The missing anti-ageing product that turned my skin around, at 46

The moment I discovered I was missing a simple, vital step in my skincare routine...

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Credit: Getty

I remember the good old days when Clinique’s three-step routine was as complicated as skincare got. Now we’re hooked on the idea that layering a gazillion products is the answer to a better complexion. Serums, oils, essences, AHAs, BHAs, retinols, vitamin C, peptides, hyaluronic acid… you name it, we pile it on hoping for supermodel skin – and, being a beauty editor, I am one of the worst offenders. Guilty as charged. 

The aforementioned are all worthy ingredients, by the way, but it’s time to get real: we don’t need them all at once. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Rihanna.  The singer turned founder of groundbreaking make-up line Fenty Beauty has recently stepped into the skincare arena with Fenty Skin, a super streamlined range of just one cleanser, a toner and  a moisturiser.

Credit: getty

In Riri’s own words, she wanted skincare that feels approachable, easy and takes the pressure out of choosing a routine – and the last thing we need in 2020 is more pressure. And let's face it, a more edited approach is a smart way to recession-proof our beauty routines.

As you would hope, all three are pleasant to use, but the toner is the real hero for me.  Curiously named Fat Water, £25, it has the targeted benefits of a serum, as many toners do these days. Its viscous consistency means you can apply it without a cotton pad (SO clever) to hydrate and soften your skin ready for moisturiser. 

Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum, £25, Fenty Skin

As Riri points out, a toner is not there to merely mop up leftover dirt (if that’s happening, you’re not cleansing properly); it’s there to exfoliate, tighten pores and/or soften in preparation for your next step.

In fact, it occurred to me that if Rihanna hadn’t brought toner back into fashion, I wouldn’t be celebrating the re-emergence of my glow, which has resurfaced since using this in place of the multiple elixirs  I was previously invested in.

Actually, I’m back down to just three products and it feels rather liberating. And though I’m a small way off Rihanna’s immaculate visage, she’s definitely on to something.  Below are five more high-performers worth your time.

5 tried & verified

Treatment  Softener, £47, Shiseido 

 Treatment  Softener, £47, Shiseido 

Clarifying  Lotion 1,  £18, Clinique 

Clarifying  Lotion 1,  £18, Clinique 

Japanfusion Hydra Prep Lotion, £25/£8.61 to members, Beauty Pie 

Japanfusion Hydra Prep Lotion, £25/£8.61 to members, Beauty Pie 

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, £27, Ren Clean Skincare

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, £27, Ren Clean Skincare

Watermelon Glow  PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner, £31, Glow Recipe 

Watermelon Glow  PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner, £31, Glow Recipe