My ideal life would be lived in a small tank with a decent amount of humidity and a warm rock to lay on, much like a lizard. Unfortunately, I do not get to live that best life, but much like a lizard: my skin can get scaly. It also gets compounded with the dry air as we move into cooler temperatures and heat getting pumped out the vents, it’s time to discuss how to make my skin less like a vintage alligator handbag.
There’s a few ways I try and make it less so, one of them is by having a tried and true skincare routine. There’s a lot that are out there; some have a ton of products built into them (e.g. Korean skincare routines) vs. less detailed ones. After having done a lot of experimentation and trial and error with many products, this is the one that works best for me. As with any beauty product, your mileage may vary–what works for me, may not work for you.
As a reminder (and as you can read from the title), I have dry, reactive skin. I’m on medication which has made my skin a little more sensitive than it normally would, but this is an expected side effect.
Water on face for cleaning
I generally don’t do a deep cleanse in the morning. Some people might find this gross, but when I do this, even if it is with an oil cleanser or something moisturizing, it leaves my skin drier. I prefer just to do a little water to get the job done and also help my skin with the next step.
belif Creamy Moisturizer Deep Moist
- Price: $38/4.22 fl. oz. (making it approximately $9.00/fl. oz.)
- Ingredients: Water, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Glycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Dipropylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Betaine, Glyceryl Stearate, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract, Corchorus Olitorius Leaf Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, ***Fragrance, Citronellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.
- Non-human Animal Tested?: No, belif does not test on non-human animals and this product is free from animal origin ingredients (per label on bottle)
The unfortunate name aside, it’s a solid day-time moisturizer. The bottle is nice, though difficult to determine when you are running low as you would have to open it to determine how much product is left. The bottle is fairly hefty and the pump is a very nice touch. I find I have to use two pumps to get the adequate amount of moisturizer I like to use for my drier skin. I’ve been using this for over two months now and have not had any issues with it causing my skin to break out.
While it is a nice formula and adds moisture back into my skin, it isn’t exactly as nourishing as its heavy-hitting counterpart, the True Cream Moisture Bomb. I don’t think it is as strong at extending the moisturizing over an extended period of time. This being said, it is also a lighter formula, so I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect that it would. Daytime moisturizers aren’t as heavy to play nice with makeup, but the drawback is that they don’t impart as much hydration back into the skin over an extended period of time.
This being said, the cost is actually not terrible for a mid-to-high end brand for the amount of product you get. It also plays very nicely under makeup, wearing well under both my beloved Make Up For Ever Water Blend and the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation.
I know I will definitely use this one up and from that point, determine if I will be repurchasing. As of right now, I haven’t decided if I will, but I know I like it enough to at least use it up.
Those are my only two skincare steps for the morning. You may notice the lack of sunscreen, which I know is important for combating skin cancer. The truth of the matter is: I don’t really use it. When I go into work, it’s dark and I’m generally at my desk all day and not near a window. I’m generally outside for less than 15 minutes in a given day, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
- Price: $29.50/3.8 oz (making it ~$7.76/oz)
- Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water / Aqua / Eau, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol.
- Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
I’ve been using this loyally for well over a year now at this point. One balm will last me roughly 6 months with about daily use. I use this by getting my beloved Shiseido cotton pads a few swipes in the pot, getting it wet, and then removing facial makeup. I will also use this for waterproof eye makeup as well (though I don’t think it’s as effective as straight up oil (coconut or extra virgin olive oil; coconut is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause blemishes in some people.))
This is one of those few, rare products that I think would genuinely work for any skin type and wouldn’t have an issue recommending it for anyone. While I generally side eye the claim that Clinique is one of the best skincare lines out there, they do have some stellar products and this is one of their all-stars. It’s strong enough to remove stubborn face products, but gentle enough to not strip the skin of moisture.
I’ll one day sing longer praises for it, but in my routine, it’s got holy grail status and I don’t intend to remove it any time soon. It’s too good, effective, and relatively wallet-friendly for me to pass up on it.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
- Price: $6.79/ 1 oz.
- Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Potassium Citrate, Arginine, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Ethyl 2,2-Dimethylhydrocinnamal, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
- Non-human Animal Tested?: No
As you may be already aware of my feelings on The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid, this is the stronger version of the 5%. The things I don’t like about the 5% (a dropper for applying product, getting exposed to air, scent, etc.) still remain, but at the price it is at and the effectiveness of the product, it’s just too good to pass up for anything else.
I decided to recently make the jump to the 10% for the reason that I know we are not going to be as fortunate as last year with a more mild winter. The ingredients are largely the same, but there’s some difference in the location (and therefore, amount within the product). For example, compared to the 5%, the 10% has arginine (an antioxidant) in a much higher content. I’ve only used this a few times, but it definitely has upped the brightness in my skin.
I’ll have an extended review on this when I’ve finished it up, but for now, it serves as a souped up version of the 5% in my routine and serves to continue the step of being an exfoliant and removing the dead skin cells. I also only use this every other night to avoid over-exfoliating and making my skin redder than it needs to be.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
- Price: $16/0.24 oz (the travel size is approximately $66.66 per oz, but it also comes in the size of $65/1 oz and $95/1.7 oz, making the 1.7 oz the best price per oz at ~$55.88)
- Ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-75, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Cola Acuminata (Kola) Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Pantethine, Caffeine, Lecithin, Tripeptide-32, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Rna, Bisabolol, Glycereth-26, Squalane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Caprylyl Glycol, Lactobacillus Ferment, Oleth-3, Oleth-5, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure, Choleth-24, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ceteth-24, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hexylene Glycol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Trisodium EDTA, BHT, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Red 4 (CI 14700), Yellow 5 (CI 19140).
- Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
On the nights where I don’t use The Ordinary Lactic Acid, this gets substituted in its place instead. I will also use it on the same nights if I tend to have a blemish, because I find this really helps to put the gas on clearing it up without leaving a scar.
Given that I’m right on the cusp of turning 30, I decided it was maybe about time to work in some anti-aging products that might be helpful for other things. After reading multiple reviews, that’s where this product came along. I use it for anti-aging prevention, but it also works to help reduce blemishes, reduce dullness, and I find it also adds a little bit of brightness back into my skin. Although it says it helps for dryness and dehydration, I don’t really experience a whole lot of moisture with this product after using it. That may be more apt for someone with oilier or combination skin types than someone with chronically dry or dehydrated skin.
Again, given that it is a pricier product, I generally don’t use this every night. It typically gets used every other night or whenever I feel needed. It’s just a little something that helps up my skin game.
belif The True Cream – Moisturizing Bomb
- Price: $38/1.68 fl. oz. (~$22.62 per fl. oz.)
- Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Triethylhexanoin, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteayl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Poncirus Trifoliata Fruit Extract, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Achillea Millefolium Flower Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Extract, Menyanthes Trifoliata Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Chelidonium Majus Extract, Urea, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Tromethamine, ***Frgrance, Citronnellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.
- Non-human Animal Tested?: No
If there is any one thing in my routine that I would recommend hands down with no reservations to anyone with dry skin, this is it. I’ve been using this night-time moisturizer for over a year and it (along with moving to a more humid climate) has made the biggest difference on my dry skin.
I wouldn’t recommend it to people with oily or combo skin (though, the Aqua Bomb is what I would substitute in its place), but for dry skin, you can’t find a more effective moisturizer on the market short of pure oils. (I know, because I’ve tried almost everything.)
It has a very slight fragrance, but overall, when I wake up in the morning, I can feel that my skin is still soft from applying it the night before but without looking greasy or oily-feeling. It is thicker than Aqua Bomb and heavier in comparison, but it isn’t heavy enough to be distracting or annoying. I find that the thickness imparts the nourishment my skin is craving.
As a side note, this is also surprisingly cosmetically elegant; I’ve tried it under a few different foundations (e.g. MUFE Water Blend, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Cover FX Natural Finish, etc.) and all have worked nicely with this, but it will depend on the formula you use and how finicky it is in general.
This is my very last step in my skincare routine every night, but it’s a staple and it’s earned its place as a holy grail moisturizer. If you’re looking for a good night-time moisturizer to wake up to softer skin–this is what you’ve been looking for.
For now, that is my skincare routine as we go from fall into winter. What do you guys use? Anything this lizard woman should be aware of? Let me know if I’ve been missing out on anything.
Yours ’til Niagara Falls,