Around August last year, my skin had a major freak-out. What started as a gentle itch just below my mouth grew to become an unsightly cluster of red bumps and blisters that worked their way around my chin, nose, and eyes – not exactly Insta-worthy. Clear skin had always been something I’d taken for granted. Even as a hormone-charged teenager, I managed to dodge the expected acne and oily skin that my friends would bully themselves over (but don’t worry; I had a string of other body hang-ups and anxieties to contend with).
As I edged into my twenties, bad skin was still never my concern. Sure, I’d spot a pimple or two a few days before my period was due, but it was nothing a little tinted moisturiser or BB cream couldn’t conceal. I’d haphazardly wash my make off after a long day (or longer night), maybe dab on some witch hazel (I know), slap on some moisturiser that I probably picked up from beauty aisle in Woolies, and that was that. Skincare sorted.
But then caring about your skin suddenly became… cool. I can’t quite pinpoint the moment, but there was definitely a shift. Investing in serums, oils, and face masks was the done thing. If you spent longer putting on your makeup than you did taking it off, you were doing it wrong. It was a trend I embraced wholeheartedly. I bought the oil cleansers, and the hydrating face serums, and the mist toners, too. I had ten-step nightly routine and a five-step routine for the morning.
Fast forward to August 2021 and, virtually overnight, my complexion went from blemish-free to red, angry, and splotchy. It itched and burned, and the rash crept all the way from the bottom of my chin to the tip of my eyelids. It hurt to smile, to speak, to eat.
My GP diagnosed me with contact dermatitis, a type of acute or chronic inflammation of the skin that is generally caused by exposure to allergens and irritants, like cosmetics, creams, or plants. But as I was often switching out my skincare products for something new I’d eyed at Mecca or Aesop, it was hard to determine the culprit. Plus, we were in the depths of Melbourne’s fifth (or maybe it was sixth) lockdown – online shopping was all any of us had.
My doctor put me on antibiotics and prescribed a steroid cream to help with the physical symptoms. I was also advised to strip my skincare routine way back. No more fancy exfoliants or triple cleansing. Goodbye eye creams. For the time being at least, I had to learn to live with a ‘less is more’ approach. And honestly? It’s a routine I’ve stuck to for almost a year and my skin has never looked or felt better.
If you’re wanting to try a more minimalist skincare routine without compromising on a clear complexion, here are my top tips.
Failing to wash your face regularly can lead to all sorts of skin issues like blemishes and breakouts, so this is definitely a non-negotiable for me. And while the verdict’s still out on whether you really need to wash your face in the morning, bacteria builds up while we sleep and I’d rather tackle the day without all those nasties, thanks! What I have ditched, though, is the night-time double cleansing with an oil-based and a water-based cleanser. Instead, I opt for a plant-based wash for sensitive skin types.
Here’s one I love:
This gentle cleanser soothes and moisturises without clogging. It’s made with Aloe, smells insanely good, and it doubles as a body cleanser.
Cleanse. Tone. Moisturise. It’s a wisdom our grandmothers swore by, but do you really need a toner? Once upon a time, they were designed to remove the leftover grime hanging out in your pores after washing your face, but skincare products have changed dramatically since our grandmother’s time and today many experts think they’re an unnecessary step.
I’m no expert, but I tend to agree. Now, after I cleanse my face, I simply use a single pump of a hydrating serum to provide a light but intense hit of conditioning.
Here’s one I love:
This lightweight hydration serum is like a little bottle of luxury. It’s silky smooth, glides on like air, and is seriously rehydrating.
If there’s one step not to skip out on, it’s moisturiser. It really is a must, especially if you’re prone to thirsty skin. Moisturising not only helps to protect your skin from irritation, but it also helps to keep it feeling hydrated and refreshed, fights off wrinkles, and maintains the skin’s natural suppleness.
Here’s one I love:
I’ve only just discovered this Australian-made, vegan, and organic skincare range. And I am hooked! This seriously thick and nourishing moisturiser works as a day and night cream, too, which is a huge bonus if you’re trying to simplify your routine and reduce the number of products in your beauty cabinet. It’s non-greasy, non-clogging, and enriched with Botani’s signature olive squalene.
Look, these are the steps that are working for me at the moment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right move for your skin. If in doubt, speak to a professional who specialises in skincare – especially if you’ve tried every product on the market but are still battling breakouts, blemishes, or dry, itchy skin.
Enough about skin – what about your hair? Check out this article to learn how to amp up your winter hair care routine.