My Skincare Essentials

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a total skincare junkie!

I love make up too but I generally keep my make up routine quite streamlined and I’m not too experimental about it, aside from a bold lip every now and then.

But when it comes to skincare, especially now I’m in my, ahem, 30s, I’m much more inclined to spend my time and my money here rather than anywhere else. As they say, a good base makes all the difference!

So I thought it would be fun to share what brands and products I’m enjoying using right now. I’ll say right out of the gate, there are a few products I’m super loyal to but I really enjoy rotating products and trying out new brands. Personally that works for me and my skin but everyone is different!

My skincare philosophy is to try to keep it clean as much as possible. I love Sephora’s curated clean skincare  and whether it’s a placebo effect or not, whenever I’m using a clean product, I feel my skin drinks it up and looks better for it all the more!

First up, cleansers….

I like nothing more than getting home, taking my make up off and getting my skin to feel clean… really clean! But I hate the feeling of tight, dry skin that some cleansers leave you with. So I almost always double cleanse and I look for hydrating, often oil based cleansing products. Here are some in my current rotation.


I keep this La Roche Posay Purifying Facial Wash in my shower and tend to use this every morning to gently wake up my skin. I’ve been a big fan of La Roche Posay for a few years now and was hoping I’d be able to find this French brand in NYC when I moved here, which thankfully I can!

Liz Earle is such a fabulous brand and is readily available at home in the UK. Sadly, it’s less so available here so I try to stock up when I’m back. I’ve been using the Cleanse and Polish, generally in my night time routine ever since I was a teenager. With ingredients like cocoa butter, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus and beeswax, this smells so delightful and is just packed to bursting with things your skin will love. When you buy the cleanser, you get a cotton cloth with it, and the idea (much like the far more expensive Eve Lom system) is to lather up and then wash off using hot water. It feels like a mini facial you can do in the comfort of your own bathroom!

One of my newer finds has been the Japanese brand Tatcha which I discovered at good old Sephora. More on the various Tatcha products I’m using later but the first thing I tried in the collection was the Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil – I love this stuff! Again, using it mainly at night, I find it super luxurious on the skin and the camellia scent is pleasant and calming before bed.

I was introduced to Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm by Banila Co by my friend M, who has quite possibly the most clear, beautiful skin I’ve ever seen! Whatever she was doing, I wanted to try for myself so she let me into her secret of using this Korean beauty cult favourite. I love that it comes with a teeny tiny spatula to help you get just the right amount of product. It smells great and I love the hydrating feel when you wash it off.

OK, let’s talk toners and essences!

I definitely recall being a cleanse, tone and moisturize girl in my early teens but when I was at university and in my 20s I fell out of the habit of toning or doing anything in between cleansing my face and slapping a bit of moisturizer on. In fact it was only last year when speaking to M about her skincare regime, that I reintroduced this step.

M pointed out, that no matter how hydrating your cleanser might be, all cleansers will ultimately strip your face of its natural oils. So it’s really important, immediately after cleansing, to follow up with a toner or an essence….. or both! Toning acts as another cleansing agent (how many times have I cleaned my skin, twice even, and then toned only to find more grime coming off!), it replaces some of the lost oils that your cleanser will have removed and having slightly damp skin will help whatever you put on next absorb even better. Essentially there are lots of benefits of toning!

I was always put off by the time involved so my morning toner is a spritz of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist – even I can find time for a quick couple of spritzes! In the evening, I like to use First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner and to be honest, I’ve kind got used to the slightly longer bedtime skincare ritual! It’s a really welcome, relaxing addition to my evenings!

I have to give a special mention here to May Coop’s Raw Sauce….

May Coop’s Raw Sauce

Another K-beauty classic, this is an essence made with 93% maple tree sap, skin-nourishing fructan powder and Asian herbal and fruit extracts to achieve the appearance of more hydrated and dewier skin. I honestly became slightly addicted to this soon after discovering it. It then sold out for a while, enabling me to try and grow to love my FAB Wild Oat Toner but is back in stock now! I will definitely be re-buying!

Up next, moisturizers!

My favourite moisturizers right now

My skin does have a tendency to get a little oily during the day so I prefer light, mattifying moisturizers for my morning routine and leave the richer, denser creams for the evening – when it doesn’t matter if my face looks like an oil slick….!

On moving to the US, I really enjoyed discovering some American brands that were new to me. One product that is now a non negotiable for me is Cerave Ultra Light Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30. I love this as a daily moisturizer, it’s light weight and preps my skin well for make up. It’s also really reasonably priced which makes it a win-win in my book!

My all time favourite day moisturizer is Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer and I have been a die hard fan for years. I use this in the summer months and think it’s one of the best mattifying moisturizers out there, again at a reasonable price point.

I’ve recently added Ole Henriksen C Rush Brightening Gel Cream to my daytime rotation as I really wanted to try adding vitamin C into my routine. It’s early days but I’m enjoying using this product. The gel formula feels great during the NYC heat and while the smell (I’d call it a ‘fake orange’) is quite strong on first application it disappears soon enough.

Another recent addition to my night time routine, is from Beauty Pie – the British membership based beauty buying club that’s become a viral sensation. Very briefly – the idea is that you pay a (monthly or annual) membership fee, which allows you access to high quality products from leading beauty labs (often the same ones that produce products for very well known, luxury skincare and beauty brands) at a fraction of the price.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their Japan Fusion Supreme Cream which supposedly would retail at $125 but Beauty Pie members can buy for $11.22 (+ membership fee). Who knows where the retail price comes from and if it’s accurate but I can say the formulation of this cream is a dream! I really love it, so was really sad to find that despite having an outpost in the US, I was getting charged a foreign transaction fee on every purchase which neither my bank or Beauty Pie customer service could resolve. Very frustrating and unfortunately means I had to get a refund on my membership.

A couple of shout outs to a couple of my can’t-live-without-brands!

First Aid Beauty (FAB)

I had been hearing good things about this clean beauty brand for a while but actually got round to trying them in desperation during my first winter in NYC. My usually very well behaved skin FREAKED out when winter hit – I’m not used to the very dry/ humid climate over here and the eternally-always-on heat or air conditioning. With my first taste of the icy NYC wind, my skin just gave up altogether (think angry red blotches and then essentially my skin peeling off my face…..eeeks) and I had to make my first ever trip to Urgent Care.

After a course of prescription steroid cream (and days spent indoors for fear of scaring little children), I was advised to use as gentle a moisturizer I could find so I turned to FAB’s Ultra Repair Daily Face Moisturizer. I remember being so scared to put anything on my skin but FAB came to the rescue with this clean, super smoothing, super hydrating cream.

Once my skin calmed down and returned to normal, I was then game to try some other products in the range. I really love their Ultra Repair Cannabis & Oat Dry Oil, I’m onto my second bottle already and tend to use this as part of my night time regime, after toning and before moisturizing. Another fave of mine is their Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum. It’s the only serum I’ve found I am able to use in the morning (usually I opt just for a light moisturizer as I know my skin gets oily during the day but on a day where I do want a little extra, this serum works for me). The Facial Radiance Exfoliating Pads (not pictured, I was waiting for my next supply to arrive in the mail) and the Ultra Repair Skin Cream for your body are also great!


I was really impressed with the Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and the Luminous Dewy Skin Mist I originally purchased from Tatcha so I wanted to try more of their range. It is quite pricey and there was a lot I wanted to try, so I jumped at the opportunity to buy The Ritual For Radiant Skin Mini Set at Sephora.

It contains (in my opinion, generously sized) minis of the Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder which I am loving using as an exfoliator – the powder mixed with water turning into a foam really reminds me of another cult classic product, the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. The set also contains The Essence Plumping Skin Softener (which I like but at $95 for the full size, I not tempted to buy anytime soon) and The Dewy Skin Cream. I was most excited to try the The Violet C Brightening Serum which contains 20% vitamin C and 10% AHA serum and the The Violet C Radiance Mask packed with Japanese beautyberry, two types of vitamin C, and AHAs from seven fruits.

It’s early days to give you a proper recommendation on the Violet C products but I’m really enjoying using them and so far, so good!

So there you have it, a peek into my skincare essentials! There’s a lot there but I like to rotate my products and experiment with new brands especially if they are clean. Skincare can be expensive but my motto has also been to splurge on your serums and moisturizers and keep everything else fairly basic if needed.

I would love to know what skincare you’re using right now! Leave me a comment with your recommendations below!


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