SKINCARE: Tips for healthy glowing skin and my top cruelty-free skincare brands

Hiya guys! It’s been a long time coming that I’ve wanted to write this blog post. “What’s my skincare routine?” is a question I get often, and a regime that I keep up daily for healthy glowing skin.

In fact, the reason it took so long to share this post is because I’ve spent the past few months testing out different brands for my skin, and I finally feel like I’ve found my perfect routine. Also, it took more time because knowing which brands are cruelty-free is not always so straight forward. But after lots of online research, and some trail and error I’ve got a handful of quality brands to share with you. Rest assured, when it comes to skincare I’ve done my research! And I hope you find this useful.

I also want to make note that all recommendations in this post come from my own personal experience. We are all different, so what works for me might be different for you – but these recommendations have made such a difference to the health of my skin that I must share. So here we go!

It all starts with what you eat:

I want to start by saying that the MOST influence we can have on beautiful skin is through our diet! Trust me, I know from experience. With my change in diet I’ve seen this affect on my own skin, and as well as my husband’s.

Often we think of “treatments” as topical – putting on a bandage to repair what’s been damaged. But instead we need to look for the root of the issue, and solving this first. And that begins with what we put in our mouths.

I don’t mean to sounds preachy, but turning to a plant-based diet has helped my skin tenfold!! I eat really clean (unrefined) and colourful meals with lots of fruits and veg. As a result my skin is brighter and clearer, with hardly any breakouts. I only get the occasional pimple when I’m on my period. And this diet hasn’t only worked for my skin, but the same goes for my husband. I can’t even remember the last time he had a pimple, which is a miracle if you knew how much he struggled with acne.

Here are a few tips for vegans and non-vegan to get healthy glowing skin:

1. Eliminate dairy!

Of course, I understand that not everyone is able or willing to go entirely vegan, but I will say that eliminating dairy is a great start to skin health. It can make a major difference to your flare-ups.

Dairy is packed with hormones, which can really affect our own hormonal balance and as a result our skin. Think of it this way: when we breakout, it’s our body telling us that our hormones are out of balance. Hence why women breakout during our periods.

If you’re not plant-based, eliminating dairy from your diet can be a huge positive step to skin health and reducing breakouts. The same would go for avoiding GMO meats, but that’s a whole other topic I will leave for a later post…

Back in the day when I was not plant-based, I especially noticed bad breakouts when eating cottage cheese. I would get SO many pimples! It took me a while to realize that it was the shift in cottage cheese consumption which was doing it. I upped my intake as a fitness recommendation from many sources, because it’s a low-fat, high-protein rich food.

But the negative affect on my skin was a clear signal my body was rejecting it. It made perfect sense when I checked the ingredient list. Turns out, store bought cottage cheese is full of fillers and a bunch of ingredients I couldn’t decipher. Once I stopped eating it my skin cleared up within days.

My husband also experienced cystic acne growing up as a teen, and well into his 20s. This only stopped when he swapped to almond milk from cows milk. Something he did when we moved in together, because I was dairy-free. The affect of eliminating milk on clearing his face was incredible! Which is upsetting because prior he had gone through two bouts of accutane. And it was never recommended by professionals to change his diet.

If you’re struggling with your skin, and are not plant-based, eliminating dairy is a great first step. Test it out for a few weeks and see what impact it has to your skin. I think you too will be surprised by the difference it makes. 🙂

2. Avoid processed soy!!

Okay plant-based foodies – this one’s for you. If you’re on a plant-based diet, but still suffering from breakouts, it might be your soy intake. Soy is a go-to protein source for us vegans. But unfortunately it can cause hormone imbalance, ESPECIALLY the processed kind. Trust me, I’ve been through it. It’s hard to find a lot of studies on this, and many are contradictory. But I particularly like this article from Dr. Mark Hyman and the myths about soy.

After about a year of being plant-based, I really wanted to find methods for upping my protein. So, I opted-in for drinking soy milk over almond, and eating soy yogurt and tofu. I can’t even tell you how bad my skin got from this switch! I would get these deep rooted pimples that would take days to surface. They were so painful and would badly scar. I’d never had acne like this before, and I couldn’t understand what caused it.

I even started getting pimples on my back, which was never a problem area for me. In addition, I started growing milia around my hair line (which looks like little whiteheads). Suffice to say, I have so much compassion for those with acne problems now, and not knowing what the heck to do.

This continued for about 4 months when I finally clicked-in that perhaps it was the uptake of soy causing my breakouts. The same day I turned back to almond milk, swapped soy yogurt for coconut yogurt, and limited my tofu intake. Within a week the breakouts retreated, and my skin got sooo much clearer! I had no more milia and no breakouts on my back. Thank heavens!

So, if you are on a plant-based diet beware of your processed soy intake. I want to stress the word “processed” here because soy in its purest forms have no negative affect on my skin. It’s a great source of protein for vegans too, so I don’t want to condemn soy altogether. For example, I eat LOTS of edamame! Almost daily.

I also use miso a lot in my cooking. When I do want tofu, I buy the organic kind and eat only once or twice a week. Or, I turn to tempeh (it’s a less processed version of tofu). These food forms have caused no negative affects on my skin. So, avoid processed soy like soy milk and soy yogurts, and opt-in for its most natural form.

3. HYDRATE!

I know this is the most annoying piece of advice, but water does wonders for your skin!! Think about it, our skin is made up of 64% water. Therefore drinking LOTS of water is necessary to keeping our skin hydrated and dewy. Water has made such a difference to clearing my skin. Plus, it’s good for so many other reasons like speeding up our metabolism, flushing out toxins etc. So drink it up!

I drink SO much water, and I truly believe it attributes to my good skin. It was even a recommendation from my wedding photographer to drink lots of water in the days leading up to the wedding. So that my skin would glow in photos on the big day.

Yes it makes me go the bathroom more often, but it’s a small price to pay for beautiful skin and a healthier body. I think the average recommendation is 12-15 cups a day? But I definitely have more – probably having 20 cups a day.

My skincare regime!

Now that I’ve ranted about how important our diet is for skincare, let’s talk about my (cruelty-free) skincare regime! To be honest, I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. Nor have special tools and techniques. But, I do choose quality brands that support in keeping my skin soft, hydrated and bright.

First, let me talk about my daily regiment:

  1. Facial cleansing wash. Twice daily. Once in the morning and once before bed.
  2. After washing, I use a toner. Toner helps to remove any of the strong metals in the water, like calcium. Pat it on your face and let it air dry. (This is something I started after moving to France, because the water is so hard. If you have soft water you can skip this step).
  3. Apply serum. I added this step a year ago. Now I’m 29, skin hydration is becoming more important to delay fine wrinkles. Serum is a pre-moisturizer that helps the skin better absorb your cream. I really like it.
  4. Apply hydrating cream. In the morning it’s an SPF sunscreen, broad spectrum, with UVA/UVB protection. (Recommendation from my dermatologist to buy “broad spectrum”). Then, before bed I use a thick moisturizing cream.

Favourite (cruelty-free) skincare brands:

This in itself could be its own blog post, but I wanted to include it here so you know exactly what I use on my face. Below is a range of cruelty-free skincare brands that I like, from least expensive to most expensive. I won’t lie, when it comes to skincare I will pay a premium, so although cheaper you’re looking at the $30-50 CAD minimum spend. I find French brands are the best! They’re rooted in science and have been around for decades. But there are some newer brands I also like below:

  1. Avene ($)

I love the creams from Avene, especially their sunscreens. I like to buy Avene’s High Protection SPF 50. The cream itself lathers nicely. (Note – the higher the SPF the more greasy. So if you don’t like that sticky feeling I’d recommend using their Hydrance Cream SPF 20)

Their creams are great for those with sensitive skin. I’ve also bought their body sunscreen and I love it too. I find this brand compares to Vichy or La Roche Posay, but the bonus is Avene doesn’t test on animals.

2. Embryolisse ($)

I feel this brand has taken the skincare world by storm as of recent. Or, maybe it’s just now that I’m noticing? This is also a french brand, and honestly I LOVE this line for all my facial skincare needs. From cleanser, to serum and creams. The only way to explain it is that the product feels like cream! You’ll know what I mean when you try it. There is no special scents, tingling sensations or anything fancy – it’s just really nice creams. I love their Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre for my face, and their Soin Lissant Contours eye cream. Their creams are great for sensitive skin, and are recommended for use on babies and adults.

You can buy this brand at Shoppers Drug Mart (if you’re in Canada) or on Amazon. I hear they also sell it on ASOS. If you’re visiting France you can buy at any pharmacy for cheaper!

3. Aesop ($$)

Aesop is an Australian plant-based cruelty-free skincare line that uses natural-derived ingredients to develop their products. I love this brand so much because the ingredients are plant-derived and minimalist. The products smell earthy and beautiful. It’s like a trip to the spa.

I love how the smells are derived from the ingredients themselves with no added perfumes. The smell differs for each product from oily skin to dry. So if you prefer the smell of another product, but it’s not recommended for your skin type than tough luck! The ingredients are combined together for a reason, so go with the flow.

This brand is more expensive, but you get what you pay for. And, it really lasts. Their Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil and Toner has lasted me over a year! It’s worth the investment. I also love their Tea Tree Leaf Facial Exfoliant, which I do once a week. And their body wash, which gets so creamy and bubbly in the shower. It lathers the best out of any body wash I’ve tried. I don’t think there is much to disappoint with this brand.

The only thing I wasn’t so keen on is their In Two Minds Facial Hydrater cream. It smells a bit like Flintstones vitamins to me…

4. Lucia Rapetti ($$$)

Lucia Rapetti is a french cosmetic line that makes premium skincare products. This is my favourite brand from the list! I buy it from the spa just down the road and it’s probably the best skincare line I’ve ever used. However, it costs a pretty penny! Similar to the Aesop brand it’s like bringing the spa into your home. Using these products really feels like an indulgence. The ingredients are always organic and natural, paraben free, colouring free, and non-GMO.

I find it’s a nice blend of the three products listed above: natural and plant-based (like Aesop), but keeping testing (cruelty-free), science and research at the forefront like traditional French brands (Embryolisse and Avene).

The products smell like a dream and spread beautifully. Their moisturizers absorb well into my skin and definitely give me that dewy look. I particularly love their serums for the face and eyes. I especially noticed a difference with their EYE PROTECT Precious Serum for brightening the dark circles under my eyes. It’s amazing. I also love their AQUABSOLUE CRÈME for my face, it’s thick and absorbs so nicely. I use it at night.

I’m not sure if this brand ships outside of France, but if you’re visiting France it’s worth splurging on a bottle or two. You can order online, or check out the local spas to see if they sell it.

Now, this was a lot of information. So in a nutshell here are the various products I’m using:

  1. Face wash, morning and night: Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Oil ($$)
  2. Toner: Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Toner ($$)
  3. Serum: Lucia Rapetti AQUAreSOURCE SERUM ($$$) and Lucia Rapetti EYE PROTECT Precious Serum ($$$) OR Embryolisse Serum Anti-Age ($)
  4. Moisturizer: Morning is Avene High Protection SPF 50 (in summer – $) and Avene Hydrance SPF 20 Hydrating Cream (in winter – $). Evening is Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre (summer and winter – $) OR AQUABSOLUE CRÈME ($$$)

So there it is! A few helpful tips to your best skin and my favourite cruelty-free skincare products to use for hydration. These products do not test on animals and are great for those with sensitive skin. I do hope you that you find these tips and products as helpful as I have. And if you do try them out please let me know what you think in the comments below. Or, if you have other cruelty-free skincare brands you love please feel free to share! I love hearing from you and your experience!

All the best!

Hannah

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6 comments on “SKINCARE: Tips for healthy glowing skin and my top cruelty-free skincare brands

  1. Love your tips so much. And couldn’t agree more. I still get once a month a pimple on my chin (probably you can guess what time it is) the diet change helps a lot for sure. And a whole food plant-based diet is the main key, isn’t it?

    • Hannah Sunderani

      12 Feb 2019 at 5:23 am Reply

      Aww Jasmin I’m so happy you found it useful. Yes, when I was having breakouts from the soy it was based a lot around my chin. Not sure if it’s an old wives tale, but my mum told me breakouts on the chin are usually hormonal. Bu I have definitely learned that diet is essential, and yes – I really think a whole foods plant-based diet is the best. From my experience it’s had such positive effect on my health, not only with skin care but digestive issues and energy too!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story and experience. Reading that your husband had cystic acne till his 20s makes me feel less alone. I actually moderate acne and it comes and goes even though with all the changes I’ve done and I think it’s high time to go to a professional. But your article on processed soy, i didnt know about that !! Thanks again Hannah. 🙂

    • Hannah Sunderani

      12 Feb 2019 at 5:28 am Reply

      Hi Jasen, aww I’m so glad this post helped you feel less alone! We all struggle through it, and I know my husband really had it hard. He went to see the professionals too to get a hold on it. I only wish they had recommended diet as a form of treatment as he went through two cycles of accutane and it really affected his liver. I think it’s much better now though in that there are many professionals taking a more wholistic approach. Good luck! xx

  3. I really like your skincare routine and these all brand seem good to try out. I will definitely recommend them. Thanks and keep sharing.

    • Hannah Sunderani

      16 Apr 2019 at 9:51 am Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the tips Lisa!! Hope you enjoy these brands! I love them. Would love to know what you think about them too. 🙂

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