Ladies and gentlemen in the back… I was a fellow pimple-faced high school kid and although I never had severe acne, I definitely felt the blow to my confidence whenever one of those lovely red friends came to play on my face for weeks at a time. Now at 22, I still have slight acne but nothing that can really bring down my confidence. I feel like we’re always told that you grow out of acne after high school and here I am wondering why my skin isn’t looking like a baby’s bottom 5 years later!

In truth, I never really started my skincare routine until I moved here to Serbia in January 2019. The winters here are far harsher than I’ve ever been used to and my skin was longing for some sort of hydration. It was always dry and sore, my makeup looked awful, it was just a mess and not even a hot mess!  I decided to really look into what I can do to better take care of my skin and it has worked wonders for me, while also turning into my favorite time of the evening… self-care time.

So below you’ll find the products I use every evening that have truly limited my breakouts and helped diminish scarring. I say evening because I actually don’t wash my face with anything except water in the morning now! I was looking up videos from dermatologists on common mistakes and I found more than one saying that they don’t wash their face with product in the morning and they don’t recommend it. It makes sense when you think about it! You have all these natural built-up oils that are good for your skin that has surfaced overnight and the first thing we do is wake up and take it all off – leaving your skin stripped and dry. I’ve been doing it this way for about a month now, and while it took me a few days to get used to it, I’ve definitely noticed my skin looks far fresher when I apply my makeup and has less irritation throughout the day. Maybe it’s in my head… but either way, I’m happy with it!

 

GARNIER SKINACTIVE MICELLAR FOAMING GEL CLEANSER

I start my night time skin routine by using this foaming gel cleanser. This product retails for $8.99 and stands true to its description to be ‘powerful, yet gentle to skin’. I love to use this in place of any makeup wipes as I’ve found that the wipes leave me red and drag on my skin. I like to pat my face lightly with water to make it foam a bit, because if your skin is soaked prior to use, I don’t feel like it has the same effect.

The downside to this product: if you have sensitive eyes I would be extremely careful! I don’t have sensitive anything (lol but really) and this burns the crap out of my eyes when I wash my face. Could I have learned my lesson and probably wiped it off with a washcloth? Yes. Have I after 9 months of use? Nooo..

 

GARNIER MICELLAR OIL-INFUSED CLEANSING WATER

I actually can’t find this product on their US website, so I’ve linked the UK website and it makes me wonder if this isn’t available in the US? Someone let me know in the comments below so I can edit this post later if need be. This is what I use after I do my initial makeup rinse. I skip this step if I didn’t wear any makeup that day as I don’t think it’s necessary and instead I’ll use the Micellar Cleansing Water that is not oil-infused. It’s also $8.99 and I’m one of those people who are like, “okay so I’m paying $9 to wash my face with water?” – but seriously, this stuff is magic and totally worth the money. I switch back and forth between these two (again, depending on if I wore makeup or not) and I’ve had them for about 8-9 months now. You need the slightest amount and even when you think you washed your makeup off thoroughly, it will find something to remove from your skin. Neither leaves my skin sticky or greasy and they’re a staple in my routine of making sure that I get all the days makeup off.

 

ZIAJA ACAI BERRY MICELLAR CLEANSING FACE SCRUB GEL

Okay, so a lot of people (almost everyone) recommends not exfoliating more than 2-3 times a week… I use this face scrub every single night (and they say that it can be used daily!). I really cannot stand when I can feel the built-up texture on my skin and I think that this product does a fantastic job of getting rid of any leftover grime from the day. It’s a very delicate exfoliator and my skin always feels smooth and moisturized when I’m done. This is my final washing step to ensure that I got off all the dirt and yuckiness that builds up in a day and although it seems like a lot it takes a solid 2 minutes to make sure my skin is clean. It is $12.99 and these bottles tend to last me about 4-5 months.

 

ZIAJA ACAI BERRY FACE TONER

Now that my face is properly cleansed I move on to the post-washing portion of my routine. I’m not going to pretend I understand the importance of toner because I don’t know if I believe this product does that much for my face, but I know it feels lovely, smells good, and is awesome for giving that extra bit of moisture. You’re instructed to apply it using a cotton pad but I kind of just spray it on 2-3 times in an X shape and then use my fingers to rub it in. Some toners have a heavy smell of alcohol and are super drying to my skin and I don’t have that problem with this one! Whether it’s just better quality or actually not working I am not sure lol. This isn’t a must-have for me so if you don’t want to spend the extra $12.99 then skip this step.

 

HADA LABO TOKYO LOTION No. 1 SUPER HYDRATOR

This product is genuinely the best thing I have added to my skincare routine and probably responsible for 90% of the change I’ve seen over the last 9 months (shout out to my colleague who turned me on to it). I can’t find the price on their actual website but I believe I paid around $20 for it. However, I’ve been using it for literally almost 10 months and I have tons left.

One of the biggest misconceptions I had about my combo-oily skin was that I shouldn’t be moisturizing it since it already produces so many oils. WRONG. The more I looked into this concept the more I realized that I have not been helping my skin! Leading brands in the skincare industry, like Clinique and L’Oreal, really informed me on the mistake that I’ve been making for far too long. I’ve seen my acne and scars steadily decrease within the first 4 weeks of really taking the time to make sure my skin is properly moisturized.  At first, my skin was literally so dehydrated that I couldn’t even spread the product around. I had to use multiple pumps to make sure I could evenly coat my face. That was something that was extremely shocking to me and I didn’t even realize until a month later when the product started spreading with just one pump, the way it’s supposed to.

Pro tip: This Super Hydrator is able to be used as a primer (and works incredibly well) and it’s also able to be applied OVER your makeup.

 

OLAY COMPLETE UV365 DAILY MOISTURIZER

I have been using this moisturizer for literally my whole life because my mom has been using it since I can remember. It’s $10.99 but it goes on sale pretty often. I use it night and day so I go through a bottle probably every 2-3 months. I always laugh because people spend upwards of $50 on face cream and I’m like… “It’s $11 but it goes on sale!” haahhahaha. Anyways, I really like it because I feel like it’s the perfect amount of moisture for my skin and it doesn’t stay sticky or leave my face oily. It has such a nice finish to it where I just feel glowy and beautiful.

Pro tip: I’ll mix it with a foundation for just light coverage. Some lotions break apart the makeup if you try to do that but this one doesn’t and it looks beautiful.

 

COCONUT OIL / VASELINE

I have a few girlfriends who like to cleanse their face with something heavily oil-based, like Clinique’s Take The Day Off, however, that is just not for me. I literally just feel like my pores are clogged and it is yucky. What I like to do with coconut oil (only at night) is apply it under my eyes, like an eye cream. At first, you won’t see a difference, but after a week or so you’ll see that it really helps with your eyes looking sunken. It keeps them smooth and it’s a great hack for when you know you won’t be getting much sleep. Last but not least, I apply vaseline morning and night on my lips after cleansing. This is the final step in what seems like forever routine but it really doesn’t take long unless I drag it out.

Caution: I would make sure to put it on a little before you go to bed because you need to give it time to sink in, otherwise it’ll just smear on your pillow if you sleep on your side like me. Also, don’t get too close to your tear duct or you’ll have blurry vision until the morning… done that one too many times!

 

So there you have it! For anyone who is looking for new products or looking to start a skincare routine, here is what I’ve been doing with results shown for a reasonable budget! Skincare has become so important to me and I really enjoy the time it takes to do these things. Before, it felt like a chore to take care of myself. Now, after a long day at work, I can’t wait to come home and pamper my skin.