The amount of products available when you look through the skincare sections of beauty websites makes it feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack trying to find what you actually need. Let’s break it down, and look at what you really should have, and what you can delete from that shopping basket before you checkout. 

Need It – SPF

It’s one of those things, if you want to look after your skin, SPF has to come top of the list. Although you can find plenty of moisturisers, foundations, BB creams and the rest which give SPF protection, most don’t also give the equally important UVA protection.  Plus, do you really apply moisturiser with SPF to your ears, and all the way to your hairline every time you put it on? I know I don’t! We apply moisturisers and makeup in the places we feel we need them, so the chances of us applying them to give a proper coverage to protect our skin is more unlikely using a combined product.  I swear by the LimeLife sunscreen, it doesn’t cause breakouts on my sensitive skin and goes on easily without leaving a residue.

Need It – Moisturiser

It’s one of those none-negotiables in skincare, no matter your skin type or skin conditions, I can’t think of anybody who doesn’t need a moisturiser.  What type is a bit of a different matter, for oilier skin something which is lighter and quickly absorbed is a good shout. Whereas for dry skin having one (or two) emollient moisturisers is best, for particularly dry skin having that second, thicker, moisturiser to sink in overnight can be a game changer. 

Need It – Serum

As the Queen of Skincare Caroline Hirons says – Treat your skin type with cleansers & moisturisers and your skin condition with serums. Serums are the step in-between cleansing and moisturising, giving your skin the active ingredients to help with whatever you need, before you apply oils and moisturisers which can block the serum from penetrating properly.  Some common serums include ingredients like hyaluronic acid for added hydration, Vitamin C for evening out skin tone, retinol for anti-aging and nyacinamide as an anti-inflammatory. 

Need It – Acids

With the exception of one physical exfoliator, I leave my exfoliating to the chemical experts now! Trust me, the difference in my skin is ridiculous and is so much healthier since I changed.  Talking about putting an acid on your skin might sound scary, but our skin is naturally acidic and these acids are perfect for giving our cells a little helping hand.  As with anything for your skin, go gentle and work up to make sure you get on ok with it, starting with a gentler formulation and increasing the frequency before moving to something stronger.  Some of my favourite starter acids are from The Ordinary, who keep it simple with their products so you know exactly what you’re buying. 

Need It – Lip Balm

I’m counting lips as part of my skincare, because they need a lotta love too.  Dried, chapped lips are even more painful than dry skin, and drive me up the wall when I can’t wear a matte lipstick because it shows them off even more! It’s important to have a mini routine for lips, like using a DrPawPaw lip exfoliator once a week, making sure your evening facial oil is massaged into your lips and that a lip balm with SPF is applied (and reapplied) every day. 

Leave It – Toner

Whenever I think about toner I get a flashback to teenage me rubbing it in religiously after washing my face ignoring the fact it felt like my face was on fire.  Toner was designed to both balance out the PH levels of the skin after using an alkaline cleanser, and also to remove any dirt left in your pores after you’ve cleansed – while seriously drying out your skin from the high alcohol content.  Luckily, they have moved on a bit in the last 20 years but are they still a necessity? Absolutely not. I prefer to double cleanse with an oil and then my cleanser to remove any dirt and makeup in a much gentler way, and check the PH levels of what I’m using so there is no ‘PH balancing’ required.  

Leave It – Pore striping face masks

Having clean pores always gives me that ‘Ahhhhh’ feeling, it’s one thing I miss the most about having my brows waxed, because I do love when the wax is pulled off the middle bit between your brows and leaves my skin feeling so clean. That being said, purposefully ripping things from out of your pores is just a recipe for disaster, mainly because the more you do it, the more damage you cause to your skin – eventually opening up your pores even more, making them more susceptible to blackheads.  Plus, it HURTS! 

Leave It – Harsh Physical Exfoliants

Remember Apricot Scrub? Another one that as a teenager we were all obsessed with! If only we knew then that what those harsh bits of apricot shell were doing was actually causing micro tears in our skin, reducing it’s ability to hold onto water and making it easier for bacteria to get in.  I feel similarly about mechanical exfoliators, they can be way too harsh for most people’s skin, especially if you add in a human rubbing harder than they should be, and using it with a physical exfoliator! The only physical exfoliator I use nowadays is a gentle mask like Skin Polish, with jojoba beads which don’t harm the environment but are also gentle, and oils to moisturise at the same time. I feel like I’m getting a pamper with my face mask but I’m not stripping or hurting my skin in the process.  

Leave It – Makeup Wipes

Unless you’re going somewhere with no running water to use a cleanser, makeup wipes are a most definite no. They’re harsh on your skin & do a pretty good job of damaging your acid mantle (the protective layer which keeps your skin healthy). They’re also nowhere near as good at removing makeup in comparison to an oil based cleanser so you’re leaving a lot of dirt on your face when you think it should be clean – and we won’t even get started on the environmental factors of throwing away pieces of non-biodegradable matter every day. 

Leave It – Coconut Oil

Coconut oil seems to be hailed as the saviour for everything. Need a hair mask? Coconut oil. Need a moisturiser? Coconut oil. Run out of mouth wash? Coconut oil.  I’m not saying it needs to totally go in the bin, but really I don’t rate it as much as a lot of people do.  From your skin’s perspective it’s definitely not an oil I’d chose to use on my face, mainly because it can’t penetrate pores so it basically sits on top of the skin, and the main thing it’s going to do is clog your pores – hello breakout!