Come summertime, when temperatures rise on the East Coast and New York City turns into this oven of sweat, garbage, and who knows what else, my skin is a total oil slick. But when the mercury plunges into near-Arctic levels (like right this moment, for example), my complexion is downright Sahara-level status. There's no in-between for me—it's either one extreme or the other. And up until recently, in this current frigid climate, my skin's moisture-free tendencies have driven me downright batty.
Over the years, I've become a bit of a serum hoarder and joke that all the tinctures and dropper-bottles in my medicine cabinet resemble an apothecary, but despite layering them on with abandon every night, I was still sandpaper-dry each morning. To further remedy my parched skin, I'd pile on a gel cream (rich creams tend to break me out), but to no avail. Desperate for the type of glow you'd see in a Glossier ad, I got in touch with the ultimate dew authorities, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, co-founders of Glow Recipe, for their advice.
Eager to help, they sent along a questionnaire asking about my skin type and concerns (dry, clog-prone, melasmatic), and sent along a full step-by-step regimen, which you can read in full below.
Step 1: Pre-Cleanse
The product: A blend of naturally fermented botanical extracts, this viscous cleansing water lifts makeup and grime from the skin while hydrating and brightening with ingredients like aloe and licorice.
The process: In the morning, for a quick cleanse, use the cleansing water with a cotton pad or ball and swipe all over the face. Then splash face with plenty of water—no need to double cleanse.
At night, soak a cotton pad heavily to minimize friction with skin and wipe away from the center of the face in outward motions until pad wipes clean.
Step 2: Cleanse
The product: A cleanser so gentle that it can also be used as a hydrating mask. It's also packed with friendly AHAs to dissolve dead skin and prep your complexion for hydration.
The process: At night, foam the cleanser in hands to minimize friction on face and massage into skin with fingertips in gentle circular motions for one full minute before rinsing thoroughly.
With face still wet from cleansing, pat in moisture with fingertips until your face is damp (not dripping wet)—no towels needed.
Step 3: Tone
The product: A Byrdie favorite, this cushiony toner is thicker than most for deep hydration and nourishment with similar fermented ingredients as the cleansing water.
The process: Follow the seven-skin method. If the seven-skin method is too much in morning, an abbreviated three-skin method is okay too.
Between steps, there is no need to wait for absorption. Since everything is being patted in with fingertips, this will help drive everything in. Waiting too long between steps gives hydration the chance to evaporate before you can seal everything in with an emollient.
Step 4. Ampoule
The product: Ampoules are a supercharged version of a serum with a higher concentration of active ingredients.
The process: Use LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule to help with melasma. Spread a pea-size amount onto skin in an outward motion.
Step 5: Double Serum
The product: Packed with Tremella mushroom, hyaluronic acid, and papaya fruit extract, this hydrating essence repairs and restores the skin's moisture barrier.
The process: At night, "double serum" with the LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule + ID.AZ Dermastic Essence to boost hydration.
Step 6: Pressed Serum
The product: A newcomer to the skincare world, pressed serum has a consistency similar to Vaseline and contains both the concentrated benefits of serum, the nourishment of oils, and the emollient factor of a moisturizer to seal in hydration.
The process: Take a small amount, warm in fingertips, and press into face morning and night.
Additional notes: Apply an SPF as your last step each morning.
Step 7: Night Cream
The product: While not too rich, this deeply hydrating cream is formulated with ceramides to hydrate the skin barrier and strengthen the skin.
The process: Use one night per week.
Before starting the routine, I used a Wayskin Skin Analyzer ($80) (a small circular moisture-detection device) to measure my skin's hydration levels. You sync it to the Wayskin app on your phone, press it to your skin, and let it read the moisture content. On product-free skin, I scored an 11 out of 100 and had to laugh when the app told me my skin is "SOS." Yeah, tell me something I don't know.
However, after following the full nighttime routine, I was shocked when my skin registered a whopping 90 out of 100, or "baby," as the app professes. The numbers don't lie—clearly Chang and Lee have this whole hydration thing down to a science. The next morning, before putting anything on at all, I scored a 43, which I still counted as a win, especially since I had the heater cranked all night, which tends to dry out the air significantly. Time to invest in a humidifier—then I can firmly maintain my baby-skin status.
I've been faithfully following this routine for months, and my skin has remained moist and bright through a Bomb Cyclone, negative temperatures, and dry office conditions. I even had my mom follow the routine with me while I was home for the holidays, and we both swore she looked younger as each day wore on. "Glossier ad" glow achieved.