At 35 I didn't anticipate that I'd still have bad skin days as often as I do. Whether I'm dealing with a breakout, a rash or irritation or just looking... old, I have a few steps that I take as soon as I get home that make a big difference. Here are the products I reach for when I want to look dewy, fresh-faced, and youthful:
Cleansing: Every night I wash my face with Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser. It doesn't strip my skin, and gently cleanses it so that it feels clean after a long day out and about in makeup. But for those times when my face is either breaking out or looking dull, I exfoliate after with Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial. I'd seen Gwenyth Paltrow wax poetic about how it's basically like a facial in a bottle, and I was sold. It's made of super fine scrub that I massage onto my skin when it's been lightly towel-dried in small circles. Then I let it sit for a few minutes until it gets slightly tingly and then wash it off with warm water. Since my skin gets very dry very quickly, I always like for it to be well moisturized, even if I'm not about to put on lotion or moisturizer. So for those in-between times, I spritz my face with Caudalie Beauty Elixir, which is my cure-all for everything (it's also what I use when my makeup looks kind of old and meh to just bring a little new life to my face).
Masks: Depending on what my skin issue is I'm dealing with, I then put on a mask. Since I haven't been getting facials regularly, I try to do masks at night between 3-5 nights a week. If I feel like I've lost my glow and my skin looks a bit lackluster, I love the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. Immediately after taking it off, my skin looks brighter and dare I say - slightly shiny? But in a good way and not reminiscent of my oily forehead from high school. If I'm dealing with a breakout, I'll use Origins' Clear Improvement Mask that helps purify my skin while also helping stifle any breakouts that I have. When I start noticing the wrinkles on my forehead look more pronounced, I'll use the Caudalie Instant Detox Mask. It tightens my pores and makes the overall quality of my skin look substantially more youthful. Since this is my most common skin gripe at 35, I reach for this mask most frequently, which is why I've probably used up 10 bottles over time. When my skin is feeling parched, particularly in between seasons or when I'm flying, I use Darphin's Hydrating Kiwi Mask. It smells incredible (like ripe, juicy fruit), and I like that you can either take it off after a few minutes or leave it on overnight for serious hydration. With all of these masks, I'll use a flat, silicone brush to apply them. Not only do you waste so much less product using a brush instead of your fingers, but it also makes the entire process feel much more indulgent and spa-like, which is ideal since most of the time I do my masks coincides with when I'm giving Sloan a bath. When I take them off, instead of splashing around at the sink for 10 minutes trying to get off every last bit, I use Beauty Smarts Makeup Removing Towels, which are these magical little towels that feel incredibly soft and take off whatever's on your face in a non abrasive way that's also very efficient.
Serum and Moisturizing: After I've done a mask, I'll do one of several things, depending on what my skin needs most. If it's lacking moisture, I'll follow up with Vintner's Daughter serum. I've used this for years and consistently get DM's about whether it's worth the price. In short: yes. It smells ah-mazing and makes my skin glowy and supple-looking. I use the dropper to add a couple drops to my fingers, which I then press onto my face, so a little goes a long way. I let that sink in for a couple of minutes before adding my moisturizer. I just recently started using the Caudalie SOS Intense Moisturizing Cream and love it. It sinks in instantly and makes my skin feel smooth and very hydrated. I always then finish with an eye cream. The Eve Lom Radiance Antioxidant Eye Cream glides on seamlessly, doesn't sting at all (sometimes others irritate my skin), and brightens the area. I've only been using it for about a month, but have already noticed the fine lines around my eyes lessening.
For Some Extra Help: For those nights when I'm trying to bring back some radiance to my skin, I'll apply Beauty Counter's Overnight Resurfacing Peel. I don't know much about peels, but this one is packed with good-for-you ingredients and a variety of acids that improve my skin's texture by morning. It's also great since I can still do the rest of my nighttime routine after letting it set for a couple of minutes. On top, I'll add Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum, which I'll press into my skin before adding my nighttime lotion and eye cream.
For Breakouts: If I'm dealing with a breakout, the first thing I do with freshly washed skin is apply CosRx Pimple Master Patches where needed. They're basically like miniature little bandaids that you apply directly on top of blemishes and keep on over night. Not only do they provide the perfect amount of ingredients to help dry out pimples (but not too much so that you get flaky skin two days later!), they also make it so that you're way less tempted to pick at your skin. I make sure to put them on prior to the rest of my skin routine so the stickers don't peel off immediately. If I don't have actual blemishes, but rather irritated skin that's on the verge of breaking out, I'll apply some Anakiri Restore Proplis Balm. I don't love the smell (it's a little sweet), but it calms my skin and makes it much smoother by morning.
I also recently started using a retinol product, something I've been meaning/wanting to do consistently since I turned 30 and finally found one to commit to. It's the SkinCeuticals Retinol .5 Refining Night Cream and so far I really like it. Because I have really sensitive skin, I apply it after everything else (serum, lotion, eye cream) and currently only apply the tiniest bit to my forehead (about the size of a grain of rice) after a friend recommended to take it slowly after her skin went through a rough patch after introducing a retinol-based product. I use it every two nights and based on how my skin reacts, I'll then consider doing it more frequently. For those not familiar with retinol, it's one of the best things for reducing lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. I haven't used it long enough to see any results yet, but I'll certainly provide an update soon!
Since I now use retinol-based products, it's important that I wash my face in the morning since your skin is a lot more sensitive to the sun. I'll use the same Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser, and then either add my Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum or my Caudalie Radiance Serum before the Goop by Juice Beauty Revitalizing Day Moisturizer. It goes on thick and creamy, but doesn't make it so that all of my makeup slides off immediately. For sunscreen, I alternate between Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen spf 40, which is a clear gel that glides on seamlessly, or Clear Choice Broad Spectrum spf 45, which also blends in nicely and smells clean. That's the base for my skincare most mornings, at which point I'll then add makeup.
If I'm Looking Puffy: For those mornings when my skin looks puffy thanks to too much sodium or if I've cried the night before, I apply eye masks to my under-eye area while I drink my coffee and get ready. The Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks and Shisheido Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Masks are my favorite (sometimes I'll even wear them under my sunglasses while I go for my morning walk). They reduce inflammation while also helping with the dark discoloration I get under my eyes after a bad night's sleep. If I need to really take things up a notch, with my eye masks on, I'll then use an ice-cold eye mask that I keep in the freezer that I can strap on top for a few minutes.
I'm also a big proponent of rollers. I now always keep an Ice Roller in the freezer, which I'll run over my face when I'm either feeling a little sleepy or if I want things to feel tightened up a bit. I'll also still use my Jade Roller (also another freezer staple) to help with circulation as well. But the roller that makes a serious difference is the one by MDNA. I've written about Madonna's Beauty Roller before and it really is that good. I use it along my jawline, starting at my chin and go upwards towards my ear and then start again (I only go in upwards motions). After 30 seconds or so, I'll then do the same thing, but a bit higher up - at the base of my cheek bone by my nose and then bring it back out towards my ears. Not only does it help with fluid retention, but it actually makes my skin look lifted and more sculpted. It's an investment, but I swear it helps literally make my entire face look chiseled and defined.