It’s taken lots of trial and error (and a fair amount of pennies spent in the name of ‘research’) but I think I’ve finally put together the perfect skincare routine for my sadly ageing skin.

While I’m only in my mid thirties, I have definitely noticed a few signs of wear and tear on my visage but even more annoyingly, I am still getting some of the old issues (yes, I’m talking about spots). So I basically need my skincare to do everything from battling the fine lines to staving off blemishes.

For some reason, I’ve developed a deep love for cleansers, not a product I used to find particularly exciting. I think it’s because after lots of time reading about how to look after skin, the general consensus is, it has to be primarily be clean. I personally really enjoy cleansing using a fresh flannel every day – it’s relaxing in the evening, and invigorating first thing.

I have become a big fan of the double cleanse, and like to first whip off make-up, SPF, and dirt with something oily or balmy, before going in for a second go with something a bit more like a treatment. If I’m feeling spotty, that could be a clay cleanser, for example.

My current favourite cleanser (I’m a bit behind the blogosphere on this one, as everyone else seems to have been using this forever) is the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. Clocking in at just under £30, it’s not cheap, but it is a beautiful product. It comes out of the pump (hygienic and practical) as a gel, but as you work it into the skin, it turns into an oil. With a gentle rose scent, it melts off make-up and dirt, and rinses off nicely with a cloth. The skin feels very soft afterwards, not dry or tight, but nice and clean. Sometimes I go in for a second clean with this, and sometimes I use it as my second cleanse if I’ve used a straight oil first – I have found it works either way for me. I also use this as my morning cleanse.

The expensive French green clay in Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser , a (very) lightly foaming wash, explains its somewhat hefty price tag (currently £35 on Cult Beauty). It contains a real cocktail of vitamins, minerals and essential oil including vitamin C, sandalwood, jasmine and black pepper. While some critics claim the pepper can affect sensitive skins, I haven’t had any bad reaction to this. I use it as a second cleanse, and my skin feels clear, clean, and smooth after using it. I also love the smell which is a kind of medicinal clay smell (sounds weird, smells delicious…) I always use this as a second cleanse and have used it in the morning too.

My third current favourite is Nourish Kale Enzymatic Exfoliating Cleanser. It describes itself as a ‘cleanser, mask, and facial – all in one product’ but I have only used it as a second cleanse. With a slightly lumpy texture and a pleasant smell, this product feels really gentle while you’re using it, but still leaves the skin feeling very clean, soft, and clarified. A good product, and also an interesting company, with cruelty-free ethics which very much align with my own.

I follow cleansing with an acid toner, something I have only been doing for the last 12 months, but which has had the most noticeable effect on my skin. I currently use a very gentle product, Pixi Glow Tonic.  It’s very affordable (£18 for 250ml) and a little goes a long way. It contains five per cent glycolic acid, which helps to slough away dead skin cells far more effectively and less abrasively than a physical scrub. While you can use this product morning and night, some choose to limit it to evenings. The important thing to remember with acids is always to follow with an SPF (which you should be using anyway…)

Some people like to layer up with various moisturising toners or spritzes, but I have found that I respond best to less products. Having said that, the best spritz I have found (and from another company with excellent values and high performing products) is White Rabbit Orange Blossom and Aloe Vera Toner. This is a product I always like to have to hand.

When it comes to eye cream, I don’t like pots, because I feel grubby little fingers must be dipping germs in the cream. I always try to buy pumps or tubes. My current choice is Korres Wild Rose Eye Cream with SPF 15. The texture feels velvety, smooth, and rich, and it is pleasant to use, unlike some which feel sticky or too wet. A good buy that isn’t too pricy, either.

A product I am happy to spend money on is retinol. Along with SPF, it is generally considered to be the only product which actually helps slow the ageing process, which makes it a must have if you have concerns about fine lines and the like. My current retinol product of choice is Pestle & Mortar Superstar. This retinol night oil is packaged in a black pump container, which is hygienic, and also stops the oil from degrading. You only need one pump at a time, so even at a fairly small 30ml (for £63) a little of this product goes a long way. This fragrance free oil has been lauded by a number of reviewers, and I am enjoying the benefits, having used it for around three months so far.

I don’t tend to need much else at night in terms of moisturisers or oils, but I have been massaging in a bit of Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial, after the Superstar has sunk in. This is a beautiful product – a rich but non-cloying oil that feels and smells really luxurious.

One of the most difficult products to source a really good, vegan, cruelty-free version of is a daily SPF. Because I use retinol and acids, I need one. While Superdrug is generally good for products like SPF, its factor 50 is vegetarian, and not vegan. I recently picked up Pixi’s new offering – Pixi Sun Mist. Because this is a spray, rather than a cream, I asked the shop assistant if it is intended for an everyday face product (as opposed to a body spray). She assured me it is so I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t find the spray particularly functional, so I tend to spray it in my hands, then spread it on my face. It has quite a strong alcohol smell, and this is one of the ingredients higher up on the inci list, but I haven’t found the product to be drying at all. It’s too early to say how good this is, but I haven’t ever had a bad experience with a Pixi product.

In terms of treatments, my current favourite is Korres Wild Rose Peeling Mask AHA 10%. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer non-physical exfoliation. This means that instead of harsh scrubs with abrasive granules (which can tear the skin) I like acids and products that dissolve instead of physically remove dead cells and other detritus. I have used a number of products from the Korres wild rose line, and liked them all. This is no exception – after use, the skin looks bright and feels nice and smooth. It’s easy to use and doesn’t feel uncomfortable while it’s sitting on the skin. It’s in a pot, which isn’t my preferred method of storage, but the benefits outweigh that negative.

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3 replies on “The perfect cruelty-free and vegan skincare routine

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