Nighttime Skincare Routine

If you’ve been following my Instagram stories recently, you probably already know that I completely changed my skincare routine to target my acne and post acne pigmentation better. For the past four years, I’ve been struggling with hormonal acne. For me, the worst part is not the pimples themselves but the angry red marks that are left behind and could take MONTHS to disappear. These marks never get the chance to heal before I get another breakout which means layers of post acne pigmentation scattered around my chin and jawline. After trying a ton of products and under advisement from a dermatologist, I completely simplified my skincare routine and have been doing this for the past six weeks. Continue reading if you’d like to know why I use each product and the results the product has achieved but please know that if you have serious acne, you should consult a dermatologist before trying any of these.

1- Makeup Remover

If you don’t wear makeup, you could definitely skip this step! If you do wear makeup, make sure to take it completely off so it doesn’t clog your pores. I hate makeup wipes because they are irritating, don’t get the makeup off, and are really bad for the environment. Instead I use a cleansing balm and my current favorite is the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm . It’s under $10 and gets the job done. Sometimes I use it with just water but if I’m wearing really heavy makeup, I use a Makeup Eraser with it which you just wet with lukewarm water and use to remove your makeup (washable and reusable).

2- Cleanser

I’ve raved about the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser for years because of how gentle it is on the skin but recently I’ve changed to the OleHenriksen Truth Juice Daily Cleanser. The reason for this change is because the Truth Juice cleanser has polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) which are less irritating than alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) and betahydroxy acids (BHAs) due to their larger particles. These particles gently exfoliate the top layer of the skin which helps decrease post acne hyperpigmentation but don’t penetrate into the deeper layers which are more sensitive and more prone to inflammations. PHAs are also humectants and attract moisture to the skin so my dry skin remains hydrated.

3- Moisturizer

I have a few favorite moisturizers that I recommend and use during different times of the year and for different concerns.

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion or The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA: I love both of these moisturizers equally because they are lightweight (perfect for the summer), absorb fast, and don’t feel greasy. They leave my skin hydrated but not oily and don’t cause breakouts or irritations.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré: I slightly prefer this moisturizer over the ones by CeraVe and The Ordinary for a few reasons. First, it has all the advantages mentioned for the other two creams. What makes it different though is that it leaves a subtle radiant effect on the skin and my skin looks plumper so it looks great as a makeup primer as well. The product was actually created to be a moisturizer, a makeup primer, and a hydrating mask (add a thicker layer and leave it on the face) so it does have more advantages but if you’re looking for just a moisturizer, then all three options are great.

Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream: You’ve probably heard me rave about this before. I LOVE this moisturizer in the winter when my skin is more dry and also when my skin is visibly red and inflamed. I don’t use this daily but for those days when my skin is sensitized this works great to calm it down so if you have similar concerns, you’ll absolutely enjoy this.

4- Eye cream

I’m going to be honest with you right now. I think most eye creams are overrated and overpriced and have never found an eye cream that I’m in love with. I’m not sure if I’m the only person who struggles with this but I’ve used a ton of the top sellers and I’m still not impressed. To me, they all hydrate equally so I can’t justify the price for an expensive eye cream. The one I’m currently using is the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye and while I do enjoy it, I also enjoy other eye creams like the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream which is a fraction of the price.

4- Retinoid

So this is probably the biggest change I’ve made in my skincare routine. Previously I used multiple serums including a vitamin c serum and a few other serums for hydration. However, I decided to get rid of all these extra steps and only focus on addressing my main concern which is the post acne pigmentation (and the acne itself). I started using adapalene 0.1% (a retinoid which a is a vitamin A derivative) by Differin 6 weeks ago and have been taking daily pictures to track the progress (see below). I also have a full highlight on my Instagram (@whatlifebringsus) where I go into more depth on my experience with Differin but to summarize, I’m definitely seeing major improvement in post acne pigmentation. Not specifically the older pigmentation, but in my newer breakouts which went away WITHOUT leaving any pigmentation which is just amazing to me.

In general though, if you don’t have acne concerns, adapalene is still a great retinoid for anti-aging benefits and for other pigmentation concerns (melasma, sun spots, etc.). Retinoids are more concentrated versions of retinols so they have more drastic effects (but could cause more irritation in some people). Currently, adapalene is the only retinoid available over-the-counter with no prescription unlike tretinoin and tazarotene. Like I said, retinoids and retinols aren’t for everyone and do come in different forms so make sure to talk to your dermatologist to see what would be appropriate for you.

In the meantime, these articles may be helpful: What’s the Difference Between Retinol and Retinoids and Benefits of Retinoids.

Hopefully this helped some of you out there and gave you some advice and/or recommendations. The main thing I’ve learned is that more is not always better and that expensive isn’t always better. Many of the recommendations here are drugstore products and they’ve worked great for my skin. They’re also highly recommended by many dermatologists including mine. So make sure that you do your research and don’t fall for the marketing of products or buy them just because they’re popular. Buy them because they actually have GOOD INGREDIENTS for YOU! Let me know in the comments some of your favorites.

Best Sephora Value Sets

Bang for Your Buck Holiday Edition

Sephora has released all of the holiday sets which means it’s officially holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone!! Too early, I’m sorry, but it really is the time to pick up some of these holiday sets because they go FAST. I know this from experience. When I worked at Sephora and Ulta, I hated telling customers that walked in with a long gift list that half of the items were gone already and won’t be restocked. Unfortunately, gift sets are released early (too early IMO) and sell out before most people start shopping. So, for all of you early shoppers, this is the first of my Sephora gift guides. These 7 items are the best Sephora value sets. That is, you’re getting A LOT for what you’re paying!

1- The Little One Eyeshadow Palette – Lawless $25

Realistically, how often do you completely use up an eyeshadow palette? Personally, I’ve never run into that problem so I find mini palettes to be very ideal. You get to try out more palettes and not waste your money on a palette that you’ll use a handful of times. This palette features 8 essential colors that are perfect for day and night looks. Plus, the formula is absolutely amazing! (great stocking stuffer)

2- Undressed Lip Set- Anastasia Beverly Hills $40

We’re going to do some math: you get 5 FULL-SIZE lipstick products in this kit! If you were to purchase these separately, the cost would be $100 ($20 x 5) so you’ll be saving $60. That’s amazing and the colors are really beautiful.

3- Strike Gold Mini Plumping Lip Set- Buxom $39

Another great lip product value kit! Especially if you prefer glosses (the Buxom formula is super glossy and not sticky). One full-size Buxom lip gloss is 0.14 oz. so you’ll be getting the equivalent of 3 full-size glosses and two mini lip liners for only $39 instead of over $63. Great deal right??

4- Ambient Lighting Edit Face Palette (Ghost) – Hourglass $80

If you’re in the market for some powder face products, get a palette instead of purchasing everything separately because you’ll save so much! This palette has everything you need for a full face of makeup (could even be used for eyeshadow): luminous setting powder, highlighter, bronzer, and blush. All of these perform beautifully and are very easy to apply (no patchiness).

5- Chrome for the Holidays – Tarte $24

I absolutely love these lid toppers!! They give you the perfect amount of glitter that isn’t too chunky and are very easy to apply (no glue, just your fingers). Unless you use one of these everyday for two years straight, you probably don’t need the full-size. Plus, you get to try four colors instead of just one.

6- Brow Kits – Anastasia Beverly Hills $30

ABH came out with 3 brow kits this year: one for each brow product type (powder, dip brow, and pencil). All three kits come with one main product and two extra products that help you complete the look (brush, clear brow gel, colored gel, etc.). If you want to get your full brow routine in one kit, check these out!

7- Skincare for Makeup Lovers: Dewy Glow Set- Tatcha $65

Mark my words: this will sell out very fast because it happened last year! People went crazy for this kit because Tatcha skincare products are crazy expensive and these products come in perfect sizes (not too mini). I always stress the importance of skincare for your finished makeup look and this kit gives you everything you need including an AMAZING dewy finishing spray and a FLAWLESS pore-filling primer.

So, who’s excited for shopping holiday sets?? I certainly am! I hope this list helped you out and make sure to check out the blog the next couple of weeks for more holiday gift guides. Also, to get you head started on your shopping, I’m doing a giveaway for a $25 Sephora gift card!!! See below on how to enter.

Giveaway Entry:

  • Subscribe to blog updates
  • Follow my instagram account (@whatlifebringsus) and share this blog post on your story (either screenshot it and tag me or share my IG story directly)
  • Winner will be picked November 10th (giveaway closes November 9th 11:59 pm)

Good luck everyone!!!