Over the past 1.5 years or so my skin (and my skincare routine) has undergone some dramatic changes. During my teenage years I struggled a bit with acne, but I always assumed it would magically clear up once I hit my 20s. No such luck. I continued to struggle with breakouts (especially on my chin, including cystic acne) throughout my 20s. It wasn't until I was approaching my 30s that I figured out a few key things that finally managed to sort out my skin.
There are still things I'd like to change (I'm oily and have massive pores), but the revelations that I stumbled across including the following: 1) double cleanse (oil cleanse + regular cleanse); 2) exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate (for me, chemical exfoliation does the trick); and 3) don't be afraid of oils!
Keeping my three mantras in mind, here are the particular products that I absolutely love:
Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser: Caroline Hirons raves about the entire Tata Harper range, so you know it is bound to be good. This cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean without giving it that squeeky, too clean feeling—if you know what I mean. Essentially, it seems to magically possess all of the amazing clarifying properties of a clay cleanser without having the harsh, stripping qualities of one. I get bored easily with cleansers and like to test new skincare, so it's rare I stick with the same cleanser for long. But I've already repurchased this one! I literally cannot recommend this highly enough. Available at Sephora for $62.
Sunday Riley Luna: There was a lot of hype around Luna when it launched, but for me the hype is real. This retinol based products works wonders on my skin each and every time I wear it—which, because it is mild and non-irritating, is almost every night. It truly does help refine my skin texture and works well in combination with the other products I use on my face at night. Available at Sephora for $105.
Sunday Riley Good Genes: As much as I love Luna, Good Genes is really the Sunday Riley product that I could not live without. Full of lactic acid, I wear this every day under my makeup and I'm confident it has had the biggest single impact on the condition of my skin. Its gentle exfoliation keeps my pores unclogged, thus minimizing skin texture. The smell is a bit of a turn off for some, but I look at it this way: at least it means that there are no added or artificial fragrances in the product. Available at Sephora for $105. Or you can buy a kit with both Luna and Good Genes for $78.
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb: I'm no expert on Korean beauty products, but I've begun to dip my toes in the water thanks to the fact that mainstream U.S. retailers, such as Sephora, are now carrying a variety of K Beauty products. I received a sample of the Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb, a gel moisturizer, and liked it enough to buy the full size. I have oily, rather than dry, skin so I don't know if this would provide enough moisture for you dry folks. But for me it is a great light-weight moisturizer. One qualm is that it never seems to fully sink into the skin, so I wear it only at night. Available at Sephora for $22.
Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel: Although I'm not a fan of how Paula's Choice slates almost literally every other single brand of skincare products, if you are looking for affordable but effective skincare, you should really check out her line of products. My skin is pretty tough (and not at all sensitive) and it needs all the help with exfoliation that it can get. Enter the 2% BHA Gel. I apply this almost every night (usually before putting on Luna and then the Belif Aqua Bomb). It really seems to do the trick in terms of turning over my skin to reveal a better complexion. Available at Paula's Choice for $28 (you can also order a sample sachet for $.80)
Omorovicza Copper Peel: There are many masks in my rotation that I use and love (that is the subject for a whole other post), but my all-time favorite might just be the Omorovicza Copper Peel. It is a unique two-step peel that doesn't feel too harsh on my skin, but that packs a lot of results. As a first step you rub the copper paste (which is ever so slightly gritty) onto your face, and then you add the copper activator. This step does cause the peel to tingle a bit, but (on me at least) it feels very mild. Once you rinse off the products your skin will be radiant. Whenever I feel like my skin just looks a bit blah, I will whip this out. It is a bit pricey, but you can pick up the peel in different sizes (1x, 4x, 8x) and each tube lasts multiple applications. The 1x pack is $22 at Sephora.
Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil: I received this cleansing oil as part of the Tatcha Discovery Set, which includes all of Tatcha's most popular products. So far I like everything I've tried, but this is easily my favorite. In general, I prefer a cleansing oil to a cleansing balm and this one is heavenly. It smells divine, removes makeup effectively, and doesn't leave a greasy film. The only downside on this one is that it's more expensive than other oil cleansers ($48 for a full size, or $12 for the size I have). But if you are looking for a product to launch into the Tatcha line, I would recommend this one. Available at Sephora.
Skincare is probably the most individualized aspect of a beauty routine; what works wonders for me might not make the slightest difference for you. But hopefully some of these recommendations will help inform your next skincare purchase!
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