This post has been a long-time coming, but I wanted to give my new skincare routine a solid, thorough run before reporting back on results. I’ve been sticking to the exact regimen below since mid-December and the TL;DR is that my skin has never looked better. How do I know? Mr. Magpie, out of the blue and unprompted, told me over dinner about six weeks into the regimen: “You’re looking awake and virile.” Ha! But I also know this because, like all of you, I have spent a lot of time studying my pores in the mirror, and this skincare routine has dramatically reduced their size, while also making my skin much (!) brighter and more even in tone. I still contend with occasional breakouts, but we are moving in the right direction.
RINSE FACE WITH WARM WATER AND PAT DRY
RINSE SAME COTTON PAD AGAIN, PAT OVER FACE
APPLY VITAMIN C SERUM (WILL EXPLAIN BRANDS BELOW)
APPLY CLARINS DOUBLE SERUM
APPLY FLUID SUNSCREEN
APPLY BELIF THE TRUE CREAM (<<LONG-TIME FAVORITE OF MINE FOR WINTER)
SCRUB FACE WITH TATA HARPER REGENERATING CLEANSER (NOTE THAT IT IS A DRY CLEANSER, SO YOU START WITHOUT WET SKIN)
APPLY EYE CREAM
Now, onto the honest review bit…
+Living Libations Cleansing Oil. Wow. Wow! This and the Clarins serum have been revolutionary for me. I had read from Caroline Hirons that it’s best to avoid a super-drying cleanser in the morning, so I started using this oil, and it is unbelievable. You pat it on and suddenly transform into a post-pilates Gwyneth Paltrow. Skin is radiant, dewy, glowing. Does it even look slightly bronzed by the California sun? It’s insane! Caveat: this oil has a very strong botanical scent that I absolutely love but that might be off-putting for those sensitive to fragrance. Personally, it makes me feel as though I’ve been at an Aveda spa all morning. Je l’adore. This is a no-brainer re-order once I’m out.
+Vitamin C Serums. OK. So my big discovery over the past few months has been that layering a separate vitamin C serum helps tremendously with skin brightness, which I consider a quality distinct from dewiness, evenness, hydration, elasticity, and smoothness. You can have hydrated, smooth skin, but if I want all the lights on, I need vitamin C! I know this because after I’d run out of my bottle, there was a shipping delay on my new order and so I went a week without. I noticed a marked difference. To be honest, I’ve found all of the Vitamin C serums I’ve tried so far achieve about the same result: bright, awake skin! This is good news for us because there are a lot of affordably-priced Vitamin C serums to consider. For me, it all comes down to quality of formula. I found the Mad Hippie unpleasantly sticky after application, the Vichy a bit too runny (and therefore difficult to apply without it slipping through fingers or running all over face), and TruSkin (which has a major cult following, costs $20, and has earned close to 62K in five star reviews) off-puttingly cloudy and uneven in mixture. To be clear: all of these cost $30 or less and achieve very solid results, so I will likely return to one or several of these without batting an eye, but I plan to continue to test different brands until I find one with a winning formula. Next on my list is La Roche Posay’s formula, recommended by a Magpie as better than Vichy. I find most of LRP’s products (several of which made my roundup of great European pharmacy favorites) exceptional, so I have high hopes.
+Clarins Double Serum (<<currently 15% off here, no code required, and at a steep discount at Walmart, though I’ve written elsewhere that I proceed with caution when buying cosmetics from Walmart, as some of the sellers are not authorized/sell counterfeit). OK, OK, OK, OK. This serum is incredible. The best all-around serum I’ve ever tried. I don’t know what it is about the combo of Living Libations + Vitamin C serum + Clarins Double Serum, but they play so gorgeously together, and it’s like flicking the lights up a notch with each new product. Living Libations = good morning, you’re awake! Vitamin C = OK, now we’re cooking, got the sunshine streaming in through the windows and the music playing. Clarins Double Serum = HOLY HELL, IT’S HIGH NOON IN HERE! This serum specifically makes my skin look more hydrated, plump, elastic. I don’t know that I believe anything in this regimen is truly “erasing wrinkles,” but I would isolate this product as the holy grail for achieving more youthful-looking skin.
+Differin. I wrote about this last year after only giving it a try for a short period. At the time, I was frustrated by the fact that it seemed like I had more breakouts than less. Readers and research reassured me that you kind of need to be in it for the long haul with this product, as it takes awhile for your skin to adjust and even “purge.” I do notice that my skin is a bit drier than it usually is, which I attribute to differin, but it has helped with evenness and especially pore size. Wow. It almost erases, or airbrushes, your pores! I still have about two weeks to go before I hit the 12 week mark, which seems to be the magic milestone where things totally clear up. Will report back on this.
As a recap, below are the main effects I see achieved by each of the individual products mentioned above:
-LIVING LIBATIONS CLEANSING OIL: SKIN DEWINESS AND HYDRATION
-VITAMIN C SERUM: SKIN BRIGHTNESS
-CLARINS DOUBLE SERUM: SKIN ELASTICITY, PLUMPNESS, EVENNESS, OVERALL GLOW (YOUTHFULNESS!)
-DIFFERIN: PORE SIZE
In sum, I am a big fan of most of these products but am still a little bit iffy on the differin. Will wait a few more weeks to see if there’s a big corner turned down the road.
Other miscellaneous products I’ve tried this month:
+Le Blanc Linenpress Spray Starch. Oh yes. Big yes. Fellow ironing enthusiasts rejoice — this is la creme de la creme. Smells incredible but more importantly works much better than any other starch I’ve tried (including industrial-strength Niagara). I like that this leaves linens satin-y smooth rather than crisp. Will never look at another starch again.
+Anastasia Brow Gel. I don’t know why I cheated on my monogamous relationship with Hourglass’s brow gel, but I did, and I regret it. The main problem with Anastasia was I found the color very fake-looking — almost like using a brown Crayola marker on your face. I find Hourglass infinitely more realistic and subtle-looking. Will never betray again.
+Nyx eyeliner pencil. I love Nyx’s liquid liner (almost identical to Stila IMO) and I was equally pleased by this sub-$5 pencil, which is easy to apply and fairly long-lasting. One benefit to the pencil formula: I find the liquid liner’s applicator “frays” over time, with strands of the applicator splaying every which-way, which in turn makes it impossible to achieve a clean line. The pencil applicator does not present with this issue, but then again, you can’t get the same level of fluid precision with it, so it depends on your aesthetic/technique/preference.
+OPI Cuticle Oil-to-Go. Works well but equally importantly — the brush applicator is genius! No more smudging thick ointments onto cuticles! I love that feature. I also think it has been great for conditioning my cuticles. Will buy again.
+Bliss Peppermint Foot Cream. Smeh. A peg below O’Keefe’s, but nothing will ever replace LRP’s podologics foot cream, which has been discontinued. I specifically did not like how thin/runny this formula is — I want something thick! (Any other recs?!)
+The Laundress No. 723 Detergent. Pricey, but I bought this for laundering our bedding (still swear by Tide for our clothing). It has the most delightful rose scent, though by the time our sheets have been through the dryer, the scent is fairly muted and then further hidden by the appealing scent of Linenpress starch spray. I might shift to use this on my running gear, which I launder separately and then hang dry (less likely to loose scent). It does smell heavenly!
OK – what are you loving these days?! Anyone else an enthusiastic convert to any of these products? Share thoughts in the comments SVP!
P.S. My most popular honest review installment — this post garners so much traffic on a daily basis!
P.P.S. I’ve now tried a ton of the products in this roundup of new beauty finds for 2021. What are you liking?
P.P.P.S. What does self-care mean to you?