Want amazing at home results without forking out thousands of dollars at your local spa? I used to get facials regularly at a spa and bought their expensive serums and lotions. I even used to get fillers injected. But all of that came at a huge cost. When our family had to close our business and needed to save even more money because of Covid, I knew that I had to stop using those services. Here are my favorite things that really work! First I’m listing the serums and products I use with them, then I will share my microneedling tips, protocol, and the exact pen and needles I use.
First things first, wash your face
I used to use glycolic acid cleansers and others with harsh exfoliants that made my skin break out. This cleanser is gentle, effective, and at $15 for a HUGE bottle that lasts me 5 months, it is well worth the money. Here is the link:
Next, you need to exfoliate for your products to penetrate your skin.
I’ve had a complex relationship with exfoliating. Sometimes I would do too much and leave my skin raw and red, opening up my pores to more issues than before. I’ve also made the mistake of using “St Ives Apricot Scrub” that ripped my pores, leaving me with forever large ripped pores on my face. So, with various products on the market for exfoliation, how do you know what is right for you? Let me share with you what worked for me.
I thought this was weird when I first heard of it. I mean, who shaves their face besides men? It took me a few years to give it a go and now I am hooked. At the end of the day, all chemical products do is basically burn the dead skin off of the top of your face. Why not skip the chemicals and just remove it manually? I thought maybe it would be really complicated but it isn’t.
First you need to wash your face, then use your toner. After your skin is completely dry you can begin.
You just push up the sides of your face at your hairline to keep it taut and then apply the razor with light pressure downwards in small diagonal strokes. For your chin and forehead, use small strokes moving in one direction, starting at the top then moving down in a vertical motion. Have a towel ready to wipe off the dead skin in between “shaving”. Otherwise, it just covers the razor and covers the newer areas you are going to exfoliate.
After I finish my face I usually do my neck and try to do my chest if time will allow. Once your shaving is complete, you can rinse your face with cold water, use a mild toner to remove any dead skin, then apply your serums/retin A/hydraquinone/moisturizer.
There are some horror stories out there from people using fake razor products. They are very cheap to get on Amazon and here is the link to the exact ones that I have been using with no issues:
This exfoliant mask gives me a super glow the next day. It is gentle and perfect to use the day before an event so that your make up will stay on super well, and be moisturized. It is a gel like substance you put on your clean face and let it sit for a few minutes. Then you rub it with your hands in little circles until you feel these little “balls” on your face. That is your dead skin. The more you rub, the more comes off. I find this to be very helpful for days when my skin is peeling from microneedling or Retin A, but it’s too tender to be shaved. This will remove it all and leave your skin absolutely perfect. I recommend using it once a week if you can. Here is the link:
Skip the Expensive Serums and get the same thing without the markup in pricing from the middle man!
First, you can skip those expensive spa serums and lotions. I have tried out many serums and here are my favorites from Amazon. As always, I didn’t get paid to share these with you. These are shared from my own personal research and experimentation. If you do like what I have to share, please click on the amazon link because I do get a tiny percentage back from Amazon, which I can use to pay for this blog. You don’t pay more, and I get a little something to help me keep giving you my information freely.
Sounds scary huh? Acid…..well, it’s not at all. This is the most mild serum you can put onto your face. I use it with my Doctor Pen and will have it linked in my Microneedling section, but this is also perfect to put on your face day and night. It gives instant moisture and helps to rebuild collagen, plus it won’t clog pores. Here is the link:
Raspberry Seed Oil
This stuff is highly versatile! It doesn’t clog your pores, moisturizes, has SPF, and loads of Vitamins E &A plus Omegas 6 &3 which help your skin stay protected and gives your skin nourishment to rebuild. I use this on top of all my serums every morning and evening. An extra perk is that it gives you an instant golden glow! It works wonders under makeup. Here is the link:
Vitamin C helps to reduce hyperpigmentation. Here are two serums I have used with excellent results. The first one is more expensive but has more vitamin C in it with 20% Vitamin C.
This second one is the one I am currently using. It has 15% Vitamin C. I felt like with my other products I was getting a good even tone and I wanted to save a few bucks.
Peptide Toner helps your skin rebuild. This one is extra bang for your buck! I sat down and compared the ingredients and because they list this as a toner, you get 5 times more than the same exact solution in a tiny bottle for the same cost! Get it before they realize their mistake and start charging you more.
I recently got into using niacinamide after all of my research into skin care products. I did read an article about a dermatologist who did a peer reviewed study that linked higher amounts of niacin and the reduction of skin cancer by a whopping 30%!!!! Luckily, if you’re drinking that Morning Buzz drink that I linked in my energy post, then you are already doing your skin a big favor by ingesting it. I’m all for doing what you can with a healthy diet and supplements, but adding certain ingredients to your skincare can make a huge difference. Let me share with you what Niacimamide has been statistically proven effective for doing for your skin:
- Niacinamide helps build keratin , a type of protein that keeps your skin firm and healthy.
- Helps to reduce rosacea
- Makes your pores look smaller
- Balances your oil
- Protects against the damaging sun rays
- Treats hyperpigmentation
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
When I tried it out for the first time I was not expecting anything immediate of course BUT I was shocked to see an immediate glow. So shocked in fact that I went onto Reddit and saw that I’m not the only one who experienced this as other users were sharing this instant glow on there and were wondering, could this be for real? I saw another user totally ditched her Retin-A for it whereas other users have had amazing success using both! I am hooked and it’s only around $8 for a bottle!!!! I’ve been taking before and after photos slowly but surely and I will put them on here as soon as I can, but one of my brown spots literally broke into pieces after only using this for two nights. You gotta get this.
Here is the link:
Salmon DNA + Gold
If you have the extra money, you got to get this salmon DNA plus gold ampule kit from Amazon. I am new to this product because it does have a hefty price tag-however, I use less than half of a bottle per session so it’s only $6 a facial for a year’s worth!!!! This serum is a game changer! They keep selling out so get it while you can.
Here is a video of me using it with my Dr. Pen. As always, don’t take me too seriously.
Retin A and Hydraquinone
These are game changers. Unfortunately you can’t get them without a prescription. I don’t know why this kept me from getting them, and purchasing products from medical spas such as Obagi is a huge mark up. I even considered ordering from online pharmacies overseas but they require you to wire money and jump through all these hoops and at the end of the day, why go through all of that when you don’t have to?
This past week I saw my dermatologist for my annual check up. I asked for a prescription for Retin A .05% and he called it in. I use Kroger for my local pharmacy and they found a coupon so I could purchase my tube for $36. With my prescription comes several more tubes as well. I did already hit my deductible when I saw my dermatologist, but if you have a good relationship with your regular PCP, you could ask them for it also. For your health though, you should see a dermatologist once a year for cancer screenings so I recommend seeing one if you can afford to do so. Retin A will give you bigger results than anything I can recommend from Amazon. If you can use it while microneedling you will see intense results!
Hydroquinone lightens pigmentation like nothing else. There are creams online that are supposed to lighten skin but I’ve seen some sad stories where people are scarred from life from those and I wouldn’t risk it. I asked for a prescription from my dermatologist for that as well and once again it was filled, a coupon was applied and I got it for under $30.
I used to purchase these products from medical spas and spend over $100 per small tube. Even if you have to pay cash out of pocket to see your dermatologist it would end up being less money to get the prescription and use online coupons (Kroger found mine for me before I even came to get it so it was no extra work for me) to purchase these items at rock bottom prices.
Obagi has a Vitamin C serum mixed with hydroquinone that cost around $120 per bottle when I used to buy it from a medical spa. Now I make my own using the vitamin C serum thats $10 and mix it with my hydroquinone for pennies on the dollar! The hydroquinone will last for several bottles of the vitamin C serum so this is quite the deal. Here is the link for the serum:
I recommend using the hydroquinone product in the morning and the Retin A at night, and I mix mine with my serums I listed above.
I will say my dermatologist was super impressed with my skin going back in time without any fillers or botox. If you follow my tips you will get the same results!
Products to Help You Get the Most from Your Serums
I was putting serums on my face with my fingers, and didn’t realize that I was also spreading dirt and bacteria on my face by doing that. Instead, I use a brush and little plastic paint trays that I bought at the Dollar Tree. I got six of the paint trays for $1!
Brushes for Serums
Here is the link for the brushes I use. They are just under $7. Just rinse with water when you are done and set out to dry for your next use. I do this morning and night.
I also love my sheet masks from Amazon. If you put them onto your face after a microneedling session or anytime you need that extra hydration, I highly recommend these.
Another use for these masks is before I would go out to a big event I would wash my face, put on one of these sheet masks, then put on my makeup. It gave my complexion a glowing dewy look, and filled in my fine lines and pores, giving me a flawless look. I also get alot of uses out of these masks. You can refold the mask once you have worn it for 20-30 minutes, and put it back in the pack with the serum in it. It will re absorb the serum and you can wear it again the next day or in a few days so you get two uses out of one mask. I also fold up the pack and dip my serum brush into it so I get several days’ worth out of the serum in it.
But also, I like to use a silicone mask after I brush on my serums. This is a cheap and effective way of turning your regular serums into a lavish mask for your face. My serums were drying out so quickly that I kept putting more on. This wasted my money as I would use so much! Now that I put on my silicone mask, it keeps the serums from drying out and it presses them against my skin, forcing my skin to drink up every single drop. Here are the masks that I use and recommend.
I use Dickenson’s Rose Water Witch Hazel which can be found in most stores, but if you need to order it on amazon then here is the link:
I was having a hard time with my Retin A making my face so red and peeling that I had to keep stopping my treatments. I know there is a process of skin purging, but having my face look like Freddy Krueger was really getting to me plus it was uncomfortable. After researching this, I decided to give a facial steamer a try, and have been thrilled with the results!
I first use my facial steamer when I am toning my skin. I do this because dirt that I thought was gone will come up to the surface from deep down. So use this on your skin for like 1 minute with your pad of toner sweeping over your face in circular motions. Once you are sure the grey dirt is all out, then with your serum brush, sweep your Retin-A over your face and neck with the steamer on. I mix my Retin-A with my Niacinamide (2 drops of niacinamide to one pea size drop of Retin-A .5%). Do this with your steamer on for a minute or two and then you are done. Here is the exact steamer that I use:
It totally makes sense that this would work so well. The steam opens your pores releasing the dirt that will cause extra breakouts while your Retin-A is stimulating the cell turnover. The steam then penetrates those deeper layers with moisture. This is why my skin isn’t at all as irritated as it was. Now I can use my Retin-A every single night and the next morning my skin is so radiant and glowing I can’t believe it! I get my Retin-A from Mexico because it’s like $45 there at the airport. You can also order it online but until I try out those websites I can’t recommend them yet. I’ve heard OKDerma is good, but I’m not for sure.
This sounds a bit scary right? I started out with a simple roller, but then finally bought a Dr. Pen from Amazon. I am so glad that I did. Now this takes time and won’t give you instant results like getting fillers and botox, but it’s under $200 and can give you a year’s worth of treatments. Where I live, one microneedling treatment costs more than the pen, so I was sold. I use a hyaluronic acid that’s also under $20 to use with the pen so I am still saving so much money.
Here is the exact same pen that I use.
Here is the hyaluronic acid that you must use with your pen.
I have been microneedling now for a year and the results are amazing! My skin is glowing, my collagen is building so I don’t need fillers, and my hyper-pigmentation has faded.
If you want big results you need to go big! Needling at .25 helps a little but I prefer to go between 1.5-2.5 at home. Now, this does hurt. So I use this numbing cream and it works! This has helped to greatly reduce my scarring from cycstic acne and chicken pox. It has also built up my collagen levels so that I no longer need to spend $2,000 a year on fillers.
How do you use this?
First, wash your face silly. Nothing too abrasive, just a gentle cleanser. Next, use your toner. After you tone, then put rubbing alcohol onto a pad and sweep it over your face. Now it’s time to put on some lidocaine. I recommend that you put it on rather thick. Wash your hands so they aren’t numb. Now give yourself 15-20 minutes for it to work.
Everything that I list here has links below in other sections. For the sake of simplicity I am just going to explain the process, then you can look up the links. Before you do this stop using Retin-A at least one day prior to this treatment. Do this towards the end of your day. I like to do this before bed time. Put on a headband or something to get your hair out of your face.
In the meantime get our your hyaluronic acid (HA), your plastic paint holder from the $ Tree (or an old egg carton or anything with a small bowl), your facial brush ( I have links for the brushes below in the “Products to help you get the most from your serums”), and your serums to use. Do not use vitamin C or Retin A with this. I recommend using the peptide toner mixed with your HA. I would place half a dropper of the HA and then 6 drops of your peptide toner.
Open your needles for your pen. I recommend the 36 pin needle for starters. If you got the kit, save the nano one for a weekly facial with your vitamin C to brighten you face, and save the 12 needle one for your deepest needling. I know it doesn’t make sense, that the 12 needle would be harsher than the 36 one but I don’t make the rules. I’m just informing you of the facts. Place your cartridge into your pen. It should click into place. The needles should not poke out of the pen. If they do, take it out and place it in again until the needles rest inside of the tube.
After your face is numb, take rubbing alcohol and put it on a cotton pad to sweep off the left over lidocaine.
Now you can begin to microneedle. The forehead is the worst to do. You can do it first and get it over with or do it last. Try out .5 with this. If you can handle it go to .75. You may bleed and this is fine. You want to make lines and not circles. Start at the top and go down then pick the pen up and go back to the top and go down. Do this until you make a little rectangle, then in the same area make horizontal lines the same way. After that you can make diagonal lines in the same area. Once your rectangle is filled, then make another one, and so on and so on. Once you get to your cheeks pull up the side of your face to stretch it so that way it really gets into your skin. Around my cheekbones is where I like to level up to 2.5. But if you are new, just take your time. There are many video tutorials out there and until I make my own video I recommend that you check them out.
Take your time and continue to brush on your serums, but not too thick so that your pen gets clogged. I’ve done this before and you can rinse it out with rubbing alcohol but then you waste that serum. Brush it on in thin layers and as your skin gets red and dryer then add more onto it. Make sure to needle your jawline and neck too if you can. If you have extra time then do your chest area. These areas are precarious so I use .5-.75 on those areas.
At the very very end, brush on the serums and needle your lips. You are going to love how they will start plumping up and looking softer. People ask me all the time if I have had fillers there and the truth is that I never have. If your skin is feeling dry afterwards you can brush on more serums. I then like to add a sheet mask with my silicone mask on top of it (it makes a HUGE difference), and then remove it promptly after 20 minutes.
To lock in this precious moisture, you can use a face cream that you like, or you can use red raspberry seed oil like me. I don’t use any face cream, I just use red raspberry seed oil because it is incredible and very affordable. The next morning I just use my toner, the HA, peptide toner, red raspberry seed oil on top, then my 50 spf on top of that. Don’t wear makeup the next day either. Depending on how hard you go you may look like Freddy Krueger or just slightly red. Remember, generally speaking, the worse you look the next day, the better your skin will look in the long run.
This is the easiest one to do! You use the same Dr Pen but insert the nano cartridge instead. There are NO needles! This takes your serums and infuses them into the top layer of your skin. This is most beneficial for hyperpigmentation and making your skin glow.
Use this with your Vitamin C serum. You could also mix in your hydraquinone if you want some intense brightening of melasma or hyperpigmentation. If you do add it in be advised it may add some downtime the next day. My skin got a bit irritated when I did it, however in three days there was a huge improvement in my dark spots. But if you just want a big glow for an event just use the Vitamin C and the next day you will be a radiant goddess.
When you use your nano cartridge turn the pen dial up to about 1.5. You want it to slightly touch your skin without being abrasive. For my forehead I dial it down to .75. You move the pen in small circles around your face. I did this while monitoring my kids’ bath time it was that easy! This takes like 15 minutes. Just make little circles all around your face, neck, and chest, then circle around your lips. That’s it!
I know what you’re thinking. This must be super dangerous, right? Well….it really depends on you. I have given myself several facial chemical peels. I only got burned once, but then it healed and my face even looked more amazing! I haven’t burned myself since, and I only got burned because I didn’t feel any tingling and left the peel on too long. That was my mistake and I won’t be making that again. Here are some of my favorite peels that I researched heavily before buying and used on myself before recommending to you:
- Glycolic Peels are excellent for removing blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples from skin. They can also help remove acne scars from your skin over time. I have personally seen a reduction in my pores from using this. Here is the peel I used with great results myself. https://amzn.to/3cPIDP7
- Lactic Acid Peels fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, brightening your skin. https://amzn.to/3umoExr
Remember, no matter which peel you use, to always use a sterilized brush to put it on your face, have cold water near by, and for your first peel it’s best to go with the least amount of time no matter how it feels. Trust me on this one!
Want a Milder version of a Chemical Peel?
I haven’t given myself a peel in sometime. I plan to do one in the fall, but it’s best to not overdo it in the summer when I plan on getting alot of sunshine. Instead I really like these pads that have glycolic acid in them. I use these some nights before bed. I do not add any serums on top of it as it already has alot of great stuff in it! I highly recommend this product for reducing fine lines and minimizing pore size.
Want to Get Rid of Lines on Your Chest?
As we age, our chest starts looking like a road map-there’s no way around it. I’ve had friends undergo expensive laser treatments that will cost in the thousands because you have to do several to get results. Then you need to cover up while it heals and do it all again over and over. Why do that to yourself when you can stop the lines overnight for about $14? Here is the link:
Before using, wash your chest thoroughly with soap and water, making sure there are no oils on it. If this is your first use, simply peel the pad off of the plastic and place it neatly onto your chest, making sure not to slide it around once it’s on. If it’s crooked just let it be for that night. When you go to bed, sleep on your back instead of immediately turning onto your side. I found in time that I started to sleep more on my back with this on my chest, which actually started giving me better results for my face as well.
In the morning I don’t typically have time to wash it so I would just put it away, the sticky side up. In the evenings I would wash it with warm foamy handsoap and then set it on top of the plastic sheet with the sticky side up and lean it up against a sturdy object on my counter. I have a hand held fan that I would turn on full blast and then it would dry like this before I would place it onto my chest.
I obviously don’t use this on nights that I microneedle my chest to help with collagen and skin pigmentation because the serums need to be able to stay on my skin after that. Even if you don’t use this every night, it is perfect to use the night before you have a big even where your chest will be showing. I have found that I can get several months use out of this set and then I buy another once it stops sticking.
Always wear your SPF! Choose 50 SPF to give you the strongest protection. My favorite one was referred to me by my dermatologist and he recommended the Equate brand from WalMart!!! Shocker right? I thought he would recommend something expensive! I know this sounds silly but it doesn’t cause breakouts, is cheap, and it evens out your skin tone and adds a serious glow! I remember being in boot camp class and these women were just so amazed by my face. They kept asking me what I did to give it such a serious glow. It was really just this sunscreen that is under $5.
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