After a ton of research and some trial and error, I have finally nailed down my skincare routine. The products below have been my go-to for about 4 months now and I’m thrilled – my hormonal acne has not caused me any issues and my skin is more even in colour and texture. I keep my routine pretty simple and straightforward – no 13 step process for me! I also do my best to avoid buying products based on branding, but rather strip it back to what the actual ingredients are doing for my skin.
This is just what I have found works for me. I wanted to share because I always find it helpful to see what works for other people and what their favourite products are. I would love to hear what your routines look like and what your go-to products are at the moment!
Cleanser – CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser: I use this gentle cleanser in the morning since I don’t have any makeup to remove. It cleanses my face without being drying. My skin is super sensitive and prone to redness so I find there are very few cleansers that I don’t react to but still get my skin clean – this is one of the keepers.
Treatment – L’Oreal Revitalift Vitamin C Serum: “According to my re-search…” (anyone, anyone…Dorothy Ann from the Magic School Bus?!?) this was a cost effective but high quality vitamin C serum. It has not disappointed. It applies easily and has a very silky finish without leaving a shiny residue. My skin seems to be smoother in texture and I even feel like my pores are less noticeable. Even though I was very skeptical, I do feel that it has “brightened” my skin (it looks more glowy and moisturized), evened out discolouration, and made my skin less red. While I don’t know yet if it is helping with fine-lines and wrinkles, I am looking more for prevention at this point, so hopefully it will pay off!
Moisturizer – CeraVe Pm Lotion – After I let the Vitamin C serum fully soak in, I apply this moisturizer. Even though it’s branded as “PM” I actually prefer it for daytime. It is so light and is the perfect base before sunscreen and makeup. It is somehow super hydrating without being heavy.
Sunscreen – Skinceuticals UV Physical Sunscreen: Hands down the best facial sunscreen I have ever used. It is the only sunscreen that I actually look forward to putting on and wear consistently every day. It is a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and iron oxide, providing broad spectrum UVA/UVB coverage PLUS blue light protection (from screens etc).
The product goes on silky smooth, is not greasy AT ALL, and doesn’t leave a white cast. Because it is lightly tinted I use it in place of foundation. It provides the lightest wash of colour to even out skin texture and discolouration. Another huge bonus, this formulation has not caused me to break out, where in the past, using other sunscreens has been a recipe for a pimple. It is a tad pricy, I will admit. I justify it as a two-for-one product – a sunscreen and a foundation. Also since wearing sunscreen everyday is so important, I am willing to spend a bit more if it actually gets me to wear it daily!
Cleanser – Dove Sensitive Skin Bar: The OG. The throwback. The classic. I have been using this forever and have always come back to it. And lets get real, you cannot beat the price! Make sure to get the “Sensitive Skin” version which is unscented. This soap doesn’t strip your skin or leave that “tight” feeling but still lathers and works well. It has never let me down!
Active treatment – CeraVe Salicylic Acid Lotion: After I get out of the shower, I apply this all over on my back, shoulders, upper thighs and sometimes my armpits. Why do I apply it to these areas? For my back and shoulders I find it helps to prevent and treat any acne, especially if I have been running or working out a lot. As for my upper thighs, it helps get rid of those little red bumps around hair follicles. I even sometimes apply it to my armpits because I have found it helps to prevent those annoying red bumps after shaving. The formulation is super moisturizing and non-irritating, but the 3% Salicylic acid helps exfoliate and soften dry skin as well as preventing and treating acne. I am so glad I found this product, it makes such a huge difference!
Moisturizer – Lubriderm Unscented Lotion: While it may not be the most glamorous, this is absolutely my favourite body moisturizer. I apply a very generous amount all over every day right after I get out of the shower. Embarrassing fact: at one point I had a stockpile of 30 bottles (Costco was having a sale)! Some body lotions can actually make my skin more itchy and irritated if they have a lot of fragrance. Lubriderm is super moisturizing but not greasy at all. It also absorbs really quickly so I can get on with my morning!
Cleanser – Dove Sensitive Skin Bar: I use the Dove bar to wash my face at night because I find it’s better at removing makeup and sunscreen than the CeraVe cleanser. Should I be using Micellar water? Probably. I’m just too lazy to add in another step, especially at night when I am exhausted. As you can see I use the Dove soap on my face and body – it is that versatile and gentle. If I am going away on a trip, this is the only cleanser I pack since it works for everything – face, body, hands… I have even used it as shampoo in a pinch!
Moisturizer – CeraVe Cream (the thick stuff in the tub), CereVe Eye Cream: In the evening I apply the CeraVe Cream to my face and neck since it is thicker and super-duper moisturizing. I figure I might as well let it do its work while I sleep! However, it can be a bit heavy to use around my eyes so I will apply the CeraVe Eye Cream there instead. My skin finally doesn’t feel super parched in the morning and has been less dry and irritated. Both products are pretty cost effective since they last FOREVER, a little bit goes a long way.
Treatment – TactuPump (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide): **Keep in mind this is a prescription product, so requires an assessment my your MD. There are also lots of other prescription acne treatments and retinoids available as well as over the counter options. This is just the one that has worked for me**
After I let my cream fully soak in I apply my acne treatment/retinoid. This guy absolutely changed my skin! I wish I had started using it sooner. The benzoyl peroxide manages my acne, while the adapalene (a retinoid) looks after my acne AND discolouration, wrinkles and signs of aging. Even if you don’t have acne, retinoids can be utilized just for their “anti-aging” benefits. For more info on retinoids, I wrote more in depth about them here.
I love the TactuPump since it has both of the ingredients I’m after in one product. It keeps my hormonal acne at bay and keeps my skin smooth, improves texture and discolouration. Game changer. While some people apply their retinoid/acne treatment right after cleansing and before moisturizer, I find that causes my skin to get more irritated. I always apply my moisturizer first, let it fully absorb, then go in with the TactuPump.
Lips – CeraVe Cream and Vaseline: For overnight, I apply the cream to my lips, let it soak in, then top with vaseline. No fancy lip masks here! Just thick-ass cream then good ol’ vaseline! I find my lips are less chapped and smoother come morning. They are prepped and ready to go for lipstick in the morning if I want.
For Active Acne Breakouts I use:
If I am starting to have a breakout or a pimple show up, I will use CeraVe Salicylic Acid Wash. I let it sit on the skin for a few minutes before washing off. I find it too strong to use daily with the TactuPump, so I only apply it a couple of times per week or if I feel a breakout starting. If I have a pimple, I find using this helps to reduce how long my “little friends” visit for.
If I do end up having a friend take up residence on my face, I love these CosRx Acne Patches. They are a hydrocolloid patch that protects any broken skin and helps with healing. However, the biggest reason I use them is that they prevent me from picking or touching the area as it heals. It prevents me from being my own worst enemy in the healing process!
Again, this is just what is working well for me right now. I’m sure it will continue to evolve as I learn more and as my skin changes. I would love to hear what your skincare routine looks like and what products you find work well for you! If you are willing to share, I’d love to read in the comments.