Last year I felt the urge to trade up my skincare. I was just really fed up of scrimping and feeling lacking. A final ripple of a quarter life crisis, I was ready to splash some hard-earned cash, even though it eternally feels like you do not have enough. I see friends and colleagues around me saving and going without for months, only to get on the property ladder and then have to scrimp even more! I work hard but I've decided I'm not going to spend my 20's stopping myself from doing things because I'm saving hard for the future. The future is now! And alongside a little saving, I can do a little spending. I've spent a couple of years really stepping away from luxury brands and skincare, visiting even Boots and Superdrug once in a very blue moon, and avoiding any impulse purchases. Well you only live once, and I'm still saving each month but I'm also spending a little, making the most of years I can't get back and perking up my life.
And I bit the bullet with my skincare! Mine was just not the one - I'd swipe away makeup with micellar water and splash on some moisturiser, then exfoliate when my skin was feeling especially drab or I was about to apply a lot of makeup. When your routine is minimal and has no real thought behind it, the last thing you want to do is go out and buy more products, clogging your face with layers of product and scent. I even had a few expensive oils but now I see there was no point in using them when my base was just not prepped. I never really cleared my skin to a high degree, and I never really fed it well. It was a cycle of not completely refreshing my skin and not feeling the benefits of any goodness.
It began when I dived into Caroline Hiron's blog. Beauty bloggers rave about it and one day it was time for me to open my mind and listen to the skincare gospel. I'm not going to reiterate Caroline's advice but I can say that her routines work. Her advice works. It just does! I would start by reading her cheat sheets, the most succinct being the Routines cheat sheet that details the steps you should take. At first the sound of cleansing twice followed by acids (yikes), eye creams, oils, serums, moisturisers etc all in one morning seemed insane. In fact it's miraculous. After using products in this sequence, each step either perfects and clears my skin like nothing else, or gives it litres of goodness. Clogged, rough, irritated or heavy does not come into the equation. If you're not convinced on the need to double cleanse, check out this cheat sheet. To start formulating a shopping list back in September, I then browsed the other sheets that listed recommendations in each of the product categories, noting them down and shopping around websites to find which I could get the best deals on. Once your haul has arrived, visit the application cheat sheet to see which amounts best to use. Then you're on your way!
Since I've actually tried, tested and used up these products, here are my thoughts. You can search for them on Caroline's blog to hear the benefits of each one and why they are in her good books. I made orders on Feel Unique (great service and freebies), Cult Beauty (4 day delivery costs £4 and it came in ugly packaging) and on the high street, using discount codes and cash back sites to get even better deals.
Clinique Take The Day Off Balm - I thought Clinique was a brand all about the hype but it turns out it really does offer great skincare. I don't know how previously I was too tired or time-stretched to wash my face properly, and yet now it's something I look forward to as I know it's going to go well and I will end up with clear, clean and prepped skin, You get a mega 125ml of product so even four months later I have enough product left to last a couple more weeks, and teamed with a bog standard flannel, this takes off all of my makeup, including MAC Pro Longwear foundation. You don't necessarily need a specific balm if you don't wear heavy makeup every day, but I'm sure your face is covered in enough junk from transport, office air-con and pollution to justify it anyway. This is a definite repurchase. I toyed with Emma Hardy but this is half the price, or the Una Brenan oil which is always on offer in Boots.
Ren Clarifying Clay - Now that most of your makeup is erased, the second cleanse can treat your skin type. I'm prone to a few blemishes and my skin can be clogged with city life so I chose a clay cleanser. This transforms into a milk, has a soothing botanical smell that is right up my street, and after a swipe of flannel my skin is now just so clean and balanced. It's the best feeling, its almost addictive. The product is inside a sachet in a pump bottle, so in order to get all of the product out, I had to crack open the bottle somehow and cut into the sachet. Not very handy! But I would repurchase this, though I also considered the Clarins Extra Comfort Cleansing Cream which I would pick up if it was a better deal.
Pixi Glow Tonic - I love exfoliators and when you don't take your makeup off properly, those dead skin cells really stack up. Previously my exfoliator gave me that fresh, smooth skin that was so ready for primer, foundation and concealer, but now I realise that is too harsh. The toner step in the iconic 'cleanse, tone and moisturise' routine that we all know was originally designed to be an acid toner, but the high street has taken the term and now any sort of water with a splash of chemicals can be called a toner. You're meant to use an acid to do all of the exfoliating work and not those scratchy, harsh beads or scrubs. Pop a touch of Pixi Glow Tonic on a cotton pad every night and you never ever feel the need to exfoliate with a scrub. Tight, flaky foundation is a thing of the past and my blusher and contour does not go patchy the way it used to. Your skin does 'glow' but in a natural way, not a red rashy way. I considered the Clarins Clarifying Lotion or the First Aid Beauty Pads but the Pixi toner has lasted me way longer than the 60 FA pads would have. I may try the Clarins lotion next as you can only get Pixi in certain places, but Caroline has stated only to use it a few times a week.
La Roche Posay Serozinc - This slipped out of my routine as I didn't really see the point! It doesn't add any benefit that's even comparable to the other products so why do I need a spray of water? It's a placebo product I feel!
Body Shop Drops Of Youth range - I have reviewed these products already but they are all repurchases - especially the Bouncy Sleeping Mask. I use the eye serum morning and night and the other two exclusively at night. I want to try more of the Vitamin A and C ranges next so I have my eye out for a discount code! The Body Shop always exclusive their best products from their endless discount codes which is annoying.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum - After I've cleansed, toned and rolled on the Body Shop eye serum above (do this before the following), I move onto an oil/serum and moisturiser/treatment. In the morning I use a serum and moisturiser, and in the evening I use an oil or the Body Shop concentrated serum above, and then a treatment like the Sleeping Mask. The Vichy serum was a great price in comparison to many serums and it's great under makeup as it sinks in beautifully. An oil or treatment that sticks around would really upset foundation. I'm not too dedicated to this though and may try another high street serum or maybe Clarins Hydraquench - can you see a Clarins theme here? They have good free gifts at the moment with multiple purchases hmm...
Clinique Moisture Surge - I've ran out of this baby and I need another pronto. It's just perfect! Other brands offer similar gel moisturisers but this is so flawless under makeup, over the Vichy serum. I'd toy with exploring high street gel moisturisers though as I don't think its 'wet' formula is too unique, and a moisturiser can afford to be one of the cheaper products in your routine (ironic words there!) as it's just a barrier, rather than a treatment. I'm also sizing up the Indeed Labs Fillume.
Bio-Essence Aqua Droplet Sleeping Beauty Mask - Caroline Hirons flipped out about this mask but I felt stronger results in the morning from the Bouncy Sleeping Mask. Reading Caroline's review again, my rubbing motion may be better as a wipe and pat so I'll try that tonight as I never felt any 'droplets bursting'. I have quite a lot left so I'm unsure if it's a repurchase yet. It smells strongly of artificial watermelon and I'm not entirely sure that's on purpose. It's very cooling and like a whipped gel or very light jelly. It just doesn't feel like it sinks in and in the morning I can't spot a difference!
So now I've ran out of my Ren second cleanser and the Clinique Moisture Surge, and I'm almost out of the Clinique TTDO, Pixi Glow Tonic and Body Shop Bouncy Sleeping Mask, although I have plenty of Bio-Essence left. The eye serum and serum concentrate from The Body Shop are still going strong, and the Vichy serum bit the dust first. Do you have any recommendations similar to these? I'm about to repurchase a bunch of things but I'm awaiting some great discount codes nearer the end of January!