Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids

aging skincare tips serums sunscreens retinoidsLadies, what is your skin routine? At what age did you get serious about skincare? What are your favorite products, both over-the-counter and prescription, whether for anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, exfoliating, or something else? I’ve seen a lot of readers talking recently about serums, sunscreens, retinoids and more, so let’s discuss. I’m curious to hear what everyone else is doing, what products you like, and if you have any tips/tricks for applying — but here’s my own story:

After years of using only organic options while pregnant/nursing (based on something my first OB/GYN said to me), I was eager to get “the good stuff” when I finally had my body back to myself. As I often do, I turned to the commenting threads for advice and found an older thread where a reader had said that for a woman in her 30s, the main things you need are Vitamin C, sunscreen, and a retinoid. I liked the simplicity of this statement, as well as the chorus of agreement from other readers. I already had an organic, nursing-approved Vitamin C serum and have been using sunscreen daily since my teenage lifeguard years, so I thought, OK, to the dermatologist I go for a retinoid. (Just a quick science/vocab lesson, at least as I understand things: Retinol and retinoids are both Vitamin A. Retinols are available in over the counter (OTC) products; retinoids are available in prescriptions only. Retin-A is the brand name for one of the retinoids you can get.)

Now: I really did not investigate OTC products with retinol, such as RoC, and, looking back, this might have been worthwhile. I read a ton about the wonders of retinoids — I found one article that even said that dermatologists can tell from across a crowded restaurant if someone is using it — but I didn’t understand until my dermatologist appointment how long it takes your skin to get ramped up and used to using retinoids and retinols. Nor did I understand, in fact, that your skin can look pretty lousy for several weeks. The whole point of the treatment is that it increases the rate at which your skin regenerates — so there’s a sloughing/shedding/I’m-a-snake period that can be rough. So, some tips I’ve found for getting through this induction period:

  • If you’ve never used a retinoid or retinol before, consider using an OTC product first. It’s a lower dose than the prescription retinoids, so your skin will freak out less — you can even use it as a gateway/first step to prescription retinoid use. It’s also a helluva lot cheaper.
  • Choose carefully when you start your treatment. What you’re looking for, ideally, is 2-3 months free of major life events, without other great threats to your skin. So: don’t start it a week before your wedding. Don’t start it in the wintertime as you head into dry skin season (this is what I did). Don’t start it right before you leave for that beach vacation.
  • Read the instructions! I used it for about three weeks before my skin freaked out. I called my doctor for advice, and her nurse advised me to cut it with moisturizer. Then, I found the instructions to the product and realized it came with lots of helpful tips, such as: don’t apply the product directly to the area around your eyes or your mouth. Huh: this was exactly where my skin was shedding the most. The instructions also noted (but my doctor hadn’t mentioned to me) another important fact: your skin has to be completely and totally dry when you use the product. The instructions suggest waiting 20 minutes after you wash your face before you put it on.
  • Only use retinols and retinoids at night. Because it makes your skin more vulnerable to the sun, this is not a daytime application — put it on at night and wash it off in the morning. My dermatologist gave me a recommended morning routine that includes another round of Vitamin C, moisturizer, and then sunscreen. (I usually just use a bar of CeraVe soap or my usual Burt’s Bee moisturizing cleanser.)
  • Cut the potency of retinoid by mixing it with moisturizer before you put it on. Another option: only use it every other day. I actually do both of these, and my skin still occasionally freaks out on me.
  • Finally, just a note: talk to your doctor if you’re trying to get pregnant and using retinol or retinoid products. My first OB/GYN (who I ultimately had a lousy birth experience with, so I now view anything she said with suspicion) suggested I stop using anything with chemicals on my skin and told me to just “go to Whole Foods and buy one of their moisturizers plus sunscreen.” I wasn’t even using retinols at the time, just a Neutrogena moisturizer with sunscreen and maybe a fancyish face wash with AHA or BHA. Your doctor may advise differently though. (Whatever you do, make sure you’ve got a great sunscreen while pregnant, and wear a hat! My sun was so much more sensitive to the sun while pregnant. We’ve also talked about some of our favorite maternity skincare products over at CorporetteMoms.)

Because I was concerned about the ways the products interact, I decided to just use the whole suite of products my doctor sold me on from Ojabi Skin Care, including the Obagi Professional-C 10% Serum, the .05% Tretinoin cream from Obagi, and the Obagi Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen (totally a physical sunscreen; I really like it). I later decided to get Ojabi’s moisturizer, too, but just bought it on Amazon — apparently it’s not recommended you do that because products may be old or counterfeit, so proceed at your own risk. I still only put the retinol cream on every other night, and I still cut it with moisturizer — when I run out of the tube or feel like I want more of the product, I’ll reassess.

A few other random notes, just about what I’m doing for my skincare routine — I’d love to hear what other tips and tricks you guys have!

  • Count your drops! With Vitamin C serums, I’ve always heard to use as little of the product as humanly possible, mostly because it’s such an expensive product. Someone told me three drops should be my goal — but I really find that four drops are needed. I use the product like this: I put one drop on my index finger, and one drop on my middle finger — and then take my other hand and dab the index/middle finger on the opposite hand with the product. So with my four fingers with drops of serum, I briefly touch my forehead and the sides of my face — then rub it in. Then I go back for my third and fourth drop to do the bottom half of my face. If any is left over or spills on the counter, I put it on the back of my hands, my neck, or clavicle. Fun note: the first time I used Vitamin C, the next morning I woke up and felt like my face was buzzing, in a really good way. Oh, another note — if you want to get rid of dark spots/freckles, you can probably talk to your dermatologist about a higher concentration of Vitamin C. I feel like I picked up a lot of freckles during my first pregnancy, and I kind of like them, so I’m just using a regular concentration of 10%.
  • Sunscreen everywhere! With sunscreen, I always cover my entire face. I also try to cover any exposed area of my chest, as well as the back of my hands. I figure even if I wash my hands frequently it’ll still make a difference. (I’m mostly an inside cat anyway, so putting SPF-50 on daily seems like overkill, but I’d rather be cautious now rather than have regrets later.)
  • Eyecare. After years of using a special moisturizer for my eyes, I don’t do that anymore. Currently what I do is I wash my face, dry it off, and immediately apply Vitamin C (morning and night). Then I wait a minute or so and, if it’s nighttime, I’ll put my regular moisturizer around my eyes and my mouth, since I figure I’m supposed to be avoiding those areas anyway with the retinoid cream. Then I wait for 20 minutes (cough, 2 hours) and put on my retinoid cream, mixed with moisturizer, right before bed. If it’s morning I’ll put moisturizer on and then sunscreen — I like to wait at least 20 minutes after sunscreen before applying makeup, but that’s me.
  • Neck and clavicle care: At night I almost never put the retinoid on my neck or clavicle, but if memory serves my derm told me I could do it occasionally, like once a week. I do have a recentish jar of Olay Regenerist lying around, though, so sometimes I’ll slather that on the area. If I’m thinking about it I try to put a bit of moisturizer all the way up my neck, including behind my ears, inspired by a random infomercial I saw once. (I don’t actually remember the product in the infomercial. They also advised to put the moisturizer on your neck in an upward stroking motion, but I don’t do that, although I suppose it can’t hurt.)
  • For dry skin: I’ll save this for a longer post in fall or winter, but the older I get, the dryer my skin gets. I really liked the BioElements sleepwear for the dryer days this winter, and a few times this winter I even started getting into putting coconut oil on my face for a minute (a mini-mask!) before I hopped in the shower.
  • Hats and sunglasses: Just in general, I now use a hat anytime I expect to be out in the sun, whether it’s throwing on a baseball cap before outdoor exercise, a straw fedora before a trip to the playground or to dine/drink outside, or a crazy beach hat (which I got on one of those Amazon lightning sales, but actually kind of dig) before a trip to the beach. Sunglasses aren’t just for show, either — the less you squint, the fewer wrinkles you have. Plus, they do protect your eyes.

Ladies, what do you do for serums, sunscreen, and anti-aging products? What are your favorite products, what do you do, how do you apply it, etc?  



  1. Hi, ladies! I’m looking for some higher-end pajamas. Somewhere in the $75-$200 range, either top and pants or nightgown and robe (basically, I freeze in the evenings so no shorts). Material isn’t that important to me so long as it’s soft and good quality. Any recommendations? Thank you!

    • Eberjey all day :

      Definitely eberjey! i have the long sleeve long pants button down set and it’s so soft I want to put them on as soon as I get home. highly recommend.

  2. I’m not convinced that the brand of moisturizer or sunscreen is as important as simply ALWAYS using it. My hairstylist many years ago said, “Remember, you’re not using moisturizer for tomorrow. You’re putting it on for ten years from now.” I believed her and still religiously use a primer with sunscreen and moisturizer every morning and a regenerating-type product and moisturizer every night. Always.

    • Anonymous2 :

      Started using sunscreen daily rain or shine on my face when I was 25. And I wish I had done the same for my neck and upper chest. Just wearing V-neck blouses for years and not wearing sunscreen has now made that area darker and more sundamaged and it’s ugly when I wear spaghetti straps. My face looks a good 15 years younger than my neck and upper chest.

    • Anonymous :


      I’ve been doing a skincare routine since I was 12, not kidding. I hope it pays off.

      • +2 to daily sunscreen since my teens. I’m in my early 30’s and still get mistaken for a student, so it’s working so far!

        • Anonymous :

          +1 million! No one believes me when I say my beauty secret is sunscreen. I’ve been wearing it religiously since I was a teenager. Almost 34 and get mistaken for a college student constantly.

      • KS IT Chick :

        If you’re worried that it won’t, take a look at Cassandra Peterson, AKA Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She

  3. Anonymous :

    Any legislative counsel or other policy attorneys out there? Two questions: (1) Does your job require in-state bar membership? I’m very likely moving out of state for DH’s job to a place that reciprocates with my state but I am a couple years shy of waiving in. Do legislative counsel positions require in-state bar membership? (2) What is your job like? I’ve been in straight litigation but would really like to move into policy and am wondering what it’s like.

    • Anonymous :

      I just made the move and I love it! The fun part for me has been the involvement in writing amicus briefs and just meeting people from all over the state. The down side is begging for pro bono help. The only thing I miss is going to court, but I didn’t go that often before and now I get to meddle in the litigation of others!

    • Anonymous :

      I’m a policy attorney at a trade association and LOVE it. Tons of writing (white papers, comment letters, internal memos, talking points, etc.) and lots of interaction with higher-ups in industry and government. The state I’m in requires you to be supervised by someone who’s barred in-state, and I ended up waiving in.

    • I was counsel for a committee in a state senate.

      1) No, no bar admission (in or out of state) is required to work in policy because you aren’t practicing law. You have no clients. Think of these more like a JD-preferred position.

      2) It was the best job of my life and I’m trying to get back into the area again now. I answered to the committee chairman and his chief of staff. I was hired because of my expertise in one specific area (let’s pretend it’s education), but the committee was a catch-all committee where I also had to know healthcare, voting rights, and finance. At the state level, staffs are smaller, so you have to be prepared to become an expert in everything.

      Lobbyists are fantastically useful – they know the topics and you can really lean on them for their knowledge. Of course, use your own judgment – they are advocating for their client, after all – but I spent plenty of time calling them asking them to explain what on earth paragraph 3.4 of their proposed legislation was trying to do.

      I drafted speeches, talking points, and press releases for my legislator. I met with other staffers assigned to the committee weekly. I met with my boss and prepared lots of bulleted “here’s what you need to understand about this topic” memos. I met with concerned constituents. I led negotiations between rival groups on a big bill.

      The biggest tip I can give you for success as a staffer is to not approach it like law. You boss doesn’t have the time or the inclination to read an 8 page memo on anything. Law school kitchen sink memos are NOT your friend. Your boss is so busy it’ll make your head spin. It didn’t matter if I was explaining the entire tax code to my boss, I never, ever took more than a bulleted page and a half to do it.

      All the politicians I worked with (on both sides of the aisle trying to build a coalition for our big bill) were whip smart. Give them a bulleted list of the high points and they’ll dig in and see the political implications and next steps faster than you can imagine.

      The work is so rewarding and so fast paced. The pay’s not great, but the work is so amazing I never cared. Everyone I worked with was amazing and so caring about their legislator and policy areas.

      Please let me know if you have more questions.

  4. retin a ? :

    This is super timely for me. Does anyone here use Retin-A? I have a ton of large oil-filed pores on my T-zone. The skin on my cheeks are totally fine though. Can Retin-A be used for spot treatment?

    • Yes, absolutely. I had a smattering of sunspots on my hand, and my doctor gave me a prescription for Retin-A and told me to just dab it on the spots and not the rest of the skin, and they faded beautifully

  5. KateMiddletown :

    @kat, Tretinoin IS a retinol cream.

    I’ve been using tretinoin for about 14 mos now, and my doctor actually suggested starting in the winter since the sun isn’t such an issue. Dryness is a hassle, but too much sun when you first start out can be damaging. My SPF 30 AM moisturizer doesn’t protect me enough for my lunchtime walks when it’s sunny out. I’m still using .05% because I haven’t completed the tube yet, and when I’m through I’ll see if I can find that strength OTC. (My insurance was about $120 a tube since it’s for cosmetic use.) I was also prescribed spironolactone, which I’ve since stopped taking. This is an oral pill which is an androgen blocker, and I had to sign a “pregnancy prevention” contract before they’d prescribe it to me. I think it’s commonly used a number of other ways, and it was a free prescription for my insurance. I found that this made me use the bathroom a bajillion times a day, and at least once almost every night. I also noticed some mood changes (dragon lady) which may have been related to the hormone portion. I took this for about 90 days then stopped using it.

    Two things that have helped me – I use a two step cleanse most nights. Step 1 is the oil cleansers that are popular now (or if I’m out, coconut oil) which takes the makeup off. Step 2 is a mild cleanser (Neutrogena or Cetaphil) which makes me feel like I’ve taken the oil off. My derm wasn’t excited about the oil cleanser, but it’s working for me and helps combat the dryness.

    Believe it or not, I found YouTube to be a huge resource. There are dozens of videos about peoples’ differing experiences with Retinols. Also I’ve heard the newest trend is the “getting unready” videos about nightly skincare routines. YMMV but there is an unbelievable amount out there.

    • I second the coment about You Tube. I have LEARNED more beauty secret’s thru YOU Tube then from any other singel source.

      As a person with VERY fair skin, I have for year’s used Neutrogena SPF 30 sunscreen onley to discover that I should be useing a HIGHER concentration from YOU TUBE. I can remember year’s as a 10-15 year old when we went to the North Shore and lounged in the sun, and I wound up with sunburn’s that Mom treated with greazey stuff. But NOW, I ONLEY go out with SPF 50 that is NOT greazey. As a result, I wear littel to NO makeup b/c the 2 do NOT go well together and when I am 70, I do NOT want to look like a raisin, the way my Great Aunt Minnie does. FOOEY on raisin’s, even if she does live in Georgia.

      I think we owe it to ourselves as profesional women to preserve our youth so that we can get and keep great job’s, which unfortunateley, are still controlled by MEN, who judge us by our look’s, not our abiliities. FOOEY!

      • KateMiddletown :

        I feel like I’ve MADE IT as a commenter now that Ellen has replied to my thread.

  6. Recently Into Skincare :

    I got into skincare when I turned 25 (I’m now 28). I had no skincare routine, beyond applying sunscreen at the beach and occasionally washing my face at night (I naturally have pretty good skin and never struggled with acne as a teenager, so I never really saw the need for skincare). However, it started to dawn on me then that I was “aging” and I wouldn’t look like my early 20’s self forever, especially if I didn’t start taking care of my skin.

    I built my skincare routine though lots of online/magazine research and some input from my dermatologist. I basically follow the formula Kat outlined above, though I have drier skin so I tend to supplement with richer moisturizers from time to time.

    AM (after cleansing):
    Vitamin C serum or anti-aging serum (I alternate between the two, depending on the day. Right now I’m using the Anthony Vitamin C serum from Sephora and Lancome Genifique)
    Origins Gin-zing Eye Cream
    Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer with SPF (I also wear a CC cream as my foundation with SPF as well)

    First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads or a cleansing wipe paired with Clinique’s cleansing oil (most cleansers are too drying for me, so I skip traditional face wash)
    Neutrogena’s Hydroboost Eye Cream
    RoC Sensitive Retinol Night Cream
    Moisturizer – right now I’m rotating between rotate First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream and Olay Regenerist Tone Perfecting Cream
    2-3x a week I apply the LaNeige Water Sleeping Mask on top of my moisturizer for extra hydrating

    I also exfoliate in the shower 2-3x a week with Murad’s Skin Smoothing Polish. On the rare occasion that I break out, I put on Philosophy’s Clear Days Ahead moisturizer at night. I also apply the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask 2-3x per month as well and then rinse it off in the shower, just to draw any impurities out of my skin.

    • Recently Into Skincare :

      Forgot to add that I always target my neck and decolletage as well with my anti-aging/sunscreen products, and apply any leftover product to the back of each hand.

    • I don’t mean this in an insulting way, I’m genuinely curious…but that seems like a lot. How long do you find your routine takes you each day?

      • Recently Into Skincare :

        It sounds like a lot all written out, but it maybe takes 5-6 minutes in the morning and another few minutes at night? I normally do something else while I’m waiting for each layer to set in, like brush my teeth after applying my serum and eye cream but before putting on my moisturizer. That way I’m not just standing around in my bathroom, waiting for my products to sink in before going on to the next step. Over time, it’s become a self-care kind of thing that I look forward to as part of my day. It helps me unwind a little at night and feel more prepared to start the day in the morning.

        I also didn’t jump from no skincare at all to the full routine all at once, which probably helped ease into things. I started with just washing my face at night and putting on a moisturizer, and then gradually added serums and eye creams over time.

    • Shopaholic :

      Our skincare routine sounds similar, although with different products. I’m surprised you find cleansers too drying but not the FAB Facial Radiance Pads – I found those to be very drying and harsh on my skin.

      • Recently Into Skincare :

        I bought them after the Sephora salesgirl raved about them and honestly, I kind of expected to hate them. However, I’ve been using them for the last few years and never experienced that tight, dry, flaking feeling that I do with traditional liquid cleansers. I only use them every third day, so maybe that minimizes the risk of irritation?

  7. I am oddly pale, so I’ve been using sunscreen religiously since I was a child. Mercifully, that’s my one redeeming quality, so my skin still looks good and plump and smooth. I do moisturize and use an inexpensive under eye cream (Loreal brand), but nothing extra. I think nutrition, avoiding the sun and genes play a much larger role in how your skin looks than creams and treatments.

    • Agree! I think most of this stuff is a marketing ploy. Wear sunscreen and wash your facell before bed. The end…

  8. Career advice to be AveragePlus :

    Need advice – I got a completely average-ish Employee Assessment. I’m meeting with my manager of my own volition to follow-up. What do I ask/say/do in the meeting – set goals? defend myself? I have no idea.

    • I wouldn’t go in defensive.

      I would say, thank you for the assessment. I would like to obviously be recognized as an above average employee. What would I have to accomplish to make that happen? Is it a matter of additional responsibilities, or is there an area of weakness I need to work on?

  9. Anonymous :

    I have a super simple regimen – every night, wash off makeup, apply rose water, slather on cold cream. Mornings I use a drugstore moisturiser and let it settle into my skin before I put on makeup. It seems to be working for me so far.

  10. This goes against convention, but I don’t use daily sunscreen for several reasons:

    1) My daily dose of sun is extremely limited, most days just a few minutes walking between home or office and the subway, and maybe 5 minutes while grabbing lunch
    2) My skin has become very sensitive as I get older, and many sunscreen ingredients make me red, swollen, and tender
    3) I have super-low levels of vitamin D (see item 1), and I figure the little exposure I’m getting will help

    I do wear sunscreen for planned outdoor activities, but for workdays, it isn’t worth it to me.

    • Anonymous :

      Try physical sunscreens rather than chemical ones. They might not irritate your skin.

    • Anonymous :

      You can still get plenty of Vitamin D while wearing sunscreen. I’ve never heard any doctor advise anyone to skip sunscreen to get Vitamin D. Keep in mind also that even if you’re not outside that much, you can still get very significant sun exposure though a window in your office or car. My left arm is significantly more sun-damaged than my right, and I think it’s from driving (and I’ve never been a truck driver or anything like that where you’re in your car ALL the time).
      Physical sunscreen also doesn’t have to be powdered — I use Banana Boat Natural Reflect. It goes on a bit white but usually is invisible within 15 minutes. There’s a baby version if you have super super sensitive skin.

      • I also have a low level of vitamin D. My doctor said that sunscreen absolutely blocks vitamin D. It’s strange; I stopped laying out at the pool after my wedding (didn’t want those tan lines in my dress!) because I knew it wasn’t great for me, and then I tested really low for vitamin D. Go figure.

        I also don’t wear an SPF moisturizer daily because it makes my face SO GREASY. I think my powder has a little SPF, but I’m also an office worker so if I’m outside, it’s for a brief walk at lunch or an evening run in a shady neighborhood when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

    • Lancome ABSOLUE PREMIUM ΒX Replenishing and Rejuvenating Lotion SPF 15 Sunscreen

  11. I started my skincare routine when I was 23 (I am 25 now..). I tend to use korean skincare products. At night, after washing my face, I use the smim essence from the face shop, then follow with the mango seed silk moisturizing cream from the face shop. I don’t use the little heart-shaped tool that comes with the mango cream, I just apply with my fingers. The mango cream is mostly for moisturizing, whitening and anti-wrinkle. I would like to start using a toner before essence and after washing my face, but haven’t found one I really like yet. I’d like to add other repair/anti-wrinkle regimes and eye cream into the routine but haven’t yet.

    In the morning, I usually just put on bb cream (dr. jart radiance bb cream) which includes sunscreen, then do my usual makeup over the bb. Sometimes I put on hourglass veil primer before the bb cream. I have tried some cc creams before, like the tonymoly ones, and although they are nice, I have to put on moisturizer before putting the cc cream on and I am pretty lazy in the morning, so the less steps in the morning, the better.

    Once or twice a week, I use a face mask. I like the ones from my beauty diary, and from skinfood.

  12. Anonymous :

    Oil of Olay Regenerist moisturizer is the best product I’ve used. Better than any of the more expensive things I’ve tried over the years.

  13. inhousejen :

    I’ve struggled with hormonal acne in my 30s, but I think I finally found the holy grail of products that works with my super dry but prone to break-out, so pale I’m almost invisible, skin.
    Omorovicza Hydra Melting Cleanser
    Omorovicza Rose Lifting Serum
    Omorovicza Balancing Moisturizer
    Omorovicza Mineral Shield SPF 30
    Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm
    Omorovicza Rose Lifting Serum
    Omorovicza Gold Eye Lift
    Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9
    Eve Lom Dynaspot Salicylic Acid Emergency Acne Treatment (as needed for specific spots)

    Then once a week (if I remember), I do a mask of either Omorovicza Blue Diamond Resurfacing Peel or the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask – depending on if I have a break-out or just want more even tone/texture. All in all, it takes about 5 minutes morning and night – and I’ve had the clearest skin I can remember in ages.

  14. Anonymous :

    I’m early 30s with very dry, pale skin that has a lot of redness that can get bumpy when irritated. I’ve been paying attention to skincare for about 6 years now and it’s made a big difference in my skin. I no longer have flakes and dullness, and the redness is under control. My skin is prone to wrinkles (based on looking at older relatives with similar skin), but this skincare regimen seems to be working well for me and I get lots of compliments on how good my skin is.

    Dr. Jart ceramidin cream — Can’t recommend this stuff enough. My skin hasn’t gotten flaky since using it.
    I don’t wear SPF during the winter unless I’m out for a long walk on the weekend.

    I’ve been switching off every three days or so as follows:

    Day 1
    — Paula’s Choice 1% retinol, used with the Paula’s Choice booster oil. Doesn’t seem to irritate my skin despite that my skin is generally dry and sensitive.
    — Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum under my eyes.

    Day 2
    — Paula’s Choice AHA Exfoliating moisturizer. Physical exfoliants irritate my skin badly, but this chemical AHA exfoliant works really well.
    — I also use the Ren glycolic mask as a turbo charged version of the AHA exfoliating moisturizer from time to time when I want a little extra brightness.

    Day 3
    — Paula’s Choice Moisture Mask. This is seriously the best moisturizer I’ve ever used. Keeps my skin nice and soft and not flaky all winter long.

    • Anonymous :

      Oh, and I just wash my face with a very mild Neutrogena creamy cleanser for sensitive skin.

  15. Sydney Bristow :

    I’m so bad about this. My entire routine consists of scrubbing my face with water when I shower.

    I don’t use sunscreen on a regular basis since I’m typically outside for a grand total of 5-10 minutes a day. I’m going to look into powder sunscreen though. If I’m going to be outside longer I always put on sunscreen and keep reapplying.

    I do think I should start using moisturizer. I’m just so lazy about it! Luckily I’ve had pretty clear skin all my life but I should work on maoisturizing for aging/wrinkles in the future.

  16. Maddie Ross :

    Specific OTC (non-derm) eye cream recs? I am feeling like I need a little extra, but am not sure where to start. I’ve used a few in the past, but generally just whatever is on sale (I know, I know…).

    • KateMiddletown :

      Olek Hendriksen is one that I’ve used. (The blue jar.) I also really liked a sample of Fresh Black Tea that I got at Sephora. They recommended the first to me – Always a good place to start!

  17. palmtrees33 :

    I’m 28, with oily, acne prone skin. This routine has helped keep my skin moisturized and flake-free. even while using the harsh Retin-A.

    1) Cleanse with Cetaphil bar in shower
    2) Origins GinZing eye cream (really good for puffiness)
    3) Different serums, ole henriksen vitamin c currently
    4) Currently Clinique dramatically different lotion, but change every couple months
    5) SPF – by MDSolarSciences

    1) Remove eye makeup with grapeseed or jojoba oil on cotton ball
    2) Cleanse using Clarisonic Mia with Hadalabo Hyaluronic Foam Cleanser (works well, lasts forever, available on amazon)
    3) Estee Lauder eye cream
    4) Cerave PM
    5) after 20 minutes or so, Retin A

    I use sheet masks from Innisfree or Beauty Diary maybe 1-2 times per week.

  18. Hi everyone! Lurker mostly, but here I had to speak up: there is this new brand, sabbatical Beauty ( — a skincare line made by a college professor, and it is amazing. Dorian Gray serum especially lives up to its name — it has retinol plus other active ingredients, and it is hands-down the best serum I ever used. Cannot reccomend it highly enough.

  19. I highly recommend for their skincare reviews. It has helped me find some of my favorites, including my night time moisturizer (CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion) and the sunscreen that got me to wear sunscreen everyday, EltaMD UV Facial SPF 30+ (The tube version). It also helped me learn some important lessons about skincare products (why jars aren’t great investments, stinging is bad, etc). It is especially helpful if you’re looking for fragrance information or if you’re trying to navigate the drugstore/affordable skincare options.

  20. Does anyone have any experience with adapalene/differin? My doctor recently put me on that, along with bionect to counteract the irritation. Loving it so far.

    • I actually am currently on that! It’s working for me, and I haven’t found it as harsh as Tretonoin, but it DEFINITELY has that ramp up period. I got through the winter with some INTENSE moisturizers. Also, they’re really not joking about being sun sensitive while on it, get thee to a decent sunscreen and use it.

      (I got nasty hormonal acne outbreaks after I got my IUD in, and since the IUD is the only thing I’ve ever tried that controlled my periods AND didn’t make me manic as all get out, I’m sticking with the IUD.)

  21. I’m a little obsessive when it comes to skin care. It’s a problem because I end up hoarding beauty products. My #1 product that I use all the time is hylauronic acid. I’m obsessed with it and my skin has improved so much since I started using it at age 24. I’m 27 now. My routine used to be hyaluronic acid, Loreal facial oil, a rich moisturizer (Boots no 7. I’m blanking on the name), and an eye cream. Unfortunately I’ve been traveling a ton for work.. almost every week this quarter and the packaging of the Loreal facial oil isn’t too great.. it leaks inside my toiletries bag. I could just swap it out into another glass dropper vial but I’ve gotten lazy. I also have a bunch of skin care samples from Birch Box/Glossybox that I’ve been trying to get through so I’ve been far from consistent lately.

    I’ve only recently been good about using SPF daily, but hey better late than never I hope :( Generally speaking, people think I look younger than I am and that’s the goal here. Given that I’m a beauty product hoarder, I have a slew of masks and scrubs. I try not to over do it with the scrubs. Once to twice a week. Facialists tell me to use them more and the internet tells me to use them less. Some of the scrubs were impulse buys or samples so I’m trying to use them up and then focus on using enzyme peels instead of scrubs.

    I’ve also been a sucker for Korean skin care but trying not to buy anything until I use up my current products. I got a ton of sheet masks for Christmas that I’m slowly using up. I try to get two uses out of them because the packaging typically comes with so much of the serum/essence.

    My skincare awareness/obsession kind of seemed normal to me but no one my age is anywhere near me when it comes to knowledge and practice of this stuff.

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