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Finding My Perfect Skincare Regimen and Helping My Dry Skin Survive the Winter

I got into the skincare game late in life. Prior to age 33, I had never used a traditional serum. Essence was not introduced until very recently at 35. Though I’ve had traditional facials, I did not get them as often as I could have. My first at-home sheet mask waited until I was 34. Regular facial masks and exfoliation are things I skimped on until recently as well. Genetics play a role in making me look older than I really am. Is it too late to take care of my skin? Reversing damage is difficult and even the most expensive, promising treatments have a harder time reversing damage than preventing it.

The Internet, as lovely as it is, has conflicting information on proper skincare, layering products, and even the simplest of tasks can make your head spin. We’ve all read the rule about applying products thinnest to thickest for best absorption and this is a rule I typically follow. What happens when thicker products refuse to penetrate thinner ones? In my ongoing effort to find my perfect skincare regimen, I was testing a new night-time product combination. My face oil sat on top of my night cream and refused to penetrate it. Someone suggested I switch the order and apply the face oil first.

This was not a new concept. I’ve read a lot of people already do this and there are almost as many “experts” who feel this application method is better than the traditional one of applying oil last. It worked exceptionally well, and my skin felt very soft and hydrated. Switching them around and loving the results taught me that breaking the rules is not always a bad thing. As a rule follower, I will personally try products thinnest to thickest as intended, but I will switch them around when they’re not working.

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It is possible to experience product overload. Yes, this is me wearing a sheet mask, eye mask, and a lip mask all at once. I did this for fun and would usually spread them out. My skin paid the price, too. This morning, I had two brand new pimples on each side of my bottom lip. This was two days ago, so the pimples could be a coincidence. Two days after this, my skin still feels soft. Sheet masks usually only have temporary effects meaning my new routine has more to do with my softer skin than the sheet mask, which lost its effect the next time I washed my face.

My spring/summer routine was a single wash, exfoliator or mask (I only exfoliated twice a week and applied a mask once a week), toner (skipped on mask days), face serum one (the thinner one), eye serum, face serum two (the thicker one), eye cream, neck and decollete cream, and face cream. This worked well on my skin in spring and summer. As fall hit, I needed a little more. With winter on the horizon, I need a lot more.

My new routine for fall/winter is still a single wash in the morning, but I double wash (oil or cream first, foaming second) in the evening. I follow this with exfoliator or mask (I only exfoliate twice a week and apply one sheet mask and one traditional mask a week), toner (skipped on mask days), Essence (this is a lighter version of a serum, so I nixed my double serum), eye serum, face serum, eye cream, neck and decollete cream, face cream, and oil. If I am wearing makeup, I skip the day time oil and only apply in the evening.

I will probably always layer an eye cream over an eye serum, because my bottom lids are so dry regardless of season. I’ve found the combination helps greatly. When I apply eyeshadow, I only use serum on the top lid. If I am not wearing makeup, I apply both serum and eye cream to both lids. My upper lids are oily, but I find applying something helps control oil production a bit more than when I leave them with nothing on them. It is strange to have lids so close to each other with such different skin types.

I started using the double cleanse at night whether I am wearing makeup or not, and I am seeing an improvement in my skin. The idea that the oil draws things out and the foaming cleanser whisks them away seems to work. My OCD requires squeaky clean skin, which I never felt from an oil or milk cleanser alone. The soft feeling those cleansers left my skin with was dreamy though. This double cleanse gives me a bit of both. It scared me for years, because my skin is already so dry in certain parts. Over cleansing makes it worse. Something about doing it all at once prevents the “extra cleanse” from over drying it.

When my skin is more dry, I do still resort to my normal night-time makeup removal. It is a double cleanse method in a more simplified form. I use an eye makeup remover and cotton round to remove every remnant of eye makeup. A makeup removing wipe is used to remove every remnant of face makeup. This is the “first cleanse.” After the makeup is fully removed, I use a micellar water to cleanse. Then, I follow with my normal night-time routine.

If my toner pad does not come up completely clean, I do another pass with the microcellular water. I prefer to do a full on wash when my skin is not feeling dry. Although the wipes and microcellular water do a great job of cleaning together, I feel better when I do the full routine. Some people will tell you the microcellular water should never be your second cleanse, but I cannot tolerate a full double cleanse when my face is overly dry. This falls into the category of doing what is right for me.

The changes in routine have helped my dry skin a lot, and adding the Essence is such a wonderful product for chronically dry skin. I will probably continue with the Essence through spring and summer and see how it goes. With these improvements, I am seriously considering limiting how many makeup removing wipes and microcellular waters I purchase in the future. My current stock is abundant and will be exhausted before I stop using them altogether.

I did not take the advice from any specific article in perfecting my skincare routine, so I am not citing any sources. In my research, I did read a lot of articles. Some I agreed with an others I disagreed with. No matter what recommendations the writer gave, someone chimed in to say the writer was wrong. It really did not matter what the subject was or how qualified the writer was.

We tend to trust a dermatologist more than a beauty blogger, but even professionals were disputed. Disputes came from people claiming they were everything from an esthetician to a Doctor. Although there are no fact checkers to prove they are or aren’t who they claim to be, research is generally biased anyway. If an esthetician pushing specific products tells you they’re great, she may truly believe that, but an esthetician pushing different products may have other feelings.

My advice is experiment with products and application techniques until you find the perfect regimen for you. There are never any one size fits all products when it comes to beauty just as there are obviously no one size fits all applications. I have products I love and while I recommend them, I know everyone will not necessarily love them the same way I do. Likewise, I’ve had great friends recommend things I’ve hated, and I do not believe for a second they sold me on a terrible product. It just worked for them and failed me for a different reason.

If your oil will not penetrate your moisturizer, feel free to mix them together or apply the oil first. Oils sitting on top of skin are not doing what they should and are a mess for anything your face touches. Should your serum or ampoule irritate your skin but you’re unwilling to toss it, try applying it after your moisturizer. It will not penetrate the way it’s supposed to, but some could get through. This could also reduce or eliminate irritation. I personally would not buy a serum that irritated my skin when applied in order, but I would not toss a full serum without moving application around (short of it causing an allergic reaction).

While switching products too often may wreak havoc on your skin, do not fear switching once beloved items that are no longer doing what they should. Skin can change over time, and if your perfect routine does not work for your new skin, switch it up. I still believe thinnest to thickest is the best application technique in most cases and will only switch that up as needed.

In researching skincare, I found some obvious misinformation like applying toner (which most Western toners have a cleansing effect) after serum (which would strip it) or applying products over sunscreens that may dilute their efficiency. Sunscreen is no joke, so I will never apply any skincare product over it. Putting makeup on top is fine. I always suggest you get information from more one source. Seeking more than one source helps you be more informed and reduces the chance your skincare regimen will be based on the bias of one individual.

While some damage may be irreversible, starting to care for your skin, regardless of age, is a good thing. It can help prevent some damage that may occur if you never start. If a product promises unbelievable results, it will probably not deliver. That does not mean you cannot have fun experimenting and finding items that work wonderfully for you. Good luck in achieving better skin. You are never too young or too old to start taking care of yourself. The sooner you start the better.

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I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (12 and 7) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 12-year-old to apply it.

6 thoughts on “Finding My Perfect Skincare Regimen and Helping My Dry Skin Survive the Winter Leave a comment

  1. Good post! I like to apply my toner with a drop of facial oil in it. I use paulas choice skin recovery toner which is moisturizing, right after cleansing. I think sometimes the double cleanse is good but have felt at times that it dries out my already dry skin too much. It’s fun to read about different skin routines and get new ideas to try.

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