After many years of struggling, I’ve finally got my skin to a place where I can happily leave the house without makeup. What I learned along the way is pretty obvious; if you want good skin, you have to put the effort in. I now know that all the products in the world can’t battle the worst hormonal acne, but the contraceptive pill can, and beyond that, it’s all about good habits, good moisturiser, and learning to take your makeup off no matter how drunk you are. I was not blessed with perfect skin, but I’ve learned how to make the best of what I have. Here are my current skincare favourites.
I used cleasing wipes for years, but when my favourites (the Kleenex ones) were discontinued I decided to grow up and start removing my makeup the proper way. Let’s be honest, cleansing wipes are crap. Yes, they’re easy. But they’re also cheap, scratchy, and they do NOT remove all traces of makeup, no matter what the ads say. They are for lazy people who don’t want to make a proper effort. If you want good skin, you have to indulge it a bit, and a balm cleanser is perfect for this.
There are loads of great balm cleansers on the market, and I’ve tried many of them. Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish was my first foray, and I’d still happily recommend it for normal to dry skins. However, having experimented more, I now prefer an oil-based cleanser. This works on even the oiliest skins, despite what you may think. Monu Cleansing Balm is beautiful, but I found I got through it quickly because the texture was a little sloppy. Eve Lom’s famous cleansing balm was my next foray into balm cleansing but mine split and ended up all grainy (due to temperature changes, apparently). My favourite by far is Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm, which has the most incredible melting texture and smells insanely good. It’s almost a treat to cleanse with this at the end of a busy day. A little goes a long way so while it’s expensive, you’ll get your money’s worth. I don’t actually use it in the recommended way; the packaging says to mix it with a little water, but I just slap it right on my face, including the eye area, and massage it in gently before removing it with a wrung-out clean flannel soaked in hot water. It removes makeup easily and leaves my skin feeling fabulous.
After getting into cleansing balms, I quickly became a fan of the double cleanse to ensure all residue is removed ready for the next step. Once I’ve used my cleansing balm, I finish with a tiny dab of a liquid cleanser, massaged then rinsed with lukewarm water. This leaves my skin completely clean ready for my moisturiser. I use good old Cetaphil face wash, a classic that doesn’t foam, thus doesn’t irritate the skin. I usually buy mine on trips to the US as it’s cheaper, but you can pick it up at Boots too. I also use this in the mornings, as I only balm cleanse at night.
AHA Exfoliating Liquid
Like half of the internet, I have Caroline Hirons to thank for introducing me to the concept of acid toners. I’m loathe to use the word ‘toner’ though, because this product does so much more than the expensive scented waters I was fooled into buying in my teens (and flogging as a twentysomething). These liquids contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which are chemical exfoliants that replace those absolutely awful gritty physical scrubs (stop using St Ives apricot scrub NOW). They gently dissolve dead skin to remove dryness, renew the skin underneath and generally make your face look awesome. I use Pixi Glow Tonic every other day, sweeping it all over my face with a cotton pad after cleansing. It is by far the product that’s made the biggest difference to my skin. I also use it on the tops of my arms to reduce the appearance of my stubborn Keratosis Pilaris.
Face Oils and Serums
I’m not particularly loyal to any one oil or serum. Depending on how my skin feels, I’ll use a different one to treat different issues. Basically, this is where I play around a little. My favourite oils are by Darphin, a brand that’s aromatherapy-led. Its jasmine oil is insanely beautiful, even if it is really designed for older skins. When I need a real treat I massage this into my face. I also love the L’Occitane Immortelle range. God knows if the claims are true about the ingredients, but the feel and scent of the products are gorgeous. In the morning, I use Estee Lauder Idealist Skin Refinisher, and have done for the last 6 years. It’s like a combination of serum and primer, and really smoothes out the skin.
I love moisturiser. I’ve been known to apply way too much and cause my skin to break out, but I’d rather that than have dry patches. My aim with my entire skincare regime is to have skin that doesn’t need foundation day to day. I’ll always have red patches due to my pale, pink-toned skin, but through sticking to a regime I’ve banished spots from my life entirely. At night I use the r/skincareaddiction-approved CeraVe in the tub, a does-it-all gentle moisturiser that works not only on the face but on the body too. This is another product I pick up in Walgreens or Target on trips to the USA. In the day I use Clarins Multi-Active Jour for a bit of wrinkle protection, followed by the most important step…
…sun protection. I wish I’d realised much earlier how important sunscreen is when it comes to your skin. It’s not about sunburn, it’s about anti-ageing. The sun is in the sky 365 days of the year, regardless of how strong it is or how much cloud cover protects you from it. When I hit my 30s I started using an SPF daily, and I wish I’d done so a decade earlier. I have pale skin that burns easily. I have moles on my forehead and below my eyebrows. Once I got a sunburn on my face that was so bad my nose blistered and my entire face basically peeled off in the following days (long story). Put simply, I need sunscreen. Every single day. I don’t want to get wrinkles, and I don’t want to get cancer. I use Murad Oil Free Sunscreen SPF 30 and it’s worth every penny. If I’m happy to spend £15 on a new lipstick at the drop of a hat, I see no reason why I shouldn’t spend the same on protecting my skin.
What are your skincare musts? Let me know what I’m missing out on!