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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fortin

everyday skincare essentials

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

I'll spare you the next hour of your day and just put it simply: I have a very extensive skincare routine. I would share the entire thing, but that would take a long time, as it consists of 10+ products both morning and night, in a specific order, with specific ways to use each product.

My skincare journey started years ago, when I found myself breaking out with a variety of pimples, whiteheads and blackheads that were bothersome to me but certainly never cystic or chronic.

After a visit to a dermatologist, my new-and-improved skincare routine consisted of a gentle foaming wash, a hydrating oil-free moisturizer and salicylic acid (we quickly found out I was allergic to benzoyl peroxide, another common acne solution, when it gave me what I describe as "open-wound"-like rashes — I'm dramatic but it was both painful and embarrassing).

I used the bare minimum for a while because I didn't have an interest in or a need for a complex skincare routine. You could definitely argue that I still don't have a need for a complex skincare routine, but it's something that has become an integral part of my day and just makes me feel better.

To begin, I start and end every day by washing my face, swabbing with toner, applying a serum (or two), adding a layer of retinol, hitting problem spots with salicylic acid, using under-eye cream and topping it all off with various moisturizers depending on how I feel...and I've gotten it down to a sub-ten minute science. However, this article is just going to focus on my holy grail everyday essentials that have made a difference in my skin.

DISCLAIMER: I do not have perfect skin. I've actually been breaking out lately and I'm currently working on figuring out why. These products are just some of many that I've found work well for me both financially and for the purpose of nourishing my skin. I'm also not a skin care professional (DUH), and I always encourage people to see a dermatologist before starting a new skin care regimen because you might unknowingly be allergic to a certain product and a consultation with a specialist could help you to find what works best for you. And like most things, perfecting your skin care routine takes time as well as trial and error.

Product I've Used the Longest

Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel — this is the coveted salicylic acid spot remover that I spoke of in the intro. I've been using this stuff for years and I recommend it to everyone, especially people who have concerns about using benzoyl peroxide. I turned to this product early on in high school when I discovered benzoyl peroxide just wasn't for me. It dries out your pimples overnight without stripping your skin of all its moisture and leaving you flakey the next day. It's somewhat pricy for the amount of product that comes in the tiny little bottle, but keep in mind that it is a spot treatment, meaning you are supposed to use it on spots rather than on your entire face. Often if I'm breaking out worse than usual, I'll supplement my Super Spot Remover with Differin® Gel on my entire face because it's another gentle acne solution that's over-the-counter and uses 0.1% adapalene.

Product I've Only Recently Started Using

Earlier this month I discovered Tatcha's "The Deep Cleanse" exfoliating facial cleanser after hearing about it on a podcast. I quickly added it to my Pinterest board of skincare products I'd like to purchase in the future and quickly after, I (un)surprisingly got an email from a magazine I subscribe to telling me that Tatcha's entire site was 20% off that day (my FBI agent was HARD at work). Since this face wash is $38, I was able to get it on sale and justified the purchase after reading hundreds of raving reviews — and I'm so glad I pulled the trigger because this cleanser is amazing. So amazing, that it's currently out-of-stock on the Tatcha site, but don't worry, you can get it from Sephora for the time being. I bought this wash in hopes of clearing blackheads, tightening my pores and adding gentle exfoliating to my cleansing step, and it definitely delivered on all of these criteria — not to mention that it smells nearly identical to one of my favorite soft ginger candies, Gin Gins. It lathers well and the little exfoliating bits are gentle, yet effective.

Product That Has Made the Biggest Difference

I've tested an infinite number of moisturizers over the years, from Cetaphil to Philosophy to Clinique. Dry skin is something I struggle with year-round, but especially in the winter, and I also like to use moisturizer daily to balance out any dryness I might get from acne solutions. The Weleda Skin Food ultra-rich moisturizing cream is known as being a dupe for La Mer's Moisturizing Soft Cream, a product raved about by many celebrities. The biggest difference between these two moisturizers is that $90 gets you 0.5oz of the La Mer cream and $12 gets you 2.5oz of Skin Food. Maybe one day I'll be able to justify purchasing a nearly $100 face cream, but I don't see that day coming any time soon. Skin Food definitely leaves my skin looking super greasy, and many people have described it as "cream cheese-like" in texture, but overlooking those two unflattering aspects of it, it's an overall wonderful product. It's very versatile and can be used on basically any part of your body, but I love it for delivering the perfect amount of moisture that leaves my face and skin glowing and plump. It has definitely cleared up some of my facial redness and has become an essential part of my morning and night routine — I apply it all over at night and mix it in with a lighter moisturizer in the morning.

Product Everyone Should Give a Try

I say that everyone should give this product a try simply because I love it, but also because I acknowledge that it might not work for every skin type. Try it, and if you hate it, stop using it. If you love it, you're welcome. The Soap and Glory Scrubatomic™ Daily Face Polish is not only rich in antioxidants, but contains AHAs for extra exfoliating power and shea butter to smooth things over. I have been consistently exfoliating my facial skin for about two years now, so I know that my face can handle microdermabrasion scrubs and other scrubs that have more intense exfoliating features. For someone with more sensitive skin, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this product, but if they were to want to test it out I would suggest starting off slowly and using it only once or twice a week. I, on the other hand, incorporate some form of exfoliation nearly everyday and Scrubatomic is in my daily rotation. Overall, Soap and Glory is a brand I've come to really love, and they offer a variety of exfoliating products to meet the needs of people with different skin types. It's unavailable online and I can't seem to locate it on the Target site, but I know most Target stores carry a wide range of Soap and Glory products, as do most (if not all) Ultas.

Product Everyone Needs (just trust me on this one)

The first time I ever saw Clinique Clarifying Lotion was in the medicine cabinet in the upstairs bathroom at my grandmother's house. It truly was there throughout my entire childhood, and likely never moved from that spot until my grandparents moved out of that house. Although it's called a 'lotion,' this product is a toner, and I think everybody needs to use a good toner twice daily. There are five different types of clarifying lotion sold by Clinique, but I use 'Clarifying Lotion 3,' which is meant for people with combination oily skin. Although I previously stated that my skin gets dry on a regular basis, an issue I've always tried to combat is oil and I've found that this product works really great for me. I've used toner since high school for a variety of reasons: toner helps to remove excess buildup, traces of oil and makeup and it also helps in preventing acne. It also helps to get rid of blackheads, so regardless of the skin issues you have, toner is a relatively easy step that can ultimately make a huge difference in your skin.

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