Marne’s Favorite Skincare Discoveries of 2019 + Daily Skincare Routines


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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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?

Written by Marne Orenich

Marne Orenich

Marne is a lipstick connoisseur, record collector, and twice over cat mom. She loves discovering new clean beauty brands and has quite the collection of beautifully packaged serums and moisturizers.

30 Comments

  1. I noticed that you use facial oil and then your moisturizer. I have seen multiple articles/reviews that say oil then moisturizer and as many that say moisturizer then oil! I currently use oil after the moisturizer to “seal” in all the skin care, but sure would love to have a final word on this. Thanks!

  2. WOW, I so enjoyed this. THANKS for taking the time. It is a wealth of information. I am going to look into those sub boxes now too.

    • Thanks for reading Carla! I know it’s a lot… haha.

  3. I would love to hear about how you use up products! Do you use multi moisturizers at once? Since you get so many do you only try a week to do a review and then pass them on? Do you put all those oils and lotions under your eyes instead of eye cream?

    • Hi Cassandra- it all depends! I try to give everything a fair shake and use it for at least 3 days/applications. Sometimes I use them for much longer though- it really just depends on the type of product and how excited I am by it. Everything gets used as intended so I can get the proper experience.
      As far as the number of products – I certainly hook everyone up around the office who is interested and I keep a box of products for my friends and family to go through when they come over.

  4. I cannot live without Vasanti’s Brighten Up! It is my holy grail scrub. I found it years ago in a Birchbox and have never been without. A little tip, sometimes Costco.com will have it in a huge tube for the same price and you don’t have to have a membership to buy it.

  5. Thank you for a great article. I finally subscribed to Laurel and Reed as this box seems to have products that work well for me. My night time routine is pretty good but am a little lazy in the morning so need to work on that.

    • I started Laurel & Reed in November and I must say, quality over quantity wins big time in my world. I think you’ll enjoy it overall. I am also in love with FaceTory Lux Plus quarterly box, their 7-Lux box (monthly), Beautyfix occasionally, and various other products, like Graydon from Canada, that I discovered recently.

      • I will have to check out FaceTory. Thank you for the recommendation. I love the Graydon products and was sorry to miss the Laurel and Reed recent box.

  6. I just started to use that Graydon Full Moon serum recently. I love its coloring and whole aesthetic! lol I’ve only used it 4 times, so I don’t have an opinion on it, but I am enjoying using it. I love how one squeeze of the dropper pulls just enough product for one use on the face. I love it when that happens 🙂

    • Luna, never tried that product, but recently picked up the Berry Probiotic face and eye cream. It’s so thick that it will last a good while (considering the price, not a bad thing, lol). I’m in love with their Aloe Cleanser, though. Probably one of the best cleansers I’ve used. Need to try this Full Moon serum sometime. 🙂

      • Hi Linda 🙂 I am IN LOVE with Graydon’s aloe cleanser! I tried a sample of it sometime last year, and it was one of the most gentle (but still effective) cleansers I’ve ever tried. I actually have it on my standby list of products I’d like to get at The Detox Market next time they come out with a Detox Bundle (gwp) I’d like to get. 🙂

    • Omg! I’m almost out of my full moon serum, and I never thought I’d pay $87 for a face serum, but I am seriously considering a repurchase ASAP. It helps so much with any congestion I may have and my face is sooooo smooth. I absolutely love it!

      • I hope I have the same results! 🙂

  7. That’s a great tip about washing your face in the shower after you rinse out your conditioner. I wash my face while I’m rinsing out my shampoo but then use a Konjac sponge after rinsing out my conditioner to make sure nothing is left on my face, but I’ll have to try it your way and see what I like better.

    • I think my bestie sent me that tip in an article years ago and it really stuck with me. It makes sense to do it after since you’re bound to get hair products on your face when you rinse.

  8. This was a very helpful article! By reading this, I learned that the majority of skincare products I have fallen in love with came from three specific subscriptions: Clean Beauty & Beauty Heroes, along with Beautyfix.
    With that information, i plan on seriously trim my sub boxes, going into 2020.
    Thanks!!!!!

    • AM- I totally agree that although it took me quite a long time to go through a year of skincare reviews and choose faves, it made it super clear which boxes I really love the most! I should probably create a log or spreadsheet for 2020 to make it easier on myself!

  9. I forgot to add I use an essence after the toner and currently love the one from NBTT. Nuria Defend.

    • Ah, yes. Essences seem very K-Beauty and I’ve found them to be a bot more slippery and hydrating. A fun step to get a little more in there. Thanks for weighing in!

  10. I do all those steps as well but I use an eye cream as well. I didn’t care for the the Vasanti. I like Kate S. better. The only other product I have tried from your list is the Laneige lip mask which is wonderful.
    It just shows how much skincare is out there! I look forward to the masks review down the road.

    • The skincare is endless, Jody! I really do need to get more into eye creams this year. I think I just always expect some magic to lift my dark circles immediately which just isn’t gonna happen. Any suggestions?

      • Marne I have yet to find a product to get rid of those dark circles! We can dream I suppose. I use them more for the fine lines and hydration. I just want to avoid dryness under the eyes. I see ladies with makeup that gets “stuck” there. I stay away from ones with retinol. My skin is just too sensitive around my eyes.

        • I realized JUST this morning that all the retinol eye creams I’ve been trying lately actually makes my undereye fine lines and wrinkles look worse! I don’t know if it’s just because it’s winter and drier than usual, but if anyone has any insight, I’d love to hear it. It seems retinol is the gold standard for so many eye products.

        • Luckily I don’t get very dry under my eyes. I gave up on trying to find a good concealer that doesn’t get cakey or over-correct. I know my true love Tati Westbrook swears by tarte shape tape but it’s way too full-coverage for me. I just roll with BB creams and accept my dark circles at this point! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Urban Decay’s Naked concealer just redid their formula and it’s great. So many shades, and the coverage is just perfect enough. I have super dark circles and it covers them without a problem but doesn’t look obvious, and I don’t have caking issues. I have tried a million concealers for my undereyes and this one is my holy grail!

  11. Marne typically how long does your morning and evening routine take? It sounds like a lot of work haha.

    • It definitely sounds that way, huh? But really only about 10 minutes (or less) unless a mask is involved. Slathering, scrubbing, and patting doesn’t take long and I just tack it on to teeth brushing and any hair maintenance I need to do. Masking while doing some dishes or making coffee in the morning is my favorite multi-task!

  12. This was a fun post to read! I wish all the reviewers on MSA would write about their personal skincare routines!

    • Great suggestion, Beccah!

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