Winter may be cold, dark and dismal... but it's my favourite season for skincare!
For one thing, my skin tends to be clearer, since I'm not covered in sweat as soon as I leave the house. Nor do I have to clog my pores with sunscreen, since I rarely get more than a daily 15 minutes of UV.
Not having to worry about sun sensitivity, I also get to try active ingredients with abandon. And I tend to have more time to play with skincare gadgets, while I'm snuggled up in front of the TV.
Finally, winter is when my skin can tolerate more products in general—so I load up on all the hydrators that are otherwise too heavy for me during the rest of the year.
What I'm trying to say is that I have A LOT to show you in my latest skincare routine! For this winter 2019 edition, I'm sharing:
- My latest skincare goals
- My morning skincare routine
- My nighttime skincare routine
- My extra skincare treatments
My Winter Skincare Goals
Here's a quick overview of what I'm targeting this season.
- Anti-aging: For general anti-aging, the biggest change since last time is that I've introduced a different retinoid—one that I hadn't tried before, and MAN is it strong! I also started back up with niacinamide after writing this article and missing it too much. And my third anti-aging strategy is microcurrent. Currently testing a new gadget that I can't wait to tell you about!
- Hydration: The combination of dry winter air and a potent new retinoid has really sucked the moisture out of my skin, particularly around the smile lines. Normally, I can get away with just serum underneath a face oil, but now I've added cream as well. I've also swapped out my cleansers and masks for more hydrating ones.
- Anti-acne: BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) are always a staple for me, since they do such a good job of preventing breakouts and my skin tolerates them really well. The one change here is a milder-strength product that I've just discovered.
As usual, all the products I'm using were purchased by me, with two exceptions: a fancy micellar water and an even fancier (think $600+!) moisturizer. I HAD to try it.
For more details on how I choose products, see this ingredients tutorial.
My Morning Skincare Routine
For my morning cleanse, I'm alternating between two products. If I'm jumping in the shower, I'll use Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. Finally, I've gotten around to trying it and I'm really impressed! It has a lotion texture, so it's a little gentler than a foam or gel, but it still rinses away clean.
If I'm washing my face at the sink, I'll use the new Dr Roebuck's Noosa Nourishing Creme Cleanser. This one doesn't seem to leave behind any residue either, but just in case, I like to remove it with a warm, wet cloth. It's a nice way to start a cold winter morning!
For more on how to properly apply and remove cleansing creams and cleansing milks, see my recent tutorial.
I don't know how I didn't realize this earlier, but COSRX ALSO makes a milder BHA, the COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol. Whereas the active ingredient in Blackhead Power Liquid is four percent betaine salicylate, A-Sol contains only one percent betaine salicylate, along with 69.8 percent propolis extract for hydration. So it's a great one to switch to if you want the benefits of a BHA, but your skin is feeling dry.
3. Eye Cream/Serum:
As soon as my BHA is on, I apply an eye serum or lightweight eye cream. I'm still alternating between the same two I showed you in the fall. One is new Indie Lee I-Waken Eye Serum, and the other is Derma E Hydrating Eye Cream.
I'm pleasantly surprised that these have given me ZERO irritation (most eye creams do), perhaps because they're made with natural ingredients. I also love that they're non-greasy, so they're perfect to wear under makeup.
Then, I give the BHA about 20 minutes do its thing before I apply Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster. I have to say, after previously using The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, the Paula's product has a MUCH better texture. It's super thin and watery, so it absorbs faster and doesn't cause any pilling.
If you saw my niacinamide tutorial, you're aware that this ingredient helps with everything from fine lines to acne to pigmentation to hydration. So I'm not only using it as a treatment product, but also in place of a regular hydrating serum.
As soon as my niacinamide has absorbed, I layer on one of several creams I'm testing. It used to be difficult to find a moisturizer that met my criteria, but I'm thrilled that there are more options now!
I hate to say it, but the best one is also the most expensive—Biologique Recherche La Grande Crème. Each application must cost, like $20. However, if money were no object, I'd be buying this! It is somehow intensively moisturizing yet not at all heavy or oily. It also contains active ingredients for firming, softening wrinkles and fading pigmentation.
I also love the new Indie Lee Active Oil-Free Moisturizer. Without any oils, I wasn't expecting it to be hydrating, but it really is! The texture is a lightweight but creamy lotion that leaves behind no greasy residue.
Then, there is Dr Roebuck's No Worries Hydrating Face Moisturizer, which is a new and improved version of their old Face cream. This macadamia oil-based moisturizer has a short, simple ingredients list and is very hydrating.
I'm also testing Salt by Hendrix Magical Rose Daytime Illuminating Elixir Crème. Technically, it's sold as a body lotion, but I think you could use it on your face no problem—as long as you don't mind some subtle shimmer. It has fine particles of mica in it, along with shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil. It's lightweight but hydrating.
Like I said, I rarely wear sunscreen in the winter, unless I'm going to be outside for more than 15 minutes or so during peak hours. In that case, I'm testing a new purchase, Mad Hippie Facial SPF 30+, which has excellent reviews.
With 16 percent zinc oxide, I wouldn't rely on this in strong sun (see my sunscreen ingredients criteria), but for the winter, it's just fine. Less of the active ingredient means it has a lighter, non-whitening texture.
7. Face Oils:
I'm playing around with some of the Odacité oils right now, adding just one or two drops as the last part of my daytime skincare routine—that way, they can act as a barrier against the elements. I only bought the blends with stable fatty acid profiles, and I store them in the fridge to prolong freshness!
Odacité Buriti-Lime Serum Concentrate has a base of buriti oil, which is said to help with firming. Odacité Marula-Neroli Serum Concentrate has a base of marula oil, so it's an alternative to Drunk Elephant and The Ordinary. Both of these oils are on the thicker, more hydrating side.
Odacité Green Tea-Lemongrass Serum Concentrate has a base of camellia seed oil, and Odacité Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate has a base of wild carrot oil. Both are high in antioxidants and have a light texture that would suit all skin.
Odacité Jojoba-Lavender Serum Concentrate has a base of jojoba oil, which can help balance sebum production. I just can't use too much jojoba or it breaks me out.
8. Face Mists:
If I need to refresh my skin throughout the day or give my makeup a more natural (less powdery) finish, I will spritz with a face mist. I own so many of them, but right now reaching for two hydrating formulas from Éminence.
Éminence Stone Crop Hydrating Mist is an aloe-based mist geared at normal to dry skin, while Éminence Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist has the addition of coconut milk and can be used by all skin.
9. Lip and Skin Balms:
On the go, I'm keeping chapped lips and skin at bay with these amazing moisture sticks I just got from Cocokind. Both are made with only a few all-natural ingredients, and they truly work!
Cocokind MyMatcha All-Over Moisture Stick goes on clear, so it's the perfect portable moisturizer for anywhere your skin feels dry. (It can even work as a highlighter.) All that's in it is coconut oil, beeswax and matcha tea powder.
Cocokind Macabeet Tinted Moisture Stick has a subtle rosy tint, so I use it on my lips and cheeks. It's made with olive oil, beeswax, maca root and beet root. Both of these sticks glide on easily and the moisture lasts for hours!
My Nighttime Skincare Routine
1. Micellar Water:
Moving on to the end of the day... my nighttime routine starts with BIOeffect Micellar Cleansing Water on a Shiseido Facial Cotton pad. This product is a splurge, yes, but it's made with cleaner ingredients than other micellar waters on the market. And it is equally effective at removing makeup!
For my second cleanse, I'm using Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser, which was also in my fall routine. It has a unique jelly texture that turns into a creamy lather, and I find it less drying than most gel cleansers.
(I don't know why so many reviewers are saying the old formula was better! I never bought it because it was too high in rose hip oil—now they've reformulated with less, so it's more stable. Ideally, I'd prefer less of the natural fragrance, but I haven't found the scent too strong nor has it irritated my skin at all.)
3. Cleansing Brush:
Along with my face wash, I use the Foreo Luna 2 for Combination Skin for a deep-clean and a gentle physical exfoliation (it helps buff off any flaky bits). I feel like I've been mentioning this gadget in every article lately—I just love it so much! If you're going to invest in a cleansing brush, this is the one I recommend.
Then, I pat my skin dry and swipe my face, neck and chest with one of two BHA pads (the same ones I was using in the fall).
Both B. Kamins Anti-Blemish Pads and First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Pads with White Clay are soaked in a two percent salicylic acid solution to help treat and prevent breakouts. I like them both, but if you do the math, the First Aid Beauty ones are the better deal!
5. Eye Creams:
As per the morning, I apply eye cream right after my BHA (no waiting); otherwise, my eye area will start to feel a little tight and uncomfortable. Right now, I'm alternating between Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum and Dr Roebuck's Down Under Collagen Boosting Eye Treatment.
I haven't been able to use the Drunk Elephant nightly without it eventually causing a bit of crepiness. With the copper peptides, I think it's just a little "active" for me. The Dr Roebuck's, I tolerate better. It's very rich, so you only need a tiny dab.
Now for the product in this routine that I'm most excited to talk about... the retinoid! It's called A313 Vitamin A Pommade, and it comes all the way from France. I will be doing a full review soon, but let me tell you—I think it's the strongest retinoid I've tried since I stopped using Retin-A a few years ago.
You might recall another retinoid, Avibon, that Gwyneth Paltrow used to rave about; it had a cult following and until recently was sold in French pharmacies. Now, it's been replaced by A313, which is said to be almost as potent. When I found it on Amazon, I knew I had to test it out immediately.
There's roughly 0.12 percent vitamin A in here, a mixture of retinyl acetate, palmitate and propionate. Even though these are milder forms of vitamin A, I think they must penetrate more deeply because of the polyethylene glycol base (a penetration enhancer). That gives it the texture of Vaseline, but strangely, it doesn't break me out at all—instead, it made me peel like crazy initially.
Now, after almost two months, I am tolerating it a lot better, although it does still make my skin drier than normal. I am just amazed at how smooth my face feels each morning, and I think it has already helped with firmness and tone. See my full review here!
7. Lip Balm:
I like to use pure lanolin to moisture my lips at night, so I finish by applying a generous layer of Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm. Bonus: It makes a good cuticle treatment as well!
My Extra Skincare Treatments
I have a new toy, the ZIIP Beauty Nano Current Device! I've been wanting one for a such long time, I finally pulled the trigger in a Black Friday sale (although it took a while to get delivered here to Canada, so I've only just started using it).
This is a similar type of gadget to the NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device that was in my fall routine. Each uses different frequencies of low-level electric current to painlessly stimulate the facial muscles. Basically, it's the opposite of what Botox does—the current strengthens rather than weakens the muscles.
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to use, and I tend do it in the morning, before I go through my routine. (You want to wash off the conductive gel, ZIIP Beauty Golden Gel, because it's really thick.)
So far, I've noticed an immediate glow and rosy tone, so I'm excited to see more changes. I will report back in a detailed review!
Red Light Therapy:
Of course, I'm still doing the occasional red light therapy session with my Red Light Man Red Light Device. Not only is it super relaxing, but it's one of the best ways to prevent signs of aging and acne. If you missed our red light series, you can learn about it here and here... and Red Light Man himself will be answering more of your questions very soon!
To combat dryness, I've been masking more than usual this season, with two products that I find really effective. Dr Roebuck's Icebergs Hydrating Mask is a jelly mask that's high in aloe vera, glycerin and hyaluronic acid—all great humectants that bring water to the skin. Even acne-prone skin should be able to use this one with no issue.
But if you need serious nourishment, go for Tata Harper Moisturizing Mask. It's the richest, most hydrating moisturizing mask I've ever found. You can also wear it as an overnight mask. A little goes a long way, and it definitely helps me out when the retinoid has made me too flaky!
And that concludes your seasonal update on everything I'm putting on my skin at the moment!
My favourite product that I've recently added is definitely the A313 (in case you couldn't tell!). So, if you're looking for a strong over-the-counter retinoid, it's one to consider. However, I wouldn't start with it if you're new to retinoids or have sensitive skin—try Shani Darden Texture Reform (reviewed here) instead.
No matter what skin issues you're dealing with, the niacinamide, one percent BHA, nanocurrent and red light are non-irritating treatments that just about everyone should be able to handle. I hope you like these products as much as I do!
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