The world of beauty can be overwhelming, as much for our cabinets as our wallets. But rest assured: a high-powered cosmetics arsenal need not break the bank. Take it from the stars of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets, who have revealed that some of their most prized products are in fact some of the best priced.
See La Roche-Posay’s $14 Serozinc Toner, a mattifying mist that has earned Naomi Campbell’s seal of approval. What’s more? The Kendall Jenner–beloved Mario Badescu Facial Spray—laced with soothing green tea, cucumber, and aloe—rings in at just $12; spritz it on before applying a layer of Sydney Sweeney’s go-to $16 Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre or a $19 hyaluronic-acid-infused primer that’s a mainstay in Jessica Alba’s Dopp kit. Gigi Hadid, meanwhile, swears by Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss. Delivering an ultra-moisturizing, ultra-shiny finish for only $7, it’s one makeup must-have that will leave you anything but high and dry.
Below, shop the best beauty products under $20 on Amazon, as chosen by Vogue’s Beauty Secrets stars Gigi Hadid, Emma Chamberlain, and more.
When I discovered powder sunscreen, it was a total game-changer. They’re basically UV blockers (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) in a powder form that can be easily brushed on skin throughout the day when you need to reapply your SPF, all without messing up your makeup. In fact, depending on which one you try, they’re actually pretty excellent for mattifying oily skin or even adding a little bronzed glow to your face. Genius, right?
BEST MULTITASKING POWDER SUNSCREEN :
Paula’s Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30
Not only does this SPF 30 powder protect you from UVA and UVB rays with zinc oxide, it uses antioxidants (specifically vitamin C and vitamin E) tohelp minimize free radical damage and ceramides (they’re essential for a healthy, functioning skin barrier) to prevent moisture loss throughout the day.
I love this powder sunscreen for two main reasons (beyond the fact that it shields skin with SPF 30). The first being that the brush head is removable (you can easily pop it off to clean and disinfect the brush hairs as needed) and the second is that it’s refillable! Once you finish up the powder, just recycle your empty powder pod and replace it with a new one.
This powder sunscreen feels practically weightless and has a translucent matte finish, so it works on just about every skin tone. Another bonus: It layers perfectly (no clumps or caking) over liquid, cream, and powder makeup products too.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Any time I talk to a dermatologist about powder sunscreens, this top-rated one from Colorescience always comes up in the convo. The tried-and-true mineral formula protects skin from UV rays with SPF 50 and comes in four different shades (fair, medium, tan, and deep) that never look chalky or ashy on skin.
This powder sunscreen with SPF 30 is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it ideal for days when you’re hanging by the pool or sweating like crazy. I like to apply my regular cream-based facial sunscreen in the morning and then layer this one on top throughout the day as a touch-up.
Oily skin types, get excited. This powder sunscreen doesn’t just shield your face from UV rays, it keeps it nice and matte too. As soon as you dust the translucent mineral formula over your skin, it’ll soak up excess oil to keep your face grease-free for hours.
The last step in your makeup routine should 100 percent be a layer of this powder sunscreen. It provides you with your daily dose of SPF 30 AND sets your makeup for up to 12 hoursof transfer-proof wear.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, this soothing powder sunscreen is for you. The gentle, non-irritating formula is made with anti-inflammatory zinc oxide to protect skin from sunburns and photo-damage, plus redness-reducing chamomile and green tea.
This translucent SPF powder is made with all-natural and organic ingredients (like aloe vera, passion fruit, and rosemary oil), making it a legit option for anyone who is into the green beauty scene. Buff it in to protect your skin from UV rays, take down shine and excess oil, and minimize redness.
Supergoop Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder SPF 45
Think of this brush-on powder with SPF 45 as a dry shampoo/sunscreen hybrid. Apply it to your part to soak up excess oil (just like a dry shampoo) and protect your scalp from getting burned. And don’t worry, it won’t leave behind any weird, white-ish residue.
Sun Bum’s Mineral Sunscreen Spray makes applying SPF easy. Its spray nozzle effortlessly coats skin with just one spritz — just apply 15 minutes before you’re exposed to the sun and then reapply every two hours while you’re out and about. The formula is made mineral-based and made of zinc oxide, but don’t worry about any white cast issues, this formula is basically invisible. Once the sunscreen is all evenly applied, make sure you pat it in to ensure it’s fully absorbed and ready to protect.
Reapplying lip balm to avoid chapped lips can require constant vigilance, but not anymore. Sara Happ (a long-time favorite brand known for its lip scrubs) just launched its first lip balm-gloss hybrid. Created with hyaluronic acid, this lip treatment makes lips feel smooth and soft.
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer
Since Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Cloud Moisturizer was such a success when it first launched years ago, the brand finally formulated a version of the iconic cream with sunscreen. This non-greasy moisturizer shields skin from the sun while hydrating with hyaluronic acid, so get ready to have skin that’s protected, hydrated, and soft as a cloud.
The Kate Somerville Delikate Serum is ideal for those who have sensitive skin. Its lightweight formula is made with cucumber seed oil to help calm and soothe redness, as well as ceramides to help protect and strengthen the skin’s barrier.
Ole Henriksen is bringing together three of its game-changing products to create the ultimate kit: 3 Mega Wonders. Included here is the Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner, the Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum, and the C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème, three products that work together to give your skin a serious glow. Stick with this trio and you’ll have hydrated, radiant skin in no time.
When I found out Kylie Skin was launching a lip exfoliator, I thought, It’s about time the queen oflip kitsdropped a prepping product. This formula is made with a mix of nourishing oils (jojoba and grape seed) and vanilla-scented sugar, which leaves lips soft, kissable, and hydrated after a gentle scrubbing.
Perfect for all skin types, Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream is a lightweight undereye cream formulated with avocado to improve hydration and date seed extract to give the eye area a subtle glow.
Thrive Causemetics Moisture Flash Active Nutrient Toner
Thrive Causemetics Moisture Flash Active Nutrient Toner is a pH-balancing liquid exfoliant that helps smooth and brighten skin. The witch hazel in the formula cleanses and targets unevenness, while salicylic acid aids with any pore congestion and acne. Get ready for bright, even, clear skin without added dryness.
In my opinion, the Kinship Mint Mud mask was practically made for an at-home facial. The refreshing treatment clears out pores, thanks to kaolin clay, while lactic acid gently dissolves dead-skin build-up, brightening skin. Above all else, you’ll love how it smells: like a freshly opened sleeve of Thin Mints.
A full face of makeup is no match to the Goodhabit Rescue Me Clean Scene Micellar Gel. Just one pump of the formula, which is made of hydrating hyaluronic acid and chamazulene (to help with redness), whisks away any makeup, including those of the waterproof variety.
If you’re looking for some serious luminosity, look no further: Laneige just dropped Glowy Makeup Serum to make any base makeup more radiant. Apply two pumps as the last step in your skin-care routine and apply your makeup as normal; the diamond mineral powder in the formula will create a translucent glow that looks gorgeous on all skin tones.
Even though we’re indoors right now more than ever, it’s still super important to wear sunscreen. Versed Guards Up Mineral Sunscreen boasts SPF 35, and its finish is creamy — not too dewy, not too matte — is a great option. Oh, and it never leaves a white cast on any skin tone. A winner in my book.
Then I Met You Honey Dew Lip Mask is a versatile pick because it can be used as a glossy daytime balm or an intense nighttime treatment. The squalane in the tube will leave lips feeling moisturized, while the honeydew melon will soothe the sensitive and delicate skin on your lips.
Give yourself an at-home facial with the Juice Beauty Prebiotix Instant Flash Facial. This all-in-one treatment acts as an exfoliating mask and cleanser. Plant beads and tartaric acid exfoliate away dead skin while iris extract and prebiotic ingredients help encourage balance, giving skin a fresh-faced glow.
Hydrate and replenish your complexion with Chantecaille’s new Radiance Elixir. This illuminating serum will give your skin a healthy, fresh glow. Either wear it alone or mix it with your foundation — either way, you’ll be feeling lavish and radiant with just one drop.
Turmeric is well-known for its soothing properties, which is why it’s an ingredient great for calming acne breakouts. Neutrogena’s latest launch, Soothing Clear Turmeric Mousse Cleanser, utilizes this ingredient in a lightweight formula that removes dirt, oil, and makeup from pores without stripping the skin of natural oils.
Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb just got a soothing upgrade. The new Aloe Vera version gives you the same hydration of the original gel-cream (thanks to the glycerin and ceramides), but it contains the aforementioned aloe, which is known to calm irritation and acne.
Heyday x Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re) Setting Mist
To celebrate the Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re) Setting Mist’s fifth anniversary, it’s getting a complete makeover — at least package-wise. Over the course of five months, Supergoop! will be releasing its SPF-packed setting spray in five newly-designed packages. This month, the skin-care brand has partnered with Heyday for a bright yellow bottle that just brings me a lot of joy.
Asking for bright and smooth skin just got a lot easier, thanks to Malin+Goetz’s new launch. The Resurfacing Face Serum is made with glycolic and lactic acids to exfoliate dead skin cells and vitamin C to give you a more radiant complexion. All you need is two or three drops before moisturizer and you’ll be good to go.
Get dewy-looking skin with Clinique’s new Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator SPF 25. It’s made of hyaluronic acid, aloe water, and a sugar called trehalose to provide moisture for up to 12 hours. In addition to broad-spectrum SPF 25 to give you some protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, it also has a sheer tint to give you a touch of color and glow.
Who doesn’t love a gift set? In this Elemis and Olivia Rubin collaboration, you get seven full-sized products from the skin-care brand (Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, Peptide Night Recovery Cream-Oil, and Sea Lavender & Samphire Body Cream to name a few) all housed in a super fun rainbow-colored makeup bag designed by the British fashion designer.
I feel as though physical exfoliation is one of the most satisfying skin-care practices because of the instant gratification it can provide (hello, immediately refreshed skin). Not only does exfoliation feel amazing and leave skin instantly more luminous; a good face scrub paves the way for the serums and moisturizers to follow, according to board-certified dermatologist Jeannette Graf.
“Exfoliating can help skin-care products penetrate 20 percent better,” she tells Allure. But here’s a word to the wise: As with most things, there is such thing as too much of a good thing in the case of scrubbing your face. You can avoid over-exfoliation by capping your scrub sessions to a maximum of three times per week.
Whether you need something that’s extra gentle for sensitive skin or want a scrub with a little extra oomph for perpetually clogged pores, I’ve got you — and your wallet — covered. Happy scrubbing, folks.
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
It’s not ideal to use a face scrub every day, according to dermatologists — so if you’re going to kick up your exfoliation, use the most gentle scrub possible to prevent damage to your skin barrier. The daily scrub from Cetaphil is packed with pH-balancing glycerin, so it hydrates while it sloughs away dead skin cells.
If you’re prone to acne, dullness, and hyperpigmentation, here’s a prime pick for you. The itty-bitty granules in Bioderma’s Exfoliating Gel physically exfoliate until they burst with salicylic and glycolic acid, which chemically exfoliate away impurities. With this formula, you’re getting twice the exfoliation in one product.
Dermatologists love the Best of Beauty-winning Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser from Neutrogena, and the scrub version is full of all the same clarifying ingredients, plus tiny microbeads that give an added boost of physical exfoliation.
No7 Radiant Results Revitalising Daily Face Polish
No7’s Daily Face Polish contains ginseng root, which, all by itself, comes with a multitude of skin benefits. According to dermatologists, ginseng contains all sorts of antioxidants and vitamins that prevent fine lines, acne, and even hyperpigmentation.
You can always count on an Aveeno product to be gentle on even the most sensitive skin types, and its Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub is no exception. With antioxidant soy extract, gylcerin, and jojoba oil, this scrub exfoliates just as much as it soothes and nourishes.
Just like the treatments available at Bliss Spa locations, the Micro Magic scrub will leave you feeling totally refreshed. It’s basically a gentle, at-home version of a microdermabrasion that sloughs away dirt and oil with volcanic pumice while its aloe vera soothes and de-puffs.
If sensitive skin plus physical exfoliation sounds like a recipe for disaster, let the Ultra-Fine Scrub by La Roche-Posay change your mind. Super-fine pumice particles — suspended in a cooling gel formula — provide just the right amount of grit without feeling scratchy. Plus, this stuff leaves skin with a quenched suppleness you might expect from a water-based gel moisturizer.
This L’Oréal Paris sugar scrub is everything a sugar scrub should be — but better. The Pure-Sugar Scrub is infused with not one but three different types of sugar, suspended in a creamy mixture of coconut oil and cocoa butter. The skin-softening formula isn’t overly abrasive, yet it leaves skin visibly glowing after one use. As you probably guessed by the ingredients, the formula smells like baking batter — but just like real batter, you definitely shouldn’t eat it. That said, it does doubles as an excellent lip scrub if you’re compelled to use it near your mouth.
Oily-skinned folks, listen up. The creamy white exfoliator from Simple contains rice powder to absorb excess oil, and the gentle silica particles — a replacement for microbeads — work to manually slough off dead skin, leaving you positively glowing.
Yes To Coconut Energizing Coffee 2-in-1 Scrub & Cleanser Stick
In case you prefer toting your cleansers around in stick form, consider this portable scrub by Yes to Coconut, which makes exfoliating way easier than ever. Not to mention, Yes To’s coconut and coffee combo smells amazing.
Olay Micropolishing Cleansing Infusions Facial Cleanser with Crushed Ginger
This micro-polish cleanser from Olay reminds me of formulas that are five times its price. The tiny granules feel pleasantly sandy and break down into a creamy consistency as you cleanse, leaving skin visibly glowy post-rinse. Plus, the formula has a zingy scent that smells like summer and happy days, thanks to crushed ginger and citrus.
Fun fact: This concoction from St. Ives was born after the brand asked fans which scrub they’d like to see next on shelves. This enlivening coffee and coconut combo won. Fans of the (albeit, controversial) Apricot Scrub will love how this provides the same level of super-deep exfoliation (thanks to an infusion of crushed walnut) with the added benefits of skin-softening coconut and circulation-promoting coffee.
Citrus scents in the shower are a pick-me-up as much as they are a wake-me-up. The grapefruit extract in Yes To’s citrusy scrub is naturally high in vitamin C (so it boosts collagen production and helps reduce hyperpigmentation), as well as lycopene, which naturally aids in protecting skin from UV damage.
The beaker-like nozzle of Bioré’s Charcoal Pore Minimizer makes you feel like you’re in chemistry class every time you use this black scrub. The charcoal powder pulls out oil and pollutants like a magnet, and it all rinses away with the gel.
The super-creamy formula, which features kiwi seeds and alpha-hydroxy acids (which you can read more about here), leaves your skin smoother than ever — and yet it’s astonishingly nonabrasive. The pearlescent mint-green color is so stunning!
If you’ve struggled to maintain a consistent skincare routine in 2020, the new year is the perfect time to hit refresh. One of the best products you can incorporate into your newly defined regimen is a trusty vitamin C serum, since it can tackle a variety of skincare concerns overnight. You don’t have to spend a fortune for a winning formula, either. The Truskin Vitamin C Serum has over 30,000 perfect ratings!
Why is it so popular? The potent serum claims to treat a multitude of issues, including wrinkles and fine lines, large pores, breakouts, dark spots, and dull skin — and according to reviewers, it really works. It has a jam-packed ingredient list of highly effective additives, yet remains free of harsh chemicals, synthetic colors, fragrance, sulfates, and stabilizers. Instead, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and aloe vera (to name a few) come together in one lightweight formula that can be applied on all skin types, morning and night. A ton of reviewers swear the affordable serum restored a youthful appearance to their skin with consistent use.
“I am a 43-year-old wife, mom of teen girls, and middle school math teacher,” said one shopper. “After two weeks of using this serum, my 17-year-old tells me I look like I am in my 20’s rather than 30’s. Fine lines are going away. Acne scars fading. Pigmentation evening out. Even my neck and jawline are smoother. Now my husband wants some for his ‘dad neck.’ Oh, and despite my sensitive skin, I use it on my actual eyelids without any irritation at all.”
“My search for an amazing serum is finally over,” shared another. “I just purchased my 3rd bottle and I am hooked! My skin looks flawless and I have been getting so many compliments about how great I look. My skin glows as if I just walked out of a spa treatment. A little goes a long way, the bottle usually lasts me about three-and-a-half months.”
Toners are an important part of the skin-care equation, especially if your end goal is dewy, luminous skin. However, a lot of people still don’t know what exactly toners are or what they do. Board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Libby explains that a toner is designed to help remove the debris your cleanser might have missed and to prep your skin for the next step in your routine. “I think of them more as an adjunct or add-on to your skin-care routine,” Libby tells Allure.
Toners of the past were known for their astringent properties, which often dried skin out. Today, however, toner formulations have been improved to target an array of skin concerns, such as the loss of collagen or excess oiliness that can lead to breakouts — all made with varying ingredients, depending on your skin-care goals.
Board-certified dermatologist Sapna Palep tells Allure toners that hydrate and smooth out fine lines often contain antioxidants, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid. While toners that treat acne often include salicylic or glycolic acid.
Just as there are different ingredients for you to choose from, there is more than one way to put product on. Application is very easy and Libby says it’s really up to an individual’s preference: you can use your hands or cotton pads (Palep’s preference). And beyond the traditional bottled liquid, toners can also come in other delivery systems, such as gel sticks and face mists. (Libby particularly loves the spray formulations.)
But with so many toners out there in the market, it can be difficult to know what to pick for your specific skin needs. Scroll down to find the right toner to add to your skin-care routine.
Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate
If adding a toner to your mix feels like an unnecessary middle step, the Best of Beauty-winning Liquid Exfolikate by Kate Somerville may change your mind. Think of this toner, packed with alpha hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes, as a multi-purpose treatment that helps get rid of dead skin buildup so that your products absorb better. Spritz it on a night right before your moisturizer and sunscreen.
Some facial toners use alcohol to clear away dirt and oil, but it can seriously dry skin out. Clean & Clear’s Lemon Juice Toner does the exact same thing, sans the stripping alcohol. There’s also vitamin C in this Allure Best of Beauty 2020 winner to help brighten and even dullness and dark spots.
Mamonde Rose Water Toner is made with 90 percent rose water to give skin an intense boost of hydration. Not only will your skin will feel soft after using it, you’ll also get that dewy look that so many of us are constantly chasing.
If you’ve been using and loving the Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic for as long as I have, you know it’s basically magic in a bottle. It’s made with hero ingredients — such as glycolic acid, aloe vera, and witch hazel — recommended for clearer, softer skin.
Those who are blemish-prone will want to pay special attention to the Boscia Resurfacing Treatment Toner. It contains alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (like glycolic and salicylic acid) to gently remove dead skin cells and clear pores of dirt and grime — both of which will prevent breakouts in the long run.
Can a toner really be moisturizing? The 2019 Best of Beauty winner Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid answers that question and more. Thanks to a formula full of ceramides, an ingredient that helps restore any lost moisture, skin is left feeling soft and supple after every use.
Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner is made with a powerful blend of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids to control excess oil production without stripping away too much moisture. Plus, the 2019 Best of Beauty winner has a refreshing eucalyptus and peppermint scent that makes it a joy to use.
As the only mist on this list, Too Cool For School Rules of Mastic Facial Tonic doubles as a toner and hydrating spray you can use in the morning and then throughout the day. It contains ceramides and mastic oil, which strengthens the skin’s resiliency and helps heal damaged skin.
I came to the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner because I have an unhealthy obsession with all things rose, but I stayed because it’s just that damn good. The 2017 Best of Beauty winner contains rose fruit extract, rosewater, and angelica leaf extract — all known for their nourishing and soothing properties. Plus, it’s alcohol-free, so it won’t dry your skin out.
Lumene Glow Lumenessence Brightening Beauty Lotion contains only the best ingredients to get you glowy skin. Yes, it has vitamin C, but it also has wild arctic cloudberry, which helps fight off oxidative damage and strengthen your skin’s natural defense barrier.
Milk’s Matcha Toner is truly unique for many reasons, but the obvious? It’s a solid, gel-stick toner, made with anti-inflammatory matcha green tea and oil-wicking kombucha, to soothe skin and prep it for its next skin-care product.
As fall approaches and temperatures drop, skin tends to become dryer. On top of richer moisturizers, face oils, and serums, a hydrating face mask every now and then can help the skin retain moisture. “Hydrating masks are so important because they replenish the skin with moisture that was lost through time,” says Samantha Mims, in-house esthetician at Brooklyn Face & Eye. “With weather getting colder, now is a great time to start incorporating those H20 masks in your routine.”
Here, 14 hydrating face masks to add into your skin-care routine this fall (and beyond!), to give your skin the nourishing boost it deserves.
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask with Vitamin C
Esthetician and Fenty Skin ambassador Sean Garrette considers this overnight concoction one of the best face masks because “it plumps, hydrates, and soothes stressed and dehydrated skin.” It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, squalane, and antioxidants like vitamin C, prickly pear, goji, açaí, and vitamin E.
Breakouts on the rise? This mask is soothing, hydrating, and purifying. Created by Temi Shobowale, the Botanical Masque is perfect for reducing inflammation thanks to chamomile flower extract. Kaolin clay, which is detoxifying, helps to remove impurities from the skin. It’s also brightening and energizing due to the vitamin C within the maca root.
While nourishing the skin, this face mask helps to fight against damage with vitamins B12 and E. CBD helps to soothe and smooth the skin’s texture, reducing redness and inflammation. If you’re looking to combat hyperpigmentation, this mask’s shiitake mushroom extract will lend a hand.
This gentle exfoliating mask is an all-in-one facial treatment in a tube. It offers a great hydrating reset for skin in need. Standout ingredients include chestnut extract, which offers a natural exfoliating experience; vitamin C for a brightening boost and skin-barrier nourishment; and anti-aging niacinamide, which also helps with pore reduction, smoothing fine lines, and wrinkles.
This mask is great for sensitive skin. It’s a favorite of Mims, who recommends it for its “hydrating components like hyaluronic acid, in addition to its botanical extracts like geranium and rose to help fight bacteria and inflammation.”
Filled with aloe vera and rose water, this facial mask is equally soothing and hydrating. It’s part cleanser and part exfoliant, helping to keep hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and overall skin dullness at bay.
Jacq’s Clarifying Green Smoothie Face Masque and Scrub
This mask’s bentonite clay removes impurities from the skin’s surface, while ginger essential oil hydrates and shields skin—call it the perfect ingredient for a self-care Sunday. Bamboo charcoal, Dead Sea salt, and tamanu oil offer an extra-clarifying boost.
Speaking of green, this powder-turns-gel mask is filled with superfoods you’d want in your smoothie, like spirulina, mango juice, chlorophyll, and chlorella. The results? Clearer, healthier, dewier skin.
Seoul Fashion Week has come to a close, but given the endless stream of “chok chok”, “kkul-gwang”, and “glass” complexions that came down the runways, it’s only natural that the obsession around each model’s preternaturally luminous glow lingers. And because, in many instances, a Korean woman’s steadfast dedication to her skin-care regimen is inherited from her mother, it seemed like the right time to procure hand-me-down intel.
From Moon Kyu Lee’s pared-back approach, to Hoyeon Jung’s go-to calming treatment, here, six Korean models share the one tried-and-true skin-care secret they learned from their mother.
“My mom always told me to use as little product as possible. She only uses a hydrating cream and sun protection before going out. And I watch a Korean YouTube channel called Director Pi, which analyzes the composition of different types of cosmetics and finds ‘friendly’ products for your skin. I had to throw away some of my favorite products after discovering their strong chemical compositions. Now, I prefer natural ingredients and use a range of organic products from Sanoflore.”
“When I was 20, my mom told me, ‘Wash your face as soon as you come home; you have to keep your skin good while you’re young.’ After I cleanse with Aesop’s Fabulous Face Cleanser, I apply one of their creamy moisturizers as they’re great for my dry skin.”
“ ‘Skin first, makeup second!’ is what my mom has always told me, so I stick to basic [moisturizing] and only use a cleanser when I wear makeup, otherwise I’ll just use water. When my skin is irritated, I’ll use an aloe mask pack for its soothing effects.”
“One of the most important beauty tips my mom taught me is don’t cleanse your face too much, just at night. If you wash your face too much, it gets drier. Using just water in the morning is fine! At the end of the day, before I go to sleep, I use one of the cleansers from Innisfree, a very famous Korean brand, or Darphin’s Aromatic Care face oil with chamomile.”
“For my night routine, my mom always told me that I should only use one cream that perfectly suits my skin and then never touch my face after I put it on. So after I clean my face at night, I wipe it with toner, then moisturize, always using the same amount. And then when I wake up in the morning, I don’t wash my face with a cleanser, just water to clean off the leftover cream from the night before. It may feel like you didn’t wash, but it minimizes stimulation to the skin, so less possibility of emerging pimples. I love Neogen’s Code 9 Glacial Magic Pore Gel and always use a spoon to scoop it out, because I don’t want to infect the bottle.”
“My mom says, ‘If you want to have baby skin, you have to use baby-proof products!’ I know it sounds crazy, but I think about it whenever my skin is showing signs of stress. My skin has gotten more sensitive and weak since I started modeling, so I really prefer more pure, natural products. The most important thing is cleansing. I’ll use a cleansing milk or gel, gently using my fingertips to massage it into my face, circling at the cheeks, chin, and around the eyes.
How do you approach your skincare routine? Is it with a certain sense of abandon, incorporating any and every strong active ingredient? Or have you taken a more measured route – stepping back, consulting a professional, and considering what will work best for your skin? If you’re in the first camp, a little swotting up is all that’s required to get you back on the beauty straight and narrow. Thanks to LA-based celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, who has worked with everyone from Julianne Moore to Emma Roberts, we have her book Glow From Within to consult on the rules of skincare. And Vargas knows a thing or two about what makes for a robust, radiant complexion.
An advocate of a “pillar-based”, 360° approach to the skin, Vargas has conquered all manner of concerns in her time as a facialist. “Beauty isn’t skin deep,” she says. “Today, most of my clients know that they need to eat nutritious meals, avoid particular foods, and drink enough water to achieve their own brand of youth.” Other positive lifestyle choices she recommends are good self-care, paying attention to your body, prioritising sleep, reducing stress, and doing some exercise. She sums it up as making “time for connection and joy” in her book.
As for products, “I recommend a minimalist regimen,” Vargas says. “Cleanse at night and apply a serum or a mask for sleeping. In the morning, cleanse or rinse, apply a serum, moisturiser and a sunscreen,” she says. “I also exfoliate twice a week and do a beauty mask once a week.” Finding the right cleanser for you is relatively straightforward – simply use a gentle formula that targets your skin issues and doesn’t leave your face feeling tight after washing. So far, so simple. But Vargas is also enthusiastic about another, potentially confusing pillar of good skincare: active ingredients. So where to start?
Vargas says any effective routine should incorporate a retinol at night. “It’s great for all skin types, and using a vitamin C in conjunction for the day will help brighten skin.” Despite what many people think, good retinoids can be bought over the counter – brands like Skinceuticals and Medik8 offer an array of options that cause little to no skin irritation. Medik8’s Crystal Retinal 3 Serum is a brilliant entry point and will help to increase cell turnover, leading to more even skin tone, smoother texture and, of course, fewer fine lines. No 7’s new Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex is a good high street option. There’s also Vargas’s own brilliant vitamin C serum (the Rescue Serum), which combines vitamin C with super-hydrating squalene and elderberry extract, a powerful antioxidant. You can also find it more potently in Vichy’s LiftActiv Peptide C Ampoules, which contain 10% fresh vitamin C as well as hyaluronic acid within each capsule.
Exfoliation is also at the top of Vargas’s list when it comes to encouraging a glow back into the skin. “It usually acts as a mini facial and brings back glow immediately,” she says. She recommends a fruit enzyme-filled mask or treatment, with one or two other alpha hydroxy acids (actives that are excellent for keeping skin healthy and luminous), like lactic, kojic, mandelic or glycolic, to gently nibble away at the pore-clogging dead cells that can sit upon skin, making it look far less happy than it should. Try Sand & Sky Emu Apple Enzyme Power Polish, Herbivore’s Prism 20% AHA + 5% BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial,or Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask. Note that she recommends performing a treatment like this twice a week, rather than every day.
For hydration, Vargas is a fan of hyaluronic acid, the wonder molecule that can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water, meaning it hydrates and plumps the skin as no other active can. Niod’s Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex is a great option, since it contains 15 different forms of hyaluronic (which means it’s more likely to conquer the skin barrier), or Dr Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Acid is also highly concentrated, with long and short chain hyaluronic molecules for better penetration.
Of course, there are other active ingredients that can prove beneficial in any good beauty routine, but as Vargas points out, these are the key power players that form the basis of excellent skincare. Listening to your skin and what it’s telling you, however, is also key – what works for one face won’t necessarily work for another. “Unhealthy skin can appear red, inflamed or irritated and, when pinched, may not bounce back but will tent up in a wrinkly shape. Or you could simply be struggling with breakouts,” says Vargas. If that’s the case, combat irritation with soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, aloe vera, green tea or cica, to name four, then reconsider the product you’ve used and whether you might have overdone it.
After that? Your fifth and perhaps most important active, SPF (which is actually a cocktail of different actives). Apply, and you’re ready to take on the world.