Skin Care 101: My Routine and Favorite Products

I have a confession.  Up until a couple years ago, I had no skin care routine whatsoever. Zero. Maybe I’d splash some water on my face in the morning and use whatever soap in the shower to do a mediocre job of washing off my makeup in the evening, but that was it.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my skin was dull with an uneven tone, fine lines were starting to form and, due to my naturally oily skin (thanks, Mom!), I had my share of acne.  Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then and now I actually get compliments on my skin, which still throws me off from time to time.  Take my advice and don’t wait 28 years to start caring for your face!

me
This is my face. And maybe a filter.

There are three basic steps to skin care: Cleansing, Exfoliating and Moisturizing.  Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Here is my current skin care routine and favorite products:

  1. Makeup Removal 

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I’m an evening shower person so we’ll start the routine with makeup removal. Removing all of your makeup before cleansing is a crucial step on the road to great skin. Before getting in the shower, I take off my makeup with a Neutrogena makeup remover wipe. The CVS brand of these wipes is great, too (and cheaper).  If I have some heavy-duty eye makeup on, I’ll soak a cotton ball with Neutrogena eye makeup remover and gently rub everything off.

  1. Cleansing and Exfoliating 

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I keep a rotation of several cleansers in the shower but usually mix together my all-time favorites of Cetaphil and the Garnier Blackhead Eliminating Scrub for Oily Skin.  Cetaphil is super mild and helps remove any remaining bits of makeup the wipe might have missed while the Garnier scrub removes dead skin and is gentle enough to use every day.  Plus, the charcoal in the scrub helps control acne and oily skin because, science.

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Once or twice a week I’ll mix together a pump of Cetaphil with a small amount of my secret weapon: Skin Obsession Microdermabrasion Crystals.  These crystals are incredibly finely milled and a minute or two of rubbing this mixture all over your face will leave your skin baby soft and radiant.   Exfoliating is KEY in keeping skin soft, generating new skin cells and evening out skin tone. A smooth, even canvas gives you a fantastic base for applying makeup.  Exfoliating is also a necessity for keeping “mature” a.k.a over 30 skin, like mine, all glowy and youthful.

  1. Toning & Anti-Aging

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Toner seems to be one of those things that people are on the fence about when it comes to skin care.  Do I think it’s a huge factor? No. Do I think it helps in my fight against oily skin? Yep. Once my skin is all cleansed, exfoliated and I’m out of the shower, I’ll soak a cotton ball in toner and wipe it all over my face.  Done.

Next it’s time for anti-aging. I’ve been using the Avene Retrinal 0.1 Cream ever since my dermatologist recommended it two years ago when I asked her what would help slow time from marching across my face.  The price is a little steep but you only need to use a pea-sized amount each night, so a tube will last months.  I apply this all over my face and neck. It has never made me break out, it doesn’t give that lovely sting that other retinol products can have and I think it’s done wonders for evening out my skin tone and plumping everything up a bit.  I highly recommend it.

While letting the Retrinal sink in and do its thing, I’ll apply a dot of Epiduo to any pimple that might be starting to show up and this stops it in its tracks.  I’m fairly certain that Epiduo is prescription only so ask your dermatologist for a sample.  It’s strong, effective stuff and can be very drying, so use a tiny dot only on the spot itself or you’ll risk the skin around it becoming dry and flaky.

  1. Moisturizing 

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Anti-aging and acne prevention products can dry out the skin, so it’s time to put that moisture back in.  I like to use a combination of the classic Olay Night Cream with a few drops of Tarte Maracuja Oil mixed in. Yes, I have oily skin and yes, I put an oil on my face and I genuinely believe it’s one of the most important steps in my routine.  Maracuja oil has many benefits and is loaded with Vitamin C to give you a brighter, firmer complexion.  This oil is not cheap but when you only use 2-3 drops a day, it’s going to last.  I can’t say enough good things about it (although it smells a bit like french fry grease, but…who doesn’t love fries?).  For daytime moisture, I use the Olay Complete Moisturizer with SPF 15 after cleansing and before applying makeup.

Last, but certainly not least, I pat Olay Eye Lifting Serum underneath and around my eyes.

And that’s it!  This might sound like a ton of products and a lot of steps, but once I got into the habit, I got it down to a science and it only takes me 5-7 minutes, tops.

  1. Optional Step: Face Masks 

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I don’t lead a particularly taxing life, but I still live by the “Treat Yo Self” motto.  Part of that treating is face masks.  I loooove them.  And you should, too, because they’re inexpensive, helpful for a range of skin issues and you’ll feel like a queen (or king, no judgement) waiting to be fed grapes while you lay around with your mask on.

Once or twice a week I’ll use one of the following masks, depending on what my skin’s doing or needing.  Bonus: All Freeman masks are inexpensive and sold at every drugstore:

  • Freeman Oatmeal & Avocado Clay Mask gets all the gunk out of your pores, leaving your skin extra clean and smooth. I like to use this mask at the end of the weekend since I’ve typically been wearing a lot of makeup and acting a fool for the past few days, so I need that deep clean.
  • Freeman Peel-Off Cucumber Mask is an old school, peel-off cucumber mask. Truthfully I just love this one for the Patrick Bateman-esque style of peeling the mask off once it’s all dry, but it does have actual skin smoothing and impurity-removing benefits.
  • Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask is a must for my fellow oily skin people because it contains our friend charcoal. This isn’t a mask exactly, but more a yummy-smelling paste.  Spread it all over your face, let it sit for a couple minutes, rub it all around your face for a minute or two, wash it off and voila! Glowing, smooth skin is yours.

My number one skin care tip? Be consistent. A solid routine and great products won’t help much if you’re only using them sporadically.  Carve out a couple minutes in your day to take care of your skin and I promise, your face will thank you for it.

5 Sweat-Proof Summer Makeup Tips

Now that we’ve almost reached August, it’s fitting that the weather is face-meltingly hot and humid.  There are few things more frustrating than putting your face on and having it all run off like a (very colorful) waterfall within two minutes of stepping out the door.

Luckily for you, I have some sweat-proof summer makeup tips:

  1. Makeup setting spray

I’m one of those people who is #blessed to have incredibly oily skin year round, and the day I discovered the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray , my life changed for the better.  This spray is a bit pricey but it lasts a long time and really helps lock your makeup in place.  A couple sprays before you start applying your makeup, a couple sprays when your makeup is finished and boom. Done. Your makeup is staying put.

  1. BB Cream

When it’s hot as hell, the last thing you want to do is slather a layer of liquid foundation on your mug.  Enter the BB cream.  A good BB cream is lightweight, gives you decent coverage and usually contains the all-important SPF needed in the summer.  My favorite is the Rimmel Matte BB Cream.  Anything with “matte” in the title will help keep shine at bay.

  1. Bronzer

You probably have a bit of a tan already, so why not go all out and use bronzer on All The Things?  I’m not a fan of heavy eye makeup when I know I’m going to be out in the heat, so I’ll sweep some bronzer through the crease of my eye to give a little color and shimmer without much product, then throw some on my cheeks and along my hairline.  A great (and cheap!) drugstore bronzer is the Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster.

  1. Balm stain

Lips can be tricky in the summer.  Gloss is so sticky, lipstick can melt (or smear all over your face while you’re inhaling a hot dog) and a stain is far too drying.  Thankfully the good people at Revlon created the Balm Stain.  This may be my all-time favorite drugstore product.  You get the color payoff and longevity of a stain with the moisture of a balm, plus this line comes in a huge range of colors.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

  1. Waterproof mascara

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Sweating and regular mascara don’t mix well. Or maybe you’re like me and want your lashes to look fabulous even when you’re swimming.  Either way, you need a waterproof mascara in the summer.  My current favorite is the CoverGirl Super Sizer.  The skinny brush is great for really lengthening and separating each lash (and it’s great for the lower lashes, too).

There you have it!  I hope these tips help, and if all else fails, just camp out in the air conditioning until October.

6 Easy Steps to Applying False Lashes

Ah, false lashes.  Aside from winged eyeliner, false lashes may be the most-feared tool/technique in the beauty arsenal.  But fear not!  I’m here to help. Falsies can have a significant effect on your overall look and are a great way to add a little oomph for a big event or night out.

Here is my six step guide to applying false lashes with relative ease:

Step 1: Have a drink

No, seriously.  Have a drink (or if you’re not a booze person, do a little yoga or deep breathing or whatever you people do to loosen up).  I firmly believe that false lashes can smell fear and the more relaxed you are, the better.  Don’t get hammered, but put on some good “I’m going out tonight!!!11” tunes, have a drink and approach the process as fun instead of An Ordeal.  It helps, I promise.

Step 2: Select your false lashes and cut them to size

Eyes come in all different shapes and sizes so you may need to trim your falsies down to fit your peepers.  Simply hold the lash strip up to your eye and decide if you need to trim a few hairs off the end or if you’re good to go.  Having a lash that’s too long and tickling the inside of your eye/nose area is the opposite of fun, so don’t skip this step.

Step 3: Prep your natural lashes

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Take a look at your natural lashes.  Are they fairly straight?  Then curl them with a lash curler and swipe on 1 (one) coat of mascara.  If your lashes are particularly straight, I suggest waterproof mascara to really make sure your lashes stay curled.  If your lashes naturally curl up like mine do (humblebrag), feel free to run a clean mascara wand or spoolie through your lashes to get them all fanned out, separated and ready to go.

Step 4: Glue time

Use a good quality glue!  You want these suckers to stay on and a good glue does just that.  My personal favorite is Duo Lash Adhesive, Clear, 0.25 Ounce, easily found online or at any drugstore.  There are really two options when it comes to glue application: apply to the seam of the false lash strip, or apply the glue directly to your own lash line.  I’m a fan of both ways but tend to use the “apply to the false lash strip” method.  Apply a VERY thin line of glue to the lash strip seam.  The cardinal rule here is to let the glue dry for a good 30 seconds before you attempt to place the lashes on your eye.  The glue must be tacky to get a good, solid hold.  These will probably be the longest 30 seconds of your life, so feel free to use this time to take a swig of the drink mentioned in Step 1.

Step 5: Lash application

This is it.  Here we go.  Pick up your lash strip with either tweezers or those handy little lash-gripper tong things that come with many lash kits.  Look down into a mirror and carefully place the lashes on your eyelid as close to your natural lash line as possible.  Breathe.  Try to secure the middle of the lash strip over the pupil of your eye first.  Once that part is secured, carefully tug the end of the false lashes out to fit the inner and outer corners of your eye.  Breathe again.  Once you feel that the lash strip is well secured, take the flat side of a bobby pin and run it over the lash strip to smooth it down and really get a good hold.  Let the glue dry for a couple minutes.

Step 6: Merge the real with the fake

You’re almost done!  Once the glue has dried, use your favorite mascara to bond your real lashes with the falsies.  A couple swipes on each eye should do it.  Don’t forget to add mascara to your lower lash line to balance things out.  Finally, use eyeliner to draw on the seam of the lash and lash line to help blend everything together.

And you’re done!  You may want to throw the glue and tweezers in to your purse just in case, but if you follow these steps, your false lashes should have no problem staying on for many hours. Enjoy!