Winding Down with Sally of Actually Skin

Winding Down with Sally of Actually Skin

Skincare is to millennials as Diet Coke is to baby boomers: we cannot live without it. While skincare as we know it has been popular in the West since the launch of anti-aging products in the 1980s, the dam broke in the late 2010s. And as New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino so perfectly puts it, 2017 was the year “skincare became a coping mechanism.”

It was at this time that K-Beauty exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, thanks in no small part to the popularity of the 10-Step Skincare Routine. We are a generation possessed, and it shows in the numbers. The skincare industry itself is expanding at warpspeed, what with a whopping 13% growth in 2018 and 5.6 billion dollars in sales. For millennials, nightly skincare, specifically, has become a treasured ritual. In a world that’s often teetering on the edge of chaos, cleansers and masks and essences and ampules offer us a slow, relaxing sense of control.

In order to get as good of a grasp as we can on all things skincare, we asked our friend and favorite skincare blogger Sally to walk us through her skincare regime. Sally is the face and creative eye behind NYC-based, and she knows her products. We spoke blogging, her nighttime routine, and why sleep is a critical component of a healthy, glowing complexion.

When did you get into skincare?

I got into skin care around middle school. I was really into YouTube makeup tutorials at the time but had a lot of acne. That’s when I discovered skin care and started to really focus on doing little things to help my skin and acne out.

Why did you start blogging? What drives you to do Actually Skin?

I started Actually Skin as a way to join a community of like-minded individuals who are also learning more about their skin, ingredients in their skincare, and how to better take care of it. It later grew to become more than just skincare; I talk about mental health, activism, and pop-culture. Just about anything goes at Actually Skin, as long as we keep it 100% honest. :)

What is the most important skincare rule in terms of nighttime routine?

My most important skin care is to do a double-cleanse. Double cleansing is a method where one uses an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. The oil cleanser will help with removing makeup, dirt, oils, and sunscreen from the skin. The water-based cleanser helps with doing a more thorough cleanse. The reason why this is super important is that oil is naturally hydrophobic (does not mix with water) and a normal cleanser will not break down the oils from makeup or the natural oils produced throughout the day. I felt that it helped me be less prone to breakouts as well since my pillows are touching a clean face!

Walk us through your nightly routine!

My nightly routine changes regularly! I like to switch it up depending on what my skin is craving. Some days, I need a little extra hydration and others I need way less. It really depends on the external factors, like weather and environmental condition, as well as internal, like diet and hormones.

Usually, my routine looks like this:

  1. I first take off my makeup and sunscreen by using an oil cleanser on a dry face then rinsing off. I’m currently using the Laneige Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser and Shiseido Tiss Deep Off Oil. This step is so essential to me and a game changer since it really makes my other skincare work harder for me.
  2. My next step is a water-based cleanser. I’m using the Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser and Bioderma Sensibio Gel Moussant. The YTTP Superfood Cleanser provides me a deeper clean for when I’ve been sweating throughout the day or wearing heavier makeup (or sunscreen) and the Bioderma Sensibio is way gentler for when I’m not wearing makeup.
  3. Next, I tone with an exfoliating toner and I’m using Krave Beauty’s Kale-lalu-yAHA, which is a glycolic acid toner. It helps to slough away dead skin cells so that my other products can penetrate deeper into my skin and work more effectively! I use this about every day, but beginners can try using it 2-3 times a week to build up tolerance. It can feel like it’s tingling on the skin. I switch it up and alternate with the Sekkisei Lotion.
  4. After toner, I follow up with a hydrating serum. I’m using the Glow Recipe Plum Plump Serum and the CosRX Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Moisture Ampoule.
  5. Lastly, I seal everything all in with a moisturizer! I’m currently using the Glow Recipe Watermelon Moisturizer and Sekkisei Herbal Gel.

I’m always testing products, but my key takeaway is to find products that are gentle to your skin and find products with ingredients that target any unwanted areas!

How does your routine change when you’re stressed out?

When I’m stressed out, I tend to break out! I try to be super gentle to my acne by using serums to help hydrate—not dry out—my breakouts! I double-cleanse my face normally, then use a lot of light layers of a hydrating toner, and seal it all in with a moisturizer. I tend not to use any acne treatments but focus on products that have great ingredients that can help target my spots. I love using creams with ingredients like centella asiatica, niacinamide, or azulene to help calm down an angry pimple! I also love taking a tincture of CBD to really calm my nerves and help me get a good night’s rest.

Do you notice issues with your skin when you’re not sleeping enough?

Definitely! My dark circles are more noticeable and my skin looks super dull and gray. A lot of skincare issues may come from a lack of sleep! At least it does for me.

Why is getting enough sleep an important aspect of skincare?

Sleeping is healing! At night, your skin releases a bunch of toxins from the body while you sleep. It also helps repair and regenerate skin cells. That’s why when you get a good night’s rest, your skin ends up glowing! Skincare products also help penetrate the skin deeper at night and become more effective.

What are some of your favorite products to “fake awake” when you’re sleepy?

I let my eye bags out for everyone to see! But when I do need to look more awake, I tend to use more layers of hydrating serums or toners to plump them back up. I also use a bit of concealer as well to hide the purple and blue from my eyes as well as blush on my cheeks since my skin doesn’t look as bright as it normally does when I get enough rest.

Featured Coop products

How does Sally’s routine stack up to your own? Check out Sally on Instagram at, and let us know your routine in the comments below!