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Beauty 3 years ago

skincare 101: my routine + save vs. splurge


I did a q&a recently on my IG stories and anytime I do those, I get TONS of questions about skincare. Up until about 3 or 4 years ago…I was pretty clueless when it came to a skincare routine. I knew I needed to wash my face and maybe put some type of moisturizer on….but knew nothing other than that haha. Skincare can be so overwhelming because there are SO many products out there. What do you need? What order do you apply them in? So today I want to help simplify a skincare routine for you! I’m going to share what I would recommend as the most basic skincare routine (as well as a few ‘extras’ at the bottom if you want to go beyond the basics). I will be sharing the products I am currently using as well as more budget friendly options!


Because of my job, I am always trying out new products to share / review with you guys! But my skincare routine still looks very similar to the routine I’m sharing with y’all today – I might just swap out a product here and there, but the overall structure is the same. I’ve found this routine has helped clear and prevent breakouts, has helped the overall texture of my skin, and give my skin a healthy glow.





Always start your skincare routine with a cleanser. I actually use two different cleansers – a gentle cleanser in the morning and an exfoliating cleanser at night! [You can get 10% off skin pharm products with code LKS]. I do it this way because at night I use clarifying pads in the morning, so I don’t want to use an exfoliating cleanser with clarifying pads because it might be too irritating or drying for my skin.

cleanser: splurge

This is one of THE most effective face washes I have ever used. It's an exfoliating face wash without being harsh on your skin. This will help clear and prevent breakouts and also help give you an overall brighter complexion. If you spend $100 on revision's website, you can get a free full size cleanser (like this one) if you use code LKS21. It's such a good deal! This is the cleanser I usually use at night.

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This is my favorite gentle cleanser that I use in the morning! I love that it's fragrance free and cleanses + soothes my skin all at the same time. You can get 10% off skin pharm products with code LKS

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cleanser: save

This has been a favorite cleanser of mine for years now. Effectively removes makeup / debris without drying your skin out and has probiotics in it! You can get 15% off tula with code LAURENSIMS

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Another cleanser I love because it's fragrance free and will help balance your skin and also help with clogged pores! This is one you can definitely use morning and night.

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My recommendation is to do a gentle cleanser in the morning, exfoliating cleanser at night! You’ll see why below!

toner / exfoliant

Having some type of exfoliant in your routine is crucial for helping your skin look bright, helping even out your texture and also clearing + preventing breakouts. Sharing a few of my favorite exfoliants below!

toner / exfoliant: splurge

I started using these exfoliation pads about 6 weeks ago and WOW they have made such a difference in the texture of my skin and with my breakouts. I use these once a day (in the morning). These will help brighten the skin, tighten the pores, and combat breakouts. If they seem to irritate your skin i'd say start off using them every other day!

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These are another great exfoliating pads and a best seller at sephora. i recommend using them just once a day! They reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, pores, and shine.

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toner / exfoliant: save

If you don’t want to splurge on one of those exfoliating pads above, the below exfoliator is a GREAT budget-friendly but super effective option.

This is another best seller at sephora (and pretty much any beauty retailer) and it's extremely affordable! just soak a cotton pad after you rinse your face and press onto your face for the perfect gentle exfoliant. Helps get rid of dead skin cells, unclog pores, and visibly smooth wrinkles—practically overnight.

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hyaluronic acid

After cleansing, then toning (exfoliating), I apply a hyaluronic acid serum which is one of my favorite steps for helping plump up your skin (fine lines) and give your skin a hydrated glow! Sharing some of my faves below!

hyaluronic acid: splurge

I started using this youth serum from skin pharm (10% off with code LKS) about 2 months ago and WOW. It also has peptides in it which will help with anti-aging, hydrate your skin, and make it glow. This serum tackles everything from dull, dry skin to firmness, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, redness and texture.

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This is another great option for your hyaluronic step but less expensive than skin pharm. I love that it also has collagen peptides in it to help with anti-aging!

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hyaluronic acid: save

This is an awesome option for a budget friendly hyaluronic acid serum, and all of dime products use clean, cruelty free, vegan ingredients. You can get 20% off dime products with code laurenk20!

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vitamin c serum

Vitamin C is CRUCIAL to have in your morning skincare routine to help protect your skin against free radicals, brighten the skin (helps with dark spots / discoloration) and also anti-aging. Sharing two of my favorites below!

vitamin c serum: splurge

I started using this one from skin pharm (10% off with code LKS) about two months ago and I think it MIGHT be my all time favorite vitamin c serum. This serum has helped even my skin tone, protect against free radical damage AND promotes collagen production for a seriously noticeable glow. Whenever people ask how my skin is so glowy...I have this serum to thank!

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This is another great quality vitamin c product I've used for close to a year now and highly recommend. It's very potent (in the best way) and helps to reveal brighter skin and a more even skin tone. With all revision products, if you spend $100, you can receive the full-size cleanser of your choice with code LKS21

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vitamin c serum: save

Here are a few budget-friendly options for vitamin c serum that I recommend!

This serum uses all clean ingredients, it's under $30, and you can get 20% off with code LAURENK20

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This serum by Paula's Choice is under $50 and will help brighten your skin + prevent fine lines and wrinkles!

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SPF + sun protection

SPF is NOT to be missed in your morning skincare routine! There are products that can help brighten your skin or fight wrinkles but the BEST way to prevent wrinkles and sunspots is to wear SPF!

SPF: splurge

This is the sunscreen I've been wearing every day (10% off with code LKS). I love that it's also moisturizing so sometimes in the morning, I will skip my moisturizer and just do this SPF. I love that it has a slight tint to it too so it'll give you a little bit of coverage and glow!

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SPF: save

This is another favorite SPF of mine (15% off with code LAURENSIMS). I love that it gives you a little glow and also lays perfectly underneath makeup!

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So to recap, a morning skincare routine could look like:

  1. cleanse
  2. exfoliate or tone
  3. hyaluronic acid serum
  4. vitamin c serum
  5. SPF (you can do moisturizer before your SPF if you want / if your skin is dry)

When it comes to what order to apply your products in…it’s about viscosity. You want to apply them from the thinnest consistency to the thickest.



PM skincare routine looks similar to the morning with just a few small differences! Here is my routine, and then i’ll share the products below:

  1. double cleanse (cleansing balm + cleanser)
  2. hyaluronic acid serum (same as above)
  3. retinol
  4. moisturizer

cleansing balm

I typically ‘double cleanse’ in the evenings – using a cleansing balm before my regular cleanser, to really remove any makeup, SPF, or dirt / debris from the day.

cleansing balm

This cleansing balm dissolves ALL of your makeup while hydrating + nourishing your skin at the same time. I love that it's infused with English Rose Oleo so it leaves your skin super soft.

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After cleansing balm, I use this cleanser by skin pharm (10% off with code LKS) OR the revision cleanser I mentioned above by Revision. Again, I like to use a gentle cleanser in the morning (since that’s when I use my exfoliating pads), and then an exfoliating cleanser at night. This enzyme cleanser by skin pharm is formulated with papaya enzymes and salicylic acid for mild exfoliation and doesn’t dry my skin out at all!

After double cleansing in my nighttime routine, I use hyaluronic acid serum (same one that i mentioned for the a.m. routine!). After HA, I use retinol!


Retinol is the queen of all anti-aging skincare products and also helps tremendously with the texture of your skin. It’s usually a product you only want to use at night, and it’s super important to always wear sunscreen during the day because retinol will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Sharing my faves below!

retinol: splurge

These gentle retinol drops by skin pharm are what I am currently using and one of my favorite retinol products ever. I LOVE that they are gentle on your skin (only .2% retinol) so this won't make you red or peel or flakey. But they've really helped with my skin texture and helped to reduce pore size! 10% off with code LKS

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Drunk elephant is another favorite retinol of mine. It is SUPER strong though, so you'll probably need to ease yourself into it (start off just once or twice a week). This product will significantly help with fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and dullness.

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retinol: save

Here are a few budget-friendly retinol products I recommend if you don’t want to spend $70+!



For the last step in my nighttime skincare routine, I always apply a moisturizer! This is a product I tend to switch up / try out new things. But here are a few favorites!

moisturizer: splurge

This is my go-to moisturizer right now (10% off with code LKS). It's literally like a green juice for your face! I love that it's lightweight (my skin leans towards oily) and it's made with botanical extracts that will help brighten your skin! It also has peptides i it which will help smooth your skin and improve lines and wrinkles. One of my all time favorite moisturizers I've ever used.

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I use this 'mask' at least 3 times a week (or whenever my skin is feeling more dry. I used this every night in Colorado!). It's not really a mask - just a night time moisturizer and feels SO good. It hydrates, plumps, and brightens your skin and you can legit tell a difference after using it just one night!

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moisturizer: save

If you’re looking for a good moisturizer but don’t want to drop a ton of money, I also love this one below!


lipcare favorites

If you follow me on IG, you know I am obsessed with hydrating lip treatments. I struggle with chapped lips ALL the time, so having a good lip treatment is crucial for me. Sharing my favorites below!


Okay holy cow, this took me about 9,000 years to write haha. SO let me do a quick recap of my routine:


  1. cleanse with a gentle cleanser
  2. exfoliating pads
  3. hyaluronic acid serum
  4. vitamin c serm
  5. SPF


  1. double cleanse (cleansing balm + exfoliating cleanser)
  2. hyaluronic acid serum
  3. retinol
  4. moisturizer
  5. lip treatment

Recap of discount codes:

  • tula: 15% off with code laurensims
  • DIME: 20% off with code laurenk20
  • skin pharm: 10% off with code LKS
  • revision: get a free full size cleanser when you spend $100 with code LKS21

I didn’t include an eye cream in this routine because I feel like the jury is still out on whether or not an eye cream is really necessary! More to come on that though haha i’ll save that for another post. I also didn’t include any ‘specialty’ serums I’ll add to my routine – ie for breakouts or dark spots. The routine I shared with y’all today is just a good all around skincare routine fo anybody, no matter what your skin type is!

I am by no means an expert or a dermatologist! I’ve just found this is what works best for my skin, and after doing lots of research + talking with lots of experts…I’ve found this routine to be very effective!

I know this was a TON of information so please let me know if you have any questions below! Thanks for reading!

xo Lauren

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