I’ve used foundation as a security blanket since middle school. I began getting hormonal breakouts around seventh grade, and in a bid to protect my fragile adolescent ego, I’d layer on my mom’s foundation and a bit of setting powder to help conceal the blemishes on my forehead and cheeks. Cut to over a decade and a half later and, despite having finally gotten to a good place with my skin, makeup was still as steady in my routine as brushing my teeth. There was something comforting about applying a full face of makeup every day—with every pat of my makeup sponge and flick of my mascara wand, I felt a sense of calm and routine. It was my own personal time to be an artist on my own canvas every morning where I could experiment with new shades, techniques, and products (or stick to a classic look). But, I’d be lying if I said the artistry was the only reason I continued to wear makeup, even up until recently. The underlying reason is that wearing makeup boosts my confidence. It conceals, enhances, and sometimes shapeshifts in a way that makes me feel comfortable. And as I step deeper into my thirties, wearing makeup allows me to shroud hyperpigmentation and dark circles. Although, on paper, my skin is “good skin.” I’ve taken a lot of care to ensure it’s healthy and nourished by changing my diet, using hydrating and barrier-repairing ingredients, and of course, wearing SPF, so I want to be able to show off the progress without shrouding my skin with a layer of makeup.
I was recently introduced to lifestyle brand founder Jenni Kayne’s new skincare line, Oak Essentials, and beyond being charmed by the chic, minimalist packaging and branding, I was enticed by what it stands for: a simplified approach to skincare with purposeful, plant-based ingredients for women of all ages. The market is often so saturated with fluffy skincare products and confusing ingredient lists that I simply won’t bother testing, but Oak has all the markings of an honest, researched brand that I can get behind. Three of its products that I chose to dive into first are the Ritual Oil, Moisture Rich Balm, and Restorative Mask. My skin has been so dry lately from the forced hot hair in my apartment and dipping temperature outside that I’ve been in need of barrier-repairing products, which each of these help to do.
After cleansing, I’ll follow-up with a moisturizing serum before gently pressing the Ritual Oil into my skin. It’s fortified with squalane oil to impart moisture, jojoba oil to nourish the skin (it also mimics sebum meaning it sinks in nicely without sitting on top like a film), and blue tansy to combat redness. I typically shy away from oils for fear of breaking out, but I’ve yet to see a blemish from this product. In fact, my skin looks more radiant and balanced after each use.
On days when I could use a little extra oomph, I’ll vacillate between the Moisture Rich Balm and the Restorative Mask. The Balm is richer than a typical moisturizer, acting as a serum-oil hybrid to replenish dry skin. The entire experience is quite spa-like, as the texture melts into your fingers and smells heavenly thanks to a mixture of lavender and rose geranium oil. Unlike most balms, this lightweight formula sinks deeply into the skin so you can easily apply makeup on top should you choose to apply in the daytime.
As for the mask: this is my favorite product to use on Sunday evenings when I treat myself to a little self-care before the start of another work week, and it always feels like an act of luxury. The star ingredient is tropical honey which works to ease inflammation as well as the regeneration of collagen. It’s also got avocado and sea buckthorn oil to protect against free radicals and environmental stress. While it sounds like it’d feel sticky on contact, it’s actually massively buttery, melty, and luxurious.
This trio of products has been so transformative to my skin. Dryness and a stripped barrier are the gateways to a myriad of skin issues, especially redness and inflammation, so using each of these has helped my skin to look so much more supple and radiant. A friend actually stopped me mid-sentence to tell me how “glowy” I looked. In fact, I’ve been so happy with my overall texture and tone that I’ve only been applying eye makeup and letting my skin remain bare (sometimes I’ll throw a cream blush or liquid bronzer on) and it’s made me feel liberated to not reach for a foundation or concealer every day. I still have moments where I feel a little naked without a full face of makeup and self-conscious that I’m not wearing my usual security blanket, but knowing that I’m feeding my skin nourishing, revitalizing ingredients that will only improve its appearance over time makes me want to keep letting its natural (and now, improved) condition shine.
Want to try Oak Essentials for yourself? Use the code BYRDIE15 for 15% off your new glowy skin go-tos.