8 product-free ways to improve your skin!

July 9 2015

It’s so easy to get caught up in the glitzy marketing of the cosmetic world (Omg have you guys seen the pics from the Lancome 80th birthday event in Paris this week? It was MAJOR) with their epically huge budgets and celebrities and skin perfection. Likewise, it’s easy to find yourself severely down the rabbit hole in terms of chasing a bunch of products to create your best skin. But some of the most important things you can do for skin – especially in the anti-aging arena – don’t come in a bottle at all.

Today we’re taking a walk through 8 sublime finds of the skin care kind that you won’t find at a cosmetic counter – some are still things, but most are habits that make all the difference when it comes to creating that youthful dewy glow we all crave!

Lets do this!

1. Regularly clean your makeup brushes

Makeup brushes can work wonders in terms of applying products to your gorgeous mug. But of course, this very act means your brushes quickly become caked with not only makeup but dead skin cells and oils and subsequently become a breeding ground for bacteria. Which, if not washed, you then apply straight back onto your skin. A little research on this point has actually grossed me out so much I’m taking a short break to wash my brushes IMMEDIATELY. #longoverdue

I’m back! Luckily, washing is easy. Use warm water to wet your brushes (either from the tap or in a bowl) and massage a gentle cleanser (like cetaphyl) or baby shampoo into your brushes. Rinse, squeeze the excess water out with paper towel or a lint-free cloth then lay flat to dry. Do not try and use your brushes before they are properly dry. Voila! You are no longer spreading nasties on your skin!

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: Wash them brushes! Bacterial breeding ground!

2. Don’t touch it!

In the same vein, brushes aren’t the only way we submit our skin to bacteria and nasties. Can’t help but squeeze a pimple or blemish when it emerges? Guilty as charged. But it’s about the worst thing you can do for it! *Warning – gross stuff coming.* Pimples are essentially little teeny baby pockets of bacteria, oil and debris. When you squeeze you risk a) pushing the nasties back, deeper into your skin, b) exposing your skin to the other bacteria on your hands causing your zit to become red, inflamed, swollen, infected or all of the above and c) breaking the skin and freeing the nasties, giving them the opportunity to land in other pores around the same area and create more pimples. Gross. As much as the temptation is there to squeeze, the best thing you can do to have it pass quickly – and avoid scarring – is leave it alone.

(Sidenote: I went looking for a pic to go with this point – DO NOT under any circumstances google image search pimple squeezing! Majorly stomach turning! How did I walk into that!?)

3. Spare your skin a hot shower

Nothing like a long, hot shower – especially in the cooler months, right? Wrong, as far as your skin’s concerned. Extended contact with hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils; the friction and heat of the water leaves skin dry and tight – definitely something you don’t want, especially in winter!

Secondly and I think more importantly, you should never wash your face by putting it directly under the shower head. In addition to stripping your skin of its healthy oils, the water pressure hitting your delicate face has the potential to lead to broken capillaries; damage which is tricky to undo!

The kinder way to wash? Turn the temp down a little, let the water pool in your hands and then use it to gently splash your skin. Or better yet if you have the patience and time, take your skincare routine outside of the shower altogether.

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: Stick with gentle splashing! Water directly from shower head = bad!

4. Pat don’t rub

Once you’re out of the shower, you want to gently pat your face dry. Rubbing or pulling a towel across your skin can cause tiny tears and scratches on the skin. Bacteria and grime (possibly from those dirty brushes…) can land in the tiny crevices caused by the damage and lead to break outs. Erk!

5. Sleep

They don’t call it ‘beauty sleep’ for no reason. When we sleep, our skin goes into repair mode and renews itself; new skin cells grow and replace old cells. Sleep is also when hormonal and metabolic changes happen which also flows onto our skin. Lack of sleep disrupts these processes.

Lets be frank – lack of sleep has lots of shitty ramifications, we all know it. Irritability and stress (as a result of not enough shut eye) will affect the skin, as will alcohol and drugs (which again, will disrupt the quality of your sleep). Sleep improves your health and makes you prettier along the way.

Have trouble getting to bed on time? Try setting an alarm for yourself – at night. Set it eight and half hours before you need to get up, that gives you half an hour to get ready for bed and eight hours to get you looking your finest!

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: Maz knew time in bed was great for her beauty routine.

6. Invest in a silk pillowcase. 

Okay technically this one is a product, but it’s not a traditional beauty product and it definitely works so I hope you don’t mind me including it!

Ever woken up with sheet crease on your skin? It’s way less likely to happen with silk. Lauded by Aussie beauty queen, Zoe Foster-Blake as “probably the best anti-aging ‘product’ a dame can use” this silk pillowcase may be found in the manchester department but is really all about the skin (and hair!).

(Ideally) a third of our life is spent in bed. Yet persistently pressing our face against a pillow can cause trauma to the skin. Silk causes far less friction than cotton when moving around at night, enabling skin to glide rather than drag on the fabric when you’re moving around… meaning less damage to the skin. The logic applies to hair too; a silk pillowcase will keep your hair straighter and extend the life of your blow-dry. Cotton is also super absorbent, meaning it’s likely to draw more moisture from your skin than silk. Silk is what you want on your pillow, fo’ sho’.

The brand marketing silk pillowcases as a beauty product is Slip, they’re selling theirs for $79.95. (I’ve had mine for about three years and it’s still good as new!).

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: Slip markets on beauty, not bedding.

7. Drink water

Skin is an organ, made up of cells. Skin cells, like other cells in the body, contain water. Without enough water, our organs don’t function properly. Our body loses a bunch of water every day, and when we drink it, it reaches our other organs before it reaches the skin. 8 glasses a day is the right amount to help rid the body of toxins and help hydrate the skin.

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: 8 glasses a day keeps the dermatologist away

8. Exercise… your face. 

There’s a bit of heat happening around face yoga – yep you read that right. In lay terms, the idea is that by yoga-ing your face, you keep the muscles and deep layers of your skin healthy and maintain your youthful good looks. In the words of face yoga pro, Danielle Collins, ‘the exercises work the hypodermis or the lower layer of the skin, the dermis or the middle layer and the epidermis or the upper layer. By working all these layers correctly it will increase the blood circulation, allowing more oxygen and more nourishment to reach the cells of the skin. The result is a clear, healthy complexion with a beautiful glow which has less toxins and has a better ability to absorb moisture.’

Product-Free ways to improve your skin

Product-free ways to improve your skin: Danielle Collins getting her face yoga on!

Sold, if only for the comic value of making these expressions. Marie Claire UK covered the basics in their article here.

The upshot?

The skin on your face is a fickle and fine, super delicate and wants only the best care. This is clearly the thread in all this advice: be gentle, be clean, be healthy. Sure these tips are small tweaks, but over years they can make all the difference!

Did you know these tips? Do you do them? What other things do you do to look after your skin that aren’t product-related? Share your secrets in the comments below! 


  • Emma Sutton says:

    Oh I desperately need to implement some of these ASAP! My skin is looking so sad and wintery right now. I do okay on the sleep and the water but um… I’m embarrassed to even try to work out how long it’s been since I washed my make-up brushes. And I’m very guilty of the really got showers – especially on these cold mornings. If I invest in a silk pillow case will it all be okay? And will it fill in my wrinkles?! Great post Andrea – I’m going to try some of these out 🙂

    • The winter skin is tough, right!? I think the contrast to our hyper-humid summers makes for a rough adjustment. Silk pillow case will surely make you feel good, you’ll love it! x

  • Ness says:

    OMG Andrea, how have I not washed my make up brushes?!! Eewwww!!! Doing it now…

    I spare my children from warm/hot showers, especially in Winter when their eczema is at its worst. It makes sense to spare my own skin, too (N.B I won’t be going stinky, but defo turning the temp down and having shorter ones!).

    I remember when I was younger (and drank alcohol) I’d put vodka on pimples… I know it dried it out, but just on the blemish, I swear it was the best thing and I figured it killed all the bacteria… Maybe. I should google it before trying or recommending hehe.

    Thanks for the article, Andrea. Timely, too, as I’ve had a few microdermabrasion recently – trying to take care of my skin!

    Anyone tried peels? I’m scared, but curious….


    • I am a believer in the drying out of pimples too! I haven’t used vodka, but do have a bottle of strange looking potion that seems to do the trick (it’s probably vodka in a mini bar sized bottle with a full-size price tag!). I had a peel in my last facial (am still scared of microdermabrasion and sticking to facials of the regular variety) – it was amazing. The peel set in a rubber consistency and came off in one piece! Freaky while it was on though. Thanks for swinging by Ness x

  • Janice says:

    These are great ideas Andrea. I have been doing the tepid water splash to wash off the cleanser for a long time. The cleaning of the brushes so gets overlooked – how bad is that. It makes me think of sponges too – wash well or replace regularly. Going to check out the facial yoga now…

    • I think you may have taught me that too, J! I think everrrryone is overlooking the brush cleaning – I read in a number of articles that once a week is the right amount to clean them! No one is doing that! I wonder what the face yoga equivalent of downward dog is!? x

  • Siobhan says:

    Amazing tips, Andrea! Facial Yoga?! Who would have thought! I’m so excited to try it though. I think i should definitely have cooler showers, so thanks for the tip and just like you I am now rushing off to wash my make-up brushes!
    Thanks so much for sharin.
    Siobhan x

  • Heidi + Coco says:

    Great advice Andrea, I brought a silk pillow from Slip last week and love it, it’s saves me a ton of time in the morning with my hair. I do however have to implement some of those other tips, like sleep (what’s that?)! Chantal x

    • How amazing is the slip pillowcase!? When I got mine I remember feeling instantly amazed by what a difference it made. The hair thing is legit too!
      Hope you get some shut eye this weekend! x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *