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  • Writer's picturePenn Smith


Updated: Dec 13, 2023

I play around with my skincare A LOT. Recently I found a very simple routine that has really delivered some excellent results. For me that means refined looking pores, skin clarity (this is relative of course...I will probably never be totally rid of my hyperpigmentation), texture improvement and a glow. I have noticed ALL of that.

But how? Why? Below I'll detail what I've been doing two nights a week that has made a BIG impact - and I'll also detail my AM routine. Soon I'll share the other 5 nights a week (it certainly gets a bit more complex...).

*I will link all products for you but do check the end of the post for any discounts I was able to arrange. I ALWAYS reach out to brands to negotiate discounts. If I can get a discount for us I will.

The concept: pH adjustment (acidify) and lipid replenishment

These key components have provided my skin with the ability to heal itself and look its best. I can't believe how simple this is - both in concept and in implementation!

Why Acidify?

The pH acidity of the skin is of significant importance for maintaining its overall health and functionality. The skin's pH refers to its level of acidity or alkalinity, with a pH below 7 considered acidic. The normal pH range of the skin is slightly acidic, typically ranging from 4.5 to 5.5. This mildly acidic environment is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to preserve the skin's natural barrier function, known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle acts as a protective shield against harmful microorganisms, preventing their colonization and proliferation on the skin. Secondly, the acidic pH promotes the proper functioning of enzymes and proteins involved in various skin processes, including barrier repair, cell turnover, and wound healing. It also contributes to maintaining the skin's moisture balance and preventing excessive water loss.

Additionally, a slightly acidic pH helps to regulate the activity of sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, a natural moisturizer for the skin. Disruptions in the skin's pH balance, such as an excessively alkaline environment, can lead to various issues, including dryness, sensitivity, inflammation, and an increased susceptibility to infections. Therefore, maintaining the skin's pH acidity within the optimal range is crucial for promoting healthy, resilient, and balanced skin.

What are lipids and why should we replenish them?

Lipids play a crucial role in maintaining the health and integrity of the skin. The skin's lipid barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, is composed of a diverse array of lipids, including ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids. These lipids form a protective barrier that helps to prevent excessive water loss, maintain hydration, and defend against external irritants and pathogens.

Ceramides, in particular, are essential for skin barrier function, as they contribute to the structural integrity and cohesion of the stratum corneum. Cholesterol helps to regulate fluidity and permeability within the skin, while free fatty acids exhibit antimicrobial properties and contribute to the skin's acidic pH. Collectively, these lipids work together to maintain the skin's moisture balance, support its protective function, and contribute to overall skin health. Imbalances or deficiencies in these lipids can lead to dryness, irritation, and compromised skin barrier function, highlighting the importance of maintaining optimal lipid levels for healthy skin.

Here's what I am using about 2 nights a week:

1. Dermelect Sleep Serum (acidify)

then following it up with my

2. Drmtlgy Soothe & Recovery Cream (ceramides, cholesterol, PHYTOSPHINGOSINE!! This ingredient is a MEGA STAR. Look for it in your skincare!!) (lipid replenishment)

Here's what I'm using in my morning routine:

1. First thing in the AM I try to get in an LED session! (About 5x a week) There are so many options for LED- I have an entire blog on LED that details all of this and the science of LED My favorite LED wearbables are from The LightSalon. They're currently offering my community 30% off their devices. This is an amazing discount!! - use code Penn30

2. I've been following this up immediately using my ZiiP HALO with the Golden Gel and just rinsing off my face when I am done (not cleansing, just rinsing). This is proving to make a HUGE difference in the morning. The gel acts like a super-charged mask that saturates my skin. Of course the microcurrent drives the gel in to the skin and contributes to skin health. I have been doing the Ziip default program- it is 4 minutes long and has both the micro and nano currents cycling the entire 4 minutes. I do anywhere from 4-12 minutes every morning right now. I LOVE IT. So easy and the effect on my skin is evident immediately (hydration/glow/barrier).

ZIIP HALO Microcurrent Device is currently 15% off for my community - you won't find a higher discount for the HALO use code PennZIiP

To order the Ziip Halo Internationally:

Go to CurrentBody website

In the top righthand corner change it to your country

Search "Ziip Halo"

Use code PENNZIIP at checkout

3. The next thing I am doing is my acidify step- I am choosing either my Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% or Medik 8 Press & Glow

Please note...I don't wait much between this step and the next step but IF I were to use a stronger acid (let's say P50 or some stronger glycolic) I WOULD wait a little bit before putting on a peptide based moisturizer. I try to avoid hydrolysis (breaking the peptide up in to it's amino acids) but I am not stressing on this and I don't think you should either, especially with relatively gentle acids like the Ordinary and/or the Medik8.

4. So next is my bathroom mixology step (hydrate/peptides) :) I am taking my Sukoyaka Suhada Urea Essence and my OneSkin FACE and I am mixing them up in the palm of my hand and I am applying the concoction all over my face, neck and décolleté. I am really loving these two combined together!!!

5. After that I am using my Naturium Azelaic Acid (helping reduce the redness in my skin)

6. I follow up with a Vitamin C derivative (I have been loving the Canadian Indie brand Dear Lucy, more on that soon!) Code Penn10 saves 10%

7. I have been using my Drmtlgy Needless Serum (forever) to replenish lipids-

8. Then I have been using the My Alloy M4 Cream (perimenopausal/menopausal/post menopausal women this is for us!!)

You can use code penn20 for $20 off your first purchase of ANY product from their site (face cream, hormone health, supplements etc). I encourage you to sign up for their INFO, and at least familiarize yourself with everything they offer educationally. It is an excellent resource regardless of whether or not you try their facial product…The other information on this site is INVALUABLE.

9. Neck/eye creams (these are THE two best eye creams I have found and I have tested A LOT...): Oneskin Eye Cream

Dermelect Revitalite

Two days a week (or so) I use the Dermelect Self esteem Pro neck cream

10. SPF - I always end my morning routine by using a SUNSCREEN!!! Often it is the Drmtlgy Universal Tinted Moisturizer

Or Neova Silc Sheer 2.0 (love this one with DNA repair enzymes)

My BODY Routine

At night For my body I have been using my Drtmlgy Exfoliating Body Lotion this “all in one” bottle has the ingredients to acidify & replenish!

Morning I am still using my OneSkin Body code Penn15 saves 15%

I also love Gold Bond Age Renew Body lotion with peptides and lipids (it is SO GOOD!!)

My current body SPF is by CoCo and Eve (SPF 50), It is light and silky- no sticky mess and protects well. Just find a body SPF you like- it is really important!!

In the past I have recommended the Aveeno protect and hydrate body SPF 60 (and I still do)

Lately I have been using a stick to protect the back of my hands (try this!! It is so easy, EFFECTIVE, no mess, portable and affordable!!)

My favorite so far is by Sun Bum

Discount codes:

"Penn20" saves 20% site wide at Dermelect

"Penn" saves 20% at Drmtlgy

"PENNZIIP" for a discount at Ziip

"PENN15" saves 15% at OneSkin

"Penny15" saves 15% at Naturium

Penn10 saves 10% at Dear Lucy

Here are a few resources if you'd like to research this concept a bit more:

1. Barrier function regulates epidermal lipid and DNA synthesis:

3.Phytosphingosine enhances moisture level in human skin barrier through stimulation of the filaggrin biosynthesis and degradation leading to NMF formation

4. Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora

FTC: Some links are affiliate. This means if you use them I will earn a commission.

Penn Smith Skincare participates in the Amazon Associates Program. This is an affiliate program and all Amazon links are affiliate. If you choose to use them I will receive a commission.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided in this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information in this blog should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this blog are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.

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holly leininger
holly leininger
Jan 28

I stumbled on your YouTube chanel the other night and then realized after the fact you also used Dr. Kim! I am a aesthetician in Sun Valley, Idaho and a fellow skin care nerd 🤓 🤣 So fun watching your videos! I’m very intrigued with the new laser that you just talked about. I was just getting ready to dive into the CO2 but this may have swayed me! Keep posting the fantastic content! xoxo -Holly


Amanda Holtman
Amanda Holtman
Jul 12, 2023

Hi Penn! So much great information 🤗. I get hung up on what I can layer that doesn’t cancel each other out. For a night routine… can I use copper peptide serum, my needless then a lactic acid like biossance Squalane resurfacing? Or do I have too much going on… i think the layering is what gets confusing for me! Thanks!!


Kristi Bruening
Kristi Bruening
Jul 11, 2023

I love this that you.

I do have a question, when and were would you mix in copper peptides in your routine?

I am trying to add to my routine.

Thank you


Jul 10, 2023

love all the information you have. you are so knowledgeable. thank you


Jul 09, 2023

I just felt like I sat through one of my Biology lessons or better yet, an Anatomy & Physiology lesson where we spend so much time devoted to our body’s largest organ, skin. I thoroughly enjoyed the level you always emerge yourself into your topics. Thank you 😊

Penn Smith
Penn Smith
Jul 09, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 💙💙

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