Does a nighttime skincare routine make a difference? Yes. Let me reiterate. YES!!

Alright, folks. It’s time to get to the nitty gritty. Dive into the good stuff. As promised in my inaugural skincare post, I’m gonna get real detailed about routines, good and bad habits, best practices, and the products I reach for most often these days. 

And because we have so much to cover (I wish you could see how excited I am), I’ll be breaking this initial information up into several posts. First up? The importance of, and suggested steps for your evening skincare routine.

Care about the skin you’re in.

 Taking care of your skin is important — in the morning and at night. But in my opinion, what you do (or don’t do) before bed, has a direct and often obvious impact on how your skin looks (and feels) throughout the day, and ultimately, throughout the years.

Growing older is a privilege. Much better than the alternative. And just like wisdom and perspective, along the way we gain a few wrinkles and lose a little elasticity. It’s okay. It’s part of life. It’s also okay to realize that taking care of ourselves, mentally as well as physically, can greatly contribute to an overall sense of well being. So don’t feel bad about pampering the skin you’re in. Wanting to look and feel your best is allowed.

Alright, let’s get to it. We have a lot to cover.

Nighttime is the right time.

Because I’m a woman slightly (abnormally) obsessed with everything related to skincare, I realize I am willing to take more time, and try more products that the average Jane. That being said, I’m not here to overwhelm you. We all have busy lives, and spending 30 minutes a night babying your face is likely not in the cards.

So, although I will be sharing my full nighttime routine (steps, products, and alternative, often less expensive options), know that an effective nighttime skincare regimen doesn’t have to be confusing, or extensive. If you’re looking for something quick that will make a difference, stick to the steps highlighted in red – what I consider the bare necessities.

As always, products listed are my current faves, and might not be a perfect fit for your specific skincare needs. To check out the details on my skin and what I’m hoping to accomplish, check out “The Skin I’m In” section in my first post. If you have different needs and are unsure about what to look for, comment below and I’ll do my best to find you an answer.

 A step-by-step guide to Nikki’s evening “me time”

First Cleanse

The first cleanse is the initial step in what is commonly referred to these days as a “double cleanse”. This step is really only necessary if you’re wearing makeup, or if you’re feeling especially grungy. Products in this category are most often “cleansing oils” or “balms”, and are formulated to break up your makeup and prepare your face for a 2nd, gentle cleanse. Just massage onto a dry face and wash off with water or a wet washcloth. If you aren’t wearing makeup, you can skip this step and start your routine with a cleanser that falls in the category of a 2nd cleanse.

Current fave: Boscia Make-Up-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil  Love this one for its simplicity, lack of residue when washing off, and overall effectiveness.

Second Cleanse

The main thing to remember about cleansers (your second, or only cleanse) is that you want them to be gentle, yet effective. You’re just trying to get the remaining makeup residue off here, or simply the funk from the day. Gone are the days of harsh, drying products. If it’s really sudsy, stay away from it. If it’s targeting teenagers and acne, just say no. If it has alcohol, run. Another good tip about cleansers. You don’t have to spend a lot on them. Any nice gentle cleanser is fine. Wet your face, massage it in and rinse. It’s that simple.

Current fave: Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk With a subtle peachy scent and a gentle milky texture, it’s something, quite frankly, I wish I could fill a pool with and dive into. Add in the ultra affordable price (for a boatload of product) and the convenience of picking it up at your local Walgreens, and you’ve got yourself a loyal customer at the corner of cheap and fruity.

Acid Toner

This is it, my friends. The Holy Grail in my skincare routine (with a price tag to reflect it). And I assure you, it is MORE than worth it. Biologique Recherche P50 Original “1970” has done more to balance out my skin and bring back that long lost glow, than any other product in my arsenal.

P50 is not your Momma’s toner, and it will not dry out or strip your skin of moisture. It is formulated to exfoliate, hydrate and balance the PH of your skin, better preparing it to accept the good stuff you put on afterward. If you want to give it a shot, but don’t want to make the full investment, consider the trial or midsize version. P50 “1970” is my BR product of choice, but you can check out all P50 product options at Shop Rescue Spa (one of the only distributor’s in the U.S.) to find the one that best fits your needs.

How to use: Pour a bit of this liquid gold onto a cotton pad, dab or rub it on your face, neck and chest, feel the burn and know that your skin will soon be inching closer to baby butt status. Warning: the smell is STRONG (like Chloraseptic, but stronger). But once you realize how well it works, you’ll come to crave it. Trust.

Shout out: I first became aware of P50 when I started reading the blog of British skincare guru, Caroline Hirons. This is one of her all time faves, and as she famously instructs all of her faithful readers, “Don’t forget the neck and chest. Take it from tip to tits.” Translation: Top of forehead to your tatas. Caroline is one of my favorite resources, and she is in some part responsible for my improved skin and my deflating wallet. Hence, the popular Instagram and Twitter hashtag: #carolinehironsmademedoit Check her out. She’s hilarious and an incredible resource.

Less pricey alternative to P50: Not necessarily Holy Grail-worthy, but definitely a very respectable option, check out Pixi Glow Tonic if you’re looking to step into the world of liquid exfoliants.

Retinoid (Vitamin A)

I’m going to keep this one pretty short and sweet, because it really requires its own full post, and that will happen in the near future. But quickly, you’ve all likely heard of retinoids and the fact that they are just about the best over-the-counter product available that has a real impact on the signs of aging. As a result, just about every brand has one in their line.

If you’re not using one yet, and you’re of the age where you’d like to slow down and diminish those pesky wrinkles and discoloration, consider adding one to your regimen. But start slow. Maybe once every few nights, and just a few drops is sufficient. Stay away from the eye area, and although we’re not talking about daytime here, for Pete’s sake, wear your sunscreen every day. Especially if retinoids are a part of your practice.

I’m currently using Sunday Riley’s Luna about twice a week, and that works well for me. Much more than that and my skin starts to get a little irritated. This is good stuff, but not cheap. There are alternatives. The Ordinary is a brand that is getting a lot of attention for offering good, basic skincare at rock bottom prices. I haven’t personally tried them, but I’ve heard good things, and I plan to try them out very soon.

Eye Cream

In the early days of my ‘past young adult’ skincare journey, eye cream wasn’t even on my radar. I’m sure, like many, I assumed a good general moisturizer around the eyes would do the trick. And quite frankly, the skeptic in me assumed the whole eye cream hoopla was just that, marketing and hooplah.

It wasn’t until I decided to give it a shot, years later, that I realized there was merit to at least some of the claims. Over time, I have found a few favorites. Have they eliminated my dark circles (the bane of my existence)? Not really. The best have made a slight difference. But I have found products that help reduce puffiness where you don’t want it, and add a little plumping where you do (i.e. around those pesky outside lines).

Note: Most eye creams are formulated with the sensitivity and thin skin of this area in mind. Myself and my dear friend (and fellow skincare addict), Catherine, have especially sensitive skin around our eyes. Unless otherwise instructed, we rarely use an eye serum or cream on the eyelid — only under the eyes. As with any new product you try, always do a patch test, especially if it’s meant for the eye area.

Splurge: Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream is a product I’d heard a lot of buzz about before I finally decided to give it a shot. This one has a hefty price tag, and I actually waited to purchase it as part of a Cult Beauty box. The box included a number of other products, and all were discounted as part of this promotional “box set”. The takeaway? It’s good sh%#. Which kind of pissed me off. I wanted to hate it. But alas, it keeps my under eye area very hydrated, and I’ve noticed it plumps up the fine lines. In Tata’s defense, a little goes a verrrrrry long way, so this puppy lasts forever.

Save: I heard about 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream from another one of my favorite beauty vloggers (and local Houston TV news anchor), Dominique Sachse. It’s a great deal, and it really does make a difference on puffiness and even a slight difference in my dark circles. And it has caffeine in it, which I will take any way I can get. Jokes aside, this works better than MANY much higher priced eye creams I’ve tried. Tip: Always put your eye cream/serum on before your general face serum – so it can be fully absorbed and work to its max potential.

Serum

Serums are a very important step in your skincare regimen, and which type you choose is really based on your individual needs or concerns. Similar to your acid toner, this is a step where you want to invest in the good stuff. At this point in your regimen, you have primed your face (and neck and chest) to receive the nutrients and/or moisture it needs. 

Right now, I am loving a product from Leahlani Skincare. Based on the north shore of Kauai, this organic line of skincare not only smells delicious, it has truly made a difference in the overall tone and hydration of my skin.

I’m currently using the Vitamin C rich Siren Serum at night, and love it enough to soon be ordering my 3rd bottle. Trust me, that’s saying a lot.

If you have other skin concerns, and aren’t sure which serum to try, let me know below and I’ll try to send you a recommendation. Also, I’ve found the folks at Sephora to be really helpful and knowledgeable. Let them know your budget and what you’re hoping to accomplish, and they will point you in the right direction.

Option or addition: If you’re looking for hydration and “plumping”, hyaluronic acid is a great place to start. Lots of brands are finally on the bandwagon with the moisturizing power of HAs (essentially a molecule that holds a gazillion times its weight in water), so there are loads of options to choose from, in every price point.

I’m currently using a product from Japan, that’s formulated a bit more like a serum — Hadalabo JAPAN Skin Institute Gokujun premium hyaluronic solution. It’s nice and watery, and soaks in quick and easy. It’s also super affordable, readily available on Amazon, and this stuff works! I buy 2 at a time, as it can take anywhere from a week to a month to get to you. Pretty sure I found out about this one from another one of my favorite bloggers — Gothamista — who is a great general resource, but has specifically wonderful (and often affordable) recommendations on products from around the world. 

Moisturizer

The truth is, sometimes the serum/HA step is enough for me in terms of moisture. But on the nights when I’m feeling particularly desert-like, I’ll also reach for a moisturizer that packs a punch and slather it on my face, neck and chest.

There are so many choices in moisturizers, from drugstore affordable to outlandishly expensive, and to be quite honest, if you’ve added a great serum to your regimen, spending big money on a moisturizer just isn’t necessary. My recommendation: Stay away from anything too perfumy. Best to go simple. You can also combine the hyaluronic acid and moisturizer in one step with this product from Hada Labo at Walgreens — Hada Labo Tokyo Skin Plumping Gel Cream. It’s thicker than the one mentioned above and can be used as your last step, with super results.

I hope all of this information has helped you to think about your current regimen, how you might like to ramp it up or adjust it a bit, and/or what you want to “enhance” on that beautiful face of yours moving forward. As always, feel free to comment below with any questions or suggestions for the rest of the Treehugger family. We value any and all input.

Until next time, try to set aside a few minutes to pamper yourself. You deserve it.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a trained expert. I am not formally educated in this field, nor have I worked in the industry. I am simply someone with a genuine passion (obsession) for learning more, trying more and hopefully seeing some real results. BUT, I can promise you this…what you will get from me, is honesty. If something works, you’ll know it. If I’m lukewarm about it, you won’t have to guess. And if it’s not cutting the mustard, you’ll know that, too.

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