I'm a 30-something beauty editor who is often told I look younger—here's every skincare product I use

Dropping the routine for youthful, glowing skin? Yes, I am

Youthful skincare products
(Image credit: Rebecca Fearn)

Without sounding too insufferable, I've always been fairly lucky with my skin. Apart from the odd blemish, I didn't suffer too badly with acne when I was younger, and I've not had to address issues such as rosacea or eczema (I know, I suck). 

However, back during pandemic days when I was in my late twenties, I suddenly found myself with a bout of adult acne and eyelid eczema, and no matter what I did, I could not shift it. This is particularly frustrating when you're a beauty editor (and thus, often considered an 'expert' of sorts), and it leaves you feeling extremely helpless.

I was lucky enough to be able to consult with a dermatologist, and after an in-person visit (masked up, ofc), I was introduced to a new prescriptive skincare routine. The routine not only cleared up my spots and dryness in what felt like an instant, it also set me on the path to being a beauty journalist who writes about glowing skin like it would be my chosen 'Mastermind' subject. 

Don't get me wrong, I have bad skin days just like everybody else. I break out, I pick (a lot), my pores are much more noticeable than I'd like, and I experience dryness around my eyes during the summer, and on my nose and chin as the weather changes to winter. But all in all, I'm pretty content with the state of my skin, and (along with some good genes I think), it's led to some people thinking I am a little younger than I am.

At 31, I'm often met with surprise when revealing my age. And while I credit this mostly to my mum, who's nearly 70 and has the most amazing skin, I've also perfected my routine for the glowing, cushiony effect that's synonymous with a 'baby face'. Paired with my often ridiculous, juvenile sense of humour and demeanor, my chosen products have kept me appearing youthful to those who don't know me that well. In fact, I've even ditched the Botox I started trying in the past year, convinced I don't yet need it when I have such a solid arsenal of products I can apply topically until deeper lines appear.

While I credit certain make-up finds for achieving my 'glow' (finding the right skin tint and cream highlighter is *essential*), a fresh-looking face starts with your skincare. Here's exactly what I use. 

Morning skincare routine

1. A super-simple cleanser

This was one of the original products I was recommended by my dermatologist. It reminded me how simple cleansing actually should be, particularly in the morning. Leave the actives and harsh astringents behind and stick to a pared-down formula that nourishes and hydrates skin while cleaning effectively. You can't go wrong with La Roche-Posay, but I also like CeraVe for fuss-free cleansers.

2. Vitamin C serum

Another one my derm put me onto, Skinceuticals' vitamin C really is the best you can buy. While the brand's C E Ferulic formula is the most popular, I rate this way more, mainly due to the fact it suits my combination-oily skin much better. This brightens, protects from pollution and contributes to a healthier-looking complexion on the whole. Yes it's pricey, but I rate it. 

If you need something more affordable, La Roche-Posay and The Inkey List also do great vitamin C serums. 

3. This ultra-dewy moisturiser

This is where the glow first kicks in in my routine. Tatcha is one of my all-time favourite skincare brands, and when it finally landed in the UK I was overjoyed. The Dewy Skin Cream is my all-time favourite, but all the brand's creams are truly lovely. This leaves skin feeling so hydrated and quenched, and also results in a plumped, radiant finish. 

I also acknowledge this is expensive, but I do genuinely believe the texture is quite unique.

4. A featherlight SPF

Listen, I've had just as many problems finding an SPF that doesn't break me out as the next gal, but we have to acknowledge just how important sun protection is and, thus, I implore you to keep searching if you're yet to find 'the one'. My top pick may help, as it feels super lightweight on skin (practically undetectable), has a high level of protection and also smells incredible. I rate all of Thank You Farmer's suncare, but this is my newest find. I also like sunscreens by Ultra Violette and Supergoop.

Evening skincare routine

1. A simple double cleanse

You don't need to double cleanse in the morning, but if you wear make-up or even leave the house, it's recommended for nighttime. You need to remove product and any build up from the day before then actually cleansing skin properly. I use the same wash-off cleanser as my second step (thus, saving £££), along with a cleansing balm for make-up removal. My current favourite is this Elemis fig edition of its bestselling Pro-Collagen balm, but I also rate the one by The Inkey List, which is a little cheaper.

2. A fuss-free hydrating serum

I think no matter your skin type you can benefit from a simple hyaluronic acid serum, and The Inkey List's really is the best I have found. Many other brands chuck in extra unnecessary ingredients, but this one is BS-free. Use it on damp skin right after cleansing. 

3. A prescription retinol

Up until several months ago, I was using a prescription adapalene (Differin) I had been using since going to my first derm appointment several years ago. I loved what it did to my skin and mainly credit that for clearing up my bout of adult acne. But as I've got a little older I've wanted to move onto tretinoin, which is a touch stronger and works to target fine lines as well as acne. As tret (as the beauty editors call it) is not widely available in the UK, the easiest way to access it outside of a formal prescription is through a subscription service such as Klira. I've been really impressed with how well my 'The Special' formula has worked, and am gradually working my way up to stronger concentrations. It keeps my spots in check and my skin looking youthful.

4. A barrier-protecting night cream

That said (re: Klira), I have experienced some increased dryness around my nose and chin since using tretinoin, so have started trying a more intense night cream. This one has gone to the top of my list since I first used it several months ago. It's super rich in texture and actively works to protect that all-important skin barrier, meaning dryness and acne are less likely. 

This is another pricey buy, so if you'd like an alternative, I love the cream from Dr Jart's Ceramidin range. 

Rebecca Fearn

Rebecca is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor to Marie Claire. She has written for titles including Refinery29, The Independent, Grazia, Coveteur, Dazed, Stylist, and Glamour. She is also a brand consultant and has worked with the likes of The Inkey List on campaign messaging and branded copy. She’s obsessed with skincare, nail art and fragrance, and outside of beauty, Rebecca likes to travel, watch true crime docs, pet sausage dogs and drink coffee. Rebecca is also passionate about American politics and mental health awareness.