In the mornings I love my CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for a quick refreshing clean.
After work I start by removing makeup with micellar water (LOVE this stuff, it looks and feels exactly like water but gently cleanse off makeup!). Currently I'm working through this ginormous bottle of Lancome Eau Fraiche (erm...may have purchased it just for a GWP last fall....*hangs head in shame*), but my "usuals" are Eau Thermale Avene Micellar Lotion or La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution (whew what a mouthful!). Lancome was the one that first hooked me, but it's pretty $$$ compared to the others. In a micellar cleansing water I gravitate towards fragrance-free ones that leave no residue.
If I'm not going to wash right away, I follow-up with a few refreshing and lightly moisturizing spritzes of Clinique Moisture Surge Facial Spray.
Since I've been trying out some new physical sunscreens lately, I've added DHC Deep Cleansing Oil to my routine to help fully cleanse the sunscreens from my skin. Last year I realized that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide cause bad, nasty acne on me so this year I want to see if I can keep that under control with exfoliators and oil cleansers. So far, so good, I'll be very happy if this actually works! In terms of effectiveness I really prefer physical sunscreens. I used chemical sunscreens all last year and my face is still tan!
I start off with Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum, which is a light gel that sinks right in. Next is Paula's Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster, which is a 15% Vitamin C solution. Vitamin C is this awesome thing that's supposed to slow melanin production, which means fewer brown spots! I wouldn't suggest starting off with a 15% concentration though, since it can cause irritation if your skin isn't used to it. Then sometimes I layer on my Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex which is a nice light fluid, not too heavy for summer. On the days I'm going to use a physical sunscreen, instead of the retinol serum I use Philosophy's clear days ahead oil-free salicylic acid treatment, in hopes that it will work to clear any pores that get clogged by that nasty zinc oxide. The Philosophy was a recent purchase and I'm wondering why I didn't try it earlier! I love that it absorbs so quickly into my skin leaving no stickiness behind.
The All-Important Sunscreen
Here's my current lineup. I like to experiement a little too much so I have a bunch of sunscreens lying around. Be careful if you're a skincare hoarder since certain ingredients break down and lose effectiveness over time (another reason I prefer physical over chemical sunscreens). Typically I use OBAGI Nu-Derm Physical UV Block SPF 32 over my eye area. It's a 18.5% zinc oxide sunscreen with a thick, creamy consistency that does leave a bit of a white cast.
Then I follow-up with one of the other three: Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 30 has been repurchased a few times as I really like the thinner formula, it doesn't feel goopy or sticky on me. Also it's surprisingly hard to find a sunscreen that also includes good stuff like niacinamide, vitamin c + e, and even a bit of retinol. I just picked up Philosophy help me SPF 30 Retinol Day Treatment Lotion, another chemical sunscreen containing sodium hyaluronate (for hydration) and (a small amount of) retinol. It's a similar texture and feel as the Neutrogena, both absorb pretty well and don't pill under my makeup.
Lately I was curious about Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 which is a physical sunscreen containing 13% zinc oxide and is chock full of antioxidants and good stuff like reservatrol, quercertin, vitamin e, vitamin c, etc etc etc. Unlike the overly thick OBAGI, this is still a pretty creamy consistency, but pretty light as far as physical sunscreen formulas go. What kills me is the awful pink cast to the product. I guess they thought adding a flesh-tone color would be better than leaving the white cast you typically get from physical sunscreens. Guess what Paula? Not everyone has pink undertones! Blah. I really wanted to love it, but the awful grey-pink cast makes it unusable on my face.
Sometimes You Just Need Some Exfoliation
I greatly prefer chemical over physical exfoliators. I lucked out last year when I discovered that glycolic acid really helps to control acne, and also helps the acne scars disappear a lot faster than normal. I wish I had tried it years ago! I started off using Peter Thomas Roth 10% Glycolic Acid Moisturizer which I still love, but it's better used in the wintertime as I find it too thick for the hot humid summers. After phasing it into my routine I used it nightly, sometimes as a spot treatment twice a day.
I'm almost through my last bottle of c.booth derma-e Glycolic Acid Skin Resurfacing Lotion, which is basically a liquid solution containing 10% glycolic acid. I LOVE THIS STUFF BUT IT'S DISCONTINUED!! :( I cannot for the life of me find a good replacement, all the other liquid formulas contain huge amounts of alcohol which is irritating for my skin. *moment of silence for c.booth derma-e Glycolic Acid Skin Resurfacing Lotion....RIP*
Maybe once a week or so I turn to my Glycolix Treatment Pads 20% Glycolic for a real deep cleanse. It turns my face red and might sting a little, but that wears off after a while. I definitely don't recommend anyone start off with a 20% glycolic solution unless you're already well-acclimated to 10%!
Recently I decided to try out a stronger salicylic acid product when Paula's Choice released a new RESIST Weekly Retexturing Foaming Treatment 4% BHA. It literally foams right out of the nozzle! How fun! Then it gets all liquidy and you have to massage it into your face. It definitely feels pretty strong, so I only use this maybe once a week at most.
I'm not sure I've really noticed much anti-aging benefits from using relatively strong chemical exfoliators, but it definitely helps keep my acne under control!
Night-time isn't that exciting, it's basically a rehash of the morning, with the Dr. Dennis Gross eye serum, Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex, and then on top of it all a 5% benzoyl peroxide product. Clinique has a good one also which includes a bunch of anti-irritants and sometimes I follow-up with that one if I've just used a chemical exfoliator. The Paula's Choice one is thin, almost liquidy though so I greatly prefer it in warmer months.
Sometimes my face feels a bit dry so I might add an extra layer of moisture. This is where GWP minis come in really handy! I just opened a Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus eye cream which is a beautiful silky cream that glides right on. The Algenist Firming and Lifting cream is another favorite, just the right amount of hydration, not too thick, a pleasure to smooth over my skin! CeraVe is my good old standby for angry skin days or if I don't have any eye cream on hand. The dropper bottle is a hyaluronic acid solution, I just use one drop around my eye area and cheeks for lightweight hydration when needed.