Beauty products have been on my mind a lot lately. Spending so much time sweaty and dirty can wreak havoc on my skin. I hadn’t revamped by beauty routine in a long time, so I was definitely overdue. With my wedding coming up, I finally got the motivation I needed to improve my regimen and get my skin looking its best.
When it comes to beauty, I take a minimal approach. I don’t like to pile on product after product because each one might have a tiny positive effect on my skin. Instead, I try to find a routine that uses the fewest products but gets the best results. This approach keeps the time and money I spend on beauty to a reasonable level, not to mention saves my bathroom from too much clutter.
To give you some context for my skincare needs, the main issues I try to manage with my skin are breakouts, occasional cystic acne, excess oil/shine, some flakiness, and light redness.
My new routine has been working really well for me and I’m really happy with how good my skin looks right now. Here’s what I’ve been using and loving lately.
My daily regimen
Paula’s Choice skin balancing cleanser. I’ve been using this cleanser both day and night for ages, but anytime I try anything else, I just don’t like it as much. What I like about this cleanser is that it’s very effective at removing makeup. It saves me both the time and money of having to use a separate makeup remover, which is a huge plus for me. It’s like washing your face with silky butter, but without the greasy feeling afterward.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma day serum. It’s well-known in the beauty world that vitamin C serums are amazing for your skin. This serum helps with the overall evenness and “glow” in my skin. Plus, it’s helpful for mitigating sun damage and has anti-aging benefits as well. One note about DE’s formulation is that it’s a little stinky when you dispense it (this is normal), but the smell goes away in a minute so you won’t be smelling funky all day.
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra intensive hydration gel. If you like gel formulations, you will love Drunk Elephant’s take. It soaks in and dries down virtually instantly, which I like for my morning routine. I love the smooth, soft, hydrated feeling it gives me skin, and it makes a great base before I put my makeup on for the day.
Paula’s Choice skin perfecting 2% BHA gel. I don’t use this product every day, but it’s a great supplement for when I’m really breaking out. If you’re looking for an effective anti-acne treatment that isn’t too expensive, this one is great to have on hand. The one downside is that the gel can be a bit sticky, so sometimes I need to leave it for a minute to dry down, especially when it’s humid. There’s also a liquid version that would probably solve that issue. That said, the nice thing about the gel is that you can use it anywhere on your body. I occasionally break out on my upper back where my sports bra straps fall, so I like to keep this gel handy to treat any and all breakouts.
Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos glycolic night serum. This stuff is soooo expensive, but the results match the price. It’s incredible for “resurfacing” my skin and cleaning up the bumps and breakouts. It makes a noticeable difference to the look and feel of my skin, including dramatically reducing the small bumps I get across my forehead. Besides glycolic acid, it also contains a dose of salicylic acid, which helps for fighting acne. If I could only splurge on one thing in my skincare routine, it would be this treatment for sure. This serum is my #1 jam.
Acure marula oil. At night, I like to use a more intensive moisturizer since I live in a dry climate. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of Drunk Elephant, but their marula oil is really expensive. I found a cheaper alternative from Acure that’s still 100% marula oil, but at a fraction of the price. I actually just ordered DE’s version to try, so we’ll see if the ultra-premium price tag really matters. If not, I’ll happily stick with my budget-friendly version.
Marula oil is lighter and runnier than most oils. Although it still leaves a slightly damp feeling on my face, it doesn’t feel sticky like other oils I’ve tried. It’s also great for your hair.
One note about the Acure version: because it’s packaged a clear bottle, be sure you store it in the dark, because light can break down the compounds in the oil that will help your skin. I just take mine in and out of the box when I need it, but you could also wrap it in foil or just store it in your medicine cabinet.
Bonus beauty hacks
One of my most recent beauty must-haves: a silk pillowcase. If you don’t sleep on a silk pillowcase, you need to. Silk is better for keeping the balance of your skin since it won’t suck the moisture out of your face like cotton can. It also won’t leave creases on your face in the morning.
But the absolute best benefit of sleeping on silk is what it does for your hair. I noticed an improvement in my hair after literally one night of using a silk pillowcase. My hair is significantly softer in the mornings and much easier to style. I often sleep on wet hair (shhhh), and my hair would sometimes do crazy things in the morning. Now when I wake up it’s already almost perfect and just needs some touch ups with my flat iron. Silk also reduces breakage and tangles, which is especially good if you have long hair. The silk pillowcase I use was on the expensive side, but I was a little sketched out by the cheap options on Amazon. I decided a reputable brand of silk would be a safer bet and worth the splurge, especially since I’ll rarely need to replace it. So far, so good!
My all-time favorite face mask is actually incredibly simple: a DIY aspirin and honey mask. If you struggle with breakouts, aspirin and honey is a godsend. I see a visible reduction in redness and breakouts from this treatment, and it makes my skin soooo soft.
Why does it work? I’m glad you asked. :)
The primary ingredient in many anti-acne products is salicylic acid. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. Because of their chemical similarity, they both have anti-inflammatory properties, which is helpful for redness and breakouts on your skin. Besides that, honey has benefits for your skin, too. Putting the two together, you’ve got the recipe for an intensive anti-acne, anti-inflammatory treatment. You could also brew up a mask with yogurt, aloe, apple cider vinegar, or whatever other skin goodness you have on hand.
Here’s how I make the mask: take 4-6 aspirin pills in the palm of your hand, add a few drops of water and gently press them to dissolve. Once you’ve made a thick paste, add about 1/4 tsp of honey. No need to measure, just add enough that the dissolved aspirin is sticky enough to stick on your face. Once you’ve mixed it up and patted it on, give it about 10 minutes to dry down and soak in. Then, just rinse it off and you’re done!
Now, a couple of notes. First of all, you MUST use UNcoated aspirin tabs, otherwise the pills won’t dissolve. Also, be gentle when both applying and rinsing off the mask. The aspirin granules are pretty coarse and can be rough on your skin. You don’t want to irritate your skin by attempting to exfoliate with something so rough. Just let the water rinse it off without any aggressive rubbing. I do the mask once every week or two. And at the risk of stating the obvious, please don’t try this mask if you’re allergic to salicylates or aspirin.
And the best part of this mask is that it’s stupid cheap. You can buy a couple hundred aspirin for really cheap, and you only use a tiny bit of honey at once, too. Even though some of my favorite facial products can get pricey, this is where I save.
On a similar note, I’ve also started experimenting with DIY activated charcoal masks. My sister swears by these. Charcoal is becoming really popular in beauty treatments, but you can get the same concept for really cheap by just buying activated charcoal and mixing up a mask at home. You can find activated charcoal capsules at your local drugstore (it’s sold as an anti-gas supplement), which is what I did, but I’ve since learned that the cheaper and less messy way to go is to buy activated charcoal powder in a jar and not hassle with the capsules. I’ve only done this mask a couple of times, but so far it seems promising.
P.S. In case you missed it: double points at Sephora through Saturday! I got extras on some of my favorites and ordered some new ones to try, too.