A Millennial Esthetician’s Pandemic Skincare Routine

2020 was a harrowing experience for me and for everyone. This post is in no way meant to make light of the pandemic or anyone’s situation. That being said, staying at home did not bring my skin issues to a halt. Changes to my skin occurred along with drastic life changes. For me, the year was more about survival than self-care, but in the moments that I had time or felt well enough to care for myself, this is the routine that I followed.

My skin type is sensitive with the occasional hormonal breakout. During this period, my skin has become more dry than it has ever been. I had to make accommodations for that. I spent the entirety of the lockdown firmly planted in my bedroom with the curtains drawn, so sun exposure was minimal, except for the few times that I spent swimming in our pool during the summer. Despite this, my hyperpigmentation became darker. I did not experience maskne at all, due to rarely leaving the house, thus a mask was not needed. Instead, I dealt with breakouts outside of the mask area, which was completely out of the norm for me.


I am a firm believer in the double cleanse method. I usually only double cleanse at night and use a single cleanser in the morning. Due to sensitivity issues, sometimes my skin can only handle contact with water. In that case, I just rinse with cool water in the morning, and save the double cleanse for the evening. For my first cleanse, I always use my tried and true oil cleanser, Dermalogica Precleanse. For the second cleanse, I follow with Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Cleanser.

Exfoliation (PM only)

At one point, I was able to exfoliate up to 5 times per week. That was when my skin was normal to oily and breakout prone. Now my skin type has changed entirely, so I only exfoliate twice per week. My main exfoliant of choice for the last five years or so has been Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. This uses rice enzymes and chemical exfoliants in low concentrations, so it is generally safe for sensitive skin. I also use The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% as a spot treatment, or as an all over treatment twice per month. I highly recommend azelaic acid in general to everyone, especially if you’re new to chemical exfoliation.

Toners and Hydrators

Primarily, I used Eminence Purifying Birch Water Essence for hydration. However, my skin often could not tolerate it post-exfoliation, so I learned that I needed to switch back to using Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner (not pictured) for those moments. Multi-Active Toner is best for normal to oily skin. I used it consistently for years but now I prefer more rich toners and essences. As an additional step, I also used The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics (also not pictured). Although it’s not a toner, it has great hydrating and skin softening abilities, and is highly underrated.


As much as I love masques, I often neglect or forget about using them as part of my regular routine. It’s definitely not a mandatory step in anyone’s at-home routine, though it is a great addition to any facial. When I remember to use one, I usually reach for Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque. This addresses my aging and pigmentation concerns. I also love masques that are more humectant-based but my skin tends to absorb them instantly.


To reduce redness, as well as save my skin with its many benefits, I used Holy Snails Honey Shark in the morning, immediately after cleansing and toning. At night, to aid in collagen production, reduce fine lines and also reduce post-acne marks, I used The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides. Anything that includes peptides has my attention.


As I mentioned before, my skin became extremely sensitive and dry during quarantine. Dermalogica Calm Water Gel has been my favorite moisturizer for years but I admit that I’ve been using it as a quasi-serum step. I incorporated Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief into my routine, as it touts a lot of benefits. Despite this, my skin was really going through it, and I still felt the need to layer The Ordinary 100% Squalane on top of everything. In my efforts to alleviate these issues, I tried using Purito Deep Sea Pure Water Cream. It did not work out and eventually went into the garbage. Nothing was working for me at this time and I struggled to find something that did.


Having unlimited free time meant that I could spend some time in our pool. I had heard great things about the brand Cotz and decided to try their Sport SPF 45 Active Performance Mineral Sunscreen. I was very pleased and intend to purchase it again. I used it primarily on my body but also tried it on my face. I can report that I did not break out from it. I used this time to experiment with other popular sunscreens – like the cream mentioned above, Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50 PA++++ was a no go. I also tried CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30. It’s not completely awful, but it leaves a strong white cast, and is not hydrating at all. I’ll reserve it for when I have a peel done.

Eyes and Lips

Dermaquest CBD Replenishing Eye Cream (not pictured) is my current favorite. The area under my eyes tends to be more dry than the rest of my face, so I use eye creams for that reason. Eye creams exist in general because there are specific testing and standards required for approval of usage in that area. You can absolutely use a regular moisturizer in lieu of a dedicated eye cream, if your main concern for your eyes is just moisture. My lips are chronically dry, and always have been, so I am a lip balm devotee. A base of shea butter is a must for me but that can be hard to find. I have been using First Aid Beauty’s lip balms for the last few years. I preferred the one that came in a pot, due to its long lasting power. I now use their Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, which comes in a tube. This lip balm has everything anyone could possibly need. It leaves my lips plump and hydrated, without any waxy residue.

That wraps up my quarantine skincare routine! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading every last detail. I’ve since made some changes to my routine, and look forward to posting about that, as well as future reviews. Leave a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share.

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