With the new year comes renewed resolve, and this post is for anyone out there who is determined to get on a good skincare regimen! This post is near and dear to my heart because prior to last year, I rarely used sunscreen and moisturizer. (I cringe now when I think back to the years of wrinkles I could have prevented!) That all changed when I sat down with my mother-in-law during Christmas last year and she went step-by-step through her skin care regimen, perfected and handed down through three generations of women with flawless skin. After doing more research and making just a few tweaks, I present to you the ultimate skincare regimen that you should start using this year.
Your new nightly routine:
Step 1: Start with the double cleanse, first cleaning your face with a cleansing oil and then doing a second wash with a foaming cleanser. I typically use my Clarisonic Mia 2 cleansing brush with the foaming soap. This combination will do a better job cleaning out your pores, removing dead skin and sebum, and taking off all traces of makeup. If I am wearing heavier, more stubborn makeup that day, I start off with a vitamin-enriched makeup wipe before the double cleanse.
Step 2: Non-alcoholic Toner: A lot of cleansers are alkaline in nature and can raise the pH of your skin. Toner helps by restoring your skin’s natural pH, remove traces of oil, and help tighten pores. I’d suggest choosing a non-alcoholic toner (avoid words like “witch hazel” or “astringent”) because those can dry out your skin. I use toner almost every night except when my face is feeling extra dry and irritated from other drying products like Retinol (see below). I use a Neutrogena alcohol-free toner that you can buy at any drugstore.
Step 3: Essence, Serum, or Ampoule: This is where skincare regimens can get pricey! Essence, serums, and ampoule are all designed to be high-potency moisturizing solutions for hydration, wrinkle-prevention, nutrient delivery, and skin firming. I have been splurging on SK II Facial Treatment Essence for a year now, and personally, I feel that there may be better products out there that are more “bang for your buck.” (At $165 for 5 oz, the SK-II essence is definitely not easy on your wallet.) More on that in a later post perhaps.
Step 4: Eye cream. The skin around your eyes and on the eyelids themselves are extremely thin and prone to wrinkling. No one wants crow’s feet at a young age, so eye cream is a crucial step in this regimen. I use the Shiseido Benefiance Eye Cream which is light enough to use during the day as well.
Step 5: Facial night cream or steam cream. A thicker night cream is necessary because your skin dries out at night while you sleep. I personally use the Shiseido Benefiance Advanced Super-Revitalizing Cream and I alternate that with Nature Republic Fresh Steam Cream designed for combination skin. The steam cream was a gift from one of my girlfriends from Korea, and its main ingredient is high quality Shea butter from Africa, mixed with a variety of other soothing and moisturizing oils, all exposed to high temperatures to provide lightweight but lasting hydration to your skin as you sleep. I am a huge fan of this product!
Step 6 (last but not least!): Prescription strength retinol (Tretinoin 0.05%). Retinoids are the only proven medication to lighten dark spots, reduce wrinkles, boost skin cell turnover, and improve overall skin appearance, and they are every dermatologist’s secret weapon! I am going to dedicate an entire post to prescription strength retinol soon enough, as my skin is still going through the red, dry, stinging phase while it is getting used to this more potent formulation. Stay tuned.
If you are extra busy and need just the bare bones routine, I suggest using foaming cleanser, toner, and eye/facial night cream. Those are the minimum needed!
Extras to be used as needed:
1). Exfoliating scrub: Lately I haven’t been able to use this because my skin is so sensitive and raw from the Retinol, but before, I used the Skin Food brown sugar scrub once or twice a week. It leaves my skin feeling so smooth and polished!
2). Face Mask once to twice a week (20 minute leave on masks or overnight masks that act as hydrating gel). I love using the Innisfree It’s Real face masks about once a week and the Laneige Water Sleeping Pack EX once to twice a week. The water pack feels like a thick gel that you leave on overnight, functioning as an intensive night cream. I reviewed both of these and the Skin Food scrub here.
3). Pore clay mask. It is ridiculously hard to get rid of enlarged pores, but with a good cleaning routine, it is possible. I use the Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, a thick formulation of volcanic ash designed to absorb sebum and cleanse pores, about once a week. It’s a little messy and sticky, but does the trick.
4). Ultra moisturizing eye mask once a month: I use the Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Express Smoothing eye mask whenever I feel like the skin around my eyes is getting especially dry.
That’s it! Happy new year!
Read more about my reviews of all of these products plus other favorites here.
What do you use as your nightly regimen? What are some of your favorite products?