Over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about skincare from trial and error. When I hit my mid 20s, my skin started to react to my foundation and hormonal acne started to plague me. Thanks to the right skincare routine and products, my skin is now mostly vibrant and clear. Since y’all know I’m a frugal shopper, my skincare products range from drugstore and generic brands to higher-end products that are worth every penny. From face wash, SPF, and masks to zit treatments, cotton pads, and makeup washcloths, I’m sharing some of my all-time favorite skincare products and tools that I always restock in my bathroom. Keep reading to see how I keep my skin clear and glowing!
Walgreens Beauty Micellar Cleansing Water
One of the most important things you can do for your skin is to remove your makeup every night. I reach for one of the most affordable products in my beauty arsenal: micellar water. If you are not familiar with this cleaning workhorse, it’s made up of micelles (tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules) that draw out dirt, oil, and makeup as you glide a soaked cotton pad across your skin. While there are higher end versions on the market (Hello, Bioderma and Garnier), I’ve tried them all and still love the $3.99 bottle of Walgreens Beauty Micellar Cleansing Water. At the end of the day, I shake a bit of this product onto a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face to remove all face and eye makeup.
Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser
After using micellar water to remove the surface-level makeup, dirt, and oil from my face, I reach for my all-time favorite face wash: Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser. After trying several drugstore brands, I’ve learned that a higher-end cleanser is worth the money. This face wash is gentle and universal for all skin types, especially my combination skin (oily forehead/chin with dry cheeks). It is a cult-favorite with thousands of glowing reviews and worth the $24 price. I use this face wash after the micellar water at night.
Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic
After cleansing my face, I reach for a toner to prep my skin for moisturizer. While my daily toner is a gentle rose water formula by Trader Joe’s, I occasionally treat my skin with an exfoliating toner made Glycolic Acid. The Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic was kindly sent to me and I absolutely love how the Glycolic Acid exfoliates and purifies my skin, especially in the acne prone areas like my chin and nose. Even better, it fades my dark spots from acne scars. After cleansing, I soak a cotton pad in this toner and swipe it all over my face. Since it is a chemical exfoliant, I only reach for this a few times a week to prevent over-exfoliation and skin peeling.
CeraVe AM Face Moisturizer SPF 30
After cleansing and toning at night, I use a thick cream to hydrate my face. For SPF in the mornings, I swear by CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30. This product can be found at drugstores for $18. If you only use one skincare product at all, let it be sunscreen! Make sure the SPF you’re using is broad spectrum so that your skin is protected from both UVA and UVB rays. This moisturizer hydrates and provides sun protection, while also serving as a primer under my makeup. I use 2 pumps of this every morning: one pump for my face and one pump for my neck area.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
For those pesky zits and cysts, I dab a bit of Tea Tree Essential Oil on my bumps. Tea tree oil dries up and soothes my acne, along with the life-changing magic of acne patches for overnight and at-home treatment. If you have really sensitive skin, dilute the $12 tea tree oil with a bit of face lotion and apply with a q-tip directly to your zit. I use this zit treatment at night, once or twice a week and it always speeds up the healing and recovery time of my acne.
Favorite Face Masks: Clay, Peel, and Acid
Besides using face wash, toners, micellar water, and other basic products of a daily skin routine, I love rotating in a weekly or monthly face mask. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are several types of masks that enhance your skin, including hydrating, purifying, exfoliating, and brightening formulas. My 3 favorite masks are used a once a week at night (rotated each week), including a clay, peel, and acid.
During that time of the month when my skin is oily and acne prone, I apply the Tony Moly Egg Pore Tightening Cooling Pack for $10. The packaging is absolutely darling and the eggshell powder/clay formula pulls out blackheads and oil from my skin. After cleansing at night, I apply this fluffy white mask to my chin and nose, where blackheads and zits usually pop up. Since this mask can by drying, I avoid applying it to my forehead, under-eye, and cheeks. Use this clay mask for 10 minutes once or twice around that time of the month to prevent and treat hormonal acne and oily skin.
For seriously glowy skin that looks like I just got a facial, I pamper myself with the StriVectin Advanced Acid Resurface Skin Reset Mask. Priced at $59, this Glycolic Acid face mask exfoliates dead skin cells to reveal fresh, renewed skin. This creamy mask is not for the faint of heart: it has a higher concentration of alpha-hydroxy acid that will chemically exfoliate your skin and leave it red afterwards. With that said, do not use this mask on the same day as a manual or chemical exfoliant (face scrub, glow tonic, etc) or it will over-exfoliate your fragile new skin. My husband calls it my “tomato mask” (laughs) because it leaves my skin bright red and tingly… But, hear me out: this mask only needs to be left on your skin for 5 minutes to work its magic. I use this mask once or twice a month for glowy skin and I only use it at night since it makes my skin red. When I wake up the next morning, my skin looks radiant and smooth. I’m usually able to get away with no face makeup for a few days after using this and I always get compliments on my skin.
Besides using clay and acid masks, I also adore using a peel-off mask once or twice a month for fun. The Walgreens Beauty Refresh Facial Mask is only $3.99 and serves as a little pick-me-up for my skin in the middle of the week. This one by Walgreens brightens my skin and smells like fresh grapefruit. It applies like a goo and dries in 10-15 minutes to be peeled off. To make the treatment as comfortable as possible, I only apply a thick layer to my forehead, nose, chin, and a bit of my cheeks so it peels off smoothly. I do not apply it to my under-eye area due to sensitive, delicate skin. If you have never tried a face mask and want to remix your routine, try a peel-off! I use this face mask once a week if my skin is looking a bit dull.
Makeup Cotton Pads and Cleansing Washcloth
Alongside my skincare products are the tools that help apply the products. This cute bunny container holds my cotton pads and these black makeup washcloths work well with my cleanser to remove makeup and hide any makeup stains on the washcloth. I also buy these cotton pads in bulk for toner, micellar water, and removing face masks with a bit of water.
To Wrap it up
If you read this far in this lengthy post, I hope you have found some new products to remix or enhance your skincare routine. With consistent effort, I’ve cleared up my face and learned good habits that yield healthier skin that allows me to wear less and less makeup. Have you tried any of these products? What skincare products do you always repurchase? Let me know in the comments!