I Always Get Compliments On My Skin — and I Owe It to These 8 Products

author Sophie Miura


My boyfriend was the first to notice the subtle but significant changes in my skin. Early morning light streamed through our bedroom window, and I caught him quizzically looking at my make-up free face. "Have you changed your diet lately?" he asked, peering at the unusually plump skin under my eyes and line-free forehead. It had been only two weeks since I'd started a new skincare routine, and judging by the comments I'd started to get from curious friends and co-workers, it was certainly making a difference.

Having spent my childhood and early 20s in Australia, I've always had a fairly laid-back attitude to beauty and never gave much thought to the constellation of freckles and sunspots that pepper my nose. But after a recent facial with a leading New York esthetician, I've completely changed my once-basic routine and can't believe the difference.

When I told Alexandra, an esthetician at the L.Raphael Beauty Spa in the Four Seasons in New York about my usual skincare routine, she didn't even try to hide her surprise. Apparently, cleansing morning and night stripped my normal-to-combination skin, forgoing serum led to visible dehydration, and skipping products with SPF left my already sun-damaged skin unprotected. This is the step-by-step skincare routine she prescribed and the products that have made a world of difference.


serena & lily sonoma bath towel
Serena & Lily Sonoma Washcloth $12

I'd always assumed cleansing was an essential and relatively harmless part of any skincare routine, but when I told Alexandra that I did it morning and night, she was surprised. "People with 'normal' skin that's neither oily or dry can definitely over-cleanse," she said, noting that harsh cleansers strip the skin, leaving it taught and dry. Instead, she recommends washing my face with water in the morning and cleansing only at night.

C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum $78

Next up: vitamin C serum. Alexandra recommends massaging a small amount into clean skin to thoroughly absorb before applying moisturizer and makeup. Vitamin C protects the skin from environmental pollutants and has enhanced protection against UV exposure, making it an ideal serum to use in the morning. 

Hyaluronic Marine Dew It Right Eye Gel
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Dew It Right Eye Gel $48

This ultra-hydrating eye gel is responsible for my plump under-eye skin. Since using it morning and evening for a month, I've noticed a big improvement to dark circles and fine lines.

Travel Size Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
Clinique Travel Size Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel $5

I could never fathom layering multiple products on my skin in the morning, but Alexandra stresses that both serum and moisturizer are essential and must be applied in that order. This lightweight moisturizing gel absorbs quickly.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 40
Supergoop Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 40 $34

Given my Australian heritage, Alexandra was shocked that I'd never used a daily sunscreen. Even though I work in an office, she says it's an essential final step in any morning routine and shouldn't be skipped. Supergoop's transparent formula goes on clear and has the consistency of a primer. 


Cosmedix Benefit Clean $39

This light, foaming cleanser is ideal for removing environmental pollutants from the skin. It's also gentle and doesn't strip my skin. 

Polishing Facial Exfoliant
L.Raphael Soothing Mango and Sesame Scrub $128

Alexandra recommends using a physical scrub once every one to two weeks. 

Cosmedix Cell ID $110

This super-serum has transformed my dull skin. It contains oligopeptide and mitochondrial complex tripeptide to reduce fine lines and dark spots and improve skin texture. 

Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Hydrating Cream
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Hydrating Cream $75

I reach for a slightly richer moisturizer at night like this antioxidant-rich product from Aesop. 

Next up: These two products made our editor's forehead lines disappear (without botox).

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