Now that there is some—albeit incredibly vague—info on how we can reenter the world when coronavirus finally GTFO, I am feeling eager to get my skin back on track. I don’t know about you, but when I go out to dinner with my friends for the first time after being locked in my apartment for what will be at least two months, I want to glow. Luckily for me, Sephora’s annual spring sale is upon us! As always, Sephora is offering different deals and savings for each of their three member tiers. From April 17th through May 1st, Rouge members can save 20%; from April 21st through April 29th, VIB members can save 15%; and from April 23rd through April 27th, Insider members can save 10%. I am a proud Rouge member, so let’s f*cking do this.
If you’ve read any of my articles, you know that there are more skin care products in my medicine cabinet than there are food items in my pantry. I have no shame in my game. It took years of trial-and-error to discover which products are the best, so you can trust I know what I’m talking about when it comes to my recommendations.
The only YouTube channel I subscribe to is Klossy, which belongs to, you guessed it, Karlie Kloss. I don’t care who she’s married to, I love her and will continue to do so for the rest of my days. Anyway, Karlie has the best skin I’ve ever seen, so when she recommended this night serum, you better believe I went out and bought it, and I am happy to report that it works. My skin isn’t really problematic, but I want that dewy, plump look, and that’s what this serum delivers.
Like any skin care product, though, you have to use it consistently and for a while before you start to see the effects take hold. I started to notice how good my complexion looked after about three weeks. It’s incredibly moisturizing, smells delicious, and it’s the perfect consistency. What else you got, Karlie??
I buy this twice a year for one specific purpose: visiting my parents in Florida. My skin may be able to withstand the pollution and whatever the f*ck is coming out of manholes in New York, but it cannot deal with the Florida humidity. My skin gets really oily and then I start to break out, so I visit my parents pretty infrequently. The one thing that absolutely saved my skin is this specific charcoal mask. I have tried about 10 types of charcoal masks in my lifetime, and this Clinique one is that actually works.
It feels like you’re spreading a thick, goopy paste on your face, but after about 30 minutes, it dries and hardens and, something magical happens in that phase of the mask. When I rinse it off, my skin is soft and supple with zero traces of excess oil. I’m obsessed.
This product was my first foray into skin care. I bought it when I was a sophomore in college after talking to a Bloomingdale’s salesperson for way too long. As the name suggests, this is a very lightweight moisturizer that falls between a gel and a cream. Because it’s so lightweight, it’s perfect for summer. Also, all Bobbi Brown moisturizers are made with a built-in primer, so you can save a few seconds in the morning when you’re getting ready.
This toner is another Karlie recommendation for when you’re traveling, because planes really dry your skin out. Before I went on my study abroad trip, I asked my mom to get it for me and she said, and I quote, “Who do you think you are? You’re not a jet-setter!” Rude. To spite her, I bought it for myself and I have no regrets. I use it as a toner and spritz it on my face right before I put on my moisturizer.
My dermatologist suggested that I massage my moisturizer into my skin while it’s still damp from the toner because it will absorb better, which makes sense because, if you think of your skin like a sponge, it won’t absorb a thick cream when it’s bone-dry. This doesn’t really do much, but it smells amazing, isn’t that expensive, and it’s something else I have in common with Karlie Kloss.
I recently learned that vitamin C is an essential ingredient in skin products for anyone who wants nice skin. I incorporated it via an eye cream because I wanted to test it on a small area before I introduced it to my whole face. Safe to say, it works! This eye cream is really moisturizing, which is important because the skin around your eyes is much thinner than the rest of your face and is usually the first to show signs of aging. Yikes! Using a product that protects against free radicals (something vitamin C does) and moisturizes is a really good way to slow down aging around the eyes. It also smells fantastic.
Until I tried this mask, I always thought sheet masks were kind of stupid. Like, you pay all of this money for something you use once for a few minutes then throw away. Then I tried this mask and I’m questioning everything I once believed to be true! Tatcha is a brand you’ll likely find in any high-end natural beauty store, and the products are 100% worth it. This mask is made with vitamin E, fatty acids, nutrient-rich rice, ginseng (which has a calming effect), and a bunch of other sh*t that gives you an instant glow.
And for anyone who’s wondering, sheet masks are packed with nutrient-rich serums that absorb best into your skin when you’re wearing the sheet and looking like Hannibal Lecter, but the serum is still very much on your skin when you take the sheet off, so they aren’t exactly a waste.
Dior Lip Glow, $34
I am weirdly specific when it comes to a tinted lip product: it can’t be sticky, it has to be the perfect shade, and it has to last through my morning coffee. This Dior lip product is literally perfect. First of all, it’s incredibly moisturizing. Secondly, it goes on clear and within a few seconds, changes color due to a bunch of science I don’t really understand. For me, it transforms into rosy pink with a coral undertone, but for my friend, it becomes more of a purple color. I’m truly baffled by this magic, but I won’t question it.
Until recently, I was a firm believer in all cleansers being the same, so paying more than a drugstore price was unnecessary. This cleanser is the definition of a super basic (in a good way) product that does exactly what it says it’s going to do. Wet your face and massage this into your skin for a few seconds and rinse off with warm water. Boom! You’re cleansed! It leaves your face feeling soft and clean, but without stripping your skin. I’ve said this before, but if your face feels tight and dry, your cleanser is too harsh!
Double cleansing is an important part of any skin care-lover’s daily routine. The first step involves taking off your makeup and the second one is cleansing. This Clinique balm is unparalleled at removing makeup, so I highly recommend getting yourself a tub ASAP. It has the consistency of soft wax, but it works. Scoop a little out with your fingertips and move it around in your hand to break it down a little. Then, once it’s slightly softened, move it around your face and it literally melts your makeup right off. Don’t believe me? Use this then dab a clean white towel on your face and you won’t see any residual makeup!
This purchase was a catch-22 because, on the one hand, authentic tans are horrible for your skin, but on the other, my natural skin tone is concerningly white. This self-tanner is unreal and legit impossible to f*ck up. I always strayed from self-tanner because I feel like it always looks fake and streaky—especially on people’s wrists, ankles, elbows and knees. This, though, is different! You mix a few drops with your go-to lotion and then spread it all over your body and it always turns out even and natural-looking. I’ve used this on my legs many, many times and I’m always impressed with how good it looks.
Images: Mercy / Unsplash; Sephora (10)
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Let me start off by saying that I am not a skincare expert. I am just a 24-year-old human woman. One who discovered six months ago that my college skin care routine (“washing most nights, probably”) was no longer going to cut it. I’m lucky enough not to deal with serious acne. But all the “minor” concerns (dullness, dryness, redness, inexplicable bumpiness)? You bet. SO, I did what all good shopaholics journalists do best: research. I went into a very deep, surprisingly Korean internet blackhole, and emerged with a four-step skincare routine. Cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer. Duh. Of all these steps, toner was the one I resisted most—and the one I still find most confusing. Since I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I’ve written up my findings on this v important topic. What is toner, why do we all apparently need it, and which one is best? Please enjoy.
What Is Toner?
First and foremost, toner is very different than it used to be. The toner I remember from high school was glorified rubbing alcohol prescribed by particularly vindictive dermatologists. But today’s toners are so much more. A good toner can help you even out texture and tone (duh), shrink the appearance of pores, and leave your skin super soft and glowing. To get technical, one skin care specialist describes toner as a way to “complete the cleansing of your skin.” Apparently, cleansers “can leave a film on your face” that toner strips off. Which really makes me question why I’m using cleanser in the first place, but k.
If you want a buzzier description of what toner does, Allure describes it as “a fast-penetrating liquid that delivers skin a quick hit of hydration and helps remove some dead cells off the surface of the skin.” (Seriously, are cleansers removing anything?) And in case I have any toner nerds in the comments, I’ll also mention toner’s effects on pH level. Apparently, a good toner functions by resetting your skin’s natural acidic pH. You can read more here, or just trust me that it means you’ll look good and resist more bacteria. Two equally sexy goals, am I right?
Finally, what is toner actually made of? The general answer is water, plus some combination of acids, glycerin, essential oils, plant extracts, and more. Kewl. Some toners still contain alcohol, but it’s not recommended unless oil is your main problem.
TL;DR: Toners are a water-based product will give you a more thorough cleanse, prep your skin to absorb your moisturizing products, and overall improve skin’s appearance and texture over time.
How Do I Use It?
You should think of toner as a chaser for your cleanser and a primer for your serum/moisturizer. If you’re particularly anal, you should apply toner no more than 60 seconds after cleansing. Apparently, that’s when your skin will absorb it best. After, you apply any serums/moisturizers/eye creams. My favorite explanation for how this works is given by Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam. “Your skin is like a dried-up sponge,” she says (adds up). “If you put thick cream on a brittle dry sponge, it won’t accept it.” If this doesn’t make you spiral into self-doubt about every time you’ve put $70 moisturizer on your bone-dry face, congratulations. Can’t say the same.
As for like, how do you literally put it on your face—you have two options. You can read the instructions on the bottle (some recommend cotton pads while others say to use your fingers). Or you can really make a day of it and attempt to follow the K-beauty “7 Skin Method.” I’d make a joke here about “who has the time for that,” but I watched a full season of American’s Next Top Model last weekend. I have the time for that.
Patting tips as you try the '7 Skin Method' : Start from the U-zone (cheeks – chin) to T-zone (forehead – nose) and finish with a massage on the neck in an upwards motion. Your U-zone is naturally drier while your T-zone is oilier, so you want to start hydrating the drier parts of the skin immediately after your cleansing step. Katie and I had a blast ???? today sharing our tips and demo'ing layering our fave essence toners on @glowrecipe's Facebook live ???? Thanks everyone for tuning in, we really enjoyed talking to you guys! If you're curious about this #kbeauty trend, my review is on our blog ????link in bio #sarahglowtips
Okay, What Kind Of Toner Should I Buy?
Now you’re asking the important questions. The answer, of course, depends on your skin type. Generally speaking, Korean brands like Soko Glam will have great options, because their toner never went through the gross alcohol phase that American toners did. But beyond that, you should figure out your skin’s needs (or see a dermatologist to find out) and pick ingredients based off that.
For sensitive skin, chamomile, aloe vera, and amino acids all help calm/soothe. Some good picks include Mizon Intensive Skin Barrier Emulsion and Exuviance Soothing Toning Lotion. For oily skin, alcohol will help kill oil and shine, but so does witch hazel—and the latter is less drying. Belif Witch Hazel Herbal Extract Toner is my personal fave, and Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic is another beloved one on the market. For dry skin, glycerin, essential oils, and rosewater are all key hydrating ingredients. Try the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner or Caudalie Beauty Elixir. For dull, uneven skin, try Son & Park Beauty Water, which has both exfoliating and hydrating properties.
Oh, and whatever you do, stop buying Neutrogena toner. I usually love Neutrogena, but their crazy-drying alcoholic toners (yes, even and especially the “Alcohol-Free” toner) are the reason it took me so long to come around to real toner. I used that shit for two weeks and I may as well have been washing my face in Svedka. If you need any further convincing, take a look at their spokesperson. I rest my case.
That’s all the wisdom I have today! But my recent skincare tear is showing no signs of stopping, so stay tuned for upcoming reviews of dermarolling, Hanacure, and how to file for bankruptcy when you’ve spent all your money on Korean beauty products.
Images: Giphy (2); sarah_glow / Instagram
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