With my last post on the array of ingredients that I use and recommend to tackle post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), I was asked how I manage to incorporate them all into my routine. Is the product used morning or evening? Are they interchanged or used daily?
This segment will be split into two separate posts: my morning routine and evening routines, explaining how I use each product but most importantly why. If you had asked me six months ago the purpose behind each purchase I made and the intention of each product and routine, I’d simply shrug and say ‘it’s complicated’.
Truth is, I had no idea. There was no consensus, no system to my overall routines. I used what I felt like using on that day. For me, this route yielded no results due to the lack of consistency and lack of focus. I was getting frustrated at my routines whilst simultaneously using a product once a week, hoping for some sort of miracle. It just did not make sense. Once 2017 rolled around, I decided to make a change. ‘New year, new routine’.
My skin type and goals:
Being as lucky in the gene pool as I am, I inherited very acne-prone and oily skin. Both my parents had acne and my brother and sister also suffered during their early/ late teens years. Of course I had to carry on the family tradition. Thankfully, I’ve come to a point of appreciating the benefits of oily acne-prone skin. The shine isn’t the worst trade off for the chance that I’ll be less inclined to get wrinkles. Moreover, I don’t think I would have invested my time and effort into learning about skincare and ingredients if I did not have acne.
- Be consistently clear of breakouts
- Improve the appearance of pores
- improve texture
- Improve pigmentation
- Improve redness
- Prevent aging
Not asking for much then. I want my products to contain antioxidants, skin-replenishing and as Paula calls them – the ‘cell-communicating’ ingredients. My skin is at its best when its calm, happy and hydrated, and responds best to treatments this way. This is why many of my ‘treatment’ products are from Paula’s Choice. More often than not, their products contain effective targeted ingredients (retinol, salicylic acid, niacinamide, vitamin c) in a cocktail of antioxidants and anti-irritants. They are truly multi-taskers and eliminate the need for layers and layers of products that have one or two star ingredients for a cumulative benefit.
The foundations of my morning routine:
I sat down in January and thought about the absolute basics of a morning routine: Gentle cleanse, antioxidants and SPF. If you have no specific concerns, this alone is a simple but effective routine that will serve anti-aging benefits via antioxidants and SPF, for any skin type. Similarly, even if you have concerns to treat but would rather save time in the morning (those extra Zzz’s are so worth it) and focus on treatments in your evening routine, this is still a good morning routine and all that is really necessary. However, if you are like me and want to use multiple treatments to target concerns it’s a good idea to slip some into your morning routine, without compromising the need for simplicity when you’re in a rush in the AM.
In addition to a gentle cleanse, antioxidants and SPF, I wanted products that would – at the very least – target two of my concerns at once. I decided that morning routines would be good to focus on pigmentation and acne. Below are the two routines I interchange throughout the week. To make it slightly easier to see why I use a specific product, in brackets are what benefits the product has or concerns it treats. At some point these products will all individually have more in-depth reviews, this post is solely to explain the point of my routines.
Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning routine:
CLEANSE WITH GLOSSIER MILKY JELLY CLEANSER (Low pH gentle cleanser). A very gentle gel-balm hybrid that is perfect for morning use. Does not strip the skin and the rose scent is a nice ‘wake-me-up’, for me anyway. This is my favourite cleanser (and I’ve tried quite a few), if I had to part with every cleanser and only have one, I would stick with this.
EXFOLIATE WITH PAULA’S CHOICE SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA LIQUID (targets breakouts, pores and texture). A gentle chemical exfoliant in liquid form. A lot of people can and do use this daily, but seeing as I use other exfoliants, this is perfect a couple times a week to keep breakouts and congestion at bay, and in that respect I am yet to find a product that beats it.
TREAT WITH PAULA’S CHOICE CALM SERUM AND 10% NIACINAMIDE BOOSTER (skin-replenishing and contains antioxidants whilst targeting pigmentation, pores and breakouts). I mix Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Serum with 2-3 drops of their 10% Niacinamide Booster. Both of these are loaded with antioxidants, and the combination of 10% Niacinamide and Acetyl Glucosamine work together to brighten pigmentation. Such a high concentration of Niacinamide also helps enlarged pores, so this combination is 3 birds with one stone. I am still testing the booster, but found that because it is so incredibly potent, using it 3-4 days a week is enough to still provide results without any irritation.
MOISTURISE/SPF – PAULA’S CHOICE CALM SPF30 (SPF protection, antioxidants and anti-irritants). Great for those with sensitive skin, this SPF is becoming my firm favourite. No typical white-cast and leaves a great base for makeup, not extremely mattifying but does mattify to an extent.
Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday morning routine:
CLEANSE WITH GLOSSIER MILKY JELLY CLEANSER (Gentle Low pH Cleanser). Can you tell I love this? Every. Morning.
TONE WITH PAULA’S CHOICE CALM TONER FOR NORMAL-OILY SKIN (anti-irritants). Toner’s are definitely not necessary, but there is nothing like the sensation of swiping a cotton pad across your face with a lightweight toner. It is so refreshing. Additionally, this toner contains a truck load of anti-irritants making it a perfect addition to my redness-prone skin without an extra, heavy layer. I feel it preps my skin for the subsequent steps.
TREAT WITH PAULA’S CHOICE MULTICORRECTIONAL TREATMENT (Targets breakouts, pigmentation). I have used this Azelaic Acid treatment more or less every morning for the past three months, but decided to start alternating it with the BHA exfoliant in the mornings as I feel I am in more of a maintenance mode and can still reap the benefits of this product with lowered usage. Review of this is to come, it is truly an exceptional product. Because it is cream-based, I like to give it a minute or two to absorb and only use a very light serum and SPF on top to prevent overloading my skin. It may seem strange to not follow the ‘thinnest to thickest’ rule here, but I prefer active ingredients to be the first to touch my skin.
TREAT WITH PAULA’S CHOICE BRIGHTENING ESSENCE (contains antioxidants and targets pigmentation). I use this as a serum as opposed to a traditional ‘essence’. For my oily skin, the texture is so lightweight and thus perfect for day time use. It contains everything and more for a serum. Those with drier skin types would probably find this ‘not enough’ on its own, but for me personally, it is my HG AM serum.
MOISTURISE/SPF – PAULA’S CHOICE CALM SPF30 (SPF protection, antioxidants and anti-irritants).
So there we have it, my alternating morning routines. As you can see, every single step is there for a reason. Of course sometimes if I’m feeling a little ‘extra’ I may add another layer, especially if my skin feels it needs it. Likewise, if I’m indoors all day studying, I will sometimes exchange SPF for an oil or overnight mask. The best thing that I have done with my skin is to sit down and really consider what my skin needs and if I were to buy a new product, would it fit into my routine and will it offer something that my other products don’t? This philosophy has completely eliminated my overloading stash of products. Consistently absolutely yields results for me and I think a focus is equally important as it is rewarding! I would love to hear what your morning routine is focused on: correcting, protecting, or both?
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