For a really long time, I envied all the women with a flawless complexion and gorgeous natural glow to their skin. It is something I have wanted my whole teenage to adult life, but I was long before I made it a priority. About 5 years ago, I moved to Santa Monica, Los Angeles and had started suffering from massive breakouts. While I had some breakouts in the past, they were minor in comparison. It was then that I realized that I was really just getting by with my old skincare products.
Don’t get me wrong, I used products from large, well-known brands, but they weren’t quite right for me, my age or what my skin needed. I knew I had to make a change, and fast forward years later, I’ve come across some great skincare products that have significantly changed and improved changed my skin.
Getting a glowy complexion to me meant cleaning up my acne, reducing scars, brightening the skin. In addition to those, I have a couple of products that have noticeably helped reduce the appearance of wrinkles, which I never even believed was ever possible. While I still get hormonal breakouts, I have noticed such a significant leap in improvement in my skin that I thought I’d share my favourites with you. And, in a time of uncertainty when our faces are half covered by masks, it’s the perfect time to focus on wellness and practices that contribute to feeling good inside out, including natural, glowing skin.
I only use oil cleansers to remove make up and there are only a few brands I have consistenly loved using.
AMOREPACIFIC Treatment Cleansing Oil Face & Eyes Cleanser AmorePacific was the first oil cleanser I had ever used and it still remains one of my top 2 oil cleansers to use. With one pump, you massage it into your face and it melts off all that make up. It emulsifies once you rinse and is gentle on the skin. When I first started using it, I couldn’t find a good travel size or travel option (but I have a travel-sized one now), but that’s when I tried a few others and discovered Clinique Cleansing Balm.
Clinique Cleansing Balm – It is one I travel with the most. It’s a solid, so I don’t worry about it spilling out, and it melts right into the skin as you massage it in. I have both full-sized and travel-sized Clinique products. I keep the container for the travel sized one and refill it with the full sized for travel. I have linked those below.
CLEANSER & CLEANSING TOOLS
Clarisonic Spin Brush with Acne Duo Brushhead and Cleanser – I started using the Clarisonic acne duo spin brush and cleanser and can’t see myself ever going back. Even if you do not have acne, I highly recommend using a spinbrush with your favorite cleanser to help even out the skin tone. Upon first use, my skin looked and felt cleaner and smoother. I couldn’t believe it took out the majority of my blackheads (mostly because a lot of products that have claimed to do so didn’t really help enough with my stubborn black heads.) I use this day and night and it has helped my skin become more even, and contributed to its healthy glow. This tool has helped me get by with exfoliating less.
Personally, having tried a couple of cheaper brands and this one, I’d recommend investing in this whole-heartedly and splurging. Plus, they’ve become more affordable over the years. I found a great deal on the spinbrush for sensitive skin if you don’t have a Clarisonic, and I’ve linked the acne cleanser and attachment brush for those of you who have acne breakouts as well. You can also click on the photos to shop the items.
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel is my go-to for exfoliation. Upon first use, I immediately noticed a reduction in wrinkles on my forehead, which prior to this, had never happened to me with any skin care product before. Within a week, I went back into Sephora and picked up a full sized product. I used the original strength. I accidentally purchased the Extra Strength pack. I found that to be a little stronger than I needed and decided to keep them.
If you’ve never done peels, I recommend starting on light or medium. They aren’t the most affordable, and staff will tell you that you can use them daily, but I use them 1 to 2 times a week, which means they’ll last much longer. If you are familiar with peels, I recommend medium to extra-strength. I’ve linked all 3 below, including the trial-sized packs.
After cleansing, I put my acne product on right on top of clean skin.
Paula’s Choice Paula’s Choice DEFENSE Antioxidant Pore Purifier with pore-clearing Salicylic Acid (BHA), skin-brightening Vitamin C & Azelaic Acid. It has pollutant-neutralizing antioxidants, is ultra-lightweight fluid that provides multi-level defense for skin against environmental stressors & pollution and is great for spot treating areas where you are prone to break out.
Paulas Choice 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid – Salicylic acid is very effective for combating bacteria causing acne. I use on large pore areas after I cleanse in the daytime to keep the blackheads and potential breakouts at bay.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion – For spot treating breakouts, I reach for this. To ensure it’s effective, avoid shaking the bottle before use. It leaves a white spot on the face when it’s applied, so it’s only to be used at home or overnight. I’m linking these below.
Part of getting a more natural looking glow is getting really good hydration. Of course, drinking a lot of water will contribute to this, but if you have dull or dehydrated skin as I do, I highly recommend the following products to add back some hydration.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Timeless Skincare Spray – As the label suggests, it’s a spritz of hyaluronic acid on your skin, and I never get enough of it. I use between cleansing and serum application for extra hydration. I also use the HA spray after I moisturize and after finish doing my make up.
At my desk in a drawer, I keep a smaller spray from Caudalie that I use throughout the day. Both of these products are linked below.
There are 3 serums I rotate between that are listed below.
Timeless Skincare Serum (i love all of them for hydration) contain pure hyaluronic acid and peptide boostser in one, which brings back a ton of moisture to the skin. It’s light, effective and affordable. You’ll find a few different serums with different benefits. Some with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc. If you’re looking for brightening, go for Vitamin C. It adds a great glow to my complexion. Of all the ones I’ve listed, these are the most affordable and have consistently been rated incredibly effective and high in the beauty category.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir – The formula consists of firming and fine-line reducing REPLEXIUM®, brightening Golden Vitamin C and hydrating Polyglutamic Acid – four times more powerful than Hyaluronic Acid.
Murad Environmental Shield Vit C Serum is also one I’ve been loving. It has a gold-stabilized vit-c formula that gives you consistent results each time you use it and is great for brightening the skin while protecting it against UV-rays and blue-light damage from phones, laptops and other electronics. And let’s be honest, we’re all on our devices a lot!
Iconic London Serum
SUNSCREEN & SUNBLOCK
Whether you are indoors or out, you need to protect your skin. Depending on the sunscreen you use, you apply it before or after moisturizing. Chemical-based are applied before, and mineral-based are applied after. This is because of the way the compound changes when it interacts with the moisturizer. If you’re not sure, doubling up probably will cover the basis.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 60 – I use this almost every time I’m not testing or wearing a moisturizer with SPF. It’s more affordable than many on the market and does the job well. I have used their sunblock and their acne products, so I know it works well with my skin.
Lancôme UV Expert Aquagel Defense 50 Broad Spectrum SPF 50 All Day Primer & Moisturizer with Antioxidant Vitamin E – Since this is also a primer, I tend to use it on days I wear make up. I put it on after my moisturizer and before applying my foundation. It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s a reliable product that is 2-in-1 and it does an effective job.
I have tried so many different moisturizers, both in the luxury and highly affordable categories. A few of my favourites are No7, Saturday Skin, Drunk Elephant, Peter Roth, Caudalie and Sisley. I tend to rotate between all of them. Come Spring to Summer, I like to reach for a gel moisturizer that is light for achieving more of a glass-skin look, and a favourite I always return to would have to be Clinique Moisture Surge. I’ve been using this for at least 3 years. When I wash my face in the evening or sleep overnight and wash it off the next morning, I can still feel how hydrated it is from this moisturizer. It’s so affordable, so it can be deceiving because you feel like you should be spending more on a product that is this good, but it’s one of my go-to beauty products. I’m linking all of these favorites below.
GLOW SPRAYS & DROPS
I like to use either of these on a regular basis, but it’s especially nice on days I didn’t get enough sleep or water and my products have to work extra hard for you that day, especially if I plan to wear zero to minimal make up. They look very natural, but add a shimmer to my skin. Depending on how I feel, I may add 1-2 drops of illuminators to my daily moisturizer in the daytime, or I will use an illuminating spray. Drops are great for highling specific parts of your face as well, so it gives the illusion of a more glowy, angled structure and complexion.
Iconic London Illuminating Drops – On those days I wear make up, I love to use these on the top of my cheekbones, chin, along the nose, centre of my forehead, and clavicle. They just add this amazing glow and add to the angles and contours you’re creating on your face, while creating a healthy glow. On days I do not wear make up, I just add a couple of drops to my moisturizer instead and massage that into my face.
Iconic London Prep-Set-Glow Spray – This is a great finishing spray to give a complete overall glow, not only to your entire face, but to any part of your body. It doesn’t feel sticky to me. I use original, but for the summer it might be worth looking into something darker to get that summer tan glow.
No 7 Facial Oil – One way to add some glow to my skin is with my facial oil. I love it so much that I’ve refilled the travel sized bottle from a gift set using my full-size bottle repurchases. I even have left one back at my parent’s place for when I visit. It’s not the lightest oil I’ve tried but it’s one I use the most. If I were to rate it 1-10 on lightest to heaviest, I’d rate it a 3. I especially love using it on my face at night. I put 3 drops into my hand and tap it on top of my moisturized skin before bed. If I have pimples that aren’t coming up, it usually helps me draw out the white head.
Decorté AQ Oil Infusion – This product flies a little more under the radar, but makes an amazing facial oil that I would have to say ranks at the top 3 facial oils I’ve ever used and feels so light in your hands and your skin. It’s priced in the luxury category, but you only need a couple of drops each time you use it. It’s light, spreads really well even with the tinest bit and smells nice. If you want a more luxurious facial oil, check this one out. This is one I enjoy using at night when I want some serious pampering.
For 5 years, I’ve rotated between these items below. Massaging helps break up the fascia in the face and encourages blood circulation which in turn, contributes to healthy glow and also facial scuplting.
Nu-Face Mini Facial Toner & Massager – When I use this I feel like I’m giving my face a bit of a treat. I’ve had mine for a few years and still use this, but mostly use it in Fall to Spring because they recommend you don’t use oil-based products before this and I tend to use facial oil in dry and windy climates. I enjoy using it but I think the next product would do a great job for anyone interested in facial rollers.
Pink Quartz Facial Roller – I’ve been using this for 5 years. I put this in the fridge and take it out and roll under each eye with the smaller end and up diagonally the side of my face for about 5 minutes each side with the larger end while I’m unwinding before bed. Sometimes I just use it midday when I’m at home as well. I only use the roller on my face, but some pink quartz rollers come with Gua Sha (which is a scraping massage technique that originates in China which started with spoons, and funny enough, I have memories of doing this for my mom with a porcelain spoon from as young as age 5 or 6 along her neck when it was stiff… it’s very effective). I currently use Gua Sha on other parts of my body for pain relief, but not for my face, but in case you’re interested in the sculpting and massage benefits of these, they’re only a couple of dollars more for the set. I’ve linked what I use on the left below, and some with gua sha on the right of that.
This hasn’t necessarily made my skin better, but it definitely keeps the products fresh. You can find some affordable ones that are highly rated, but pay attention to the size. I look at the litres it holds. I find the 4 Litre (or 6 cans) a little small considering how many products I have. A fridge is pointless if you can’t store all your valued products, so I’d go up a size if you have space to store it. I’ve linked top-selling ones in 4 sizes below.
If you’d like to see more of my favorites, I keep many of my favorites at my Amazon Store. I often can find ongoing discounts or deals offered by sellers there that end up costing less than many major retailers