It Goes Down In The PM: My Evening Skincare Routine

Chalk it up to being hella insecure in my youth, but for many years, I rarely left the house without at least ten products spackled on. I'm talking about a smokey eye during the day! These days, I'm much more comfortable in my skin and have no problem running errands or showing up to a coffee meet-up bare-faced. I love makeup, but like a bra, I can't fully relax until it's off. 

I start my P.M. routine pretty quickly after getting home if I'm in for the night, and the first step is always removing makeup. If I've got a lot to take off, I'll start with a swipe of a pre-soaked wipe. Favorite brands include Bliss (now re-branded and sold at Target), Neutrogena, and Simple. Because pulling the skin can cause wrinkles, I use wipes very gently as a preliminary step to loosen everything up and don't worry about how much comes off. 


Another option is this luxurious Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm from the goddess Sunday Riley. It's the most soothing shade of Caribbean blue and is subtly scented. The balm turns into a milky cleanser that gently exfoliates while it removes makeup and clarifies. You can even leave it on as a mask if you like! I like options, people. It's pricey, but I've made the jar I got for Christmas last until now. 


Next, I use a cleanser made especially for makeup removal. My go-to is Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser. The texture is divine, it smells clean, and though it's gentle, it's a champ for getting off stubborn mascara and heavy foundation. And of course, the bottle looks adorable in the shower. Their package design never disappoints! At $18, it's far less than many high-end brands. It's safe to open your eyes while using Milky Jelly, so feel free to check for monsters and murderers as often as you like! 


Next up is a foam cleanse. You'd be surprised how much can linger on your face after a wash, so I lather up with the super effective Lancome Mousse Radiance Clarifying Self-Foaming Cleanser. It gets errthang off, and smells lovely. If the price point makes you cringe, I also recommend Too Cool For School's Egg Mousse Soap. It's affordable and works just as well! 


I was given Thayers Witch Hazel for Christmas by a pal who swears by it, and though I was skeptical, I'm now a convert! The rose petal scent is intoxicating, and the alcohol-free formula tones without drying or over-tightening the pores. It's a steal of a deal at $7.49 for 12 ounces (at Target), so there's no guilt in fully soaking a cotton pad. I use it even when my skin is feeling a little sensitive because it's not harsh or irritating the way that some acid-based formulas can be. This toner is ethically produced, as well as vegan, organic, and cruelty-free. What's not to like?


If you're into skincare at all, then Sunday Riley is already on your radar. The brand is hyped beyond belief, but it's well-earned. Luna Sleeping Night Oil is their signature product, and it's a miracle! A miracle, I tell you! The oil's scent is soothing and its texture is silky. Don't be frightened by the color! It's a natural pigment that disappears right into your skin. Luna is a retinoid that has visibly evened my skin tone (I really struggled with redness and irritation), shrunken stubborn pores, helped out with my hormonal acne, and smoothed my face's texture. It's a one-stop shop and I can't recommend it enough. But wait! There's more! Luna has a best friend! 


After waiting the recommended 20 minutes for Luna to fully absorb, I apply one pump of Sunday Riley's Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment to my entire face. These two products together are the cornerstone of my routine and I will sing their praises to my grave, where I will obviously still look great. Good Genes will improve the appearance of your skin in three minutes. You read that right. It tightens, it brightens, it does ALL THE THINGS. It's reduced the stubborn hyperpigmentation on my forehead and makes my whole face glow. A little goes a long way, so don't go overboard and make sure to wear sunscreen the mornings after you use it. 


I have oily skin, but that doesn't stop me from moisturizing like crazy. I have a few lotions that I love, but the one I've stuck with the longest is Belif's The True Cream Aqua Bomb. It's feather-light but packs a punch. My skin feels refreshed, supple, moist (Chill. It's just a word.) but never greasy. It layers well over the previous products and is a lovely shade of blue. Don't forget your neck and chest! 


Every few days, I end my routine with this Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. It is the best sleeping mask I've ever encountered. I apply it just like a moisturizer on my entire face and neck then wake up to skin that's positively radiant. There's a significant difference after using this pink goodness, and the rose scent is just a plus! I've noticed a more even skintone and a healthy glow after using this. I've repurchased it 3 times, so you know it's a winner. 


My final touch is a generous swipe of any of these lip balms. Smith's Strawberry Lip Balm is a classic and I love its sheer formula. I also recommend the brand's Rosebud Salve if you're not into the fruity flavor. Glossier's balm dotcom (I use rose and cherry) is thicker and great for an extra shot of overnight moisture. Laneige's Lip Sleeping Mask was my first encounter with a mask for the mouth, and I'm a convert! I didn't expect much, but I found my lips were plumped and smoothed by morning after one use. It's thick and smells a bit like bubblegum in a way that makes me reminisce about middle school lip glosses.  


Sweet dreams, folks! For a little extra bedtime comfort, check out this weighted blanket we've been using for over a year now. It's great for folks with insomnia or anxiety and feels like a hug while you sleep (or try to!). Combine that with some lavender pillow spray and you're that much closer to snoozetown. 

The Glow Up: My Morning Skincare

Turns out, I'm not invincible, and everything you've heard about tanning beds is true. After too many times anxiously waiting biopsy results, I finally began to think about the damage I'd caused. Turning 30 seemed like the perfect time (i.e. third life crisis) to start taking care of my skin. I had no problem spending time and money on makeup, but didn't think too much about what was under it. I found products I love and learned how to combine them for noticeable results. (And also no tanning. Because cancer.)


While researching skin improvement for women my age, I constantly saw posts on the 10-step Korean skincare regimen. Upon reading about it, I had a lot of questions. For example:

What's an ampoule?  (Still not sure)

Is 'essence' just fancy water? (Yes)

Who has time for this? (People who have time to obsessively research skincare routines and you)

I know, I know. It sounds like a lot. But not every step should be done each day, and some of them are really simple, like "Apply sunscreen." Don't be intimidated. I've broken down my morning routine into seven steps with the quickest ways to use my tried and true products. I've managed to undo sun damage, improve my skin's texture and tone, and virtually avoid acne. I've been perfecting my steps for months, and have switched out products to cook up the best cocktail for my unique needs. However, a few folks have taken my advice and now swear by it. Maybe you should too! 


Step 1: Oil Cleanse

Oil cleansing gently cleans and softens the skin without stripping away its natural goodness. The Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser from Tatcha smells like a dang garden and has a silky texture. I'm in love! Put a quarter sized amount in your palms, rub together to warm the oil, then apply in circular motions until it's time to rinse. 


Step 2: Foam Cleanse

This tackles all the nasty nast on your face that the oil cleanse didn't get rid of. You'll notice a difference the first time you double cleanse. Truth. Use a dollop (actual unit of measurement) and massage it onto your skin using circular motions. Rinse. (I shouldn't have to tell you that part.) I'm obsessed with Too Cool for School's Egg Mousse Soap. It's super creamy and pretty affordable, too! 


Step 3: Tone

Tighten your pores and prep the skin for what's to come with a toner. It's easy peasy. Just swipe it over your face and neck using a cotton pad. I love Pixi's Glow Tonic. It's refreshing, and the little kick of glycolic acid adds gentle exfoliation. Plus it's $15 at Target! 


Step 4: Essence

Step 4: Essence

This is when it gets a little strange. You're going to hesitate, but I need you to just get on board with this and not ask questions. Which, however, is not a healthy way to live your life or form opinions but I digress. Essence is fancy face water. It brightens, softens, and just generally makes you prettier. It preps the skin to fully absorb the products you'll use next. This shit is bananas, and you just need to trust me on that. 

I use Tatcha's The Essence Plumping Skin Softener, and it's a costly miracle.Shake a little into your hands, rub them together then use your whole hand to press it gently into your face. The heat helps it absorb, and with that price tag, you won't want to waste a drop. Luckily, other brands carry similar products that are well-reviewed and much less pricey. 


Step 5: Serum

Serums are magical multi-taskers. My favorite is C-Firma Day Serum by Drunk Elephant. There's a lot to love here. The packaging hides the product from light which keeps the active ingredients stable. It firms, brightens, and evens while absorbing quickly. This stuff will make you GLOW.


Step 6: Hydrate

Whether you use a cream, gel, or a hybrid, you gotta quench that skin. Because my skin is oily, I use this Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel. It's light but packs a punch. My skin feels plump and never dry. You can even mix a pump into your serum and apply them both together! 

Algenist SPF.jpg

Step 7: SPF

This is one of those "It doesn't matter which church you go to as long as you go to church" situations. For the record, my church is sheet masking with my BFF while watching reruns of SNL, but you do you. It's easier to protect your skin than to reverse the damage so don't skip this one! I also apply it to the backs of my hands, my neck, and decolletage. So far, I love Algenist's Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Dense Formula. It smells amazing, absorbs quickly, and doesn't interfere with my makeup! 

Each time you do these steps, it becomes faster. I could do it with my eyes closed (and often do)! The results are worth it. Promise.