Beauty + Skincare

My Summer AM and PM Skincare Regimens

While it’s been years since I’ve significantly altered my makeup or hair routines, my skincare regimen changes a few times a year.  New products are released.  Old products are discontintued.  I decide I don’t want to keep paying $110 for night cream.  In winter, I need more moisture.  In summer, I need less.  You get the picture.  Here are my AM and PM skincare regimens (and recommendations for drugstore dupes).

During the day, I like to keep everything light.  Anything heavy will just melt right off my face anyway, and take my makeup with it.  So my A.M. Regimen consists of five products designed to moisturize and brighten, while laying down a good base for my makeup.

Step One. Face Wash. I wash my face first thing every morning.  I have combination skin, so it’s important to get the oil off (especially in the summer). I love Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash ($24) because it’s oil free and lightly exfoliates while it cleanses.  Drugstore Dupe. Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser ($4).

Step Two. Vitamin-C Serum.  So funnily enough, two days after we shot these pictures, I switched day serums.  The one pictured is the quite excellent Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80).  It’s light, powerful and brightens like a champ.

While I like this serum, I switched back to Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum ($48) for the price and the added collagen.  Because when you’re cresting 35, you need collagen.  Drugstore Dupe. The Ordinary Glucoside Solution ($12).

Step Three. Eye Serum. I struggle with under-eye dryness in the summer.  This Gatineau Aquamemory Eye Roller ($7) is an inexpensive way to get light moisture that won’t clog your pores.  If you need something to de-puff your under-eye or treat dark circles, I recommend First Aid Beauty’s Detox Eye Roller ($26) or Garnier’s Clearly Brighter Eye Roller ($10).

Step Four. Moisturizer. In the summer, I need light moisture; a gel moisturizer is perfect.  I use Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra Gel ($52) because it’s really light and prevents fine lines and wrinkles.  But the best part is how concentrated the product is, just a dime size amount will cover my whole face.  Drugstore Dupe. Garnier Moisture Rescue Gel-Cream ($9).

Step Five. Lips. In the summer, I like a little bit of color in my lip balm.  While there are lots of great tinted balms on the market, this Vaseline Lip Therapy ($3) is my favorite.  It gives a light, rosy hue that looks natural with just a hint of gloss.  If you need a little SPF* in yours, I love Supergoop’s AcaiFusion Balm ($9).

*You may notice there is no sunscreen on this list.  Both my makeup primer and foundation have SPF 30, so I don’t wear extra SPF on a regular day.  If I plan to be outside for an extended period, I wear Sun-Defying Oil with Meadow Foam ($34).

During the summer, keeping the oil off of my face is a full-time job.  So the heavy products I would normally use in winter are relocated to the bottom drawer until October.  My goal is to give my skin just what it needs product-wise and not one drop more.

Step One. Remove Makeup.  I have tried every makeup remover on the planet from diaper wipes to expensive melting creams. These Simple Micellar Makeup Removing Wipes ($7) are some of the best.  They take off everything (except waterproof mascara), and don’t over-dry my skin.  If you need to remove waterproof eye makeup, skip the expensive products and just use olive oil or coconut oil.  They work better, anyway.

Step Two. Face Wash.  Same story as my A.M. routine, Bliss’s wash keeps the oil slick off of my face.  If, for some reason, my skin is a bit dry, I’ll switch to a gentle cleansing oil, like Boscia’s Makeup Breakup ($32) for nighttime.

Step Three. Retinol Serum. Ole Henriksen’s Invigorating Night Transformation Gel ($48) saved my skin.  It’s mix of lactic and glycol acid, plus algae for hydration and healing, is exactly what my skin needs.  However, during the week after my period, when acne becomes my only concern, I switch to the Cosrx Whitehead Power Liquid ($13), because the two products together would be AHA overkill.  Drugstore Dupe. I haven’t found a dupe for the Ole serum that’s good enough to switch for, but I’m told The Ordinary Buffet Serum ($17) provides many of the same benefits.

Step Four. Eye Cream. When I spotted Garnier’s Miracle Sleeping Eye Cream ($17), I had to try it.  It de-puffs, de-wrinkles, and minimizes under-eye darkness (a bit) all while you sleep.  A miracle?  Maybe not.  But I’ve spent a lot more to get a lot less.

Step Five. Night Cream. During summer, I usually skip my nighttime moisturizer.  I don’t really need it, and wearing it is a recipe for clogged pores.  If I feel a little dry, I’ll put on a bit of the Drunk Elephant moisturizer.  But usually, I just apply this TonyMoly Banana Sleeping Pack ($17) every third or fourth day for a boost of moisture.  It deeply hydrates, alleviates redness, and gives skin a nice glow, but it is too heavy to use every day.

So what skincare staples do you use in the summertime?  Leave your best recommendations in the comments.

{images by @jenniferdebarrosphotography}



  1. Crystal says:

    Fascinating to see what works for different people. I can’t imagine not using night cream (I have ridiculously dry skin), and that Bliss foaming face wash caused my face to break out so badly that I returned the face wash. 🙂 But I appreciate your honest review and enjoy seeing what someone of similar age is using in her daily AM/PM routine.

    May 16, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It’s true, some things are saviors for one person and curses for another.

      May 16, 2017/Reply
    • Mary says:

      Yes, skincare is highly personal. As someone 5 years older than Belle with dry combination skin, I couldn’t use a foaming face wash twice a day. But it is always interesting to see what works for others, and sometimes you come across something that works for multiple skin types.

      May 16, 2017/Reply
      • Belle says:

        You might try that Boscia oil cleanser, if you’re in the market for one. I really like it, and it’s good for dry skin, or so the company says.

        May 16, 2017/Reply
        • Crystal says:

          That’s a good suggestion, Belle. Mary — I tried one of the Boscia oil cleansers and it worked pretty well for my dry skin, though it might take some getting used to. I’ve also had reasonably good results with the Fresh mask trio (sugar face polish, rose face mask, black tea instant perfecting mask).

          May 17, 2017/Reply
  2. Evelyn says:

    Loved reading this!

    If you’re open to checking out some new cleansers to remove makeup (I love double cleansing, it’s done wonders for me) the Banila Co clean it balm is awesome at melting it all off. Another good one is the KOSE Softy Mo Facial Cleansing Oil Speedy. It’s a little cheaper and a little goes a long way!

    As far as moisturizer for summertime, the Lioelle Water Drop Sleeping Pack is so lightweight and refreshing. I’ve also heard great things about the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

    May 16, 2017/Reply
  3. Jenn S. says:

    I picked up the Drunk Elephant C-Firma too during the spring VIB sale – I really like it but that $80 price tag is killer. Apparently the packaging helps prevent the ingredients from breaking down (vitamin C is fairly volatile and can degrade quickly).

    I need to give Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum a shot though.

    May 16, 2017/Reply
    • Amy says:

      Timeless Vitamin CE Ferulic works beautifully, is on amazon, and is about $20, would highly recommend it.

      May 17, 2017/Reply
      • Emily says:

        I just got this and really like it!

        May 18, 2017/Reply
    • RR says:

      That cleaning balm by Banila is totally mega super. I use the purity one and double cleanse. I’m not religious about the 2nd but definitely love that balm.

      May 17, 2017/Reply
  4. Jules says:

    What Primer do you use that has SPF in it? Super interested. Thanks!

    May 16, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      NARS Pro Prime in Oil Free.

      May 16, 2017/Reply
      • JB says:

        I also love this primer per your recommendation many years ago, but when mine ran out last month, I couldn’t find it anymore. I think it got discontinued, though it’s still available on ebay for a little bit more. Has anyone tried the primers from the new line?

        May 17, 2017/Reply
    • Lisa says:

      Laura Mercier Protect is awesome.

      May 16, 2017/Reply
  5. Eri says:

    I just bought a Ole Henricksen sample package from sephora to try the truth serum and night gel. I recently decided that I really need to amp up my skincare regimen since I recently turned 30. 2 weeks in and it seems to make my skin look better. 🙂

    I also just wanted to say that I appreciate your reviews and love how you often try to be realistic about budgets and the best products that fit for different price points.

    May 17, 2017/Reply
  6. SC says:

    My skin LOVES to be chemically exfoliated with the Alpha Hydrox 10% lotion, it literally drinks it up. I also really love the Boscia gel cleanser (cleans without stripping) and the face oil in the red dropper bottle. I use plain old Cetaphil lotion for eye cream and do either a mask or a scrub twice a week. My skin has told me, in no uncertain terms, that less is more! I’m not really trying new products lately because my simple routine is working well. 🙂

    May 17, 2017/Reply
  7. Amy says:

    If you’re using retinols, you really really should be using a proper sunscreen (not just what is in your makeup). I highly recommend trying an Asian sunblock, they’re cheap, sink in fast, and are just light years more advanced than anything you can find in the US. Biore aqua riche 2014/15 version is my personal favorite, but there are loads of others in the $8-$15/tube range.
    This is my go to for my son who haaaates the smell of US sunblock and cannot stand the spray kinds.

    May 17, 2017/Reply
    • RR says:

      I just ordered the Nivea one for my 8year old, thanks for the rec. I’m in love with all Korean skin products and will now try the sunblocks too. I also ordered the Missha skin milk for myself. Though the Nivea may not get here until the end of the summer . . .

      May 17, 2017/Reply
  8. Nicolette says:

    My go to face wash/scrub is the St. Ives Apricot scrub. I have really dry skin and must exfoliate almost every day! I’ve tried other ones but they’re just not as good. I’ve always been tempted to try the Garnier’s Eye Roller, might just take the plunge this time. Thanks for the recs!

    May 17, 2017/Reply
  9. Sarah I says:

    I recently went to a Clairins kiosk and my skin has never looked more beautiful…this week FIVE women have stopped me to compliment my skin and ask what I’ve used. I’m usually more of a drugstore brand gal, and long term it will serve me to find the drugstore equivalents of these products, but until these run out, I’m basking and glowing (and realizing I should be the type of person to compliment strangers, now that I know how good it feels!).

    May 18, 2017/Reply
    • Kim says:

      Well Missy u must tell us what you’re using ?!? Can’t leave us hanging like that.

      May 20, 2017/Reply
  10. SM says:

    I really like Olay Regenerist serum – I mix in the Philosophy Vitamin C powder in the morning. The Skinceuticals tinted sunscreen is a great physical barrier. You don’t want to undo all the work your products are doing by not using a good sunscreen!
    At night I double cleanse with Neutrogena foaming face wash and micellar water. Kiehl’s avocado eye cream, Pond’s Rejuveness to hydrate. Prescription retinol is the last step.

    May 18, 2017/Reply
  11. Kim says:

    If you’re at all concerned about your skin and ageing, which I assume you are since you mentioned your age in this post in reference to another product, you really ought to consider using a real sunscreen. The sunscreen in your makeup is not good enough. It may have some sunscreen ingredients, but you’d have to use a ton of product to actually get the sun protection described on the label and even still it usually doesn’t have the capability of adequately protecting from both UVA and UVB rays.

    More than any other product you put on your face, sunscreen + retinol are the number one things you can do to prevent ageing in your skin. Leaving out sunscreen is just silly.

    May 18, 2017/Reply
  12. A.J. says:

    Does the banana sleeping pack have ANY sort of banana smell? I’ve seen several recommend but I effing hate banana smell.

    May 19, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It dissipates very quickly, but yes, straight from the tube there is a banana taffy smell.

      May 21, 2017/Reply