Secrets to Get Great Skin

wash face

If you’d like to know how you can get great skin, this post will say a lot

about me

about my notion of secrets.

If you’d like me to return safely to posting about edibles, so would I. Tomorrow we’re back to business as usual, friend.

andie mitchell

I’ve been urged and emailed by no less than 40 friends (you all) to share my skin care routine. I’ve consistently replied, “Should it taste good?”

wash face

This being a food blog and all…

I, mind you, have been known to use any and all of the following on my mug:

dish washing soap

Concentrated dish washing soap: Palmolive, Seventh Generation, Bright Green…I don’t discriminate.

Bar soap: Irish Spring, Dove, Oil of Olay, Caress, Lever 2000…again, I don’t discriminate.

method hand soap

Hand soap: Softsoap, Dial, Method, again [again again], I don’t discriminate.

Now, when I do spring for special face wash, every, oh, say, once per three months when my mother shows love by way of Target gift card, I use Cetaphil and Neutrogena almost exclusively. They are by far my favorites, which, considering I don’t discriminate (see above), does not necessary carry tremendous value to you.

But, as you might have learned so far, I have tried nearly every product. All of those shelves of blue and green and promise-filled pump bottles? Every last liquid in the drug store? I’ve used it.

andie mitchell

For years I pored over pages of In Style magazine, flipped through their “Best Beauty Products” features. In fact, I eyed issues of nearly every magazine that assured me I’d have glowing skin in no time. I spent and I sampled my way through Dove and Dior, and even went specially to Barney’s New York for Kiehl’s. I pined for La Mer. Still do.

But then.

I realized it mattered less the product I used

and more just that I washed

and moisturized


and every


andie mitchell

I do believe that skin clarity is genetic, and that it does not perfectly correlate with good cleansing and upkeep. My mother and brother both had acne; my father did not, and I, by some grace of God, didn’t either. The big guy handed me several trillion fat cells and teeth that begged for braces, just in case you think I got off easy. 

Here’s the thing: If you have normal-ish skin, if you have no diagnosed skin distress, and if you’ve made it past 18 with your dignity intact: keeping your routine simple is best.

I view skincare in the exact same way I view exercise and eating well: they’re all things that must happen in life. No, they’re not always fun. No, they’re not always easy. No, they’re not always cheap and convenient. But they’re part of that big portrait of a life you’re painting, so commit to each of them.

In seventh grade, I began washing my face consistently. Fourteen years later and I can only count a dozen or so times when I haven’t given my face a good scrubbing before bed. I’ve always thought that your skin *regenerates best at night, and spending those [wishfully thinking] eight hours with clean, well hydrated skin, is only going to be a positive experience for you and your face.

andie mitchell

*Don’t you dare quote me on it.

I don’t rewash in the morning, because a.) I don’t want to remove essential oils since my skin is naturally on the dry side, and b.) unless sleeping involved a 10k and a greasing, I can’t imagine my face soiled itself overnight.

Here’s my routine:

face wash

1. Wash twice with a fairly natural, less-wild-ingredient-list, cleanser.

Why twice? Once to remove makeup, and twice to clean the fresh skin below. Think of it this way: If you only wash one time, while your makeup is on your face, you’re not fully cleaning below the surface. You’re also, in some small way, massaging the makeup into your skin along with the cleanser so your face is never fully cleansed.

wash face` 

Splash a bit of warm water onto your face. Add face wash to your hands, rub them together to lather slightly, then use both hands to scrub in an upward circular motion, taking care to cover all areas of your face. Scrub for about 20 seconds. Rinse. Repeat once more. Pat dry (do not rub with the towel, it is too harsh and irritating).

trader joes tea tree face wash

I’m currently using Trader Joe’s Natural Tea Tree Oil Face Wash and enjoying it quite a bit. I highly recommend Cetaphil and Neutrogena.

eucerin everyday protection moisturizer

2. Moisturize.

Apply a dime sized blob of face lotion to your fingertips; massage into your face and neck using an upward circular motion. I always apply a thicker layer around my eyes because those areas get driest.

While I only wash my face once per day, I do moisturize twice. I think keeping skin well hydrated is important not only in keeping your pores from producing more oil to compensate for dryness, but also because I notice that my makeup looks glossier, more glowing, when my skin is supple.

I also don’t shy away from oil. When I bathed in the sun during my late teens, I religiously rubbed my mug with any old oil to turn a better brown. From that experience, I realized that my skin can handle oil without my pores clogging. When the Eucerin Everyday Protection face lotion I’m currently using runs out, I’m going to reach for pure coconut or olive oil.

Class dismissed.

So tell me: What’s your routine? What products do you swear by?



42 thoughts on “Secrets to Get Great Skin

  1. Johnny

    Thanks for the skin care advise….and your pics…never tire of gazing at your beutiful mug! I just wash with whatever soap my wife buys me!! My wife has always had beutiful skin and I don’t think she does anything extra you said I think it’s mostly genetic.

  2. Ana Maria

    The olive oil is a good choice! I have a friend that uses it on her body every day and she has the silkiest, loveliest skin.

    I’ve also started washing my face just once a day and I’m finding it much better! :)

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Riss

    I, sadly, was *blessed* with oily/combination skin (read: impossible and erratic). Skin care products with tea tree oil have been a God-send, as has Purpose face wash.

    Oh…. and my super duper skin-care secret? Aloe Vera Juice. No kidding. A shot glass in the morning + a shot glass at night and your skin will be GLOWING with in 2 weeks. AVJ has some internal benefits, but who cares about those, right? I like the Lily of the Desert Brand.

  4. Brittany

    Great post! It seems that we have a similar skin type as my face is almost always dry – even in the summer. I use Cetaphil as well and love it. For moisturizing I use CeraVe at night or my own combination of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Overall I’m trying to incorporate more natural products into my routine. I hope to do a full post on it soon. :)

    Happy Monday.

  5. Sara

    Just jojoba oil and water. I don’t use soap on my face at all. It gets all the makeup off and keeps my skin well hydrated. I just wet my face and hands, squeeze 2-3 drops of oil into my hands and massage my face. If I have stubborn eye makeup, I apply a thick layer of clinique moisturizer to my eyes and wipe off with a cotton round.

  6. Jane Tierney

    I have always been so lazy about cleaning my face but thankfully I’ve never had breakouts. Our Trader Joe’s (please, this is Kansas) just opened so I am going shopping! Thanks for the tips. Your skin looks great.

  7. Cindy

    I just do what you do and not a thing more.

    also…I truly believe DIET plays a huge role as well.

    OH and I splash cool water on my face in the am….more for a WAKEUP call but also it feels really good.

    but yes, I don’t run an over night 10k or grease my face either!


  8. The Chocolate Covered Kitchen

    Love the dish soap! But no matter how laissez-faire any woman is about skin care, a day hits when she looks in the mirror and screams, grabs the credit card and embarks on a never-ending quest for the miracle salve that will shrink wrap, sandblast and varnish her face to its original shine. Face transplants are not out of the question and anything that can be injected, including embalming fluid, is worth the price of a car. And for desperate measures, here’s what happens when the dermatolgist gets involved:

  9. Megan (Braise The Roof)

    I am horrible about washing my face- but you’re right, a simple routine really is all you need. I AM really good about moisturizing. They say that dry skin tends to wrinkle faster and mine is super dry, so bring on the lotion!

  10. Kelley @ Just Call Me Jack

    I had major issues with breakouts, tried everything. Proactive, Cetaphil, Neutrogena. Finally I found the solution, for me at least. The Clinique Acne line is wonderful. It doesn’t dry out my skin and the lotion is the perfect balance.

    Great post!

    And you really do have a purty “mug” :)

  11. Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen

    Ok, so this is a bit off the wall, but my absolute FAVORITE face scrub is ground coffee. Yep, after I french press coffee in the morning, I drain the excess liquid, scoop the grounds into a bowl, and use that to wash my face. I also use it as a full body scrub. It smells awesome, isn’t full of chemicals, and is essentially free. It might make me a hippie, but so be it :)

  12. Jammy Chicken

    So refreshing to see that the basics work so well. For me, stress is the main instigator for good (or bad) skin/health/mood. Treating yourself with respect, in every aspect of life, is important. I like a homemade body scrub made with glycerine and raw sugar, with a drop or two of a favorite essential oil.

  13. Ashley C

    I submitted your site to Crunchy Betty as a site that I refer to for healthy living and here is another example of how awesome your blog is!! We use the same face wash too!! :)

  14. Parita

    You have beautiful skin! I, unfortunately, was not so blessed! I’ve had acne, on and off, since I was 11. I wash my fash twice a day and now use Bio-Oil as my moisturizer. It’s supposed to help reduce scarring as it contains Vitamin E and A. Time will tell! Great post!

  15. Regan

    I’m an Oil of Olay kind of gal. I always go back to it…maybe because the fragrance of the moisturizer brings back memories of my grandma?

  16. Rachel

    You have lovely skin! My routine is very simple… Sweat, sweat, sweat, and drink lots of water. I never use anything other than water to cleanse my face. Gross, maybe… But it works for me!

  17. Lindsey @ Morningstar Project

    So I totally might get tagged as spam for endorsing Proactiv products. I’ve struggled for years with my skin and honestly it’s the only thing that has left my skin clear and glowing. Now I don’t have the skin you were so lucky to be blessed with, but I completely agree with you about washing and moisturizing everyday. I’m religious about it and I think is pays off.

  18. Charitie

    I get asked the same question on a regular basis. I always laugh because I only wash my face in the morning. I sleep with my make up on, always wake up with raccoon eyes and still somehow have great skin. (At least I got lucky with something.)
    I swear by Cetaphil cleanser and moisturizer. I probably would have never tried the product if it wasn’t sold at Costco. I did find it interesting when the pediatrician recommended it for my infant son as well.

  19. maria @ Chasing the Now

    Loved this post and would love to see more similar posts. I use St. Ives face wash and Seabreeze on my face, adding tea tree oil to the mix when I break out.

    Wish I had a TJs near because I want to try that face wash.

  20. Krystina (Organically Me)

    I wash with bar soap when I shower and before bed (twice before bed, to remove make up), use a moisturizer with SPF in the day and a regular moisturizer at night. I don’t buy any crazy products because, aside from a few pimples here and there, I think that my clean diet and exercise keep my skin pretty clear.

  21. Laura @ Starting Out Fit

    what a great post! It’s nice to see someone else take a nice simple approach to their skin. I’m always changing up what I use and essentially just buy what’s on sale when I run out. I’m currently alternating between St Ives Green Tea cleanser and the St Ives Apricot Scrub. I use the scrub only a few nights a week to exfoliate a bit, but that is all. I’m also very big on moisturizing. I’m currently using a Clinique moisturizer because that’s what we have on hand. My skin soaks that stuff right up!

  22. Brooke @ Waiting to Rise

    You have such a gorgeous face! While I don’t discriminate with my bar soap or dish soap (admittedly, I choose what is on sale), I have to discriminate with my face. The only thing that has ever worked for my face is Proactiv…I know, I know…I sound like a product endorser. But, its true. I’ve had horrible acne since 10 and its the only thing that has controlled it for 21 years. I’m personally kinda sad they changed the formula to the new, gentler version…I mean, what are my towels going to look like if they don’t have Proactiv stains on them (yep, that was some powerful benzoyl peroxide that bleached my towels and sheets…lol) Tea tree oil did nothing for me…..not at all. Glad it works for lots though…its way more gentle!
    So jealous you have a TJ’s!

  23. Kat

    I’ll have to try that face wash from Tj’s..I think I’ll run over and pick it up today on my lunch hour! I also moisturize with oil, specifically Tamanu Oil, after reading many testimonials on this oil. I’ve used it over a month now, and it has evened out the redness in my skin and also heals acne very quickly. I used to be scared of oil, being acne prone, but it truly is so good for our skin. Jojoba oil is also wonderful!

  24. Leah @ Why Deprive?

    I remember a few years ago my aunt commented on my skin and asked what I was doing different. I told her I started using soap. That was it. Just soap. I find, that the same as you, my skin looks best when I wash it, and moisturize. Im using an olive oil soap right now, and it seems to be the best. I do use cleansers on occasion, but thats usually just to wash of the sweat and leftover eye makeup after a workout.

  25. Carissa

    I never thought about washing my face 2 times in a row. That makes perfect sense! Thanks for the suggestions. In Style should let you write a column!

  26. jennie

    i forget where i heard this, but someone told me that washing your face only once, with makeup on, would be like taking a shower while you were dressed. you wouldn’t get any cleaner. so i’m right there with you on washing twice.

  27. Nelly Rodriguez

    I’m obsessed with skin care, kind of. Lately I’m addicted to coconut oil on my body and face and I swear, doesn’t make me break out or anything, plus evens out my skin and removes small scars! As for routine, I wash with whatever the face wash of choice of the time; sunscreen is 85SPF from Aveeno and then moisturize with a basic Olay cream; eye cream is “all about eyes” by Clinique and then some chapstick. I end up putting coconut oil on my hair as well. Mmhm…maybe some cuticle wax before bed as well…I know. Intense but easier than it sounds all written down :P

  28. OnlineSunshine

    I only wash once a day, but it’s in the shower in the morning. I was using a blackhead scrub, but that ran out and I started using my Dove Pro Age bar of soap (same one I use on my body) and I have noticed that I have LESS blackheads than before. Also, I don’t wash with a cloth…I just lather up my hands and rub my face with the soap and then rinse.
    After that, I use Avon Anew Ultimate Age Defying Day Cream, plus Burt’s Bees on my lips. I generally avoid moisturizing my forehead because I have t-zone oily skin and bangs.
    And that’s it.
    If I opt to skip my morning shower, I will wash my face with a wet washcloth (no soap) and re-moisturize.
    I agree with you that skin is mostly genetics. My mom had young-looking skin and so do I. I am frequently mistaken to be boyfriend/girlfriend with my 21 year old son. lol!

  29. Jeniece

    I rarely wear make-up (partly because I’m blessed with genes similar to yours and also I can be a bit lazy about it). I wash my face every night with Clean and Clear face wash and moisturize with Clinque yellow moisturizer.

  30. Laura

    Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. EV-ER-EE-DAYYYYYY!!! Please don’t forget to tell your readers that. 40 comes and it is not kind to the gals who oiled up and turned their faces to the sun for the previous 20 or 30 years, no matter what soap they used or how many times a day they washed. The true test of whether your beauty regimen worked is your 40th birthday. Perhaps your 45th. It seems so far away to you young kids but oh, it comes quickly. So quickly. :)

  31. Little Apple Tree

    Thanks for sharing all your great tips and pictures! I really like the way you post!!!
    In this post you are mainly speaking about facial skin care. My problem is not my face but my legs and arms. For some reason I have really dry skin there and everything I tried so far did not work… any ideas??? :-)

  32. Liz Vadset-Olver

    I just discovered your site and I love it. Congratulations on your weight loss as I know how hard it is, I’ve lost a total of 115 in the past 11 years and want to lose 50 more. :) I’m 56 and have pretty good skin with only a few crinkles at the ends of my eyes, I call them laugh lines. I use olive oil to remove all my makeup first, then a facial scrub (any kind, usually St. Ives) then facial wash..I like Oil of Olay. I always use eye cream, again any brand, Alpha Hydrox lotion 10% glycolic AHA by Neoteric and then a moisturizer. I swear by the Alpha Hydrox lotion, it’s hard to find, you can get it onlne and it is really worth it.

  33. Rachel

    I recently ditched my entire (facial) skincare line for a new regiment. After using the contents, I cleaned and dried an empty pasta sauce jar. Inside the jar I mixed equal parts of extra virgin olive oil + castor oil. Added several drops of lavender oil. Put the lid on and shook it violently. I take a hot rag and lay it on my face to open pores. Smear some of the oil all over my face and neck (it’s a great makeup remover, too). Take the hot wet rag and lay it on my face for another 20 seconds, gently pressing the rag into the oil (and/or gently wiping the makeup from my eye area). Rinse the rag and repeat. Pat dry. I don’t even use moisturizer anymore. Just some sunscreen. GOODBYE FINE LINES AND WRINKLES!

  34. Kelsey

    I have started getting more spots lately which I think is because I’ve put on weight so my hormones are out of whack! But generally I wash my face before bed and use coconut oil to moisturize which is the best thing since sliced bread. I also use that as a hair mask occasionally. It does wonders. I also use it for stir fries. As you may be able to tell I really like coconut oil… :D x

  35. Karen H

    I have the WORST oily skin problem, and I use the Complexion Scrub from the Shielo brand. Its wonderful for people with oily skin. It cleans my skin and doesnt dry my face out. I have somewhat sensitive skin, and to finally find a good face wash that doesnt make my face break out because of dryness is quite the discovery for me. I still have to put moisturizer on my skin afterwards. It doesnt make it moist, but it does keep from doing damage. It also lasts a long time; it only takes one or maybe two pumps to wash my face. I love it!

  36. Carol M

    being 64 years old i have probably tried almost every beauty product out there. my skin was always good – i use dove/sensitive soap for my face and ladies listen up…you must moisturize! everyday! i use aveeno BABY lotion for my face and it works just as good as the expensive stuff—-because if its good to use on a baby—you can bet its good for your skin—you must NEVER go to bed with an unwashed face—no matter how tired you are! get in a routine that you start early to clean up. also neutrogena rapid clear is amazing to clear up any blemishes that occasionally might pop up.

  37. mary b

    I have used Cetaphil for oily skin in the past but wanted something to help mattify my skin better. I now use Citrus Clear’s Control Moisturizer – its thicker than what I had in mind for a facial lotion, but I don’t care because the product delivers what I need. It absorbs quickly and is a good primer before I apply my concealer and foundation. I stay shine free all day


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