Every product I put on my face, from start to finish

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I’m not very good at paying compliments to myself, but would say that I have pretty decent skin, which in recent years I have started taking much better care of. What follows is my morning routine (I, shamefully, do nothing at night and sleep with my makeup on, which is really bad, I know), starting with Bioderma, which I use to clean my face. It’s so much more hydrating than a foaming cleanser or something along those lines. This Garnier formulation is supposed to be good too, and costs less.

I apply the Bioderma (and the product directly below this one) with cotton pads from Japan, because I read once that Japanese and Korean cotton pads are better than American ones—they don’t pill on your face and are less abrasive. Also, they don’t absorb as much, so your products last longer.

I am a total convert to Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50W, which smells like hell and costs a small fortune, but exfoliates like nobody’s business. I use the formulation for sensitive skin, because that’s what I have. This stuff is supposed to be pretty good too, and it costs less.

Next, I use Good Genes by Sunday Riley, which I know some of you don’t like because the people at Sunday Riley were caught writing positive reviews of their own items, but I think this stuff really works. The lactic acid plumps up my skin, exfoliates, and smells dreamily of lemongrass, which offsets the stink of the P50W. This stuff from The Ordinary apparently performs the same function for a lot less cash, but it is endlessly out of stock everywhere.

Into the Good Genes I shake a little Vitamin C Powder from True Botanicals, which a beauty editor I trust swears by. It costs more than a lot of Vitamin C  formulations out there, but Vitamin C degrades in water, so it’s supposedly much more powerful in powder form. I think it does a good job of brightening my skin. Here’s another powder that’s much cheaper, if you’re interested.

The next three items I mix together and apply to my face, starting with this Vitamin B serum, which hydrates nicely.

This moisturizer is meant to be used in the evening, and I can see why: it is pretty rich. But it works for mornings as long as I take enough time for it to sink in before applying makeup.

Marula Oil is supposed to be good for aging skin, so I add a few drops of this to the mix.

As for sunscreen, I use this stuff, which goes on nice and light and is slightly tinted, for a subtle glow.

Once a week, I’ll use this Drunk Elephant mask, which stings for the first minute or so, but leaves my skin so smooth and glowy.

And for very, very special occasions, I’ll go into my cache of SKII sheet masks, which are deeply hydrating and altogether beautifying.

 

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59 Thoughts on Every product I put on my face, from start to finish
    Francine
    29 May 2020
    4:10pm

    Clearly I’m in the minority here, because I LOVE the scent of P50! It reminds me of the scent of poured water over a campfire. I also use Biologique mask and that stinks like a combo of yeast, soy sauce and hotdog water. I’ve been using it for 2 years and really and truly work. Worth every penny. That, plus prescription Retin-A, Obagi 20% Vit C, Neutrogena SPF 70 and Botox (omg, I have an appointment in 2 weeks, I’m so damn excited!) are where I spend my money.
    For the love of God, will you please start washing your face at night!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    28 May 2020
    10:04pm

    All of you non-makeup removers are killing me! Nighttime is the BEST time to cleanse the grime, yuck, and makeup off of your skin and then, follow-up with your top treatments so they can work on your skin overnight. Trust me, it makes a big difference!

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    Jax
    28 May 2020
    10:06pm

    I’ve been using that same Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide cream. I got a smaller jar of it as part of my Sephora Insider birthday present last year and loved it, so I bought a full jar with some kind of Sephora discount. It is a tad expensive for me, so I’m now trying another cheaper alternative from Target. We’ll see!
    I have been curious about the other Drunk Elephant products, so thank you for describing them here.

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    Edie
    29 May 2020
    7:10pm

    Kim, you have amazing skin! I can absolutely vouch for that 🙂 xx

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    Ann
    28 May 2020
    4:17pm

    Total skincare junkie. I love the Bioderma stuff so much, I have an auto-delivery from Amazon (check the seller, always). I also use the same cotton pads you recommend, and you’re right: way better than the thick ones we have here. They’re sort of a handkerchief fabric and they take a little getting used to, but now I wouldn’t want to use the regular American ones because they’d feel too thick and ineffective. If you want a Bioderma alternative, I like the Garnier but I like Simple even more. It doesn’t leave any kind of residue and it doesn’t dry me out. It just doesn’t clean as thoroughly as the Bioderma. But I just can’t with the Biologique Recherche. That smell is just too horrible!

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    Tammy
    28 May 2020
    9:24am

    I rarely take off my make-up at night.

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      Lilli Gottlieb
      28 May 2020
      9:55pm

      😂

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    LeighTX
    28 May 2020
    9:32am

    I’ve realized that since quarantine started, my skin has not looked this good in years. I think it’s a combination of not wearing makeup (which I’m also terrible about not washing off at night) and using the Versed Vitamin C powder, which I found after your podcast. I mix it into my very basic daily moisturizer every morning after I wash my face, and that’s it. My daughter told me the other day that my skin looks “plumpy” which I take as the highest compliment. I may never go back to wearing makeup! (Or pants, but that’s a subject of a different column. Maybe we need a post on cute, longer tops that you can wear with leggings? LOL)

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      Emily M.
      29 May 2020
      9:45am

      My skin is also doing well in quarantine, but I mostly credit the lack of sun. I have been staying inside most of the time, and when I do go out, I wear a mask and a hat.

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      liz
      28 May 2020
      12:30pm

      I love not wearing makeup (and pants).

      I credit my good skin to genetics, drinking plenty of water and sun protection.

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    c.w.
    28 May 2020
    9:35am

    Thank you for sharing you routine! Peri menopause and menopause does bring around a need for different facial products that what we used when younger. I am a fan of Cetaphil––not the face cleanser, but the body cleanser which I use on my face. I use many of the same products you show here, but I have not tried the Drunk Elephant serum so that is definitely going on my list. And a few of the others will go on a “in the future when I need to replace “this” I’ll try “this” list. When I’m lazy (which has seemed to be a lot lately) I turn to Burts Bees cleansing cloths in the evening which I also hate using because of the trash factor. (sigh)

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      D.Morgendorffer
      28 May 2020
      11:18am

      C.W., I’m taking a pause from my b’day tradition of carb loading and reading (45, WHOOOOOOO!) to comment. I know the Cetaphil body cleanser you’re talking about, which I used as a body wash for years. If you ever can’t find it, Aveeno Baby Cleansing Therapy Moisturizing Wash feels very similar (don’t know as far as the actual ingredients go). Also, at the start of the lockdown, I decided to switch to reusable cotton-bamboo blend cosmetic rounds. I was worried how they might affect my mild rosacea, but I actually like them better than one-use cotton rounds. As a frequenter of health food stores since the 90s, I’ve encountered plenty of reusable products that just don’t work well. However, these reusable cosmetic rounds are affective. So, maybe you could experiment with saturating one with a cleanser or micellar water to see if that’s a good substitute. Now, back to carb loading…biscuit wishes and paper towel dreams to everyone!

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        Mamavalveeta03
        28 May 2020
        10:09pm

        Happy Birthday, D-Morg! XOX

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        c.w.
        28 May 2020
        1:45pm

        Happy B-Day! Hope you have great birthday carbo loading….ummmmm birthday cake….. And thank you for the great info!!

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        Viajera
        28 May 2020
        12:52pm

        Do you mind, if you get a chance, what exact kind of little pads do you use, if it’s not too nosy to ask? I should try something like that when I run out of rounds.

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        Kim France
        28 May 2020
        12:22pm

        Happy birthday, D!

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        Viajera
        28 May 2020
        12:26pm

        Happy Birthday!!!! Many happy returns!

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        Katrina
        28 May 2020
        12:09pm

        Happy Birthday! And excellent screen name!

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        Jenny
        28 May 2020
        11:45am

        Happy birthday D! You are a delight to read, proofread or not.

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        D.Morgendorffer
        28 May 2020
        11:25am

        The giddiness of a biscuit breakfast caused my proofreading vigilance to waver. Apologies, it should be, “effective”.

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          Kimbersam
          28 May 2020
          12:53pm

          Happy Birthday! May the universe bless you with oodles of biscuits!

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            D.Morgendorffer
            28 May 2020
            3:50pm

            Thank you for the kind words, everyone! One of my b’day pleasures is a Laurie Colwin novel mentioned by a certain magazine founder: it’s like the first time I had a tart so I’m savoring it slowly. Viajera, here’s the one I got https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Remover-Washable-Organic-Cleansing/dp/B07D5XQRFW/ref=sr_1_7/?_encoding=UTF8&dchild=1&keywords=reusable%20cosmetic%20rounds&qid=1590694781&sr=8-7&ref_=nav_ya_signin& Whenever I use an acid-based exfoliator with one, I rinse it afterwards with water and squeeze it out. When the little wash bag is filled with used ones, I put the filled wash bag in my lingerie wash bag with my white bras and wash it on delicate in the washing machine. Then, I pull them out of their bag and let them air dry.

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              Viajera
              29 May 2020
              3:24pm

              Awesome, thank you!!!

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    Tammy
    28 May 2020
    9:22am

    I LOVE Good Genes from Sunday Riley. It’s been a game-changing product for my aging skin.

    Thanks for the morning regimen lineup, Kim. So many good recommendations. 🙂

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    Amanda
    28 May 2020
    8:43am

    I love reading about other people’s skincare routines! I recently decided I was spending more on skincare than I wanted to (especially since I work in higher ed and the uncertainty/upheaval in that field) and decided to try Beauty Pie. I’ve only done it for a couple months but have been really pleased with the products I’ve tried—their Vitamin C capsules in particular are amazing. We’ll see how it works out, financially and beauty-wise, but I’m hopeful.

    Of course, I will never give up my prescription-strength Retinol.

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      Mamavalveeta03
      28 May 2020
      10:14pm

      I consider myself a skincare guru (I worked in beauty) and I’m LOVING the whole Beauty Pie concept, as well as those perfect Vitamin C capsules that leave my skin feeling like silk. They’re also fun to use! And you are right on the money with your prescription Retin A.

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    suz
    28 May 2020
    8:26am

    I love virtually poking around in your bathroom cabinet 🙂 Also love micellar water and don’t know why it took so long to find its way to the US. I use washable face pad thingys to remove makeup with that aren’t cotton and don’t absorb much product – and they are the only ones I have never lost an eyelash to. Super soft and gentle plus no pilling. The maker also sells on etsy – facekins. In case anyone needs some I guess.

    Definitely interested in that vit C powder

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    A
    29 May 2020
    9:52pm

    I love reading about skincare routines! Kim, Acure has a Marula oil that seems to be the same quality as Drunk Elephant (DE felt a little lighter if I recall correctly) but much, much cheaper… also I have to share: when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s I never, ever washed my face at night and my skin was amazing! Now after a stressful career change/as I grow older I have newly sensitive & dehydrated skin with dry flaky patches (by my mouth, mainly). I’m blaming aging/stress/poor sleep/too much time indoors staring at a screen… but I do wash my face at night now and use moisturizer… so who knows, perhaps that’s the culprit?! (Just kidding, it’s the former not the latter, to blame) if anyone with similar skin wants to weigh in with a miracle-cure soothing PM lotion— please share! My routine currently is using Renee Rouleau’s elderberry toner (it’s gentle), Acure Marula oil, and the very last remnants of a K-beauty lotion (Klairs midnight blue calming cream) that I love but prefer as a spot treatment rather than all over.

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      D.Morgendorffer
      31 May 2020
      1:05am

      I remember having the flake situation myself in my mid thirties. I found that incorporating Hada Labo’s hyaluronic acid lotion, Gokujun, made the difference. Though, let me stress, mist some sort of water on your face right before you apply it. I mist my face with water. Then, I put in my palm a few drops of some sort of oil, a tiny amount of a light moisturizer, and three drops of Hada Labo. Then, I pat in the mixture on my face, neck, and chest. Most people apply a mist and then Hada Labo first and then apply their moisturizer. I apply the mist and Hado Labo mixture after my moisturizer because I have thirsty enough skin that, if I apply the Hado Labo first, my skin will suck it up too quickly and be thirsty again in a short while. My moisturizer slows down the absorption/consumption rate of the hyaluronic acid. So, you can experiment with what stage you apply the hyaluronic acid to see what fits best. Also, having a tube of soothing French moisturizer like Avene Skin Recovery Cream/Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion/one of the La Roche Posay toleriane moisturizers/one of the Bioderma Sensibo moisturizers can be very helpful. Finally, Clinique Moisture Surge face spray is great for topping up the moisture in the middle of the day, even when you’re wearing makeup.

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    Mignon Fulton
    28 May 2020
    2:54pm

    For a woman of a certain age, why aren’t you using retinol/vitamin A during your PM routine?

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      Ramonaquimby
      29 May 2020
      3:14am

      Because she doesn’t have a PM routine!

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      Kim France
      29 May 2020
      1:19pm

      My skin is too sensitive for retinol, according to my dermatologist.

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    Bobby
    28 May 2020
    2:14pm

    So since you don’t compliment yourself too often, I’ll give you one now…. In that post a few weeks ago about “What would you tell your younger self” When I saw that pic of you, I thought”Wow, she looks os beautiful, like the young Isabelle Adjani.”

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    therealblonde
    28 May 2020
    12:53pm

    I use almost every single product from this list, it’s scary! Including those Japanese pads – you need so much less of the very precious P50 that way!

    I was wondering: would using the P50 toner and Good Genes simultaneously not be too much? When I got my P50V at Biologique Recherche, they warned about combining it with other acids/exfoliants. So I alternate at night between using the lotion and retinol (I use the one from Drunk Elephant).
    Using the P50 with Vit C is okay though, according to the BR lady. I use the C-Firma from Drunk Elephant, but might want to try out the one you’re recommending, because I find it too tacky – it was my (slightly) cheaper dupe for CE Ferulic from Skinceuticals. Or does anyone have a tip about how to make the C-Firma less sticky?
    I love the Protini and Marula oil (the oil is fantastic when you fly – if we ever fly again!), I use the Lala Whipped Cream in the winter and my latest discovery is the F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial, which you can use as a leave-on mask, or just slather over whatever moisturizer you’re wearing at night.

    Instead of the Baby Facial, I use something very similar form The Ordinary. For sun screen, I like the new Coola drops, it’s so lightweight, you don’t notice you’re wearing an extra layer on your face. Their setting spray is great to top up during the day.

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    Viajera
    28 May 2020
    12:50pm

    This was very interesting reading, Kim. I always suspected I was lazy about skincare. I probably need at least half of these. Really probably at least a retinoid, more exfoliant (I use the PC 2%, which I like but usually forget to use), and a vit c of some sort. Regularly I only use sunscreen and I’m not that happy with my daily one. (I tried to go mineral and it was mostly a failure. I like the PC Calm one but I am kind of cheap, really. I resent having to pay 20 or 30 bucks for goo that I have to put on just to leave the house. I have a bad attitude and I should just pony up and be glad there is something I can stand to have on. Btw I don’t work for PC.) Usually I get as far as thinking about all the stuff I should be trying, get confused and overwhelmed, then I think about something else. I guess I have a short attention span, along with sensitive skin and unrealistic consumer expectations.

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    Sarah
    28 May 2020
    12:25pm

    I love your blog and your podcast. I was a sassy reader too. One suggestion for your regime – add in a niacinamide (the ordinary, Paula’s choice). It’s a great ingredient for helping sensitive skin be a little more tolerant. Improves skin barrier. Dr. Sam Bunting (UK derm) has a lot of good info on the benefits of niacinamide. Some sunscreens include it too.

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    Katrina
    28 May 2020
    12:08pm

    You must have excellent genes for sleeping with your makeup on to not have any detrimental effects on your skin. I feel like such a nag saying this and I’m sorry for that, but please, please, please do reconsider your nighttime routine (or lack thereof)! It might not be such an issue right now since no one’s going out and putting on a full face of makeup, but it really is not great for your skin to go unwashed overnight! Not to mention, it’s not great for your pillowcases either.

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    Hanna
    28 May 2020
    11:45am

    My husband scares me with his pasty sunscreen look in the summertime – which he applies liberally all over his head (bald), ears, etc… He also has sensitive skin. Any recommendations for moisturizing sunscreen for men that will give him a hunky (not gilttery) glow?

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      Helen
      28 May 2020
      2:59pm

      I love my VeraBella cucumber aloe MoistureScreen (SPF 45+). I use the colorless one but there’s a tinted version too. I have sensitive skin and this is kind to my skin, even with my occasional eczema flare-ups. It’s effective too, I’ve noticed far less sunspots on my cheeks and nose. The whole VeraBella line is cruelty-free and synthetic fragrance free, which are important to me as well. If you sign up for their emails or follow them on IG or FB, they do run occasional sales. That’s when I stock up on their products.

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      Viajera
      28 May 2020
      12:33pm

      It is good that hubby takes precautions though. … So, why not a nice hat? Mind you, I’m a hat person. Many aren’t. I also just bought a nice golf umbrella with spf. Obviously I don’t mind looking like an idiot. That does make life much easier…

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    Tanya Hahni
    28 May 2020
    11:46am

    At 48 my skin is definitely showing it’s age via lines and spots. I have never had a steady maintenance routine and that probably accounts for some of it but I also try to look at women my age and honestly assess where my skin falls in comparison. A lot of the time it is pretty in line with those around me which makes it clear to me that the issue is yearning for a media produced look not prematurely aging skin. I enjoy doing nice things for myself so occasionally I’ll splurge on a new product but I don’t expect, nor get, any big results. One good piece of advice that I don’t follow is that one of the best things you can do for skin is wash your pillowcase regularly. It certainly makes sense since you are laying your face on it for extended periods of time. As John Waters points out, the most revolutionary act you can in engage in these days is to age naturally.

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      Tanya Hahni
      28 May 2020
      11:47am

      asses…

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    Mimi
    28 May 2020
    11:54am

    This is fascinating. And so much exfoliation! For some reason the Covid quarantine prompted me to up my skin care game. I started using DE C-Firma Vitamin C Serum in the morning. I mix in this C booster powder https://www.sephora.com/product/turbo-booster-c-powder-P204606. I use twice as much as directed – at least two scoops, and a bottle has lasted me more than two months. I really see a difference in my skin. After that mixture has sunk in I top if off with an inexpensive Marula oil I found on Amazon. Then it’s usually at least two hours before I put on sunscreen. I’ve been using the DE TLC Babyfacial for at least a year and it’s wonderful. I tried The Ordinary Peeling Solution for the first time a few nights ago. My skin looked good after but I didn’t peel. I’m having a BBL laser treatment next week, hoping that after that I can start with a cleaner canvas, so to speak. As I’ve been experimenting I realized that I’d rather not use anything that comes in a tube. It’s so hard to squeeze out the right amount and a lot of product gets wasted. Give me a pump or even better, a wide mouthed jar. The DE C Serum pump bottle is a genius design. A question for Kim – do you use the medium/dark Dr Dennis Gross tinted sunscreen? I would think the light/medium would be more your color.

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    FizzyBlonde
    28 May 2020
    11:31am

    Whoa that is a LOT of products! How much time do you spend on this face routine? I think I would quickly lose motivation. Can you name the top three maybe? Thanks.

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    Julia A Gray
    28 May 2020
    11:21am

    Lotion P50 is my favorite product–right up there with Vintner’s Daughter. Combine those two products and your face will look amazing even though your wallet will be lighter.

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      therealblonde
      28 May 2020
      1:00pm

      I’ve been pining for the Vintner’s Daughter stuff for three years now – but don’t dare to pull the trigger because of the $$$. Is it worth it? And does it last?

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        Mamavalveeta03
        28 May 2020
        10:34pm

        I’ve tried it, but I can’t find a good reason to recommend it over Shawnelle Prestidge’s highly effective Prestidge Beauté organic serum (Andrea Linnet often features it). Shawnelle is Jane Fonda’s MUA and she regularly offers 20% off sales.

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          Kimbersam
          29 May 2020
          11:06am

          I agree, MamaV Vintner’s Daughter has a lovely smell and it feels nice. However, after using a full bottle, exactly zero results. Like several others have mentioned after 20ish years of (on/off use of) prescription Retin-A, my skin has become more sensitive. Now I use P50 once or twice a week and Goop’s “rip your face off” peel every once in a while.

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          CC
          29 May 2020
          11:09am

          MamaV I JUST ordered the serum for the first time – and I signed up to autosubscribe too. I did it because Prestidge’s balm is the first thing I’ve ever found to help heal my kid’s very chapped, peeling hands. I’m so stoked to get the serum now – I do nothing besides Elta MD tinted sunscreen and lipstick on cheeks and mouth and brow mascara, and I wash with Dr Bronners at night and use Vichy rich cream. The serum is a major upgrade and added expense but your vote of confidence given the comments you’ve made about products and working as a MUAthrills me so thank you!

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        Ramonaquimby
        29 May 2020
        3:18am

        I tried Vitners for a couple months and noticed zero difference. Oils don’t work for everyone. They do sell samples if you want to try

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        Cait
        29 May 2020
        4:28am

        It smells nice and feels nice, but I can’t say it did anything special. There’s plenty of other good stuff to spend money on (like P50)

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      Kimbersam
      28 May 2020
      1:00pm

      I agree. I just ordered a new bottle of P50. I’m a double cleanser and when I use P50 afterward (2 or 3x a week at night only) the pad comes away dark gray. P50 get IN there!

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        Kimbersam
        28 May 2020
        1:12pm

        “gets” (sigh)

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    joannawnyc
    28 May 2020
    11:24am

    I always had oily skin but at 59 it’s definitely gotten dryer. I have had good results using Differin at night and a Korean Vitamin C powder and essence (from Soko Glam) in the am. I do wash my face at night with eau micellaire and water, but if it seems greasy I use one of the many cleanser samples I have hanging about. And moisturizer samples if I have dry patches. My skin is doing great, which is a relief after years and years of breakouts and chronic shine.

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    Eloise
    28 May 2020
    10:58am

    Itching to try Vitamin C powder ever since the JGJ podcast but have sensitive, rosacea tinged skin and last year’s trial of a Vit. C-based Drunk Elephant product sample didn’t end well.

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      Ramonaquimby
      29 May 2020
      3:23am

      I tried the C powder Kim references and the first bottle was amazing and lasted a while (6 months maybe) but the second bottle broke me out pretty consistently. Apparently that can happen with vitamin C. I don’t know if they changed the formula or what.

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      Jenny
      28 May 2020
      11:44am

      I used the Versed powder, and found it made my skin more irritated than thick and glowy. I mixed it with a face oil and found it less irritating, but also less effective. Then I mixed it with toner, and had a glow for a few days but then it turned simply to redness. You could also try Mad Hippie vitamin C serum, which has a different, more stable form of C and it’s always worked well for my sensitive skin. Right now I’m using Acure’s C serum, which has an airtight dispenser, and so far so good. My skin is not looking better while I shelter in place, and I’m sad about it. Then again, I’m always a little sad about my skin. Despite all the care and all the products, great skin is just not in my genetic allotment.

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    Amy
    28 May 2020
    11:15am

    I love a beauty regimen run-down!! Thanks for sharing so much detail. And it may finally be time for me to try Good Genes…

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    Lola
    28 May 2020
    7:11am

    I was running low in moisturizer and Sephora had it’s Rouge event so I ordered an expensive moisturizer I’ve used in the past. The scent was so strong my eyes were tearing. Went back. Tried another. My face started itching. So suddenly I have sensitive skin at 52. I found a sample of some Drunk Elephant products and voila! They really are great. I too use Proteni during the day. I need to get the Baby Favial.
    And yes on the Garnier version of Bioderma. Been using it for years and even have my 15 year old cleaning his face with it.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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