One might say that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with skincare products, especially as I’m getting older. There’s nothing like the “honest” words of my kids to remind me that I’m no Benjamin Button. (Why yes, sweet child, those are lines and on my face. No, sweet child, I can’t just erase them. Even magic erasers aren’t that magical).
As much of a product junkie as I am, I am also very particular about choosing clean ingredients, and more specifically, avoiding bad ones. That’s a post for a whole other day, but INCI Decoder is a great place to check the ingredients in your products!
Tip: If I could tell you to avoid anything in skincare, it would be fragrance. Since fragrance is considered a trade secret, companies don’t need to reveal what is in them. That means you could be putting dozens, or hundreds, of additional unknown ingredients on your skin. No thank you!
Our skin needs different things in different seasons. I am by no means a skincare professional, and there are some amazing ones here in Charleston, but I have found a pretty simple summer skincare routine that works for me, and hopefully may help you as well. And I’ve also included a cheat sheet for you at the bottom of this post showing the order in which I apply my skincare products. (This is not a sponsored post, just products I have used for a while and love!)
*For reference, my skin ranges from normal to dehydrated (you can read more about the difference in dry vs. dehydrated skin here). I do use a retinol product prescribed by my dermatologist for anti-aging a few nights a week which has taken the place of serums for me. I know retinol is not considered clean, but I’m not about perfection! The routine below is for those nights when I’m not using retinol.
Summer skincare products
I’ve found double cleansing to be the key to getting allllll the makeup, sunscreen, and day’s pollutants off my face. The first cleanse is with a balm or oil and then the second cleanse is with a water-based cleanser. Even when I don’t wear makeup, which is most of the time lately, I still double cleanse to make sure I don’t have any sunscreen left on my face before going to bed.
Two balms that I love for the first cleanse are Farmacy’s Green Clean Makeup Removing Balm and Drunk Elephant’s Slaai™ Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. Both melt to an easily spreadable liquid when warmed in your hands for just a few seconds and are great at makeup and sunscreen.
For a second cleanse, I really like Farmacy’s Clean Bee Ultra Gentle Facial Cleanser. After this, I really feel like my face is clean and ready to absorb any products or treatments I put on after. I only use cleansers in the evening. In the morning I simply splash my face with some cold water.
Tip: Full-size Drunk Elephant products are on the pricier side, but I’ve found that getting their little kits, like the one linked above, is a great way to test out their products and even though they’re smaller in size, they last me a while!
After cleansing, both in the morning and at night, I pat some toner on my face. I am a big fan of the seven-skin method during the drier months, but in the summer I generally only use 1-2 layers, depending on how my skin is feeling.
There are a lot of toners on the market, and I don’t find it’s a product that you have to spend a lot on. I currently use Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Toner and the big bottle, from Amazon, has lasted me forever! I apply it to a slightly damp face as that helps the hyaluronic acid work better.
Tip: Avoid buying a toner with alcohol in it! It will only dry your face out.
Finding the right Vitamin C product can be tricky as there are many different formulations out there, and not all skin can tolerate it well. But finding the right one for your skin is so worth it as Vitamin C provides amazing antioxidant protection in addition to your SPF. I love Beautycounter’s Counter+ All Bright C Serum. While it’s on the pricier side, it doesn’t irritate my skin like others have, and my skin definitely looks brighter with it. I apply it after my toner, and only in the morning.
Tip: Maelove’s Glow Maker is also a very highly reviewed clean Vitamin C, and at $27.95, a nice price point!
I’ll be honest, I’ve never had an eye cream that I’ve loved, or seen much of a difference with, so it’s not a product I like to spend a lot of money on. This one from The Inkey List had me at caffeine, plus the $9.99 price tag doesn’t hurt! I feel like it helps ever so slightly with my dark undereye circles (#momlife) so it’s a win in my book! I use it in the morning and at night.
Tip: Me Time Botanicals is a locally-based and owned botanical-based skincare line that I love! She has some amazing products, including a roller eye serum that feels amazing to put on!
Moisturizers probably take up the majority of the real estate in my overflowing array of products that I’ve tried, mostly because it can take a while to find one that works the best with your skin type. Again, what moisturizer you use will depend on the season and the health of your skin, but one I find myself constantly reaching for is Drunk Elephant’s Protini™ Polypeptide Moisturizer. The full-size is definitely pricier, but I like this little kit that includes the cleansing balm and moisturizer and it lasts me for several months. Since I use a retinol a few times a week, this moisturizer keeps my skin from drying out without feeling too heavy. I only use it at night, and will sometimes use a lighter moisturizer in the morning if my skin feels dry.
Tip: The Ordinary is a lesser-known brand, but very easy on the wallet because it focuses on just the main ingredients of the product without a whole lot of other things thrown in there. If you message them and tell them your skincare concerns, they’ll even send you a suggested skincare routine. I love their Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA as an additional moisturizer in my routine, usually in the morning if my skin feels dry. You can also find The Ordinary products at Sephora.
If there is one product my aging skin, plus any dermatologist, would tell you is a must, it’s sunscreen! Without it, all of the other products are pointless and it’s the most important thing we can do to protect our skin. There’s an array of info out there about chemical sunscreens vs. mineral sunscreens vs. physical sunscreens, but I can just tell you what I’ve found makes my skin happy, through trial and error.
I am a big fan of the Supergoop line and have both their Glowscreen and Mineral Mattescreen in my rotation. But my everyday sunscreen, and the one recommended by my dermatologist, is the EltaMD UV-Clear Broad Spectrum sunscreen. It doesn’t make my face feel greasy, goes on well under makeup, and doesn’t cause my skin any irritation.
Tip: Use sunscreen every morning, regardless of whether you’re going anywhere, and make it the last step in your skincare routine before putting on makeup.
At night I always put on the Agave+ Nightime Lip Therapy from Bite Beauty. It is one of the only products I have found to combat chapped and peeling lips from the heat or air-conditioner. During the day, I use Supergoop’s PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai.
Additional skincare products I use on occasion
The above products are ones I use on a daily basis, and I’ve found that the simpler a routine, the more likely I am to stick with it. Plus, too many products doesn’t necessarily result in better skin. Focusing on keeping my skin hydrated keeps it happy, for the most part.
On occasion, I will incorporate a mask into my routine, like Beautycounter’s Charcoal Facial Mask or Farmacy’s Honey Potion Hydrating Mask. I especially like the charcoal mask in the summer when I feel like my pores are getting clogged with sweat and sunscreen. I will also occasionally use a chemical exfoliant, such as The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% +HA which is super gentle but effective at exfoliating the skin. For me, I find it best to limit exfoliation due to already using a retinol product a few times a week. And for the occasional blemish, I have found alba botanica’s acnedote™ invisible treatment gel to be very effective.
Well friends, there you have it. It may seem like a lot of info, but I’ve found the most important thing is finding products that make your skin happy and building a good skincare routine into your daily life. It’s something I’ve found I look forward to now because I know I’m doing something good for my skin, and it’s a little bit of daily self-care that is just for me!