The Basic Routine: Why We Do What We Do

Hello beautiful Face Freaks!

It’s been a very busy week in the Freak household, including filming for our next YouTube video, which would already be out, except a very sad thing happened: our beloved Border Collie passed away from Thyroid cancer. We finished filming the video, and then we realized the time had suddenly come—he was starting to suffer, so we took him to the vet, held him, sang to him, stroked him and scratched his favorite places. Watching him go limp was overwhelming. He was gone! We’re still fresh in the midst of a house that no longer feels like home, thinking we will turn the corner and see his smiling face, and wanting to throw him scraps of our food. Anyway, we know all the things. But it’s hard. Prayers most welcome. The video will be up when Mr. Freak can deal with the emotional side of editing it—and knowing what was just about to occur directly after. Sorry for the sad part of this post, guys.

Mikey, the big ol sweetie man. The noble steed.

Mikey, the big ol sweetie man. The noble steed.



I want to talk a little bit today about why we do the routine. We follow Caroline Hirons’ (the British esthetician of 30+ years in the industry) methods. We have chosen to do so because it makes sense, it has worked for us, and we see value in the advice she provides. She herself often says there is no one solution or holy grail product that will work for every person. I think our skin is just too beautiful, complex, and mysterious for that. So always remember to trust your gut. If you feel like something isn’t working, get in a community that can help. Read here, read her blogs, watch videos from people she loves, and you will find a lot of sound advice to follow.


The Seven Steps

1.     Cleanse (once or twice depending on what’s on your face—sunscreen or makeup ALWAYS means a double cleanse)

2.     Acid Toner

3.     Hydrating Toner

4.     Eyes

5.     Serums/Treatments

6.     Moisturizer

7.     Sun Protection (for day only)

Let me show you two different examples of routines.

The first is a morning routine:


1.     Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleanser

2.     NIP + FAB Extreme (misnomer) Glycolic Fix Pads

3.     Radha Rosewater

4.     Origins A Perfect World for Eyes

5.     Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age

6.     Bayberry Naturals Rosehip and Hibiscus Moisturizer

7.     (Forgot to picture! Sorry!) La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face spf 60


The second is a much more involved night routine (and we are assuming I had spf and/or makeup to remove:


1.     a. The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter

b. Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleanser

2. Biologique Recherche’s P50W 1970 lotion (i.e., acid toner)

3. Origins Ginzing Energy Boosting Treatment Lotion Mist

4. NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate (FECC)

5. NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum (CAIS)

5. NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (MMHC)

5. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2%

5. Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule

4. The Ordinary Caffiene Solution 5%

4. R+F Redefine Multi Function Eye Cream

6. Babyberry Naturals Rosehip and Hibiscus Moisturizer

[I know you see how my numbers jumped around up there. Sometimes formulations have to be taken into account, like whether or not oil is or is not present in a product, and that can vary the order a little bit. I will discuss that more below.]


The Steps:

1.     Cleanse—our goal is to get your skin clean, but not stripped. Please see my discussion of that here. My first YouTube video here, and Caroline Hirons’ method video here.

2.     Acid Tone—I talk about that a little bit in my second YouTube video, here, but Caroline Hirons discusses different types of acids extensively on her blog. Here for instance. Acid toning is going to do one main thing: It will allow your skin to kick up the progress on regeneration. The P50 acid toner I mentioned above was originally named because P = peeling (barely, not aggressively), and 50 = the two of the skin’s regeneration cycles.

3.     Hydrating Toner—This is going to be a spritz (almost always) that neutralizes the acid you’ve just used, and provides moisture to your skin, sometimes with a lot of amazing extra ingredients, and sometimes not.

4.     Eyes—Caroline says to do eyes next. I almost always agree with her, and for the sake of simplicity I pictured the pm approach in that order, but really there are some products which can sometimes go before a typically traditional eye treatment or serum. In my book, that includes NIOD CAIS, and NIOD MMHC, predominantly because they are ultra lightweight, and because NIOD says they can go before eye treatments. When I do the nighttime routine above, my FECC goes after CAIS and MMHC, also because it has oil. Water based serums always go before oil or silicone based ones so they can absorb into your skin. And you always try to apply serums in order of viscosity—the thinner ones that absorb instantly go before thicker ones. They just layer better that way.

5.     Serums/Treatments—Deciem, The Ordinary, Hylamide, and NIOD’s parent company, says to try not to apply more than three serums or treatments. I agree that more isn’t better. But I have a lot of serums listed above, and that is only because CAIS and MMHC are so thin, and so critical to the health of my skin that I consider them 100% of the time uses. They are the most important things going on my face after acid in my routine. Again, thinner to thicker, water based to oil based applies here as with eyes.

6.     Moisturizer—this can also be a lovely oil or oil blend. It’s going to cap off your routine, and provide a seal for all of the lovely things you’ve just applied to your face. [Great article here.] Caroline Hirons says that she keeps on putting on moisturizing factors until things stop absorbing. That purple Missha bottle I pictured above is so hydrating from Squalene, that I honestly don’t even put a moisturizer on afterwards half of the time. Because my skin says “Stop!” But occasionally when I feel really dry, I need it, so I use moisturizer afterwards. Listen to your skin. Go with your gut.


For some people, the am and pm routines are going to look incredibly similar. And for others they are going to be wildly different. That’s okay! Start simply within your budget, and upgrade pieces as you find what works the best for you, and what your skin doesn’t like. Don’t try too many things at once, because it will be hard to figure out what isn’t working, and you will waste a lot of money buying unnecessary stuff just because you heard Vitamin C is the best thing ever, or a $200 eye cream will be that miracle you need. Get into the groove of doing the routine day in and day out and marvel at the wonderful new skin you had all along!

Please remember (this is CRITICAL) to take a picture of your face in nice light with no makeup when you start. Take pictures along the way. If I hadn’t, I never would have seen subtle changes that surprised me. And one more tip—find a method to track your routine. Write things down. Make a spreadsheet and fill it in. Do something to help you track your changes as you hone and refine your skincare journey. It will really help you or someone else when you’re puzzled and trying to figure out something strange that has changed in your skin.


That’s it for today, Face Freaks. There is a lot to digest here. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or need further help.


Bless you all this week!


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Alysha JonesComment