What seems like forever ago I made a post out-lining my top tricks & tips for acne-prone skin. I mentioned a couple of products but if I’m being honest I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or why certain things were working. Over the past year I’ve made a real effort to teach myself more about products, routines, & ingredients (shout-out to Cora for being the fountain of all skincare knowledge ever) so today I wanted to share that knowledge with you.
This post is designed to outline the key steps that when used together & in order create a solid skincare routine for any skin type – I’ve also dropped in some product recommendations for you oily & acne-prone babes.
Some of you might look at this routine & be like Whaaat, I just wash my face with bar soap & I look banging, & to you I say GREAT! I’m genuinely happy for you & your A+ genes, but for many of us without careful management our skin can turn into an oily, spotty mess. Equally, if you do experience acne & have decided to just embrace it then I salute you & your self love – this routine is just a suggestion & I definitely don’t think anyone should feel pressured to change the way they look simply to fit society’s ideals.
I’m also aware that for a lot of people, such a long routine could be challenging to carry out on a consistent basis. Personally, I find my skincare routine really therapeutic but if you’re struggling don’t be tough on yourself! If you cleanse well & keep your skin moisturised you’re doing A-OK.
Fiiinal disclaimer, a lot of the products I’m going to mention are super pricey but there are loads of more affordable alternatives out there – if you know of any, please do leave them in the comments below. When shopping for alternatives, look out for the key ingredients which will ensure the product is effective, read reputable reviews (I find the Beautypedia by Paula’s Choice really helpful) & avoid products that contain lots of fragrance or other irritants.
& now on to the routine itself:
Step One // Cleanse
Regardless of your skin type, cleansing is a super important step – particularly at night to remove makeup & dirt from the day, although I also really like doing a light cleanse in the morning to help me feel fresh & awake.
How you cleanse is totally a matter of personal preference. I wear a lot of really heavy makeup on a daily basis so like to do a two-step cleanse every night, but if you wear lighter makeup you might find one cleanse is enough – the trick to figuring out which option is right for you is to do your normal cleanse & then run a damp cotton pad round your face, if there’s still product coming off on the pad you’re definitely not cleansing enough.
The products I’m currently using are the Bioderma Sébium Micelle Solution which does a great job of removing most of my makeup followed by the Algenist Melting Cleanser (which is currently on sale for 50% off). I find this combo leaves my face super clean & because I remove the Melting Cleanser with a warm, damp cloth it allows me to sneak in a bit of gentle exfoliation too.
Step Two // Exfoliate
I used to be a loyal fan of the St Ive’s Apricot Scrub & I know a lot of people swear by it (or similar products) for removing dead skin, but here’s the thing… physical exfoliants are fucked up. What you’re essentially doing is taking a nail file to your skin. In some cases your skin will bounce back relatively well & you might not even notice any issues, but particularly for those of us with acne-prone skin that damage can lead to slower healing & increased risk of infection. The most you should be doing to physically exfoliate your skin is gentling massaging it with a damp face cloth or cleansing brush.
All is not lost though! Let chat chemical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants aid the removal of dead skin cells by speeding up cell turnover – supporting your skin to carry out its natural process. There are two main types of chemical exfoliants: AHAs & BHAs.
AHAs contain Glycolic or Lactic Acid which work on the skin’s surface to loosen the bonds between dead skin cells, helping them fall off quicker. My AHA product of choice is the Pixi Glow Tonic which I apply each morning with a cotton pad.
BHAs contain Salicylic Acid which works deep in the pores to thin out oil & speed up cell turnover. BHAs are stronger than AHAs & some people with sensitive skin may react to them so it’s best to test it out on a small patch before full committing & avoid using it every day. Luckily, Paula’s Choice who produce my holy grail 2% BHA Exfoliating Solution do little tester sets & have a 30-day money back guarantee. If you start using a BHA exfoliant you may notice you break out after a couple of days which is totally normal, the acid is clearing out your pores but once it’s done your skin should clear up quickly.
Step Three // Treatments
This step is where you can really personalise your skincare routine, slotting in products which are designed to address any skin care concerns you might have. For me that means acne & acne-scarring.
The Origins Super Spot Remover is hands down the best acne treatment I’ve found – just pop it on top of a spot (I use a cotton bud to keep everything clean), leave it overnight & in the morning I promise things will be looking a lot better. It feels pricey for such a small amount of product but a little goes a long well & it is designed to be a targeted treatment rather than something you cover your whole face in. For acne scarring I’m currently trying out the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution although I haven’t been blown away by the results.
I’ve also recently started using the Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM, which I’ve been super impressed with. Retinol is one of the few skincare ingredients that is actually worth the hype – if used properly it boosts cell turnover & increases collagen production, which reduces fine lines & smooths the skin’s texture. Retinol is pricey as fuck but if you’ve got a serious beef with your skin it’s worth trying.
Step Four // Oils
This step is definitely optional but I love how soft the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate leaves my skin. The one thing I would say is that oily babes do not need to avoid skincare oils; the right routine & the right oil can do wonders for your skin so don’t be afraid to test it out.
Step Five // Moisturise
I’m definitely guilty of skipping this step & when I knew less about skincare I actively avoided moisturisers because I thought they’d only make my oily skin worse. However, the truth is that with a solid skincare routine behind you a basic moisturiser is just the cherry on top of a sundae – important but no need to be fancy. I’m currently using the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream which I like but to be honest most high street moisturisers can do the job just as well.
& that’s it! I hope you’ve found this helpful – please do share it if you did – & if you have any questions about this routine or the products I use then please feel free to leave a comment below.