If I Could Use Only 5 Skincare Products…

by Gio
could use only 5 skincare products

This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write.

How the heck do I choose only 5 skincare products to use for the rest of my life?!

My skincare routine may be short and minimalistic but I like to try new antiaging serums or sunscreens all the time. Sure, I have my faves I keep coming back to over and over again, but still how do you choose between your babies?! *sighs*

I did choose to focus on antiaging, though. I don’t have acne, sensitive skin or dark spots to deal with. My main concern is to keep my slightly dry skin happy while keeping those pesky wrinkles away. The products below fit the bill.

So, if you were to put a gun to my head and force me to choose only 5 skincare products to use for the rest of my life, this is what I’d pick:


Best. Cleanser. Ever. I often stray (hey, I have a beauty blog, gotta try new stuff for review!) but I always, always, always come back to Liz Earle Cleanse And Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. Its creamy texture removes every last bit of makeup, dirt and other impurities and moisturises skin at the same time. Afterwards, my skin is perfectly clean and silky soft. It comes with a cloth to provide a gentle exfoliating action that even sensitive skin can tolerate. You just have to try it.

Available at: Feel Unique

Related: My Full Review Of Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser


My skin is pretty used to chemical exfoliation so if I only had to use one AHA product for the rest of my life, I’m going for a high dose, like 10%. But that’s not the only reason why I chose Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA. It’s loaded with different types of AHAs + salicylic acid, a powerful cocktail that gets rid of dead skin cells, boosts collagen and prevents + treats breakouts (I may not be very prone to them but if I can only use 5 skincare products, I’d have to sneak something in there for emergencies 😉 ). Plus, it has its fair share of soothing antioxidants to fight wrinkles and calm down irritations. It’s a keeper.

Available at: Paula’s Choice

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Should You Choose?

3. Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00)

An antioxidant serum is a must in any skincare routine. I’ve picked Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum for two reasons. One: it has Vitamin C + Vitamin E + ferulic acid (CEF), one of the most powerful combos against free radicals. These antioxidants are powerful on their own but, when used together, boost one another’s effectiveness and the protection of your sunscreen too. But, instead than using the pure, harsh and unstable form of Vitamin C like most CEF serums do, this one has a more stable and gentler derivative (Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) so it won’t go bad within a few short weeks nor give you an irritation. The other reason? In pure Paula’s Choice style, this serum is loaded with plenty of other antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase (it’s one of the most powerful out there!).

Available at: Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Types Of Vitamin C Used In Skincare

4. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil (£9.00)

Rose hip seed oil is one of the few oils everyone can use. Its lightweight texture sinks quickly into the skin, leaving no greasy residue behind (no, not even on oily skin). Rose hip seed oil is high in linoleic and linolenic acids, two fatty acids that are incredibly moisturizing and soothing. Plus, it’s a natural source of Vitamin A, so it helps fight wrinkles, dark spots and acne. Let’s be clear here: rose hip seed oil is NOT as strong as prescription retinoids but is a great alternative to OTC forms of Vitamin A, like retinol. It’s basically an one-stop shop for all your skincare needs. I’m picking The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil because it’s cheap but any other brand will do.

Available at: Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty

Related: Why Rosehip Oil Is My Go-To For Any Skincare Woe

5. Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($65.00)

This is as close to perfection as a sunscreen gets. Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 uses microfine zinc oxide (Z-Cote) and titanium dioxide to protect from the entire UV range without leaving a white cast or greasy residue behind. It’s fragrance-free, gentle enough even for the most sensitive of skin types and is tinted. If only it had antioxidants, it would be absolutely perfect!

Available at: Dermstore

Related: 3 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen Is Best For Sensitive Skin


Now it’s your turn! If you could use only 5 skincare products for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose?

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

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Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.

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Ann Marie January 19, 2018 - 11:25 pm

But the Liz Earle cleanser has eucalyptus in it. Couldnt that be irritating?

Gio January 27, 2018 - 10:58 am

Ann Marie, yes it could. If you have sensitive skin, it’s not the best cleanser for you. But my skin doesn’t mind it and I find, for me, the pros far outweighs the cons.

Linda Gleichmann March 4, 2018 - 3:52 pm

Are you sponsored by Paula’s Choice? It seems that you recommend a lot of her products. Do they really work that well?

Gio March 16, 2018 - 10:31 am

Linda, no I’m not. I would say if I were. I always disclose sponsorships.

I genuinely like Paula’s Choice products because each one gives everything your skin needs. So many skincare products focus just on one issue, like moisturising skin or fighting acne. Paula’s Choice products go one step further because they’re also enriched with antioxidants and skin soothers that your skin needs but so many brands leave out.

Amy March 22, 2018 - 4:11 am

Hi Geo – With the Paula’s Choice products, is it best to use them at night or the morning?

Gio March 23, 2018 - 12:19 pm

Amy, it depends on what ingredients they contain. Anything with glycolic acid or retinol is best used at night.

Amanda April 17, 2018 - 1:12 pm

Hi Gio

Thanks for the post, it’s really helpful to see what you use.

Can I ask where you stand re using vitamin c in the morning rather than at night? I’m using retinol at night so want to use my timeless vitamin c in the morning.

Gio April 19, 2018 - 2:46 pm

Amanda, I use it in the mornings. Studies have shown that vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid boosts the protection of your sunscreen. But you do need to be religious with sunscreen and reapply it every night and then.

Julie April 18, 2018 - 1:40 am

I’m in my early 50’s and thought it was time to take my skincare seriously, better late than never! I’ve used all sorts over the years but am tired of the hype and would like to be better informed so I know I’m spending my money wisely.

I’ve been using the LizEarle cleanser for years and love it (but not the overseas postage costs – I’m in Australia) Glad to see it’s one you recommend.

I read a number of posts here and have bought myself some Paulas choice products:
I’m now using the Resist anti-aging skin hydrator everyday morning and evening (love it so far),
the Resist super light wrinkle defence sunscreen daily (its Australia, daily sunscreen is essential),
the super antioxidant concentrate serum with retinol at night twice a week
and the 8% AHA lotion at night twice a week.
I also bought the resist C15 super booster (vitamin C) but haven’t started that yet. I was reluctant to start so many new products at once in case of irritation. I intend to use this at night mixed with the moisturiser probably on two of the nights that I’m not using other stuff.

I have a couple of questions:
can I use multiple products at the same time or should things like exfoliator and retinol be kept seperate?
is there anything else you think I should be adding to my skincare routine?

Thanks so much for your advice.

Gio April 20, 2018 - 6:32 am

Hi Julie, you have a great skincare routine. So glad to hear the Paula’s Choice products work so well for you too.

I’m a big fan of keeping your skincare routine simple. I rarely use more than 4 products at a time. Having said that, if you feel like your skin needs more, you can layer more. Just wait a few seconds between application to give each product time to absorb. This is especially important when you use active ingredients like retinol and exfoliation.

I think you’ve covered all the basics so far. If your skin is happy with this routine, I don’t see any reason to add or remove anything. Good skincare is all about knowing what your skin needs, not using 200 products because they’re popular. 🙂 And trust me, if your skin needs something else, you’d know!

Julie April 23, 2018 - 4:42 am

Thank you so much This website was just what I needed Keep up the good work

Gio April 27, 2018 - 9:50 am

Julie, you’re welcome! Thanks so much for the support and so glad it helped you. 🙂

Thais July 4, 2018 - 5:48 am

You stated that Rose Hip oil is very moisturizing. Does that mean that when you use it, you skip the serum or the moisturizer? Or do you use it in addition to serum/moisturizer? Do you use it everyday? Can it react with any other products? I am new at using products on my face and your blog has been very educational and it has helped me decide on products to start on.

Gio July 5, 2018 - 7:29 pm

Thais, so glad my blog has helped you.

I wouldn’t use rosehip oil in the place of serums but you can definitely use it as moisturizer. Only if your skin is dry, you could benefit both from moisturizer and rosehip oil. Otheriwse, rosehip oil is enough. Yes, you can use it everyday, at night. You can use it with everything apart from high concentrations of retinoids.

Kate July 4, 2018 - 8:19 pm

Great list! It’s good to get back to the basics for skin junkies like me who like to test new products. I’m just sad that there’s no niacinamide. 🙁 Instead of rosehip oil, I would use Stratia liquid gold (which also contains rosehip oil) or Shark sauce hanbang or Allies of skin overnight mask.

Gio July 5, 2018 - 7:16 pm

Kate, great picks! And that’s why I’m glad I don’t have to use just 5 products. I’ll surely leave something out. Ops!

Bethanie July 14, 2018 - 6:05 am

Hi Gio

Haha me again, I am stalking your website continuously, and feel as if I have fallen down a rabbit hole of skin care research!! I am keen to incorporate a combined AHA / BHA exfoliant, and in your article above you say that the PC 10% AHA product also contains BHA, but on the PC website the ingredients list for this particular product doesn’t include this… But their Resist 5% AHA daily smoothing treatment serum does. So which one should I buy??

Thanks again for such a great online resource,

Gio July 21, 2018 - 8:16 pm

Hi Bethanie, hope you’re enjoying your trip down the rabbit hole!

Where are you based? Sometimes, the formula is slightly tweaked for a different market. But if you want both acids, go for the product that has both.

Bethanie July 22, 2018 - 1:34 pm

Hi Gio, yes, I am haha!
I’m in Australia, so maybe that explains it.
Thanks so much,

Gio July 28, 2018 - 6:38 pm

That’s probably it, Bethanie. You’re welcome. 🙂


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