An Editor's Top Skincare Picks for Normal Skin
Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Editors sample tons of products, so get your wish lists ready.
Got normal skin? Lucky you. Not all of us can relate, but even temperamental skin types can benefit from the tips contained in the regimen below, shared by the editor, journalist, and columnist, Sara Spruch-Feiner.
If your regimen could use a new addition but none of clean beauty's newest launches calls to you, consider what works for a tried-and-true editor. With bylines on Marie Claire, Allure, Coveteur, NY Mag, Man Repeller, and more, Spruch-Feiner is extremely well-versed in the world of non-toxic skincare and adept at navigating the industry's most relevant trends.
Part of what makes her a valuable beauty source is the fact that her skin is remarkably "non-sensitive." This allows her to thoroughly test and evaluate the best of beauty's offerings. "I approach taking care of my skin with the same general principles everyday," she begins. "I use different products everyday, which, to be totally honest, means that if I wrote this up a month from now, I might mention totally different products."
Still, the essential components to her skincare regimen remain fundamentally the same. "I wash my face within ten seconds of getting in the door — I know for some people it feels like a chore, and literally everything else feels like a chore to me — but not that," says Spruch-Feiner. "I don't wear makeup most days but sometimes I double cleanse anyways," she adds, hinting at the self-soothing properties of skincare practiced in earnest.
Here is an editor's regimen for normal, non-sensitive skin. Shop her top picks below.
Europe is all about cleansing milks, which are a gentle, lotion-based way to cleanse. Foaming sulfate-cleansers have been found to strip the skin barrier of it's protective oils, whereas cleansing oils require a two-step process. Cleansing milks fall somewhere in the middle, protectively cleansing and softening the skin while removing all traces of makeup and residue.
Part of what makes Tula unique is the company's incorporation of probiotics, which tends to the skin's microbiome (i.e., the network of good bacteria found on healthy skin). This is also a sensitive skin-friendly choice as it contains soothing oatmeal.
"It has oatmeal in it and I love any product with oatmeal," she says. "I always feel like my skin looks red even if other people don't notice, but I have very mild rosacea and so I love anything calming."
Thermal Cleansing Balm, $110
"If I've worn makeup, I love a rich, balm cleanser," she shares. The luxury skincare brand from Budapest infuses the healing minerals of their thermal waters into the skincare line. One of their products — Queen of Hungary Mist — was literally used by a queen.
"Hands down, the best cleansing oil — but it's a splurge," she laments of Pai's cult-favorite rosehip oil cleanser, which is lauded as a top retinol-alternative and source of natural vitamin A. Read more about cleansing oils here.
Hydrating Accelerator, $22-35
After cleansing, she moves onto toner. One of her favorites is this botanical prep for the serum that she follows with. "One of the things I feel guilty about is how rarely I finish a toner, but I go through [this mist] like crazy. I never get anything but the giant size anymore because I know I'll finish it."
Dr. Dennis Gross
When she opts for an exfoliating acid, the industry beloved peel by Dr. Dennis Gross is her go-to. "Sometimes, cult favorites are cult favorites for a reason," she explains. "I've seen so many of my friends feel like the second they added a chemical exfoliant, their pores got clearer, breakouts decreased, and they get glowier." Agreed — although we regularly reach for Biologique Recherche's cult-favorite Lotion P50 W.
The Inkey List
"After toning, I almost always use a hydrating serum," she says. "I'm not picky about it."
Hyaluronic acid is one of the buzziest active ingredients right now, known for providing gentle — and plumping — hydration to the skin. It works by attracting water molecules, helping with transepidermal moisture loss and literally pulling moisture from the air into your skin.
Pestle & Mortar
Another top pick? This hyaluronic acid serum from the Irish skincare company with a special emphasis on hydration. The brand is known for award-winning, straightforward formulations made with philosophical roots in ancient India's medicinal healing traditions, like Ayurveda.
Sobel Skin RX
"These days, I've been trying to use Niacinamide, too," says Spruch-Feiner. Dermatologist Dr. Sobel's new skincare line is known for it's high concentrations of active ingredients delivered in products that meet the criteria for Sephora's clean seal of approval.
Niacinamide, AKA vitamin B3 or niacin, is fabulous for balancing, skin barrier function, moisture retention, and making pores look smaller. Due to its fortifying effect on barrier function, it is great for all skin types — from sensitive, to redness-prone, to normal, to acne-prone.
She loves that Floodgate transparently lists the percentages of its active ingredients — Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Linden Flower extract, and White Tea Leaf extract — right on the bottom. "I might use a second serum to target something else, but usually I don't," she says, sharing that her second pick is usually calming. "My routine, like so many peoples' I think, has actually shrunk over the last few years."
Dr. Dennis Gross
Spruch-Feiner is always trying new creams and this is her current obsession. "I actually got to go on a trip to learn about these products back in October, and I fell in love with the lab samples as soon as I tried them," she says. "They smell like ginger to me and they're all about tackling skin stress, which can manifest as signs of aging, redness, etc." As she explains, the line is formulated with Niacinamide and stress-reducing adaptogens to buffer from the effects of stressors (including free radicals) on the skin.
Active Botanical Serum, $185
"If I need it, I'll seal the whole thing in with an oil," Spruch-Feiner says, lamenting that it is hard to choose a favorite. "Honestly, skincare is so crowded right now and there are a lot of great oils."
One of her top picks is the beauty editor-lauded blend by Vintner's Daughter, which is one of the most editorially celebrated facial oils of our time. It contains 22 consciously-sourced botanicals — from detoxifying Dandelion, to anti-aging Carrot Seed, to anti-inflammatory Turmeric at optimum potency due to a three-weeklong extraction process. The end results provides antioxidants, ceramides, fatty acids, aminos, and omegas. By virtually all accounts, this highly-praised facial oil lives up to the hype.
Luxury CBD Beauty Serum, $125
One of the OG luxury CBD beauty brands made her list of favorites. The concoction of cannabidiol, grapeseed, rosehip, avocado, sea buckthorn fruit extract, and more, is now available at Sephora, which is ideal for racking up loyalty reward points.
Anti-microbial Juniper and balancing neroli oils are both clarifying, while Bearberry Leaf extract, a natural source of hydroquinone, is brightening against the hyperpigmentation that can come post-breakout. This is also an excellent balancing option for combination and oily skin types.
"Something like a basic $9 rosehip seed oil can make a big difference in keeping skin moisturized," she says. (Not to mention, silky smooth!)
Linoleic acid, vitamin A, and natural anti-aging support at a fraction of the price of the industry's other top contenders. Rosehip oil also tends to leave the skin feeling unbelievably soft. Also noting the dark, UV-proof packaging which is always a thoughtful plus.
If you have a completely different skin type — like combo and sensitive — then read this.
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