Let me introduce you to Sunday Riley, the little skincare line that now has a serious cult following and tons of people shouting its praises from rooftops and Instagram comments alike.
Ahh acne, something nearly everyone on this planet — save for the truly #blessed — has dealt with at least once in their lives. [Likely more than once if you’re a human who 1) has hormones, 2) eats food, 3) lives in this world.] Which also means nearly every one of those acne-dealers has also spent hours in front of a mirror, examining their spots, picking when they know they’re not supposed to, squeezing when they know they’re definitely not supposed to, and slathering on any skincare product they can get their pimple-popping hands on in an attempt to magically erase whatever has sprouted on their faces.
Alas, there is not such thing as a miracle product that will erase your breakouts. There are, however, several things you can do for your skin to limit, tame, and maybe even prevent breakouts…the all-natural way.
You see, dealing with acne goes deeper than just what you see on the surface. It’s about what you put into your body, how you treat your body, and what you put on your body over time, which is why sticking with a solid, good-for-you skincare routine is paramount.
If you’re ready to seriously hunker down and get your skin right as far as breakouts are concerned, pick your products wisely. And while I usually advocate cherry picking things that work for your individual skin from however many lines you want, there is an argument to be made for a line that focuses on making sure all of its products are not only stellar, but also work together for the best outcome.
(Side note: If you don’t feel like you need to “fight” your skin’s natural state, you do you. Embracing what your body is doing on its own is a special thing and something you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to do because of society’s “standards.” You are beautiful, always.)
So let me introduce you to Sunday Riley, the little skincare line that could, that now has a serious cult following and tons of people shouting its praises from rooftops and Instagram comments alike.
What makes this line of products so incredible and unique is threefold: it’s all-natural, every single product is designed to play nice with every other so you can mix and match to find your perfect combination, and it won’t crush your will to live with its price tag. By using fewer high-quality ingredients to craft expert formulas, Sunday Riley is a powerfully simple line of clean, effective and harmonious acne-fighting and skin-soothing products.
The first step to treating your skin at the end of the day is removing everything that’s sitting on top of it. so everything you’re about to apply can sink in deeply. The Blue Moon Cleansing Balm is a must-have for all double-cleansing fans: it fully removes makeup and grime while also moisturizing and soothing skin thanks to blue tansy, chamomile and cocoa butter. You’ll want to follow this up with an equally gentle cleanser of your choice to make sure your skin is truly clean and gunk-free.
After thoroughly cleansing, you’ll want to treat yourself to a weekly mask and this baby is the queen of acne-fighting treatments. Packed with 10% sulfur, 4% niacinamide and other antibacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredients, the Saturn Mask works on all hormonal acne, congested pores, inflamed skin…you name it.
(Note: Do not use this mask every day — it will dry the crap out of your skin and likely lead to more acne as your skin’s pH and sebum get thrown out off whack. Use this weekly at first and see how you react. If you can’t stay away, consider using it as an overnight spot treatment on pimples that have come to a head — the white part has come to the top — as the final step to your nighttime skincare routine.)
Regular exfoliation is important for clearing away dead skin cells that can clog pores and lead to inflammation, but a physical scrub is not the best way to do it when you’re dealing with angry, open blemishes. Instead, lean into the marvelous world of lactic acid to chemically do it for you, and safely. The aptly named Good Genes treatment is a multitasking wunderkind that will leave you with brighter, clearer, smoother, clarified skin overnight.
When dealing with finicky skin, less is often more, which is why I’m advising you to call it a night after gently pressing this gorgeous face oil into your skin. Yup, that it’s: just a few super-effective products are all you need for now as you figure out what your skin likes and what it doesn’t. Luckily, Juno oil not only does a stellar job at locking everything into your skin, it’s also super hydrating and, thanks to its abundance of vitamins, cold-pressed seed oils and antioxidants, it will leave your skin clear and luminous.
To help you get started on your quest, here are a few standout vegan products that don’t sacrifice an ounce of luxury or effectiveness.
The idea of “self-care” is about more than just treating yourself well. It encompasses the way you move, the way you think and the way you choose what to introduce into your body, from food to beauty products. It’s a noble cause, one that looks different for everyone, but it can also lead to a lot of hand-wringing over whether something is worthy enough (for whatever reason) of becoming part of your self-care routine…which kind of defeats the purpose, no?
For vegans, this is especially true. You’ve already decided exactly what you are (and aren’t) putting into your body by way of food, and since those decisions often translate to what you put on your body, it’s crucial that you know exactly what products fit your vegan ethos. For a long time, the pickings for vegan self-care were slim but these days, there’s a veritable bounty of animal-ingredient-free products for your to slather and lather all over your bod. To help you get started, here are a few standout vegan products that don’t sacrifice an ounce of luxury or effectiveness.
Side note: What criteria does a self-care product need to meet in order to be vegan? Simply put, it can’t contain any animal products or by-products, and it can’t be tested on animals. For a deeper dive and a primer on the symbols to look for when you pick up a new product, read this.
One of the first products most people swap out in their quest to live a cleaner life is moisturizer. Since it sits on your skin all day, every day, it’s one of the products most likely to work its way into your bloodstream and organs. If you’re not ingesting animal products orally, you wouldn’t want to absorb them topically, either, right? Luckily, Mad Hippie’s squeaky clean and equally luxurious daily face cream hydrates in all the right ways thanks to a plethora of straight-from-the-earth botanicals.
Another early self-care switch to make is mascara since it sits so very near your absorbent and sensitive eyeballs for hours on end. Unfortunately, green and vegan mascara tends to get a bad rap: it smudges, it flakes, it irritates, it just plain doesn’t work. But Eyeko has perfected the art of vegan mascara with this baby. It’s all natural, vegan-friendly, and adds the volume and length you’re craving without moving a centimeter. It’s also packed with ingredients that hydrate and improve the health of your lashes while you wear it, so, win-win.
Most conventional lipsticks and tints contain a litany of animal ingredients: cochineal dye from insects, guanine from bats, tallow, lanolin from sheep, squalene from sharks, to name a few. If you’re not putting animal products in your mouth, why would you put them on your mouth? Lilah B. to the rescue! This creamy tinted lip balm is long-lasting, uber-pigmented, and filled with the kind of ingredients that will make your vegan lips very happy. (You can use it as a cheek tint too, in a pinch.)
If you’re not already using a natural, vegan deodorant…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! (Sorry for yelling.) But seriously, get on it. Not only are products like Schmidt’s better for your pits, they’re free of sneaky animal products like beeswax, glycerin and fragrance and they’re cruelty free.
Vegan vaginas deserve love, too! Don’t skimp on the self-care down there with this genuinely gorgeous blend of antibacterial, 100% vegan essential oils that will reduce inflammation, soften hair and skin, and generally make your pubic region happy…topically.
When it comes to oral care, finding vegan products can be tricky. Most conventional toothpastes contain glycerin, an ingredient that can be animal- or plant-based, and many labels don’t specify from what source their glycerin is. You could do a lot of research and trust a mass manufacturer’s word, or you could play it safe and opt for a animal-product-free option like this tooth polish that works just as well as the foamy stuff without any of the ingredients you don’t want near your mouth.
And finally, the holy grail of vegan cookbooks. There’s no skimping on flavor or creativity, no food words “in quotes” to fake you into thinking you’re eating the real thing — just good ‘ol delicious food.
+ All vegan beauty here.
When it comes to self-care, there’s something a tiny bit unnerving about bringing technology into the equation. We tout the benefits of ingredients from nature, the upside of going green, etc. etc. And while I’m an outspoken proponent of clean products and only putting stuff on your body that you wouldn’t mind eating (but please, don’t eat your cleansing balm if you can help it), there is something to be said for adding a few tech-savvy tools to your routine.
You see, sometimes there’s stuff a plant just can’t do — or that gadget can do better. And while a lot of the self-care gadgets out there are simply gimmicks to get you to add yet another tool to your beauty arsenal, some really are worth it.
Take, for instance, this ingenious ice roller from Vanity Planet. Sure, you could dunk your face into a bucket of ice water every morning, then jade roll, then repeat. Or, you could throw this baby into the freezer and let it work it’s magic in a matter of seconds. The Revive Professional Ice Roller is a dream product, no plant-based serums involved. Roll it over your face, your neck, your chest — heck, roll it anywhere you please — for near-instant de-puffing thanks to its stainless steel-icy temperature combo. It also helps calm redness, irritation, sunburn and bug bites (helloooo, summer skin).
While we’re talking temperature-aided tech tools, let’s not forget Vanity Planet’s Hot & Cold Rejuvenating Facial Wand. While the magic this want imparts isn’t quite Harry Potter-level, it’s pretty magical in the different things it can do for your skin. Shifting between hot and cool settings (alongside sonic vibrations), this wand helps to 1) open pores to better absorb serums, creams and moisturizers and then 2) closes those pores to lock in whatever you’ve applied and help tighten up your skin. To get these same results sans wand, you’d need a freezer, a bunch of ice cubes, a steamer/a very hot shower, and a totally sterile environment. This cuts steps and tools way, way down.
Still feel like you can’t get your skin clean enough? (One note on this: Skin can be “too clean.” Stop scrubbing — it’s bad for the flora and fauna and general natural balance of your dermis. And while it may feel nice for a bit, it’ll ultimately do more harm than good if you keep insisting on a squeaky clean face.) If you promise to proceed with caution, I’ll tell you about the Glowspin Facial Brush to cleanse, exfoliate and generally keep the skin on your face happy, clean and glowing. Not only does it get into your pores to lift the dirt and makeup your regular cleansing might miss, it also helps gently remove dead skin cells to brighten your complexion.
And while you’re at it, why not lean on gadgets to get your whitest, healthiest smile ever with this baby? Take it from someone who relied on a standard toothbrush for years, only to have a very sobering dentist visit where she learned she had five cavities at once — an electric toothbrush is one-thousand percent worth it. Not only does your mouth feel impossibly clean after each use, the Dazzlepro lets you customize your brushing experience — seriously, it knows you — and sanitizes your bristles with UV light so none of your bathroom bacteria finds its way into your mouth.
See, sometimes tech isn’t all that bad if you know how to get along with it.
Short on time but high on skincare needs? Lucky you — sheet masks are on the rise and primed to only get bigger, more specialized and more effective.
Another lucky turn? These babies are super affordable, easy to use, and come in so many different varieties/ingredient combinations that you could probably use a new one every day for five years and still have versions you’ve never heard of. (But don’t do that — your skin would be VERY confused.)
If you have dry, sensitive skin…
…try ENATURE’s Squeeze Green Watery Sheet Mask. They’re not joking around when they call this thing “green” and “watery” — and that’s a good thing. Packed with chlorophyll and parsley, two dryness-fighting, moisture-packed green machines, this sheet mask is like a big glass of green juice straight to the face.
If you need some light exfoliation…
…try Joanna Vargas’ Dawn Mask. Physical scrubs can often do more harm than good, especially if you’re going about it with a heavy hand. Instead, rely on an acid-based exfoliant, like the mandelic acid in this mask, to gently slough away dead skin. No more dead skin means skin can regenerate quicker, which means a smoother, more even texture.
If your skin is stressed and irritated…
…try the Cicaherb Restore Sheet Mask from ENATURE. Kick environmental skin stressors in the butt with this mask’s main ingredient: centella asiatica, an herb that’s been used for centuries to reduce swelling and improve circulation, treat wounds, and calm topical flare-ups.
If your skin needs a quick pick-me-up…
…try ENATURE’s Bio-Zeup Sheet Mask. Soaked in an essence that’s packed with fresh paprika extract (antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial) and lactobacillus ferment (the good bacteria), this sheet mask will leave you with instantly refreshed, glow-y skin.
If your skin needs a bit of plumping…
…try the Forever Glow Mask from Joanna Vargas. Forgot to drink your eight glasses of water yesterday? Have no fear, Joanna Vargas (and her masks) are here. Let this masks olive leaf extract, algae extract and rose water work their plumping, hydrating magic on your thirsty face to seriously refresh your skin.
If your pores bother you…
…try Whamisa’s Sea Kelp Mask. Make like the little mermaid and embrace the power of ocean plants. Seriously, kelp not only soothes and hydrates skin, it also works to remove toxins, clean out your pores and reduce inflammation. The seaweed is always greener indeed.
If your sensitive skin needs to be restored…
…Joanna Vargas’ Euphoria Mask is your best bet. “Euphoria” may be a strong word for how you feel about your skin but after donning this sheet mask for a bit, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a word that better describes how you’ll react, particularly if you started with a red, irritated face. Thanks to calming ingredients like calendula, rose water and ginkgo biloba, the bamboo mask calms and nourishes angry skin.
If your skin is looking a little “meh”…
…try ENATURE’s Vita 8 Nutritive Mask. “Meh” shouldn’t ever be how you feel about the state of your face but I get it—some days are better than others! Thankfully, the essence this mask is soaked in is so chock full of vitamins (C, E, F, H, B5, B6, B9 and B12) and nutrients that, upon removal, you’ll barely recognize your newly-energized and refreshed skin.
Sure, there are some products that provide quick fixes, but for true, lasting results when it comes to the health of your skin, you’re gonna have to play the long game.
One of the great (or terrible, depending on who you ask) things about living during this time is the ability to get nearly anything instantaneously. The amazing new book that came out this morning? Check. A 4am burrito because you’re so enthralled with the book that you forgot to eat dinner? Check. A new duvet because you spilled the burrito all over your bed? Check. A last-minute cleaning service because you forgot you were hosting book club and don’t want your friends to see the rice and beans under your bed? Check.
But with all this near-instant gratification comes something less gratifying: the inability to deal when you do have to wait for something. No matter how many times you open an app, snowball season will still be months away, water will always take way longer to boil for pasta than you think it should, and introducing a new skincare product in to your routine will not result in the best skin of your life overnight. Sure, there are some products that provide quick fixes, but for true, lasting results when it comes to the health of your skin, you’re gonna have to play the long game.
As a general rule, the more work that needs doing, the longer the product is going to take to show its effectiveness. For example, a basic pimple that springs up suddenly can be remedied in a couple of days with a spot treatment. A real here-today-gone-tomorrow situation. But if what you’re applying to your face is meant to change the structure of your skin’s cells — like vitamin C or retinol — get ready to wait. And wait. And maybe wait some more.
While this isn’t an exact science, most moisturizers will make a noticeable difference as soon as you apply them. Since they’re only working to plump up the very topmost layer of your skin, they don’t need a lot of time to prove themselves. Other hydrating products like hyaluronic acid serums will show up on your face quickly too for the same reason. That said, this also means they won’t stick around long and will come off easily after cleansing.
As far as masks that promise immediate brightening/toning/lifting/clearing results, proceed with caution. Sure, you may notice a difference upon washing the mask off, but it’s just a temporary, superficial fix. Even masks that “remove blackheads” are really just removing sebaceous filaments (totally normal and health hair follicles with some dead skin in and around them), which will replenish after a few days.
These quick “result” products aren’t bad, just don’t rely on them. Instead, focus your energy on the long-term effects of the following types of products that can cause real, lasting change at a deeper level.
Some patience needed:
Believe it or not, your skin needs a couple of weeks to get used to a new cleanser as it shifts your skin’s pH balance. This is a delicate process, one the should take some time so your skin doesn’t freak out, so if you find that a new cleanser is having a real effect after just one use, it may be too good to be true.
Same goes for all-over acne treatments (not just spot cases) like toner or salicylic acid serum. Since the concentration of acne-fighting ingredients is lower here to preserve the general health of the skin and not dry it out, you may be waiting up to two weeks to see a difference.
Anything that requires your skin to change on a cellular level can take a long (long) time to be visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working beneath the skin’s surface. Acne scars, hyperpigmentation, sun spots — be prepared to use a product for at least three months before any noticeable change occurs. And even then, it may be small. But slow and steady wins the race when it comes to this kind of skincare; it may feel like it’s taking forever but stick with it. I promise it’ll be worth it.