Winter Skin MVP’s

January 7, 2021
Artwork by Venetia Berry

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your skincare routine, the amount of products out there and what you should be using? I felt this way near the end of summer so decided to strip it all back to the very basics. I started following beauty journalist Jessica DeFino and reading her work, which largely focuses on how to support our skin’s natural processes to cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate, and heal, and how we can and should be protecting our skin’s natural microbiome. Her research reveals how many of the products we use are unnecessary, end up damaging the skin barrier and cause other issues needing to be repaired by yet another product (for example, speeding up cellular turnover through over exfoliation and retinols) .

So, I cut everything out except for an oil-based cleanser and my very favourite African Botanics Marula Oil. I wash my face every morning and night with warm water, but only use the cleanser after wearing makeup or a sweaty workout. The only other product I was using was the Marula Oil, morning and night. It felt so nice just going back to the basics! No longer was I mindlessly layering on different products, not really sure what I was helping or harming. Instead, I let my skin heal and get back to its natural processes, while paying attention to where exactly it needed support. As the months went by and the seasons changed, I realized that what I needed for the winter was more moisture and a very gentle exfoliator. Enter the Konjac Sponge and Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream!

Below I explain each product, why and where it fits into my routine, its sustainable properties, and have linked to different places you can purchase. If you’ve been feeling unimpressed by your skincare routine, I hope this helps inspire you to get back to the basics and nourish your skin with products that truly help to support it! xx

Konjac Sponge

Ever heard of one of these? It’s a gentle cleansing exfoliator made entirely from the konjac root, which is a porous root vegetable that is very easy to grow. This means it’s 100% biodegradable since it’s a plant (whereas most everyday sponges are made of polyester, polyurethane, or other oil-based plastics) and can be composted along with your vegetable, fruit and plant leftovers.

Naturally sustainable and environmentally safe, konjac sponges are very gentle. They allow you to gently (and daily) exfoliate your skin by sloughing away dead skin cells, giving your skin a smooth feeling and complexion, without excess irritation or stripping down the protective skin barrier. This balance of gentleness and exfoliation is why konjac sponges are generally considered safe for most skin types, and as an added bonus they are also naturally antibacterial. 

I use my konjac sponge every day. After cleansing (either with warm water or my oil based cleanser, depending on my skin) I do a second-cleanse using just water and my konjac sponge, and massage it in circular motions around my face and neck.

TIP: Konjac sponges have a shelf life, and it’s recommended to replace them every 4-6 weeks depending on how often you use it. I’ve found mine are ready to be replaced at the end of 4 weeks and can sometimes be stretched to 5 weeks, and I use it at least once, sometimes twice a day. I buy mine at the farmers market for about 5€, so try checking local farmers markets or health food stores first if they’re open in your area, because I’ve found them to be slightly cheaper at those places. But there are a lot of different options when buying online, like a charcoal konjac sponge for a deeper cleanse.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream

This cream is pricey but absolutely worth it. I received a sample before purchasing which lasted me a week, and I saw such great results that I purchased the full bottle without any hesitation. A little goes a long way and I expect the bottle I purchased at the beginning of December to last me through to the end of winter (which in Germany is around the end of February / beginning of March).

The Rich Cream is a luxurious and more intense moisturizer compared to their regular cream. It’s the ultimate moisturizer for dry climates in my opinion, and I apply it twice a day everyday, morning and night. It has absolutely transformed my skin this winter season! My skin has been noticeably more dewy and glowing since I started using this product in the colder weather.

Other reasons I love The Rich Cream: it’s considered safe for pregnant women; isn’t tested on animals; ingredients are environmentally friendly and sourced in a sustainable manner; free from parabens, fragrances, SLS, SLES and DEA, heavy metals, talc, petrolatum / paraffin / mineral oil and contains no unnecessary preservatives, solvents or emulsifiers; 70% of their packaging is plastic-free, and they continue to use more sustainable materials such as ECOCERT / COSMOS certified glass; and finally, they have goal of becoming carbon neutral this year, 2021. A long, but important list of more reasons to love it!

African Botanics Pure Marula Oil

I’ve been using African Botanics since the end of summer and I absolutely love this brand! Their Marula Oil is the best face oil I’ve ever used. It’s an ultra light, highly active oil that absorbs instantly and helps to smooth, plump and repair the skin.

Marula Oil is incredibly potent and antioxidant rich, and delivers a lot of nutrients to your skin. It’s also an incredibly stable oil (unlike many of the oils on the market) which means that it actually does the job it says it does, because its antioxidant properties aren’t easily destroyed by air and sunlight. Marula Oil has a shelf life of 24 months after opening, unlike other oils, which degrade and oxidize within 6 month after opening or from exposure to sunlight. The long lasting power and stability of Marula Oil ensures its superior antioxidant content is maintained. This stable oil forms a natural lipid barrier to lock in moisture and protect against dryness and pollution.

I found that in the summer and early fall, using this oil alone was perfect for my skin. But with the colder and drier winter weather, my skin needed more, so I added in The Rich Cream. I still religiously apply this oil every morning and evening, but I follow it with my moisturizer on top. This combination has been perfect for my skin, and it’s truly never looked or felt this good in the winter before!

Other reasons why I love African Botanics: all their ingredients are organic and sustainably sourced, with the majority of them being sustainably wild-harvested in South Africa. These ingredients are grown in their natural, bio-dynamic environment, free from farming, pollution, pesticides and human interference. African Botanics ensures the plants they use in their products are sustainable and harvested with utmost respect to nature and future generations.