Been wanting to share this for a while.
I was thinking about when I started my capsule wardrobe – almost exactly 4 years ago. I re-read those posts recently, and remember how excited I was to purge my closet and reboot the way I shopped and dressed. Four years later, the capsule concept is still the framework that I use to build and maintain my wardrobe. It’s really worked for me.
Which made me realize how much I apply this concept to other areas of my life – most notably, with my skincare. I thought I’d share my routine and favorite products with you, and would love a peek into yours!
I have about a 50-50 split of high-low products in my regime. Several I’ve been using for almost 30 years, others added in more recently – as my skin (and I) have gotten older.
My theory about skincare is – and always has been – that the two singular most important things you can do for your skin are exfoliation and sunscreen. That’s it. Everything else is just “extra”, whether for comfort or cosmetic purposes. But if you are regularly exfoliating (and I’ll share just how I do that), AND being scrupulous about sunscreen, you will be doing the very best for your skin – both from a health AND beauty standpoint.
Exfoliating Scrub – I don’t use soap in the morning. My skin is basically clean, and I’d rather spend the time and $$ on exfoliation. I’ve been using this scrub for decades, and in my opinion there’s nothing better when looking for a grainy exfoliant that is also gentle enough to use every day. The grains in this scrub are man made (as opposed to some of the “natural” scrubs out there). This means that they are smooth and uniform, and won’t abrade or tear the skin when applied. In addition, the grains are in a rinse-off cream base. The cream acts as a buffer, which pretty much prevents over scrubbing, yet rinses away clean (important for this oily-skin girl). I use this every single morning (Pro-tip: it’s great on flaky lips too!).
Clarifying Lotion – Another decades-old product for me. Clarifying lotion acts as a mild form of exfoliation, sweeping away any impurities on the surface of the skin, and prepping it for maximum absorption of any products that follow. I use the strongest level, for a few reasons: 1. I’ve been exfoliating for years, so my skin has built up a tolerance, 2. I still have an oily skin, which requires a bit “more”, and 3. It contains salicylic acid, which helps heal blemishes (YES I STILL BREAK OUT!).
Face Serum – Here’s a relatively new one. A few years ago I was at the dermatologist for my annual check up, and was complaining about how dull and uneven my skin was looking. This was super frustrating, based on how much effort I put into my skincare. She explained that it was time to “step things up” a bit, and recommended this serum. WHAT a difference. Within a very short period of time the unevenness disappeared, and over time there was a noticeable brightness to my complexion that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I use this version for combination/oily skin; if you have drier skin you might want to consider this.
Obviously, this is not an inexpensive product. A few times a year the site offers 20% off, which helps, and I only use 4 drops a day – so it lasts for quite a long time. And it does the job single-handedly.
Eye Cream – I do not use a moisturizer. My skin is oily enough, and I have never felt the need for the extra step or expense. That said, the skin around my eyes is very dry, and so I do use an eye cream. For my money this one is the best. Like my other Clinique products, I’ve been using it for decades, and every time I try something different I regret it. What sets this cream apart for me is that it does not irritate my eyes (is there anything worse than when your eyes are stinging all day from product?). The cream has what’s called a “stay-put” formula, so it doesn’t creep around (and into your eyes) once you apply it. A small dot provides ample coverage, and the jar lasts a very long time.
Sunscreen – While you may think of sunscreen as something to apply in the warmer weather, or during outdoor activities, understand that the aging – and cancerous – rays of the sun are present all-year long. They penetrate clouds, they penetrate car glass. And so adding a sunscreen into your daily routine – regardless of the weather, time of year or planned activities – is the BEST thing you can do to protect your skin from the dangerous effects of sun exposure. I have used this product FOREVER, and adore it for so many reasons. It’s oil-free, so I never have to worry about breaking out. It can safely be used around the eyes (typically the first area to show signs of aging). It has the barest of tint, so does a nice job of evening out the skin. And while I personally don’t put anything over it on a day-to-day basis, it provides a really nice base for powder or foundation. This stuff goes on my face EVERY SINGLE DAY.
For my hands and neck (which I’m equally neurotic about) I use any drugstore brand I find. Right now I’m liking this one.
Soap – I’ve been washing my face with this for years.
Clarifying Lotion – as above.
Eye Cream – as above.
Tretinoin Cream – Another recent add-in. This is my “night” equivalent to the morning face serum, helping with skin renewal, fine lines and discoloration. As it’s a little stronger than the serum, I like to put it on before bed, without any other products (like sunscreen) going on top. I get this by prescription from my dermatologist.
Exfoliating Facial – When my friend (and former blogging mentor) Sarah opened a new business 2 years ago, I attended a launch party at her Tribeca store. Chelsea and I spent some time chatting with one of the aestheticians, and I asked her what she would recommend if she could only suggest one product. Without batting an eye she ran over and grabbed this. When I saw the name, I was a bit skeptical. Not that I knew ANYTHING about Goop, but really? This was a very very upscale shop and THIS was the product I had to have? The woman locked eyes with me, put it in my hands and quietly (but firmly) said, “Yes”.
You guys – YES.
YES, it is pricey (you can save a bit if you order via subscription, as I do). But it really is one of the best products I’ve ever used. It literally FEELS like a facial (like, hurts but in the best possible way, if you know what I mean), and my skin is soft and glowing afterward. I use it 2 – 3 times per week, and if you think about what a regular facial costs, it’s a deal.
And that’s it! Less than 10 products, all which have a very specific purpose, and most of which have proven the test of time over many years.
I want to point out that this is my personal routine, and that I am not a dermatologist, aesthetician or even a skincare expert. I worked as a freelance makeup artist for Clinique many years ago, which accounts for the number of products you see. But I keep using them today because they really work – and for far less than other boutique brands.