30 Plus, Oily, Acne Prone Skincare Routine 2018 Edition

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Almost a year has passed since I wrote about my skin for She Might Be, and it’s been even longer since I specifically wrote about it here. Since I’ve been getting hugely into the research and science behind skincare, it’s probably about time I updated you with a mega post about what I’m currently using to tame my wayward 30 plus, oily, acne prone skin. For an up to date reflection of where I am with my attitude to skincare, and a much more simplified routine, check out this post from 2019

If you clicked through to the post that I wrote for She Might Be last year, you’ll have seen that I advocated strongly for the Merumaya line of products. I still stand by those formulations, and the change they made to my acne prone skin, but a year later I just can’t afford the vast majority of the products any more. Additionally, I wanted to start adding anti-aging products to my routine and nothing in the Merumaya line included the ingredients I wanted to introduce.

Much like (almost) everyone else, products from The Ordinary by Deciem were my gateway into taking my skincare more seriously, researching ingredients, and beginning to tailor my routine much more accurately. Whilst stuff from The Ordinary can get some stick for not having the most sophisticated formulations, the low cost and being able to get very simple products with often only one ingredient, has allowed me – admittedly through trial and error –  to find out exactly what my skin responds to and what works for me.

I am now trying to move away from using products by The Ordinary as I want slightly fancier, more refined (but still affordable) formulas. Also the hot mess emanating from them on social lately makes me kinda worried they might fold completely, so I’m doing the homework now rather than panic buying later.

Therefore, there are products in my routine from brands in the US, UK, Korea and Japan. I have linked to the places I actually buy everything from as I know it can be difficult to find a trustworthy UK supplier of US, Japanese or Korean skincare.

So, you came here for my routine, lets stop messing about and have a look at it shall we? If you’re interested in a particular product and what it does, I’ll discuss how and why I use every product for every step in a series of mini-reviews after laying out my steps below:

30 Plus, Oily, Acne Prone Skincare Routine


WEEKDAY PM SKINCARE ROUTINE (Monday / Wednesday / Friday)

  • Bodyshop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (if needed to remove makeup)
  • Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
  • Ishtar Skinlights Bioactive 1% Retinol Serum
  • The Ordinary Buffet mixed with Hada Lobo Rohto Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist
  • Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum mixed with The Ordinary Squalane
  • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Moisture Watery Cream (autumn / winter only)
  • COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask

WEEKDAY PM SKINCARE ROUTINE (Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday)

  • Bodyshop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (if needed to remove makeup)
  • Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
  • COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
  • COSRX AHA7 Whitehead Power Liquid
  • The Ordinary Buffet mixed with Hada Lobo Rohto Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist
  • Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum mixed with The Ordinary Squalane
  • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Moisture Watery Cream (autumn / winter only)
  • COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask


  • Bodyshop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (if needed to remove makeup)
  • Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
  • The Ordinary AHA 30% +  BHA 2% Peeling Solution (currently wash off after 6 minutes, working slowly up to 10)
  • Sheet mask (currently using Dermal Collagen Essence ones)
  • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Moisture Watery Cream
  • COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask
 Mature Acne Prone Skincare Routine


Honestly, it looks much more time consuming than it actually is, as my AM routine takes less than 5 minutes and my evening routine takes less than 10 (although I do leave the retinol serum to chill on my skin for half an hour before doing the rest). I used the principles of a 10 step Korean routine, alongside the thinnest to thickest consistency rule, to build this routine that works wonders for me and makes me feel really nice.

30 Plus, Oily, Acne Prone Skincare Reviews

Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash

This is the only part of my previous skincare routine that I kept. It’s one of the most affordable items in the Merumaya range, it cleanses my skin effectively, cutting through the oil without making my face feel dry and tight. I will replace this with something more affordable once I’ve used it up.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

Okay, toner is completely optional and you really, really don’t need it. However, I’m old school and I really like this step of my routine especially when it picks up some grub that my cleansing has missed. I use this alcohol free witch hazel / aloe / rose toner and I fancy that it leaves my face feeling fresh, balanced, even, and ready for the next step.

The Ordinary “Buffet”

The Ordinary’s Buffet is a peptide product and peptides are a relatively new skincare technology; they’re short chains of amino acids that tell the skin cells they come into contact with to do / not do something; e.g. produce more collagen or inhibit muscle movement.

There are some really exciting studies showing that they do good shit, particularly as a preventative measure for wrinkles and loss of elasticity, but really there needs to be more long term research conducted before it can be said with absolute certainty they are safe and work well.

As peptide products don’t show immediate results, this one is cheap enough and I’m using it in good faith for the long term anti-aging benefits. A “Buffet” + Copper Peptides is about to be launched by The Ordinary which I am planning to switch to once this has been used up.

Hada Lobo Rohto Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist

You’ve heard of hyaluronic acid? This is hyaluronic acid ON DRUGS.

The Hada Lobo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist contains three different molecular weights (or sizes) of hyaluronic acid and permeates the skin more effectively, it plumps the surface of your skin by drawing in moisture from the surrounding air and from the lower layers up to the epidermis (it’s fine, the lower layers of your skin are rehydrated by your body so grabbing moisture from there up to the epidermis is safe).

Hyaluronic acid also acts to more effectively deliver other ingredients into the skin – which is why so many active ingredients in skincare are suspended in hyaluronic acid – I mix four drops of it with one big drop of the The Ordinary Buffet to get those sweet ass peptides right down into the skin where they can do their thing.

Oily Acne Prone Skincare Routine
 Nature Republic Aqua Max Superdrug Simply Pure Serum Squalane Biore UV Face Milk

Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum

I love this stuff! It’s so cheap! It is packed with awesome skincare ingredients! It doesn’t break me out! I came for the low price and correct ratio of ceramides (ceramides are found naturally in your skin, they keep your skin balanced and maintain your natural moisture barrier) and stayed for the additional lactic acid and urea (very mild, but effective, exfoliants with the urea also helping your skin to retain moisture).

In the warmer months, this mixed with the squalane is enough for me without any additional moisturiser. If you’re looking to repair a damaged moisture barrier / have over-exfoliated / are extra dry then this is a great product to pick up.

The Ordinary Squalane

I love this stuff too! Yes it’s an oil, but this is one of the things I’m almost evangelical about as it does so much hard work to prevent TEWL (transepidermal water loss). It’s incredibly moisturising, being absorbed deeply and completely by the skin leaving no greasy residue behind, but giving such a GLOW.

In a similar fashion to hyaluronic acid, it also helps other ingredients to penetrate more deeply into the skin, so this is why I mix one pump of the Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum with two drops of The Ordinary Squalane for this step of my routine.

Pro tip: try using it on your hair and cuticles too.

Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Moisture Watery Cream

Even though I’m oily, my skin can become dehydrated incredibly quickly, so in the colder months I use an extra moisturising step designed for dry skin.

I went for this Nature Republic cream specifically as it’s as close as I could get to a dupe for Clinique’s 72 Hour Moisture Surge at less than half the price. It works well, reducing the appearance of my fine lines, and smells lovely; it’s one occasion that I’m willing to forgive a brand for using unnecessary fragrance!

Biore UV Perfect Face Milk SPF50 + / Pa ++++

Sunscreen, along with a decent moisturiser and a cleanser, is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your face all year round. I have been using a high SPF facial sunscreen for nearly a year now and tried out all manner of brands and formulas (I love this one from La Roche Posay, but it’s wayyyyy too expensive for my budget).

Instead I found this Japanese sunscreen which has incredibly high UVA and UVB protection, dries down matte so makeup applies over it smoothly, and it has barely any perceptible white cast on my pale skintone. One £6 bottle, although small, lasts me for just over two months.

Bodyshop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

I absolutely can not be arsed to do double cleansing every day, but when I have worn make up there is nothing better for removing the lot in a gentle but incredibly effective way. This stuff shifts everything, even waterproof mascara. It’s almost a solid balm in the tin, I scoop some out, warm up a small amount between my palms, rub it all over my face to lift off my make up and then rinse it away with warm water, but you can use a cloth if you like. It leaves my skin clean, clear, and incredibly soft.

Ishtar Skinlights Bioactive 1% Retinol Serum

I’m currently preparing my skin for stronger retinoids (i.e. tretinoin), so the first step towards getting my skin acclimatised is using this 1% retinol serum from Ishtar Skinlights. It’s a water based serum that absorbs quickly and easily. It also contains organic botanicals and fortifying micronutirents, but that is by the by to me as I’m mainly here for the retinol.

Retinol (a.k.a Vitamin A) is the most researched and consistently proven ingredient for it’s myriad anti-aging effects so it was a no brainer that I would want this in my routine.

I wait for 30 minutes after applying this serum before continuing with the steps as retinol requires around this amount of time to get on with it’s nonsense.

 Ishtar Skinlights Retinol Serum Body Shop Camomile Balm
 COSRX AHA BHA Power Liquid Overnight Spa Mask Dermal Sheet MAsks

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask

I’ve wanted to get some form of fermented rice product back into my routine after seeing how much my skin absolutely LOVED the Tony Moly I’m Real rice based sheet mask. This sleeping mask makes my face ridiculously hydrated and plump in the morning, plus it’s packed with skin brightening ingredients to even out dark marks and tone.

The ingredient to look out for here is Niacinamide (a.k.a Vitamin B3) an antioxidant which fades pigmentation and brightens. It also increases skin elasticity and reduces fine lines and wrinkles… it’s quite the all rounder.

In addition to all that, over time it strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier, soothes inflammation, and even helps to protect the skin from UV damage. If you’re sensitive to Vitamin C products (which I v.sadly am) then Niacinamide is the way to go.

COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

My skin doesn’t like Salicyclic Acid, but luckily for me it kinda loves it’s less drying and irritating relative Betaine Salicylate. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid also contains willow bark water, which is soothing and anti-inflammatory, and Niacinamide… which you already know my feelings about!

I put one pump of this BHA into my palm and then spread it all over my face, getting right up in nooks and crannies but avoiding my eye area completely. It helps keep blackheads away and has worked wonders for the annoying little bumpy closed comedones (CCs) I had knocking around.

COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

Can you tell I totally stan COSRX? I’m yet to meet a product of theirs that I don’t like. I bought this product to replace another Glycolic AHA product, Pixi Glow Tonic, which broke me out like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid; a multi functional ingredient which tackles active spots, acne, dull skin, fine lines, wrinkles, CCs and improves skin texture. It does all this by dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be shed more quickly and speeding up cell turnover.

I really wanted to find a glycolic acid product that didn’t kill my face, as glycolic acid has the proven effect of reducing fine lines and wrinkles whereas other AHAs don’t. This does the trick (alongside the 7% AHA it contains even more of my fave ingredient, Niacinamide!)

I put one pump of this into my palm and then spread it all over my face in exactly the same manner as I do the BHA, I have noticed a dramatic reduction in the amount of spots I get (after the initial purge that is) and my face feels so smooth.

The Ordinary AHA 30% +  BHA 2% Peeling Solution

So, I’ve started doing chemical peels now. This is another absolutely not necessary step so if the idea of an at home chemical peel worries you, just don’t do it.

This peel from The Ordinary is an occasional use product for me. I use it when my skin texture gets bumpy, I have some CCs I want rid of, or everything just needs brightening up. It is red in colour which is handy for ensuring you get an even coverage everywhere. I aim to use this once a week for 10 minutes, but I’m currently on once a fortnight for 6 minutes.

DO NOT CHUCK IT ON FOR 10 MINUTES STRAIGHT AWAY. You’ll irritate the hell out of your face, I promise. Also, the purge is real and it can be difficult to tell the difference between a purge and irritation, so go slowly and listen to your skin.

Dermal Collagen Essence Sheet Masks

On peel night I like to have a little chill out for 20 minutes with a sheet mask on as an apology and peace offering to my face. I’m currently using the Dermal Collagen Essence sheet masks, but my favourite are the Tony Moly I’m Real ones. The only reason I switched from Tony Moly to Dermal is that they’ve tripled the price of the bulk buy Tony Moly’s on Amazon just now, so I went for the next best bulk buy I could find for around a tenner.

Overall, the Dermal ones are nice, but I wouldn’t be in a huge rush to buy them again. With sheet masks in general I think they are much the same, and for me it’s more of a hydrating treat than an active step, so I’m pretty laid back about which ones I use.

My routine is one which I’m really happy with: it’s affordable, I enjoy doing it, and I *think* I’ve tailored it to my specific skin concerns (which are wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, dehydration and oil). Whilst I’ve done a ton of research into what everything does, I’d stress to you that I’m not a dermatologist and I’ve never consulted with one, so if you’re not sure about something then I’d recommend getting in touch with a professional for help.

Although the products I currently use are already largely cruelty free, now that I’m more knowledgeable about which ingredients work for me the next step is to swap absolutely everything over to cruelty free, so that means I need to find substitutes for the Merumaya, Nature Republic and Biore products. I’m also very intrigued by The Ordinary’s Alpha Lipoic Acid and Caffeine Solution so I’ll be finding space for those soon too. I can imagine that will be the main focus of my updated routine next year. Until then, if you want any more information or have any questions about anything I’ve said here then get in touch.

Post Signature 2017

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