Beauty Minute: My Summer Skincare Routine

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a screenshot of a Tweet that says nobody absolutely no one not a single soul on this Earth not even their mom; INFLUENCER :A lot of you have asked about my skin care routine..."
I just couldn't resist! To be honest, I do receive more emails and DMs about my skincare than any other subject.

I play with beauty products all the time, it’s literally my job. Sometimes this playing introduces me to new amazing products, sometimes it introduces me to breakouts, sensitive skin, and lackluster results. I recently tried a bunch of new products and few were good enough to even mention. It made me appreciate even more my current skincare routine.  This is not a post sponsored by any brand.  While I do receive free products from time to time, the products mentioned, whether bought or gifted, are ones I truly use and love. 

Morning Skincare Routine

  • Wake up, drink at least 16 ounces of water. I have a 32oz. bottle next to my bed and I force myself to finish it before starting my day.
  • I then wipe face with Pixi Glow Tonic (gifted by the brand). I use reusable wipes for this. I wipe my face, neck, chest, tops of my hands, and then anything leftover I do under my arms. I’ve heard it helps kill odor-causing bacteria; it also helps prevent razor bumps.
  • Then I apply this Vitamin C serum from Kiehl’s. My friend Chelsea mentioned in her feature that her dermatologist said applying Vitamin C before a workout is a good idea so I started doing it as well. I’ve been using this serum pretty regularly over the past few months and I swear it’s the reason the sunspot on my cheek is 99% gone.
  • I don’t put on any moisturizer before going to the gym, just this.
  • When I get home, I shower. Sometimes I wash my face with this aloe cleanser from Skincando (read my review in this post), sometimes I just rinse with water and then wipe down with Pixi Glow Tonic. It depends on how sweaty and greasy I feel.
  • After my shower, I sometimes reapply the Vitamin C serum, sometimes I don’t. I then apply a moisturizer. If I will be in the house all day (the glamorous life of working from home) I put on Colleen Rothschild Sheer Renewal Cream (gifted by the brand). I love the consistency and it keeps me hydrated without getting greasy. If I will be going outside, I use SPF and it’s usually Paula’s Choice. The Essential Glow (first tube gifted by brand, second was purchased) has a luminizer in it plus SPF 30; it takes some rubbing in but that’s normal for sunscreen and it gives a bit of a dewy glowy effect. If I need my makeup to stick around I use Paula’s Choice Youth Extending (gifted by the brand) which has SPF 50 and a matte finish that my makeup loves.

Midday Skincare

  • I keep face mists all over the place – medicine cabinets, on my desk, my nightstand, my purse.  I regularly spray my face when it feels sticky from sweat, dry from being outside or sitting in front of a computer all day, when I want a cup of coffee but it's 3pm and I know more caffeine will keep me up all night, and for no reason at all.  They don't cause my makeup to run, in fact they sort of revive my face so it looks fresh.  And they're great on bare skin too.  These same mists can be used post-cleansing as a toner or sprayed on top of your final layer of moisturizer to “set” things or just because they smell and feel good.  I'm not listing brands because I don't find one better than another.  Get what smells good and doesn't have ingredients that will make your face upset.
  • In my bag, I keep this setting spray from Supergoop and this powder sunscreen from Tarte so I can do sunscreen updates on the go.  I also have a tiny can of Coppertone SPF 50 spray I found in the travel section of Target so I can protect shoulders and such if I get caught outside.
  • When I go out and get sweaty and come in and don't have enough time to shower and properly wash my face, I often just wipe with Pixi Glow Tonic or Thayer's Rose Witch Hazel and slap on a bit more moisturizer. 
  • I also drink more water than I want.  I have a 32oz. bottle next to me the whole workday and I force myself to refill it at least once, consuming at least 64oz during the workday.  This is in addition to any water, tea, sparkling flavored water, or other daytime beverages.  This by far has made the biggest impact on my skin.  

Evening Skincare Routine

  • I put my hair back with a spa headband and rub Colleen Rothschild Cleansing Balm (gifted by the brand; read my review of the product) all over my face and neck. Depending on how much time I have or want to spend on my face, I will rub it in, wipe it off with a wet washcloth and move on. Or, I will rub it in and do a mini-facial and neck and collarbone massage, then I will take a wet hot washcloth and lay it over my face and let it sit there until it goes cool and wipe clean. The second version does a much better job of cleaning and leaving my skin feeling soft but I don’t always have time or energy. If I do the first way, I usually afterward wipe my face with Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel to be sure I got rid of everything.
  • Then eye cream – I LOVE this platinum eye cream from PRAI. They sent it to me, I felt the consistency was too thick and weird, but I used it and became obsessed. I'm on my second tub. I’ve tried other eye creams and don’t see a difference. This one hydrates the eye area so it looks less lined and crepey without breakouts or issues. I sometimes also use it during the day, but primarily I use it at night.
  • Next step is treatment. This varies. If I want to wake up looking close to poreless, I will use The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid (read my review here). If I was to wake up looking glowy and fresh, I will use my Kiehl’s Vitamin C. If my skin is grumpy I’ll use Colleen Rothschild Retinol Oil (read my review here; this is gifted by the brand). This is definitely the part of my routine where I try new products always looking for some holy grail treatment that will magically improve texture, reduce fine lines, minimize the look of pores, even skin tone, and do my taxes.
  • Experts say to do moisturizer, then oil. Thing is, a lot of times the oil I use has some sort of treatment in it so I want it close to the skin. And I prefer the feeling of going to bed with moisturizer on top. So next step is an oil or serum. I just finished my bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I really liked it. It wasn’t lifechanging, but a great weight, smelled all spa-like, a pretty bottle, lasted for months, and it didn’t break me out. Pangea Organics sent me their Balancing Oil which I’ve been using since I ran out of Kiehl’s and I like it; it’s not as thick as Kiehl’s and not as fragrant but my skin really loves it. Again, this is a place where I regularly try new products.
  • Then moisturizer. I really like Colleen Rothschild’s Extreme Recovery Cream (gifted by the brand). It absorbs quickly, doesn’t feel sticky or heavy, but is effective for dry and sensitive skin. I’ve used it for years and always go back to it after trying some other product. It won’t change your life or do your taxes, but I see night cream as a way to seal in all the goodness from the treatments without causing any irritation.
  • Then at my bedside, I have a bottle of organic sweet almond oil. This goes all over my arms, my hands, my cuticles, my chest, my knees. If I know I will wash my hair the next morning, I will put it on my ends as it helps seal/hide split ends and keep my hair happy. I then put on lip balm; that also varies with whatever appeals to me or I’m sent to review. Right now on my nightstand is Pangea Organics (gifted by the brand), Carmex, Vaseline Rosy Lips, CeraVe, and Clinique.

When I write posts like this, I get a few people who share what I can do to improve my process, but more I get is people who find my process too complicated or time-consuming. Thing is… your face is what you wear every day for the rest of your life. How it is cared for affects how it feels, how it reacts, how it ages, and how it heals and renews. I’ve learned that spending extra time and yes, extra money on my skin has made it so I look less tired, have less winter flakiness and raw spots, fewer hormonal breakouts, am less likely to have a flare-up with new products, and can get away with wearing less makeup. For the first time in my adult life, I feel comfortable leaving the house without any cosmetics (except brows, I really do feel naked without filling in my sparse brows). I know a multi-step process is not for everyone. Not everyone has the time, the money, the energy, or the desire. But I believe that we get one body and how we care for it and what we put in and on it makes a major difference in how it performs and our relationship with it. And sometimes a more labor-intensive face cleanser can make other aspects of our life easier.

I learn so much from all of you; I tried Paula’s Choice because of reader recommendation and now it’s a favorite skincare line. A reader many years ago told me about how she uses almond oil for everything and she turned me into a convert. I encourage you to share your skincare routine or favorite products in the comments. Your favorite may be exactly what I or another reader has been looking for!

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  1. I love these kinds of posts – I’d probably never ask anyone about their routine, but I find them fun to read when I come upon them. I love the Pixi Glow Tonic in the morning too, and I also love a moisturizer on top of oil at night (I’m using a Burt’s Bees oil that smells amazing and a plain, unscented Cetaphil moisturizer right now). My nighttime cleanser is actually from Pixi as well – their double-cleansing balm/cold cream combo, which I love much more than I expected! I’ve never tried a vitamin C product of any kind, but I also have a couple of sunspots on my face, so maybe I’ll give it a try and see if it makes any difference for me. 🙂

  2. Do you have a recommendation for a good daytime eye cream? You mention that you use the Prai at night but I need something in the mornings that is not too greasy and that will work under my concealer. I found out recently that my go to brand is now testing on animals (due to selling products in China) and I need to find something new fast. Thanks.

  3. I like to use cuticle oil before I go to bed, but it ends up getting on my sheets. Do you have that problem after using almond oil on your arms, hands, etc.?

  4. My morning routing: Pluck graying hairs out of my chin. Smear Ambi scar fading cream on my chin (sometimes I dig at myself in plucking, and between that and electrolysis scars, it ain’t pretty!). Rub some Target Up and Up wanna be Aveeno moisturizer on the rest of my face. Dab Lancome concealer on my chin. Swipe Revlon Color Stay foundation all over my face. Apply Lancome blush to the apples of my cheeks.

    Evening routine: Know that I should wipe the makeup off my face. Decide I’ll do it tomorrow night. Go to bed.

    Thankful #BlackDontCrack, because somehow my skin manages to look okay in spite of the above. LOL.

  5. I used to switch out a summer body moisturizer for a face moisturizer. Now I just use fractionated coconut oil year Round. No smell; absorbs quickly; I find it mositurizing enough. Skin care: pretty much completely on beauty counter products now with good results. Love that it is less of a toxic load for my body. I switch between the rejuvenating line and the moisurizing line depending on time of year. Love the beauty balm, face oils, face scrub, and overnight recovery (?) treatment

  6. My goal for skincare: my skin is the FUSSIEST THING ON EARTH, swear to god – the second it is slightly over/underhydrated, it breaks out in huge deep pimples and red spolotches (better than when I was a teenager, but it’s a delicate freakin’ balance). So my goal is to have it be ok , and when I manage the balancing act that’s right for the season/atmospheric dryness, then I don’t need foundation becuase it’s so smooth.

    In winter, I SWEAR by the Origins overnight mask as a night cream, every night – we heat with wood, it’s dry, it’s the only thing that hydrates enough to stop me from breaking out. Around April, the second the wood fire goes out but before it gets hot, then I switch to Origins mineral night cream, which is heavy enough to deal with the cold weather but not overly hydrating like the overnight mask. And then once I hit early summer I use a lighter night cream (whatever I have on hand, but a lighter cream – Caudalie does one I love but try to get as samples, becuase it’s ludicrously expensive and I don’t think it’s quite worth it), and then later on in super-humid summer I just use the Caudalie serum ($$, worth it), because any moisturizer makes me break out but using nothing makes me break out. It’s a DELICATE balancing act. QUESTION: have you found that a face spritz has made a difference for skin moisture?

    For day cream: Origins typically doesn’t make my skin revolt, so I stick with that – the SPF40 white tea one in winter, and the GinZeng mineral sunscreen one in the summer (doubles as foundation, looks amazing, NEVER any breakouts).

    On top of that: I swear by the Caudalie toner, and break out when I don’t have it around. Nuxe works almost but not quite as well, and substitutes I’ve tried (including witch hazel) have led to, you guessed it, breakouts. Oh, and Cetaphil seems to work well as a cleanser, and cleanses without drying out and making for breakouts. And it’s cheap.

    On top of that: I get dandruff and use medicated shampoo and Aveeno sulfate-free conditionner (the almond one smells delightful), and I have a very limited make-up routine : eyebrow pencil (sephora brand) and bright red lipstick (fenty lip stain) is my standard, and I also keep on hand blush (Nars, one compact every 3 years or so) and mascara (samples, thanks Sephora) for when I need ‘more’. Oh, and concealer, when needed for those break-outs (I have a small tube from Make-Up Forever that’s lasted a while now, and works quite well). Basically: I put my money on what makes my face not break out, and once my skin looks perfect the rest of the needs are minimal.

    For perspective: I track finances to the dollar, thanks YNAB, and over the year, skincare+make-up+shampoo+body care runs about 40$/month, on average. Which… for me, is worth it, because the alternative is deep scarring pimples on my face. And that’s after YEARS of dermatology care, and accutane, and all the rest.

      1. For us, the difference between tracking spending and not tracking spending seems to be 500$ left over when we track that disappears who-knows-where every month otherwise. So: definitely worth the 20 mins or so every week!

        And yeah, it does help to break it down and be like “this is what it costs per month, is it worth it”, because sometimes the answer is no, and then you can adjust.

  7. I’m so glad you started using Vitamin C serum and that it is working for you! The last time I saw my dermatologist, she also said that taking a probiotic daily is the other best thing you can do for your skin. Healthy insides, healthy outsides. I’m not wedded to any particular one, but I don’t even get those pesky PMS zits anymore.

    And similar to your sweet almond oil, I have added moringa oil to my routine. A friend sent me a bottle for my wound when I my stitches spilt and I apply it to the scar twice a day. But I also use it on my face, on stubborn dry spots, bug bites, and I’ve put it in my hair too.

    I really loved this post and agree that everyone had their thing that works!

  8. “but more I get is people who find my process too complicated or time-consuming. ” I counted over 25 products linked here. Of course you will get comments about using 25+ products in the course of a single day (that doesn’t even include make up or hair care products). I think the average person uses far fewer items and the idea of finding places to store a couple dozen bottles/tubes/packets in the average bathroom cabinet or night stand is overwhelming to a lot of us.

    I think it would be interesting to know if you had to drop your budget for skin care, would you reduce the # of things you use or reduce the price point for each thing? When you look at the cost of these things, what are your top 5 items in terms of “bang for the buck”? For me … it’s more about not wanting to have a line up of 20+ things I slather/swipe/spritz myself with every day. I could afford it but it feels excessive and un-enjoyable to me.

    Maybe a better question would be: Can you come up with a Capsule Beauty Routine that’s only 15 items (all in – hair, skin, body, etc)?

    1. I’m not a beauty expert so I don’t feel comfortable providing a capsule on this topic, especially because every person’s needs are different. But the basics are:
      – Wake up and use something to cleanse the skin from sweat, lotion, etc. Can be water, can be a toner, can be a cleanser
      – Use moisturizer with SPF
      – Have a cleanser that is soap-free and made for the face. Same one can be used any time of day.
      – Shampoo and conditioner and a shower gel that isn’t full of sulfates.
      – Body moisturizer.
      – Facial moisturizer at night. No need for SPF, better to have something a bit thicker than day.

      That’s 7 basics you need. The rest is really dependant on your preference and specific skincare needs.

      I think how you say excessive/unenjoyable is important. Everyone has different interests and priorities. Once I started caring for my skin, I no longer found it unenjoyable but sort of a ritual/meditation. However, I cannot STAND spending time on my hair. It drives me absolutely batty. For my hair I leave in some of my cheap conditioner, add a defrizz, scrunch, and go. However, others are totally happy with multiple products and tools to get the look that makes them happy. Some love cooking and the more complicated the more enjoyable the recipe. Others don’t like to go beyond Pyrex and the microwave. It’s really a personal preference, but actually putting in some time for your skin will have lasting results and often simplify other aspects of your life.

      1. Do you have an affordable body cream recommendation? That’s what I’m lacking, and almond oil is hit-or-miss as to whether my back breaks out.

        1. I use Neutrogena body oil, so that may not be the best choice if almond oil breaks you out (it’s sesame based and has fragrance in it). But in the winter I use Curel along with it which really is fantastic for dry skin, leaves my skin silky but not greasy, and doesn’t have a heavy fragrance.

      2. I apologize if you felt offended that I typed that this routine feels excessive and un-enjoyable to me. I was trying to provide feedback on your comment about how some readers don’t see the point in using so many products. I am glad your skincare routine brings you enjoyment and hope it continues to do so.

        1. Oh no I didn’t feel offended, and am glad you shared your thoughts! My point was just that what seems awful to one can be pleasurable to another, and that skincare is so personal it’s impossible to create a capsule that will work for all. <3

  9. Skincare is so important and the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. My grandmother was an “Avon Lady” so I was using astringent and cleaner from my early teen years. That has definitely made a difference over the years and has made me always take off makeup at night & wash my face. I wasn’t so good about moisturizer until I was much older, but now use one for the morning (Trader Joe’s brand with sunscreen) and another at night (CeraVe currently). Now I have a 13 year old son. I’ve had him washing his face nightly since he was 10/11 (just uses Cetaphil), and it’s been a good habit for him. He has occasional breakouts but nothing too bad so far (this could change as he ages).

  10. I shower in the evenings before bed, so that’s when I have the most elaborate routine. I cleanse or exfoliate my face in the shower. I alternate a Dr. Murad exfoliant cleanser with the La Roche-Posay hydrating gentle cleanser. I tried BeautyCounter’s cleansing balm, but didn’t care for the greasy feeling and the pain when it got in my eyes. On the rare occasion of a big makeup day, I will use a makeup remover. Clinique makeup remover wipes are my favorite and they’re perfect for travel. Post-cleanse, I use SKII skin essence, a serum, and a moisturizer. For the serum, I’m using up a sample size of Lancôme’s Genifique–it seems ok, hydrates, feels nice. My favorite is Tu’el’s hyaluronic serum, great stuff. Moisturizer cream–I haven’t found a go to brand. I’ve tried PCA, Dr. Murad, Olay, Lancôme, etc. When I finish up my sample sizes, I’ll start using Tu’el.

  11. That meme about killed me. Hahaha I love that. I really only get asked about my skincare on the blog once in a blue moon. I get asked more by random people I see when I am out and about.

    1. I get it almost daily on my Instagram Stories. I don’t think my skin is revolutionary, but it has improved with adding more water and sweating, and less stress!

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