My Skincare Regimen (in excessive detail)

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A few people have asked me about my regular skincare routine, which I described briefly in my interview with Beautiful With Brains – here it is in more detail.

I generally use the same steps, but I often substitute in different products. It gets pretty complex, but I hope it makes sense! I’ve included a summary chart at the bottom, because what regimen is complete without a chart?

Evening

I prefer to go to sleep with clean hair and skin (saves changing my pillowcase and sheets quite so much, plus reduces the chances of dirt rubbing into my face all night) so I shower in the evening. My evening routine is a lot more complex than my daytime routine, which also fits in with my night-owl habits.

1. Remove Make-Up (time: 15-30 seconds)

The first step in my routine is removing my make-up. I only really wear stubborn make-up around my eyes, so I use a two-phase cleanser (the ones with a line in the middle that look like oil floating on water) with a cotton pad before stepping into the shower. I’m currently using Models Prefer EYE remove, but my favourite so far is Garnier 2-in-1 Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover.

2. Cleanse (time: 2-5 minutes)

I cleanse my face every evening. It doesn’t take very long, depending on the stubbornness of my make-up. I do it just before and during my shower.

[Optional: Oil cleanse – If I’m wearing heavy make-up, or if my skin is feeling dry, I cleanse with oil as well before showering, either a cleansing oil (e.g. Face of Australia Cleansing Oil, or just plain plant oil like jojoba or sunflower).]

Gentle facial cleanser – It’s winter in Australia so I’ve been using gentle, low-foaming cleansers that remove my (generally lightweight) make-up without leaving my skin tight. My current cleansers are Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser and Nivea Pure Effect Thermo Daily Warming Cleanser, but the exact products change a lot. I clean my face in the shower.

3. Wash-Off Treatment (time: 2-30 minutes)

This happens occasionally. I try to treat my face once a week but I often run out of time. There are two types of special treatment I tend to use at this stage of my regimen:

Mask – Depending on how my skin has been behaving, I use either an oil-sucking mask (e.g. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay + apple cider vinegar) or a hydrating mask (e.g. Uriage AquaPrécis Express Mask). I try to use a mask once a week but I often forget or don’t have time.

Physical exfoliant – I’m a big fan of peeling gels at the moment, and since I’m trying to avoid microbeads, peeling gels have pretty much become the only type of physical exfoliant I use, though in the past I’ve been fond of cleansing brushes. Depending on the weather and my skin, I physically exfoliate 1-3 times a week. I’m using The Face Shop White Jewel Peeling Gel at the moment.

I then dry my face by pressing a fluffy cotton bath towel onto it, then it’s off to my bedside table, where we move onto the…

4. Leave-On Treatment (time: 2 minutes)

These are the concentrated products I apply to my cleansed face, so they will have the maximum impact. I only use scientifically supported ingredients, with an emphasis on prevention of breakouts and lightening hyperpigmentation, with anti-ageing as a secondary concern (though I’m sure that will change as I get older!). Whichever one I use depends on how my skin has been behaving, and if I haven’t used a particular treatment for a while.

[Optional: Benzoyl peroxide (not pictured, as needed) – If I have a big red pimple, or a deep pimple, I dab a bit of benzoyl peroxide right after a shower, then wait a bit (maybe half an hour) before putting an all-over treatment on. I’ve been borrowing my sister’s Proactiv.]

AHA (2-3 times weekly) – I love my hydroxy acids. I have a few different products I use of varying strengths, but Neostrata Gel Plus Step Up Level 15 AHA is my go-to.

Retinol (2-3 times weekly) – Retinol is my desert island treatment (provided I also have sunscreen). It helps with all sorts of issues, like acne and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. I’m using Love Life Perfect Night Retinol Renewal Complex.

Oil (1-2 times weekly) – A few times a week I use an oil directly on my skin as a treatment. I find that this helps with dry, rough patches. I’m currently switching between La Mav Vit C Advanced Nightly Repair Nectar and Kosmea Rosehip Oil.

Vitamin C (1-2 times weekly) – I wrote about the glowing benefits of vitamin C here. It helps with evening tone, hyperpigmentation and collagen synthesis (i.e. anti-wrinkle) amongst other things. I’m currently using Obagi Professional-C Serum (15%).

5. Moisturise (time: 1-3 minutes)

I pick my final moisturiser depending on the weather and my skin dryness. I don’t purposefully look for potent active ingredients in my moisturiser, since I have the separate treatment step – I just pick based on the heaviness and type of moisturising ingredient (for a demonstration of how I analyse my moisturisers, check out this moisturiser ingredient list reading post). If it’s got active ingredients, that’s just icing on the cake.

 

Light water-based moisturiser – the lightest sorts of moisturisers I use mostly contain water-soluble ingredients with a low percentage of oils, such as Jurlique Daily Moisture Balancing Serum.

Treatment oil – if my skin isn’t too dehydrated, I use a treatment oil as my final moisturiser, such as rose hip oil.

Medium weight water/oil moisturiser – I use these about half the time. If my skin has any rough patches, or if the weather is dry, or if I’m just too tired to think, I use a medium weight lotion, like Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream or Clinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturiser or Uriage AquaPrécis Moisturising Comfort Cream. The first ingredients are water and humectants, so they sink in quickly without being greasy, but there’s enough oil in there to seal in moisture and keep my skin from drying out overnight.

Heavy oil-based moisturiser – I use these as a spot treatment, mainly for stubborn dry spots and my nose after a bout of sneezing. So far I’ve only used this as a spot treatment, but I suspect that once my skin dries out as I get older, I’ll be slathering this on overnight as a mask. I’m really loving Nivea Creme, which in combination with a peeling gel can de-flake my nose overnight.

6. Lip care (time: 30 seconds)

I have plump lips which dry out quickly, so overnight lip treatments are a must for me. I’m currently using Burt’s Bees Hydrating Coconut & Pear lip balm with Nivea Vanilla & Macadamia Lip Butter on top, but I have some Hurraw! lip balms on the way to me after some readers recommended them.

Morning

I am really not a morning person, so I’ve arranged my skincare in a way which minimises the amount I have to do before I leave the house. I can go from being bed to out the door in half an hour without skipping a step of my skincare/make-up/dressing routine – pretty neat, hey? (No breakfast though.)

7. Cleanse (15-30 seconds)

In the morning, I just splash my face with water and wipe off with my bath towel. This gets rid of any greasiness from my night treatments without stripping my skin, and it’s pretty clean at this point anyway.

8. Protection (2-4 minutes)

BHA – I like to use BHA (salicylic acid) in the morning as it has a slight sunscreen effect as well as its exfoliating benefits. Plus, for some reason Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid magically makes my skin tight and smooth, and shrinks my pores, though I try to avoid it on humid days since it’s a bit sticky.

Sunscreen – I generally can’t handle greasy sunscreen on my face despite knowing that it’s the best thing for skin, pretty much ever (fact) – but I’ve been trying out a plethora of sunscreens lately and some of them work great. Biore UV Aqua Base is my current favourite, though I’ll be reviewing a bunch of sunscreens in a separate post soon.

Then on top goes make-up, and the whole cycle repeats again!

Overall, the shortest total time my daily regimen takes is 10 minutes, which is pretty good given how long I’ve taken to describe it! With a half-hour mask and stubborn make-up that needs an oil cleanse, we’re looking at 45 minutes (though during the half hour mask I’m free to get on with life). So while it’s complex, it’s not particularly hard to fit around a tight schedule.

Here’s the chart I promised:

* = optional steps

From what I’ve seen, most skincare addicts have a similar sort of routine to mine, with a few differences.

Do you have a skincare regimen? How does yours differ? Let me know!

Most of these products were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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12 thoughts on “My Skincare Regimen (in excessive detail)”

  1. Wow! So complex and thorough!

    My routine is usually:

    Wake up – Shower (cleanse in there)
    Rosehip oil all over face and neck

    Evening – Wash face over the basin (exfoliator)
    Rosehip oil all over face and neck

    And of course my Blistex before bed. . . ahh lol.

    Reply
  2. A really dumbass question here: do you put your moisturizer on after your leave-on treatment, or is it either one or the other?
    If you use both, how much time do you give the first one to sink in so you can apply the moisturizer safely, without compromising the effects of the treatment?

    I have PC’s Retinol 1 treatment and rosehip oil. Can they work together (one after the other), or should I just leave the retinol to do its thing during the night unencumbered, as it were? 🙂
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I put the moisturiser on afterwards. You don’t have to wait too long – I leave a few minutes between steps. Retinol can be combined with most things on your face – the main exceptions are low pH AHAs or BHA or vitamin C, and benzoyl peroxide (and even those won’t completely inactivate it).

      Reply
      • Does this mean that you choose only one treatment (benzoyl peroxide, AHAs, vitamin C serum, or retinol) before moisturizing at night? Or does the 30-minute wait after the benzoyl peroxide allow you to choose another treatment to use as well (because it has soaked in, perhaps?).

        Thanks in advance, and sorry if you’ve already covered this somewhere else! I’m reading like a fiend, but I only just discovered this blog after years and years of bemoaning the lack of reliable and accesible scientific information in the skincare and cosemtic fields (I was a chemistry, biology, and physics teacher for many years, and often had my students research industry claims to teach them to verify claims). Thanks very much for doing this great research for us, your readers– it’s so useful. There is often so little push-back against manipulative advertising practices, especially in these fields which both target insecurities and take advantage of minimal science literacy. I really appreciate your work.

        Reply
        • I generally only choose one treatment for my whole face – with BP I usually only spot treat so I usually use it with something else.

          And thank you! 🙂

          Reply
  3. Hey Michelle: It has been close to 4 years since you released your skincare regimen here. I’m wondering if it has changed much over that time or if is mostly the same. Can you update us on this please? Thanks, Dee

    Reply
    • I’m working on a video on my morning routine, it should be up soon! The steps and the philosophy are generally the same, although the actual products have changed a bit 🙂

      Reply
  4. OMG, Michelle, I L O V E your blog, all the dedication. I appreciate the in-depth explanations that anyone can understand, so cool you approach skincare from a scientific angle. If you ever published a book, I’d buy it <3!!! And obviously: Loved this post, too! xo from Switzerland, Liberty

    Reply

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