Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been on a mission to simplify. I began by examining parts of my life that I felt were overcomplicated, and skincare was one of these areas. I was spending too much money, effort, and time on my regime – and I was constantly buying things I didn’t finish – always on the lookout for the next miracle product that would be ‘the one’.
After a final clear out, I’ve settled on a system which uses a few carefully curated products. I’m not longer layering loads of products on my face and am instead using one product at a time to achieve smooth, clear skin that doesn’t need much makeup (another money/effort/time saver).
My system works like this: I alternate three nights of retinol treatment with three nights of alpha hydroxy treatment and then follow up with one night of skin nutrition, hence the 3:3:1. It’s simple, easy, and I don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great results.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, I do a simple retinol treatment with Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-aging Retinol Serum. I’ve tried quite a few retinol products, and this is by far the least irritating I’ve found. Full disclosure: it did cause some breakouts the first week I used it, and there was a tiny bit of peeling, but I pushed through both of these concerns and was heavily rewarded with smoother, glowing skin. If a serum isn’t enough for your skin, you can easily add a moisturiser over the top of it. I do this when the weather is extremely cold and the central heating has been on a lot.
A less-expensive alternative is The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinol 2% Emulsion. I found this one slightly irritating, and I did experience some peeling, but if you give your skin time to acclimatise, this should pass.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights, I use an AHA treatment in the form of Neostrata High Potency Cream. This moisturises and gently exfoliates so I wake with clear, younger-looking skin. I have quite sensitive skin, and I don’t find this cream irritating at all, and I find myself looking forward to using it because my skin looks so improved the next day. It’s incredible how moisturising this cream is, considering the high dose of glycolic acid.
Less-expensive, but no less-effective is The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + 2% HA. Lactic acid is one of the milder AHAs and the addiction of hyaluronic acid makes it that bit more hydrating.
On Sunday night, I use a nourishing moisturiser. My favourite is Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Moisturiser. It contains ceramides, vitamin C and a tiny touch of retinol. It hydrates skin beautifully and never feels heavy, sticky or tacky. My skin drinks it right in and always appears plump, fresh, and hydrated in the morning.
If you’re after a more cost-effective alternative, Olay Regenerist 3-Point Age-Defying Moisturiser is excellent. While it is less expensive, it isn’t cheap, but you can often find it on sale if you look. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for a jar.
So that’s it – 3:3:1. It’s a system that’s worked well for me by saving time, money, and faff. Because I’m buying fewer products, I don’t mind spending a little more, but that certainly isn’t necessary. One thing I would recommend is to keep your products unscented. All of the products I’ve recommended here do not contain any fragrance.