I often tell people that I became a beauty writer by chance, but if I look back on my skin care evolution, the vocation seems slightly more fated. I invested in my first “anti-aging” moisturizer when I was 17 — normal now, decidedly strange in the late-aughts — after a facialist told me, in a tone almost conspiratorial, that it was never too early to start. Add to that my Northern California sensibilities (I collected essential oils as a child, stirred them into bentonite clay masks when I hit adolescence, and now absorb intel from friends who make their living in herbal spaces), and my current morning skin care routine is ideal for sensitive skin, as well as a study in revolutionary ingredients and time-honored approaches, all designed to keep my complexion looking as vibrant (and yes, youthful) as humanly possible.
My old-meets-new world approach centers on all things gentle. With the exception of a monthly application of Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, I favor products that keep my moisture barrier intact, eschewing exfoliants, cleansing with facial oils (the one listed below from Crude is a favorite), and generally shying away from any offering that might irritate or inflame my skin.
If you share a penchant for products that are efficacious, mild, and natural-leaning, read on as this morning routine features my tried-and-true heroes for an all-day glow.
Morning Skin Care Routine Step 1: Tools
I do everything I can to slow myself down in the morning (sometimes to my own detriment), and facial tools allow me to ease into the day while starting off my product regimen with a de-puffed and plumped complexion. Apply your favorite face oil (I use whatever I have on hand, which right now is Kora Noni Face Oil) for maximum slip and pull your preferred size of facial cup from the side of the nose out toward the ear, using only a light amount of suction. Hello, lymphatic drainage! I follow with a Gua Sha session (I’m a crystal girl, and rose quartz is my favorite for beauty purposes), but not aggressively or to the point of redness — the only goal here is gentle de-puffing. Finally, use warm water and a facial cloth to wipe skin clean, dab on NuFace’s Gel Primer, and let that little gadget do its thing.
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Morning Skin Care Routine Step 2: Serums
I won’t lie and say that I do all of these serums everyday — all because I’m not patient enough to allow them all the necessary time to saturate, and I like to stretch the life of some of these products — but they all earn their place in my rotation. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is my (and many, many others’) favorite option from the brightening and protective world of vitamin C serums, and I find that a little bit goes a long way. The Superkind line from Tata Harper was specifically formulated with sensitive skin in mind, ditching any ingredients derived from soy, nuts, or wheat to help keep reactive skin as calm as possible, all while retaining the brand’s reliable result. And Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Glow Drops are cultish for a reason, and can be used at any point of your routine and throughout the day for extra luminosity — a vibe that I appreciate.
Morning Skin Care Routine Step 3: Moisturizers
Daytime moisturizers feel best when they are emollient and light so they can fully saturate my skin (in this house, we say no to product pilling). Tata Harper’s formulas never feel too heavy, and though this one is designed for oily/combination skin, which I do not have, I am obsessed with the texture. Susanne Kaufmann’s day and night creams combine revolutionary research with botanicals in non-greasy formulas that are easy to layer, and LAPCOS’s Biome Boost is another textural serve — it’s so bouncy and hydrating that I sometimes add another touch over makeup.
Morning Skin Care Routine Step 4: Eye Cream
The secret to brightened undereyes? A thin layer of coconut oil followed by Tata Harper’s slightly pearlescent Illuminating Eye Crème. Even though it’s a simple step, there’s something that feels so indulgent about tapping on some coconut oil, even (or especially?) in the company of more high-minded products.
Morning Skin Care Routine Step 5: Sunscreen
This step brings another opportunity (read: mandate) to slow down. A physical sunscreen in the truest sense, this SPF from Juice Beauty will leave a cast if you rush it. Instead, spread a dime size amount over fingers and press into skin, then do something else (I usually start in on my brows) while it saturates. After a minute, rub in the excess. Easier, transparent options abound, but I’m fairly faithful to this zinc-rich moisturizer.
Morning Skin Care Routine Step 6: Facial Mists
My favorite category! I keep facial mists everywhere: at my desk, in my car, in my cabinet, on my dresser. I suggest spritzing whenever you need an energy boost or your complexion feels a little lackluster. These are a few of my favorites right now, and in an effort to break my Evian Brumisateur habit, I keep a fine mist bottle of filtered water (sometimes with a few drops of helichrysum or lavender essential oil) in my fridge.