My Skincare Routine


Skincare is a finicky thing. Way back when I had braces and started breaking out, I quickly learned that skincare was a commitment and not having a proper face care regimen would lead to dire consequences…because I have sensitive, combination/oily, blemish-prone skin. Thanks mom!

I’ve had a long journey to find what works relatively well for me, and quite frankly, I’ve tried a lot of different products and methods. What I’ve learned is there is definitely such a thing as using too many products and over-doing it, that paying attention to ingredients is important for my sensitive skin, and drinking a lot of water makes a big difference. I’ve tried a handful of popular products that people have raved about to me and they’ve fallen flat or not done much other than drain my wallet. So I thought I’d share what has been working for me, particularly within the “cleaner” beauty movement in hopes that it might also help some of you with similar skin issues!


The Daily Routine

Here is my daily arsenal. I do the same routine, twice a day.


Step 1: Cleanser – Environ Focus Care Clarity +

I was gifted with an amazing facial when I first moved here to Boston over the summer, which is like the fourth I’ve had in my life. Each time I’ve found that the best part of any facial is the conversation you have while the aesthetician is doing their work. A good aesthetician will talk to you about your skin problems and educate you on the condition of your skin, what you might be doing right, what might help better keep your skin in balance, and what products they do and don’t recommend. (A lot of what I’ve learned through these appointments are scattered throughout this post!) This cleanser was one of the recommendations she made, and it was priced low enough—$38—for me to try it out.

It looks like a smaller line sold mostly through stockists, but you can snag it here online for a couple dollars more than I did. It is mild and foaming, removes makeup and cleanses in one clean sweep, and has some salicylic acid in it to address my oily and blemish-prone skin.

PS: A couple alternatives that I’ve really liked in the past are this and this.


Step 2: Serum – CounterControl All Over Acne Treatment

“Serum” is just a fancy word for treatment layer. What I want to target most in my treatment layer is the blemish-prone aspect of my skin—I’ve always broken out in small patches here and there, but after getting an IUD insert about 6 months ago, I was breaking out more frequently and consistently (whyyyyyyy is it so hard to be a woman!!). After trying to increase spot treatments, trying a “acne targeting toners” (which did nothing for me, if not make things worse), this has been the one product that feels gentle on my face, dries up my oily spots, minimizes breakouts, and brings my skin to a better balance. I’ve been using this for a few weeks now and see less blemishes (with the ones that do surface leaving faster), and I love how soft this makes my face feel!



Step 3: Moisturizer – Beautycounter Brightening + Vitamin C Facial Oil

Another struggle with my skin has been hyperpigmentation, largely in part because of blemish scarring and skin sensitivity. One of the many wonders of Vitamin C in face oils is its ability to even out skin tones. My bestie has been a long-time advocate of Beautycounter and then recently became one of their consultants, so I snuck into her abundant stash and sampled a few things for myself. I initially loved this and ended up splurging on it and I’m so glad I did. It’s moisturizing without being too heavy, smells divine due to the citrus oils, and has definitely started brightening out my complexion while fading scars. I totally get all the adoration for this serum!

I have to also say that I jumped on the jade roller bandwagon (I grabbed mine from this sweet local shop here), and it has honestly contributed greatly to me getting the most out of this serum. I dab a drop on all four of my pointer fingers, rub them into my other four fingers, and then dab them all over my face and neck. Then I pull my jade roller out of the freezer (trust me, this feels like complete luxury on your face) and roll the serum in for a couple minutes. I swear this has made sure that the serum gets to every centimeter of my face and neck, and the cold stone roller helps close up my pores. I feel bougie as hell, but you know what, I WON’T APOLOGIZE. And you won’t either once you join me! 😉


Optionals / As needed

Made with tea tree oil, not only does this smell relaxing, its super effective without completely drying out my skin to the point that its peeling. Because what is the point of treating a blemish at night while sleeping if only to wake up to a crusty, gross, peeling thing that refuses to let you cover it with makeup? I also love that it rolls on, can be worn under makeup, and is easy to travel with or throw in your purse if needed! A little bit goes a long way with this, and while I use this fairly frequently, one little bottle usually lasts me at least 6 months.


As I said, I have oily skin, so while I don’t need this year-round, fresh spritzes of hydration do keep my skin from getting too dull and tight in this super cold New England weather. Heat pumping at work and home all winter long is also very drying on my skin, so spritzing this on my face when needed helps refresh it. Honestly, I might be using this partially for how it makes me feel like I am walking through a beautiful garden of peonies and roses with butterflies dancing around me…but hey, placebo affect and positive daydreams are both good things too, right? (PS: here is a more economic though slightly less heavenly-smelling alternative!)




Honestly, this is a holy grail product for me. Nothing has transformed my face like this bottle of actual magic. Anytime I feel a breakout coming on, I make sure to use this and it is reliable damage control. It’s like a best friend. Forreals. I try to use this one to two times a week, but its an intense scrub and shouldn’t be used daily by any means. I’ve had this for almost a year now with regular use and still haven’t used it all (but I’m nearing the need for a reorder, ahhh!) – so while it’s a bit of a splurge, it lasts you a long time.

  • Masks:

  1. I’ve used this charcoal mask by Origins for years and years (since college I think?) and love the convenience of it – no mixing, just squirt it on! I like this mask as an overall good maintenance mask, and always feel refreshed after using it, which is generally once a month.
  2. The cult following that May Lindstrom has acquired is strong guys. Like just above Vintner’s Daughter, but just under Beyoncé. And this is an intense one. I’ve actually never experienced anything as intense as this mask on my face – you get a little bit of tingle and burn, and then it takes 45 minutes to dry, and Gazpacho is terrified of me when I wear this around the house. BUT, when my skin is in an absolute blunder, I use this, turn on New Girl, and get comfy. And you will want to just jump in the shower to wash this off, it makes a damn mess. But the next day? It’s like my skin went to boot camp and all my face skin cells come out of my body to apologize to me for stepping out of line. You can nab this mask here (appropriately named The Problem Solver) and honestly, it’s at least a year’s supply. It should really come in a smaller dose, so you could totally go halfsies on this with a friend and split it and still have more than enough to get you to its expiration date.
  3. This one isn’t photographed, but another all-star favorite of mine (which I used to sell in my Philly shop) is Zoet Bathlatier’s Honey & Yogurt Healing Mask. The price is awesome and it legitimately stopped breakouts in their tracks for me – I started using it weekly and typing this out now reminds me that I need to order me some more of dat asap.



The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve really taken to heart the moral that what we eat influences our skin health. I’ve spent the last several months really zero-ing in on a couple key goals related to diet, skincare, and general lifestyle:

  • Be consistent: You really have to commit to anything you are experimenting with in skincare for a couple weeks to know whether or not it is working for you (unless of course you are having a severe reaction to something). Two weeks has been my marker…if my skin isn’t looking or feeling improved by something after two weeks, I really stepped back and exchanged it for something else. And when you do find something that works well? Stick to it religiously.
  • Sleep: get it. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning working and not letting yourself reset and recharge takes its toll on your body.


Before I get to the next bullet points, here is something that was super important for me to finally understand: your skin is constantly shedding. Your skin is also a major way your body expels things (other than going to the bathroom in case you need me to spell it out!). So anything your body has a hard time digesting can be pushed out in some way through your skin (as my aesthetician explained to me). So clogged pores can be a sign that your diet needs some adjustments!


  • For me, that meant cutting back a lot on cheese and dairy. I am a cheese monster, so this one was hard for me, but once my head started to understand that its super hard on my body to digest cheese, it was for some reason much easier for me to cut way, way back on it. Essentially, I am a vain person who prefers a clear complexion to the joys of consuming cheese in mass quantities. Judge me if you must, I’ve come to terms with it. BUT I SWEAR TO YOU, CUTTING BACK ON CHEESE SIGNIFICANTLY HAS BEEN A GAME CHANGER FOR ME. I am now what I consider a “social cheese eater,” and I hope to stick to this for the rest of the year. #goals
  • Water: drink lots of it. Water has never really been fun for me to drink, I’d rather sip on coffee all day long. But, I’ve started to notice I feel more energized when I drink more water throughout the day, it helps flush out toxins in your body faster, and contributes to harnessing better skin elasticity.
  • Probiotics: I started taking them in gummy bear form because I am like a child and like things that I trick my body into thinking are candy (like these). I hate to keep harping on “elimination” but your digestive system and your skin dance a close tango my friends. And I’ll just leave that at that.


So there we have it, my skincare routine! Aren’t you glad I kept this short and sweet? JK, you should know by now that I don’t know how to do that. If you guys have any products, regimens, or general skincare tips, definitely share them below! We are all in this together, and honesty about what works for you and what hasn’t is so helpful to me and to other readers!


Join the conversation and share your thoughts!

  1. Viva Glow says:

    You’re right. It’s not just the skincare. If you want good skin, a lifestyle change may also be needed.

  2. Michael says:

    I haven’t had any problems with acne or such and I hope it’ll stay that way. But I have problems with oily skin. Since I don’t know much about this skin care stuff I have been looking up on blogs and whatnot and based from my understanding this your skin care routine works for oily skins? TiA 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    I love the idea of a simpler cleaner skin care routine. About a year ago I switched over to some simpler products too and I’m loving it. For me it’s dry skin that is the problem. Jose Marian moisturizing milk has been a lifesaver!!!

    • Mary Spears says:

      Totally! I feel like I was watching so many videos and blog posts from beauty influencers or people in the skincare industry double washing their faces with two washes, using a toner, then using several layers of different serums, all before moisturizing. It gets crazy expensive, time-consuming, and honestly more product did not really equal more benefit in my own experience.

      And good to know about Jose Marian for dry skin — my husband has pretty dry skin too and loves using Ursa Major balm, which I think ended up being less expensive than whatever he was grabbing at Whole Foods before that! Would love to know what face wash you use 🙂

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