Brown girls have problems.

Between getting whitening products constantly shoved in our faces, to not being able to find makeup shades in our color, and predisposed pigmentation on our skin, it can be a tough life. And it is. 

No matter what I do to help the situation, my face becomes a shitshow when I travel, and since I've managed to clock almost 80,000 miles in the span of the last two months alone for mostly work-related travel, my skin is a mess. It's the garbage fart-filled plane air, plus the different climates that I've been in, plus the lack of water and sleep. It all goes to hell. And obviously, as I get older I am more cautious of not only how my skin looks like, and what I use on it.

Admittedly, while my favorite makeup are of a drugstore price range to the higher end, my skincare tends to be more on the luxury side. Of course, I didn't pick it because it's expensive — I would use cheap bar soap on my face if it'll give me good skin, but it doesn't.

So, here's my list of holy grail skincare products for (my) darker skin, in the order I would use them, and FYI — this post has not been sponsored by Dermalogica, even though it really seems like it. While I have been gifted Dermalogica products in the past having written about them, I love their products to death because they work for me. If you want to purchase these products based on my recommendations, I have asterisked the essentials to start with so you don't have to sell your kidney for the products (yet).

Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse, US$38
Usage: Daily

After I've removed my makeup with wipes or makeup remover, my first step to my skincare regimen involves double cleansing, and I user Dermalogica's Pre-Cleanse. Like a lot of people, I first tried Shu Uemura's cleansing oil but it broke me out within the first few days of usage. Dermalogica's PreCleanse, however, is perfect. The oil-based texture removes last traces of makeup or sebum I might have even after makeup removers.

You apply the oil with dry hands and massage it into your face before wetting your hands, and then continuing with the facial massage. The oil breaks, making removal with water easy peasy after and you're not left with any residue.

* Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, US$36
Usage: Daily

When I moved to LA, I started getting spots on my face where I didn't use to so I consulted Lori, the Public Relations Director at Dermalogica while I was writing an article and she sent me straight to their amazing flagship in Santa Monica. Not only did I experience one of their incredible facials there, I was also advised to switch from the UltraCalming Cleanser that I had been using for years, to the Special Cleansing Gel. While the UltraCalming Cleanser didn't lather, the Special Cleansing Gel does, but it's soap-free and incredibly gentle on my skin. It's easy on my skin, fragrance-free, doesn't dry out your face and leaves it feeling clean and fresh.

* Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, US$54
Usage: Once every three days

It's a gentle-enough exfoliator that does its job well. I hate exfoliators that are too gentle so much so that it doesn't make a difference on your skin, or exfoliators that are way too harsh. This one comes in almost a powder form, you add a little bit of water to make a paste and gently massage it all over your face. My very picky husband has stolen this product and using it on the regular, so you know it's good.

Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant, US$41
Usage: Once a week

On top of regular exfoliation, a once-a-week exfoliating mask is also something I use religiously. It's a deeper, more thorough clean that ensures that I don't have to go get a facial too often.

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque, US$41
Usage: Once every two — three days

I follow any form of exfoliation with the Skin Hydrating Masque because it helps calm and soothe the skin, from the exfoliating, or any irritation it might experience. Also, since moving to LA, I find that there really is no such thing as too much hydration. The fact that it's gentle, fragrance-free (like all Dermalogica products) and goes on clear makes this a perfect Netflix-binge companion.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, US$55
Usage: Once a week

I've heard so many good things about Tata Harper over the years and I'm so glad my journey to discovering what the Vermont-based brand has to offer started with the Resurfacing Mask. Because I have eczema, anything that's got "resurfacing" or "peel" on the packaging makes me nervous, but nerves was all for nothing. It is a light gel formula that dries up which you have to wash off. When I first started, I used it for ten minutes, but gradually brought it up to half an hour because of how gentle it is. My skin is actually visibly brighter, and the hyper pigmentation significantly diminish with every use. 

Skin Inc Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask, US$75
Usage: Daily

One of my holy grail products, Skin Inc's Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask is something that I got ages ago in a press kit but never was impressed by it — until I started sleeping in it and woke up with glowing skin. It's a light gel formula that absorbs quickly into your skin. You wake up with just-fell-off-the-surfboard, bronzing-all-day Maui beach babe glowing skin, but without all the work. I love it for planes too — I would apply it multiple times during a long haul flight to keep the moisture locked in.

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster, US$56
Usage: Daily

I'm not a fan of Mindy Kaling, and while looking for something about brown girls' skin, I came across a quote on the Internet that's apparently from her book, and she said something about the fact that chances are if you've got brown skin, you're going to have oily skin. Which is bullshit. Your skin color doesn't depict what kind of skin you have — it's determined by genetics, your lifestyle, your diet, where you live, etc. My skin has always been on the drier side, even when I was living in Singapore and this Dermalogica serum helps heaps! I use it after I wash my face and before any other products. Remember - when you use serums, this needs to be the first step because the molecules in serums are the tiniest. You want the tiniest molecules, or the lightest-to-touch formulas to the thickest when you're layering skincare.

* Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream, US$42
Usage: Daily

I would usually alternate between the Skin Inc Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask, or this at night, but I'd use this moisturizer daily in the day. It's light, absorbs really quickly into my skin on top of the Hydrating Booster and not sticky or, icky.

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex, US$76
Usage: Daily

It's not a cheap eye cream, but this is the bomb. Darker skinned women who have deeper eye sockets are predisposed to under eye rings. In fact, I think I've had under eye rings since I was a child. This REALLY helps with fine lines and darkness under the eyes and a little goes a long way. Pinkie promise.

Tell me what your fave brown girl essentials.