When it comes to skincare I really am a less is more kind of gal. Unlike years past, I used to overdue it when it came to products, skincare, and routine. Not anymore! More often than not, we tend to really overdue it with a laundry list of products and routines and that can wreak havoc on our skin. So in an effort to taking a different approach when it comes to my skin, I've paired down my essentials quite a bit. I have a few favorites that I use on the regular and I want to share them with you. All products are definitely affordable, easy to find, vegan, cruelty-free, free of sulfates, parabens, and other harmful toxins and chemicals. I am always open to finding something else or a diy to try, but for now these really serve me well as I like things simple.
Cleanser + Exfoliating Scrub
A good cleanser is the best place to start, there is no debate about that. Years ago my skin was pretty oily, especially in the t-zone and it drove me absolutely crazy. I could have a nice face of make up and then an hour later I would be too greasy. Though admittedly I do think that was partly due to a diet that contained lots of oils and more fried foods. And thinking that I was doing my face right, I tried harsh products that contained salycilic acid to help rid the oils. But I was doing more harm than good because in an effort of stripping my face of its natural oils, my face was producing more oil to compensate. It was a cycle that kept on going. When I switched to a more gentler cleanser that wasn't harsh or for oily skin, I was able to break the cycle of stripping my skin and producing enough natural oil that didn't leave me dry or overcompensated with too much oil. I found Acure at Wholefoods years ago, but it has since been sold at mainstream stores like Target. I love the clean ingredients that is in Acure, and this Brightening Cleanser and its partner the Brightening Facial Scrub have been my go-to for years and has never let me down. The cleanser does a great job at cleaning my skin leaving it super soft and feeling refreshed while the scrub gently exfoliates sloughing off dead skin cells and ridding it of impurities. I will use the scrub maybe a couple times a month so it does last a while. With the cleanser I use a cotton face cloth and the facial scrub I will either just use my fingers or I will use a soft bristle brush that isn't too harsh or abrasive. I gently exfoliate, rinse with warm water making sure to get it all off and then finally rinse with cool water. All of the products that I have tried by this beauty brand have not disappointed me and they are all vegan, cruelty free, free from sulfates and parabens and so much more. Have I mentioned how affordable they are? Both the cleanser and the scrub run less than ten bucks each and will last you a while if you only use what you need - a little goes a long way. Do you know what else is cool? They have partnered with Terracyle with a recycling program to recycle their Acure packaging. That's a win for sure!
Acure's Brightening Cleanser Gel has been my favorite go-to for years.
Continuing on the less is more path and following right up after I wash my face is keeping moisture in. When I was talking with a friend about my problematic oily skin years ago, she suggested that I use oils to moisturize. I know it sounds couterintuitive, but it really does work absorbing into the skin enough leaving it moisturized and happy. It won't strip natural oils or feel greasy. I've tried different oils like almond oil and morroccon oil, which felt super light and kind of sat on the surface of my skin. As well as different brands (including Acure,) but I've settled on one particular argan oil. Would you believe that it's Trader Joe's very own argan oil that is certified organic? It's a nicer thick oil that really sinks into my skin without it feeling heavy and greasy. Another reason that I prefer an oil over a traditional moisturizer is that it is so versatile in that you can use it on your hair, nails and even cuticles. The Trader Joe's argan oil is certified 100% organic, comes in a 1.7 ounce glass bottle with a dropper and runs around $7. The dropper is nice because you can easily control how much to use and it keeps you from wasting product. To use this argan oil, simply disperse a drop or two of oil in your hands and rub them together to warm the oil and then smooth the oil onto your face. Also be sure to get your neck, too. Blend it in well. It's very lightweight and absorbs nicely. Use it on your face, hair, and nails.
Trader Joe's 100% Organic Argan Oil. I love this stuff! Is really dense but soaks right into your skin without feeling heavy or thick at all. Under 10 bucks!
I don't have a set ritual of when I will do more than my everyday cleansing. I will exfoliate when I feel I need it, and the same goes for a mask. Usually that time is if I feel a little stressed or tired and need a pick me up of some pampering, or if I think I want to do a little deep cleaning. I've tried different kinds of masks over the years from those gel ones, the kind that peel off your face like a second skin, thick avocado masks, and I will try a handy DIY one, too, if I find one that seems appealing. But the one that I gravitate towards now is a calcium bentonite clay. Harvested from volcanic ash, bentonite clay is great for pulling out the impurities and toxins in your skin. It also cleans out your pores, rejuvenates your skin and exfoliates dead skin cells. I've also used it on bug bites and poison ivy as it helps relieve the itching and dries it out. I initially bought this because I was tired of buying clay masks and then they dry out in the tube towards the end and also was annoyed with wasting all of the plastic. With this one, it is nice to be able to get a larger jar and mix up what is needed at each time of use. This particular one is from Wholefoods, but I have seen many other bentonite clay brands. I don't imagine there to be a world of difference between them unless maybe it's how it's harvested or its source or if there are any other ingredients other than the clay. This one suits me just great and again, it's less than ten bucks. One thing to note though is that you need to use a wooden spoon (anything non metal) when using your clay and a non metal bowl. If doing so, you negate the nutrients and charge that are found in the clay (it's a science thing!). When making a mask, simply mix some clay with water into a paste and spread it onto your face and leave on for ten minutes. Wash off with warm water, rinse with cool water and then follow up with your favorite moisturizer, you know mine. You can also add a spoonful to your bath and apply as a hair mask.
Calcium bentonite clay jar from Wholefoods is perfect for that clay mask.
What? I hadn't really heard of Micellar water until recently. I had picked up this latest bottle by Essano because I had seen it on sale during one of my shopping outings and because I was curious. It doesn't really smell like much or look like much, but I LOVE this stuff. Micellar water is made with soft purified water and micelles which help clear out dirt and debris. Micellar water is great for cleansing your skin, helps to balance your ph, and the neat thing is that it is not necessary to rinse with water after using Micellar water when cleansing - making it perfect for on the go, at the gym or office, and traveling. I typically don't use it as a cleanser if I had been wearing make up, but sometimes will if I am bare faced. I usually use mine as a make up remover and then follow up with my Acure cleanser. Oh, and it's great for cleaning up make up mishaps, too, like when you sneeze after you have just applied mascara. Can you relate?
Essano Rosehip Micellar Water can be used as a no rinse cleanser and make up remover.
I hope my favorites list has brought you a bit of comfort knowing that you don't have to sacrifice a good skincare regimen. There are a ton of products on the market that are vegan, cruelty free, are without crummy chemicals, are more on the natural side and all are completely affordable and easy to find. As I said before, I am a less is more kind of gal and have pretty much cleared out my bathroom closet from having a ton of products. I enjoy a simple skincare routine as it makes things so much easier.
Do you have a favorite product or brand that you can't live without?