My Simple Affordable Skincare Routine

I spent pretty much the entire month of May in quarantine researching skincare in hopes of building a simple affordable skincare routine. Apparently I had nothing better to do. But also, I remembered learning in school that at 25 your body “switches” from growing up to growing old. This is obviously not a hard and fast scientific truth, but according to the Internet, your mid twenties is when your brain stops developing and your skin starts to show signs of aging. Fun stuff.

I’m not on a quest to stop or reverse aging, (spoiler alert: it’s impossible!) but I thought it would be a good time to start taking care of my skin as 25 floats on the not-so-distant horizon. To me, having a simple skincare routine seems like one of those “adulting” things.

Simple Skincare Inspiration

My original interest in skincare was actually sparked last summer when I read Dr. Sandy Skotnicki’s Beyond Soap. She is a Toronto-based dermatologist that specializes in skin irritation and allergy. I really enjoyed this book because it reaffirmed a lot of things I was already doing (albeit out of laziness and not knowledge): wash less, use less product, and use fewer products.

During my quarantine research I was excited to find that there are several active ingredients in skincare that have legitimate scientific literature backing their claims. It was reassuring to know that not everything in the drugstore beauty aisle is fluff in a jar. Most of it maybe, but not all.

What I Was Looking For

When building my simple, affordable skincare routine I placed a lot of emphasis on the simplicity aspect. I didn’t want to have some elaborate 30 minute nighttime routine because I knew I would just get lazy and skip steps (the sooner I’m tucked into bed the better!). If you read my post on decluttering beauty products, you’ll know I don’t like the idea of having a cupboard full of products I seldom use because it ends up being a waste of money. I’ve been able to use up my old products before introducing the more versatile ones I talk about in this post.

For the record, I have pretty “basic” skin: normal, not overly prone to acne, and not sensitive. However, I like to treat my skin as if it’s sensitive because I think it’s better in the long run to be gentler to it and avoid sensitizing ingredients like fragrance, essential oils, and alcohol.

When choosing products, I looked for affordability and shorter ingredient lists. I’m not an expert on cosmetic ingredients, but I looked for products that are recommended by people that are.

Even though my routine is pretty basic, I’m still struggling to be consistent. Like I mentioned, getting cozy in my bed is more appealing to me than rubbing stuff on my face. Also, it’s hard to justify daily sunscreen when I’m spending quarantine in a basement.

Okay, enough rambling. Here is my super exciting simple affordable skincare routine:

my simple affordable skincare routine consists of only 6 products

Morning Routine

1. Cleanse

Unless you are sleeping in mud, you don’t need to use a cleanser in the morning. Your skin doesn’t get dirty while you sleep and washing it too much can strip your skin. I just splash my face with some warm water then dab it dry with a facecloth. A fun and messy process.

2. Treat

Then I add some L’Oreal Revitalift 10% Vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of those active ingredients I mentioned earlier than actually does stuff. It has been shown to increase collagen, fade hyper pigmentation, and is an antioxidant. This one is a bit pricey by my standards but I was able to get it on sale. I chose this one because of its price point and its packaging. It is one of the more affordable Vitamin C serums out there and is not too strong of a concentration. Vitamin C is very unstable and the packaging does a good job of reducing exposure to light and air. This one is also fragrance free – yay!

3. Moisturize

I then use the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion. This is nice, light and fragrance free. You can also use this as a body lotion to help minimize your number of personal care products. Nothing bad to say about this guy!

4. Protect

They say the most important part of your skincare routine is sunscreen! Not only does it reduce your risk of skin cancer, but it prevents skin aging.  The sun is the number one cause of skin aging – wrinkles, sunspots, hyper pigmentation, etc. I’ve been using a mineral sunscreen because it offers high protection, reflects UV rays instead of absorbing them, and doesn’t sting my eyes. I’m currently using the Coppertone Pure & Simple one. It’s one of the most affordable mineral sunscreens out there, is fragrance-free and can be used for face and body.

Evening Routine

1. First Cleanse

Double cleaning is all the rage right now. The idea is that you start with an oil-based cleanser to melt your sunscreen and/or makeup and then wash that away with a gel or water based cleanser. I definitely have not been wearing makeup during quarantine, but when I’m being good and apply sunscreen, I use Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water as a first cleanse in place of an oil-based cleanser. If I don’t wear sunscreen, I’ll skip this step so as not to strip my skin.

2. Second Cleanse

Next, I go in with the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser as the second part of my double cleanse. I like how simple the ingredient list is and that Adam and I can also use this as a body wash. A slightly more expensive but gentler option is the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser that can also double as a face and body wash.

3. Moisturize

Then I finish with a thicker dose of my CeraVe moisturizer. Every other night I apply the Retinol Reface product by Indeed Laboratories before moisturizing. Retinol is possibly the most sought-after skincare ingredient currently, as it’s the only thing that has been shown to reverse signs of aging. I chose this product because it’s a Canadian brand and has smart packaging. Retinol is also unstable in light and air so good packaging is important here. This is a good product if you’re new to retinol because its not too strong and is formulated to not dry out your skin.

Indeed Labs' Retinol Reface is part of my simple affordable skincare routine

And that’s it! It may seem like a lot, but it’s really only 6 products: Vitamin C serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, micellar water, cleanser, and retinol.  Keep in mind that I use the moisturizer, cleanser, and sunscreen on both my face and body to minimize the number of products I have.

Next steps

Now that my skin has gotten used to my new routine, I would still like to incorporate niacinamide and an alpha hydroxy acid chemical exfoliator a couple times a week. These are also some promising hero ingredients.

If you want to combine your morning moisturizer and sunscreen, I would recommend the CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF. This is a combination chemical and mineral sunscreen. The only reason I don’t still use it is because I wanted a basic moisturizer that I can use at night and as a body lotion.

I’m obviously not a scientist or skincare expert, but I hope my simple affordable skincare routine was helpful to you! If you purchase through any of the above links, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will only recommend products that I believe in. Thanks for reading!

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