I get it: skincare is confusing.
The skincare market is incredibly saturated with products that promise to give you everything. A poreless complexion! An age-defying appearance! A youthful glow!
The truth is that there are so many products out there that literally do nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
And, as a consumer of all things skincare, I have definitely been tricked into buying expensive products that have not improved my skin in any way, shape or form.
I think it’s important to discuss the areas where you can afford to save or splurge in your skincare routine. So many of us are lost when it comes to padding out our product collection: should your cleanser cost more than your serums? Do you need to fork out three figures on a SPF-infused moisturiser? Do you need an eye cream?
So many questions, right? Let’s break them down below.
Let’s begin with the staples in your skincare routine. They should be: cleanser, moisturiser and SPF. Over the years, I have learnt that you really shouldn’t be spending loads on these three staples. The role of your cleanser is to remove your makeup as well as any dirt and grime that builds up on your face after a day of working, wearing makeup, walking through the city and touching your face with your hands. That’s it.
Moisturiser is the same in it’s simplicity: you just need a moisturiser to seal in all of your skincare and hydrate your skin by creating a barrier between it and the environment, effectively locking in moisture for a period of time.
SPF is literally what it says on the tin. SPF. Opt for a 30+ and steer clear of fragrances and fillers.
These three products can be bought at an affordable price. I use Sukin cleansers, moisturisers and SPFs because they’re affordable, accessible and they work. Utilising a simple and affordable three step staple system means I have the resources to invest in the products that will actually make a difference to my skin.
I truly believe that investing in your exfoliators, specialised oils and your serums is your best bet for actually seeing a difference in your skin condition and appearance. Sunday Riley oils are a worthy investment as they mix a range of ingredients to give you results. They are on the pricier end of things, but you can easily add in a few items from The Ordinary range to pad out areas you feel need further attention at a more affordable price. I really don’t believe in spending a ton on single or low ingredient products, which is why I love applying The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide serums in the morning, followed by Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil in the evenings. A hi-low routine is where it’s at if you’re after bang for your buck.
I also feel this way with oils. I’ve splurged on expensive, single-ingredient facial oils before and they’re never any better. As long as you can get your hands on an affordable, organic rosehip oil, you’ll be fine. The Ordinary’s Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil is excellent.
In terms of exfoliators, you cannot go wrong with Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads. I’m yet to find an affordable exfoliator that has quite as much of an effect on my skin, so I’m always happy to invest in this product as it brings results.
Now, let’s talk masks: I really don’t believe that masks are an essential item in any skincare routine if you’re getting everything you need from your serums and exfoliators. In fact, I find single-use hydrating face masks to be quite gimmicky. You’d be better off investing in a good quality serum and applying it every day than using a sheet mask once a week to ‘plump’ your skin. When it comes to mud masks, you don’t need to splurge to get results, either. Sukin has a range of mud masks that are effective for restoring your skin and clearing up surface blemishes. If you’re looking to splurge on some masks, I’d recommend the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask for glowing skin and the Origins Clear Improvement Mask to clean out congested pores.
Finally — let’s talk eye cream. Do we really need it? Funnily enough, I’m not currently using an eye cream. I don’t really experience dark circles at all, so I can usually get away with applying an additional layer of my Sukin moisturiser under my eye area, patting it into my orbital bone with my ring finger to seal in moisture. However, I do believe that eye creams can be effective if: you have exceptionally dry skin around your eyes, you experience dark circles, and/or, you are experiencing tired eyes from continuous screen use. Sometimes, I find my eyes get really itchy from being tired and dry, and then I’ll notice that the skin around my eyes is a little irritated too. This is when I’ll opt for a nourishing eye cream like the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. It’s an intensely nourishing, almost balm-like formula that soothes the sensitive skin around my eyes almost instantly. Otherwise, an additional layer of moisturiser around the eye area is usually enough to keep my skin hydrated and smooth.
Your best bet when it comes to saving vs. splurging in your skincare routine is to save on your staples. Think: cleanser, moisturiser and SPF. Hell, I’d even say you can save on your form of makeup removal if you’re a double cleanser. Micellar water is affordable and an excellent choice for sensitive skin as a first cleanse.
Splurge on your multi-function serums. Sunday Riley oils are ideal. Save on your single ingredient formulas, like hyaluronic acid and rosehip oil. Splurge on your exfoliant, because that’s what’s going to remove all of the dead layers of your skin and allow your pricy serums to actually work.
Where you stand on eye cream is totally up to you, but if you deal with dark circles and would like to treat them through your skincare, it might be a good idea to invest in a formula made specifically for this concern. Otherwise, an extra layer of face moisturiser can work wonders if you don’t experience any dryness or irritation in that area that would require a thicker, more specialised formula for the skin around your eyes.