Last night I woke up at 1am, 3am, 5am and 7am to nurse my son. During each one of those nursing sessions, I stared into space and periodically checked my timer so I knew when to switch sides. Amidst the fear of a loved one being infected with COVID-19, the monotony of being at home 24/7, and the emotional fluctuations of having just had a baby, my morning skincare routine is bringing me a sense of comfort and predictability that I am desperately craving. It has remained steady – always there in the beginning and end of long days to bring me back to center – and I’m thankful for that when everything else is not quite as clear. Typically in stressful situations, my teenage acne makes an unwelcome reappearance. I start trying to pop things that shouldn’t be popped. One thing leads to another and it takes months to get back to balanced skin. Not this time. This time, everything is unknown except for my skincare.
I’m so excited to share this clean morning skincare post with you. Some may feel that focusing on beauty is frivolous and there are more important things to worry about. For me, a beauty routine is not about being beautiful. It’s about getting comfort and a sense of normalcy in abnormal days. It’s also a chance to take care of yourself when so much of your day is spent taking care of others.
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to speak to your aesthetician and dermatologist since they know your skin best. This is what works for me personally and I’m happy to share the products I love based on my own experience. My current skincare routine is about 80% clean. There are still products I use that are not considered clean but they work well and I haven’t found an adequate replacement yet.
Gradually, I’m replacing these with cleaner alternatives. For example, previously I never thought about the potentially harmful ingredients in sunscreen until I had children. I became very particular about any product I was using for my children. Eventually, that thinking crossed over to my own products. If I was spending so much time researching clean and nontoxic products for my kids, why wasn’t I doing the same thing for myself? That being said, here are the products I use with my morning skincare routine.
Morning Skincare Routine
1. Cleanser: Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser
I’ve been using the new Summer Fridays Super Amino cleanser for about four weeks now and it has become the every day cleanser I reach for most often. It contains mineral-rich seawater, has a gentle approach and doesn’t leave my skin feeling stripped. My face feels really clean after I use it and provides a nice foundation for the remainder of my skincare routine.
I use about two pumps and massage it onto my skin in a circular motion. I then leave it on while I’m brushing my teeth so it has a chance to penetrate my skin. Apply the cleanser to your face when it’s dry, before adding any water. This is something I’ve been doing since high school. At night, I’ll try to double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser followed by my regular cleanser to really get all the makeup and grime off my face. In the morning, I only use the Super Amino Cleanser.
2. Eye Cream: Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
My main area of concern on my face is under-eye circles. With three kids under five, including a newborn, I’m obviously not getting a ton of sleep and that has a direct effect on my face. I have found that eye serums make an incremental difference. What has worked for me is a multi-step approach. To minimize under-eye and dark circles and create a more youthful appearance, I drink half my body weight in ounces of water and aim to get eight hours of sleep in normal circumstances. Oh, and pregnancy. My skin never looked better than it did during pregnancy.
Since we’re done having babies, I’m relying on hydration and this eye cream from Drunk Elephant. I use my index finger to tape it onto my under-eye area for a more refreshed look.
3. Serum: Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum
I use the Summer Fridays vitamin C serum every morning to brighten up my skin and help with some minor hyperpigmentation I acquired during pregnancy. Previously, I had dull uneven looking skin and a few days after using the serum, I felt like my skin texture improved with a more youthful-looking appearance. I use this religiously in the morning and I swear it makes me look more alive.
4. Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Protini Moisturizer
I have been a Drunk Elephant super fan for a few years now and it all started with the Protini moisturizer. If you’re not familiar with Drunk Elephant, you will find that the products are formulated without the “Suspicious 6” (essential oils, silicones, drying alcohols, chemical sunscreens, fragrances/dyes and SLS). According to the brand, these six ingredients are at the root of many skin issues and when the skin is free of these ingredients, it can return to a healthy and balanced state.
Drunk Elephant was my gateway brand to clean beauty. It was the first time I realized I could find effective skincare products that were nontoxic. My skin has been incredibly dry this winter and the Protini moisturizer has helped me restore it to a nourished state. Every time I use it, my face feels softer and plumper. I give myself a facial massage while putting it on to increase circulation in my face.
5. SPF: SUPERGOOP Unseen Sunscreen
This is a matte sunscreen and primer that goes on under makeup. It does not feel greasy or chalky like many other SPFs do. I never liked putting on sunscreen on my face because of the smell and overall sticky feeling but this one feels light and not overwhelming.
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum is the most luxurious and expensive product I have on my skincare shelf. At $185, I thought long and hard before adding it to my cart. Ultimately, I went for it and have no regrets. This product takes 21 days to make, compared to the six hours it takes for most skincare products. With ingredients like rosehip, evening primrose, avocado and many others, it is nutrient-dense and feels like a fresh garden salad for your skin. I don’t use it everyday because I don’t always feel like I need an oil but when I do, it creates a beautiful non-greasy dewy look.
I also often use it at night if I’m feeling fancy. One thing to keep in mind is to apply the product via a push and press technique. Rub the oil into your hands to create friction, which activates the ingredients. Then, press it onto sections of your face, which helps stimulate blood flow and increases absorption. It all feels very luxurious.
7. Lip balm: Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm
I like to finish my morning routine off with this lip balm and mask from Summer Fridays. I don’t wear lipstick often and much prefer a hydrating and colorless balm, especially when in quarantine. This balm helps my lips feel soft and glossy without the need to reapply every hour. Another favorite is the Saie lip balm (I wrote about it here), which is also clean.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like a breakdown of my nighttime routine as well. What’s your favorite morning skincare product?
Photo from 2019 by Alex Ashman