My guilty pleasure is reading skincare blogs. There’s nothing I like more on a Sunday morning than getting a cup of tea, climbing back into bed, then after reading The Guardian and getting angry about something, finding sweet relief by absent-mindedly skimming through blogs on my phone. (Meanwhile, my dog, resigned to the fact I’ll be staring at a screen for an hour, snores at my feet. It’s bliss.)
Often I find these blogs to be nothing but narcissistic clickbaity product lists of free samples some brand sent an “influencer” in the hopes of getting free advertising, but despite this constant disappointment I’m utterly, shamefully addicted. A beauty blog is certainly not something I’m interested in turning this blog into.
BUT… recently I was having brunch with a new friend and fellow dog-mama, Rachel, whom I met over copious mimosas at the local dog-friendly bar (I know, we’re sickeningly Brooklynesque). My friend is literally 11.5 years younger than me. She was shocked to find this out, and asked me what my skincare routine is. And I thought about it and realized that it’s not super elaborate, but it is chock full of high-bang-for-your-buck products. I very much doubt most of my colleagues know how old I actually am.
My skincare fascination probably stems back to being a teenager (with horrible skin, frizzy hair and braces), when, not being allowed to spend money on fancy clothes or wear makeup to school (yet another confidence-destroying consequence of attending an all-girls Catholic high school), the exception my mother made to frugality was skincare. “You only have one skin, you may as well look after it,” she wisely advised. Skincare was the small attempt at control over my awkward, ugly teenage years, and it still kind of is.
So, here’s the current routine. Rest assured I get NO money or freebies from any of these products or links. This one’s for you, Rachel!
If I have makeup on, I use Hylamide Highly Effective Face Cleaner ($20) straight onto a dry but dirty face, then rinse off, followed by Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser ($32) for an extra clean. In the morning I’ll use either of them alone, depending on whether or not I’ve had my coffee yet and which one is closest to the bathroom sink. I can’t be bothered faffing with washcloths but I hear you're supposed to.
I don’t believe in toners. I mean I know they exist, I just think they’re overpriced scented water. (Plus I can’t be bothered keeping a constant supply of cotton pads to use them with.) Having said that, I am keen to try Nip & Fab’s Glycolic Fix Pads (about $12 for 60) at night just for some extra exfoliation (but not on days when I use retinol or a peel, in case I accidentally remove my epidermis. Not a good look).
I currently use Hylamide’s SubQ Anti-age ($38) twice a day, but intend on replacing that with the more cost-effective (ok, much cheaper) The Ordinary Buffet ($14.80). They’re both from the same brand, though the Hylamide is supposedly more advanced, but they both contain lots of anti-aging ingredients and moisture-bonding hyaluronic acid so I’m sure I’ll survive. (First world problems).
At night I also use The Ordinary Advanced Retinol 2% ($9.80)serum (again, unless I’m using a peel or something else harsh). I really have no idea if it’s doing anything, but, as a great man once said, I want to believe.
Once or twice a week (aka when I remember or if I'm hungover) I use The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peel ($7.20). If I leave this on for the full 10 minutes, I really notice a difference in pores and smoothness, and it’s also legitimately painful so it must be working. Bonus: my makeup tends to slide off my face less the next day. Again - don’t use retinol with this! One way ticket to tomato-face.
In the winter I will use something heavier - I was using IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream ($48) but I find it clogs my pores a bit once the temperature gets above subarctic. In the summer I used to use Verso Skincare Night Cream ($100), but while it’s excellent, it’s just too expensive. As my mum always said, “You have champagne taste on a beer budget.” She was right. And nothing’s changed.
So I’ve ordered some Dr Roebuck’s FACE Anti-aging Moisturizer ($45) for day and night, to see how that goes, I figure with the retinol and serums I’m using I don’t need anti-aging ingredients in the actual moisturizer. If I’m not feeling dry I’ll use pure Marula Oil at night (pricy versions cost up to $72 but I use Acure Organics ($11) or - you guessed it - The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Marula Oil ($9.90)). In the morning I’ll use a tiny bit of moisturizer after the serum, or the sunscreen I describe below, or both.
I was buying really expensive beautiful sunscreens, but everything either felt or smelt gross (which meant I never actually used it) or I loved it then found out it had chemicals like avobenzone which made my face bright red (and possibly destroyed the Great Barrier Reef). In one moment of temporary insanity I actually spent $74 on a Tom Ford sunscreen. That’s how desperate I was. Returned it when I came to my senses. I'm not even going to link to that. Just don't, it's stupid.
Now I use Dermalogy Day-Light Sunscreen SPF50+ ($30) every day, sometimes in place of moisturizer. It’s certainly not cheap, but I know if I buy a crappy sunscreen I simply won’t wear it and my Australian heart feels guilty. (You have many more options in Australia).
This is one thing I’ll splurge on. It’s Verso Super Eye Serum ($80), hands down, forever and ever. At least it lasts for over 6 months and you can get every last drop out. I use it once a day to stretch it out. The only reason I spend so much money on this is that I honestly think it’s the only thing that’s ever worked for me. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Other random things:
I sometimes use a Foreo Luna, which is clearly not necessary. Still, I’ve been trying any and all Swedish weaponry in the fight against aging because you know, I'm gonna be 40 one day. You only have to charge it once every six months (or in my case, year) so it’s good if you’re as lazy as I am.
Occasionally (again, aka when I actually think about it) I’ll use a charcoal mask. I got the mini Origins Clear Improvement ($17) one at Sephora since I don’t need much. I think this is absolutely a luxury if you're already generally taking care of your skin, but in the NYC summer you can't do enough to get subway grime off your face.