Everyone’s talking about spring already—but where I’m at, winter is still very much here. (In fact, it’s actually snowing outside as I write this!) That means I’m still wearing heavy sweaters, still drinking hot tea non-stop, and of course, still following my winter skincare routine.
That’s what I’m sharing with you here: all the products I’ve been using lately to keep my skin hydrated and even-toned while preventing the signs of aging.
Here’s an overview of what’s changed since my fall routine, and then my current step-by-process, explained.
My Winter 2022 Skincare Routine
Alright, here are the main things I’ve switched up with my skincare routine lately:
- Vitamin C: After finishing an entire bottle of the new SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF last year, I’m still using L-ascorbic acid, just the OG formula instead. In addition to general antioxidant protection, it’s meant to brighten, firm and improve fine lines and wrinkles.
- Kojic acid and tranexamic acid: These two ingredients are among the best for fading dark marks, which I still have from a few breakouts (you can read about how I caused some of them myself in the fall! 🤪). I’ve added them in a spot treatment alongside my new favourite niacinamide serum. (But you can actually find them all together in SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense, which was one of my 2019 favourites that I might repurchase!)
- Deep-cleansing device: I finally pulled the trigger on an ultrasonic skincare device, after mulling over it for probably a year! More thoughts below, but I think that in combination with a BHA, this could be a real game-changer for congested skin.
- Moisturizer: You may recall that I went on a “no moisturizer” experiment in 2020 based on Dr. Zein Obagi’s belief that most skin doesn’t need it. (More about that in my moisturizer tutorial.) Since then, I’ve only used creams in the wintertime—and not even every day or all over my face. After finishing up my Augustinus Bader The Cream, I’ve now started using another lightweight moisturizer, which I might like even better. It’s actually spiked with a retinoid that is both anti-aging and anti-acne!
Here’s a quick look at my product line-up right now:
And now I’ll take you through my routine in more detail!
My Morning Skincare Routine
To start the day, I’m washing my face in the shower with The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser, which you may recall just launched in December. This is an amazing cleanser if—like me—you prefer gel formulas, but don’t want one that dries out your skin. Even though it lightly foams, it actually supports the skin barrier and continues to hydrate for up to 48 hours post-cleanse. It’s suitable for all skin types, and the price point can’t be beat!
2. Vitamin C Serum
Then, I apply a few drops of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, which is the L-ascorbic acid serum that I always recommend the most. (That’s because it’s patented and super-stable—you just need to use it up within six months.) Even though it’s not aimed at oily or acne-prone skin like Silymarin CF, I’ve found it to be absolutely fine on my skin, especially for wintertime.
3. Eye Gel
I don’t like to leave my eye area bare while I’m waiting around for my vitamin C to do its thing. So right away, I apply the new Dermalogica Awaken Peptide Eye Gel, which you may recall launched in January. I’ve found most eye gels aren’t hydrating enough, but this one is an exception. The peptides, along with caffeine, are supposed to help you look more rested (and who doesn’t want that?!).
4. Niacinamide Serum
Next comes Allies of Skin Prebiotics & Niacinamide Pore Refining Booster, which I started using in the fall and liked so much that I recently purchased a second bottle! Since the vitamin C is so acidic (pH 2.0-3.5) in comparison to this product (pH 5.2-6.1), I try to wait 30 minutes in between them. There’s 10% niacinamide in this treatment, and compared to a lot of the cheaper serums I’ve tried, it has a way nicer texture. It’s a gel that is surprisingly hydrating and soothing yet non-greasy.
5. Dark Spot Treatment
As soon as my niacinamide has absorbed, I dab on Versed Out of Sight Dark Spot Gel (which just launched in October) on the post-acne marks that I want to get rid of. This fades them with 5% niacinamide, 2% tranexamic acid, 1% kojic acid and 1% licorice. Since it’s a fast-drying clear gel, you can wear it in the daytime and it’s completely invisible.
If my skin needs it, I’ll hydrate with some Verso Daily Facial Fluid, usually around my nose, mouth and eyes. This is a light, non-greasy yet creamy moisturizer infused with niacinamide, shea butter, hyaluronic acid and “Retinol 8.” The latter is the brand’s patented complex of polyphenols and retinyl retinoate, which is eight times more effective than retinol but half as irritating. It’s safe for daytime use (under SPF) and even helps with acne! Honestly, I love this product (and I rarely say that about moisturizers!).
Then I’ll protect my skin with REN Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 if I’m going outside. Yes, I keep returning to this sunscreen because it just works so well for my skin. It’s non-greasy, non-whitening—at least for my skin tone—and plays well with the rest of my skincare products. (It doesn’t cause pilling, which is key!) But I am going to be testing some new sunscreens soon for spring and summer, so stay tuned... I’m just waiting for my orders to arrive!
8. Skin Balm
I’m also still using what’s left of my Tatcha The Serum Stick, which was one of my 2021 favourites, too. This is a solid, squalane-based balm that you can swipe on for instant hydration anywhere you need it. Usually, it’s around my eyes and nose that get dry, crepey or flaky in the wintertime, so this is an excellent quick fix. Often, I’ll layer it under my under-eye concealer, and I also touch-up with it throughout the day.
Instead of highlighter, I’ve been trying out Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, but I’m honestly not sure if this was a mistake purchase for me. I was excited when it launched because it’s supposed to be a makeup-skincare hybrid that reflects the light while treating your skin with niacinamide. But I can’t really see it on my face—it’s no RMS Beauty Living Luminizer!—and I don’t love how sticky it feels. I’m not sure I’d use it as an all-over serum/primer either, since I don’t want my entire face to be glowy, and I prefer niacinamide treatments with a known percentage of the active.
My Nighttime Skincare Routine
1. Micellar Water
My preferred way to double cleanse at night is with a micellar water first. (For a few weeks, I was testing a PR sample of Kora Organics Milky Mushroom Gentle Cleansing Oil, but I wasn’t convinced it cleaned that well, and it felt like too much work!) So I’ve gone back to Bioeffect Micellar Cleansing Water, an old favourite from 2019 that I realized I still had. For what it’s worth, I had my mom try it and she is certain that it works better and faster than Bioderma Sensibio H2O! Now I remember why I loved it and I might have to repurchase.
For the second step in my double cleanse, I have Agent Nateur Acid (Wash). I bought this because I was so impressed with the brand’s Holi (C) and Holi (Water) that I tried last year. It’s a very thin, low-lathering gel cleanser made from only a few simple, mostly natural ingredients. Lactic acid is one of them, so it’s gently exfoliating, but it’s not harsh at all—even sensitive skin could use this.
To ensure my skin is thoroughly clean, with no lingering product residue, I always do toner at night. Idealove The Balancing Act Aloe Propolis BHA Toner is from one of iHerb’s in-house skincare brands, and it’s surprisingly amazing. It has a slightly thicker texture (which reminds me of a similar product from Glow Recipe), so you’re actually meant to press it in like an essence. (If I wasn’t using another BHA afterward, I would do that, but right now, I’m just swiping it on with a cotton pad.) I love that it contains my favourite BHA, betaine salicylate, plus aloe, propolis and snail mucin. Since it is slightly acidic (pH 4.5-5.5), it works as a mild exfoliant in addition to toning and balancing oil production.
Like always, my main exfoliant is COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid (reviewed here). I apply this most nights, unless my skin seems a bit dry and then I’ll skip a night. (I learned my lesson in the fall, when my skin got dry from too many exfoliating products and it made me break out!) Still, this is pretty mild as far as exfoliants go, since it contains betaine salicylate, which is gentler and more hydrating than salicylic acid. I love it because it deep-cleans pores, brightens and has a calming effect on my skin.
5. Retinoid (Face)
I probably should be testing out other retinoids to report on, but I can’t seem to quit my A313 (reviewed here). That’s always the problem when I find a skincare product that I really love—I never want to stop using it! To date, it is the strongest and most effective over-the-counter retinoid I’ve found. In addition to my entire face, I’ve been applying it right up to the lash lines lately, and I think it has strengthened that thinner skin around my eyes and made it more resilient.
6. Retinoid (Body)
Everyone forgets to apply anti-aging products to their neck and chest, including me. A313 isn’t really great for those areas since it has the texture of petroleum jelly, but I was just sent the new Versed Firm Ground Retinol Body Lotion (which launched in December), and it’s ideal. There’s not a huge amount of retinol in here (only 0.1%), but this lotion has a lovely lightweight texture and absorbs quickly. It’s also silicone-free, and hasn’t caused any body breakouts.