**Trigger Warning: In order to be totally transparent and honest with you guys, I’ve included some images of my acne & breakouts that may be unpleasant to some.**
As some of you may know, about a year ago I started getting unprecedented breakouts and redness. I tried to think of every reason to blame myself and my lifestyle (diet, not cleansing well enough, MASKS, sweating, etc) until recently. It had gotten so bad in the past couple of months, that I finally decided to go to the dermatologist (thank you, Mom, for pushing me to go)! I’m so glad that I did, because the doctor explained that it’s totally normal, and not caused exclusively by any of my lifestyle choices. In fact, over 50% of women over the age of 25 have acne in the US.
About a month ago, I began taking acne treatment medication and following a skincare routine that the doctor recommended. It’s been a frustrating, embarrassing couple of months, but my skin is FINALLY clearing up! The main advice that the dermatologist gave me is to stick to gentle products, and to keep my skin hydrated.
In addition to being a side effect of the medication and topical acne treatment products I’ve been using, dryness has always been another problem of mine during the winter seasons. In college, I remember slathering my face with Vaseline before bed to avoid this, but I like to think that as I’ve matured (kind of…), so has my skincare knowledge.
Moisture is obviously the most important remedy to winter skin dryness, but there are so many other important factors that are easy to forget about! So, I’ve decided to share my new gentle winter morning and nighttime skin routine with you all, what’s worked best for me, winter skincare tips, and what I’m still experimenting with (with only 5 steps, this is somewhat of a basic skincare routine). With this information, hopefully you’ll be able to more completely build the best skincare routine for yourself with plenty of SPLURGE and SAVE options!
Disclaimer: This post contains some (not all) affiliate links, which means that if you choose to take my suggestions and make a purchase, I will make a little money so I can keep up these super cool blog posts. This in no way affects my editorial decisions, which are always genuine recommendations and only products or brands I would purchase myself.
Step 1: Cleanser
I read recently that it is actually not necessary to wash your face RIGHT when you wake up, like I always thought. As we sleep, our skin naturally produces oils that are good for healing, so as long as you’ve cleansed and moisturized the night before, it’s no big deal. I am spoiled, however, and I usually don’t have to leave the apartment for work first thing in the morning. For those who are headed to the office first thing, cleansing right away is fine, as long as you aren’t stripping your skin completely of its natural oils with a harsh cleanser.
Because of this (and per recommendation from the dermatologist), I now use a gentle cleanser in the morning (I leave the double cleansing for nighttime when I have makeup and dirt buildup to take care of), because those natural oils your skin has worked hard to produce overnight are important for hydration! Here are a few of the cleansing winter skincare products I’ve been loving recently, including the miracle-working cleanser the dermatologist recommended (the first one, below, $12 cheaper than it is on Amazon!).
- SPLURGE: Revision Brightening Facial Wash // eBay, $26 ($12 cheaper than on Amazon & a miracle worker/recommended by the dermatologist)
- SAVE: Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Facial Cleanser // Walmart, $7 (my favorite before discovering the above–the best drugstore alternative!)
Be careful when choosing your toner, as many of them can dry out your skin even more! I’ve found that as my acne is healing, sprays are better than liquids because of potential irritation. Plus, a spray toner doesn’t require the waste of a cotton round, and is particularly great for us lazy gals! Toner is so frequently overlooked by many, but can be life-saving for those of us with dry or oily skin.
- SPLURGE: John Masters Organics Toning Mist with Rose & Aloe // John Masters Organics, $29
- SAVE: Neutrogena Soothing Clear Calming Turmeric Facial Mist // Walmart, $9
If you’ve been reading my beauty and skincare posts for the past year or so, you’ll know that I’ve had quite the serum obsession. However, I had to give up many of my more aggressive serums (peels, retinol, etc.) once I started my acne treatment. Now, I’m all about the gentle, hydrating serums! Hyaluronic Acid serum is my absolute favorite for hydration–I even mix it into my makeup sometimes to avoid dry skin and flaking!
- SPLURGE: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum // Amazon, $16
- SAVE: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum // Sephora $7
The most important step in any skincare routine for dry skin! Be careful, because it actually is possible to overuse moisturizer, but this is by far the most important step in my routine, especially in the winter (and especially when healing acne)! Here are my recommendations for the best moisturizer for dry skin & acne prone skin…
- SPLURGE: Belief The True Cream Aqua Bomb // Sephora, $38
- SAVE: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA // Sephora, $6
5. Eye Cream
I’m relatively new to the world of eye cream. I never thought I needed it because I wasn’t seeing wrinkles yet (knock on wood), but it’s never too early to start! Plus, there are so many products available that help with dark circles and puffiness, which is a consistent problem for me (even though I get more than enough sleep…hmmm).
- SPLURGE: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado // Sephora, $54
- SAVE: Origins Ginzing Vitamin C Eye Cream // Sephora, $34
Thanks for reading, friends! Save the image below for a skincare routine order cheat sheet and shop the products in this post here. If you’re struggling with cystic acne and breakouts…I feel you! Stay strong and keep going–it gets better!