10 Jul 2019

my skincare routine: finding holy grails and trying to keep it all within budget

Skincare and make up is something I got into a few years ago and since then, the obsession has exploded. I've done reading on the different ingredients and what they do to skin and also which layers should go where and how often certain exfoliators should be used, etc. It actually came in useful in my job when I had a patient come in to ask about treatments for acne - although it can be a medical condition, using the right skincare can also help! I used to have quite mild acne and it cleared up with using the right skincare products and the combined contraceptive pill without any need for antibiotics or other stronger anti-acne medications which have side effects. (I still get the odd spot here and there but nothing like before!)

Anyway, let's talk about the routines! I last blogged about my routine in May 2017 and there have been some significant changes!

Morning Routine


I start off with using cold water splashed on and then patted dry with a cotton flannel. 

1. Melano CC Vitamin C serum/Kiehl's Clearly Correction Dark Spot Solution

I start with this on any old scars which need fading. The Melano CC works a treat and I find the fading is obvious from day two! The Kiehl's one I'm still testing - it was a gift from my sister!

2. Cosrx BHA Blackhead Toner Liquid

I genuinely think this is one of the reasons my skin has cleared up dramatically. BHAs can draw out impurities and keep pores unclogged. I recommended it to my sister a few years ago for this reason and she has sworn by this same product ever since.

3. Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion

Ceramides aplenty in this lotion! Ceramides are great at locking in moisture and maintaining that moisture barrier. I had to slip in ceramides to my morning routine somehow! This is a great way - this lotion is more of a liquid and absorbs super quickly. Ideal for mornings when you are a bit behind schedule! Some people use more than one layer but for me, I find one is sufficient. 

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]

I've been a loyal user of this for many years now. I didn't think it did much but when I stopped using it for a few months, I noticed an increase in breakouts. The Niacinamde helps keep my skin clear whilst brightening it up, giving that all-important healthy glow. Honestly one of my holy grails! Every time Escentual do their French Pharmacy promotion, I buy three or four until the next promotion a few months later. 

5. A moisturiser: depending on what my skin feels like that day/the weather, usually one of the following: Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Gel Cream, Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF, Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Cream or Rosette Ceramide cream.

So there are quite a few products here! Let me explain how I choose. 

Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Gel Cream: for days where my skin feels dry but the weather is going to be cool.

Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion: for days that are hotter and where there is the potential that I may end up a bit sweaty at points!

Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Cream: winter days where it is cold and windy.

Rosette Ceramide cream: cool temperatures or cold temperatures which aren't too windy. 


Evening Routine



1. Pixi Glow Tonic 

Another one that I've used for a few years ago. Still not sure it does anything and now that The Ordinary have come out with an alternative, I will give that a go once this bottle is done. I always start my evening routine with an AHA of some kind though.

2. Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion

I bought this on the whim whilst in Hong Kong last February. It was cold, my skin was dry and I hadn't brought enough moisturising products with me. This was priced at around £7-8 equivalent and having seen some rave reviews for it, I knew I had to try it. It's great! I'm going to try their premium version once this one is done but Hada Labo could become a company I'm very keen on!

3. Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid

Another Dr Jart+ offering! Can you tell I'm a huge fan? They are on the pricier end but I have yet to find a line with so many ceramide laden products that work well on my skin. I have tried the Holika Holika line but it didn't mix well with other layers or make-up. This one is a liquid which can be patted on and I have noticed that my skin is plumper the next day when I've used this.

4. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

More Niacinamide because you can never have enough! At £5 a bottle and with a bottle lasting me about two months, this product is totally worth it. I get a lot of 'bang for my buck' as some of the Reddit forumites say!

5. Simply Pure Hydrating Serum

This serum is extremely cheap and can be found in Superdrug. It also has three types of ceramide in (similar to the Dr Jart+ products I use) but I've found that the more ceramides I use, the better the outcome. I may see if this alone does the trick once I run out of all of my Dr Jart+ products.

6. Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost

I got this in the M&S Beauty Advent Calendar last year and honestly, it's been a revelation. The first night I used it, I remember saying 'meh' out loud. When I woke up the next day, the glow was unreal! However, when I looked up the price (£19!), I was put off a bit. That said, this tube has lasted me a good four months or so with daily use. I'm tempted but need to finish a few other products first before I consider purchasing this one.

7. M&S Ultimate Sleep Cream

Another M&S Beauty Advent Calendar offering. I love the smell of this (though I can imagine some people disliking the strength of it) and it's quite a thick, moisturising cream which feels luxurious on the skin. Again, I wake up with the softest of skin the next morning. Tempted to re-purchase but have a few other products to finish first!


Other Products

These are products I sometimes use instead of the ones above or in addition to depending on what my skin is doing.


1. Mizon Overnight White Sleeping Mask

I use this one on the nights as a final where when it feels like my skin needs an extra bit of moisture locking in.

2. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

This peel gets used once a week as a more intensive treatment. Usually in place of whichever AHA was due to be used.

3. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

I use this once twice a week - Sunday nights and Wednesday nights in place of my AHA. Seem to have a good effect so far and I've noticed a decrease in the number of spots I'm getting.

4. Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water

This cleansing water gets used periodically, on days where my skin seems duller than usual. I haven't noticed much difference with it but then again, I have only used it a few times!

5. Banila Co Clean It Zero

This gets used on the days where I've worn make-up. It's a great oil cleanser which melts off all of my make-up without making my skin feel tight and dry.

6. Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

Used before Clean It Zero to get some of the make up off in preparation for an oil cleanse.

7. Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Oil Balm

Mainly used in the winter as a last layer at night to add some extra moisture.

8. Alpha H Liquid Gold

Used twice a week (Monday nights and Thursday nights) in place of the Pixi Glow Tonic. I'd use this every night if I could (it's that good) but the last time I did that, I killed off my moisture barrier and it took a while to get it back.

9. Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream

On dark spots/areas of redness/areas that need healing fast. It works like magic, if you can see passed the fact that the key ingredient is from snail slime!

10. Avene Cleanance Expert Emulsion

I've yet to see any effect from this so I'm basically using it for the sake of using it. I won't be purchasing this product again!


So there you have it. A bit of a tour of what's on my shelf in my bathroom! I'm still trying to find cheaper alternatives which work just as well as the more expensive products I use (ahem, Dr Jart+) but until I do, I'll stick with my premium ones. They inflict a bit of a dent in my monthly salary but for that extra confidence boost of glowy skin, it's totally worth it. At least for the time being...!

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