To say that my beauty cabinet is overflowing would be like saying Serena Williams is “good” at tennis or that Jennifer Lopez is “good” at dancing. In other words, it’s a major understatement, so much so that I have to be careful when I open it to avoid products falling on my head. As a beauty editor, I’m blessed to be able to sample hundreds of different skin-care products every year, many of which are among the best money can buy. But because I live in a 500-square-foot apartment (and because derms are constantly telling me that a “less is more” routine is the way to go), I have to be discerning about which of those hundreds of products actually warrants a permanent place in my bathroom. So, I’ve had to whittle my regimen down to seven “holy grails” that are well worth the space they take up in my teeny, tiny bathroom.
My complexion is super dry, even in the summer, and because skin regenerates at night (they don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing, after all), my evening routine is all about ramping up hydration and strengthening my skin barrier, as well as dealing with discoloration from old acne scars and getting rid of the fine lines and wrinkles that popped up around my 27th birthday. Keep scrolling for the products I use to get the job done.
Shop my beauty editor evening skin-care routine
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Biossance Squalane + Elderberry Jelly Cleanser — $28.00
This triple-threat cleanser transforms from a gel to an oil to a milk when it’s mixed with water, and gets every bit of grime off of my skin without drying it out. The oil breaks everything down, and the cream removes leftover residue while replenishing my skin barrier with everything it needs to stay strong. Plus, it’s neon pink, which makes me irrationally happy every time I squeeze it out of the tube.
Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform — $88.00
I turned 30 this year, which as any derm will tell you, means that retinol should be a non-negotiable in my routine. The ingredient is known for its ability to stimulate cell turnover, replacing dead skin cells on the surface of your skin with healthy new ones to address acne, fine lines, and wrinkles. Some of the glowiest-skinned people in Hollywood swear by this stuff, and now, I do too (influence is real, y’all). It was developed by A-list esthetician Shani Darden as a way to keep her clients’ skin radiant between facials, and uses a time-release, encapsulated retinol to minimize irritation while still delivering effective results. The formula’s also got lactic acid, which brightens and smooths skin, giving you both immediate and long-term results.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum — $42.00
I’ve got some pretty significant acne scarring from my teenage years (and, OK, from the forehead pimple I unceremoniously popped last month), and this niacinamide-infused treatment is my go-to for dealing with them. It’s made with niacinamide, which is lauded for its ability to fade hyperpigmentation, and I use it all over to help even out my skin tone.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula — $150.00
I got hooked on these peel pads back in 2019 per the recommendation of my fellow beauty editors, and have been using them regularly ever since. They combine AHAs like lactic, malic, and glycolic acids with BHAs like salicylic acid and willow bark extract, which work together to totally resurface my skin. First, I swipe on the exfoliating and smoothing pad (that’s step one), then let my skin dry and follow it up with the anti-aging neutralizer pad (step two). Dead skin cells don’t stand a chance against this combo, and the result is a brighter, fresh-off-a-facial-looking complexion.
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Lotion — $22.00
My moisturizing step not only aids with hydration, but because my go-to is formulated with peptides, it also helps to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A combination of peptides, growth factors, and amino acids work to stimulate collagen and elastin in the skin, making my complexion look firmer and more youthful. It’s thick and nourishing without being goopy, which means I can use it all year round and don’t have to worry about sweating through it in the summer humidity or sacrificing my skin barrier during winter dryness.
Curious which products a dermatologist uses in *her* routine? Check out the video below.
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