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As I age and pay more attention to my skincare, I’ve managed to find some really amazing products that deliver bang for the buck. Now in the higher end of my mid-30s, keeping my skin soft, supple and wrinkle-free is of utmost importance to me.

I’ve tried a lot of drugstore serums, cleansers, toners and moisturizers and definitely done my fair share of DIYing to see what works for my skin and what’s not so hot. My whipped shea butter is still one of my favourite body butters and I also use a version of it with different oils as a night cream for deep moisture.

If you’re looking for a more complete kit, check out this post on skincare must-haves for those of us in our 30s. While I mix and match brands to keep my skin guessing, always, here are the very basic things that I always have on hand.

Build an at-home facial kit

At Home Facial Kit Basics

First things first, we cleanse.

I love love love CeraVe cleansers ever since I discovered them here. I’ve switched from the foaming facial cleanser to this one with salicylic acid to help control my adult acne but especially for my 10yo who’s now entered puberty. It works absolute WONDERS for her skin.

Honestly though, you can do no wrong, whichever you choose. The foaming facial cleanser was wonderful on my face as well and I cycle through both products again to switch things up and keep my face guessing. I have this thing about thinking that my skin and hair gets used to a product and I start getting lackluster results. I don’t know if that’ true for my face but I definitely need to do that for my hair. That’s why I keep switching out the hair moisturizers I use for my curls.

Then, we exfoliate.

This isn’t a daily step. This is when I’m going all out and doing my full at home facial routine. I’d say at least once per week, twice per week if you’re dealing with a breakout or trying to treat for spots or uneven skin tone.

I was once a scrub girl until I read how bad face scrubs can be for your face, potentially making things worse. Especially scrubs with large crystals like sugar scrubs or your favorite apricot scrubs. These scrubs may be fine once per week or so, but I’ve switched over to this peel from The Ordinary. It’s a chemical peel with a combination of alpha-hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids that are mild enough for at home use.

I’ve been using it on and off for several months now and like how it’s slowly changing the tone of my skin, evening things out nicely and giving me a smoother look and feel. And no, there’s no actual peeling happen so there’s no downtime where your skin is patchy. At least, that hasn’t happened to me. Just be sure to use it at night and wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside long.

Mask

Again, this isn’t an everyday thing. If I use the exfoliating peel, then I try to follow up with a mask to help treat my face and simultaneously add some soothing and healing to my skin. I’m gonna go old school and recommend this Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask because guess what? It works. This is a staple in my at home facial kit always. While I’ll try other masks to see what they bring to the table, the minute I see a breakout coming on, I whip out Miss Helene.

Toner

After using the mask, you’ll want to rinse well but you’ll also definitely want to use a toner to reveal your cleanest, freshest skin. This is a step I do every time I wash my face.

My daily skincare routine consists of:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Serum
  4. Moisturizer

That’s my basic face wash routine without all the extra stuff. At the very least, you should be doing all four steps. For some, applying SPF is also a critical step. The research is conflicting on that one for me so I’ll leave you to it. I don’t wear SPF at this point.

You can try my Green Tea Toner if you’re a fellow DIYer or you can check out my favourite rose water toner. I like to add 2 drops of pure rose essential oil to my rose water toner for the powerful effects of rose oil on the skin. Pure rose essential oil is however very expensive. This rose absolute is a wonderful mix since it is rose oil in jojoba which is also great for your face.

Serum

It’s time for a serum. And please note the order of these facial steps. Use them in this order to bring out the best of your facial products. When your skin is toned, it’s ready to receive your toner.

I have two types of toner that I use depending on the time of day. You know how much I love my Vitamin C serum. I use Vitamin C in the morning for bright, fresh skin. I’m currently using this brand and I love it. It’s a repeat buy for me, I love that it has hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E and it’s a large size of 2oz. I take this with me when I’m traveling as well.

For night time, I use this retinol serum. Retinol is anti-aging. It’s supposed to help with collagen production, skin cell turnover and help fight wrinkles. Retinol is new for me but so far so good! I also allow my 10yo to use this on her skin even though it’s marketed more for aging skin. I like the effects it’s having on her acne.

If you’re using retinol, it’s recommended to follow that up with hyaluronic acid. You can buy a combination serum, like this one, or you can go for pure hyaluronic like this one. This combo pack is an excellent addition to your beauty kit if you’re just starting out. It’s also perfect for getting teens on a skincare regimen.

Moisturizer

My final step is to moisturize. Pure aloe vera gel is my favourite way to moisturize my face after all that. Plus it’s a great multi-use product to have on hand. You can use it in your hair or on your skin especially for skin burn or bug bites. And now we know it’s one of the best ingredients to use to create an effective DIY hand sanitizer. This is the brand I try to have on hand at all times.

Sweet almond oil is also an excellent all-natural moisturizer for your face. It helps with acne and skin tone and is naturally high in Vitamin A and E. It’s also an excellent makeup remover so stop buying additional products and use this instead. It’s nourishing for your face instead o whatever chemicals are in your favourite makeup remover. I like to use aloe vera gel in the day for a nice light moisturizer and sweet almond oil at night to avoid a greasy daytime look.

Start with these 6 products to prime and pamper yourself at home when giving yourself a facial or just to uplevel your face-washing game. You can add premium products as you go along or more steps, but this is the very basic always for flawless skin, no spa date required.

If you travel as much as I do, even if it’s just for a night over at the boo’s, grab this uber-convenient clear toiletries bag to throw all your face supplies in so that you keep up your routine. I also have a set of these containers so I can take my favourite face wash and oils with me in travel-compliant sizes. No hotel face soap for me please!

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