I'm turning 30 in a few weeks, and while the prospect of finally reaching the Dirty Thirties freaks me out a little bit, I take comfort in the fact that I still look incredible. I don't care if that makes me sound vain. I have a flawless complexion, and I take pride in that. Getting the right skin care regimen takes work--and I'm passing my knowledge on to you. Check out my skin care secrets and put your best face forward this Spring!

I'll share my skin care secrets with y'all--the products I use, my daily routine, and the knowledge I've acquired in my three decades of life. I've got a complete product list at the end of this post, too. Let's get started!

Meg's Skin Care Secret #1: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SECRET OF THEM ALL, so pay attention-- SUNSCREEN. Always wear sun screen. Every day. No excuses--unless you're planning on staying inside and watching Netflix all day, in which case go for it, girl. Exposure to the sun is one of the biggest causes of early aging. I didn't wear sunscreen during my teens and early 20's, and I am paying for it now in the form of dark spots (more on those later). You want to protect your skin, so wear sunscreen every day. It's so easy; pretty much all daytime moisturizers have sunscreen built in, as do most foundations. If I know I'm going to be out in direct sunlight all day, I use a higher SPF instead of my daily moisturizer. I just always, always wear sunscreen: it's, pardon the pun, SKINSURANCE. If you only take one thing away from my advice, let it be the importance of sunscreen.

Meg's Skin Care Secret #2: Exfoliate. For radiant skin, you need to exfoliate daily. Think of the surface of your skin as a really filthy linoleum floor. Would a light mopping clean all the dirt and grime? Nope--you've got to scrub-a-dub. That doesn't mean you take a Brillo Pad to the face, okay? When it comes to exfoliating my skin, I think of it in terms of karma--If I am gentle to my skin, my skin will be gentle to me. I utilize two methods for exfoliating my skin:

  • GENTLE Manual Exfoliation: I never use harsh scrubs on my face. I did for a while until my asthetician told me to avoid any kind of scrub made from grinds: apricot grinds, coffee grinds, whatever. These grinds can be uneven at a microscopic level, which means they can get into your pores can cause damage--clogging the pore or, even worse, tearing it and making it appear larger. You don't want that. The best way to exfoliate your skin is to use a gentle brush--like a Clarisonic. These brushes pulse at rates of up to 300x per minute, allowing you to blast away dead skin cells and dirt without damaging your skin.
  • Chemical Exfoliation: Peels and daily treatments are another way to exfoliate your skin to reveal your inner radiance. When it comes to chemical exfoliants like lactic acid, retinols, or gylcolic acid, you want to start slowly. Start using the gentlest formula available and then you can work your way up to the stronger stuff. If you're confused about which chemical exfoliant will work best for you, ask your dermatologist. If you're shopping for your skincare products at the drugstore, ask your pharmacist. S/he can tell you more about each chemical and its potential side effects. Chemical exfoliation is my go-to. I use it 70% of the time. When you find what works for you, you'll be amazed at the difference.

Meg's Skin Care Secret #3: Keep it clean. I know right now you're probably thinking, NO DUH, Meg. Hear me out: keeping your skin clean is the best way to take care of it. This means never sleeping in your makeup. I know life happens and you can't always wash your face before passing out, and it's okay to skip cleansing once in a blue moon. The thing is: you've got to establish and follow a regular cleansing routine every day--no exceptions, no excuses. Sleeping in your makeup is TERRIBLE for your skin; even the most expensive foundations and cosmetics contain chemicals and other junk that will straight up ruin your complexion if you sleep in it on the reg. I'll list my full cleansing routine in a bit, but remember: keep it clean.

Meg's Skin Care Secret #4: Hydrated skin is happy skin. Never forget to moisturize! I currently have combination skin thanks to genetics (my T-Zone is like the Exxon-Valdez) and I grew up having very oily skin. Even though I'm oily, I still hydrate. Moisturizing is the key to unlocking a balanced complexion. If you're scrubbing the beejeesus out of your skin every night until you're "squeaky clean" and leaving it at that, you're doing more harm than good. Gentle cleansing and the right moisturizer help your skin find its harmony: if you're noticing an excess of oil, it's often your skin's way of trying to hydrate itself--really--if you strip all your skin's moisture away, it will try to achieve homeostasis the only way it knows how: oil/sebum production. Finding the right moisturizer is work, but ask your doctor or pharmacist for help. Moisturizers run the gamut from light and oil-free to hard-core hydration. Find what makes your skin happy and use it!

Meg's Skincare Secret #5: Don't be afraid to treat problem areas. When I was younger, I had bad breakouts. My primary concerns now are fine lines and wrinkles and dark spots. Early intervention is key. There are a bajillion skin care products out there, and most focus on correcting problems. You can even see your dermatologist or a plastic surgeon to explore more intense treatments. Don't be afraid to take that next step--you've only got the skin you're in, so do the best you can to take care of it.

I hoped I just dropped some serious knowledge on y'all. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of the correct skin care regimen. I'll list mine below--what works for me might work for you, too--but if it doesn't don't stress! I achieved my skin care nirvana through a lot of trial and error--just remember to be good to your skin so it can be good to you.

Here's a close-up of my skin. I was brave enough to zoom in for y'all. Also, do you like the 99-cent thrift store skirt I'm using as a backdrop? CLASSY LADY HERE.
Here's a close-up of my skin. I was brave enough to zoom in for y'all. Also, do you like the 99-cent thrift store skirt I'm using as a backdrop? CLASSY LADY HERE.

Meg's Super-Simple Skincare Routine

  • Wake up and use a gentle cleanser to wash my face (you can skip this step if you need to, but my face gets a bit oily overnight).
  • Apply a light moisturizer with SPF.
  • Get my face on. (That's how we Southern Belles refer to makeup application, y'all.)
  • Blot excess oil as needed throughout the day.
  • Remove makeup with a cleansing towlette.
  • Wash face with gentle cleansing gel. I manually exfoliate my skin with a brush every other or every third day with this gel.
  • Apply chemical exfoliant--I use a light glycolic most of the time, but I have been adding in a light retinol serum to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Apply eye cream.
  • Apply moisturizing night cream.
  • Get my beauty sleep.

That's easy enough, right? A big part of my routine is avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight or tanning beds and making sure I drink plenty of water so I am hydrated from the inside out. My skin care army is listed below--these are all the products that are a part of my routine.

Here's My Skincare Starting Lineup. The Simple Cleanser and my Rite Aid Retinol Serum were in another cabinet; I realized this not long after snapping this pic. But whatevs.
Here's My Skincare Starting Lineup. The Simple Cleanser and my Rite Aid Retinol Serum were in another cabinet; I realized this not long after snapping this pic. But whatevs.

Meg's Skin Care Collection

And WHOOMP. THERE IT IS: My skin care game from A-Z. Have any secrets you want to share? I am all ears, ladies and dudes. I'm on the fence about getting a professional chemical peel for my birthday. I'll let you know how that goes. Just remember--take care of your skin and it will take care of you!

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