Before we head into a new season—and say goodbye to 2020, which can't be over soon enough!—I've got one more skincare routine to share with you this year.
Not to brag, but my skin has really been behaving itself lately... and I don't think that's a coincidence.
No, I'm pretty sure it has to do with my fall routine, which is all about weightless hydrators (no oils or creams!), gentler exfoliation, and one of my favourite retinoids.
Here's a quick overview of what I've switched up since the summer, and then I'll share everything I've been using lately (and why!).
My Fall 2020 Skincare Routine
Alright, so this is what I've been doing with my routine this season:
- Nothing oily or creamy: As mentioned last time, I've successfully broken my skin's "addiction" to moisturizer—and I haven't missed it, even as the weather gets colder. All I'm using are lightweight serums and gels, which are high in humectants, not occlusives. I've ditched anything oily or creamy, other than eye cream, and my skin seems better for it. I definitely notice fewer breakouts (like none at all!), and more balanced, resilient skin.
- Gentler exfoliation: I was doing both chemical and physical exfoliation in the summer, as a way to manually buff off any bits of flaky skin I'd sometimes get after using an acid. My skin wasn't aggravated or anything, but I've gone back to just one method... and my skin is no longer flaking! So I think less is more, but also quitting moisturizer may have played a part.
- A new retinoid: If you follow my stories on Instagram, you might have seen "A313 gate." What happened was that I noticed a change in the packaging, as well as several reports of it being ineffective, so I wondered if the version sold on Amazon might be a fake. I decided to test it out by ordering a couple tubes, as well as the OG directly from France... find out what happened below!
- Going makeup-free: Life has changed so much this year that I don't know about you, but I've been wearing less makeup than ever. I might put a little concealer on, a couple times a week, but that's really it. I have a theory that this has also helped my skin!
- Not wearing SPF (when possible): Don't freak out, but I don't like to wear sunscreen either, if I'm only going to stay indoors. Yes, UVA can pass through glass, but I'm not in front of a window all day—and here in Canada at this time of year, it starts getting dark as early as 3pm! Although some formulas are a lot better than others, sunscreen by nature is occlusive, since the filters need to adhere properly to your skin. So if you don't have to wear it, I think it's better for your skin.
Now, on to the products!
My Morning Skincare Routine
In cooler weather, I always like to use a gentler, more moisturizing cleanser in the mornings, since there's no need for an aggressive deep-clean. I finally got around to trying the Blume Daydreamer Super Gentle Face Wash that I bought a while ago (hence the old packaging), and it's SO good.
It's a cream cleanser, and it doesn't lather, but it's still super effective. (I've also tested it at night, and can vouch that it does an excellent job of removing makeup.) It also rinses away clean, without leaving behind any residue that could clog your skin. Plus, you couldn't ask for better ingredients or a lower price point. You need to try it!
Next up, as per usual, is a light layer of COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid all over my face. This is my not-so-secret weapon for preventing breakouts, discolourations and dullness. The active ingredient, betaine salicylate, is a milder type of BHA than salicylic acid, but works the same way to keep pores clean and remove surface dead skin. (For more about this product, see my in-depth review here.)
3. Eye Cream
While my BHA is working on the rest of my face, I immediately moisturize my eye area. Since this is the thinnest skin, with no oil glands, it's one place that I do still like to use a cream. Versed Zero-G Smoothing Eye Cream is my latest discovery, and it's one of the best eye creams I've tried in a long time!
Its yogurt-like texture is perfect for daytime—not so light that you're crying out for more moisture, but not heavy or greasy either. I'm often sensitive to new eye creams, but this one hasn't irritated me at all. As you can see, it also has a hint of mica through it to subtly illuminate.
4. Niacinamide Serums
It's not like I'm going anywhere these days, so I give my BHA a good 20 to 30 minutes to work before I put one of two niacinamide serums on top. I keep meaning to test out some vitamin C serums, but I just can't seem to quit niacinamide—it's an ingredient that my skin just does so well on. The main things I notice are how much it helps with controlling oil production, brightening and hydrating.
Weirdly, Versed Just Breathe Clarifying Serum doesn't mention niacinamide on its label, nor its concentration, even though it is the third ingredient. This one has a totally weightless texture, and with the willow bark and zinc, it would be great for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin.
Given the price point, I had low expectations for The Inkey List Niacinamide, but I love how moisturizing it is. Plus, despite having 10% of the active, it doesn't foam or pill like The Ordinary's does. I'd prefer if it came with a dropper, but otherwise it's pretty much perfect.
5. Gel Moisturizer
Then, if I feel I need it, I do a layer of Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream, which my skin just drinks right up. This moisturizer is much more gel-like than creamy, thanks to glycerin, propylene glycol, aloe vera and squalane. It's also silicone-free and fragrance-free. Highly recommend!
Like I said, I'm not so devoted to sunscreen that I'll wear it inside my own home. But if I do venture outdoors, I'll reach for EleVen by Venus Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35. This product doesn't even look or feel like a sunscreen, it's so light. The 25% zinc oxide ensures optimal UV protection, and there's zero white cast to worry about—even if you have a deep skin tone!
If I'm going somewhere (hey, a trip to the store is a big outing!), I might dab on some Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Aging Primer. In the summer, I was using a mini that I got in the Advent Calendar, and I liked it so much that I recently invested in the full-sized tube.
This stuff manages to both tame shine, as well as make your skin look a little more even-toned and glowy. It feels nothing like traditional primers—it's more of a light cream—so you could actually use it instead of moisturizer, although that would get pricey. I love that it is oil-free, silicone-free and fragrance-free.
As far as skin coverage goes, I'm only using Kosas Revealer Concealer, which I LOVE. This is a creamy, medium-coverage concealer that is both long-wearing and non-creasing. Not only is it silicone-free, it's also packed with arnica, caffeine, peptides, vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid. I wear the lightest shade, Tone 1.
While it's easy to work with just your fingers, I just bought the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Concealer Brush, and it really takes things to the next level. The concealer already has a super natural-looking finish, but with the brush, blending is quick and seamless.
9. Lip Tints
Lipstick seems so 2019 now, so I've been looking for a good lip stain that would deepen my colour without being "too much." So I bought the two lightest shades of Dior Addict Lip Tattoo (Natural Peach and Natural Rose), and they're everything I wanted. (In the photo at the top, I layered both together!)
I've also been wearing the new RMS Beauty Tinted Daily Lip Balm, and of course, I had to get all the shades. They're amazing—not too shiny, with just the right amount of colour in a hydrating base that stays put on your lips for hours.
10. Moisturizing Balm
If I feel like I need a bit more moisture during the day, I swipe on Tatcha The Serum Stick, usually around my eyes and maybe my nose. I was so excited when this came out recently, because it's primarily squalane oil in solid form! That means it's very light on the skin and unlikely to clog pores. I can see this becoming a cold-weather staple for me.
My Nighttime Skincare Routine
1. Micellar Water
On days when I haven't worn any makeup or sunscreen, I just use Odacité Blue Aura Cleansing Water as my one cleanser. It was part of my summer routine, too, and I'm still loving the all-natural ingredients and how it feels on my skin. If you're looking for a cleaner alternative to drugstore micellar water, this one is fantastic.
I apply it with my trusty Shiseido Facial Cotton, and although you don't have to rinse it off afterward, I always do.
If my skin requires more of a cleanse, I follow up my micellar water with the new Herbivore Pink Cloud Creamy Jelly Cleanser. This is a nice one for the evenings, as you're getting the deep-cleansing benefits of a gel but with a moisturizing, creamy lather. I'd recommend this cleanser for ALL skin types.
I don't bother with toner if I've only cleansed my skin with micellar water, since there's no remaining residue on my skin to worry about. But if I've used the Herbivore Cleanser, I like to ensure all traces are removed with one of two toners.
I'm still a fan of the Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner that I introduced in the summer. It has 2% salicylic acid, and is alcohol-free and fragrance-free, so you could definitely use it as your main exfoliant. (I don't, since I'm in a long-term relationship with COSRX!) However, I do like it on days when my skin feels more oily, like during PMS times.
But seeing as I don't really need the extra salicylic acid in addition to my BHA, I started looking for a gentler toner, and found The Inkey List PHA Toner. It has 3% PHAs plus 3% niacinamide (you can never have too much niacinamide!). I was nervous that it might not play well with my COSRX BHA, since other toners have caused redness and flushing, but it has been absolutely fine.
Next comes COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, which I apply directly to my skin and then spread out with my fingertips. It's thicker than a toner, so you shouldn't waste any of it on a cotton pad!
Twice daily applications does sound like a lot, but that's how you're meant to use Lotion P50, so I do the same with this product (which I prefer!). BHAs are actually anti-inflammatory, and betaine salicylate is especially gentle, so it's what works the best for my skin.
5. Eye Cream
Nighttime calls for a richer eye cream, so I've been patting on the Dr Roebuck's Down Under Collagen Boosting Eye Treatment. I was so afraid that this brand had gone under after bankruptcy proceedings in the spring, but it looks like they are back, thank goodness! This eye cream is full of natural ingredients like macadamia oil, shea butter, caffeine and vitamin E.
After my acid has been on about half an hour, I apply my A313 Cosmetic Cream with Retinyl Palmitate—known outside North America as A313 Vitamin A Pommade. That's right, after corresponding with both the manufacturer in France as well as the North American distributor, I can confirm that it is indeed the same formula. The packaging was just changed in order to comply with government regulations here. So the Amazon listing is legit!
To be sure, I also tested it out myself (I've got a stockpile of both versions now), and I honestly cannot detect ANY difference. I'll be updating this review shortly to show you the two versions, as well to share all the information I got from the brand.
One thing that is a mystery to me now is how it can be so strong—stronger than other retinoids I've tried that have a higher concentration of actives! I suspect it has to do with the base, which keeps the retinoid stable and acts as a penetration enhancer.
7. Lip Balm
To keep my lips moisturized through the night, I'm using a lip balm from a great little indie brand: Vis Viva Honey + Vanilla Hydrating Lip Balm. I've never found any lip balm to work as well as pure lanolin, except for this one! I guess that's because lanolin is the main ingredient, along with honey, beeswax and squalane. It truly is a beautiful balm.
10. Red Light Device
My final step is a session with my Red Light Man Red Light Device, which is my all-time favourite skincare tool (not to mention sleep aid!). I've been lazy lately and not using my ZIIP or NuFace like I should be, but if I only have time for one device, I will always, always do red light therapy.
What's so great about it? As explained here and here, red light supports the core processes of your skin cells, so it can help with just about everything, from wrinkles and loss of firmness to breakouts and inflammation. Since this light is so powerful, and uses the optimal wavelengths of light, treatments only take a few minutes. I use mine every night, and I swear that over time it has helped to keep my skin clearer, calmer and firmer!
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