I’m going to let you in on a secret. I used to be utter pants at taking care of my skin. As a teenager, I only wore sunscreen when deliberately sun tanning at the beach, would often use a makeup remover wipe instead of washing my face and I can’t tell you how often I used normal shower gel to wash my face. I had the occasional hormone/sweat related breakout, but it wasn’t enough for me to change my bad habits. It wasn’t until university and hearing new friends talk about favorite products, K beauty and skincare routines that I started properly taking care of my skin. I went far down the rabbit hole, reading blog posts, devouring magazine features, binging Youtube reviews. It was a magical new world of lotions and potions and I was a kid in a candy shop. Now I love the little moments, the ritual of routine. Experimenting with products makes me feel like a beauty scientist, replace the microscopes with free samples and the scientific process with my highly intellectual oooohing and ahhhing. So after a request for my skincare tips, I thought I would share with you, as someone who was an utter skincare noob, all the tricks and tidbits I’ve learned.
From the Inside Out
Fun fact: your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s constantly working to keep your body safe from microbes and the elements, but your skin is also in tandem with the rest of your system. Not drinking enough water. Not getting enough sleep. Stress. Regularly eating too much junk food. Drinking to excess. Not getting enough exercise. All of these things affect your body and can be reflected in your skin. Aside from any period related acne, my worst breakouts tend to be after a weekend of partying, hangover food, lack of sleep, right as I start stressing about catching up on the reading, I was meant to be doing instead of tequila shots. A wild weekend is fun every once in a while, but I’m not built for endurance partying so if I notice a bad breakout I will ease back on that part of my life. It may be that like me, you notice that your lifestyle directly affects your skin. In that case you may want to weigh these factors. That said, I am fully aware that I am not an expert and know less than nothing about severe acne and would never presume to preach to anyone who suffers from it. I consider skincare to be an investment in my health and my confidence. I have mixed feelings about the anti-aging obsession that the skincare industry spreads, but it is really important to consider.
Holy Grail Products
These are products on my reorder immediately list. If not regularly buying them, I often come back to these products in between experimenting with my routine. I have legitimately said no to plans, or changed the time of rendezvous, or drastically altered my commute home to get my hands on these products. Cross my heart.
Caudalie VineActif Overnight Detox Oil
I discovered this gem of a product last winter when I was living in Paris. French pharmacies are a haven for skincare and the employees are founts of knowledge. Cracking the heat up in my flat to combat a contrast draft from my oh so chic beaux art windows gave me dry skin. So my local pharmacy recommended this overnight oil from Caudalie, which repairs damage and detoxes your skin through its vitamins and essential oils. Originally I was a touch wary of oils due to concern it would clog my pores and this one never has. The clincher: a full bottle costs less than half of some other leading brands like Sunday Riley. WIN!
This whole brand is one that I’ve loved integrating into my routine. I’ve been lucky enough to be gifted some products by their lovely team, and through the feedback I’ve given them I know they take what consumers think to heart! I especially adore the Pre-Cleanse makeup remover oil which smells DIVINE. I’ve recently tested out a small sample of their Sound Sleep Cocoon which revitalizes with gel, French lavender, sandalwood and patchouli. One I would completely spend my own money on (pending saving as it’s definitely on the expensive end of the beauty spectrum). The final product of theirs I adore is their latest launch, the Skin Smoothing Cream which has become a staple in my morning or daytime skincare.
This product was an investment for me. I’m happy to stick with a more basic cleanser, serum and lip balm but I’m willing to shell out for this eye cream due to its effectiveness and the importance for my skin. I have prominent bags under my eyes which crinkle adorably when I grin, but also quickly look dark and haggard as soon as I don’t get 8 hours. Additionally, my eyes need all the pampering I can get with the amount of screen time they get. Eye cream is a ride or die product for me. You may need or choose to invest in another area/product and that’s perfectly fine!
As you just read, I’m not super picky about my cleansers. I’ve tried products from everywhere: boutique brands, the department store variety, pharmacy grade and those that line the beauty aisle at Tescos. Personal favorites include Liz Earle Hot Polish Cleanser, Vichy Eau Thermale 3 in 1 Step Cleanser, Simple Kind to Skin Moisturizing Facial Cleanse (which I often use in travel size when jetsetting) and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Honestly would be happy to use any of them. The only thing I’m firm on is that anything with an exfoliating aspect absolutely cannot have microbeads, which are horrible for the environment. Otherwise, cleansers and I have a very open relationship.
I regularly use a hyaluronic acid serum, usually The Ordinary’s as their product is marvelous and is kind to bank accounts. It’s the same amount I’d spend on a cocktail and far better for my skin. (Alcohol makes me look what some might generously call rosy and what others might frankly call tomato faced). Scentless, it goes on right before moisturizer right after toner, usually just dripping a bit into my hands and massaging it in because who has the bloody patience to faff about with dripping it directly on their face. That’s one Instagram fad I can promise to never take part in!
Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater
The real MVP. Most versatile product that is! I flagrantly use this. On my hair because it smells nice and is lighter than perfume. As a toner after washing and drying my face. As a setting spray after my makeup for positively a dewy glow. I purchased the large 236 ml size bottle at the beginning of September and I still have a good third of it left. For 12 pounds at Liberty London, that’s approximately a cost per day of 0.08 pence. Not to mention it looks lovely on my vanity.
Skincare can be expensive and I’m highly conscious of that in this post. I would hate for anyone to feel discouraged by any message I send, and I understand it can be overwhelming on a tight budget to hear all of these beauty bloggers or influencers talking about products with luxury price tags. I’m on a student budget, and when not testing products as part of a collaboration, often have to find balance between the specificity of what I need from the product and the cost. I’m telling you this because I don’t want people to think they have to go out a buy a load of products right this minute. I actually recommend accumulating a skincare routine overtime, upgrading basic products for something a little higher end as you have more wiggle room. The biggest benefit need not be in the number of pound signs next to the product but creating a routine and ritual of self-care. Cucumber slices on your eyes always optional.