I’m sure we’re all familiar with how winter tends to wreak havoc on your skin, no matter your skin type. Of course, I have oily/combination skin and live in Northern California, where “winter” means that it’s about 50ºF and sometimes it rains, so I don’t have to deal with wind-chapped lips and cheeks or anything too serious. But I still like to get my hydration on.
I’ve actually found that even though my skin is oily, keeping it well hydrated with effective products (read: not just a ton of super heavy creams) helps to balance out my lovely face oils.
The best way to balance out your skin’s oil production is to actually make sure you’re correctly moisturizing your skin — “correctly” meaning that you help support your skin’s natural hydration process instead of making it think it doesn’t need to hydrate itself. So although it seems counterintuitive, using products often made for those with dehydrated skin, like hyaluronic acid and facial oils, can help those of us with oily skin.
In the morning, I prefer to keep things simple: a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. When you’re sleeping, your skin takes the time to repair itself, so I try not to strip away all that hard work with too many products, especially since my nighttime routine is all about hydration. I always at least wash my face with a damp washcloth, but if I feel like I need a little more or if I’ve been wearing a sleeping mask that needs to be washed off in the morning, I use the COSRX Low-pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser ($11) and rinse my face with lukewarm water.
Next I moisturize with Mixa’s Soin Réhydratant Equilibrant (which I don’t think is possible to find in the U.S. and it makes me very sad that my American friends can’t discover the magic that is this 5€ moisturizer) or with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30 ($29.50 for 50 ml) if I feel like I need a little more hydration that day.
If I’m not using the Kiehl’s, I use the Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($29.99 for a pack of two) as my SPF — sun protection is essential, everyone!
My nighttime routine is a little more thorough but not too complicated, compared to what it could be. I start with a double cleanse and remove my makeup with Garnier’s Waterproof Micellar Cleansing Water ($6.61 on Amazon but it’s available at literally any drugstore in the U.S.).
A quick note: I know the Bioderma Sensibio H2O micellar water is all the rage among the skincare obsessed, but after living in France for a few months and trying micellar water formulas from every French pharmacy brand out there, I’ve concluded that there’s literally no difference, as long as I rinse off the micellar water after. (P.S. Please rinse off your micellar water.)
After removing my makeup, my second cleanse depends on how my skin has felt all day, so I do one of three things.
- Option 1: Cleanse my face with the Avène Antirougeurs Dermo Cleansing Milk ($28), which I do most days because I just love a creamy cleanser.
- Option 2: Cleanse my face with the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel for Face and Body ($20) if I was feeling a little extra oily that day.
- Option 3: Cleanse with the Antirougeurs and then the Cleanance if I wore a lot of makeup (a.k.a. if I wore an actual foundation) that day.
This is where it gets complicated, but I don’t do this every day. If it’s Exfoliation Day (Wednesday and Saturday nights for me), I use either the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine Pads ($27) or the Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay ($27) if I want a little extra treatment from the clay.
On the days I don’t use either of these exfoliants, I use a chemical exfoliant, like the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 W ($28 for 50 ml) — I bought this at the actual Biologique Recherche Ambassade de la Beauté on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and yes, it was bougie as hell — or The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70). I use either of these for at most two days in a row, just because I don’t want to overdo it with chemical exfoliation.
Lately, I’ve been using Glossier’s Moisturizing Moon Mask ($22) about once a week to really Get My Hydration On. If I’m breaking out in a particular area, I apply a thin layer of La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo ($36.95 in the U.S., which is insane because I got it for about 13€ in France!) where I feel like I need it. However, I wouldn’t recommend the American formula for this product because it has benzoyl peroxide, which can be really harsh on your skin.
Then I use my two Holy Grail hydration products: the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($46 for 1 fl. oz) and The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($6.80). I really hesitated before dropping $46 on the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, but I had been living off of sample packets for weeks, and I woke up with smooth, soft skin every morning — and I only needed three drops for my entire face. So for me, it was definitely worth the money.
As for hyaluronic acid, any formula will do — Glossier makes a hyaluronic acid serum, of course, and even Trader Joe’s sells one now — so it doesn’t matter which one you use. Hyaluronic acid is really good at hydrating your skin because it’s already naturally found in our bodies and it helps your skin absorb moisture more efficiently. So for me, sometimes that means I don’t feel like I need another moisturizer on top.
If I do want to use another moisturizer, I apply a thin layer of the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré ($28), usually after spraying my face with the Avène Eau Thermale, which I absolutely cannot advocate spending money on because it’s ridiculous to pay money for water in a spray can, but I was in France and at the time it didn’t feel ridiculous to stock up on about 25€ worth of the stuff.
Then I wrap myself up in a million cozy layers, journal about whatever meltdown I had that day, and either go to sleep at a decent hour or stay up reading for fun instead of for school like I should be.
I’ll keep you updated with any new products I’m trying in my upcoming Quickies series, and as always, please comment below or contact me here if you have any questions about something I’ve talked about or suggestions for products I might like!