It’s been a while since I’ve chatted about skincare on Monochrome Minimalist. Though, strangely enough – it’s become one of my most focused-on areas of my beauty routine in the latter part of 2019 and into 2020. Skincare is a tricky thing to nail on the first try.
Let’s be honest here – how many of us are guilty of purchasing the “ooh this looks interesting” product, trying it once or twice and then giving to a friend? I certainly am.
I’ve struggled for most of my life with pretty severe acne. Now, I will say – everyone’s skin is different, and how mine reacted may not be the same way yours would. The majority of what I was noticing on my skin were the dreaded cysts on my jaw and cheeks, and the white-heads that just never seemed to end. The worst part was, when it came to curing my skin, I had no idea where to start.
My skin was always a sensitive topic…
I remember most of my acne really starting to kick in around age thirteen(ish). My skin was pretty clear until high school, which I think is pretty normal for most people. However, once I reached sixteen – all bets were off the table. I went through a point in time where I’d pretty much tried everything from the drugstore. I’d been to an esthetician. I’d seen a dermatologist.
I was becoming pretty desperate by the end of highschool. I had super acne-prone skin. Slathering foundation on was a must – not because I loved the look, but because I was so self-conscious of my skin that I wouldn’t leave the house without it. I was clinging dearly to the saying, “your skin will grow out of it.”
However, instead of getting better – my skin actually kept getting worse.
I remember standing in the communal bathroom at my university after taking a shower, nearly in tears looking at my skin. It was so red, so inflamed. Full of bumps, full of texture. And to be frank, it was really depressing. Looking at my skin made me so sad, to the point that I’d called my mum in tears – begging for another visit to the esthetician.
Something, anything, that might fix what I was seeing in the mirror.
That was nearly four years ago now – which seems crazy to me. I feel like I’m finally at a point where I’m happy with my skin – however, it took a lot of trial and error to get to the point that I’m at now.
Starting with the basics
When I decided to get serious about fixing my skin – I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. Health-related fixes like this rarely are. Usually it can take a couple years.
I’d found a routine that I thought would be interesting to try. Although, as someone with oily skin, I was a bit skeptical about adding in moisturizers to my routine. I’d soon find out that my skepticism was completely irrational – and that actually, moisturizers are essential, you just need to find the option that works for you.
As I began to research my skin type – I realized pretty quickly that how I was describing my skin was incorrect. What I used to think was oily/combination in the summer and dry in the winter, was actually dehydrated oily skin.
After this realization – I wanted to figure out a solid skincare routine that would be tailored to my skin type, gentle enough to not clog pores and strong enough to take care of any flare-ups or existing spots.
My holy grail skincare
At this point – I’ve been on the testing and trialling journey with my skin for a very long time. But – with the consistent testing of new products, I’ve found my holy grail skincare items for my acne-prone skin. My skin is not perfect – I still have a little bit of texture and a new breakout every now and again; however, it’s so much better than it ever used to be.
I’m crediting it not only to these products (though they are quite fantastic), but also to a healthier lifestyle change, too.
My goal for my skincare was to create a routine that was sustainable. The one thing I did not want was the 10,000 step routine that you’d lose your place in halfway through. Instead, I tried to simplify where I could – and I think my skin is happier for it.
I would also like to mention that I have included the supplements that I take for my skin in this list. As I am not a doctor, esthetician or dermatologist – you should always speak to your doctor before adding these into your health routine.
I’ve never really been a fan of acne-dedicated cleansers. I’ve tried many – and what I’ve found is that they all tend to dry out my skin to the point where it causes more breakouts rather than sorting out the problem. Instead, I now opt for a gentle cleanser – whether that be foam, gel, cream or clay. I think texture is a personal preference, however, and my two favourites are clay and the foaming variety.
Recently, when I’ve reached for a cleanser, it’s been one from No7 Cosmetics. They work incredibly well with my skin, and keep my skin clean without the added dryness. The two that are frequents in my routine have been the purifying clay cleanser and the purifying foaming cleanser.
On the days in which I want something a little simpler, I reach for the Simple Skincare Micellar Water. Grab a reusable cotton pad, and the dirt, grime and makeup from the day are gone in a flash.
When I say fuss-free, I mean it. I’ve never enjoyed using a toner before – as I’ve found that instead of helping my skin concerns, they always caused more frequent flare-ups. For the last year, I’ve gone back to the basics, and held-tight to my all-purpose skin loving ingredient: witch hazel.
my go-to facemasks
Who doesn’t love a good facemask? For many, it’s a vital part of their skincare routine – myself included. I used to previously only look for masks that provided a solution to spots – i.e. purifying and detoxifying clay masks.
Now, I’m a little bit more adventurous with my facemasks – as I find that each serve a different purpose in my skincare routine. Without a doubt, my most-used facemask this year has been my weekly boost of vitamin C – and it’s part of the new Burt’s Bees biocellulose range. I love the texture of this line – and as someone that never really found a love with sheet masks, that’s saying a lot.
To be completely honest, I always found them to be quite a bit of a bother. Not with this range though. The mask is so easy to apply, and it actually does mould to the contours of your face – instead of just claiming to do so.
However, because I still do have acne-prone skin, a detoxifying clay mask is still in order. The current one of choice in my beauty cupboard is the white charcoal clay mask by YesTo Tomatoes.
the spot treatment I will never stray from
We all have the one product that we couldn’t live without. Mine is an equal contender with hyaluronic acid serums – and I’ll go so far as to say that I don’t think my skin would be the same without it. That product is the Anti-Bump Treatment from Renee Rouleau. I love it.
It’s a treatment that not only is perfect for under-the-skin cystic acne, but also doubles as one of the best spot treatments I’ve ever used. This product is one that I will continue to repurchase until it’s no longer available on the market. The proof is in the pudding, as I’ve already repurchased four times.
Arguably one of the most crucial aspects to a skincare routine is a good serum, especially as you get older. In the last year, I’ve done a bit of research on the effects of hyaluronic acid – which is a bit of a trending term in the beauty community at the moment.
Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that hydrates and plumps skin, bringing back a youthful glow. I’ve also heard it referred to as “botox in a bottle,”. Which, I think, we can all agree is a fabulous alternative. Right?
In my current skincare routine, I’m using two different serums. My skin becomes so dehydrated in the winter, which I’ll partially blame on my coffee habit but also the dry air of central heating. I live in Minnesota, and we are famous for our frigid winters – therefore the heating consistently being on is a must.
The first serum in my routine is one by Belif, and it’s called the Hungarian Water Essence Serum. Lightweight, non-tacky, ultra-hydrating and perfect for the “quick skincare and out the door” days when you’re in a rush. Secondly, true to my word, I use a hyaluronic acid serum from No7 Cosmetics. So many of these serums can get to be quite pricey – but No7 is a great entry level option if you’re just getting started with different products or if you don’t have a large dispensable budget for skincare.
I love a simple moisturizer. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles. I still feel as though I have a lot to learn in this category of skincare – so I’ll keep this section short. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of travelling – and planes really dry out my skin. Because of this, I need something that’s lightweight and incredibly hydrating.
Gravitating towards Simple Skincare yet again – I’ve been a big fan of their lightweight moisturizer that I had found in the UK; and looking for it’s equal in the US, I found myself really enjoying the lightweight moisturizer with SPF 15. This aspect in particular is hugely important in a skincare routine that includes a retinol or other type of skin resurfacer.
I love a good exfoliator – both for body and face. As someone that has dealt with facial acne as well as spots on my shoulders and back, I’ve found that an exfoliator is a key skincare item that can massively reduce clogged pores and acne spots.
For the last year, I’ve been relying solidly on two products, one for my body and one for my face. My go-to facial exfoliator has been the Microdermabrasion Exfoliator by No7 Cosmetics. It’s hypoallergenic and a fabulous all-rounder.
Being a sucker for a beautiful scent – my go-to body exfoliator for the last year has been the Moroccan Rose Shea Sugar Scrub by TreeHut Skincare. The rose scent is so light and luxurious, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Retinol has been a trending skincare item for the last few years. It’s primary purpose being to resurface skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production in the skin. It’s been proven to work with a variety of skin worries, acne being one.
I’ve used prescription strength retinol before, but I was not a fan of the pricetag associated with it. Now that an over-the-counter option is available – I’m all in. I’ve been using Differin gel for about six months now – and the difference its made in the amount of breakouts I experience, the texture and colour of my skin is immense.
This last year has been interesting in terms of trying to lock down on what is causing most of my breakouts. After figuring out my skin type and speaking to my doctor, we narrowed it down to a potential hormonal imbalance due to the consistent cysts that always found their way to my jawline and neck.
I wanted to find a natural way to balance my hormones – no medication or anything harsh. Opting for a collection of supplements – I think I’ve finally found a combination that balances my hormones and has really helped clear my skin.
The shining star in this collection is the Olly Flawless Skin supplement. Aronia berry and dandelion root are two ingredients that are well-known to balance hormones, and in my case, it’s definitely working.
All in all, skincare routines are quite unique – as each person’s skin reacts differently to every product. What may be my holy-grail product may be one that you might not choose to reach for, for whatever the reason my be. When it comes to choosing products for your skincare routine, it’s always best practice to do your research first. Read the reviews, check out the ingredients, then determine whether or not it’ll suit you. Another option is to visit your local beauty shop and see if they’ll give you a small sample to trial the product before you buy.
Are you a skincare fan? Have you tried any of these products before? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next, xoxo.
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