Confession: I have a bit of an ambivalent relationship with beauty. Having worked in lifestyle journalism for around six years, I've been exposed to the inner workings of this lucrative industry, and even now, as I watch it from the safety of my fashion bubble, it can feel somewhat intimidating. The sheer number of products is overwhelming, the price points so wildly varying and the advice so often conflicting. Do I need to double cleanse? What's the right SPF to wear? What's the deal with toners? It's a lot to take in.
Personally? I've always been quite lazy when it comes to makeup (which, I appreciate, is a luxury) and for about a decade now under-eye concealer, mascara and eyebrow pencil have been my go-tos. This has, however, meant that I've ended up becoming more invested in skincare, specifically creating a routine which allows me to spend as little time as possible applying product in the morning. It's also worth noting that I am a bad sleeper, so it's often a battle to keep my skin from looking dull and tired, and in the past have struggled with the odd low-level, stress-induced bout of acne (mostly on my cheeks).
It's only in the last year or so that I have refined my routine down to a winning edit. I do tend to rotate certain products every month or so, hence the reasonable number of products below. However, I feel like I have finally worked out what my skin does and doesn't like. What has been the biggest revelation has been discovering the holy grail of vitamin C, retinol and SPF. Since I've incorporated this trio into my routine, I've found that my skin has been more consistently happy.
Of course, while we don't like to admit it, a lot of how our skin behaves is down to genes, and I am conscious that I am lucky that, on the whole, mine is quite well behaved. Essentially, everyone needs to use products that work for them and their needs. However, all of the below are tried and tested by yours truly, and I've purposefully included a selection of buys that I've loved over the last year, so you can pick and choose according to what you're craving right now. Scroll down to see my full edit.
Scroll down to shop my beauty essentials
Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin 400ml (£6)
Affordable and effective, I use this before cleansing and applying serum.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo[+] Unifiant 40ml (£15)
This is one of my hero products. I use it whenever I have a breakout and it works every time.
Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Glow Boost Essence 30ml (£30)
WWW's beauty editor recommended this vit C serum to me, and I'm now obsessed. I apply in the morning before moisturiser and SPF.
Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel SPF50 60ml (£38)
It took me years to find an SPF that doesn't make me look either super-shiny or ghost-like. This formula is light and has all the right credentials.
Yu Ling Rollers Jade Facial Roller Medium (£22)
Puffy face? No problem. Just pop this in the fridge and roll away.
Zelens Z Hyaluron Hyaluronic Acid Complex Serum Drops (£55)
Another recent discovery. I'll use this just before bed and sometimes in the morning for a moisture-boost.
Pixi Glow Tonic (£17)
My skin can be a little sensitive, so I only use this once a week to exfoliate.
These feel so dreamy on tired, puffy eyes. I used almost every day over fashion week.
Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (£11)
Another WWW recommendation! Rich and creamy, this Body Shop hero is fab for a good facial massage.
Shiseido Waso Clear Mega Hydrating Cream 50ml (£35)
This is such a brilliant mix of rich yet lightweight, so it's perfect for 20-something skin. Apply when you need a dry-skin boost.
Kiehl's Youth Dose Eye Treatment 15ml (£37)
I prefer an eye gel for de-puffing in the morning, but I like to use this before bed.
Rodial Vit C Energising Individual Sheet Mask (£14)
A little on the pricier side, but by far the best sheet mask I've used this year.
Kate Somerville +Retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer (£77)
Retinol has been another game-changer in my beauty routine. I'll use this once or twice a week just before bed.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil 15ml (£67)
I never thought that oil would be good for combination skin, but this little gem proved me wrong. I'll use once a week and massage in just before bed.
Emma Hardie Purifying Detox Pink Clay Mask with Dual-Action Cleansing Cloth (£40)
I used Emma Hardie's cleanser last year and loved it, so I wanted to test out this clay mask. It's tingly when applied but works like a dream.
La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Anti-Ageing Concentrate - Intensive 30ml (£27)
Before I discovered the Kate Somerville retinol, I was using this which is a great entry-level buy and affordable, too.
Origins Clear Improvement™ Charcoal Honey Mask 75ml (£30)
This smells heavenly and feels so good afterwards. I usually steam my face first then leave on for 20 minutes as a weekend treat.
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser (£32)
Another cleanser that I return to again and again. This one applies to wet skin but is super creamy and smells amazing.
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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