Savannah Lee Smith Shares the Simple Skincare Step You Always Forget to Do

The Gossip Girl star tells us all of her skincare secrets.

Savannah Lee Smith selfie

Savannah Lee Smith / Design by Tiana Crispino

All skin is good skin, which is why good skincare is more of a journey than a destination. We all love a one-off tip—but, at Byrdie, we’re more interested in how our skin evolves over time. The product we've used for a decade, the ingredient cocktail that made us glow, the step we never skip, and all the advice in between. This is the stuff that makes a real difference. With What I Put on My Face, we’re bringing you the rituals, recommendations, and failed experiments (we’ve all had them) straight from celebrities, founders, and influencers who’ve gone through it themselves. 

Right now, Savannah Lee Smith is on cloud nine. At 20-years-old, she's already accomplished something many actresses work for years to achieve—landing a major television role. Though Smith is still enrolled in acting school (she’s a junior at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts), you'd never know it watching her performance as Monet De Haan in the highly-anticipated Gossip Girl reboot. "I never imagined my first project was going to be on such a large scale," she tells me. "There was a little bit of pressure in the beginning, but I feel like it's turned into excitement now."

Smith's character is one of the queen bees at the Constance Billard School for Girls. The first episode of the series puts Monet's cutthroat and conniving ways prominently on display, leaving viewers in constant suspense of what she's going to do or say next. "I like to say she's an amalgamation of all of my bullies and the people who gave me negative vibes," Smith explains. "But I feel like she's a different type of bully because she's not an insecure mean girl. I'm not sure where her meanness comes from. Maybe it's something with her family or her past? I am excited to get into that and find out."

Smith's real-life persona is a far cry from the HBIC she plays on-screen. She's down-to-earth, funny, and game to talk about anything—especially skincare. For our new skincare series, Smith opened up about learning how to care for her skin, her go-to products, and the skincare advice that changed her life. Read on for everything Savannah Lee Smith had to say.

Savannah Lee Smith

Savannah Lee Smith

Her Biggest Skincare Concerns

My skin type is normal, combination. It can be on the dry side sometimes. I kind of just see what products work for me and go from there. I'm constantly trying new things.

How She Got Into Skincare

Yeah, I pretty much learned from YouTube. There's this YouTuber named Hyram. I stumbled across his videos and started watching him because I thought he was funny. And then I realized he knows what he's talking about. I've also learned a lot from my co-star Zión Moreno. Her skincare routine is amazing. When I met her, I was amazed by her skin and asked her to tell me everything [she uses]. So, a lot of the products that I use are recommendations from her.

Her Morning vs. Night Routine

I feel like they're pretty similar, but obviously, I put sunscreen on in the morning. And then at night, I'll do a mask. I also use a heavier moisturizer because your skin tends to dry out when you go to sleep. But other than that, they're pretty much the same. 

The Skincare Step She Never Skips

Sunscreen! Then, I use a moisturizer. I can't stand the feeling of dry skin. I feel like I can feel the dryness on me. Then, I'm like, Oh my god, are my elbows ashy? Is my face cracking?

I like to use Sun Bum Sunscreen because it doesn't leave a white cast, which is hard to find as a highly melanated queen. It's very light—it doesn't have a thick moisturizer feel. It just seeps into your skin. When it comes to moisturizers, I'm switching between moisturizers. I like the L'Oreal Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer ($14)—it is thick and creamy.

Savannah Lee Smith

Byrdie/Savannah Lee Smith

How Her Routine Changed Over Time

There have definitely been changes. Like, I didn't know what toner was when I was 12. I wasn't prioritizing doing face masks and stuff like that. So, I think I have more awareness and knowledge now. When I was younger, my skin didn't give me any issues. I never had acne or anything. But as I've gotten older, my hormones have kicked in, and sometimes I'll break out. I really just started my skincare journey about a year ago.

Her Favorite Skincare Product Right Now

Well, I used to use makeup wipes a lot. And don't get me wrong, l still do. But Zión recommended the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm ($38). The texture is really soft—you just break it apart in your hands and put it on your face. It removes makeup seamlessly, but it's very moisturizing. And since it's not a wipe, it doesn't pull on your skin. I've been enjoying using it.

The Best Skincare Advice She's Ever Received

I was breaking out while I was home, so I told my mom about it. She said, "When was the last time you changed your pillowcases?" And I was like, "I don't know, maybe a couple of weeks."  And she told me that my pillowcases were probably the cause. I never thought about it, but as soon as I washed them, my skin cleared up. You don't think about how when you sleep, the oils of your skin or whatever products you use can rub off on your pillowcase. Then, your clean face is like rubbing on that, and it's like cross-contamination. So that advice changed my life, actually, and now my pillowcases have to be extra clean.

Her Skincare Pet Peeve

I feel like there's a lot of stuff that gets on my nerves in general. In terms of skincare, people on TikTok can kind of go too far, I guess. For example, they'll do chemical peels. Sometimes people on TikTok will apply a store brand chemical peel, or they'll make it themselves, and then they'll do it like every day. It hurts my eyes to watch because I know that cannot be [good for] your skin.

Her Most-Used Product

It's probably sunscreen or my face wash. I wear makeup a lot now for the show and shoots. So, I probably wash my face like three times a day. I would like that not to be the case because I feel it's stripping my skin sometimes. But, I've also been using the Herbivore Rosewater + Tremella Creamy Jelly Cleanser ($24). 

The Product That’s Been in Her Routine Forever

As of now, the one product that I've been using the longest is Tatcha's Violet-C Radiance Mask ($68). I've been using that for about two years. It's a creamy, rinse-off mask. It doesn't dry, which I like. And it has a lot of fruits and [other nourishing ingredients] in it. I am obsessed with masks. If it were healthy to do them every night, I would because I love the experience. 

The Best Skincare Product She’s Tried Recently

Wait, I'm going to run to my bathroom closet because I want to say the right name. I am kind of obsessed with this new body moisturizer. It's from Hempz, and it's called Triple Moisture Herbal Whipped Body Cream ($13). I can't describe the smell, but I swear I've smelled the scent throughout my childhood. It gives me such nostalgia. I love it. The hemp is supposed to be stress-relieving and calming, and it's moisturizing. I just got it at the drugstore.

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