What was the last game-changer to your skincare routine?

For me, it was a product (for others, it might be a step or type of product!): Biologique Recherche PIGM400 has become a holy grail-level staple that I continue to repurchase and just don’t see myself straying from. It made such a massive difference in the tone and quality of my skin when it was really going through it (massive influx in hormonal acne, likely from stress, out of nowhere).

— Christine


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Christie Avatar

Amery, can I ask what your routine is, how you alternate the 2? Thanks to being holed up in my house for the last 6 wks I’ve FINALLY come out on the other side of the ugly (peeling) phase of my tretinoin routine. I keep staring longingly at my half-used Honeymoon Glow but know my face can’t handle both right now.

Lesley Avatar

I am not Amery but I had success using Retin A and a glycolic (it was REN Wake Wonderful) on alternate nights and in winter, I used nothing every third night. According to a recent YouTube by Lab Muffin (she is a chemist) on retinoid myths, you do get a benefit even if you don’t use the tretinoin every day so it may work for you to skip some days in order to use a glycolic. Right now I can only use Paula’s Choice 1% BHA and I use that in the morning and I use the tretinoin at night, except a few days ago I upped the tretinoin percentage from 0.01 to 0.025 so I am back to alternate days until I adjust to the higher percentage.

Amery Avatar

Hi Christie,

I alternate using them, so one night, I’ll cleanse, moisturize, and use tretinoin. The next night I’ll cleanse, moisturize, and use the Farmacy Honeymoon glow, and the third night, I’ll just cleanse and moisturize. This frequency has worked best to give me results without overly drying my skin.

Veronica Avatar

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic+Retinol Brightening Solution. I used to have terrible cystic acne which nothing was working for, so my dermatologist put me on Accutane. Took care of the acne, left me so sensitive that I developed horrible sun damage (or maybe it was a result from baking in the sun in my teens).

Anyway, one day I was walking through Nordstrom with no makeup on, face all blotchy with brown spots when this sales lady corners me. We start talking and she suggests this product and I ended up getting it. OMG! Major game changer!!! My brown spots are faded away, my skin is bright and the texture is so soft and smooth… I now use the Ferulic+Retinol cream at night as a moisturizer and the pads twice a week. My skin has never looked better and I’m 50.

KaseyCannuck Avatar

Olay Age Defying Classic Daily Renewal Cream. It’s a BHA cream that I’ve been using for 20+ years now. I’ve tried other AHA/BHA products and they work just fine, but this is always readily available and one of the few things I’ll buy backups of when on sale.

Emily Avatar

I don’t know if this counts as a fair answer, but truly the biggest game changer for me was starting on prescription oral spironolactone. It cleared up the persistent hormonal jawline acne that no other product could truly control. My dermatologist explained that with this type of acne, topicals can only do so much. I had tried cutting out dairy, but it didn’t make a noticeable difference and it didn’t suit my lifestyle. I’ve had no side effects, and I can’t believe what a difference it’s made. Then, for an actual skincare product, it’s the Purito Green Level Centella Unscented SPF 50. It is a sunscreen with a texture so nice, I’d use it as a lotion even if it didn’t contain sunscreen!

Amery Avatar

Same for me! When I hit 40, I started getting crazy-painful cystic acne on my jawline, too. I went to the dermatologist for the first time in my life, and she prescribed spironolactone. I love it! I also really like the Purito sunscreen.

Victoria Avatar

Tactuo or Epiduo in USA, I used in high school for cystic acne, I started using it again use it to keep my face clear and for closed comedones, it a benzoyl peroxide and adapalene topical treatment from my doctor. Also eminence stone crop fizzy exfoliant is great.

Cameron Avatar

I just started using Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster. Even though it’s only been a short time, it’s had a very positive effect on calming the redness from my rosacea. My cheek area looks a lot smoother also.

Penny Bartol Avatar

Glycolix Elite 20% glycolic acid cream! Also the Glycolix Elite 20% treatment pads….The Ordinary AHA 30% peeling solution is great once a week also.
I feel the glycolic acid treatments do so much for the texture of my skin.

Addison Avatar

Hi Christine – curious if you’ve tried the original or new BR P50 formula? Would love to know how the PIGM400 compares. Thank you!

Deborah Avatar

I’ve used the original and the new. I like the original better marginally, and have been using P50 for about 10 years now. Love the stuff. Haven’t tried the PIGM400.

Kat Avatar

I use the P50 and it is great! At first I used it every day but now I use it more sparingly. It is definitely a game changer!

Vivien Avatar

Where do you buy this product Christine? It doesn’t look like they have official retailers here in the US through the big department or beauty stores.

Robyn Avatar

I started using Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream (at night) and Paula’s Choice 10% Azeleic Acid Booster (in the morning) and both have really smoothed out the texture of my skin. It’s so much smoother and less red. My daughter started using the Snail Repair Cream, too, and she said it helped clear up her forehead acne. It’s awesome stuff!

Ana Maria Avatar

I never believed I would use Azaleic Acid, it was too much of an added step for me. But I received the booster from Paula’s Choice for free with two orders, so I added it in my morning routine. It’s still not a must in my routine (wouldn’t probably purchase it), but it did helped my dark spots and acne scars heal faster. The combo with vitamin C in the morning is great for pigmentation (always use SPF after).

Sarah Avatar

Adding an essence step. I didn’t really know what essences were, and even after reading a little on them I was skeptical. But wow has it changed my skincare and for the better. I’m so glad I’ve included an essence in my routine.

bibi Avatar

I had my doubts about essences as they seemed an unnecessary extra step. But since I’m such a big fan of Asian skincare products I decided to try one anyway. What a difference! My current fave is Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive, it has plumped, firmed, refined & brightened my skin. My pores are near invisible and fine lines can barely be seen.

Mariella Avatar

A few things but probably the biggest is the Youth to the People Glowberry Oil. I love that stuff so much and I’ve now got my sis in law using it and she is so happy with the results she’s getting. And I’m not sure if it counts or not but a Canadian friend whom I met via Makeupalley but who lives in the “next” city to mine got me started on Australian Gold tinted facial sunscreen. It is great and it’s pretty much replaced my need for foundation products in the summer.

Ana Maria Avatar

As a person with combination oily skin prone to breakouts I always avoided oils. Now I slather Paula’s Choice oil booster on my face twice a week and love to give myself a massage and have smooth but not greasy skin in the morning.

Heather Avatar

Thanks for the shout out! Who knew AG would double as a foundation but I am so glad it works this way for us. I love not having to fiddle with base products, especially in the summer. Now all I need to do is try the YTTP oil, I’m almost out of the one I have been using and this is next on my list to get!

Mariella Avatar

I think i’m on my 3rd bottle of the Glowberry oil and I bought some for my sis in law when she was lamenting how dehydrated and drawn her skin looks in spite of the products she uses. Now she’s in love with it too! As for the Australian Gold sunscreen, I check every time I’m at Shoppers to see if it’s come back in yet (my mother in law is in a lockdown situation in the seniors’ residence where she lives but is often in need of various toiletries, skin care items for her swollen legs, etc., so I’m the designate for picking up anything she needs and I always check for the AG but it still hasn’t arrived, even though it’s MAY – and SNOWING!!!) But I’d never even have known about it had you not mentioned it to me. So when we can finally get together again, coffee’s on me!

Nancy T Avatar

The last one? I’m not entirely sure which one came first, but it’s either The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution or Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex. This toner makes my face look very fresh and naturally glowing. The eye gel seriously helps reduce puffiness and fine lines. Too bad it doesn’t lift the hoods, though.

Ana Maria Avatar

The biggest game changer for me will always be retinol, I simply can’t leave without it right now and I’m quite tolerant to it. Yes, I am the odd person that can use 1% retinol every night.

The lastest game changer is definitely using a peptide booster, made my skin so plump and smooth!

Lesley Avatar

The last one for me would be niacinamide serum. It is the only thing that has ever made my pores less noticeable. But this is on top of tretinoin, which I have been using since the late 1980’s, and glycolic acid, which I probably started in the 1990’s.

Helena Avatar

Given how lazy I am, it was nice enough to just finding a moisturizer that doesn’t keep me too sweaty (those humectant ingredients can really get the perspiration beading up when you have hyperhidrosis). Bought a travel size of Clinique’s Dramatically Different gel on a whim before a vacation, and I have kept using it under makeup since!

Maggie Avatar

Hmm…an extra step was using a cleansing oil to get rid of my mineral SPF–(I’ve stopped wearing foundation). That has led to less breakouts so I can only conclude I haven’t been able to completely get it off my skin beforehand.

My latest game changing products would be Timeless Skincare Vitamin C serum, Alpha Skin Care Renewal Body Lotion 12% Glycolic Acid, and Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser. None of these irritated my sensitive skin (acne, dryness, flakiness, eczema rash) and did what it claimed–and I had difficulty finding a vitamin C serum, AHA products, and a cleanser that worked great with my skin.

Great post! I’ve bookmarked peoples’ favorites to try in the future. I’m especially curious about Christine’s pick (would love to combine my niacinamide and acids in one go as my current niacinamide product seems to lead to breakouts) and Purito Green Level Centella Unscented SPF 50.

Rachel R. Avatar

Volition Beauty Strawberry C Serum. Going through menopause completely messed up my skin — it was constantly changing types, and my cheeks were getting dry. After menopause, I developed dryness and flaking around my nostrils and mouth. This was the only thing I tried that got everything back to normal. It seemed to balance my skin back out, got rid of dry patches, and after a few weeks of use, my skin was back to its oily, pre-premenopause state. If I go more than a couple days without using it, my skin starts doing weird stuff again, so I’m sticking with it. It seems kind of spendy, but you use only a tiny amount at a time, and Volition has frequent sales, so a bottle lasts a long time. Totally worth the money, regardless.

Connie Avatar

I think retinol made the most noticeable difference on my skin in terms of smoothness
Clay masks are really great bc I have a lot of blackheads on my nose

Liz Avatar

Argan oil. I use it for my face. I had cystic acne as a teenager and even into adulthood and spent money on dermatologist appts and skin care and foundation. I was very self conscious about my red skin and breakouts. Now I see that calming moisture is the key. And reducing stress helps too.

Deborah S. Avatar

Reading through the remarks here sort of reminds me of the research I was doing during my breast cancer treatment. You keep reading things hoping to see a consensus and finally realizing that there isn’t one! I would have to say that for me there are two products that I have kept in my skincare routine and will likely continue to use unless something so different comes along that it compels me to try it. The first is Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Eye Gel and the second is Sunday Riley Good Genes. I have tried replacing several different acids but always end up coming back to Good Genes. It is just the acid my skin responds to. I am going to try a few products from others who have commented, primarily because I am in the process of changing out my skincare, except for the two products mentioned above. I have used more than one acid on my skin at the same time and my skin seems to tolerate that well. I am 66 years old so some skincare routine is necessary but I have been contemplating continuing to follow a more pared down version. I have been taking away products for awhile and seeing whether I notice any changes in my skin. Sometimes I think I use too much just to try and cover all the bases and I think our skin doesn’t always love too many products. I had been searching on some ingredients and found a couple of articles and then an IG site about getting flawless skin. The IG account is a young Asian women who has a routine for getting “glass skin”. Of course, she is young and glass skin is a lot easier to obtain when you have age on your side. She also has minuscule sized pores which she attributes to her routine but are more likely genetically driven. She uses a several Cetaphil products, one Clinique product and a couple of masks. Her routine is very simple and something about it is appealing to me.

Latika Avatar

Biggest game changer for me was when i got a facial from a lady in California named Charlotte Wilson, the facial was expensive but she gave me the products with the treatment.. transformation is all I can say. My skin has “glowed” ever since then.. glowskinenhancement is her product.. basically rotates between salicylic and glycolic acid and it has been amazing. I quickly abandoned all my sunday riely drunk elephant and other random sephora brands, I still use several items from The Ordinary, glycolic toner is a must and every now & then the serums and squalene

janine Avatar

I like Paulas choice radiance collection it has an exfoliater and then retinol and a moisturizer. Sometimes I use a thicker moisturizer. I don’t use it too often but my skin glows the next day.

Tracy Avatar

Discovering Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum was really eye-opening. You use it immediately after cleansing (before toner or anything else). I’ve used their regular version as well as two different limited edition versions, and they all perform the same way. I swear it makes everything else work better, and I always have a backup bottle (if not two) in my stash.

Genevieve Avatar

A skincare game changer for me was the introduction of oils as part of my night routine. I found I couldn’t tolerate rosehip oil, but argon and chia seed are both excellent and inexpensive too. Physicians Formula, Sukin, The Ordinary and Swisse – easy to obtain products here and often on sale.
I do swap around my cleansers and moisturisers, but I always use the oils.

Kat Avatar

The same product was my game changer as well! I do not use tge pigm400 though but the 50, we also do not allow arnica ( I think that is the name?) in the EC-Europe so I have not tried the original biologique recerce formula. I used it every day when I first got it but now I use it more sparingly, and yes, my face went totally red the first time I used it ! I also started using the Superstar night oil ( I cannot remember the correct brand name though, petal and mortimer?) yesterday. I received it in the mail only yesterday but after just one use my skin feels amazing! I cannot wait to see whether that continues or not.
Hugs from Sweden

Jjbrae Avatar

Face oils. First I started with oil cleansing (DHC original, then Bobbi Brown). Recently started with oil serum moisturizers (Qet) and it has made all the difference in my oily skin. I always avoided face oils because it seemed counterintuitive to put more oil on oily skin. But holy cow, where were these my whole life. My skin is paradoxically less oily. Pores seem smaller (at least they don’t fill up with sebaceous filaments like they used too). After adding in their pure rosehip oil (apparently has natural retinol) my dark sun damage spots have actually lightened up noticeably. I tried everything on these dark spots and this is the only thing that has worked. My face has gotten so dull with age and now it seems bright and clean again. I can’t say if these would have worked as well when I was a teenager with raging acne, but as I’m almost 40 the acne has calmed down yet the oil remains.

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of face oils if you have oily skin. I wish I tried it sooner.

Miska Avatar

To date, the most significant (yet not the most recent) addition to my skincare routine would be my introduction into Asian sunscreens. I was trying every US sunscreen that I could find with awful results. I gave up after so many fails and just tried my best to avoid the sun, which is pretty much impossible. So bad I know and I figure all of the effort I put into my routine is kind of pointless if I’m doing nothing to protect my skin from the sun. I really do believe a good facial sunscreen is essential. Especially when you’re using acids. Some that I’ve used with pretty good results have been Biore UV Watery Essence (blue tube) SPF 50+PA++++, Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun (no white cast but I’m very fair so I may not be the best judge) SPF 50+PA++++, Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence (this one is vegan if that appeals to you) SPF 50+ PA++++, Papa Recipe (yellow tube) SPF 50+ PA++++ and Thank You Farmer Essence Sun Light SPF 50+ PA++++.

I have to give another shout out to oil cleansers. Again, not a recent addition but an important game changer for sure. I have tried many. It seems I keep coming back again and again to Banila Co Cleansing Balm (currently using the pink jar). The only downside is the extreme heat of the summer months can melt the balm. Other than that, it’s wonderful. Very affordable and it melts away both my mineral makeup and my sunscreen without stripping my skin. Like others have said in their comments, using an oil cleanser doesn’t necessarily make your face produce more oil. Personally I believe it helped to suppress my oil production.

One more game changer for me, although it’s not specifically one magical HG product, would be learning about ingredients and figuring out what my skin loves and hates. It’s a never ending quest it seems. I’ll find something my skin absolutely loves and it gets D/C’d or the ingredients change. So now I have a fear of “being without”(if it’s happened to you, you know it sucks) and I am always looking for a substitution or the next best thing just in case. Life is good when my skin barrier is doing well. It’s when that barrier gets disturbed that all Hell breaks loose across my face. I guess what I’m saying in the short and sweet is I believe in sunscreen, knowing what ingredients work for you and keeping that skin barrier happy.

A final word (blame my ramblings on cabin fever) have the patience to patch test new items added into your routine. I’ve had some horrible allergic reactions and kick myself for not patch testing. A little red square on the face would have been so much better than an entire face the color of a boiled lobster. Just saying. That needs to be my new mantra. Patch test, patch test, patch test, patch test! Hope everyone reading this is safe and in good health. Xoxo from 6 feet away!!!

Heather Avatar

Once upon a time I had very oily skin and I started using a facial oil at night, it completely transformed my skin to something more in the normal to dry range. In addition to facial oil, vitamin C serum has significantly improved years of sun damage by lightening dark spots and adding radiance and life to my skin.

Jill Avatar

Tatcha Rice Powder has changed my skin. Once I got through the initial purge cycle (and I never had a huge problem with acne, even as a teen, slightly moreso as an adult which was weird) my skin was amazing and has remained that way. I had people ask me all the time what I’ve been doing to it. I use it once per day as my second cleanse.

The second thing is a gadget, and it’s always been something I didn’t talk about because I wasn’t quite sure if it was just a gimmick and I was a little embarrassed that I bought it, but it’s the Nuface zapper gizmo. All I know is when I DO use it the people who are around me on a daily basis ask me what I’m doing differently or if I’ve lost weight. As weird as that sounds. I’m seeing more and more trusted people talk about it so maybe there’s something to it? At any rate it feels good when you use it, the problem is that it’s an extra step that takes time so I rarely manage to keep up with it. I’ve been trying to work that into my routine since I’m working from home indefinitely and yet I still haven’t managed to do it. I’m hopeless.

Gilad Avatar

I love Nuface, except for the fact that it’s expensive and always stops working around the time the ‘warranty’ runs out – it’s carefully planned obsolescence by the company. If you’re prepared to buy a new one every year, it’s a great addition. It’s the only thing that significantly firms my lower face.
For what it’s worth, I bought a “refreshed” one last time, trying to save money – a total fail. They replaced it but the 2nd one only lasted about a week. Decided I didn’t want to keep going through that ritual. Grrrrrr. Turned me off for the moment, but I’ll probably give in again in the next few months – and only buy the new product from now on.

Wclv Avatar

If I had to pick one product it would be Alpha H Liquid Gold. It has helped with Cystic acne I developed in my 40’s, and regulated my combo skin. I used to use Sunday Riley Good Genes, but found Alpha H Liquid Gold to be a better acid combined with Drunk Elephant Protini in the morning, and Tazorac with Augustinus Bader rich cream in the evening. I will switch to regular in the summer. These simple combos are pretty the best my skin can get. I also need a hylauronic and find Dr. Barbara Sturm is the best, but super expensive. I switch off on dual cleansers. I like Omoroviczas cleansers.

CatG Avatar

Argan oil is one of the few things I can put on my face at the end of the day and not wake up the next morning with tons of blemishes and irritation! I love it! Actually being interested in skincare is very new to me.

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