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My Skincare Routine

by Amelia Greenhall - 07/09/2019

I enjoy reading about other people’s skincare routines so I thought I’d write down mine!

Routine

I do the following things in the evenings:

  1. Wash my face and neck with a Cleanser and water
  2. Spray two or three sprays of Toner
  3. Gently massage in some Moisturizer to my face and neck

This takes about a minute, and I do it when I floss and brush my teeth.

In the mornings, I skip the cleanser and just splash some water on my face, spray toner, and put on moisturizer and sometimes sunscreen.

And occasionally I’ll use a goopy mask while I soak in an epsom salt bath, or wash my face with oil, or put oil on my face and hair.

I basically didn’t have a skincare routine prior to about four years ago, when I scheduled a facial appointment at the Aveda teaching school and asked a lot of questions. From that, and reading some books and blogs, I got enough knowledge to sort out the Cleanser -> Toner -> Moisturizer basics. (How did I not learn this sooner in life?!)

Since then, I've tried a bunch of different products, and recently I've reached a point where I’ve settled on some fairly inexpensive basics that give me a lot of joy each morning and evening, and make my skin feel really good.

Skincare product recs

skincare products

In terms of the particular products I’m currently using, here’s the specifics. I'm still using up some of the things I bought to try out that are fun but don't make the "for the longterm" cut. The 🌟’d items are the ones I’ll keep using going forwards.

Cleanser

🌟Trader Joe's Nourish All-In-One Facial Cleanser ($6) or Glossier Milky Jelly ($18) I keep one in my bathroom mirror cupboard and one in the shower.

When the Glossier one runs out, I’ll just stick to the TJ’s one… The Glossier one has a cool, weird feeling texture, but it definitely isn’t worth 4x as much in my book. Though it was a fun thing to try once, and has been lasting forever, I am WAY too much of an optimizer to keep buying it. Cute bottle though! I’ll probably just fill it up with some of the TJ’s cleanser once it’s empty so I can keep my dual cupboard/shower system going.

Toner

I go for something with rosewater, usually. I don’t think it really matters the kind. I have been getting 🌟 this one because it’s inexpensive comparatively, not too strong smelling. (The Trader Joe’s one smells too strongly for me, for reference.) I actually get the one without the mister cap, and pour it into a smaller bottle of toner I got once from Aveda that I think is prettier. I’ve also used this one in the past and it’s nice! Muji also has great toner if you happen to live near one. I’ve also bought Fat & The Moon’s Sage and Rose Face Mist before and it’s so sweet.

Moisturizer

🌟CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is one I discovered this year through the Simple Skincare Science blog, and one I’ll really go to bat for too. It just makes my skin feel SO good and has gotten rid of dryness and most breakouts too.

Also, price: It’s $14 or $15 on Amazon and $16-18 in my local pharmacy, for a huge 19 oz tub which is going to last a really long time. This is about how much I use of it each day, maybe a little twice that. I also put it into much smaller containers for daily use and travel, because that huge container is just too big to want to deal with every day.

cera ve moisturizing cream

Previously I’ve tried Aveda’s Soft Cream (~$40), which is amazing but more money than I want to spend, and several of Muji’s moisturizing creams (~$15), and a tub of Glossier’s rich cream which they sent me for free after something else arrived damaged. All were awesome but also cost way more - like 3x to 30x more - than the CeraVe moisturizer.

In the “thin” liquid moisturizer category, I sometimes use Trader Joe's Nourish Oil-Free Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer ($6) and think it’s good, and a good deal, but my skin seems happier with something really thick for the moment so I use the CeraVe one most days.

Sunscreen

Currently using Glossier Invisible Shield ($25) which is a clear serum-like sunscreen, for days in town. It’s the only one I’ve been able to make myself put on consistently so I bought another recently. Does sunscreen really keep cancer away? Maybe it is worth it? Ha! We just use whatever sunscreen we find as a good deal for hiking and exercise stuff.

Special Stuff

Salve

I often make my own, with a mix of beeswax and olive oil or other oils, but sometimes I’m not set up for projects and just get the Trader Joe’s salve, which is good. I’ve also bought Fat & The Moon’s All Salve before, and it is lovely. I use salve on my feet, elbows, and nails.

salve

Oil

I’ve been using the Vitamin E oil from TJ’s, but I feel like it’s a matter of personal preference and worth trying a few things. I put it on my face and hair occasionally after a shower, but it’s not a daily part of my routine. I also sometimes wash first with a few drops of oil and then again with cleanser, on the rare days when I wear a lot of makeup.

Masks

I am on tub #2 of Glossier’s Moisturizing Moon Mask ($22) and they’ve lasted me about 2.5 years each, so it seems like a luxury I can justify, budget-wise. I tried some of the paper masks and they are too trash-producing for me to enjoy without feeling bad for the environment, and contemplating the climate crisis is not the relaxing mood I want to cultivate in such a moment. I need to not think about it sometimes? I’ve also tried clay masks in a tube, which are less expensive but too drying for my skin type.

mask

Serums

I’ve been using a really inexpensive serum from HEMA sometimes, which isn’t available in the US. Previously I got Glossier’s The Supers for my birthday once, and used that a long time until it was used up — it was fun but didn’t seem to do anything that made me want to spend money on it in the future. Overall I’m not so sure I’m really a serum person! I think I might be too frugal to do it regularly, and the super thick moisturizing cream is giving me the “luxurious!” feeling I was getting from the serums.

Where to shop?

Trader Joes is surprisingly excellent in price/quality. I also like my local drugstore, and sometimes get things on Amazon.

I have shopped Glossier mostly because I love pretty design, but after trying a few things, probably will only repeat-buy for the moisturizing mask thing and the sunscreen. (10% off referral link: https://re.glossier.com/14455586)

I also really like Muji … if you’re near one, they have a great and reasonably priced selection. Now there’s one in Portland, and they’ve announced that Seattle is coming.

Uwajimaya in Seattle (and elsewhere) has a good selection of Korean and French beauty products if you’re wanting to try fancier stuff, and the Aveda teaching schools are a great place to get a facial at about half or less the cost of a fancy place, if you want to learn stuff. There’s one on Capitol Hill across from Elliot Bay Books.

Cost

Skincare has become a ~~thing~~ that capitalism is trying to monetize big time - even MORE than usual! - lately. Meanwhile, I want to just have my face/skin feel good and not too dry or broken out, while keeping things inexpensive.

Overall I decided that I want to spend $50/year (or less) on products I use regularly, unless I’m spending “fun” money for entertainment of trying something new.

With the products I’ve picked (now that I’m out of the “experimenting” phase of learning about what works for me) I think it will be about $21/year for the basics. ($15 moisturizer +$6 cleanser +$9 toner * 1.1 for tax = $30.90 for stuff that lasts me ~1.5 years.) That leaves $30/year for sunscreen or serums or masks if I want.

Hopefully that's helpful to someone! Let me know if you have thoughts on it. —

PS: My criteria for picking stuff:

  • No or little smell.
  • Minimal packaging… and it should be pretty design-wise, ideally!
  • Doesn’t need to take off waterproof makeup, since I never wear that.
  • Shouldn’t need to be applied with any applicators that need purchasing, washing, or throwing away. I don’t want to make trash everyday!

— Amelia Greenhall