Get yourself ready for a novel! Maybe two years ago I started a skincare blog called Skin & Tonix which did fairly well in the short time I updated it. However my skincare ethos has completely changed for the better since that time.
The blog came about because I had worked as a Skin Specialist at Mecca Cosmetica, so had a high exposure to new products and brands and enjoyed writing about the new things as a creative outlet. However the blog posts tapered off as I had limited interest in continually purchasing product to review (mindless consumerism) when I actually didn’t need it.
Unfortunately, the biggest kicker here though is that my skin was actually in the worst shape of its life while I worked for Mecca. Now, two years out with a much cheaper and consistent skincare routine I can safely say I’d happily choose my $25 moisturiser over the $90-120 products I had in rotation two years ago.
Why is this? Well mainly because trying new products out consistently wreaks absolute havoc on your skin and funnily enough, some of the most expensive luxe moisturisers actually have very few scientifically backed up ingredients. You’re paying for marketing and you’re paying to believe, and don’t worry I’ve been there.
Our skin is much simpler than we think. Often you’ll hear people say “Oh I’m not sensitive to fragrance” but did you know that even if you don’t react, your skin has to work to detox any fragrance applied to it? So while your skin is purging itself of the fragrance you applied it doesn’t have time to heal or repair itself as necessary. Moreover, fragrance does absolutely nothing for your skin – yes you heard right. Not even essential oils. So why apply it?
Another thing I’ll often hear is “Oh I’m oily, so I don’t focus much on hydration.” Hydration is probably one of the most important steps in any skincare routine, regardless of skin type. Hydration in your twenties will prevent ageing and protect your skin moisture barrier which is easily upset by lack of hydration, harsh products and irritants. When this barrier is upset skin can feel dry, experience breakouts, develop allergies and generally just look pretty shit. Even water upsets this mantle! which is why I am a huge advocate for moisturising when the skin is still damp.
I could probably go on for hours, but there are many people on the internet who can explain basic skincare principles much better than me. While a little corny, Dr. Dray a youtube dermatologist has lots of information on caring for skin in a scientifically backed up way. Also r/skincareaddiction has plenty of information in their Wiki with peer-reviewed research and is good for a starting point.
Below I’ve posted a little on the products I use day-in day-out on my skin, morning and night without much variation. I’ll post some honourable mentions in another post so this doesn’t become an essay. No, my skin isn’t perfect. I have scarring from acne when I was younger, I breakout when I’m hormonal and I can get quite oily. But is my skin 100% better than it was two years ago? yes, and it’s down to the following principles.
So grab ya self a cup of tea and dig in…
1. Mineral Oil (Make-up/Suncreen Remover)
Mineral oil is the scapegoat on many companies, but the irony is that it’s actually a great hydrator and non-comedogenic (the molecules are too large to get into your pores.) Mineral oil can remove the makeup on your skin without upsetting your moisture barrier and in fact actually protects it. (Summary of research here)
Baby oil removes all my makeup in about 30 seconds flat, doesn’t burn your eyes costs about $2 at the supermarket and lasts forever. Massage it in gently and remove with a warm wash-cloth gently.
Before you call me a hypocrite yes – baby oil contains fragrance. But this is my one exception considering it is applied and then removed within 1-2 minutes, meaning your skin doesn’t need to detox it itself. If you are concerned, you can source mineral oil with no fragrance.
Huge pointer for everyone out there, your cleanser goes DOWN THE DRAIN. Spend the least on this product and spend more on the stuff that stays on your skin.
2. Gentle Cleanser (no make-up days or morning cleanse)
The main thing you’re looking for in this step is something that doesn’t upset your moisture barrier, that you can use when you feel like you need to remove the moisture from your skin. This one from Avene is nice, but there’s no fucking way I would’ve bought it if I didn’t pick-it up overseas. I don’t really buy the whole ‘French Thermal Water’ crap…Cerave Moisturising Cleanser is just as good and cheaper. The main thing that drew me to this was that it has exactly zero irritants and is for sensitive skin.
Depending on the dryness of your skin you can either wipe this off with a cloth or rinse. I rinse because I’m oil city and I’ll look like a disco ball by noon if I don’t. When I rinse, I rinse this off and leave my face damp…we don’t want the water to evaporate and pull moisture out of our skin…blah blah blah moisture barrier, do you get it yet? From here I quickly jump in to the next step.
3. Hada Labo Goku-Jyun
K-Skincare fans rejoice! Korean skincare has hydration down. This product is probably a little bit strange if you haven’t ever ventured/heard of essences or toners.
This is essentially a hyaluronic acid based layer to keep moisture in your skin – it’s almost water like in texture so it really doesn’t feel heavy. I like to apply this to damp skin as hyaluronic acid is a humectant and draws hydration into the skin. This is a two birds one stone situation, not letting the water from cleansing dry means your moisture barrier doesn’t take a beating and on top of that the dampness leftover can then be utilised by the hyaluronic and drawn into the skin.
“When applied, “hyaluronic acid forms a viscoelastic film in a manner similar to the way it holds water in the intercellular matrix of dermal connective tissue.”¹ It needs application regularly to be effective, frequently breaking down in skin 24-48 hours after application”
So use it morning and night y’all! and of course it’s fragrance free.
4. CeraVe Daily Moisturing Lotion
Unsexy blue and white packaging? check. Bulk size that screams anti-luxe? Check. Probably one of the greatest moisturisers ever? Check.
This moisturiser has no fragrance, is non irritating and contains both ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The cheerleader of this product is its abundant use of ceramides. Ceramides already make up around 50% of your skin and has proven benefits across
- helping skin retain moisture
- fortify its protective barrier
- keep its appearance firm and plump (source)
CeraVe actually reinforces your skins own protective barrier and over prolonged time helps your skin to retain more moisture naturally. This moisturising lotion also has hyaluronic acid in it as an added bonus. This moisturiser is missing an occlusive (a hydrator which seals all the good stuff you’ve layered in) but I prefer this version for day-time use. I apply it directly on the wet Hada Labo Goku-Jyun.
Also the bottle is HUGE and lasts about 6 months with use on face and body – this moisturiser is literally maintaining your skins health and moisture and has no big claims to do anything else. That’s what I like.
I haven’t covered sunblock because you’d need to be stupid to not use that. Photo-aging is the second biggest contributor to ageing under genetics, and yes your skin even experiences damaging UV exposure from office lights. So wear it.
Focusing on hydration and non-irritating ingredients fixed issues with my skin that seem completely unrelated – like breakouts and texture. Greatly reducing the actives I use and the frequency has made a huge difference (post upcoming on these! they’re still in the game). I’d encourage everyone to become a skincare minimalist, don’t get sucked into marketing and focus on research backed ingredients – and research backed by someone other than the company pushing the product.
I’ve pretty much written a novel, but will be following this post up with some information on my peripheral skincare products that still make an appearance every now and then.
Happy New Year, here’s to a 2019 with good skin for minimal cost xx