As summer draws to a sultry, overdue end I’ve been taking stock of the skincare products that have really cut the mustard this year – the ones I now use so regularly they’ve become an automatic part of my beauty routine. When spring starts (look at me, optimistically skipping over the cold seasons and welcoming back the warmth!) these are the things I’ll be buying without hesitation – for their efficacy, their ease of use and for their pleasing textures.
I don’t know why I’m even waiting for spring – they’re all the sort of repairing, protective products we can benefit from every day of the year. But I suppose I’ll see much less sun over the winter and so my needs will inevitably change – perhaps less days with an SPF, if I’m holed up inside, and maybe the antioxidant frenzy might go off the boil a bit. (Read here if you need to catch up on why I was on an antioxidant frenzy.)
OK, here are summer’s best bits, in order of how I’d use them in my skincare routine.
The first is the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum, £41 here*, which is actually the least serum-like eye product I can think of. In fact, the reason I love it is that it’s so un-serumy – it goes on with that fuzzy-matte feel that you get with a silicone-rich formula, as though you’re smoothing on some sort of liquid velvet. (The texture is very similar to that of the Zelens Triple-Action Eye Cream.)
It sits superbly well beneath makeup, doesn’t irritate my sensitive eye area but has done wondrous things in terms of brightness and tightness, over the summer months. It’s potent, easy to use (just swipe on, no need for lengthy tapping-in or massaging) and the pump-action packaging is so convenient. Fast becoming my favourite packaging type, in fact. I don’t need to dig my nails into a pot so that I get cream underneath them, I don’t need to find those fiddly little tube lids that roll of the shelf and go under the loo…
You can find Kiehl’s Vitamin Eye Serum (Velvety Cream!) here*.
Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield, £31 here*. This is my default choice when it comes to a relatively budget-friendly antioxidant serum. It’s absolutely packed to the rafters with powerful ingredients that will help to protect skin against what the industry often snazzily refers to as “external aggressors”. When I think of external aggressors I always think of angry zombies banging on the windows of a derelict pub in a post-apocalyptic Milton Keynes, a pale and frightened landlord inside. If you’re ahead of me with this analogy you’ll know that the landlord is the skin, the windows are the Triple Algae Pollution Shield and the zombies are the external aggressors (pollution, smoke, light). And there endeth the worst analogy that the beauty world has ever seen. I’ll see myself out.
Anyway, Triple Algae is a great everyday serum that is powerful but reasonably non-irritating, so long as you don’t baste yourself in it twice a day. (Got a bit itchy when I used too much, so take note.) This serum will slip on under any moisturiser/sunscreen and act as a bit of extra protection if you want to help keep your skin even-toned and your skin barrier strengthened. You can use AM and PM but I would usually only use in the morning. Although…
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum (£85 here*) did manage to sneak into my routine twice-daily for a while. I had some pigmentation creeping in, due to the fact that I had lived in the garden for about six solid months, and I wanted to nip it in the bud. This was the most targeted, effective (according to Skinceuticals’ very good clinical trials) and easily-available product I could lay my hands on and it has definitely worked. It’s lightweight and water-like, absorbing instantly and layering brilliantly under just about anything else. I tend to follow the Defense Serum directly with moisturiser but you could slip on a hydrating serum in between if you fancied it and wanted some extra hydration…
So if dark spots are your niggling skin issue and you want something potent (but not drastic) to use longterm then this is most definitely one to consider. Note that it is expensive but you really should only be using two tiny drops each time, not a dropperful! One bottle has lasted me around six months with very regular use, at least once a day.
Find the Discoloration Defense Serum here*
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Fluid (£16.50 here*) would have to be my summer moisturiser of choice, if I could only choose one. It’s ultra-hydrating but oil-free and it’s light and smooth and silky and doesn’t weigh heavily on hot skin. For me, it gives the final moisture-boost before I go in with my sunscreen and the fact that it’s formulated for very sensitive skin means that I turn to it after I’ve removed my makeup and SPF at night, too. It’s a perennial favourite, this, and it won’t break the bank.
Sidenote: if you suffer with breakouts but also find your skin dehydrated, this is one of those wonderful face creams (fluids) that will do the trick as a moisturiser without making you feel worried that your skin is getting clagged up.
Find Toleriane at Escentual here*
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35 (£36 here*) could possibly be my favourite product of the year. It’s just a joy to use; light and fresh and almost undetectable on the skin. So rare for a sunscreen to tickle my fancy quite this much, but there you go – I actually look forward to applying it. Yes it’s fragranced (very, very pleasantly) and no it’s not the highest of factors (50 would be great) but it’s otherwise SPF Perfection.
So much so that it seems to be out of stock pretty much everywhere apart from LookFantastic here*, where it’s £36.
If you’d like to see how all of these products fit into a wider routine then please read – and watch – my latest Skincare Routine post here.
Here’s the skincare routine I’ve been following for most of the season and I have to say that it has kept my face looking quite spectacularly fresh and bouncy, considering the stress levels and overarching sense of fatigue that has dominated the past few months. (And the fact that I’ve been gorging on Mint Magnums with ever-increasing frequency.)
So the tweaks I’ve made seem to have seen me through spring without any significant dramas – though I think it’s also pertinent to note that I’ve been taking my Vitamin D every day, which always makes a huge difference to my skin, hair and nails. (To be more accurate, I took Vitamin D tablets for the first few weeks of lockdown, but when the weather turned glorious and stayed that way, I ended up spending most of my time outdoors and so I haven’t been quite so diligent at taking the supplement. Regardless, I always find the difference remarkable. My default state, in terms of vitamin D levels, seems to be “chronically deficient”.)
Anyway, no more blathering on: here’s my current routine. There’s a product list as long as my arm for this particular update (below the video pane), but not because it’s complex; I just wanted to give a few options for each step – something spendy, something sensible. Favourites old and favourites new.
My Current Skincare Routine: Spring 2020
In a nutshell:
Morning: Cleanse + Antioxidant + Moisturiser/SPF
Evening Night 1: Cleanse + Retinol
Evening Night 2: Cleanse + Hydrating Serum + Rich Moisturiser
My morning routine remains relatively unchanged. In fact I never really do anything funky or different in the morning, mainly because I don’t have the time to spare. Or even the time to think things through properly. As such, it’s usually a cleanser-serum-moisturise situation, although I’ve been outdoors a lot and so you can tag “sunscreen” onto the end of that list.
The cleanser tends to be light and splash-off and I love the Curel Foaming Wash* at the moment. The antioxidant du jour is Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield* and you can find out about my current most-used sunscreens here.
My evening routine alternates between two versions, neither of them very difficult or lengthy. After a thorough cleanse with a balm, usually twice, I’ll either apply my retinol product (see list beneath the video pane) or I’ll go in for the hydration marathon. Well, not really a marathon – just two steps. More of a hydration sprint. In the Dads’ race at school sports day.
The sprint consists of a hydrating serum and then a rich moisturiser, just to get things juicy and plumptious.
That’s it. The odd glycolic peel pad, but not so much at the moment because I’m outside for most of the day, and now and then a face mask, mainly because I’ve started drinking a herbal sleepy tea in the bath before bed and a face mask just feels right.
There’s a lot more in the way of explanation for everything in the video, so you should absolutely watch that. I don’t even waffle, which is nothing short of a miracle, especially as being locked in with two small children has completely melted my mind. Locked in? Locked down!
You can find all my cleanser reviews here
Sunscreen reviews are here
Link to Vitamin C Products featured here
Struggling to find a sunscreen that doesn’t make you want to claw your own face off with one of those plastic spaghetti spoons? My three current favourites might give you some inspiration. They’re all virtually undetectable on the skin with pleasant, lightweight formulas and broad spectrum protection.
And I’ll tell you something else about my favourite face SPFs: you can just about get away with skipping moisturiser underneath them. Unless my skin is very dry indeed, I find that a quick pat-in of hydrating serum is all I need before (liberally) applying my sunscreen.
(Actually, the Lumene serum from my April favourites would be gorgeous beneath sunscreen, if you’re all about trying to minimise your layers. I know I am, when the weather starts to turn warm; I can’t abide the feeling of eighteen different products on my skin and prefer to keep things as simple as possible.)
So here they are: my Holy Grail trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to narrow my favourites down to these, because I simply went along my bathroom shelf and swept off the three I’ve used the most. Because surely if I use them the most then there’s a reason for that? Otherwise I’d be an idiot.
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35
I’ve done a full review on this marvellous facial sunscreen here but as a recap: this is one of the lightest, freshest, coolest SPFs I’ve ever tried. It’s quick to sink in, there’s absolutely no residue whatsoever and it sits brilliantly beneath makeup.
The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Lotion SPF50
This is a new one to me and a total gem. Much more hydrating than the Arden, but with that comes an extra bit of heft. It’s not nearly as weightless and fresh, but those with dry or very dry skin will appreciate the relative creaminess. If your skin is very dry you’ll want a standalone moisturiser under all of these favourites, so it’s almost by-the-by.
Multi-Protection Lotion has a silky feel and doesn’t leave anything much in the way of residue, at least not after a few minutes, but you definitely feel the effects of the moisturiser even hours later.
Find it at The Body Shop here* – it’s £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid
Or “Shaka Fluid” as I seem to be intent on calling it. Maybe because it now has “shaka” emblazoned on the packaging, but I can’t remember whether that’s a new thing or not. Whatever you want to call it, it’s excellent – absolutely light and sheer and without greasiness or chalkiness or any kind of annoying SPF side-effect.
La Roche-Posay are brilliant at formulating for sensitive skin and for spot-prone skin and for skin that is both at the same time – the Anthelios range has something for everyone, pretty much. But this particular version is fragrance free, very water resistant and won’t clog pores. You can’t really go far wrong. Just remember to shake! (Shaka shaka!)
It’s usually £17.50 but is currently £13.50 at LookFantastic here*.
Now, there are two little surprise “extra” sunscreens in this post – perfect for those who have to reapply their sunscreen throughout the day but need to do so over their makeup, without disturbing it.
I’m afraid I’m going to be incredibly irritating and tell you to watch the end of the video I’ve made to find out all about them – there will be a separate post on them quite soon, but I need to go and extract part of Spiderman’s Web Thrower from inside my dog’s mouth before he swallows it. I can’t even imagine what would come out of the other end if he digested that!
For those who absolutely, resolutely refuse to watch moving image, the SPF mists are linked below the video. The rest of you, enjoy the sounds of my springtime garden!
Kate Somerville Uncomplikated SPF50 Mist, £32 but new customers get 15% off and a free gift (see her home page)*: https://bit.ly/3b9x9BR
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible SPF50 Mist – should be £14 but is currently £10.50 here*: https://bit.ly/3caZPfg