The Minimalist's Skincare Routine


It was Nathan W. Morris who said: "Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly—it's your masterpiece, after all." I don't know who Nathan W. Morris is—according to Google, he is either a financial advisor, a wedding and event photographer, or a phantom—but I love him. My life is my masterpiece! Nathan W. Morris makes me feel like no wedding and event photographer has made me feel—like a work of art.

I'm not sure if Nathan was thinking about skincare, but I am never not, so that's where I'm applying his philosophy. I feel John on his polyamorous approach to the products he uses, but I am a man of simple pleasures. An 11 step skincare routine is like, six steps too many. Let's remember the basics: cleanser, serum/treatment, SPF, moisturizer, exfoliant. That's all! Let me show you what it's like to edit your life ruthlessly, but effectively—the skincare routine for minimalists. Follow along with me as I live a simple life during one very festive weekend in Brooklyn and some parts of Manhattan.

Friday, December 9, 2016
Here's a fun way to eliminate an extra step from your skincare routine: Don't wash your face in the morning! Every facialist I've ever seen, plus my mom, insists that a morning cleanse is essential for managing bacteria at all times, but honestly, I don't get it. Plus my skin is prone to redness, which means the minute I try to strip it in the morning, it freaks out and goes flush. Then I need a whole 'nother 10 products to make it calm down. Stop the madness!

Instead, I'll apply fortifying, moisturizing skincare products as soon as I'm awake enough to do so. Because it's winter, this means a moisturizing serum like Natura Bisse's SOS Instant Rescue Serum because I live for the drama of the name. It's a little heavier than an essence—a lightweight gel basically—and it's a good barrier for cold wind. You can use any serum based on skin preference, but I think something mega-hydrating works best for winter. (Caudalie's Thirst Quenching Serum is a great dupe for a lower price BTW.) My moisturizer is the simple, unfussy, perfect-for-oily-skin Bioderma Hydrabio Gel-Creme. I do a layer and then mix a little more in with Burberry Fresh Glow as a guerilla BB Cream.

Tonight's my annual Christmas party hosted at my home—I leave work a little early to start on the hors d'oeuvres. Trader Joe's Mini Quiches take 11 minutes to bake, so right after I preheat the oven, I apply Ren's Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask all over my face and then I put them in and start the timer. This is my pre-soirée mask—a product that makes my skin look better after I use it. It's a fruit cocktail of all my favorite chemical exfoliants; papain, glycolic, and lactic acid. I don't totally believe in brightening products, but my skin tone looks more even afterwards and is smooth as hell.

Then—a little Bioderma where it counts. I don't want to put on makeup because I know I'll get it on somebody's white shirt. At midnight, my skin looks PHENOMENAL. I wanted to embed a photo, but I look a little sauced in all of them. You'll have to take my word for it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016
The hangover of all hangovers. It feels like Satan is tap dancing on the bridge of my nose. The closest ibuprofen is in my kitchen, which is roughly 11254930790 miles from my bed, so I will suffer through it for now. Instead, I put a little Hydrabio on all over my thirsty ass face. Back to bed.

Slightly later that morning
It is time to go out into the world, if only to acquire food. The only thing I do this morning is put on Bioré Watery Essence SPF 50, an SPF I just bought from Oo35mm on my coworker Jessica's recommendation. Lightweight doesn't justly describe it—it's nonexistant. But it's not water, either. The water-based formula feels more akin to a jelly serum than an essence, which makes it a great winter sunscreen. Oh, you didn't think you needed sunscreen in the winter? Let me tell you what.

Well, I didn't drink, so I think that's a skincare feat in itself. I just cleanse with my good friend Hada Labo Hydrating Facial Cleanser. It's got hyaluronic, so I feel moisturized even though I didn't.

Sunday, December 11, 2016
How wonderful it feels to go to bed at 10 and then sleep for a full nine hours! I'm not about to be one of those people who says that sleep and water are the keys to good skin, but they don't hurt. I look well-rested and rejuvenated, like a celebrity leaving Passages Malibu.

I don't have any place to be, so I do the whole thing this morning—hydrating serum, watery SPF, lightweight moisturizer. It's moisture on moisture on moisture, and makeup glides right on. I think that good foundation has nothing to do with the foundation and everything to do with how your skin is prepped and what you're using to apply it. (Beautyblender or Kiko Milano Foundation Brush.) I look like a dewy and fresh Christmas poinsettia.

Saw Moonlight—was very good. I highly recommend to all of you. Not skincare-related, just thought I'd share.

Tonight I washed my face, applied my serum, and then CHEATED by using a sample of Glossier's new Priming Moisturizer Rich. I'm letting you know in the spirit of full disclosure. Maybe everybody needs two moisturizers, one reg and one rich. Is skincare minimalism even possible? Is perfect skincare a meaningless pursuit? What is the meaning of it all? I will let you mull it over while I sleep.

Monday, December 12, 2016
Boom. Skipped right to the eveningtime. You thought I was going to start in the morning and then I tricked you. This is the "ruthless" aspect of Nathan W. Morris' life edit, which I am working on.

Tonight is our company holiday party (I know, my life is full of parties, I am very popular, etc.) so I'm using the Ren mask again—it's effective but gentle enough to use every two or three days, and normally I use it weekly, but I'm jonesing for radiance. Then I apply my serum, and my skin feels great, so I just put makeup on over that; Tom Ford Traceless Stick Foundation, a little Generation G Cake as cream blush, plus Benefit Dallas over that. I'm wearing all navy, so I'm thinking about putting MAC Navy Glitter in my eyebrows. Good idea or great idea?

Late night
It was a fine idea.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photographed by the author.

More skincare diaries: Read about every single product writer Phoebe Lovatt used on her face during New York Fashion Week.