Going into my twenties, I am realising more and more every day the importance of skincare. It’s so much more than aimlessly dabbing on a bit of moisturiser now and then. We only get one skin in our lifetimes, and we need to look after it. With the peak of summer just around the corner, and with temperatures rising, it’s essential to stay protected from the sun and maintain that healthy glow.
During lockdown last year, I started trying out different techniques and products. Some are worth the hype, and some made me break out worse than ever before. For context, I’m on the contraceptive pill, and, while my skin isn’t prone to acne, it is quite oily and can be hormonal. During summer, when you’re sweating more and your pores get clogged up, this means potentially more spots, blemishes and redness.
I’ve made a list of my holy grail products that I would recommend anyone to add to your daily skincare routine. I’ve deliberately chosen to talk about products that are more lightweight and designed to exfoliate and draw out more oils and impurities from your skin, which is beneficial for the summer. I’ve found that consistency is key when using products on your face, so if something works then don’t switch it up too often unless you need to!
Disclaimer: I am not a skincare expert. All opinions are my own and from personal experience. All products react differently to different skin types, so please do your own research and patch test your skin before trying anything new!
1) Sun cream
I can’t stress enough how important it is to put sun cream on not only your face, but your whole body too. Sun cream blocks UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn, which leads to redness, dry skin and an uneven skin tone. It also reduces your risk of skin cancer and maintains your skin’s overall health and helps to protect against visible signs of premature aging. You need to wear a minimum of SPF 30 and apply generously throughout the day, especially if you’re directly out in the sun. If you’re off to the beach, make sure you pick a water-resistant one too!
Whilst you might dread the thought of applying and reapplying this oily substance every day, or simply hate the smell of it, skincare has actually come a long way, so you don’t have to use the same sun cream you would lather on your body, on your face, where the skin is much more fragile and sensitive.
The sun cream I use is Hawaiian Tropic’s Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF30. It’s affordable, travel-sized, and comes with a spray nozzle. Best of all, it’s incredibly lightweight, so can be packed on underneath makeup or patted on top without that greasy feeling! If you’d rather skip a step, you can go for a foundation that has SPF pre-added to it, like the IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream, which works exactly like a full coverage foundation with an added bonus of SPF 50!
2) Lip Balm
Your skin and lips dry out when it’s sunny, so you need to rehydrate them. I like to keep it simple by using the Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe Vera balm, which provides long-lasting moisture without any intrusive flavours or colours. The added Aloe Vera also soothes irritation, so if your lips do get burnt from too much sun or chapped from the salty sea, this is perfect.
This is a vitamin B serum that works to reduce blemishes and balance sebum activity, which are the oils that build up in your pores. While this isn’t exclusively a topical treatment for acne, I find that applying this overnight works wonders.
I use The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, and because it’s a lightweight serum it’s best to use in the evenings before heavier creams like moisturiser. I find that this makes my oily skin much more bearable and clears up any blocked pores effectively.
Another great one for oily skin or just to use all over to get rid of the stubborn remnants of makeup and dead skin cells after a long day. This is an exfoliating product and helps to firm and tone the skin, leaving a bright, clean and glowy look.
I use the PIXI Glow Tonic to even out my complexion and accelerate cell renewal, and this leaves my skin feeling so fresh and clean! This one is especially good if you wear makeup on a regular basis as it effectively cleanses without using any harsh chemicals. I would recommend using this after you’ve taken off your makeup, and before applying any serums, oils or creams.
5) Micellar Water
This is the only product I will ever use for makeup removal. It’s a gentle cleanser that lifts away dirt and impurities from your skin. The Garnier Micellar Water is lightweight and can be used as it comes or foaming (soak a cotton pad with it and then blow directly through it, creating bubbles), which means you’re not vigorously rubbing your skin to get some stubborn mascara off; it just lifts away effortlessly. This is fab for those who have sensitive or problem skin. Unlike a milky or creamy cleanser, this feels just like water, so you’re not left feeling sticky or oily- you feel clean. I always find that one bottle of this lasts such a long time too, you only need one splash to clean your whole face. Of course, if you wear a lot of makeup or dark eyeliner or lipstick, for example, it would be a good idea to also use a strong cleanser to get it all off. Also, as an eyelash extension wearer, this is great for cleaning them as the ingredients don’t interfere with the glue as normal makeup remover would- it’s a win all round!
Even oily skin needs moisture to stay healthy. I personally don’t like heavier creams as I feel like they make my skin worse, so I opt for the L’Oreal Hydra Genius moisturiser. Rather than a cream, it has a water-like silky texture that absorbs into your face almost instantly. This is great if you’re on the go and like a non-intrusive solution. It releases continuous hydration and the added aloe vera is simultaneously soothing. This really feels like it penetrates my skin rather than just sitting on top of it. I would use this in the morning (before makeup) and evening (along with serums and other skin care).
7) Castor Oil
The hype is real with this one. As it’s an all natural product, you can use this oil on pretty much anything. Whilst being a popular treatment for dermatosis, I use this for hair, eyebrow and eyelash growth. While there aren’t any official studies proving that castor oil stimulates hair growth, I definitely think it’s worth a try, even if it won’t automatically work for everyone. Even if it doesn’t make your hair longer or your eyebrows grow quicker, it still provides a deep conditioning treatment. I usually use a spoolie to brush it through my eyebrows and eyelashes and leave it on overnight. Results vary, so if you want to see if this helps your lashes or brows appear fuller, then you should try using it consistently every day.
8) Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a life saver. While it has loads of different uses in everyday life, it’s especially great for skincare. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, so can be used to target and treat spots. If I have a flare up or a couple of visible spots, instead of picking or squeezing them (risking infection or scarring), I dab on a bit of tea tree oil and leave it overnight. In the morning, I find that the spot has either diminished massively, or completely dried out! It helps to speed up the healing process of skin, so you’re unlikely to be left with any marks for long! Tea tree oil can even reduce oily skin by reducing pore size and can also treat dryness or redness by soothing inflammation.
If applying directly to a spot or small patch of skin, you can use it in its pure form as an essential oil. If applying all over, it’s best to dilute it with a standard face oil or mix it with your usual moisturiser.
It can even be used as a hand sanitizer, natural deodorant, antiseptic for mild cuts and insect repellent! It’s affordable and multi-purposeful!
9) Cotton pads
Obviously, to apply and take off makeup we need to use pads of some sort. While mass-produced cotton wool pads are a standard product, they are single-use and often non-biodegradable so are wasteful and not great for the environment. Don’t even get me started on face wipes. If you get through a lot of pads or wipes, I would recommend switching to reusable organic bamboo pads, like these ones from Greenzla. You can use these continuously, rinsing them as you go along. They come with a cute little laundry bag too, so you can put them in the wash and they’re as good as new again to use. With proper care, these pads can last years! These natural pads are soft, gentle and great for sensitive skin. Because these are completely natural and zero waste, you no longer feel guilty when taking off your makeup as you aren’t wasting them or your money.
10) Gua Sha and Face Roller
If you haven’t heard of or seen these weird looking things by now, where have you been?
Gua Sha is the ancient Chinese medical practice of using the rounded jade scraper tool to apply pressure to the face and neck to relieve tension. When done correctly, this involves stroking the tool along your face to promote lymphatic drainage. This essentially de-puffs your face, eliminating bloating from water trapped under your skin. This tool can be used to stimulate circulation, decrease inflammation, and even sculpt your face muscles, revealing the cheekbones or jaw line you never knew you had! Here’s a demonstration on how to use one of these bad boys for optimum results . All you need to do is make sure your skin is prepped with a moisturising mist or a face oil, to ensure the jade tool can glide smoothly across your face rather than dragging your skin, and then follow the instructions for the movements!
Similarly, the jade roller helps to de-puff your face and drain fluids out of your lymph nodes. This is easier to use than the Gua Sha, and simply involves rolling the tool in specific motions around your face, like this. It improves circulation and instantly gives you a better complexion. This tool can even improve headaches by relieving tension held in your forehead and diminish stressed under-eye bags.
As both tools are made of jade, they are naturally cool and soothing to the touch. Who wouldn’t want to give themselves a relaxing massage with the knowledge that it’s improving the look and feel of your face?
Words By: Dasha Pitts-Yushchenko
Edited By: Tamikka Reid