IMG_20150301_090735 Simplified. Elegant. Reliable. Pure. That’s how I like my skincare routine—and finally I’ve achieved it! These are the products culled from a wide selection of leading eco-beauty brands that give me good skin days  My equally truncated nighttime routine will follow soon!

Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the products that made the cut—for now…

[I’ve decided to put an asterisk (*) next to the brands that will be attending A Night for Green Beauty in August. This is purely my decision and ANFGB did not ask me to do that. My choice of products is not influenced by their presence at the event.]

The Cleanse

IMG_20150301_093449My day begins with an awakening face wash. There truly is none lighter than YULI Halcyon Facial Cleanser., a.k.a. a chiral bioactive gel emulsion. WOAH! While not my pick for removing makeup, this gel cleanser is the perfect morning cleanse that doesn’t disturb the skin’s delicate acid mantle. The reason I can tell is because my face usually gets a little red after washing, yet with this cleanser there is absolutely no reactivity, only a my-skin-but-better look, if that makes sense.

Actually, a lot of skin care pros would say you don’t even need a morning cleanse, but I feel like I enjoy rinsing away residual nighttime products and dead skin cells in the a.m., as long as it doesn’t dry me out. The perfect companion to this cleanser is a Dew Puff Konjac Sponge—but only after I’ve applied the cleanser to my face and activated it with a bit of water—otherwise it seems to get lost in the sponge. There is absolutely no sudsing action. YULI calls this cleanser “high tech”  and “adaptogenically engineered to work in stasis with individual skin needs” and all I can do is nod enthusiastically and say, “Yes. What they said.”

When I feel like I need extra exfoliation in the morning, I switch off the YULI cleanser to use the True Nature Botanicals Pacific Exfoliating Cleanser* that incorporates a proprietary mushroom extract to exfoliate, in addition to the slightly grainy texture of adzuki bean powder. It also contains manuka honey powder in it —possibly one of my all-time favorite healing ingredients—and chamomile powder for their anti-inflammatory and skin smoothing abilities.

Throughout the winter, or whenever my skin feels a wee bit dry, I first apply a protective layer of cleansing oil to my skin prior to washing with water. This seems to stave off any issues with dryness. (Actually, faced none this winter!) I do believe that Ayurveda recommends oiling up the skin with a self-care massage called Abhyanga before showering too, so we’re channeling ancient wisdom here. Seriously, I could think of worse ways to spend my time, so why not?

The ED4OLO Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil* is a repeat purchase and a truly definitive product when it comes to oil cleansers. Unlike most oil-based cleansing, this sweet treat dispenses with a serum-like consistency that surprisingly emulsifies and rinses clean. As soon as you add water, it turns into a milky cleanser that leaves no greasy residue—a downside that I often find when oil cleansing no matter how many times I rinse with the warm washcloth.

It also smells like a piña colada, so that I can envision my tropical island getaway any time the moment demands it. For a morning or night cleanse, this is my go-to. Honestly, this oil can do it all: hydrate, cleanse, rinse clean, AND successfully remove makeup without really needing a second cleanse. It’s no wonder that this cleansing oil is a consecutive award-winner.

The Toning Mist

There’s nothing quite like a good toner, IMHO. If you have read an earlier post, I love am obsessed with like 20+ toners and have found just as many creative ways to use them. If I had to narrow it down, though, you really only need three: one to dampen a cotton round to balance skin following cleansing and to mix with serum, one to mist over your face after applying makeup, and one to take along in your bag. Yup. That should do it.

This winter, Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator* won me over primarily due to its incredible marshmallow scent, its light and even mist (that has to do with the über-functional dispenser on the spray bottle—major points there), and Josh’s impeccable formula:

  • Vitamin infused aloe. Check.
  • Soothing and calming anti-inflammatory herbs. Check.
  • Potent antioxidants. Like, duh!
  • Blemish fighters and dry skin banishers. Check.

Leave it to Josh and his meticulous standards to come up with this singular treatment toning mist. If a product doesn’t meet his standards for purity and excellence, it doesn’t get launched. Period. I use this throughout the day to combat drying winter heaters and as a sensory refresher to awaken body, mind, and spirit.

Prior to applying serum, I reach for Laurel Whole Plant Organics Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin*. I love misting this one over my face right after cleansing, then spritzing it into my palm along with serum, and applying both to my skin for that essential oil + water combo.

Lately I’ve also been reaching for Crazy Cat Lady Concoctions Chamomeow mist. I must admit that I really didn’t like the scent at all in the beginning which usually turns me off to a product altogether. But then I kept reaching for it over and over again, so my skin knew that there was something in that whimsical bottle that it wanted! Must be the aloe and chamomile—both so soothing and healing. It’s a winning, tension-taming combination that diminishes stress—a major acne culprit—with use. And I adore the “crazy cat lady” behind this brand who has 20+ years of skin care experience and formulations under her kitty-loving belt.  Totally worth checking out this brand and her others!

The Serums

IMG_20150301_091333In case you missed it, Laurel WPO anti-inflammatory serum is my Holy Grail serum. My full writeup is here so I’ll spare you the additional ecstatic praise. It clears up my breakouts like none other and keeps them at bay. Suffice it to say, I can pretty much layer anything over this serum without it being too heavy, as my skin drinks up that golden liquid like the Sahara to a droplet of water.

Since I’m a daily foundation wearer, I often need a bit more moisture for foundation to sit well on my skin without looking cakey or flaking. That’s where Blissoma Restore steps in. I’ve got nothing but raves for this well-priced oil (at $35.95)—it’s called the Deep Healing Oil Serum for a reason. This is another product that does not break me out, hydrates beautifully, and balances my skin. As a base for, let’s say, Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation* or any matte foundation, I must use a serum that gives an intense boost of moisture. This lipid-rich serum is it!

The reverse is true for eyes, though. If I put something around my eyes that’s too oily, my mascara has a field day playing in the orbital zone. Not good. Step in Blissoma Bright and the problem is resolved. The texture is more like a light lotion. You can’t tell in the photo, but the color resembles that of the tulips—an orange-hued shade that makes me think of vitamin A, which, of course, this product contains in abundance. Rich in carotenoids, this serum flattens wrinkles and fine lines like a steam iron and leaves the area smooth, taut but never greasy. It’s the ideal base for makeup.

There’s one more product that I started using with increasing frequency after this photo shoot. It’s Jordan Samuel’s HydraOasis Face and Eye serum, and from its initial performance, this could become my favorite serum this summer. This water-based clear gel/serum feels featherweight on the skin but instantly plumping and hydrating thanks to the hyaluronic acid. To top it off, it contains healing aloe, vitamin C, peptides, tamarind, blue passion flower, and cucumber to protect, refresh, and enliven skin. When paired with the Water You Waiting for? Face and Body Mist toner, this gel works seamlessly on my skin. Again, no breakouts or oil slicks. Oh Baby!

The Balms

Where would I be without my precious balms? If you haven’t read my earlier posts about Balms vs. Creams and Creams vs. Balms, then you don’t know why I love me a good balm—sans coconut oil—for daily wear. As I mentioned, I suffered absolutely no bouts of dry skin this winter, and it may be because of my layering technique of toner, serum, balm, and foundation.

I alternate between Province Apothecary’s Protecting + Restoring face balm* and The October Union Love + Kindness Potion (closed on Etsy for now).  Laurel WPO makes this gorgeous Eye Balm that I use on days when I don’t wear eye makeup. A light dab does the trick. I actually prefer a protective balm by day and a lightweight serum at night to allow for some breathing time.

Very soon, I’ll be posting about a recent cream that I was sent for trial that is working beautifully on my skin. It’s another product that I’m excited to share with you because it’s got a really innovative approach to skincare.

The Lip Balms

Not all lip balms are created equally. Lately I’ve been preferring my natural color to any other lipstick (boring, right?)—and I don’t know what’s come over me. But this new groove makes a moisturizing lip balm even more vital to plumping my pout than ever.

There is something totally different about Hurraw! and Tata Harper. Maybe it’s the glide that’s smooth and easy—there’s no wait time for the product to soften before it slides over lips. These offer non-tacky hydrating protection, and I love ’em. I must add Ellovi lip butter to this list for equally silky application and lasting moisture. All of these brands offer tinted options that suit my need for natural-lips-but-better to perfection.

The Tinted Moisturizer with SPF

Here’s a new—and welcome—addition to my repertoire: certified organic MUKTI Tinted Moisturizer with Sunscreen. Organic certification always impresses me. But this product has bragging rights for being vegan, gluten free, non-nano, and harmful chemical free. It provides environmental protection with “bioactive native extracts” like Kakadu Plum, Snowflower (tea tree), Desert Lime, and some of my favorites: green tree extract, jojoba oil, and rosehip seed oil. How’s that for an impressive roster?

Performance-wise, I’m happy with the matte finish that evens my skin tone enough so that if I wanted to use a light powder, that could suffice on some days. It’s a relatively new product for me, and I may have noticed some breakouts at the end of the day while wearing it, so I’ll keep you posted on the final verdict. However, it’s still a worthy purchase from a line that I’m interested in checking out further.

They’ve got an ingredients glossary about a mile long that’s alphabetized, if that’s any indication that they’re concerned about keeping their customers informed, a value that I appreciate. Based on the extra samples I ordered, there are already a number of standout products that may make it to full sizes. Check out the Rosehip Eye Gel for starters. I’m loving the sample!

OK. Now that I’ve walked you through my daily morning routine—barring treatment masks, bathing supplies, cosmetics, and occasional digressions—tell me, did you need more info about any particular product? Less info? C’mon. Spill! Your feedback is so, so, so helpful.

Any goodies in your routine lately? I need to know!