Updated: May 24, 2021
For the majority of my life, I’ve been blessed with pretty decent skin. That is, until I hit 30 and my skin seemingly decided it was finally time to do its own thing. *eye roll*
I’ve always really loved trying new skincare and beauty products. During the good ole days, you’d find me shopping religiously in-store at Sephora and Ulta (now I order online *wink*). During the lockdown in 2020, I committed to becoming more intentional with my self-love mission—and part of that included a more intense dedication to my skincare routine.
For starters, I have combination/semi-sensitive skin. After several months of testing different products (because consistency matters, of course), below is a list of products that have earned a spot in my current beauty arsenal.
Vital Proteins – Collagen Peptides
Let me tell you—I WILL NOT go without collagen ever again! Adding collagen to my routine has to be comparable to finding buried treasure. It has hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, while also helping to promote the body’s natural collagen production, which declines around the age of 25 (per some experts). After 2 full weeks of consistent use, I noticed quite a difference in the suppleness of my skin, the reduction in the appearance of the lines around my eyes, the toughness of my nails, and *drumroll* even the plumpness of my cleavage (as the cool kids say, NO CAP). I know there are mixed reviews out there, but this has undoubtedly been a #gamechanger for me. I like to mix it into some room temperature water or add it to my morning coffee to start the day off right.
THAYERS® Rose Petal Facial Toner
To be honest, I just started toning a few years ago. I felt like I really didn’t “need” to (thank God for growth). THAYERS is an OG in the toner game. This brand doesn’t distill their witch hazel, and that helps preserve the naturally-occurring tannins that offer antibacterial and antioxidant benefits. It’s also alcohol-free, paraben-free, and contains rose water. I typically use this to help wipe away any makeup or residue at the end of the day. It doesn’t dry out my skin, while simultaneously giving me a clean feeling + a natural glow.
UrbanSkin Rx – Even Tone Cleansing Bar 3-in-1 Treatment
This cleanser has really helped improve the overall appearance of my skin in terms of fading dark spots and brightening my complexion. The best part is that it’s multi-use, so it can serve as a cleanser, mask, and exfoliator! I’m also obsessed with the facial sponges it comes with—they’re a stellar alternative to using a towel or just my fingertips.
Son & Park – Beauty Water
When I first started to explore the K-Beauty world, I discovered the holy grail of smoothness: Beauty Water. I use it as an AM toner or midday refresher, and it’s played a role in helping smooth out the texture of my skin. It also contains green tea extract, orange fruit extract, and lavender water. This is by far one of the more gentle-feeling products I’ve tried, actually making my skin feel hydrated after use. I’m amazed by how much residue and impurities it lifts from my skin.
Gleamin Vitamin C Mask
This 100% natural vitamin C Clay mask is literally one of the best masks I’ve ever tried! I immediately see a natural glow after every. single. use. The turmeric and aloe vera are truly like a power couple. This mask doesn’t irritate my skin and has improved my skin’s overall clarity.
The Ordinary: Rose Hip Seed Oil, Glycolic Acid & Retinol
My magic trifecta! This is the first time I’ve purchased and consistently used 3 products from the SAME brand. That says a lot! So, let’s do a quick break down:
100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
While on the hunt for a good moisturizer, I kept trying products that seemed to just sit on my skin vs. actually providing moisture. I decided to give this product a try and immediately fell in love! It’s rich in pro-vitamin A and has been shown to reduce the signs of aging while providing hydration (#win). My face feels super soft after using this. Even though it’s an oil, it doesn’t clog my pores or break me out.
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
With my skin type, I was slightly worried that this toner might irritate me. I was wrong! I don’t use it every day, but it’s been super clutch when dealing with my sporadic breakouts and “maskne”. It’s more of an exfoliating toner that targets textural irregularities, facial congestion, and dullness. It’s also vegan and doesn’t contain alcohol, parabens, or sulfates.
Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion
This is a great over-the-counter-grade retinoid that targets fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven texture. Retinoids can make your skin a bit more sensitive to UV radiation, so I only use this during my PM skincare routine to avoid any potential irritation, applying it right before my Rose Hip Seed Oil moisturizer.
Peace Out Wrinkles – Microneedling Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Patches
I smile a lot, and I’m starting to notice some new friends showing up—especially around my eyes. These fantastic patches are infused with peptides, retinol, and vitamin C to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while targeting loss of firmness. They are good for crow’s feet, smile lines, and forehead wrinkles; so naturally, I said “Count me in!” When I noticed a slight difference after the first use (which almost never happens for me), I couldn’t have run any faster back to Sephora to grab more! Now, I MUST keep these on deck.
Mario Badescu – Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs and Rose Water
This facial spray is a cult favorite, and I’ve officially joined the club. I love spritzing it on when I need any extra boost of hydration, whether that’s right after cleansing or as a midday pick-me-up. It contains a fusion of herbal and botanical extracts like thyme, gardenia, and rose, all working together to help soothe and rejuvenate. It’s also oil-free, so it doesn’t give me a heavy or sticky layered feeling.
Remember, the road to finding the perfect skincare routine and products that work is a marathon not a sprint. As we get older, our skin needs and concerns shift, so it’s okay if your products do as well! What worked for 20-year-old Ashley, is a no-go for 33-year-old Ashley. Do your research, explore and enjoy the ride! At the end of the day, true beauty is what you define it to be.