I'm just going to come out and say it: Everyone has been complimenting my skin lately. My co-workers, random people at the grocery store, my friends and family—everyone. While I've never dealt with any major skin woes like acne, I still never considered myself to be someone with particularly good skin (whatever that means). My skin has always been on the dry side, and like many women of color, I've dealt with my fair share of stubborn hyperpigmentation. The sudden influx of compliments hasn't just been a nice little boost to my newly 30-year-old ego but also a testament to my current skincare routine, which I've tweaked to perfection over the course of several months.
As a beauty editor, I have access to every product under the sun. But ever since last fall, I felt like my skin had just lost something. When I think back, it makes sense, as there was lot was happening at the time. I had moved, turned 30, gotten engaged, and made a major professional move all in a matter of months, and while each of these life developments was exciting and positive, I found myself overwhelmed with stress. I wasn't sleeping well, I wasn't eating properly, my skincare routine had fallen by the wayside, and all of that was showing up on my face. I was getting pimples, my skin tone was blotchy and uneven, and my skin texture was less than smooth.
But then, something started to happen around January: Every time I posted a photo of my mug on Instagram, a sea of adulation would flood into my comments. I started catching glimpses of my makeup-free face and being truly happy with what I saw staring back at me. Maybe it was the newfound self-love I'd been practicing in therapy, or maybe it was my skincare regimen, which had admittedly reached an all-time level of bougie, even for me. Now, I'm at a place where I'll freely leave the house without makeup on and am genuinely pleased with how healthy and smooth my skin looks. I'm not perfect, by any means, but I am genuinely happy, and I have to believe that my fresh, smooth skin has something to do with it. So here it goes: the exact skincare routine that delivered smooth, glowing skin in a month's time and continues to do so to this day. Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think.
My skin before:
I thoroughly cleanse my skin at night, so I don't always use a cleanser in the morning. Most days, I find that warm water is enough. When I do feel the need to cleanse in the morning, though, this gel cleanser is the only one I'll reach for. It's so gentle and actually adds moisture and nutrients like green tea, dandelion, and olive oil into my skin instead of just pulling everything out.
Vitamin C is probably the most important component of my skincare routine right now. While there's a lot of debate around L-ascorbic acid and whether or not its potency is actually good for the skin (jury's still out on that one), I find that my skin responds really well to it. Vitamin E and ferulic acid round out this formula with extra skin lipid and antioxidant protection. I can always tell when I've gotten lazy with my vitamin C regimen because marks from old blemishes will start to deepen, and my skin will lose some of the glow and refinement that earns me an insane amount of compliments.
I'll admit that I didn't take eye cream seriously until about a year ago, and this non-intimidating tube is to thank for that change of heart. The cream inside is lightweight and easy to lightly tap into my eye area. When I'm using eye cream consistently, I notice that any fine lines in the area soften over time, giving me that smooth, even texture I'm always after.
This moisturizer has been an on-again, off-again staple on my vanity for years now. It's unscented, lightweight, and super effective. If I'm feeling extra dry, I'll even add a few small drops of marula oil to give it an extra hit of moisture.
This moisturizing primer is basically like a blurring filter for your skin. It has tiny sparkly particles and the proprietary TFC-8 technology found in Augustinus Bader's other famous creams (more on those later). It makes my skin look way smoother, even when I don't layer any makeup on top.
Say it with me: SPF, all the time, no matter what. UV protection is important for so many reasons, but for me, it's all about mitigating hyperpigmentation and making sure any scars or blemishes on my face aren't getting exposed to the sun. This sunscreen by Elta MD is a dermatologist favorite, and it's one of my favorites, too. It doesn't irritate my skin or leave an unsightly white cast.
My skin after 14 days:
I'm a makeup wearer, so my nighttime cleansing ritual has always been serious. I need every stitch of gunk off of my face before I can relax for the evening. This cleansing balm melts even the most stubborn eye makeup with ease. I usually massage it into the rest of my face for about 30 seconds before concentrating on my eyes. After just a few seconds of gentle rubbing, any makeup is melted down to an inky oil that rinses away without leaving any residue behind.
This exfoliator is said to be gentle enough for daily use, and I've found that to be true for me. Although I've backed off from using it every single day, I still love how clean and soft my face feels after use. The multitasking jojoba beads are small and smooth, so they aren't at all harsh on the skin and also melt down to impart moisture instead of stripping the skin.
This slippery cleanser clings to every trace of grime to remove it while also retexturizing. When I want a flat wash at night instead of a gritty, exfoliating one, this is the cleanser for the job. I used to have a serious attitude about paying more than $20 for cleanser (come on, it's literally money down the drain), but this is the one that taught me the power of investing in a high-quality cleanser.
I've been using the U Beauty Resurfacing Compound pretty consistently since it launched last winter, and I can honestly say that it's ascended to my skincare top five. It's so good. If smooth skin is your goal, you need to try this stuff. It's patent-pending siren capsules are designed to carry active ingredients wherever your skin needs them and bypass the healthy skin cells that don't. That's why you won't experience any redness, irritation, or peeling that typically arises when starting a retinoid. This has definitely been the hero product in my smooth-skin journey.
It was love at first pump with this magical, hyaluronic acid– and mushroom-packed elixir. There aren't many products that make a big difference in your skin's texture after just one use, but this one does. Every time I use it, my skin instantly looks plumped and smoother.
This eye cream plumps and moisturizes my delicate under-eye skin before bed. It has a little retinol in it, which honestly freaked me out at first, but over time has resulted in major refinement of fine lines.
Are you sick of editors telling you how much they love this cream? Well, I'm sorry to tell you that I'm about to do it, too. When I'm running on fumes and can only manage to get my makeup off and slap one product on my face before bed, this is the indispensable one I can't ever skip. Maybe it's the stem cell–stimulating TFC-8 technology, maybe it's some sort of sorcery, but all I know is my skin has legitimately changed in texture since I started using this cream. Real talk: It's worth every penny.
I love a good resurfacing peel, but I have to admit that I've calmed way down on the acids. I found my skin becoming more sensitized and reactive, and while I can't say for sure that my nightly resurfacing toners were to blame, I'm way better off since scaling back. Now, once a week, I'll do a pass of this two-step, clinical-grade lactic and glycolic acid peel, and it immediately makes my skin look smooth, bright, and alive. As with any super-potent acid compound, it's a good idea to patch test this one to make sure your skin doesn't have an adverse reaction.
I love this clean detox mask because it's cooling and tingly on the skin but doesn't dry down so hard that it makes my face feel dry or depleted. Rinsing off the sulfur-infused paste feels like taking the biggest breath of fresh air.
If you know me at all, then you already know how obsessed I am with this modeling mask. I firmly believe that I could stay awake for three days straight, not drink any water the whole time, and still look fresh as a daisy after 20 minutes with this goop slopped on my face.
My skin after 30 days:
Whether I'm prepping for a photo shoot, getting ready for a night out, or just looking to minimize puffy eyes after a couple of glasses of wine, these cornflower eye patches by Klorane get the job done like no other. The soothing hydrogel eye masks actually stay put so I can move around without them slipping off, which is a huge plus.
Not only is this fatty acid–rich rose-hip oil an ultra-luxe finishing touch to my nighttime routine, but it also helps to get rid of imperfections caused by an imbalance in my skin's pH. I know that using oil to treat breakouts sounds counterintuitive, but this oil does just as much to calm and soothe the skin as it does to moisturize it.
Speaking of soothing salves, this cooling balm feels so good on top of congested skin. Whenever I notice a pimple or that my pores are looking rough, I'll spot-treat with this clean cream and let it penetrate into my skin to calm any inflammation that's plaguing me. I'll work it in as the first step in my routine whenever I need it, and it really sets the tone for the entire day.
My skin now: