Face Wash vs Exfoliator
Personally I prefer to use different products in the morning than in the evening, relying on a great face wash and gentle exfoliator to kick-start my day. Although an exfoliator should only be used 2-3 times a week, it can be great at gently removing dead skin from the surface and revealing a more glowing base underneath. If you're using both an exfoliator and face wash, I'd recommend using the face wash after to ensure you wash away all remaining product and dead skin cells - that way you'll feel squeaky clean and can be assured you're also cleansing a little deeper.
(My favourites: FaceB4 Face Wash; Indeed Labs Powdered Exfoliator; Neutrogena Visibly Clear Grapefruit Scrub)
Using A Cleansing Balm
In the evenings I love using cleansing balms to melt away makeup and dirt that builds up over the course of the day. Taking a little and warming it between the fingers helps to massage it into the face once it's applied, lifting away all the nasties without stripping the skin. A warm damp flannel or muslin cloth can be used to massage away the product in circular motions, being careful to use a clean piece of material for each area of the face. If you're wearing heavy makeup it's best to repeat the process, ensuring your skin is left feeling super clean and soft.
(My favourites: Neal's Yard Wild Rose balm; The Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Butter; Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm.)
Removing Final Traces
Although your skin may feel and even look clean, using a micellar water to remove final traces can help provide an even deeper cleanse. They work by attracting the grease on the surface of skin without stripping moisture, making them perfect for removing the traces not visible to the human eye. For waterproof mascaras or heavy liner, it's also worth using a bi-phase makeup remover which will remove every last trace of product.
(My favourites: Bioderma Micellar Water; Sephora Bi-Phase Makeup Remover; Lancome Makeup Remover.)
Serum First, Moisturiser Second
Before you apply your makeup there are a few essential layers you need to add into the equation. A great serum will not only ensure your skin remains hydrated, but will contain lots of active ingredients that will both repair and prevent further damage. This is like a smoothie for your skin, so don't skip it if you want to benefit from maximum results. Adding a moisturiser over the surface will add an extra layer of hydration, as well as containing free radical fighting ingredients and SPF. Although it's not essential to use both simultaneously, they are designed to go together and the combination provides the strongest results over time.
(My favourites: MeruMaya Iconic Youth Serum; HealGel Face; Caudalie Vinosource SOS serum.)
Primer Before Base
Once you've given your skin an injection of good stuff, you need to keep it there while preventing your makeup from slipping. A velvety primer will help create a subtle barrier, enabling you to flawlessly apply your base or foundation and keep it in place all day. A primer is definitely the secret of makeup artists and celebrities, as it helps to create a uniformed surface that gives the illusion of perfection - even when we're far from it!
(My favourites: Clinique Superprimer; Illamasqua Hydraveil; Benefit Porefessional.)
Do you have a routine that you stick to every day, or do you prefer to change things up a bit?