Vegan skincare secrets of a thirtysomething who gets ID'd

All products vegan, cruelty-free and as sustainable as possible

“Do you have a student card?” asks the cashier in the art store.

People often mistake me for being younger, which makes me want to kiss them and/or be their best friend forever. 

My secret, if you can even call it that, is slapping cream and oils on places they’re not meant to go. Maybe it’s the rule breaker in me or my dislike for reading instructions.

That's probably also why I don't follow a regimented skincare routine. If I'm not going out, I don't think there's any harm in leaving the natural oils on your face in the morning. My two musts, though, are moisturising and removing make-up. I like to always feel like my skin has a layer of moisture on it. And I don’t care if I look a bit shiny. 

A few caveats before I get started: I’m vegan, do a lot of yoga and am teetotal. I reckon your skin mirrors what you put in your body. But then I knew someone who lived on takeaway pizza and fizzy drinks with skin as soft as baby’s bum so hold that thought.

My vegan skincare products

Face moisturiser

Lush - Dream Cream 

This is a body cream but I read years ago of someone using it on her face because she had psoriasis. I didn’t have that but shoved some on my face and it liked it and it was cheaper than the fancy pants brands my friends were using. 

Lush - Sleepy 

This is another body cream. I ended up using it when I was away and didn’t have any Dream Cream.  It kind of works as a natural highlight on your cheek bones, or where you can pretend your cheek bones are if, like me, you weren’t gifted with promiment ones. But equally, you can shove it all over your face. It also smells great so doubles as perfume.

Lush Sleepy review

Eye cream

If you thought smearing body cream all over your face was controversial, strap yourself in for this one. I haven’t used eye cream for about five years. I’ve just been applying Dream Cream all over my face, including the eye area. Cue sharp intake of breath from women across the country.

Having written for a major skincare brand and been instructed by legal to use the same vague claims and lines, I’m wary of the industry’s promises or suggestions. How convenient we need to buy a separate cream for one part of our face. And how convenient it costs more.

This  cooincided with a time in my life when I was cutting back on my belongings. When you're an accidental nomad and living out of a suitcase, you can only keep the bare essentials.

Having said that, recent ageing paranoia made me backtrack on my 'no eye cream’ policy. After having such a positive experience with Heavenly Organics oil (see below), I decided to try their Organic Lavender Eye & Face Cream.

Heavenly Organics Organic Lavender Eye & Face Cream review
Heavenly Organics Organic Lavender Eye & Face Cream review

You can’t really call it a cream though. Maybe an oily paste. While I do really like it, I’m not a fan of shoving oil too near my eye and would recommend just applying it underneath the eye. That way it can’t melt or roll down your face.

I made my dad try it and he ended up blinking his way round Asda. We had to whisk him out before elderly women of Ayrshire thought he was playing some kind of winking chat-up game with them.

But all Heavenly Organics products seem to make your skin silky smooth – and they're based in Wales so they get a thumbs up from me.

Deal breaker

Superdrug vials. Oh my gawd. I love Dream Cream but Superdrug’s Me+ serum collection is out of this world. I was lucky not to get spots as a teenager (thanks, veganism) but then in the middle of my master’s project my skin got as stressed out as me and I’ve struggled with spots every since. 

The pill was meant to help clear it up and deal with a slight hormone imbalance but it just made me feel down and put on weight.

I only discovered Me+ Niacinamide + Zinc Booster and its mystical powers a few weeks ago but I got instant results.

I pop some on the high spot-risk areas in the morning and at night. Sometimes I’ll dab it on breakouts or potential breakout areas during the day. How can something this good be vegan, cruelty-free, cheap (£5.99) and come in a glass bottle??

Me+ Niacinamide + Zinc Booster review

After two years in the dry climate of Lisbon, my skin was starting to look a bit drab and dried out. I wasn't sold by claims Me+ Hyaluronic Booster could plump up your skin and smooth out any signs of wrinkles. But I'm happy to have been proven wrong. And I can't stop raving about it. If you only buy one new product, make it this one.

Me+ Hyaluronic Booster review

I initially got the Me+ Pro Age Acacia Collagen Booster for my mum and was sceptical about using it on my skin. But hey, it just goes to show it's worth buying your family presents you can use as well. I really do think it makes my skin look younger.

Me+ Acacia Collagen Booster review

For softness

Body moisturiser 

I’m a big fan of oil as a body moisturiser. The Organic Orange, Rose Geranium & Patchouli Body Oil from Heavenly Organics smells divine and lasts pretty well. What I particularly like is that it makes your skin soft. It works well on the décollet and on your face and hands too. According to my mum, it’s the only time my hands haven’t felt like sandpaper.

Heavenly Organics Organic Orange, Rose Geranium & Patchouli Body Oil review

Sometimes I add a layer of cream on top of the oil. My favourite is Superdrug’s Vitamin E All Over Body Cream because it’s vegan, cheap and in a big tub. I just wish it came in a glass jar rather than a plastic one. 

Hands and nails

I’ve tried all the hand creams that were ever produced (I think) and none of them seem to make any inroads into my sandpaper hands™. Hair oil as a hand moisturiser was an accidental discovery when I noticed how soft my hands were after dousing my hair in Superdrug’s Argan Hair Therapy everyday oil with argan.

(While writing this I noticed the leaping bunny wasn’t on the back of the bottle so I won’t be buying this again until I’ve double-checked it’s vegan – I bought it in a bit of a hurry.)

Superdrug Argan Hair Therapy everyday oil with argan

Face cleanser 

My skin type is combination (probably normal - dry with slightly oilier T-zone). To get a good clean I use Lush’s Coalface or Drunk Elephant's Pekee Bar. I feel like this takes off all the grime and any oiliness.

Lush Coalface review
Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar UK

When my skin feels like it needs more moisture or something more gentle I use Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin. Some days, I’ll even use the cleanisng bar first (Coalface/Pekee Bar) and then follow up with Angels on Bare Skin. It really makes your skin glow – even before you’ve applied moisturiser. 

Lush Angels on Bare Skin review

I use a Konjac sponge with all of my face cleansers.

Konjac sponge

I’ve also been using washable make-up remover cloths for about six years and they're still going strong.

When I first bought them I didn’t know about microfibres and plastics coming off in the wash. If I was buying now I would probably try to source something that was made of a more sustainable material like this.

Cheeky Wipes make-up remover wipes

Coconut oil

Unrefined coconut oil used to be a firm favourite for me. Now I have Heavenly Organics oil and Me+ Hyaluronic Booster I tend to use it less but I’d still recommend it as a cheap and effective face and body moisturiser. Just be careful of getting it in your eye or using it to remove eye make-up as it can get clog the ducts in your eyelid. It's not a good look.

Face masks

In terms of masks, I use Lush’s Oatifix and Bloomtown’s ‘the clearing’ Charcoal Mask and ‘the spring’ Blue Clay Mask. 

the clearing mask from Bloomtown

For a deep clean on the T-zone, the clearing works well. What I like is that it’s not a drying mask. Basically, it always stays wet. It sounds strange but I find the masks that harden up on your skin kind of claustrophobic. 

If you have older or more sensitive skin I’d just use the spring all over instead of  a separate mask for the T-zone.

the spring face mask from Bloomtown

The mask that I find brightens my skin and makes it soft and glowy is Lush’s Oatifix. I usually get it free when I take back enough empty pots of Dream Cream, Sleepy and Angels on Bare Skin. 

Lush Oatifix

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