Beauty + Skincare

My Morning Skincare Routine

A few weeks ago, I posted my nighttime skincare routine.  With just three products, this is a significantly pared down routine from the lengthy regimen’s outlined in some glossy magazines.  My daytime routine is a bit more involved; it contains four products.

Here’s the skincare regimen that gets my skin off to a fresh start.

Step One: Vichy Normaderm Cleanser.  At night, I want gentle cleansing.  In the mornings, I want a bit more oomph to remove the inevitable combination skin oil slick from my face.  I keep this Vichy Cleanser ($19) in my shower, along with my Foreo Luna silicone scrubber to give my skin a gentle exfoliation.

Washing my face in the morning has made a big difference in my skin (before I just used a makeup removing towelette).  This cleanser is powerful without being harsh.  It also lathers well, so a small amount is more than enough.

Step Two: Cosrx Whitehead Power Liquid.  I use Aphorism’s Clear Sailing at night to heal and prevent acne.  During the day, I turn to this Cosrx Power Liquid ($19).  This serum contains glycol acid to brighten and resurface skin.  It’s one of the best products I’ve ever used for preventing whiteheads.

If blackheads are your issue, Cosrx also makes a serum for that.  It eliminates blocked pores while softening skin.

Regular acne not your issue?  If you’re one of those lucky ladies who only gets a blemish here or there, the best thing to shrink that pimple overnight are these Cosrx pimple patches.  They suck out all of the gunk from inside the blemish to speed up healing.  These are the only thing that works on a deep cystic pimple.

Step Three: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum.  An oldie, but goodie.  This vitamin-C and collagen serum from Ole Henriksen ($48-$72) is like a vitamin for your skin.  Anti-oxidants fight free radical damage, while collagen helps prevent wrinkles and plump skin.  The product is also really moisturizing, so some days, I don’t even need moisturizer.

Need a vitamin-C serum in a lower price point?  Try The Ordinary’s 30% Vitamin C in Silicone for $8.

Step Four: IT! Cosmetics Secret Sauce.  This $68 moisturizer uses the power of fermentation to breathe new life into tired skin.  This is one of the few moisturizers that I’ve ever used where I actually notice a difference in my skin.  It hydrates and brightens like a dream without being heavy.

I tried really hard not to like this moisturizer.  It’s a bit pricey, and I’m trying to cut spending.  But I had a deluxe sample, and when it ran out, I made it two days before I needed to run out and grab it.  If you want to give it a whirl, there’s $20 travel size that you can try before you splurge.

I know that for some of you low-maintanence ladies seven products may seem like a lot.  To others, choosing just seven might feel torturous.  For me, this is the routine that has my skin looking the best it’s looked in a couple of years.  Boy, I hope this lasts.

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  1. kK says:

    I say this with love, and without negative criticism – but lady, you need an spf! If your skin is working to repair sun damage, it’s not able to do the other things you want it to- like stay hydrated and not get wrinkly. These are great products, but if you want to keep your skin looking nice for the future, make sure you add an spf- I like the supergoop mineral for sensitive skin, some people like the unseen sunscreen from supergoop. I also like Elta MD and some of the Laroche posay options.

    July 30, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I admit: I am not as good at wearing SPF as I should be. I have one, I do wear it most of the time. I just don’t consider it part of my routine. You’re right, that’s not ideal.

      July 30, 2018/Reply
  2. Anna says:

    Interesting, I always aim for more intense cleaning at night and gentle during in the morning, since less gunk has accumulated on my skin in the morning compared to while I’m out and about during the day.

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  3. Lisa says:

    On the SPF note, I just got an SPF moisturizer from COOLA in my (first) fabfitfun box and am LOVING it. Its extremely light and smells like a flower (vs. like typical sunscreen). Probably won’t replace your IT moisturizer, but its not terribly expensive, so could be an easy addition to the routine. 🙂

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  4. caroline says:

    That secret sauce is so pretty I might get it because I’d feel like a unicorn using it!
    x0x0 Caro

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  5. JW says:

    Regarding SPF containing products – remember that reapplication is essential to their performance! You can have an SPF product that goes on great under makeup, but if you’re not reapplying it every 2 hours (or at lunch or after work if you’re only outside when you commute) then the only good it’s doing is during your morning commute to the office. As with all SPF products, their ability to block harmful rays is directly related to two things (moreso than the “amount” of SPF (30 vs 50, for example): 1. The amount you put on in the first place. To actually get 30 SPF protection from a product labeled as such, you should be slathering it on and rubbing it in. If you’re doing less than that, you’re probably not getting 30 SPF protection. This is not a dab-and-go situation. 2. Consistent reapplication. Zinc may last a little longer, but most sunscreens **only last ~2 hours at their labeled level of protection**.

    Additionally, SPF will help prevent some skin cancers like squamous and basal cell carcinoma(and of course wrinkles) , but covering up is the only reliable way to prevent melanoma.
    For some reason I couldn’t reply to the other SPF comments, so sorry for the separate thread. I certainly don’t mean to lecture anyone, this is just a heads up. These SPF containing products are so well marketed (and I do use them) but they’re not magic.

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  6. Jules says:

    I learned that SPF in makeup isn’t enough the hard way.
    But I live in Hawaii and LA and spend a ton of time outdoors, so I kind of had it coming.I hate wearing SPF because it never works under makeup.
    But I have been using EltaMD and my makeup goes on perfectly over it. I also don’t need a moisturizer when using EltaMD. (YMMV).
    I’ve tried a crap ton of other mineral SPFs, but I only like the EltaMD. You can get 20% off when you sign up for emails at dermstore.

    To reapply during the day over makeup, I’ve been liking the powder mineral SPF brush from peter thomas roth.

    For Vitamin C, I’ve been using a combo of Vitamin CEF from Timeless (only $25) and SkinMedica Lytera 2.0. Plus a chemical peel has made a pretty good improvement.

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  7. Monica T says:

    I also do a gentler cleanse in the morning, just warm water and PTR Unwrinkle Turbo Smoothing Toner before applying PTR Potent-C Power Serum. Then I prime and apply PTR Max Mineral Naked SPF 45 before makeup. The toner and serum are so hydrating that I haven’t had to moisturize in the summer, we shall see when winter comes. I have been dabbling with SPF Mineral Powders for daytime reapplication but they definitely look ghostly over my summer skin tone. I am using the Tarte product right now, but might have to try PTR since someone here recommended it.

    July 30, 2018/Reply
  8. Jenna says:

    Ditto all the other spf comments. My derm told me I need to be using a mineral sunscreen that sits on top of the skin. The thing is mineral sunscreens are very WHITE and hard to absorb. However, for the past year I’ve been using la roche-posey tinted moisturizer with pretty good success. Hopefully I’ll see the results pay off 10 years down the road.

    July 31, 2018/Reply
  9. Mandi says:

    Ditto to the comments reminding readers to include daily SPF in their routines, especially if you are using an acid in the morning! Using an AHA or BHA in the morning and not protecting your face from the sun will only bring about more damage and undo any potential benefits of the acid or exfoliant. I recommend tinted mineral sunscreen. MD SolarSciences and Suntegrity are good brands to try. A lot of people like La Roche Posay and Avene too. Elta MD Clear is a great product for under makeup but it does contain a chemical sunscreen ingredient.I also like using a powder mineral product for touch-ups and can recommend Colorscience as well as Supergoop brush-on products for that.

    July 31, 2018/Reply
  10. Jo says:

    Piling on the mineral sunscreen recs – I’m fair-skinned, so the modern formulations actually blend pretty well with my face (with some of them, you can’t tell I’m wearing them even if I don’t put my light foundation over it!). I like the Cerave but am currently using and liking Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen, which takes a little more rubbing in but then is totally invisible on me. And, obviously, these are all inexpensive options.

    July 31, 2018/Reply
  11. Kate says:

    Agree with all the others on SPF. There are tons of great recommendations here. I am *very* fair and very sun-sensitive, and a lot of the mineral/chemical sunscreens aren’t enough for me, unfortunately. I’ve been using the Drunk Elephant Umbra Daily Defense, which is a physical sunscreen. That means it has a light white cast from the zinc oxide, but I find if I put it over a robust moisturizer it’s easy to blend out. You definitely need it if you’re going to use anti-oxidant serums in the morning like those Vit C products, which can increase sun-sensitivity. I tend to use anti-oxidants in the evening and peptides in the morning for that reason.

    I also agree with the others who do a deeper cleanse in the evening and a gentler one in the morning. In fact, unless I’ve used a heavy sleeping pack or an occlusive (like Aquaphor) the evening before, I often just splash cold water on my face in the morning and use an acid toner and call it a success.. I double cleanse every evening (once with an oil or balm cleanser and then with something foaming) to make sure I’ve gotten any and all makeup and/or SPF off, but I know you struggle with acne and over-cleansing can actually make that worse by stimulating sebum production.

    August 5, 2018/Reply
  12. Deborah says:

    Buying the whitehead serum now! Love your blog and your recommendations – I know it isn’t some product placement crap. My question regarding your morning routine is that ulta says not to combine the white head serum with retinol or vitamin C products. But the truth serum is vitamin-c. You don’t have any issue combining those products?

    February 14, 2021/Reply