Confession: I’ve never had bad skin. Even as a teenager, my face was generally acne-free and clear of any blemishes. Sure, I’ve occasionally woken up with a monster zit on my chin thanks to hormones, or sometimes dry patches pop up if I don't moisturize properly, but in general, my skin tends to behave.
So what's my problem, then?
Well, until recently, my skin just didn’t glow. I had some redness and uneven skin tone. I had these annoying bumps and tiny blackheads on my chin and forehead that never seemed to go away no matter how often (or hard!) I exfoliated. From pore strips to serums, I tried everything to make my skin reach its full potential, but I was in serious need of a breakthrough.
And luckily, I got one! I finally figured out a routine that has my skin looking smooth and on its way to being totally clear of imperfections. Those bumps and blackheads? Gone.A lot of my redness from my forehead and chin has also vanished. Honestly, I have NEVER seen my skin like this and I think it has a lot to do with my improved beauty routine.
I know you want in on this action—so here’s what I've been using on a daily basis, and hopefully it'll work for you, too.
Note: I have combination to dry skin. My cheeks are in desperate need of moisture but my T-zone quickly gets oily throughout the day. However, if I skip moisturizing (something I would NEVER dare do), I become a flaky mess all over.
What I use in the morning
I start off my washing my face with Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar.
Out now for $3.49; click here to learn more and purchase.
Before this product, which is a translucent orange rectangular bar, I was a soap virgin when it came to washing my face—but I'm glad I made the switch. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks but already my skin feels infinitely cleaner when I rinse off the suds as compared to when I was using just an exfoliator to wash my face. I usually wake up with some light grease on my face, but this cleans it all up.
Also, bar soap is totally making a comeback. The ones on the market now that are specially formulated for your face tend to have fewer preservatives, pH levels to match your skin's, and non-irritating ingredients. (Are you surprised I was so willing to give it a try?)
But I do sometimes switch it up and use my favourite exfoliator—St. Ives Apricot Scrub—on its own.
Out now for $5.49; click here to learn more and purchase.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this product being too harsh, but as someone with dry skin, I really need to get rid of any excess skin just sitting on the surface and this does the trick. I find when I start slacking on the exfoliation, my skin is not happy and the imperfections start pouring in.
Once I’ve dried my face, I use Lush Tea Tree Water toner, which I believe has played a MAJOR role in the improvement of my skin. This is also the first toner I've used on a regular basis!
Out now for $21.95; visit lush.ca to learn more and purchase.
It comes in a spray bottle so you can spray it directly on your face (totally refreshing) or spray some on a cotton ball and then sweep it across your face. I prefer the former method, and let it air-dry before applying my face cream.
I’ve been using it twice a day, sometimes even more if I need a bit of a boost when I’m not wearing makeup, for a bit more than a month. It's alcohol-free, has antibacterial and soothing properties and balances sebum production, which I think my skin was desperate for.
I then use Nivea Creme to moisturize.
Out now for $11.89; click here to learn more and purchase.
I used to be an avid Cetaphil moisturizer user, thanks to my dermatologist (I would visit her for help with my eczema). I used to only turn to Nivea if my nose became dry in the winter. But I really liked how it made my skin feel, so I decided to try it out all over my face... and I love it!
Now it's time for a dirty secret.
I don't use sunscreen. Having fair skin, I should know better than to only slather it on when I'm lying under the Florida sun. I need to invest in some—and you should too! [Editor's note: I concur! There are some great options here, here and here.]
After all of this, I put on my makeup. I wear a good amount of it and my face does get oily throughout the day. I use MAC Blot Powder to control shine.
What I use in the evening
When I get home, I immediately take all my makeup off. I usually have long days at school so I’m eager to let my skin breathe.
First, I use baby oil to get rid of any mascara, eyeliner or eyeshadow.
Out now for $4.49; click here to learn more and purchase.
It’s been my go-to remover since I started wearing makeup. While it can get a bit messy, it doesn't burn my eyes if I get some in them and removes anything and everything with two swipes of a cotton ball. I wouldn't think of using anything else. I'm not faithful to any baby oil brand—I'll buy Johnson & Johnson, Personelle, or whatever is on sale. I've used them all and they get the job done.
For the rest of my face, I use L’Oréal Paris Skin Genesis Pore Minimizing Gel Cleanser.
[Editor's note: This product appears to be discontinued... for other cleansing options, see here.]
It washes the day off my face and for the times I go easy on the eye makeup, it removes any and all traces of mascara. I like it because it really gets rid of all my makeup and lathers really well with the smallest amount. The label doesn't explicitly say it's a makeup remover but it has worked for me as such. I have yet to try my Neutrogena Cleansing Bar as a remover, though!
Every second day, I like to do a face mask. Sometimes I like making my own recipes, but recently I've fallen in love with the Lush Love Lettuce Fresh Face Mask.
Out now for $6.95; visit lush.ca to learn more and purchase.
It has bits of ground up almonds in it, which works for me because they act as great exfoliating beads. The other ingredients—honey and lavender oil—make my skin so soft, it’s heavenly.
Then I like to use my Neutrogena bar to clean up any leftover residue on my face. I wash twice, using L'Oréal and Neutrogena, regardless of whether or not I use a mask that day. It gives me the feeling of a superior clean.
Then I spritz on some Lush Tea Tree Water toner, moisturize with Nivea and I’m left with clear, clean skin!
I’d like to think I’ve mastered the formula for good skin in my 20s but when the next decade comes around, it will probablybe back to the drawing board!
Elizabeth Tomaras is a journalism student at Concordia University in Montreal.
Do we use any of the same products?
Have you found the ultimate routine for YOUR skin?
What are your saving face products?