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The Official (But Totally Customizable) 3 to 7 Step Twinkle Skincare Routine

So... skincare... am I right?

We love to talk about it. We love to shop for it. But can we actually do it? 

Important life hack from your mom (me): you can shop for/talk about products all you want, but you have to actually *use* the products to find out if they're effective. No one on Instagram talks about this, but a skincare routine takes plain, old-fashioned DISCIPLINE. You have to do it morning and night. For weeks. Years! There are no shortcuts, despite what most skincare brands marketing their "miracle products" would have you believe. Don't even get me started on influencers who couldn't possibly use all of the products that they're paid to promote on a regular basis. Having healthy, clear skin isn't a mysterious, magical thing that requires constant shopping for the latest tool or buzzy ingredient...

It's actually pretty simple. At least, my approach is simple. 

In this post, I'm going to give you a framework for choosing your own twinkle skincare adventure, so you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. 

Of course, if you enjoy shopping for the latest tools and buzzy ingredients, feel free to keep scrolling on by. If you're looking to exit the land of constant consuming + perfection chasing, and get yourself a good, clean, simple, low-waste routine that long-term works for your skin no matter what, (as long as you actually do it!) you're in the right place.

First things first, the basic framework: 

CLEANSE - TONE - MOISTURIZE 

These are the 3 steps that should be in EVERY skincare routine. 

No, I'm sorry, it doesn't not get more simple than this, unless you're half-assing things. (Of course, you're welcome to half-ass anything you want, we all do sometimes, but I don't officially recommend anything less than a 3 step routine.) 

For clear, healthy, happy, balanced skin, every morning and night you must: 

1. Cleanse

calming cleansing grains twinkle apothecary

Choose either an oil-based cleanser or a powder cleanser. (They're both great for all skin types.) Just promise that you will never, ever wash your face with soap or a foaming cleanser because they strip your skin of its naturally protective oils and beneficial bacteria and throw everything off balance. 

Also, yes, do wash your face in the morning even if you washed your face before bed. And no, unless you are a child you can't just use water, although I absolutely would recommend that over a bar of soap. But seriously, stop trying to half-ass things. Do you want good skin or not? 

All skin types: makeup remover + cleansing oil

Normal/dry/oily skin: exfoliating facial cleanser + mask

Dry/sensitive/reactive, or all skin: calming cleansing grains

(How else can I say, they're all good no matter your skin type? LOL!) 

2. Tone 

toning mist twinkle apothecary

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Honestly, it's frustrating for me to see people skip this step because it's something so simple that makes a massive difference, especially if you're acne prone. (Also, why ask me for advice if you're not going to take it? ☹️)

Perhaps you've used other toners from other brands in the past and you weren't sure what the point was or what they were doing for your skin. I get it. However, *my* toning mist is straight up magic. I think it's actually the most important step in my personal routine. 

Basically, toner gets your face back to its preferred pH level after rinsing with too-alkaline tap water. It also tightens your pores back up after the warm water and any manual exfoliation from cleansing has opened them. Rubbing the toner over your face with a cloth pad or cotton ball also ensures that you're getting off any last speck of dirt or makeup left on your skin after cleansing. 
Basically, toning leaves you clean and balanced. Clean and balanced skin is healthy skin. That's why you're here, right? SO JUST DO IT.   

Normal to all skin types: Use toning mist 

Dry/sensitive/reactive skin: Use a hydrosol 

 3. Moisturize 

facial oil twinkle apothecary

No, you cannot skip moisturizer if you have oily skin! Use as much or as little as you like, but just please use it. I'll post my personal skincare routine below (I use a lot!) but if you're new to this kind of a routine and want to start small, start with a facial oil. 

Yes, even you with the oily skin. Everyone can and should be using facial oil to moisturize. Your skin loves, wants, and needs oil. (Why do you think it likes to makes so much of its own?) Oil protects. Oil balances. Oil keeps you looking young. Oil is LIFE.

Side note: I should mention that there's some debate out there about lotions vs. oil. Lotions are water + oils that are bound together using an emulsifying wax. The idea behind a lotion is that it adds "water" to your face and is thus more hydrating. I don't make lotions because a) water based lotions require preservatives and batch testing and b) I can't find an emulsifying wax that I actually want to put on my face.

Facial oils are simple. I think of using a facial oil like cutting out the middle man and getting right to the good stuff. A couple of drops is all you need. If you like the idea of adding water to your face and feel like you need more hydration, you can absolutely use a lotion instead of/or after you apply your facial oil. (Personally, I use a lotion with SPF in the morning, which you'll see below.) Or, you can simply apply your facial oil to moistened skin. Spritz on more toning mist or hydrosol and apply the facial oil right away while your skin is damp to lock in the "hydration." 

All skin types: Original facial oil

Oily/acne prone skin: Facial oil for acne prone skin (hi, captain obvious.) 

Dry/sensitive/reactive skin: Sensitive facial oil 

  AND THAT'S IT. 

CLEANSE - TONE - MOISTURIZE 

This 3-step routine is everything you need to start doing twice a day to have healthy, glowing skin. 

travel skincare set twinkle apothecary

I'm not joking. Just try it, ok? Start with this travel skincare set and make it a habit, like brushing your teeth or making your bed or exercising. That's what my skincare routine is for me. I don't obsess over it because it's just something I do to keep my skin healthy. It's simply a means to an end. I don't always feel like doing it but keep at it because I see the results. It's not very exciting or sexy, (honestly sometimes I feel like I'm out of things to say about it and don't get why everyone has so many questions until I remember that OTHER BRANDS MAKE IT CONFUSING ON PURPOSE SO YOU WILL BUY MORE! Also, yes, I am accepting suggestions for how to sell doing the exact same thing twice a day for years...) But it works, (IF YOU DO IT!) and its dependability can actually be a source of comfort, especially at bedtime. It's also pretty darn lovely. (But can I sell you some dependability or comfort, perhaps? Anyone??) 😅

Anyway... now, say you have the basics down and have been pretty disciplined about doing your routine morning and night for a few weeks.

You're seeing results and you want more, am I right? 

Of course I am. 😈

I'm going to keep it simple here and just give you an outline of my full, 6-7 step routine, along with some suggestions for ways to adjust, minimize, or maximize depending on what you feel your skin needs. (Or how motivated and disciplined you are!) 

Of course, I can't know exactly what your skin needs. Only you know that, and you figure it out by actually doing your skincare routine. (Notice how I didn't say shopping.) Do you need more exfoliation? Less? More moisturizer? More face masks? Spot treatments? Should you be cleansing with facial balm instead of oil? Using a comedone extractor on your blackheads? I'm doing my best here, but there's no one-skin-fits-all answer that I can put in this blog post. I'm always happy to answer your questions via email, but sometimes you just have to try things, you know? 

You can start with this as a sample routine and see how it goes: 

twinkle apothecary skincare routine
twinkle apothecary skincare routine

 And that's really, really it. 

It's simple, right? This has been my basic routine for the past few years, and I stand by it. I don't use anything else. No chemical exfoliants, no vitamin c serums, no hyaluronic acid, no botox, no fillers, no nothing. Nothing else, you guys. I don't shop for anything except SPF. I'm 37 and my skin is better than it was when I started this brand at 32. I don't get expensive beauty treatments or facials. I don't wear foundation or concealer. I don't even own any makeup outside of what I make and sell here on this website. Is my skin perfect? No. But it is healthy, clear and balanced 99% of the time. 

(Full disclosure: I also eat an anti-inflammatory whole foods plant based diet, avoid excess caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, practice yoga and meditate daily, and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Lifestyle habits are a major factor in the health of your skin - another thing other brands marketing their miracle products usually fail to mention. Also, see above, re: discipline.)  

But like I said, you're welcome to keep shopping. Keep scrolling. Keep looking for that one thing that's going to change your face where all other products have failed... I won't stop you. I won't judge you! But I definitely won't join you. 

 I know you probably have more questions. I've been talking about this same ol' routine here on the blog for quite a while, so I know the drill... and here are the most relevant posts you should check out. Some of them are even videos, yay. I also have lots of shorter videos on my IGTV page that you can peruse.  

First, most common FAQs: 

This is the SPF I use currently. ($$$)

This one is good too. ($$) 

The most affordable clean, vegan option. ($)  

YES, the gemstone beauty tools are extremely effective for de-puffing, sculpting, and improving the overall tone and texture of your skin. I find that they also help blemishes heal more quickly and prevent hormonal breakouts on the neck/jawline. I religiously gua sha every morning during my oil cleanse and facial roll at night after my beauty butter. Lately people keep telling me that they already have these tools on hand but never remember to use them. OMG. WTF. YOU GUYS.

USE THEM!  

More info...

Nighttime routine video

Morning routine video

How to oil cleanse

Beginner's guide to facial oil

How and why to cleanse with facial balm

4 reasons to fall in love with powder cleanser

5 things that transformed my face

How to use a comedone extractor

Also, I'll tell you there's a lot to be said for just plain old reading the product descriptions. I've packed every page of this website with information about the ingredients I use in my products and why and also exactly how to use them. Highly underrated way of choosing which products to buy if you ask me. (Of course, if you've read all the way to the end of this post, you're probably not who this message is for lol.) 🤪

Like I said, if you're just getting started, the travel skincare set ($46) is the perfect way to try out the basic routine. If you're looking for more, I'd recommend checking out the skincare sets, ($80) which are tailored to different skin-types. 

Now, stop shopping and start ACTUALLY USING THOSE PRODUCTS!

(Actually, first click here to shop all of the products mentioned in this post!)

- XO - 

Stefanie