My Skincare Philosophy, Routine and Products: 2019 vs 2020 | Lab Muffin Beauty Science
Hi, it’s Michelle from Lab Muffin Beauty Science, chemistry PhD and skin care nerd yesterday I was looking at my blog archives and I realized it’s been a little bit over a year since I last shared my evening skincare routine I get a lot of questions on what products I’ve been using in my routine And I usually just tell people to look at that post but I realize I haven’t actually read that post in a while So I thought it would be interesting to have a look at that and see what products I’m still using which products I’ve changed and whether or not I still agree with the opinions of Michelle from about 16 months ago If you like nerding out about the science behind beauty products make sure you click subscribe and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any videos So here’s what I said in my post “I don’t like sharing my routine that often because I’m testing products and I don’t want to endorse something that I haven’t fully tested yet” That is still the case.
I still have to test lots of products and yeah, I feel a little bit uncomfortable sharing it before I’ve really had a proper opinion also when I share it a lot of people tend to ask me what I feel about that product and i’m usually not quite ready yet.
When i’m ready, I will post a review “Secondly, it’s because I think it’s tempting for people to see my routine and try to copy it exactly. My skin’s needs aren’t the same as another person’s skin’s needs, my budget and products that are available aren’t the same as someone else” I still completely agree with this.
You need to know your own skin. Products that will work for me won’t necessarily work for you especially if you don’t have the same skin type and skin conditions as I do. “In my opinion the most sensible route is to get to know your skin and its needs then base a routine on that and your budget and product accessibility” Yes completely still agree with that You need to know your skin.
You need to understand it and then you can pick products without having to necessarily just base it on other people’s recommendations. “That’s why the Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare starts with instructions on how to perform a skin assessment” Yes doing a skin assessment is really important.
You want to know what your skin is like – if it’s dry, oily, sensitive dehydrated? in the absence of whatever products you’re using. A lot of people tend to use too many products and then their skin might react to that.
So yeah, a lot of people are using products that make their skin worse than it might be if you use less products or even if you use no products at all “You can’t work out what your skin needs if you’re using products that aren’t right for your skin then piling products suited to someone else’s skin on top.
You just can’t” Completely agree with that as well So there’s a third reason I don’t really share my routine that often and It’s because I do get a lot of PR samples and like I said, I am usually testing some products I think a lot of skincare instagrammers tend to share their routines and it’ll be like 10 products and half of them will change every single day and I think that’s kind of misleading to people.
Skincare influencers should be people who know more about skin care or at least are more immersed in that world and I think it gives people who are less experienced a misleading idea of how many products should be in a routine and how often you should be changing them out so I try not to do that “I don’t have an ETA for my next skincare eBook about advanced skincare routines and actives” – that is still the case.
I have started working on it. It is in progress, but I don’t know. I never know how long things take. So the next section is some general notes about my routine They’re more principles that guide me rather than strictly what’s in my routine “My routine isn’t rigid.
I adapt it based on how my skin feels” – that’s still the case. I will pick products based on whether my skin’s feeling tight or dry, what the weather is like as well. “To adapt your routine effectively you need to know how to assess your skin and know how your skin reacts to specific products which is why I go on about one product at a time.
” Still the case So here are the considerations for my personal routine that shape what I choose and these will be different for everyone “My top priorities are anti-acne and anti-pigmentation” That hasn’t changed.
I still get acne. I’ve actually had a really nasty breakout here for a few weeks now. So yep, that’s still going on. “I’m turning 32 this year.” So young “so i’m starting to see more white hairs and wrinkles” I am seeing more white hairs.
But since last time I don’t think the wrinkles have really progressed, which is awesome “My skin is oily and dehydration prone. I prefer not to layer too many products.” Yep. Still the case “Too many steps gets confusing and heavy and increases the chances of the products interacting and clumping up or irritating my skin and it takes longer than I can handle” Still correct.
“After cleansing, I like to use less than four products” I think the average has actually gone down a bit since then. I think I generally use two or three “I don’t like things that are unpleasant to use even if they’re more effective I like to enjoy my skincare routine.
I favor products with convenient packaging and easy application over things that are a pain to use still true I also like pleasant textures and scents” Yes. “I don’t have brand loyalty. I mix and match products from different brands all the time.
” That’s definitely correct “There are still products and brands that show up multiple times” Yes, so I think part of this is brands that I tend to like more and have more um reliable products but I think part of it is also just some brands have more products and more categories and so I end up using more of their products as well “Just because I don’t regularly use a product i’ve loved in the past doesn’t mean I no longer recommend it.
Sometimes products just fall by the wayside as a similar product has replaced it and I haven’t felt the need to repurchase it. Sometimes I’ve switched to a different product and forgotten how good it was and then later on I rediscover it and go on a rave” I think that is going to happen in this video.
So the next section is about cleansing. Last year I cleansed with an oil cleanser then a gentle foaming cleanser. “I shower at night so I step into the shower with oil cleanser on my face then step into the shower for the foaming cleanser.
” That’s still pretty much my routine even during lockdown. “I use a lot of different cleansers but they’re always gentle.” Yep. That’s still correct So here are the cleansers I used last year Um, I currently use none of these and mostly because I finished them off So I finished off the Shu Uemura.
I loved it still love it. But now i’m using other things. Farmacy Green Clean – that’s a cleansing balm, also finished that. Peter Thomas Roth – finished it. Krave Beauty – I don’t think I completely finished the bottle, but then I got distracted and started using something else but I think I finished most of it.
Paula’s Choice Hydrating Gel to Cream Cleanser. I actually used half of it and then I gave the rest of the tube to my sister because she’s got drier skin and this suited her better. With the Youth to the People one, I finished it and then I discovered the pump fits on Lush shower gels which is amazing One of the things I really didn’t like about the Youth to the People cleanser is that it was in a glass jar and as someone who cleanses their face in the shower that was an accident waiting to happen.
So I couldn’t wait to finish that off and get it out of the shower. I actually kept it on the floor of the shower so that there was a lower chance of it just breaking and cutting my feet open. “If i’m wearing heavy makeup.
I might use a tool for cleansing.” The Panasonic Micro Foaming Facial Cleansing Brush was my favorite. That is still my favorite and that’s because it has these massaging balls instead of the usual brush.
And so that means if you use it every day, you’re much less likely to get irritated. I know a lot of people who start using cleansing brushes want to use them every day because they’re quite convenient for getting cleanser on your face and foaming it up but for most people that tends to be a bit too harsh so this avoids it really nicely.
But now I really rarely wear heavy makeup, so I don’t really bother. So I decided for this video. I would only show products that I’ve been using for at least a month. In terms of the cleansing oils and balms this is the cleansing balm I’ve been using.
It is the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm This is a really gorgeous texture. I really like it It has a really rich texture, which I enjoy I probably wouldn’t use it without following up with some sort of foaming cleanser.
The other cleansing balm I’ve been using is The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser. This is pretty much a cleansing balm in a tube. It’s a bit less oily than your usual cleansing balm or at least that’s how it feels on my skin.
Still works really well, I probably would prefer a cleansing oil in a pump but at the moment that’s what I’m doing. In terms of foaming cleansers I’ve been using the Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel which I really like and I think this is why I’ve forgotten about the Krave Beauty one because they’re pretty similar products.
They’re in the same shape packaging and they look the same when you squeeze it out. The other cleanser I’ve been using a lot is the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser. I was testing this for a sponsored video this video isn’t sponsored but that one is and I really love it.
It’s got glycerin really high up in the ingredients list. So it’s really hydrating which is good for my skin, and it’s in a pump and I just have a massive bias towards things in pumps because they’re so convenient.
Another product that i’ve been using for cleansing is the Bio Essence Bio-Water Micellar Water. This is one of the most effective micellar waters I’ve ever used. A lot of the time micellar water – it doesn’t work that great around your eyes, but this one just sort of destroys makeup, which is amazing.
It also feels quite normal on your skin. So it feels like you don’t need to rinse it off. So yeah, this is super convenient I use this a lot on nights when I’m too lazy to properly cleanse my face. Onto the actives part.
So I use a three night cycle for my leave on evening products: tretinoin night, alpha hydroxy acid night and vitamin c night. I still use a three night cycle. Tretinoin night is always in there, the other two nights have changed a bit.
But generally there will be one harsh exfoliating night and one gentle nicer night – recovery night. So tretinoin I’m still using, it is still the same generic brand which we get here in Australia it is 0.
05 percent. So last year I said it was fantastic at keeping breakouts at bay, fading hyperpigmentation and smoothing out skin texture. It’s probably also keeping wrinkles away. I think it probably is keeping the wrinkles away because I haven’t really seen any increase in wrinkles.
Maybe there’s even been a decrease. In terms of breakouts I don’t think I’ve really seen a decrease. I did also start using oral contraceptives between then and now so it’s a bit hard to say for sure but I tend to feel that tretinoin doesn’t really keep away my clogged pores.
It’s really the chemical exfoliants. Last year I said that my skin was still super sensitive to tretinoin. So thankfully it is a lot less sensitive now. I hardly ever get massive peeling. I still only use it every three days Maybe I’ve just gotten better at estimating how much I need.
So I used to mix a quarter to a half pea sized blob of tretinoin with a few drops of oil Now I tend to mix it with moisturizer instead of oil. I haven’t really used oils that much recently. So when I was originally filming this video it was lockdown and so I wasn’t really leaving the house much but now I am going to and from work every day and it’s the middle of winter so I am using oils because my skin is getting a little bit flaky.
I usually use rosehip oils or a blend of oils and I’ll add a couple of drops to my moisturizer or I’ll put it on my hands and then press them together then press them into my face. And I know that wastes a lot of product but I don’t really mind because I never use up oils before they go off.
So here are the moisturizers that I tend to use the most. The Laneige Cream Skin Toner and Moisturizer This is sort of like a really light liquid lotion. I used this a lot in summer when it was a bit too hot and sticky to use a moisturizer properly but I still wanted something to hydrate and add a little bit of oil to my skin.
So this is really handy. This is the small bottle. I actually also have a giant bottle as well. I mostly mix tretinoin with moisturizer so that it spreads a lot more easily so I don’t feel the need to use extra tretinoin or get too much in one particular spot.
So I’ve been using these three moisturizers the most. So firstly the Jordan Samuel Skin Performance Cream. This was sent to me by Jordan Samuel who is an esthetician in the US. So this is a really nice hydrating moisturizer and it actually has a whole bunch of peptides in it.
So it has actives, but it doesn’t really feel like it has actives, which I really like. There’s also Bioderma’s Sensibio Light I really like Bioderma creams for when I don’t want my face to react with anything.
I know that my skin will be fine with them and so I use this a lot. Then I also have this one which is the newest one in my collection Dr. Dennis Gross’s Stress Repair Face Cream. So this is quite interesting because it has a lot of adaptogens I haven’t really looked that much into them for skin care, but they do have antioxidant properties a lot of the time So this has a pretty strong ginger smell.
It’s very hydrating and I mostly use it because of the texture. Dr Dennis Gross’s products tend to have quite a few naturals in them, but I found that my skin doesn’t react to them which is great – that might not be the same for you.
So option two for tretinoin night is a gentle cream “If my skin’s too flaky or irritated I use Kate Ryan’s Total Nutrition Night Repair Complex instead.” This is still one of my favorite products. I actually have a new jar of it.
Now it has new packaging It was in my 2019 favorites and it is still a favorite. My skin doesn’t really get irritated so much anymore So I use treasure on Consistently every third night. I tend to use this a lot on nights before I want my skin to look really good So I actually used it last night So night two of my cycle is alpha hydroxy acid night, and I said that “I still find that I get some whiteheads if I don’t use hydroxyl acid exfoliants regularly” – that’s still the case now.
“This is especially important if I’m trying out sunscreens” Yes, that is still true. Sunscreens still clog the crap out of my pores. So last year I said that low pH hydroxy acid exfoliants tend to be irritating on my retinised skin but I tended to use a bunch of different strengths including some really gentle ones So back, then I used to apply a niacinamide serum first I don’t really do this anymore on hydroxy acid night.
I used to use 10 percent niacinamide booster or lee ji ham vita propolis ampoule. I’ve actually stopped using both of those. I really love the paula’s choice ten percent niacinamide booster, It was the first niacinamide product that I used and worked really well on my skin and I could actually see the benefit.
I don’t know why I stopped using it. I think I just forgot about it. Maybe I should go back to it. I think also a lot of the products i’ve been testing tend to have niacinamide in them nowadays, so maybe I think I just sort of feel like i’m getting enough niacinamide, but I’m definitely not getting ten percent.
2% BHA Liquid. I still use this, it was one of my first skin care products, my first real skincare purchase. Still love it, still use it. Then I picked the strongest AHA product I can handle that night and layer it on top.
Sometimes I’ll skip AHA altogether if my skin’s too irritated. So back then my high strength one was Ultraceutical’s Ultra Brightening serum. That is still in my stash, I still use it. Here it is. One of the things I really don’t like about this is that I think the acid is a bit too strong for the packaging sometimes so the edges of the mirrored surfaces tend to start cracking and the mirrored paint starts peeling off and it goes really brown I think they have a few botanicals in this which can oxidize.
The product itself is awesome, it’s just the packaging I could really do with a bit of improvement. Then for medium strength, I used to use Paula’s Choice 8% AHA or Drunk Elephant Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and low strength I used Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA or Pixi Glow Tonic.
My skin’s gotten a lot less irritated now that it’s gotten used to the tretinoin so I actually hardly ever use the low strength ones anymore on my face. I use them on my armpits as deodorant though. I have a blog post on that which I’ll link in the description.
I haven’t really used a medium strength one in a while. I’ve started using more P50 lotion, which I bought when I was in Paris. It has gluconolactone, which is a poly hydroxy acid that’s supposed to be less irritating but still have similar effects um lactic acid tons of glycerin, niacinamide Yeah, so I tend to use a tiny amount of this because it was pretty expensive and difficult to get.
I’ll still probably not finish this bottle for like, seven years. Another acid product. I’ve been using a bit more is Dr Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Universal Daily peel and this I think it’s mostly just convenience It is a two-step product where you have two sachets one sachet is Exfoliate and Smooth And the other one is Anti-Aging Neutralizer So the Exfoliate and Smooth contains mostly glycolic acid and salicylic acid.
The key things in step two are ascorbic acid a few retinoids ubiquinone, which is also known as coenzyme q10, vitamin e, resveratrol so two more antioxidants. I mostly use this when I’m staying at my boyfriend’s house, which we’re allowed to do in New South Wales.
The neat thing about these is that with one of these I can do my face my back his face his back and so I feel a lot less like I’m wasting the product because there is quite a lot of liquid in this. It actually says you’re meant to massage the pad on your skin until it’s dried out but I don’t think my skin really needs that much.
So on exfoliant night, I tend to use one of those exfoliants and then follow up with moisturizer. So the third night last year was my vitamin c night It makes a huge difference to how quickly my acne marks fade.
I used to pair this with 2% BHA and I used a bunch of different L-ascorbic acid products depending on how irritated my skin was On night three, I found that recently I haven’t really been using vitamin c and I think that’s because I haven’t really had that much post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
So those are the brown marks that you have after your acne has faded away I do have a breakout here, but it’s not really at the stage where it’s starting to become pigmented, it’s still trying to heal from the deep clogs.
One of the things I’ve noticed about my vitamin C is that I’ve forgotten how long I’ve had it open for which I think is just a beauty blogger issue You get sent vitamin C products, you try them out, and then you put them aside and you can’t remember when you opened it.
So I tend to go for this sort of product which is anhydrous. That means it doesn’t have water in it. This is paula’s choice c25 super booster and it’s like a gritty product where the vitamin c is mixed in with a silicone.
So with this sort of product because the vitamin c isn’t with water it doesn’t decompose anywhere near as fast and so this one I haven’t actually used in a while but – not sure if you can see it – when you squeeze it out it is almost still entirely white, well, it’s a really pale beige color.
If it was a water-based serum, this would be dark brown for sure by now. But because it’s in the silicone base without any water, it’s doing fine. So if you’re someone who doesn’t really use vitamin C that often I would recommend something like this.
The problem is sometimes if you put it on your skin, the gritty vitamin C doesn’t really dissolve that evenly and so you end up with little hot spots. It might get a bit itchy and so when I use this, I mix it with some sort of hydrating toner so that it dissolves on your skin immediately and you can spread it around.
This is my favorite one, which is Jurlique’s Activating Water Essence. This has been one of my favorites for ages Um, it is quite expensive, but I find that it’s really good at hydrating at a lot of different levels.
You can get something similar with a cheaper product which just has glycerin this has tons of different humectants and I find that that just lasts a bit longer. My skin is super dehydration prone though.
Another vitamin c product that I’ve been using is Avene’s A-Oxitive Serum. When I was originally filming, I was still testing this product. So I was testing it for a sponsored blog post (this video isn’t sponsored) so I wasn’t sure if it was going to stay in my routine but it’s been a few months now and I still use it once or twice a week It contains a vitamin C derivative called ascorbyl glucoside and it gets around some of the problems with L-ascorbic acid So it’s very stable, and that means you don’t have to worry if your product is going off It’s also stable on your skin, and that means you don’t have to worry about staining so that fake tan looking thing that stains your fingers and stains your skin and it has that metallic smell, so there’s none of that.
It can also be formulated at a higher pH and still work which is really good because it means there’s less irritation. With a lot of vitamin c derivatives there’s a bit of a question mark about whether or not they actually work.
So a lot of them need to be converted back into l-ascorbic acid in your skin before they’ll work. The thing I really like about the Avene formulation is that it’s actually been tested to work on skin samples so it’s been found to have the same antioxidant effect as a 15% l-ascorbic acid serum.
So on my third night instead of vitamin C a lot of the time now I will use these Bakuchiol Reface pads from indeed labs Bakuchiol is meant to be an alternative to retinol but it isn’t really, I talked about this in my retinoid myths video but it is quite a promising anti-aging ingredient and so I’ve been using this.
And this also has tons of niacinamide which my skin does enjoy. I’m not sure how much niacinamide is actually in these, it is the second ingredient on the ingredients list so maybe there’s quite a bit.
I should probably try the Paula’s Choice 10% again. Another serum I’ve been using on the third night is La Clinica’s Essentials Hydrating & Healing Serum. So this has niacinamide, it has so many ingredients in it, it’s sort of like a really simple all-in-one serum and like I said, I only like to use one or two products.
And so this is really good – it has hyaluronic acid, Skinasensyl which is an anti-itch ingredient, Centella… I will put up a list of all the ingredients on the screen because this has like everything that could possibly hydrate and heal your skin.
The really good thing about this is it’s jam packed with ingredients plus it’s got a super light texture and so it’s really easy to pop this on and then put other things on on top So I also listed a bunch of other products that I used as needed So spot treatments, depending on what spots I have I used paula’s choice 4% BHA, Hydrocolloid bandages, micro needle patches, neutrogena light therapy acne spot treatment, so that’s a light pen So I still use all of those except the light pen.
I think I just got lazy because you do have to hold the light pen over your pimple for about two minutes. Hydrating treatments so I used these around once every two to three weeks in summer and more frequently in winter Um, so I used to use a sheet mask with a Panasonic Ionic Device or I used to use an overnight mask I’ve gotten lazy and my skin hasn’t been feeling that dehydrated.
I think because a lot of my products now have lots of humectants in them and that stops my skin from getting dehydrated. I did use an overnight mask when I went overseas. I used the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask I did also use rosehip oil when I went overseas as well But in sydney, I just haven’t really felt the need.
Oil control – I used a bunch of different clay masks I don’t use any of these anymore Honestly, I feel like most clay masks are pretty much the same on my skin The one I have been using the most is the Flavanone mud mask from NIOD.
A lot of the actives that NIOD uses are kind of very speculative. They don’t really have much solid evidence to back them up so I appreciate what they do in terms of trying to be cutting edge, but at the same time I feel like if I do have a problem I’m going to go for the more evidence-backed actives first.
The annoying thing is it’s in a small lidded jar and so there’s actually a special spoon that you can use to scrape out the mud But yeah I am generally quite lazy so I don’t use masks that often Exfoliation catch up – if I’ve been holding off on alpha hydroxy acids because of irritation I’ll do a catch up and the products I used for this used to be kate somerville’s exfolikate and dermalogica’s rapid reveal peel and I said I used exfolikate more because it’s so shower friendly.
Now I actually only use exfolikate for this and it’s not really a catch-up anymore because my skin is so tolerant to them now um, a lot of the time is actually an add-on rather than a substitute. So I will use this and an AHA over the course of two or three days The reason this is so shower friendly is that it comes out as a pretty thick paste.
Most of these peel products are really liquidy like The Ordinary’s one or drunk elephant’s one Or the dermalogica one. I used to also use June Jacob’s perfect pumpkin peeling enzyme mask. I still really like that product but I finished it off, it smells like pumpkin pie, it’s really nice.
Physical exfoliation one to two times a week. I still do that and I am still using a peeling gel. The peeling gel I’m using is Skinfood’s pineapple peeling gel. This was one of the first ones I tried and the main selling point of this is that it works well in the shower where there’s a lot more water.
So apart from all of this the only extra step that I’ve added in the past year is using the Nuface trinity device I have gotten kind of lazy with it because I am just a lazy person It worked really well while I was using it and I am going to do a proper video about how it works and what it does in some point in the future.
So that is it for my evening skincare routine. It sounds really long when I list it all out, but really it only takes me five to ten minutes So I guess the main differences between this year and last year is that my skin has gotten less irritated and sensitive to tretinoin which is awesome because then I can use more of my exfoliating acids My skin’s also gotten less dehydrated and maybe that’s because the products I’ve been using have more humectants in them.
But conceptually speaking, it’s still pretty much the same routine. It works really well for my skin – again what works for my skin probably won’t work for your skin. You should really try to learn to understand your skin and incorporate products that work for you.
If you want to find out more about different types of exfoliants you can check out my Essential Guide to exfoliation, which is a free download on my blog. So I hope you enjoyed this video if you did You can click the thumbs up subscribe to my channel and click the notification bell If you want me to do a deep dive on any of the products I’ve talked about leave me a comment letting me know which ones you’re most interested in You can also follow me on instagram @labmuffinbeautyscience and check out my blog at labmuffin.
com And I will see you next time for more beauty science