Saturday, March 10, 2018

An easy, affordable skincare routine for normal skin

Basic, cheap skincare routine

My sister asked me last year to suggest a skincare routine for her. Her skin isn't like mine (combination on the oily side, prone to breakouts); instead, she has that elusive "normal" skin. Not too dry, not too oily, rarely breaks out. The only issues she specifically wanted to address were wrinkle prevention, pore reduction, and occasional redness. She has this great skin in her early 30s despite never having to do much to it--usually just cleansing with water and sometimes moisturizing when she feels like she needs it. It's also useful to know that she doesn't typically wear a lot of makeup and never wears a base (foundation/tinted moisturizer, etc.).

I recently asked her how the routine was working for her, and since she reported that she's happy with it, I thought I'd share it here, in case someone out there is in a similar situation. I actually think this routine would work well as a starter for someone with oily or combination skin, and maybe even dry skin, since these products will address a variety of concerns. All of the products I've recommended are either things I've tried myself or have been recommended to me by trusted, knowledgeable friends. You don't need dozens of shiny, $50+ bottles to look after your skin! Each product is $20 or less. and most of it is closer to $10, but I've provided alternatives in case one item isn't easy for you to access, or you prefer certain qualities of one over the other. The main exception is the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, which holy shit, I didn't realize it had gone up to almost $30 now! I'd really like to see a graph charting the price increases of their core products vs. inflation, because that seems like a lot. Definitely buy that shit on sale--I've also provided an alternative below.

There are three products in the photo above, but it's actually a (minimum) four-product routine, split into one-to-two steps in the morning and three at night. I just don't personally own all of the things I recommended at the moment.

Here's what I suggested (I added links to previous reviews):
I'd recommend only introducing one new product at a time and using it for a few days before adding anything new. That way if your skin responds poorly to it, you'll know what caused it. 
1. Just rinse with water. (If you feel like your skin needs more cleansing, see Night step 1.)  
2. Sunscreen. It's best to use this even on days when you'll mostly be inside, and especially when you're driving to work. You'll get lots of sun through the windows of the car and probably in your office, and sunscreen is the most effective skincare product out there to prevent "signs of aging." It's worth trying to find one that's comfortable enough to use every day. I really like the one linked below--it's light and not greasy. It's better to use SPF 15 that feels good enough to wear every day than to buy SPF 30 or 50 and only use it once or twice a month. 
$10 Simple Light Protecting Moisturizer SPF 15 (reviewed here and here)
But if you do want to go with a higher SPF, which is never a bad idea, this is my favorite:
$20 Kinesys Performance Sunscreen SPF 30 (reviewed here and here)
1. Wipe your face with a cotton pad/ball soaked in micellar water, instead of using a cleanser. The bottle will say that it doesn't need to be rinsed, but it does contain a little cleanser, so it's better to splash some water on your face afterwards anyway. If you want to be extra eco-friendly, I use little rectangles of flannel that I cut up and folded in half instead of disposable cotton balls (more info here). I put them in a mesh lingerie bag and wash and dry them in the machine. Baby flannel is really soft and you might be able to get a small piece for cheap at the fabric store, or just cut up some old clothes you have. 
$5-10 Simple Micellar Cleansing Water; $15 Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water (pink lid) 
2. BHA exfoliant to get rid of dead skin that makes your skin look dull or clogs pores (and makes them look larger). It can also soothe redness and make your skin feel smoother. You can wipe this over your whole face (avoiding eye area) or just on places that you think need it. Leave it on for 10-20 minutes while you brush your teeth or pet the cats or do whatever else you do while you get ready for bed. 
$4 Stridex Alcohol-Free Maximum Strength Acne Pads (red box); $29 Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid
3. Moisturizer with anti-wrinkle ingredients. Apply it on top of the BHA after you've let it soak in a little. Since you don't have dry skin, use something light, and don't feel like you need to use a lot--just as much as feels comfortable. Make sure to use it around your eyes too. It will also get rid of the sticky feeling from the BHA, if you use the Paula's Choice option. The moisturizers I've listed below have vitamins and antioxidants in them so that you don't need to add extra steps like serum etc. (unless you want to!). 
 $15 CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion; $12 Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream/Moisturizer
If you wear more makeup than my sister does, you're probably going to want to go with a traditional cleanser. I think Neutrogena makes some great cleansers, especially their Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser or Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. Obviously, you can also add as many additional products and steps into this routine as you like (for example, see my skincare tag), but this is designed for people who feel like doing something for their skin, but don't want to spend a lot of time and money on it.

I'm curious: do you have a minimal skincare routine, or are you more intense about it? Also, if you'd like to suggest alternate products in these same categories, that would be great! I know people like the CosRx BHA, but I don't know if it might be too strong for a beginner.


  1. I have sensitive skin and actually find the COSRx BHA gentler than the PC one, while still being effective. It says 4%, but it's not the same form of BHA as what's usually in 2% formulations, so it's not actually really stronger (or so I've read). It also has no stickiness!

    1. That's good to know, thanks! I think I'll give it a try after I finish up the PC BHA I have, because I'm not looking to spend that much money next time. And the stickiness is the worst part!


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