Winter Morning Skincare Routine | Dry and Acne-Prone

If you’ve not read my previous skincare posts, let me give you a quick rundown of my skin history.

My teens and early twenties were my skin’s most glorious periods. I could wash my face with pretty much any soap and apply a little Nivea or Ponds—or not do any of these two steps—and my skin would still be lovely. So lovely that I often got complimented on it even from complete strangers on the metro or in restaurants.

Then came my mid-twenties and the pressure to adult, causing the first and worst acne breakout of my life. *insert long exasperated sigh* I moved to the Netherlands around the same time and the weather and water here don’t agree with my skin.

Ever since the move, I’ve experimented quite a bit with skincare, from using the harshest products to all natural ones, and have found my equilibrium somewhere in between.

SKIN CONCERNS

My pores clog quite easily, inviting blackheads and pimples. To prevent this, I avoid comedogenic ingredients like coconut oil in my skincare and exfoliate religiously.

I also have extremely dry skin, particularly around the mouth and eyes. which is further aggravated by the often zero degree temperature and aggressive Amsterdam winds during my daily commute. To fight the dryness, I avoid the use of hot water on my face and opt for ingredients that deliver a punch of hydration.

I also experience redness and sensitivity on my cheeks and eczema on my eyelids. Therefore, I try to abstain from using products with artificial fragrance and potent natural ingredients like tree pollen and fruit acids that can potentially cause irritation.

CLEANSE

FRESH SOY FACE CLEANSER

My morning cleanser is a cult favorite of many people with dry, sensitive skin and for good reason. I massage it into the skin for a minute and wash it off with cold water to tighten pores.

The jelly like consistency of the cleanser glides over the skin and it removes impurities without stripping natural moisture. I give this cleanser extra points for the divine, fresh cucumber smell which makes for a good start to my otherwise manic mornings.

I always thought investing in cleansers is silly because you do just wash them off, right? But ever since I’ve stopped using my sulfur and salicylic acid containing nighttime cleansers during daytime, I’ve noticed a real difference in the overall hydration of my skin during wintertime. So, this separation of cleansers will at least be ensured during colder months.

EXFOLIATE

FRANK BODY CREAMY FACE SCRUB

Chemical exfoliants are all the rage these days and I do use one at night, but I find my skin looks best if I also exfoliate with an old-fashioned physical scrub two mornings a week. This current favorite is a dose of coffee for my senses in the shower before I can make my morning cuppa.

I take a generous amount of this scrub and massage it into my damp (not wet) skin. I keep the pressure quite steady and gentle so as not to irritate the skin. After a couple of minutes of massage, I wash the scrub off with cold water.

 It takes away any dryness especially around the mouth and makes my skin baby soft.

TONE

FRESH ROSE DEEP HYDRATION FACIAL TONER

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On days my skin is feeling extra parched after the cleanse or if I’ve exfoliated with the coffee scrub, I soak a cotton pad with the Fresh hydrating toner and swipe it across my whole face.

The formulation of this toner is brilliant for winters. It’s alcohol-free and, among other powerful ingredients, contains fresh rose petals, rose fruit extracts, and hyaluronic acid. No wonder my skin feels instantly glowy and plump after using this number!

VITAMIC C

SUNDAY RILEY CEO RAPID FLASH BRIGHTENING SERUM

I thought I could totally skip using a serum in my routine until I found this Vitamin C serum on my trip to NYC last year. I’m on my third bottle already and can’t go a single day without it!

I use a pump of the Sunday Riley CEO on toned skin. The consistency is light and slightly runny, so it’s surprising how much moisture it packs in a pump. Thankfully, the serum also sinks in rather quickly, which I appreciate because every minute is precious on work mornings to ensure I’m out the door and on the metro in time.

I’m no pharmacist or dermatologist, but my own research suggests that 15 percent THD Ascorbate, an oil-soluble Vitamin C derivative, makes this serum as effective as it is. I’ve seen a huge difference in the brightness of my skin and fading of my acne scars with continued use. That’s why I don’t mind paying the high price because I’m getting exceptional returns.

Moisturize & SPF

THE ORDINARY 100% ORGANIC COLD-PRESSED ROSE HIP SEED OIL

JOSH ROSEBROOK NUTRIENT DAY CREAM TINTED SPF 30

To deliver a final punch of hydration, I make a little concoction with three drops of rosehip oil and two pumps of this day cream into the palm of my hands and massage upwards into the face until absorbed.

I’ve long been a fan of rosehip oil. It’s sinks in quickly and delivers lasting moisture. Also, it neither makes me oily during the day nor it breaks out.

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People suggest using oils at night, but I find rosehip oil best works for me during daytime. I leave home during the coldest time of the day and step out of the office at least once to grab lunch or run an errand before coming home at night. This means my skin is exposed to harsh winds multiple times during the day compared to nighttime, and that’s why I like the protection and hydration barrier a nice oil provides in the mornings.

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The Jose Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Tinted SPF 30 has a steep price tag, but it’s a heavy duty moisturizer, primer, and sunscreen in one. The ingredients on this number are as also as clean as it gets–aloe vera leaf juice being the first ingredient, followed by a host of other calming, soothing and hydrating fellas like calendula, chamomile, and evening primrose oil. There is also the 12 percent non nano, uncoated microionized zinc oxide to provide protection from the sun.

Despite the mineral SPF 30, the cream leaves no white cast. The tint smoothes out the redness on my skin. Don’t think of this like a tinted moisturizer or bb cream though, as it has no coverage whatsoever.


I’ve covered pretty much everything for the morning in this post. Will soon publish a post with the nighttime routine as well!


Skin health transcends the products we use and is closely linked to our genes, stress levels, sleep patterns, hormones, diet, lifestyle, and more. If you’re experiencing any serious skin concerns, including persistent acne, please see a dermatologist. This post has information limited to my experience only.

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