FACT: An effective skincare routine can literally mean the difference between dull, drab, tired looking skin and glowing, radiant, healthy skin.
I can tell you this citing articles, posts and books but I can also tell you from experience. Check out this #10yearchallenge pic. The picture of me on the left is from my wedding day 10 years ago and the picture of me on the right is me this year.
I mean, this is some straight up Benjamin Button action right here. How is it possible that I look YOUNGER at 41 than I did at 31?! Listen. I wish I knew the exact answer to this because I would bottle that bad boy up and sell it by the ounce. But I can tell you one thing for sure. At 31 I was cleaning my face with Dove bar soap and moisturizing with whatever was on sale at Macy’s. And now? Well…I made a few substitutions. Here’s why.
Welcome back to the #betterforyoucrew series! I’ve teamed up with my girls Suzi, Kate, Caroline, Sarah, and Kristina to highlight green and effective food, beauty and lifestyle products that are rocking our natural worlds. Be sure to check them out for their evening skincare routines as well. You can also search #betterforyoucrew on our blogs and Instagram to access the entire series. Wanna join in? Tag #betterforyoucrew on social with your picks. We want to see what you are using too!
What exactly is clean skincare and why is it important?
First let me start by saying we as consumers have a really big choice when it comes to skincare, makeup and personal care. It’s been 81 years since Congress last voted to regulate cosmetics, AND IT SHOWS.
A 1938 law called The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 prohibited the sale of cosmetics with any “poisonous or deleterious substance,” or any “filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance.” And that’s it. That’s the regulation that checks cosmetics. I mean, talk about room for interpretation. Since 1938 the Food and Drug Administration has banned a handful of cosmetics ingredients for safety reasons while the EU has banned well over 1,000. More here.
But the real crux of this issue is cosmetic companies have avoided strict regulation for over a century. Brands are left to police their own product and it’s at the expense of consumers. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at Estee Lauder for example.
Estee Lauder Companies is one of the world’s leading cosmetic manufacturers with products that come with a promise to uphold the finest standards of excellence through extensive research and stringent product testing.” Estee Lauder’s 2004 net sales were $5.79 billion and net earnings were $342.1 million.
As a leader in the industry, Estee Lauder constitutes an instructive example of a specific industry approach to internally managed cosmetic safety. In several places on its website, Estee Lauder invokes its 60 year record of company product safety in order to repeatedly express its commitment to internal safety regulation: “We are proud of the enviable safety record the Estee Lauder Companies Inc. has sustained since our Company was founded in 1946, and our continued commitment to producing quality products that are clean, pure and safe.”
Thus, not only does the cosmetic industry regulate and police itself as an industry through industry-level compliance with voluntary regulatory programs, but individual companies within that industry also pride themselves on another level of self-regulation.(1)
This is a prime example of the fox watching the hen house. “Clean, pure and safe”? Okay, let’s take a look at Estee Lauder’s Day Wear Multi-Protection Antioxidant 24 Hour Moisture Cream SPF 15 – Here we see:
- Chemical SPF barriers like Avobenzone with high rates of skin allergy and Octisalate which the EWG classifies as having moderate toxicity concerns.
- Fragrance – which can house up to 3,999 chemical materials some of which are known carcinogens – all which remain undisclosed.
- BHT – a preservative that can be linked to cancer, allergic reactions and endocrine disruption.
- Steareth-21, Steareth-2, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Polysorbate 80 – all of which can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and/or ethylene oxide contamination (both known carcinogens).
- Tocopheryl Acetate – an antioxidant that can be contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human toxicant.
- Lecithin – a natural or synthetic lipid which may be contaminated with nitrosamines; a possible carcinogen.
I mean personally, I wouldn’t classify this product as “clean, pure and safe” but that’s just me. The problem with antiquated federal laws “regulating” modern day cosmetics is just this:
Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA.(2)
And the other problem is, brands can say their product is “natural” or “organic” regardless of ingredients. Why? Because the FDA has not defined the term “natural” and has not established a regulatory definition for this term in cosmetic labeling. [And, the] FDA also does not have regulations for the term “organic” for cosmetics.
Greenwashing is happening
And if you don’t think this is happening. It is! For example, in 2016 the Federal Trace Commission filed complaints against four companies that marketed their personal care products as “all natural” or “100% natural” when the products contained a number of synthetic ingredients.
The brand says one thing. The label says another. People in the biz call this greenwashing. It’s essentially taking advantage of people who don’t know better. And the only way around it is label reading, looking up ingredients and asking questions. OR you can just follow along with me here girl – I do all that so you can sit back, relax and let it ride!
Okay I’m ready to choose clean but now what?
As a beauty blogger, I have the privilege of trying and writing about the best of the best clean beauty has to offer. And I love it. But it can be overwhelming for readers. One of the comments I get most frequently is; I love reading your blog but I’m overwhelmed. Can you just tell me what to use!?
I hear you! But I wanted to do it right so I’ve teamed up with my friend Jamie McDowell owner/founder of Modern Holistic and licensed esthetician to give us the ideal skincare routine for mature skin. Jamie guides us through what we need and why and I go in with my faves for each category. Can you say dream team!?
We are going to run through two routines. A simple evening skincare routine for those who want to keep it simple or for those nights where you just have no time. And then we will run through an evening skincare ritual for those who want to indulge or are looking to round out their skincare routine. You choose!
The ideal evening skincare routine; What should we consider?
Lisa: What are some things we should keep in mind for our evening skincare routines?
Jamie: When it comes to an evening skincare routine, many believe MORE is better. But then they don’t do it because it’s so time consuming. Who honestly has time to follow a 10 step routine every night? Not many!
Simple and consistent is best. When products are clean and pure, they are naturally more potent and less can truly be more. When skincare products are potent and not watered down, this is how the skin is nourished and this is when we see change.
The evening skincare routine is incredibly important. The cells in our body repair and rejuvenate while our nervous system is in the parasympathetic state. This occurs in our fifth hour of sleep, typically between 1-3am. The skin cells are then reaping the benefits of the products you apply in the evening.
Lisa: What is the most important skincare product for mature skin?
Jamie: Exfoliation and nightly serums are KEY! These two products are paramount to truly changing the exterior of the skin. Exfoliation should only occur in the evening. This ensures the products you apply after exfoliation deeply penetrate to reap cellular benefits. If you are not exfoliating, then you’re literally applying expensive products to soak in dead skin and you will not see any changes to the skin.
Exfoliation is so important on many levels. And even more important towards aging and mature skin. It helps reduce hyperpigmentation (sun damage and acne scarring). It supports living skin to become your “new skin” every 28 days. And most importantly, it gives your skin the appearance of vitality and youthfulness. Exfoliation is best 1-2 times weekly. And exfoliation products should be their own product, not in your cleanser as a scrub.
Lisa: I would also add that hydration is KEY. Hydration from the the inside-out from drinking enough water but also from the outside-in. One of my favorite ingredients for hydrating the skin from the outside-in is hyaluronic acid which you will see mentioned in many of my recommendations. More below!
A simple evening skincare routine (10 minutes)
If you wear makeup, you need to cleanse your face twice in the evening. Once to take off the makeup and a second time to actually cleanse the skin. Jamie and I are both fans of oil cleansing. Oils leave skin supple, unstripped, moisturized and glowing. And they are super effective at taking off makeup. If you’ve never tried to cleanse with an oil before – girl, do yourself a favor!
- Apply a cleanser on dry skin, giving your face some love by massaging the oil into the skin for removal. This oil is not meant to absorb, therefore, make sure you have enough on the face to act as a cleanser.
- Using a clean washcloth, run under piping hot water, wring out and apply over face creating a “steaming” effect for a few seconds (make sure the hot towel will not burn your skin).
- Remove oil with cloth.
- Repeat for 2nd cleanse if needed.
I love True Botanicals Pre Cleanse Oil. It’s simple (formulated with only 4 ingredients), effective, clean and smells amazing. Most nights I use this two times in a row. The first time to take off my makeup and then a second time to cleanse the skin. Code LISATRUE20 will save first timers. Read more about why it’s one of my top 5 from True Botanicals here!
If you are looking for something that’s not an oil, I also really enjoy OSEA’s Ocean Cleanser. First I will take my makeup off with with the Pre Cleanse Oil and then instead of repeating, I will go in with this for a second cleanse. This formula is gentle, won’t strip skin, washes off easily, helps to hydrate with organic seaweed and actually acts as a very light exfoliator thanks to lactic acid AND it smells incredible (like lime Skittles).
Next, apply a mist to help hydrate the skin.
Hydrosol Therapy is the future for green beauty. It will eventually replace the need for water when you are using pure plants.
For example, Rose WaterRose water is 98% water and 2% rose essential oil. Where as a Rose Hydrosol Spray, it is 100% the water from the rose. It hydrates on a completely different level due to the hydrosol nourishing the skin cells vs. water and distilled rose essential oil.
Also, the use of a toner is old school. We need to get away from the need of a toner, which is to essentially “balance” the pH of the skin from using an acid mantle stripping cleanser. Most people who use a drying cleanser, for example: acne cleansers, most often use a toner due to their skin feeling super itchy and dry from stripping the acid mantel. Your skin should never need a “toner.”
Pretty much the epitome of what Jamie is describing above is Laurel’s Facial Elixir. It’s made with the organic and biodynamic hydrosols of rose, calendula, rose gernaium, helichrysum, frankincense and lemon balm. No added water. And it’s incredible. Each ingredient delivers a dose of plant therapy. Rose geranium heals broken capillaries, calendula works to retain hydration, white rose works to reduce the appearance of fine lines…Plus it smells beautiful like roses and wildflowers, the misting devise is light and even and it’s packaged in dark Miron violet glass for added preservation.
The other mist I am currently loving is BLÜH ALCHEMY’s Toning Elixir. The very first time I used it, I could feel moisture being drawn in and retained. The feeling was instant. This is thanks to the addition of Hyaluronic Acid – a substance found naturally in the body that can hold 1000x it’s own weight in water. We also see Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) which works as an anti-inflammatory to help brighten, repair and firm skin, while slowing the signs of aging. AND get this! We also see Finger lime caviar which is high in vitamin C to help even skin tone and promote collagen synthesis.(3) Seriously can not stop misting.
#3 EYE SERUM
Next, an eye serum. Apply a very small amount to your ring finger pad. Apply only on the orbital bone, starting on the outside corner and apply toward nose. Eye serums travel, so they do not need to be very close to the eye. This can cause unwanted irritation for many. This is a great time to use your jade roller starting on the outside of the eye bone and working in. Then a few long sweeps from the inside out and draining down the side of the face to allow any fluid retention to drain.
I’ve had the same favorite eye serum for three years now. And it’s all about Kahina Giving Beauty’s Eye Serum. I love it because it’s a gel serum and sinks right in. It’s easy to layer makeup over and doesn’t leave my eye area greasy or wet looking. Great for day or night. I also love that it’s formulated with prickly pear seed oil – a super moisturizer with anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties (3). It’s also stacked with hyaluronic acid and hexapeptide-11 a synthesized peptide that has been shown to improve skin elasticity.
#4 FACIAL SERUM OR BALM
Next, apply a teaspoon or dime size amount of an oil serum to the hands and apply to face, making sure to lightly press into the skin. You can incorporate gua sha and/or utilize a facial roller to further product penetration.
When using gua sha and facial rollers, this can be quick and under 5 minutes, but must have intention. Always using light pressure when using both tools and always start from the inside of the face, moving OUT. By using light pressure and moving outward, this assists in lymphatic drainage, which is responsible for removing toxic cellular waste. When the lymphatic system is not properly functioning, then the cells are not nourished to the fullest capability. This leads to many skin conditions and disorders. Skin can only thrive on a working flowing lymphatic system.
For more on how to gua sha, check out Studio Britta – She is the woman when it comes to holistic skincare and gua sha. You can check out her most recent feature in Happers Bazaar – and she shares a lot on her Instagram too.
She also happens to be one of the creators of The Empress Stone by Wildling. It’s my new obsession. I’m like, OBSESSED. Unlike most gua sha stones, this one is designed with a serrated ridge that is effective at minimizing fine lines and hyperpigmentation. You run the serrated edge over fine lines and spots which will lighten them overtime.
Okay, on to face oils. There are so many beautiful face oils out there but I’m going to highlight my top three for maturing skin. All for different reasons so you can pick which one suits your needs best.
MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum – Use this to plump, moisturize, brighten and reduce fine lines. Formulated with just three ingredients: prickly pear seed oil, argan oil and rose flower essential oil. I can see a difference instantly with this formula, I will never be without! THISORGANICGIRL will save first-timers 15%. Read my full review here!
Maya Chia’s The Super Couple – Use this to turn back the hands of time. An anti-aging powerhouse formulated with the world’s most powerful antioxidant: astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is sourced from microalge and is 65x stronger than vitamin C and 14x stronger than vitamin E in combating free radicals. I love the bright pink/orange color of this formula and how it sinks in upon delivery. I mean, when you have The Super Couple on your team, you don’t need much else!
Laurel Sun Damage Repair – Use this to even skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation. Made by hand in ultra-small organic batches, Laurel’s Sun Damage Repair is formulated with carrot seed to prevent and repair sun damage; licorice to brighten hyper-pigmentation and scaring; scarlet pimpernel to reverse sun damage and marshmallow to sooth and soften. I love everything about this oil, soaks right in, smells amazing…and it works. Peep more of my Laurel Skin faves here!
#5 NIGHT OIL BALM OR MOISTURIZER
Apply a dime size of an oil balm or nightly moisturize to lock in skin hydration as well as assisting in anti-aging ingredients. You can further penetrate these products with your facial roller.
I typically like using oil balms because most molecules in moisturizers are too big to actually penetrate. Therefore, it sits on the surface doing NOTHING for the internal of the skin. This is also why serums are most potent due to smaller molecules which are meant to go deep within the skin.
For evening balms I love The Super Blend Pressed Serum and Laurel’s Restore Nightly. Both of these will BLOW YOU AWAY. But what I can’t stop using is True Botanicals Overnight Moisture Lock Mask. This mask is kind of a misnomer – it’s really more of a cream than a mask. All you need is a thin layer overnight to lock everything in – it’s a beast at hydrating, plumping and smoothing. It LITERALLY improves skin’s surface hydration by over 25% in just 24 hours. This is seriously a must for maturing skin IMO. Read my full review here.
An Evening Skincare Ritual (30 minutes)
And here are some add-ons for those looking to enhance their nightly routines.
#1 CLEANSE (see above)
See above for recs. But I also want to add the additional option of Micellar Water. Micellar Water is trending in 2019. It’s basically a “no rinse” cleansing method made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water. Micelles are attracted to dirt and oil so they are able to draw out impurities without drying the skin.
I love it because you apply Micellar Water to a cotton round and then swipe over skin – then you can look down at the pad and really SEE that your skin is clean. It’s like a green beauty Noxzema Pad sans all the nasties (#praisebe) and it’s the perfect finishing touch. It’s also quick, mess free and great for on the go (gym, travel…). Depending on the formulation, each micellar water offers it’s own benefits but I have totally fallen in love with Moss’s AMBAR Natural Micellar Cleansing Essence – not only does it take all the grime off but it actually HYDRATES skin thanks to the power of viola tricola and yucca extracts.
#2 EXFOLIATION MASK
So after you cleanse, Jamie recommends exfoliating 1-2 times a week.
Exfoliation is everything. These are my faves:
Josh Rosebrook’s Active Enzyme Exfoliator – This mask is unique because it works in two ways. Manual exfoliation (crushed walnut shells to loosen dead skin cells) and enzymatic exfoliation (papaya enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells). My skin literally feels like a baby’s bum after I use this – so soft!
Laurel’s Honey Berry Enzyme Mask – This mask is made with just 5 beneficial active ingredients. It’s so clean, you could literally eat it. This is a honey-based mask and my skin craves the moisture and overall fresh feeling it delivers. Enzymes in the honey as well as strawberries work to turnover dead skin cells while antioxidants from blueberries strengthen skin’s overall health. For a budget recommendation I love LIVE Botanicals Luna Glowing Mask. ORGANICGIRL will save first-timers 20% at LIVE Botanicals.
For more budget friendly picks, check out Luxe Organic Skincare On A Budget
Maya Chia’s The Refresh Mint – This mask was just released this year in 2019 and I’m obsessed. You put on a thin layer, it tingles a bit and then it dries to matte. It dries down so much, you can even wear it overnight. Formulated with four different types of acids as well as enzymes and hydrators, this mask resurfaces and brightens like a boss!
#3 HYDRATE (see above)
#4 TREATMENT SERUM
Before applying your face oil/moisturizer, you can consider adding a treatment. What I want to mention here is if you are using more than one treatment/serum/oil, make sure to apply water-based serums before applying oil based serums so they can penetrate. Here are three that I LOVE. Each works to do something different so pick depending on your needs!
African Botanics Fleurs D’Afrique Intensive Recovery Face Oil – To brighten and even skin tone. I saw the results of this oil serum in just a couple of days. This is formulated with a plant-based retinol and it’s incredibly effective at brightening and evening skin tone as well as lightening hyperpigmentation. You can use it every night but I found 3-4 night a week was strong enough for me. I went though my first bottle in about 2 months and I have another one on the way. I’m obsessed. This is the only natural retinol that I’ve used where I’ve actually SEEN results. More here.
de Mamiel Atmosphériques Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir – To hydrate and protect. Loaded with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and more, this serum is new to my routine and I can’t get enough. My skin just feels so hydrated after. It’s formulated to repair, renew, hydrate and protect. (This one is water-based so apply this first).
True Botanicals Renew Repair Serum – To repair and glow. This is where science meets clean beauty. This formula is loaded with skin plumping and repairing ingredients like vitamin c dense astaxanthin, hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidant rich seaweed and green tea, noni fruit extract to calm dry and irritated skin, ceramides to soften the skin and French melon to even skin tone.
#5 EYE SERUM/FACIAL SERUM (see above)
A couple of times a week, I will boost my facial serum with True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster. This has a grainy texture so I like adding a shake of it to my facial serum/oil – or whatever I am applying as my last step. I love this formula because it comes dry and remains in maximum potency until it is mixed with your face oil. (Sometimes I will apply the True Botanicals Moisture Mask over this – sometimes I won’t). Read more about why it’s one of my top 5 from True Botanicals here!
Why vitamin c you ask? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Vitamin C is crucial to all skincare routines. You will sometimes see it listed on an ingredient label by its INCI: ascorbic acid. Or you may identify it by it’s derivatives: ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (3).
Why do we need vitamin c in our skincare? On the daily, exposing skin to ultraviolet radiation causes oxidative stress. This can lead to the degradation of collagen, the formation of inflammatory factors and more. The skin defends itself against the effects of oxidative stress by using antioxidants. These neutralize or prevent the harmful effects of oxygen and other free radicals (3).
Ascorbic acid (vitamin c) is an antioxidant found naturally in our skin. When we apply it to our skin topically, it:
- Promotes the synthesis of collagen
- Has anti-inflammatory activity
- Protects against ultraviolet light
- Has a positive effect on acne-prone skin
- Can also have a skin-lightening effect (3).
Unless Vitamin C is listed as L-Ascorbic Acid, it is actually toxic to the skin. The skin can only tolerate the “LEFT” side of the the Vitamin C molecule as a whole, which is why when using Vitamin C, it should only be L-Ascorbic Acid. This means the right side molecular has been removed. The right side of the molecular creates much irrational and too strong for the skin to handle. The skin has to work very hard to eliminate the right side of a whole molecule when it is left as a whole.
[Lisa adds: L-Ascorbic Acid is what you will find in True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster].
#6 NIGHT OIL BALM or MOISTURIZER (see above)
Did you like this post? I’m thinking of teaming up with Jamie again to talk about spot treatments and how to treat blemishes holistically. Comment below and let me know if that is something you would like to see!
Want more? Check out my friends’ who are sharing their natural evening skincare routines too!
- Janeš, D. and Kočevar Glavač, N. (Ed). (2018) Modern Cosmetics Ingredients of Natural Origin, A Scientific View. Velenje: Širimo dobro besedo, d.o.o.