As a little girl, I remember always getting the free gift-with-purchase items that my mom would get from the Clinique makeup counter. The fun, colorful bag filled with lotions and potions, different shades of lipstick (that would be far too dark for me today, let alone a 10-year-old), blush palettes and more. This love of makeup has stuck with me since those early years — though I’ve pared it down to 5-minutes most days. And I’ve learned that it’s what’s underneath the makeup that requires the most care. Today, taking good care of my skin while using quality, healthy products is more critical than ever.
Let’s start with a brief history. I’ve never had major skin issues. I dealt with some embarrassing acne here and there during my high school and college years, but it was generally pretty manageable. Then my 26th birthday hit. It’s as if my skin did a complete 180, becoming the biggest problem child on the planet. I saw a dermatologist, changed up my routine and gradually got it under control. It was mostly cystic acne that left my skin in semi-bad shape afterward with some discoloration and minor scarring.
After that, I tried various products and eventually migrated back to mostly drugstore toiletries, both for ease and budget. Nearly all of my products (face wash, toner, lotion, etc.) could be found just about anywhere.
But then about a year ago, I was commiserating with a friend about how much my skin had changed since hitting my 30s and I wasn’t sure if the products I was using were really helping (or hurting) my skin. I’m a creature of habit so once I find something that works, I tend to stick with it. But were they truly the right products for my skin?
That same friend introduced me to Kiehl’s last year, and it totally changed my skincare education. Until then, I thought I had dry skin. But after going through a thorough skin test in-store (which is very easy and painless, I might add), I was met with a variety of products that matched what I needed for my OILY, sensitive skin. Yep, that’s right — not dry… oily. I now use two Kiehl’s products at least twice a day that are herbal and soft on my skin: the calendula deep cleansing face wash and alcohol-free toner. I’ve found this pair of products to be hugely effective, cleansing and soothing without any harsh ingredients. Calendula is extracted from the marigold flower, is very delicate on my skin and smells divine.
In the morning, I follow these up with an oil-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer from Aveeno that includes SPF 15. It’s very lightweight and helps to improve the tone and texture of my skin. I find it very calming and the perfect daily moisturizer, especially underneath makeup.
My evening routine is a bit more involved and includes a few other products that help to soothe and moisturize my skin overnight. I use the same cleanser and toner, then follow it up with a dark spot serum that also helps even skin tone. While I always apply this at night, I do sometimes also apply it in the mornings. It has the most heavenly, feminine scent too — white birch and peony. Hello lovely.
Instead of a cream moisturizer, I use this Colleen Rothschild oil all over my face and neck at night. A beautiful combination of oils, it helps to protect, illuminate, moisturize and balance your skin. It’s an incredible, spa-like product, leaving my skin so soft and silky, and making me feel like a million bucks before climbing in bed. (Guys, if there is one product you can’t live without… it’s this one.)
I apply a small amount of Kiehl’s recovery cream under my eyes every night as well.
Acne and blemishes
I’ve tried a lot of acne products over the years and have narrowed it down to two favorites: the first is this mineral-based breakout treatment from Kiehl’s. Unlike many harsh blemish-fighting options, this is a lightweight, gentle cream. I use this for smaller, easier to manage blemishes.
For more stubborn breakouts, I use this acne clearing gel from Peter Thomas Roth. The main ingredient is salicylic acid which tends to be a stronger (and oftentimes harsher) acne fighter. It does work well though, and I’ve stuck with it for several years now. However, one thing I’d note is that if your skin is open and raw, this will sting pretty badly — so be cautious of that.
When I was pregnant, I got “back-ne” for the first time in my life. It was pretty unpleasant but Neutrogena makes an acne cleansing body scrub that did help. Thankfully, this problem disappeared after pregnancy.
I was introduced to the Origins GinZing line of products over the summer and they are perfect for your gym bag. The scrub cleanser and refreshing eye cream are my personal favorites with a fresh citrus scent, leaving my skin super refreshed, especially after a hard workout.
Last but certainly not least is my hands-down, all-time favorite face mask. I use this Bobbi Brown detox mask at least once a week and am absolutely obsessed with it. It’s a blend of sea water and Amazonian white clay that gives my skin a major deep clean. I do this in the evenings and follow it up with a good rinse and some face oil.
As a 30-something woman, I realize my skin has a lot of changing to do throughout my lifetime. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this skincare overhaul, it’s that choosing the right products for my skin and coupling them with an easy-to-maintain routine gives me the recipe for really healthy, beautiful skin.
And in that case, who needs makeup anyway?