My approach to skincare over the last few years has become what some in beauty circles might call lazy. I’ve pretty much stopped using facial cleansers, for one. Sometimes I’ll use Cetaphil’s “Gentle Skin Cleanser” if I remember, which is rarely—I like it because it has a milky consistency that doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight afterwards. I usually just rinse my face with water in the morning and at night though. For exfoliating, I’ll sometimes use a facial dry brush, but overall I try to keep that part of my routine simple.

Serums, essences and facial oils are another story. Both have been paramount in improving the condition of my skin, which was not great for a very long time. I’ve learned that most of my skin “problems” stem from dehydration. Whether that’s from too much sun, or too much sugar, dehydration never fails to make me breakout. Especially in the summer. And that’s why the only topicals I will faithfully use on my face are serums and oils. And SPF, though admittedly I’m a slacker. 

From personal experience, I’ve found the following 8 or so products to be wildly helpful with keeping my skin in check during the dog days, and beyond.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential

“Replenishing” facial serum, $59 at Lavido

According the Lavido, Gwenyth Paltrow uses this stuff everyday. If it’s good enough for the Goop queen, then it must be good. And it is. This serum is has a light citrus smell, which it gets from the pomegranate, lemon myrtle and mandarin oils (read: antioxidants). It lives up to the “replenishing” part of it’s name as well.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 1

Drunk Elephant “C-Firma Day” serum, $80, and Virgin Marula oil, $40, each at Sephora

Drunk Elephant is worth the hype. The “C-Firma Day” serum doesn’t smell amazing, but it delivers a heavy dose of Vitamin C, which brightens the skin.

The Marula oil is light and doesn’t leave a greasy film on your face like a lot of other oils tend to do. Overall, this is Really. Good. Stuff. 

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 3

“The Super Pack”, $65 at Glossier

These cuties are called the “Supers” for a reason. Each one combats a different skin concern. First, there’s “Super Glow” which is great if your skin is feeling a little lack luster. Then, there’s “Super Bounce” which I’ve been using everyday because it’s packed with Hyaluronic Acid, which attracts water (yes, please). And lastly, we have “Super Pure” which has Vitamin B3 (aka Niacinamide) and Zinc, which helps to clear up redness and de-clog the pores.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 2

“Beauty” oil, $78 at RMS

RMS is the holy grail of facial oils. The price tag may be steep, but this brand has attracted a cult following for a reason. Fun fact: RMS was started by Rose-Marie Swift, a beauty industry veteran who started her own line of organic cosmetics after she encountered major health issues from years of testing less virtuous beauty products.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 4

“PRISM Exfoliating Glow Potion” serum, $62 at Herbivore

This sold out serum doubles as Instagram clickbait and a gentle exfoliator that you can wear under your moisturizer, make up, or what have you. It’s so light that it feels like nothing’s really on your face when you wear it, but it does work. Bonus points to Herbivore for donating a portion of each sale to the Trans Women of Color Collective.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 5

“Intensite Complete Anti-Aging” eye serum, $285 at RéVive

Everyone knows that eyes are one of the first parts of the face that age the fastest. If you’re spending extended periods of time in the sun, this is especially true. Even if you’re not into “anti-aging” products, using this product will help to avoid any premature sagging, wrinkling or dark circles.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 6

“Santal Face Treatment” oil, $58 at Clarins

Clarins is a classic. I recommend using this face oil only if you have extremely dry skin. It’s a bit heavier than the other face oils I’ve tried, but it certainly delivers in times of crisis.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 7

Huxley “Secret of Sahara – Grab Water” essence serum, $58 at Nordstrom

Huxley is a massively popular Korean skincare brand that became available in the states this year. The name “Secret of Sahara” might sound a little strange, but it’s not misleading. This essence is light. Like, extremely light. But it gives the skin a bright and plump appearance. It’s become a skincare staple for me.

Why Serums and Facial Oils Are the Most Important Beauty Essential 10

Jade facial roller, $30 at Herbivore

Ok, so this isn’t really a serum, essence, or facial oil, but it is absolutely an essential. A jade roller, preferably one that is made from high quality jade, like Herbivore’s, is the key to any good skincare routine. Slather on your lotions and potions, and then roll away. It will help to spread your products around more evenly and aid in the ever-buzzy process of lymphatic drainage. A win-win investment.

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