For much of my 20s, I experienced terrible hormonal acne along my jawline that just wouldn’t budge. I tried tweaking my contraceptive pill (with varying degrees of success), changing up my diet (giving up skimmed milk definitely made a difference) and even ditching oil from my skincare routine (although these days I use a little here and there—more on that later). It took me 15 years and a lot of trial and error, but this is the skincare routine that took me from acne-prone to glow-prone. When it comes to recommending contraception or diet, I'll leave that to the medical and nutritional professionals. But when it comes to advising on skincare, that I can do. Keep scrolling for the skincare and makeup products I swear by for glowing skin all year round.
I have oily, spot-prone skin, so I need to exfoliate twice daily to keep the oil at bay. Exfoliating also helps to buff away dead skin cells that could combine with the excess sebum to block pores and cause spots. Every morning and night, I cleanse my face with Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Brightening Exfoliating Daily Cleanser ($30). It's gentle enough to use morning and night, and also contains flower extracts that tackle unwanted pigmentation.
My Go-To Exfoliators
Then, depending on whether I'm in the shower or at the basin, I exfoliate with one of my favorite products. If I'm feeling lazy or I'm exfoliating before bed, I'll use the Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic ($38). If I'm in the shower, I'll use the ZO Skin Health Offects Exfoliating Polish ($67), which is super scrubby but not too harsh (you can even use it around the delicate eye area). I know it seems like I exfoliate a lot, but it's this amount of buffing that prevents my pores from getting clogged.
The Targeted Spot Serum
Unlike the AHAs contained in Ren's acid toner (above) that slough away at the surface, salicylic acid is a type of BHA that's oil-soluble and can penetrate deep down and exfoliate clogged pores from within. I always keep a salicylic acid serum like The Ordinary's (below) in my bathroom cabinet in case I can feel a spot brewing. I target my application to the trouble zone only and let it get to work.
My Daily Tools and Serum
On the days when I have a few spare moments, I will use a derma-roller before applying my serum. The roller creates micro-channels in the skin to help aid the absorption of the serum I apply after. Also, by creating minuscule holes in the skin, collagen production is triggered, thus helping the skin look plump and young. My skin is generally pretty blemish-free these days but be sure to use this on areas of your face that don't have spots to avoid the risk of infection or spreading bacteria.
Since dehydration can trigger spots, I always make sure to apply a hyaluronic acid serum. Right now, I'm using Stacked Skincare HA Hydrating Serum ($130). Stacked Skincare products aren't the cheapest out there, but they really have helped me garner a lot of compliments about my complexion since using them. If I have time, I'll follow that with a quick massage using a jade roller (using upwards and outwards strokes). I find this really helps to alleviate tension along my jawline. It also feels really good!
The Treatment Products
After my hyaluronic acid serum, I then layer up with a vitamin C-based product in the morning to protect my skin from the environment. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, so it has your back when it comes to things like pollution and UV rays. Come evening, I go through the same steps, but instead of vitamin C, I apply a retinol serum. Retinol is a vitamin-A derivative and is basically the gold standard anti-aging ingredient. It tackles everything from skin tone and texture to pigmentation and acne.
For quite a few years now I haven't used moisturizer, instead relying on serums, which I layer, to tackle my different skin concerns. But Augustinus Bader's The Cream has got me hooked. I reviewed it when it launched at the start of the year and the compliments I received were quite incredible. My skin looked glowing and people noticed. I apply this after my serums on mornings and evenings when I feel like my complexion is looking a little dull or feeling dehydrated. It's pricey, I know, but if it is within your budget and what you're willing to spend on a cream then I really do think it's worth it.
My Favorite Masks
I tend to avoid oils as much as possible, as they don't agree with my complexion. Despite being pretty strict about checking the ingredient lists of most products, I did fall in love with this Colbert MD sheet mask before I knew it contained a little oil. If I'm being diligent about exfoliating, I know my skin can handle a little oil without breaking out. However, I try not to push it too much. The box of five Colbert MD masks doesn't come cheap, but I can also recommend the No7 Restore and Renew Face and Neck Multi-Action Serum Boost Sheet Masks ($6 for four) that leave you looking like you've just gotten a facial.
The Makeup That Boosts Glow
When it comes to boosting that all-important glow, there are a couple of primers and one CC cream I return to time and again. You can't completely fake good skin with makeup (an uneven skin texture will show), but these do a good job of concealing minor imperfections and making good skin look great. If any of these three products start to run low, I get panicky (yes, they're that good). Plus, It Cosmetics' CC cream has an SPF of 50 to keep my skin protected throughout the day.
What products do you rely on for good skin days? Let us know in our Facebook group, The British Beauty Line.