I've tried a lot of skincare over the past few years while reviewing for MSA and although I don't consider myself an expert, I've picked up quite the skincare routine due to the awesome array of beauty subscription boxes. It's to the point where I can't even pack lightly for an overnight stay because I have so many toners, cleansers, serums, oils, and moisturizers I need to check out. I've come to love skincare so much that I've even decided to go to school for Esthetics to gain more knowledge and make my reviews that much more helpful. I thought I'd take you all through my morning and evening routines while I call out some of my favorite products I've discovered from subscription boxes this past year. You may recognize many of them from boxes like Beauty Heroes, The Detox Box, The Clean Beauty Box, Boxwalla Beauty, The Organic Bunny Box, Laurel & Reed, and Pearlesque Box (to name some faves) with an emphasis on non-toxic products that have become staples in my house.
I am very lucky to generally have really good skin (thanks, Mom!). My skin is also quite tough which I am very appreciative of since I have to try out so much while reviewing for MSA. Along the way, I've discovered that there are some things that I'm sensitive to (like pearl or cinnamon) but overall - I don't have any major issues. I'd say that I have normal or combination skin as well since I can be greasy in my T-zone yet my chin can get especially dry in the winter. Because everyone's skin is different, you may not need the same amount of products as I do or simply may not want such an intense regimen. The most important things you can do are cleanse and moisturize (especially with an SPF). While I also love and use clay, jelly, and peel masks, I decided not to include them on this list since I don't use them daily. Maybe I'll do a separate post about those in the future!
My Morning Skincare Routine & Favorites
Step 1: Cleanse
Since I got all of the daily makeup and grime off of my face before bed, I only need to cleanse once in the morning, which I do in the shower. This will wash off any overnight masks or random drool I may have on my face. I save this until the end of my shower so that I know I get any shampoo or conditioner from my hair off of my face.
- Modicum Cleanser from January's Pearlesque Box. Buy it here.
- Kiehl's Cleanser from October's Birchbox. Buy it here.
Step 2: Exfoliate (2-3 times per week)
This is another one I'll do in the shower. A lot of people love Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate, but I find it a little harsh for my skin, so I'll use an exfoliator like the three above. There are two types of exfoliants: chemical and physical (or mechanical). "Chemical" sounds bad but it only means it's using enzyme or acid-based ingredients to get rid of dead skin while the physical kinds contain some sort of grit to *physically* polish the dull skin away. Some exfoliants will even have both. It's good to note that one should only exfoliate 2-3 times per week so that you don't irritate the skin, but you should definitely make this a habit several times during the week, depending on your skin type.
- Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator from August's Birchbox. Buy it here.
- Naturopathica Oat Cleansing Facial Polish from September's The Detox Box. Buy it here.
- Flower And Spice Instant Glow Calming Exfoliator from October's The Clean Beauty Box. Buy it here.
Step 3: Toner/Mist
Toners may seem like an arbitrary step, but they can refresh and balance your skin, remove leftover traces of dirt, and help your skin absorb the rest of your products. Plus, they feel super nice to spray on and when you get one with a super fine mist, it feels heavenly. I give my face a few spritzes after cleansing and they can also be great to lightly set makeup or refresh throughout the day. Some people prefer to use toner on a cotton pad to sweep across the face which is sometimes necessary since not all toners have a pump.
- Blüh Alchemy Toning Elixir from March's Beauty Heroes + October's Laurel & Reed. Buy it here.
- Lilfox Aphrodite Rose Quartz Infused Rose Toning Mist from February's The Clean Beauty Box. Buy it here.
Optional Step: Sheet Mask
Sometimes in the morning, I'll throw on a sheet mask while I'm getting some chores done. Or in the evening, sometimes I just put one on to lay down and relax. I have tried countless sheet masks over the past year from subscription boxes and here are a few I'd buy again and wholeheartedly recommend. Many times these will have enough serum or essence that I'll skip a later step so I just play it by ear on those days.
- Skiin Studio Soothing & Calming Bio-Cellulose Signature Sheet Mask from March's Switch 2 Pure. Buy it here.
- Osèque True Noble Soil Layering Mask from Fall's FaceTory Lux Plus. Buy it here.
- Orgaid Anti-Aging Moisturizing Organic Sheet Mask from July's Switch 2 Pure. Buy it here.
- Inna Organics Myrrh Deep Moisturizing Facial Mask from June's Laurel & Reed. Buy it here.
Step 4: Serum
Most serums tend to be a little thinner than a facial oil so I like to put them on before heavier products. Vitamin C is a popular ingredient because it brightens skin and a lot of them will hydrate or deliver a slew of health benefits to your skin for aging, undesired pigmentation, and other concerns. I take a couple of pumps or drops either straight onto my face (making sure the dropper doesn't touch my face) or on my fingertips and lightly smooth it over my complexion. Since it's a lighter product, it absorbs quickly.
- Ursa Major Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum from October's Laurel & Reed. Buy it here.
- Josh Rosebrook Hydration Boost Concentrate from October's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
- Graydon Fullmoon Serum from July's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
- Beauty Heroes Blüh Alchemy Multi C Serum from March's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
Step 5: Facial Oil
Ah, facial oils. There are so many out there to choose from and beauty boxes really love sending new varieties to discover. It was hard for me to narrow these down because there are honestly a lot of great ones out there. If you told me a couple of years ago that I'd be slathering oil onto my face I would have laughed at you. Now I know that they're a great way to boost hydration and soften skin (or even replace moisturizer) while getting some seriously good ingredients into the skin. Like the serum, I'll take 2-3 drops of oil and gently pat it into my skin with my fingertips and even my full hand to help it absorb. Usually very little goes a long way and it's easy to go overboard, so start with a small amount until you get a feel for how much your skin needs.
- Agent Nateur Holi(Oil) from May's The Detox Box. Buy it here.
- 5Yina Lucent Summer Beauty Oil from June's Boxwalla Beauty. Buy it here.
- Commleaf Surely Green 100 Face Oil from August's Joah Box. Buy it here.
- Pink Light Crystal Facial Tonic from August's The Clean Beauty Box. Buy it here.
Step 6: Moisturizer
This is my final morning step and one that I truly relish. Ideally, I'd use a moisturizer with SPF for the daytime but unfortunately, I just didn't get many in boxes that would make it to a fave list. If I don't have an SPF moisturizer on-hand, I can use one without but rest knowing that my BB cream has SPF in it. So if I wear makeup, I'm covered for a while. I find all of the moisturizers and creams above to be super hydrating and smell wonderful. I dole out another dime-size of product onto my fingertips and gently smooth or pat it over my whole face, neck, and decolletage before heading into my makeup routine.
- Ayuna Natural Rejuvenating Treatment Cream from September's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
- Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream from November's The Organic Bunny Box. Buy it here.
- Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream from the Summer Sunday Riley Subscription Box. Buy it here.
Step 7: Sunscreen
As I mentioned above, I really didn't get moisturizers with SPF that excited me this year in subscription boxes, but this Unseen Sunscreen from Supergoop! really impressed me with how soft and satiny it is while being incredibly lightweight. This can be popped over moisturizer and works as a primer before makeup. It's an important step if you don't wear any makeup that has SPF built-in.
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen from Skincare's Next Big Thing Sephora Favorite Kit. Buy it here.
My Evening Skincare Routine & Favorites
Step 1: Makeup Wipe or Oil Cleanser
I don't wear makeup every day, but when I do- I need to get all of it off my face before bed and a single water-based cleanse won't cut it. At the very least, I use a cleansing wipe to get off all of the eyeshadow, mascara, and other beautiful products I used for the day. Ursa Major's are great for travel since they are individually packaged. The MakeUp Eraser also works surprisingly well and is a much greener approach since it can be washed and reused many times. If I want to get serious, or if I have a really tough lipstick or eye makeup on, I'll reach for an oil cleanser which will completely melt anything right off.
- Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes from February's Oui Fresh Beauty Box. Buy them here.
- The MakeUp Eraser (sample size pictured) from October's Birchbox. Buy it here.
- Huangjisoo Pure Perfect Cleansing Oil from December's FaceTory Lux Plus. Buy it here.
Step 2: Cleanse w/ Water-Based Cleanser
Now for cleansing step two, the water-based cleanser, to make my skin feel fresh and clean! I prefer a foaming variant, but have found some creams that I really love. I take a small dime-size amount of product and massage it onto a wet face with circular motions using my fingertips to get a nice lather going before rinsing clean. It's that simple and honestly one of the most important steps you can do. If you only choose a couple of steps for your routine- make cleansing one of them.
- Branch Basics Foaming Cleanser from January's The Organic Bunny Box. Buy it here.
- The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser from the Cult Beauty Starter Kit. Buy it here.
- Erno Laszlo Cleanser from February's SkinStore x Erno Laszlo Limited Edition Beauty Box. Buy it here.
Step 3: Toner or Mist
Yep! Back to misting! And I have more favorites to add. These feel great after a cleanse and you can even look for some that have more calming ingredients for bedtime.
- 5Yina Lucent Summer Hydrolat from June's Boxwalla Beauty Box. Buy it here.
- Maya Chia The Optimist Hydrating Essence from August's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
- Native Atlas Virdis Antioxidant Toning Mist from November's Pearlesque Box. Buy it here.
Step 4: Moisturizer or Sleeping Mask
Nighttime is a great time to use a sleeping mask or heavier creams that will take longer to seep in. These will usually be smoothed on my face in a thin layer and will either slowly soak in or dry before my head hits the pillow. Masks should be washed off when you wake up, but don't worry, they shouldn't leave anything on your pillow! Just think of these babies as working hard to make your skin beautiful while you snooze away.
- Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream from September's The Detox Box. Buy it here.
- Flower And Spice Soothe & Repair from April's Boxwalla Beauty Box. Buy it here.
- Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask from Skincare's Next Big Thing Sephora Favorites Kit. Buy it here.
- Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask from the Cult Beauty Starter Kit. Buy it here.
Optional Step: Lip Scrub
Now, I don't always use a lip scrub each night because like your face, you don't want to overdo it on your lips. It's more based on the seasonal climate and how lazy I'm feeling when it comes to this step. It is of course even better in the winter to scrub away any chapped skin to make way for fresh skin and allow a lip mask to penetrate more easily. Just take a small pea-sized amount onto your fingertips and brush it in circular motions onto your smacker. Yes, it'll be a little messy and some of the grit will probably fall off into the sink. That's ok. Just rinse afterward to remove any grit. It's very much like a body scrub, just for your delicate lips instead.
- Kismet Buff Lip Scrub from November's The Organic Bunny Box. Buy it here.
- Revival Lip Scrub from February's Laurel & Reed. Buy it here.
Optional Step: Lip Mask
Since I've gone and done the lip scrub, I follow it up with a thick hydrating lip mask or balm to soften my lips all night long. I found these to be particularly conditioning and luxurious. I need very little lip product to cover my lips in a thin layer but just use your judgment.
- Primera Clean Berry Lip Mask from the Skincare's Next Big Thing Sephora Favorites Kit. Buy it here.
- Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask from the Give Me More Lip Sephora Favorites Kit. Buy it here.
- Beneath Your Mask Remedy Conditioning Lip Balm from November's Beauty Heroes. Buy it here.
- Kiehl's Buttermask Overnight Lip Treatment from the Birchbox x Kiehl’s On The Go Kit. Buy it here.
Want more skincare options? Check out the 16 best skincare subscriptions as voted on by our readers or our full list of skincare subscription boxes here!
What's your skincare routine look like? Do we have some of the same faves from 2019?
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