Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen I’ve been following lately

MFW 2012 bare skin

It’s a beauty paradox. Out of all the categories of upkeep—hair, nails, makeup, etc.—it’s no secret that I think SKIN is by far the most important. And yet, skincare products are next to impossible to “review.” In fact, I feel bad about it. They arrive constantly (thanks, beauty brands!), and believe me, I want to test all them for you. But to do a proper evaluation would require eight weeks, because that’s how long you have to give any skincare product in order to really know if it’s working. Do I want to gift every product with two entire months of my life? Frankly, no. That’s why I’m quite picky about what ends up making it into “testing.”

But even more importantly? I just don’t feel like messing up my routine anymore. Because I have one, and it’s working for me. Hooray! So this post is all about what I use, and why. Not really any new prodz here, and this stuff may or may not suit YOUR particular skin type and issues. But it’s what I’ve been doing since January, and not to jinx it, but so far, so good…

So the first thing you should know is that I have the typical sensitive, mildly rosacea-prone skin of my Scottish ancestors. (I know you’re jellis.) It’s fairly well-behaved—a bit drier in the wintertime and then more combination in the summer with the T-zone. (By the way, if you read my post on rosacea the other week, you’ll know that it can’t hurt to use gentle skincare prodz even if you don’t have hard-core sensitive skin.)

Anyway, my priorities are:
a) not irritating myself (which unfortunately was why my derm nixed my acid-heavy Miracle10 routine last year),
b) doing what I can to tame the oh, 5,000 freckles I picked up from living in Australia, and
c) warding off the signs of aging (hey—it’s never too early to start!).
I don’t really break out anymore thanks to balanced hormones and my trusty CLO.

Where my routine starts is with a…

Sulfate-free cleanser

BareMinerals Purifying Facial Cleanser Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately

Right now, it’s this bareMinerals one, but I’m not particularly loyal to it (although it’s a fine product, very Cetaphil-like in texture). I also like Boscia Special Cleansing Gel, which less moisturizing and therefore more appropriate for warmer weather. Anyway, the key thing is that none of them contain sulfates, which are foaming agents that are known irritants. I’ve decided to cut them out of my routine after learning that they disrupt the skin’s natural lipid barrier—which is one of the most important things to keep intact and healthy if you have any kind of sensitivity. Plus, I’ve read anecdotes of sulfates making skin more irritated, oily, dry, dull and even wrinkly. Horrifying!

After I cleanse, I layer on an…

Antioxidant serum

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately

I wrote an entire post about this particular skincare item last year. The quick version: You need an antioxidant serum for extra protection that your sunscreen can’t provide, and even if you don’t see the effects now, in 10 years you’ll be thankful. I think SkinCeuticals pretty much have this category wrapped up; I used to use their cult CE Ferulic but then switched to the newcomer Phloretin CF, which is better for oilier skin with pigmentation issues. All you need is a couple of drops on clean, dry skin (pat, don’t rub) and then wait as long as you can (10 minutes is ideal) before applying your moisturizer.

Speaking of which…


Dr. Hauschka Melissa Day Cream Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately

Here’s a perfect example of what I was talking about the other day—how I use natural products wherever I can. Enter my man Dr. Hauschka. He made this moisturizer just for me (no really—it’s specifically for sensitive combination skin) and I’m going to be so sad when it runs out. Somehow, it manages to moisturize just enough without ever crossing the line into ‘greasy,’ and dries to a matte finish (which I didn’t even know was possible in a natural product). I love that it’s lemon in both colour and scent.

If I’m going outside, my final step for daytime is…


But you knew I would say that. Now, depending on the time of year and how long I’m going to be outside, I either get my SPF from my makeup or wear a full-fledged sunscreen product. Lately, I’ve been doing just the Estée BB Cream, which has sun protection built-in—but that’s not going to be enough come summertime. So my pick of the season is this newbie from (again) SkinCeuticals:

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately

It’s a physical (mineral) sunscreen, which is just how I like them, and it now comes in a tinted version, yay! (It’s a “universal” tint, so should suit all skin tones and really cuts that ghostly white cast that can be a problem for so many natural sunscreens.) Right now, I’m doing the extra step of the moisturizer before sun protection, but as the weather warms up and my skin oils up (sigh), I’ll start phasing out the former and just doing the latter.

Whew! Got all that? And that was just for daytime.

At night, I cleanse again, but skip the antioxidant serum. Instead, I wait about 15 to 30 minutes after washing, and then apply a…


Retin A Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately Someone in the comments was asking about this the other day, so I’ll explain. To use a retinoid (as opposed to retinol, which is available over-the-counter), you need to get a prescription from your dermatologist. I begged mine for one, because after hearing so many of these guys bang on about its anti-aging wonders in interviews the last five years, I figured I needed to get in on the action myself. There are several brand names—Retin-A, Tazorac and Stieva-A—and what they do is boost collagen to produce a slight thickening of the skin. I’ll take that, thankyouverymuch. It’s the only anti-aging ingredient so far with a long-term record of solid, statistically significant results. Hence, the reason why derms call it the “gold standard” for anti-aging. Bonus: it’s also good for acne and fading pigmentation. Triple whammy!

The thing is, though, if you don’t start at the right level, it can be rather hellish on your complexion. Meaning you’ll get a severe case of red, dry and flaky until your skin adjusts. My derm is smart, so he prescribed me a low-ish level 0.025% in a cream, not gel format. I started off using it a couple times a week and then gradually increased until I could handle it nightly with zero side effects. But it’s REALLY important to wait those 15 or up to 45 minutes between washing and applying, as that magically cuts down on the irritation.

Even though it’s a cream, sometimes (especially in the winter) I add the extra final step of a…

Face oil


Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate Because sharing is caring: Let me tell you about the skincare regimen Ive been following lately

This Kiehl’s one is lovely and pure and has never made me break out. Darphin and Décleor also make gorgeous oils. Anyway, I like to add it as a last step after the Retin-A to give my skin that final dose of juicy, plumping nourishment. (Even with my low dose of retinoids, I found in the winter that my skin was a little on the dry side if I didn’t add the face oil after.) BUT! Very important: you want to give the Retin-A the chance to absorb and do its good work, so I would wait 30 to 45 minutes after application before slicking on a couple drops of oil. (I know, it’s kind of annoying that with this routine you basically have to start washing your face at 9pm.)

Optional things that I do a few times a week/month:

  • Clarisonic: I lurrrrve my Clarisonic. Big, big fan. Right now I’m using it maybe three or four times a week (although my sensitive skin has been fine with doing it at every washing… I’m just lazy). It’s a great idea to Clarisonic yourself at night, before you apply your anti-aging prodz, because they’ll have the best chance of absorbing into clean, exfoliated skin. It’s also good at night because it removes six times more makeup than regular cleansing. Six times!
  • One-step cleanser: I wrote about these this week, and they are fab for when you need to refresh your skin, say, when you’re going out after work but don’t have time for a full-blown cleanse.
  • Eye cream: This may sound silly coming from a person who owns maybe 100 eye creams… but I don’t really use them that often. (Although lately if I’m dry I’ll sometimes layer on the Eminence Organics eye serum I told you about.) Eye creams are basically a weaker version of face creams, so if your eye area can handle what you’re slathering all over, then there’s no reason to have two separate products. Unless you want to, that is. Hey—I’m never one to discourage beauty investments. PS: I was told by a derm I interviewed that you can actually apply your Retin-A right up to the bottom lid for crow’s feet. Just don’t put it on the upper lids.
  • Facial wipes: What did we do before this category was invented? Fan-freakin-tastic for those nights when you come home at 2am and taking your makeup off seems so verrry hard… so sleepy now….
  • Facial mist: Did you know that every beauty editor I know keeps one of these on her desk? ‘Tis true. I love ‘em for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and I also use them to set my makeup, so as to cut any powdery effect. But be mindful about which kind you use. Ones that are just water (like thermal water) need a moisturizer or makeup on top to lock in the hydration, otherwise they can dry you out as they evaporate. But the kind with built-in moisturizers or oils are fine anywhere, anytime.
  • Hydroxy-acid everything: I’ve cut way back on these since my derm told me “you’re NOT a candidate for peels.” But they feel so good! So every once in a while I’ll bust out my Biologique Recherche lactic toner or my NeoStrata glycolic cream and revel in the tingle. As long as I don’t overuse, they’re good for a temporary glow.
  • Masks: I’m rather negligent here, but I have a few in my arsenal: clay, hyaluronic acid and cloth are my faves, depending on my particular skin concern of the day. The cloth ones are AWESOME for travel.

WOO HOO. I’m sure I’m forgetting something important, but that’s probably enough skincare talk for a Friday.

Tell me:

What’s YOUR skincare routine?
Have you tried any of the products and/or product categories that I’m using?
What’s the best skincare tip you ever received?


Friday, April 27/2012 at 8:41 pm

I use the Kiehls Midnight Recovery and love it! It smells so nice and a couple drops is enough to wake up with really smooth skin. My favourite skin care product that i’ve been using for years is the Clinique Clarifying Lotion, I love the Clinique 3 step too! I’m dying to get the Clarisonic but for now I use the Olay-Pro X version and it works pretty great too.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:25 pm

Isn’t the Kiehl’s great… I swear there’s an aromatherapy effect where it helps me sleep better too.

Good to know Olay’s version of the Clarisonic works well!


Friday, April 27/2012 at 10:40 pm

i also use clinique! i use a gel cleanser, any type really but i love the dermalogica special cleansing gel. then clinique clarifying lotion #3 followed by the moisturizing GEL. at night, same steps except i swap the gel for their turnaround overnight radiance cream (a little goes a longgg way!) i only use eye cream in the morning, clinique all about eyes. a couple times a week i’ll use either a enzyme scrub or a deep cleansing mask. this has worked perfectly for my skin and i’m sticking to it!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:25 pm

So you don’t use moisturizer in the daytime – just eye cream?


Friday, April 27/2012 at 10:51 pm

I’m a fan of Olay foaming face wash for sensitive skin, and Boscia face wash (anti-blemish I think?). I also use my Clarisonic 1x/week. During the day, I use Eucerin SPF 30 for sensitive skin. At night, I follow up with Vanicream and Tazorac. This basic combo has taken me YEARS of trial and error to perfect.

However, my #1, can’t-live-without, skin-changing “product” has been my Water Doctor water softener. It’s basically a water filtration system that you hook up to your shower head that uses salts to “soften” the water. I swear by it, and it has done miracles for my hair and skin (think the softest, hydrated skin, and hair so shiny and soft I often skip conditioner). Now when I shower with hard water, my skin dries and breaks out.

Water softener. Do it.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:33 pm

So glad you brought up the water softener! I think soft water can make a huge difference for dry and sensitive skin. (Unfortunately I find it makes my fine hair way too limp though…)

Have also heard that the fluoride in water is behind a lot of skin problems. There is a condition called fluoroderma that looks like acne.


Saturday, April 28/2012 at 1:33 am

Hey Michelle, so reading about all the natural skincare products, it reminded of the Miranda Kerr’s one.. Kora right? Have you tried it at all?! Thanks

ps: excuse my english

your big fan from Brazil :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:34 pm

We don’t have it yet in Canada so have not tried :(


Saturday, April 28/2012 at 11:31 am

Michelle, I always love your suggestions. As a fellow rosecea-sufferer (!) I’ll be testing out a few of your suggestions! I find that Bio-Oil is such a big help for sensitive skin. Check out my Top 10 products for Spring:

Happy weekend!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:35 pm

Hmm maybe I’ll bust mine out again when I finish the Kiehl’s! What differences did you notice in your skin? Did it help with pigmentation at all?


Sunday, April 29/2012 at 8:33 pm

Oils for dry skin. I’d drunk the “oil-free” kool-aid, but my poor parched skin was screaming for it. Now I use sweet almond oil in my cleanser, as my cleanser, under my creams, on my lips & around my eyes. Even my “creams” are oil-based from From the Meadow. My skin is the best it’s ever been.

Still use a physical sunscreen (not natural), like you, Vichy in the summer (love the light, matte fluid), Avene in the winter (creamier). Neither freaks out my sensitive skin or gets gooey with my layers of creams.

Just started doing a weekly facial again; why did I ever stop this?! Exfoliate, steam & mask; heaven!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:38 pm

That’s awesome that you have a routine that’s working for you! I just had a facial yesterday… I never do them myself… and like you I thought, why aren’t I doing this more often?! The steam/massage/hydration really make a difference – my friend (who had no idea I’d had a facial) complimented me the next day and that had to be why!


Monday, April 30/2012 at 12:58 pm

Hey, I’m totally on board with you – and every other multi-step-skin-care-routine product junkie out there.

So even though I just turned 35, I still have oily, acne-prone skin. And fun fact, I have some hyperpigmentation spots on my left side, as well as some broken capillaries on cheeks and nose (which I hope to laser someday). Thank God for makeup! Anyways, I finally found a product line for my acne that works really well called Acne Bootcamp from Dr. Neil Schwartz (available online at These products utilize benzoyl peroxide and alpha/beta hydroxy acids, so they are also exfoliating.

For my hyperpigmentation, I’m trying a spot treatment product called Ag3 Derm from the UK, which is a natural hydrogen peroxide that is supposed to get rid of hyperpigmentation, freckles, warts, etc., PERMANENTLY! Yeah! Here’s hoping…you use for 14 days…I’m on my 5th day now, so I’ll have to see.

I would use a retinoid, but I don’t have health insurance.

My acne products are very drying because I have to use the products all over my face, not just on “affected areas” (hello! my whole face is an affected area!), so I do moisturize even though you aren’t really supposed to according to Dr.Schwartz. Anywhoo, I use a hyaluronic acid-based gel moisturizer…there are many out there. I’ve used Dr. Shwartz’ as well as those from Skinceuticals (Hydrating B5 gel) and Devita (Hyaluronic Serugel…love this one – and it’s all natural!).

I’ve also incorporated a few other products, depending on how dry/dehydrated my skin is feeling. I found an antioxidant serum on sale called IQ Derma Cell Defense Antioxidant Serum that I really like so far (super light hydrating gel). I use a few professional-only products as well, which I won’t list here since the general public doesn’t have access to them, but one is a weekly microderm treatment and one is a face oil for acne-prone skin.

I do use eye cream since my acne products do dry me out so much, and I was also told that the molecules in eye creams are smaller than in regular face creams, which better penetrate the skin around the eye. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know but I swear by religious use of some kind of cream around the eye. I’ve used DDF eye creams (especially the one with SPF, because I think that’s important) and those by Phytomer.

Of course, sunscreen is a must, and I like Karavita best for that. But right now I’m getting my sunscreen from a Jane Iredale primer and my mineral makeup. I like Raw Minerals and Mineral Hygenics best so far of the ones I’ve tried. I can’t wear Bare Minerals because my face itches profusely when I sweat if I’m wearing it.

So there’s my skin care regimen! Maybe it can help some of you out there with your oily/acne prone skin.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for the rundown! I’m intrigued by this natural hyperpigmentation product… can you come back and update us on how that is working for you? I have the same issue on my cheeks – my derm said the only real option is laser.

Have you tried the Colorescience Powder Sunscreen? It’s a colourless mineral powder in a portable brush thingie and very handy as a summer sunscreen (while setting makeup and getting rid of shine at the same time). I always keep it in my purse in the summertime since who wants to muck up their makeup with a liquid sunscreen in the middle of the day?!


Friday, May 4/2012 at 3:53 am

Hello! I came across your blog just a few weeks ago and saved it as a favorite immediately. Everything you say is so approachable and honest and I enjoy reading and learning. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions that maybe you’ll be able to address? I had been using Korres Wild Rose Foundation for 2 years and it was so perfect for me. I have rosacea (I haven’t been diagnosed by a dermatologist, but I’m pretty freakin sure I have it on my cheeks. Red, itchy, often painfully so, and the little red bumps.) The coverage was SO natural looking and never irritated my skin. The active ingredients are Octinoxate (4%) and Titanium Dioxide (4.8%) but it also contained wild rose which is supposed to aid in brightening the skin, which I feel it did. The problem is this: Korres is discontinuing the liquid foundation and introduced the product in a powder mineral foundation instead! I’m just curious if you have any recommendations for me? I’m always looking to brightening my skin and of course like anyone a natural looking coverage that won’t irritate my skin and make it itchy. I think I have dehydrated skin because my skin flakes quite a bit on my cheeks so I was looking to get into Dermalogica. I used Boscia for about a year and I loved it for calming my sensitive skin, it reduced the redness and itchiness, but I’ll be 26 this year and I’m forming fine lines along the highest part of my cheeks, right below my eyes, so I want to start really focusing on anti-aging. Please forgive this seemingly never ending post! I’m just looking for a little guidance! Thank you so much!


Friday, May 4/2012 at 3:16 pm

I don’t know if it will help you, but I mix my mineral powder into my favourite creams to make my own cream foundation. It works really well, and when I’m flaky, stops the powder brush from lifting up more flakes. Plus, hydrating & treating, yadda yadda. Does that “baby skin” effect Michelle was writing about!

Only caveat; check it a little more often. Shows a little around my mouth after a while sometimes, due to the moving skin, I guess. I just blend it back in.


Friday, May 11/2012 at 1:13 am

Super interesting post! I’ll definitely be trying some of the products you mentioned (and am ordering the CLO as I type this) because my face is picky and temperamental when it comes to acne and clogged pores. Nightmare! I’ve cut way back on my products and narrowed it down to a tea tree oil face wash by Desert Essence, and jojoba oil for moisturizing. I need to start throwing in some anti-aging goodness in there asap. I stick to jojoba oil because it feels more natural than a lotion/cream would — I’m intrigued by the one you recommended though!


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