I knew when we got engaged that it was the perfect catalyst for taking better care of my skin. I had definitely been guilty of skipping a few skincare steps at night so having a reason to get serious about skincare was just what I needed! I’ve spent the last few months reading up on skincare, testing out new products, and being diligent about taking care of my skin every night. What’s interesting is that this newfound interest in skincare has transformed me from being too lazy to take off mascara at night (please tell me I’m not the only one…) to not being able to fall asleep if I haven’t at least washed my face and put on serum. I still don’t follow this routine every single night of the week but having a skincare routine worth striving for has made a huge difference both in the appearance of my skin and how I feel climbing into bed at night.

design darling skincare routine featuring bare minerals acne treatment cleanser, goop exfoliating instant facial, tata harper purifying mask, and vintner's daughter

I’ve tried to find affordable drugstore products where possible but I’m also including the pricier miracle products that I think are worth the upgrade. Of course everyone’s skin is different so this is less a universal skincare regimen and more the steps I’ve taken to get a better handle on my personal skin concerns, which include dryness, sensitivity, acne, and aging (fun, right?). I frequently experiment with new products but these are the ones I’ve been using consistently for several months now. I’d love to hear about your personal skincare routine in the comments!

bare minerals blemish remedy acne treatment gelée cleanser review

First I remove the day’s makeup with Neutrogena cleansing wipes ($5). I’ve used these for as long as I can remember and it’s one of those products where I feel like if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They might not clean my skin 100% but I think they’re by far the easiest way to remove eye makeup. I stock up on Amazon and keep a pack on our bathroom counter, one in my cosmetic bag, etc.

Next I wash my face with BareMinerals blemish remedy cleanser ($20). It’s a clear gel cleanser that I apply to damp skin. It definitely leaves my skin feeling cleaner than makeup wipes alone and I like that it contains 1% salicylic acid to help combat breakouts.

tata harper purifying mask and goop exfoliating instant facial review

I don’t do a face mask every night (closer to a couple times a week) but they’re definitely my newest skincare obsession! I’ve tried dozens of masks in the past few months, from detoxifying clay masks to super hydrating sheet masks and everything in between. I wrote a post on a few of my favorites here (and could definitely add to the list if you guys are interested!) but my two current favorites are the Tata Harper purifying mask ($65) and the Goop instant facial ($125).

The Tata Harper mask is all natural, has an amazing earthy smell that I love, and really purges my skin of all the bad stuff. The Goop instant facial contains tiny exfoliating beads and produces an immediate glow and softer texture in just 2-3 minutes. I think they’re both 100% worth the price but I’ve also seen results from more affordable masks including this First Aid Beauty red clay mask ($30), this Origins charcoal mask ($17), and these Korean sheet masks from Peach & Lily (starting at $2).

caudalie moisturizing toner review

Whether or not I’ve done a face mask, my next step is to apply a toner. I’ve used this Caudalie moisturizing toner ($28) since a Sephora makeup artist recommended it to me a year and a half ago (and I’m only on my second bottle so you get a lot of it for the price!) and I love how well it hydrates my skin. I actually use this in the morning as well before applying sunscreen and it never leaves me feeling shiny during the day. I’m also obsessed with the scent which is really light and fresh and just smells the way I think clean skin should!

design darling vintner's daughter review

Next up I apply a botanical serum called Vintner’s Daughter ($185). I still have yet to find a Vintner’s Daughter review that isn’t overwhelmingly positive so I finally broke down and splurged to see what all the fuss is about. I almost wanted to hate it so I wouldn’t fall in love with such a pricey product but alas… This is probably the one product I’d want with me on a deserted island. The founder’s family owns a vineyard (hence the name) and set out to create a serum from whole plants (not just extracts) to address inflammation, discoloration, and cystic acne at a cellular level.

It’s honestly helped my acne more than any other product I’ve tried and leaves my skin soft and glowy every time. I use the push-press technique explained on the packaging, where you literally press the serum into your skin for thirty seconds to make sure your skin absorbs as much as possible. Personally I use 3-4 drops instead of the recommended 6-8 just to stretch out time between bottles and find it’s more than enough to cover my face. I know the $185 price tag causes some sticker shock but I know I’ve spent more than that on a pair of shoes and hello, my skin is way more important!

philosophy renewed hope in a jar moisturizer review

Lastly I apply moisturizer, paying particular attention to my forehead (where fine lines are more prominent on dry skin) and around my eyes. I like this Philosophy renewed hope in a jar moisturizer ($47) because it doesn’t leave my skin looking shiny the next morning but was recently sent the Erno Laszlo white marble cream ($115) and have been really impressed with that as well. Moisturizer is something I feel I have to experiment a lot with to find products that actually sink into my skin and don’t leave me with excess shine so I’d love to hear from any of you who feel you’ve found your holy grail moisturizer so to speak!

bare minerals blemish remedy, goop instant facial, tata harper purifying mask, caudalie toner, and vintner's daughter review on design darling

Whew! I’m sorry this turned into a bit of an essay but hopefully you’ve found a new product or two in the process! Skincare is a newer interest of mine and there’s so much information out there that I’ve really had to experiment and see what works best for me. If you’re interested in doing more research, I’ve loved reading recommendations from Simply B, The Chriselle Factor, and The Stripe!

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  1. For more affordable serums—I love the ones from Herbivore Botanicals (I use Orchid) and a small batch company called Marble & Milkweed, made in TriBeCa. I cannot recommend the latter highly enough; I’ve been using her nourishing serum pretty consistently for a few years and it is incredible—and not nearly so pricey. I usually don’t even need a moisturizer on top!

  2. You absolutely must try the Paula’s Choice line. It’s available online and at Nordstrom and it is amazing. It’s super research based and the creator provides citations to the scientific journal articles that support the ingredients chosen for every product. The lines is fragrance, dye, and cruelty free and her website is also full of research based, honest reviews of other company’s skin care products and make up. (She often highly recommends other brands.) The whole company is amazing. I swear by the Clear Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid and the Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30. !! You won’t regret it!!

  3. Love this…I’ve tried to get more of a skincare routine going over the past few years, and it’s made such a change in my skin. I think the switch to mostly all-natural products has helped, too. I’ve been using Acure’s night cream for about two years and have gradually added their day cream and eye cream, too. So good, and they’re usually ranked around a three on Think Dirty. I recently added Mad Hippie’s Vitamin A serum, and it is a dream…love how it makes my skin look and feel, and it’s budget-friendly, too.

  4. For breakouts the only thing I’ve ever found that works is Quick Stick by Melaleuca. It’s magic!
    The only moisturizer that really makes a difference on my skin is LaMer. The price makes me cringe, but nothing else comes close.
    Gentle Exfoliating every few days is imperative.
    Take good care of your skin now and you’ll reap the benefits as you get older, you can do a lot of things for your health and your body, but if your face looks 10 years older than you… As a 59 year old, trust me on this! Start now and keep doing it, in 30 years you’ll have thrown out all your fancy outfits but you’ll still have your skin. You’re worth it!!!

  5. Best moisturizer I’ve used is One Love Organic’s Skin Saviour. It looks like Vaseline, but goes on like butter and is all natural. It’s the best thing I’ve used on my dry skin and it amazingly doesn’t clog pores. A little goes a long way so I’ve managed to use the same jar for months and months. It also doubles as a makeup remover, but I don’t use it that way because it doesn’t give that scrubbed clean feeling that I like!

  6. I am in the same boat! For the past few years I’ve been investing in my skin. Have you ever tried Retinol? It is the most proven, most studied anti-aging product out there and I definitely notice a difference when I use it consistently. It does make you sun sensitive, so never use it during the day even with products designed for daytime and/or with SPF.

    In the morning, I try to be quick and I just use the Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser followed by the Origins Age Defense Moisturizer With White Tea with SPF 25 and the Origins Starting Over Age Erasing Eye Cream with Mimosa.

    At night I’ll at least use the same face wash and eye cream with the Origins Night-a-Mins moisturizer and will try to add retinol and also a toner.

    For masks I LOVE the Fresh masks. The Umbrian Clay, Brown Sugar, Black Tea and Rose ones are all great. Around the holidays they did a gift set that was a nice assortment but also a REALLY good value.

    I liked this post! Keep em coming!

    1. I’ll look into retinol! I’m always nervous about products that make skin extra sensitive to the sun but it’d be a good reminder for me to use SPF every single day 🙂 Will look into your other product recs as well!

      1. Yeah definitely start with a low percentage (I started with the Neutrogena which is pretty gentle) and start with every other day to start. Some people layer over their regular moisturizer instead of under to ease irritation. I don’t think I’ve had any issues with sun sensitivity (I’m really fair) but I do know that it’s really important to not wear it during the day even though they make day products/products with SPF.

        Definitely check out the Black Tea Mask (in the white jar) and the Brown Sugar from Fresh…I have actually gotten compliments after using them! Just don’t be tempted to eat the brown sugar one hahaha

        Here’s what I used to start (I’m ready to add more I think):

  7. Thanks for the overview of what you use! There are a couple products I might like to try now.

    You might want to try out an eye cream as well. The skin around your eyes needs special care, and regular moisturizers generally aren’t formulated in the best way for this delicate skin. If you’re looking for something super moisturizing, I highly recommend the Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream. The Origins Eye Doctor Moisture Care for Skin Around the Eyes and the Lancôme Genifique Eye Youth Activating Eye Concentrate are also pretty great.

    Sweet Spontaneity

  8. Ah I love seeing what products people use! I use the Simple brand makeup remover wipes, they are so gentle on my skin! Follow that with Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap (literally a god send to my skin, and all natural, chemical free). Use Burt’s Bees rosewater toner and then Burt’s Bees lotion. I really need to incorporate an anti-aging serum and am looking at the Beauty Counter products. I’m trying to go as all natural as possible!

  9. For moisturiser, if you want something hydrating that won’t leave you shiny, you should try the Neutrogena Hydro Boost. It’s a gel so it sinks right in, and its got hyaluronic acid in it which is super moisturising – it takes the moisture you’ve already got and locks it in. At first it feels strange because it’s not creamy, but within days my skin was so soft and plump. It’s one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever used! x

  10. For a moisturizer I swear by Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, I have fairly dry skin and this does the trick! Plus the large size lasts me about a year. If my skin is super dry (usually in the winter) they have an super moisturizing version as well (I can’t seem to remember the name) that is a little thicker but doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy.

  11. Did you find that the vintner’s daughter serum caused you to break out? I have read all the amazing reviews but that there is also a purging period, just curious!

    1. For me it caused me to break out for the first two weeks or so and while I didn’t exactly enjoy it, it was weirdly satisfying to see it changing my skin so quickly. It wasn’t a typical breakout where you can tell your skin is sensitive to an ingredient in the product — it just felt like all the bad stuff in my pores was being brought to the surface so I could have a clean slate if that makes sense. After using it for a few months, my skin breaks out way less often (really only if I’ve eaten a ton of sugar, oops!). I hope that helps — thank you for reading!