Morning: A.M. Skin Care Routine

My morning skin care routine.

What do you do as soon as you wake up? My first-of-the-day steps vary daily since I work from home, but there’s always time for some skin care as part of my morning ritual.

For the first prompt of The August Break, morning, I’m sharing my always evolving/allllllllllmost holy grail A.M. skin care routine. Some products are new, but most have been staples for the past few years. All are working for me right now, but I’m in the process of streamlining the tedious (albeit calming and indulging) ritual for the sake of time…basically why I don’t have time to properly brush my hair in the morning.

The gang’s all here!

I’m trying  to incorporate as many cruelty-free/healthy/green products as possible, but sometimes, it’s just down to what my super sensitive skin approves of or doesn’t. With that said, feel free to suggest CF/green alternatives below, and let’s begin!

First step: cleanse the skin/wake up with cold water.

The first step actually involves two of my newest additions to the skin care family: the CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser and the Foreo Luna Play Plus (in Pearl Pink).

A new cleanser in my routine that I use twice daily to balance pH.

I’d previously been using Cetaphil’s Oil Control foaming cleanser, but it was too stripping for morning use. I’ve been enjoying the light tea tree scent of the CosRX cleanser because it just smells effective, if that makes sense, yet it’s also very gentle and balancing. I distribute this onto my face and work it in large circular motions with the Luna Play Plus device.

A wallet-friendly intro to world of the Foreo Luna.

Now…this thing. I used the Clarisonic Mia 2 for over a year and saw a vast improvement in my sensitive, acne-prone skin, but I stopped using it because it dragged my skin too much. My skin never felt as clean after that because that device seared into my mind the routine of cleaning my face. Using my own fingers or cheap-o silicone finger pads sufficed, but my face never felt clean again until I used the Luna PP facial cleansing device. It’s gentle and even more seemingly luxurious than the Clarisonic. The Luna line is also cheaper and more hygienic in the long run because there are no brush heads to replace and yay for silicone “bristles!”

I wanted to get a Foreo Mini 2, but didn’t want to dish out all the cash yet. I think this was a great middle ground. It’s battery-operated and if I ever outgrow the effectiveness of this Luna, there are bigger and badder models to look into. For now, this is always something I look forward to using.

Prepping the skin and targeting pores/unevenness before moisturizing.

Before 2014, my skin care game was weak sauce, consisting of just cleansing and moisturizing (sometimes). My mom encouraged me to wear toner, but I don’t even think that she fully grasped the role that toner played in skin care. And then I started taking my skin care seriously, and toner made an appearance.

Every time I try another toner (even Pixi Glow Tonic), my skin howls at the moon for this one.

I don’t even remember how I came across this Reviva Labs Glycolic Acid Facial Toner, but I did. I felt that my skin was sun damaged, because I recognized that, in the past, I hadn’t worn SPF other than when I went to the beach (every four years maybe?). My uneven skin tone and skin texture were real. I’ve gone through several bottles of this and I think the only reason why I’ve strayed from it was due to the packaging. Pictured is their new packaging, which is worlds better than the previous look. I’m happy with it now.

THIS IS A GAME-CHANGER. I love this essence!

This was the first Asian beauty product I tried and it led to my adoption of  the full-fledged 10 step Korean skin care routine. The Missha FTE (First Treatment Essence) is holy grail. It changed my skin by giving me the hydration I didn’t know I needed as a combo-oily type. However, it’s not just moisture that it provides; it helps skin cell turnover and thus helps improve texture. It also helps the skin absorb all the other products you apply after it. It’s product whose effect you notice after time, but once you notice it, you’ll get it. You’ll get it.

It’s taken a while for me to warm up to niacinamide, but now it’s a staple ingredient.

The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum (is it a serum?) is a relatively new fave. Maybe it’s more so the effectiveness of niacinamide. At first, my skin was apprehensive and broke out, which was ironic because I got it to help with blemishes. However, I think that, at its best, TO’s formulation is a companion step. For example, it doesn’t eradicate blemishes on its own, but in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide at night  (bonus: here’s my go-to), it boosts the power of the BP. In conjunction with a light moisturizer in the day (spoilers!), it helps keep the oil at bay. The difference is noticeable; however, it sucks that it’s just another step requiring some serious sinking-in time unless you’re okay with pilling.

Moisturizers for the face, under-eye area, and lips.

For a combination-/oily-skinned human, summer is a huge b*tch. I’m dry on my cheeks and around my mouth, yet a west Texas oil rig on my T-zone. In the beginning, I used Cetaphil’s Oil Control moisturizer, then I thought I had found my HG in 2014 with Glossier Priming Moisturizer, then Glossier’s PM Rich in the past six months…and then realized I was neither that oily nor that dry (yet somehow not “normal” skinned). And then an IG angel named Alexa posted about a product I had never seen by a company I had never heard of: the Age Prevention Superfood Cream by Youth to the People.

Pros: it’s light, it smells like kale, it’s cooling, it’s hydrating. Cons: it’s pricey.

I’ve been using it for nearly two weeks and I’m honestly in disbelief. I didn’t break out immediately. I didn’t look like an oily mess. I didn’t feel dehydrated in the dry areas of my face. I felt…complete? Is that the right word? Whole? At peace? Yeah. It always feels cold, relieving, refreshing, and just sinks in instantly. My face not only drank up this yummy kale and hyaluronic acid goodness, it basked in it. It’s so light and absorbs so quickly that I feel that I have to go overboard with it, but at $48 for a 2oz jar, it’s entirely possible to make a little go a long way.

And can we take a minute to appreciate the beauty of this jar? The high-quality (recyclable) glass to showcase the light green goodness inside, the minimal-yet-impactful typography, the spacing, the spatula it came with, the logo! Rounded serif caps are a dream come true and I’m so happy that YTTP pulled it off.

When I have the time and haven’t had proper rest, this calms my puffy eyes and dark circles (within reason).

I typically use 100 Percent Pure’s Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream in the evening because it’s so moisturizing, but it’s effectiveness is perfect for mornings when my under-eye circles are more blue than usual. I love this company and their prices are definitely worth the clean quality of ingredients you get. Luckily, I got this as a special gift with purchase. I’ve been using it for months now and I still have at least 80 percent left! It unifies the thin skin under my eyes when it feels crepe-y, and moisturizes without feeling heavy, greasy, or irritating.

Fresh, hydrating, minty, yet non-numbing and non-greasy: this is my favorite iteration of Balm Dot Com.

Lastly, I present the moisturizing step that I actually hit first: lip balm. I use a pretty heavy duty balm at night, but in the morning and throughout the day, it’s been Glossier’s Balm Dot Com. I’ve recently realized that the Mint flavor is my favorite because it’s so cooling. It looks and feels effective. It’s great to slap on before everything else and just let sink in so that my lips are prepped for color by the end of my getting-ready ritual. Every time I order from Glossiser, I’ll either stock up on a tube of this or Boy Brow. I have a tube on my vanity and a tube in my purse, which suffices…for now.

Sun protection for the face and focused under-eye area.

Now for the last steps that I should’ve been doing all along and that I now NEVER do without: sun block!!! For my face, I wanted a non-sunscreen-y sunscreen, and that’s why I have another Missha product in my routine.

I always try different facial sunscreens, but I think this one will always be in my arsenal.

I do like Glossier’s Invisible Shield, but even coupled with the extra lightweight YTTP moisturizer, it’s a pairing that still produces a slightly unsightly sheen on my T-zone. Therefore, I’ve gone back to Missha’s Mild Essence Sun Milk. It’s super light, just as invisible as Invisible Shield, hydrates for longer, and yet sinks in enough to both protect from harmful UV rays and extra sebum creeping up through the pores. Also, it’s loads cheaper. However, it does take a bit longer to sink in, and aside from all the advantages I just spewed, I wish it were more of a multitasker. In fact, I wish any of my other skin care products were more multitasking because I shouldn’t be putting such a burden on this little guy. It’s just that, by the end of such an aggregated skin care routine, I’m ready for the finish line. After at least three years of using this, I’d happily recommend this to everyone in the same skin type boat!

In addition to providing sun protection, this SPF cream slightly brightens and preps for under-eye concealer.

Last but not least is a step that most people would call excessive. However, when you wear contacts, have sensitive eyes, have MGD (meibomian gland dysfunction), or simply dark circles, an under-eye-specific sunscreen that is sensitive enough to protect and moisturize the area doesn’t hurt. When I first incorporated this step into my routine three years ago, I read so many good things from like-minded people on teh webz about the Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream. It was an investment, but I’m milking it. Even if I switch to another brand in the future, this will be one step I never cut out.

A robust spread of skin-prepping elements.

And that’s it! Nine steps (give or take), ten products (give or take), and a consistent morning skin care routine have led to the best skin I’ve had since before puberty. It’s an investment of time, money, and effort-rich research that have truly fortified my skin for years to come, and I’m not ashamed of this long list because it’s encouraged me to be confident from the outside-in, knowing that I’ve done my best to provide for my skin.

What’s your morning skin care routine lookin’ like these days? And who are your favorite bloggers/internet personalities to follow when it comes to skin care? I hope you’ve enjoyed the first #augustbreak2017 blog post, and until the next one, check out my Insta for daily photo posts this month.

Originally posted by Rachel on August 2nd, 2017 & filed away under Challenges

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