Daily skincare basics

Image courtesy of Estelle Curiel

With the release of the book 'Skincare: the Ultimate no-Nonsense Guide' by the 'Queen of Skincare', Caroline Hirons, I thought this would be a good time to delve into the subject of skincare. Too many students think a packet of wipes and a moisturiser constitute an effective skincare routine. Wipes, aside from being appalling for the environment, don’t actually wash your face – they just spread the dirt around! As a general rule, my complete morning routine would be: cleanse, exfoliate, spray on some hydrating spray, dash on some eye product, put on serum, followed by moisturiser, a layer of SPF (even if it’s the gloomiest day outside!) Note: If you’re in your late teens/early 20s and on a budget, the hydrating spray, eye product and serum are not essential, and you only need to exfoliate 2-3 times a week. Below is a quick rundown on each step in your skincare routine. I’ve also recommended some of my favourite products according to their price per unit, which will kick-start your skincare routine.


Your first step is cleansing, which should be once every morning and evening. I prefer to use a flannel/washcloth as it cleans your face effectively whilst also helps exfoliate your skin. Use a clean flannel in the morning, and then reuse again for your evening cleanse. That’s it – straight into your laundry basket after that. The reason people recommend double cleansing in the evening is because products like makeup are designed to stick to your skin. So, your first cleanse removes most of your makeup/SPF, while your second one actually cleans the skin. For your cleansers, stick to non-foaming cleansers which don’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) as those tend to strip your skin. Bellow I have listed some of my favourite Cleansers: AM/Second PM Cleanse: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser Sensitive Skin (£12.50, 200ml)

Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (£12, 200ml)

Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Cleanser (£9, 150ml)

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin (£9.50, 236ml) First PM Cleanse: Clinique Take the Day off (£25, 125ml)

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (£11, 90ml)Soap & Glory The Ultimelt Hot Cloth Cleanser (£10, 100ml) And Pixi + Caroline Hirons’ Double Cleanse (£24, 100ml) Now, of course, if you can only afford one cleanser that’s perfectly fine – just make sure it removes makeup too. If you tend to wear a lot of eye makeup, a good eye makeup remover like the Garnier 2in1 Eye Makeup Remover (£3.49, 125ml) on a cotton pad can save you a lot of rubbing.

Image courtesy of Estelle Curiel


Most skincare experts will recommend acid toners to exfoliate. I know acids sound scary but they’re actually gentler and more effective that physical scrubs. Soak a cotton pad with toner (or use the pre-soaked pad) and apply directly to damp skin. To give a quick rundown, the three most used are Glycolic Acid which has anti-aging effects, Lactic Acid which is great for dehydrated skin, and Salicylic acid which is meant for congested skin. If you want to know more about skincare acids, you can read the Caroline’s Acid Cheat Sheet for a deeper overview.

Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads (£19, 60pads) (which contains Glycolic, Salicylic and Lactic acids)

Nip+Fab Salicylic Day Pads (£12.95, 60pads)

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA* (£5.50, 30ml)

or Pixi Glow Tonic (£18, 250ml) if you just want Glycolic acid. Hydrating Toner/ Mist

This step is most useful if you have dehydrated skin – you can skip it if you don’t have dry skin. I nevertheless think it helps my skin, especially in the winter. What you want here is something with either glycerine or hyaluronic acid, while avoiding anything with drying alcohols such as alcohol denat/denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol or benzoyl alcohol (here’s more information about alcohols if you’re interested). Some of my favourites from Boots/Superdrug: Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray all Skin Types (£24, 125ml) La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra 8 Face Moisturiser Mist Sensitive Skin (£19.50, 100ml) Pixi Hydrating Milky Mist (£18, 80ml) Hylamide SubQ Mist (£13, 120ml) La Roche-Posay Serozinc Face Toner Mist (£10, 150ml) Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Soothing Facial Mist (£9, 150ml) From the Body Shop: Vitamin E Hydrating Face Mist (£10, 100ml) Vitamin E Hydrating Toner* (£8.50, 250ml) Rose Dewy Glow Face Mist (£6, 60ml) Eye Product

This is also an optional step, especially if you are under 35. As I have a sensitive eye area and eczema on my eyelids, I find using an eye cream/gel helps. Below I have listed my favourite products as well as some great cheaper options. La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Eye Cream (£16, 15ml) Bioderma Sensibio Eye (14.50, 15ml) The Body Shop Vitamin E Eye Cream (£13, 15ml) Soap & Glory Puffy Eye Attack Turbo-Boost Hydragel (£12.50, 14ml) CeraVe Reparative Eye Cream* (£12, 14ml) Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream (£10) The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG (5.80, 30ml) Simple Kind To Eyes Eye Balm Soothing (£2.01, 15ml) My favourite eye product of all time has to be Clinique’s All About Eyes Cream (£27.50, 15ml)

Image courtesy of Estelle Curiel


These have a high concentration of active ingredients and are meant to treat skin conditions (e.g ageing, acne, dehydration etc.). If you’re in your teens to late 20s, you might benefit from an antioxidant serum (Vitamin C is a safe bet), and a hydrating serum (with hyaluronic acid, squalene or glycerine). Alternatively, a niacinamide (Vitamin B3) based serum would be useful if you experience congestion or blemishes. Antioxidant Serums: Pixi Victamin-C Serum (£26, 30ml) Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Skin Serum* (£17, 30ml) GOW Vitamin C Serum 23% + Ferulic Acid (£10, 30ml) Hydrating Serums: Pixi Hydrating Milky Serum (£26, 30ml) Indeed Labs™ hydraluron™ moisture serum (£24, 30ml) Hylamide Low Molecular HA* (£15, 30ml) The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5* (5.90, 30ml) Serums for Blemishes: Clarins Lotus Oil (£35, 30ml), especially good if you have an oily or combination skin) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5, 30ml) Moisturiser

Your moisturiser is the last step (before SPF in the morning) of your skincare routine, and it’s meant to lock the moisture in your skin. Choose one that is based on your skin type(Is your skin dry, oily, a mix of the two, or something else?) If your skin is on the oilier side, you might prefer sticking to a Hyaluronic acid serum or an oil-free moisturiser. Oil-Free Moisturisers suitable for Oily to Normal Skin: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (£31 or £36 with Clinique ID Serum, 125ml) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser*(£6.49, 50ml) Moisturisers suitable for Normal to Dry Skin: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ (£31 or £36 with Clinique ID Serum, 125ml) La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Moisturiser Sensitive Skin (£18.50, 40ml) Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Skin Defence Daily Moisturiser (£17, 75ml) Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Radiance Day Cream SPF15 (£16, 75ml) CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Lotion (£13, oil-free, their AM version is the same but with added SPF, and their Moisturising Lotion is great value for money and can be used on the face and body, the only difference being it doesn’t contain Niacinamide) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream Moisturiser* (£6.49, oil-free) Moisturisers Suitable for All Skin Types: Clinique Moisture Surge™ 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator (£25, 30ml - my all-time favourite) Soap & Glory Speed Plump Miracle Moisture Night Cream (£14, 40ml) Soap & Glory Speed Plump All-Day Moisturiser (£13, 50ml) The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane* (£5.50, 30ml) The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA* (£4.90, 30ml)


If you are going outside, SPF is your safest bet. Aim for a sunscreen which contains at-least 30+SPF with UVA and UVB protection. UVA rays cause premature aging, whereas UVB rays cause sunburn and can lead to skin cancer. In the darker months, if your makeup or moisturiser has SPF of 30+ that should be fine, unless you’re using glycolic acid and/or retinols. I always use a separate sunscreen on top of my moisturiser, due to the fact that simply applying mosturiser is not enough to achieve full SPF protection. Also, moisturisers generally only provide protection from UVB rays. Remember that if you’ve worn sunscreen during the day, you need to double-cleanse. Chemical vs Physical/Mineral sunscreen

Physical sunscreen reflects UV light whereas chemical sunscreen absorbs it, however a lot of brands use a combination of the two. Physical SPF, often branded as ‘natural’ by ‘clean’ brands, contains Zinc oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide, which are not biodegradable. Chemical sunscreen is usually better for darker skins as it is less likely to leave a white/grey cast on your skin. There are plenty of brands out there for generic sun creams, so I’ve only added sunscreens for specific skin concerns.

Image courtesy of Estelle Curiel

SPF for Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Imperfections Sun Lotion SPF 50+ (£20, 50ml) Avene Cleanance SPF50+ (£17.50, 50ml) Eucerin Sun Oil Control Face Protection SPF 50+ (£16, 50ml) SPF for Sensitive Skin (and eyes!): La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid Sun Cream SPF50 (£17.50, 50ml) Ambre Solaire Ultra-Light Sensitive Face Fluid SPF50+ (£7, 40ml) Soltan Sensitive Protect Facial SPF50+* (£6.50, 50ml) SPF Face Mists: Skin Defence Multi-Protection Face Mist SPF30 PA++ (£18, 60ml) La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Protection Face Mist (£14, 75ml) I highly recommend you read this and this for more information about SPF, especially before you go on holiday. A note on Vitamin A/Retinols

I didn’t include a section on Vitamin A here, as it would require a separate article. However, if you want to use a Vitamin A product, it would be applied instead of your PM acids on a dry face. Their main use is anti-ageing but prescription Tretinoin is also used to treat acne - I get mine from Dermatica. Product prices were retrieved from their respective websites on July 6th 2020 and exclude any offers present at the time. The prices from Boots exclude the 10% student discount - Boots often have great offers on the brands mentioned, so be sure to look out for them. Products with and * are ones I haven’t personally tried but have been recommended. Resources if you wish to learn more about skincare: Caroline Hirons’ Blog Caroline Hirons on This Morning

Image courtesy of Estelle Curiel

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