Hello! I’m writing you from uncharacteristically hot ’n’ sunny London, where I’m beauty tourist-ing for a week and change. It took packing a lot of black and weather-inappropriate clothing to finally realize something: It’s summer again. Sorry if I don't sound too thrilled. It always sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? Yesterday I had to drag myself over to Topshop and buy a pair of shorts (I didn’t bring any) because if this continues, I’m going to sweat through everything in my suitcase. Also, Topshop has damn fine distressed denim right now. Don’t even bother trying to find vintage Levi’s to make your own; it’s not worth it.
Sudden summer means summer skincare, and my routine is orbiting around two key products. OK maybe three. Either way, it’s not many.
The first is Omorovicza’s Moor Mud Cleanser, which I tried after polishing off a jar of their truly excellent Deep Cleanser Mask. The brand is steeped in centuries of Hungarian beauty secrets, and turns out, if you want the best mud on the planet, look no further than Budapest. The cleanser’s texture is just like the mask: creamy and thick, melting (like buttah) into skin. No drying, no irritating, no mess. I honestly love it so much. Particularly now that I’m sweating out of my face regularly. It has a nice cooling effect that you get from just the right amount of essential oils, and the mud is tough on grease. After that I like to spray my face with Lumion Skin Mist. Jane Larkworthy mentioned it to me nearly a year ago as the go-to mist for people that fly on planes a lot because it’s tough on bacteria. It’s got hypochlorous acid to literally clean and balance the skin, even if you’re wearing makeup. I like it because it kind of smells like a pool.
After about four spritzes, it’s on to the main event: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. The cult product you can’t stop reading about. The reason my Instagram inbox is flooded with questions. The skincare craze I’m pretty sure Victoria Lewis can take full credit for starting. Long story short, I tried the oil (yes, it’s an oil—just a very active oil) when it first came out a few years ago and thought it was fine. Great, even! But my skin was in a different place then. Mainly, I didn’t struggle with acne (yet). So I put it down, not knowing if it was actually any better or worse than the other oils in my repertoire. Twelve months of really annoying, unsolvable breakouts later and I picked up another bottle on a hunch that it was exactly what I needed. Friends, may I tell you, this thing is a miracle worker IF, AND ONLY IF, you have the right skin for it. Specifically combination skin that’s broken out on the regular with little rhyme or reason. The oils (there’re 22 in the formula, from rosehip to tamanu) sooth and balance angry, irritated skin almost immediately. This is the first month in what feels like forever that I’m not playing whack-a-mole with my forehead zits. Four drops at night (sometimes in the morning, too) on damp skin (hence the Lumion) and I’m back to going makeup-free whenever I like.
Now, that’s not a lot of product, particularly for me. The whole routine can happen in about a minute and a half. I get the whole self-care thing—spending 10 minutes every night primping and taking care of your skin and body is important for sure. But you know what else is soothing? Knowing you can knock out your skincare routine during the commercial break on Real Housewives of New York and not have any lingering acne-paranoia. Ladies and gents, this is true freedom.
Of course I have add-ons. I couldn’t not have add-ons. The Vintner’s Daughter isn’t particularly hydrating, so I’ve been following up with a hyaluronic acid serum whenever the mood strikes. Currently I’m working my way through a bottle of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Acid for darker skin tones. She recommended it because it’s formulated to curtail excess sebum production in addition to hydrating the top layer of skin. Her Ampoules are also mighty fine for traveling. Next up on my list to try are the HAs from The Ordinary and NIOD.
Then there are the masks. The two that get my dreaded airplane skin back in shape are Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask (sucks out all the bad without drying out the good) and Joanna Vargas’ new Dawn Sheet Mask. It’s a sheet mask with mandelic acid in it! Sign me up once a week until the end of time.
Makeup is straightforward at the moment. I’ve finally found my perfect basics that I don’t plan on abandoning any time soon: Dior Dreamskin Cushion Foundation, Nars Matte Concealer, Boy Brow in Brown, Guerlain Bronzer, and a dab of Cloud Paint in Haze. My eyeliner, if I care to spend too much time perfecting it, is either Tom Ford’s Eye Defining Pen or Chanel’s Stylo Yeux. I might be the last person in the world to have discovered Chanel Inimitable Mascara, but it doesn’t matter because now I have it and I’m happy. After too many years of feeling like there was sand in my eyes by the end of the day, I finally heeded the words of this very site and got myself a mascara meant for sensitive eyes. Like my mother says: I always learn the hard way.
Hair, it turns out, is all about the tools and only a little about the products. The Amika straightening brush has turned my world upside down. (Review to come.) The GHD Curve with a 1” barrel never, ever fails me, especially if I use it on three-day-old hair to refresh the style. And the Dyson hair dryer is, well, the Dyson hair dryer. For products, I’ve sold my soul to Sachajuan, which makes life a lot easier. I’m more than content with the whole suite: Scalp Shampoo, Intensive Repair Conditioner, Intensive Hair Oil, and Ocean Mist Texturizing Spray. Not to brag, but I just picked up Sam McKnight’s new hair styling line (out in the UK now, out in the US soon) and boy is it chic. The hero for me is the Modern Hairspray, which keeps my high ponytails looking Hadid-level sleek but brushes out in an instant. Magic, as far as I’m concerned.
As you may have guessed, my self-tanning regimen isn’t in full swing yet. But I’m preparing for it to start with a twice-weekly application of Ameliorate’s really serious body exfoliator. Britain’s foremost beauty expert Alessandra Steinherr just passed off a bottle to me and I’m already addicted. It’s a little grainy, which is fine, but it’s also chock-full of AHAs. You apply it BEFORE getting in the shower, let it start to eat its way into your skin, then wash it off. A game changer, and at 20 quid! Waiting for my back at home is my Paula's Choice Resist Body Lotion with 10% AHA. Too strong to be used together? Only time will tell! Baby smooth butts for everyone Summer 2K17.
Pip pip cheerio, see you back in the States for the Fourth of July,
The author photographed by Tom Newton.