see you with your jojoba beads face masks), but chemical exfoliation is even more important. It helps regenerate new skin cells from the inside out, which in turn fades hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and sun damage. Glycolic acid also prevents clogged pores and gently resurfaces skin texture. So hellllloooo smooth skin!
- Kale, spinach, and parsley – Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for your skin? Talk about an energy booster for your face!
- Allantoin – Allantoin is great for moisturizing and soothing skin, especially during times of inflammation and sensitivity. It also acts as a buffer for any irritation caused by the chemical exfoliation process with the glycolic acid.
- Aloe + Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin B5 – Natural hydration, natural hydration, natural hydration. My skin eats. this. stuff. up. After I use this toner, my face feels so clean, hydrated, and replenished! It’s like it opens up my pores and lets my whole face breathe.
I seriously cannot live without oils and serums. They have helped improve my skin so much and are the reason that my marks have faded significantly. I’m currently using CAUDALIE’s Vinoperfect Anti Dark Spot Serum, and I am not lying when I say that this has been the biggest help to my skin. According to the product description, this serum is “proven to be 62 times more effective than Vitamin C,” and I truly believe it. Nothing has ever worked as quickly at fading my post-inflammatory erythema or evening my skin tone (see ya later, redness), and when I wake up in the morning, my skin is GLOWWWING and just looks so much brighter! Plus, it smells freaking delicious. You can also use it as a primer underneath makeup!
- Patented Viniferine – Acne scars, pigmentation, sun spots and melasma who? This ingredient helps to brighten, lighten, and correct dark spots, as well as even skin tone.
- Olive Squalene – A non-greasy, hydrating ingredient that absorbs quickly into the skin to lock in that moisture.
Another serum that I use in conjunction with the one from CAUDALIE is Krave Beauty’s Great Barrier Relief, but I use this more like a moisturizer, since it’s as thick as one and is the last step in my nightly skincare regimen before using my eye cream and lip mask. What I love about this product is that the formula is packed with ingredients that help reset and restore your skin’s natural barrier that can become damaged by overdosing skincare (i.e. often using harsh acne treatments or anti-aging products), washing your face more than twice a day, and exfoliating (both chemically and physically) too often, along with other practices that can irritate your skin. It has definitely helped with plumping my skin and locking in its moisture. You can use this product until your skin feels like it has reset, or you can continue using it daily/nightly/whenever your skin needs it.
- Tamanu Oil – Tamanu oil was traditionally used to cure various skin problems and ailments, as well as heal wounds, but research has shown that it also has amazing skin-regenerating properties. It is extremely effective at eliminating hyperpigmentation, and in my opinion (as well as the opinion of Krave Beauty’s founder), works better than Vitamin C or retinol when it comes to lightening dark spots.
- Safflower Oil & Rose Hip Seed Oil – These two plant-based oils are high in linoleic acid and have skin-nourishing benefits. These are the key ingredients in restoring a damaged skin barrier.
- Natural Moisturizing Factors + Ceramides, Cholesterol, and Squalane – These ingredients are naturally found in your skin when it is not compromised, so this combination mimics a heathy skin barrier that replenishes and restores your complexion. When you get stressed out, these ingredients escape from your skin and leave it vulnerable to breakouts, dryness, and other problems.
- Niacinamide – You might know this ingredient as Vitamin B3. There is nothing that niacinamide can’t do, seriously! It’s effective at preventing signs of aging & acne, brightening skin, and repairing the skin’s barrier. It is gentle and perfect for all skin types, especially since it won’t cause any irritation.
I try to face mask 2-3 times a week, and I always use Vo Beauty’s Ocean Goddess Detox Mask. When I do incorporate it into my routine, I apply this face mask after I tone and before I add my serum. This has become one of my favorite masks because it leaves my skin feeling SO soft and refreshed! It has especially helped in calming my redness and irritation that was caused by other products. If you’re dealing with acne, inflammation, redness, dullness, or just need a good detox, try this mask because it works best on problematic skin! The greens in this mask help your body fight off free radicals and eliminate toxins that can lead to the formation of acne. I will warn you though, it has a STRONG smell of kale (and kind of smells like fish food), but once you have it on for awhile, the smell goes away.
- Spirulina – This is a blue-green algae loaded with multiple B vitamins, iron, and the natural skin-clearing agent betacarotene, so this mask is great to use if you feel like you’re about to breakout!
- Chlorella – Chlorella is a green algae that contains amino acids, lipids, and several minerals that help reduce texture and inflammation.
- Moringa – Moringa oil contains natural Vitamin C that boosts collagen, revealing youthful-looking skin, as well as reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
So that sums it up for my nightly skincare routine! I’m not a skincare expert by any means – it took a LOT of trial and error to figure out what my skin likes and what works best for me. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin type is different, so although this regimen works for me, it may not work for you, but I would recommend trying it if you’re dealing with some of the problems I had mentioned. Here’s to healthy skin and glowing alllll 2019!