Welcome to the Top 5 – an interview series where we focus on the all-time favorite products praised by members of the beauty community. Here, you’ll discover their personal top picks within the skin, hair, makeup and wellness categories.
“I’m Meg (hi!). I’m 21, recently graduated from University, and I run a blog, and Instagram called ‘In the Golden Hour’ where I talk about skincare, fashion, lifestyle, and anything else I fancy!
I’ve been interested in really learning about skincare for around four years now, but I’ve been taking care of my skin one way or another for pretty much my whole life, even if it was just a bit of micellar water and some basic moisturizer.
My more in-depth interest in skincare and ingredients came during my first year of University. I wanted to feel more confident in my skin- to wear less makeup and therefore get ready for early morning lectures more quickly (sleep was a big priority). I first started learning how skincare works by purchasing a few products from The Ordinary (their products weren’t very self-explanatory, but they were affordable) and improving my skin. Since then, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with understanding how skincare works and trying to curate the best routine for myself to allow my skin to be as happy and healthy as possible without breaking the bank.
What I look for in skincare:
I’m quite picky with my skincare because my skin, while not massively sensitive, can be quite reactive to specific products and ingredients, so I have to be a little careful when introducing new products. In general, I look for fragrance-free products (I’m slightly more lenient if the product is a wash-off one like a cleanser), not overly complicated with excessive ingredients (to avoid irritation), and effective. I like products designed with one or two-star ingredients in mind and formulated elegantly to allow them to work, rather than a product that claims to solve every skin issue at once. I’d rather build my routine up with individual, effective and powerful ingredients, each targeted at a specific concern. This system is how I’ve seen the best results with the least amount of irritation/side effects. I also lean heavily towards affordable products (hello, graduate budget).
This is one of the first products I bought from The Ordinary, and it has remained a constant in my routine ever since. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, a fantastic ingredient for oil control that helps reduce spots, congested skin and keeps the appearance of pores to a minimum. I also find it’s massively helped reduce my skin’s redness and keep unwanted texture at bay. It’s the kind of product that I actively worry about running out of if I don’t have a backup.
This sleeping mask is a different product from the ones on my list, but I can’t deny how much I love it. It’s the best lip balm/mask I’ve tried for actually softening and hydrating the lips. My favorite way to use this is as a mask at night (as the name suggests) in a thick layer. It creates an excellent barrier on the lips so that your lips remain hydrated overnight so that when you wake up in the morning, there’s still some product on your lips rather than it all fading away and leaving your lips dry. It’s one of the few lip products that actually leaves your lips feeling super soft and nourished in the morning, and for that reason, I love it. It also smells lovely and leaves a glossy sheen on your lips, so looks great during the day too!
Chemical exfoliation sounds scary (I was hesitant at first, too), but it’s truly game-changing. Glycolic acid is an AHA that works to refine and slough away dead skin from your skin’s top layers. This particular product has a fairly strong concentration at 7% and so is not recommended if you’ve never used an AHA before (start with something formulated at a lower percentage). I love this product in particular because it’s in a toner form that’s super watery and thin, so it’s great for layering with other products in your routine. Sweeping this on after a gentle cleanse and then adding your other serums and oils on top means you won’t feel as though you’ve got 20,00 layers of product on your face. I also love that this product has a few key ingredients to help soothe and calm the skin and reduce any irritation you might experience.
Repeat after me: oils are not the enemy! A someone with somewhat oily skin, I used to feel as if adding more oil to my face was the worst possible move, but it’s turned out to be one of the best things I’ve introduced to my routine. Not only is rosehip oil soothing and nourishing to the skin (thanks to the linoleic and oleic fatty acids), but using an oil reassures your skin not to go into oil production overdrive. In particular, rosehip oil is great as it’s not a massively ‘oily’ oil, and it helps the skin absorb other ingredients more effectively. It’s also a source of vitamin A to help the skin regenerate, heal, and help reduce hyperpigmentation and scarring. It’s a miracle oil!
SPF is one of the single best things you can use on your skin. Protecting your skin from the sun is key for keeping the skin looking youthful and preventing fine lines and wrinkles as well as anything more sinister. This SPF from Etude House is one of the best I’ve tried. Its SPF50+ provides adequate protection, but it’s a super-thin, non-clogging formula that doesn’t leave a white cast on the face. Including this as the last step of your skincare routine won’t make your face feel heavy or greasy, so it’s great for wearing under makeup too. It’s also a mineral-based sunscreen, so it’s better for you and the oceans and just being more effective than physical sunscreens.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and consistency purposes.