My Winter Morning Skincare Routine

I was watching some Youtubers sharing their skincare routines and thought it’d be fun to share my current go-to routine. Part of the fun is looking back my older routines and what products I’ve been reaching for. My routines are always a mix of “must-haves” and products I’m testing for a review - some of them will end up on the blog again and again while some might be left forgotten.. I recommend using the search and tag tools if you’re looking for a particular product review. Gifted products are marked with an asterisk (*). Also, say hi to Cara, my ~15-week-old maine coon kitten. <3

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Current skincare goals / Concerns

My skin did pretty good before November, but as the month changed I swear to you my skin turned a) dry as a parchment paper b) my under eyes darker than darkness. Winters in Helsinki are partly freezing cold, windy and partly just annoyingly rainy, while there’s central heating indoors. Right now my biggest concerns are dehydration and evening out my complexion. I had a grand zit after the holidays and it left noticeable redness behind. Lightening my old acne scaring is always an on-going process, but sometimes I pay less attention on it. My final concerns are some blackheads on my nose (which this routine doesn’t target as much, I do opt for stronger acids from time to time).

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

My AM Routine

My “beauty sin” is to wash my face in the shower. Fortunately I dislike long and hot showers, so I’m out of there pretty quickly before my skin turns into a worse raisin than it already is. In the shower I have a couple of cleanser options, but lately I’ve been liking the Glope Hope Cosmetics Cleansing Gel* (33.1€ / 150ml). It feels mild and gentle, perfect for AM routine. The INCI list is short and simple: packed with cornflower water, aloe and hydrating glycerine. In the evenings I tend to reach for more heavy duty cleansers.

Next is the one and only - Januarylabs Daily Brightening Tonic (Cult Beauty* 29.7€ / 150ml) (review here). I think I was sent one back when this launched, then I purchased another, then another.. I can’t begin to imagine my life without it. Because of the packaging I feel the easiest application method is to pour some on a cotton pad and gently swipe face and neck. This multi-purpose toner both retains moisture and gently resurfaces the skin with lactic acid. I can highly recommend this to everyone!

After the Tonic I apply an essence. I had a small break with essences, only to notice how much I miss it. My friend Marinka was kind enough to shop for me during her travels and top 1. in my wish list was the Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence (69.53€ / 150ml). I had seen some positive reviews on Fresh and not gonna lie, the kombucha trend did encourage me to pick this one up. The essence is just as I like it - light but thicker than plain water, hydrates, plumps and treats. I have noticed my skin is glowing after I started using this, but I won’t make any claims just yet.

After prepping my skin it’s time for serums. This is a bit tricky category as serums take a while to make a difference in the skin - especially if it’s lightening pigmentation. Globe Hope Cosmetics Lumi Strong* (54.90€ / 30ml) is packed with blueberry extract and arbutin from bilberry extract, which is a melanin inhibitor. If you’re HC about eco skincare and want to lighten pigmentation, Lumi Strong is worth looking into, but I unfortunately haven’t seen any change in my pigmentation issues during the good 4 weeks I’ve been using it. Clinique’s Hydrating Jelly* (61.50€ / 125ml) is also a slight disappointment for me. As much as I like hydrating serums and ampoules, I haven’t found one that would beat Kypris Antioxidant Dew or Esse Serum (reviews here) in that deep hydration my thirsty skin craves. If Clinique launches its Vitamin C and Retinol Boosters in Finland (which you can mix in the jelly) in Finland I’m willing to try again.

Eye cream is something I don’t use 100% of the time. Lately I’ve tried various eco beauty roll-ons, but this Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream*.. it’s a winner. Needless to say, as it’s very expensive (Cult Beauty* ~100€ / 15ml). Is it worth it? Is any eye cream (or skincare product)? If yes.. then Tata’s close. This eye cream is rich, moisturizing, but doesn’t give me any puffiness around the eye area or milia. Finally I feel my dark circles have improved and I hope the good INCI list can strengthen my eye area as it promises.

Another luxurious eco skincare treat in my routine is the Henua Organics Recharging Moisturizer* (129€ / 30ml), but it is a treat.. Not only Henua Organics is made in Finland, packed in the most exquisite bottles with birch wood caps, 85% organic farming and eco cert, but also this cream is packed with birch sap, pine park extract, sea buckthorn oil - just to name a few. It leaves my skin feeling so soft and supple, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I want to write a whole dedicated article about Henua Organics, keep your eyes peeled!

Finally the must have I keep on preaching about: SPF!! This Mádara Plant Stem Cell Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF30 (~15.2€ / 100ml, available at House of Organic (FI)*) was one of my Best SPF for Summer 2018. Don’t let the package fool you, some sites might even list this sunscreen on the ‘body’ section, but I use it for my face, neck, décolleté, hands, you name it.. This sunscreen is on the heavier, a bit greasier side texture-wise and does leave a bit of white cast, which does disappear when you massage it in. I was sent one tube to test, went through it and purchased a new one. In the Spring and Summer I might go back to my beloved Innisfree sunscreen, but Mádara is easy to purchase here in Helsinki, inexpensive and my dry skin simply loves it. Rain or shine, Winter or Summer - always remember the SPF!

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Did you spot any favorites in my routine or something you’d love to read more about? Leave questions, comments and your routine favorites in the comments below!

*Products marked with an asterisk(*) were kindly gifted me for consideration, with no obligation to write about them. My thoughts and opinions are my honest and my own.

A Simple Guide To Acne Scars and How To Tackle Them At Home (w/ Before-and-After Photos)

I don't know which was more annoying - an actual red angry spot on my cheek or the mark that was left behind for weeks to come. I've talked about my acne journey on this blog, but little how to clear marks, scars, pigmentation whathaveyou that are left behind. Today I'm writing a simple beginner-friendly guide what are possible pigmentation issues and what are the options in treating them.

acne-scars-post4.jpg

Different types of "acne scars"

Most common types of "acne scars" can be divided to three types:

  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

  • Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

  • Atrophic scars

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin overproduces melanin and there are several forms like freckles, age spots, birthmarks, melasma and PIH. PIH is temporary hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation; when a wound or irritation becomes inflamed the skin naturally heals itself by producing melanin, a protein that gives skin its color. These causes of inflammation can be acne, rash, injuries, chemical peels etc.

All skin types can get PIH but it's more prevalent in dark tones of skin because of overactivity of cells that produce melanin. PIH usually looks like red, pink, brown or dark discoloration depending on the skin tone and depth of discoloration. Although the sun doesn't cause PIH it can darken the marks and prolong the fading time.

Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

PIE are pinkish red spots that can also be result by acne, injuries, sun exposure, etc traumas. The color is different as this is not a melanin-induced problem, but caused by broken capillaries (small vessels) under our skin. This triggers the increase of blood flow to heal the wound.

There's a DIY (non-accurate) test to determine if your marks are PIE: apply pressure on the wound to see if the pink spots temporarily disappear. PIH or rosacea is not affected by this, but often people may have the combination of both PIE and PIH.

Atrophic Scars

Sometimes called icepick, boxcar or rolling scars, atrophic scars are indentations left behind by acne, chicken pox or inflammation. Atrophic scars are loss of tissue that may look like dents, uneven skin tone, enlarged large pores or holes. These scars are often permanent or difficult to treat without professional help.

A Simple Guide to Acne Scars | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

I don't have many pictures of my acne, but I found old iPad selfies from ~4 years ago. 

acne-scars-post2.jpg

And here's me today (with cat fluff on my face haha) with zero makeup. Read more about my acne journey.

How to treat acne scars At Home?

First of all, you should see a dermatologist if the pigmentation changes it's shape, size, color or itches/bleeds. If you're prone to moles, getting them checked once a year doesn't do any harm! Treating pigmentation and scaring at home with over-the-counter products isn't an instant process and might take several months to fade, For more abrasive (prescription) ingredients, vascular lazers and chemical peels, again, check your dermatologist or even local GP. Here's what I've learned to be effective at home:

1) Sunscreen. If sunscreen isn't already a part of your daily routine please consider adding it! Sun protection can protect and even prevent from many health and pigmentation issues. Also, if you choose to exfoliate your skin the 'fresh' skin underneath is more prone to sun sensitivity and burning. I've told many of my friends that it's a waste to spend big $$$ in wrinkle serums or pigmentation treatments if you neglect sunscreen.

2) Increasing the cell turnover. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), especially glycolic acid, are excellent for treating pigmentation. Acids exfoliate the surface of the skin by loosening up the dead skin cell bonds on the epidermis, leaving skin feeling fresh, more even and smooth. Faster your cells renew the quicker you can get rid of PIH. Personally I like using a gentle daily toner with AHA, natural fruit enzymes and humectants. Sometimes I opt for a stronger mask.

3) There are prescription ingredients (Hydroquinone, Azelaic acid, Retinoids), that inhibit tyrosinase aka an enzyme that catalyses the production of melanin, but personally I prefer gentler ingredients with "skin lightening" properties that have high antioxidant content such as licorice root, Arbutin, Niacinamide and Vitamin C. Perhaps look for a serum that has a high concentration of these ingredients.

4) Don't pick, pop or abrasively scrub and monitor your skin's irritation. You don't want more inflammation, bacteria or further damage the skin!

5) Take your time, be kind to yourself. Frustrating advice, yes, but don't get depressed as most scaring is not permanent. (Meanwhile there's always concealer..).

Share your thoughts!

Have you battled with acne scaring? What has improved your skin the most? Also, is there anything acne related you'd like me to talk about next? Click here to read my previous posts if you fancy.

And finally, happy September! To be honest I'm baffled that August is gone. Just a moment ago we were whining about the heatwave in Europe and then the weeks just flew by! I love it how bright it is in Helsinki during the Summer time, I can't stand the idea the mornings are going to be dark soon. Sigh.