I always feel uncomfortable when I see posts titled “how to get great skin” or “seven tips to amazing skin!” The fact is, while some of our dietary and lifestyle choices can have some effects on our skin’s habits, you can’t up and change your skin type. You have genetics, hormones and outside factors like the weather to thank for that.

I’ve always had combination skin, and by combination I don’t mean “only oily in some spots.” I have some generous oil deposits on my forehead and chin and the driest cheeks you ever did see. About 60% of the time, I’ve managed to somehow strike the balance of having the appearance of perfect skin, whereas the other 40% I usually have a breakout (period!!) of the feeling of tightness (Lake Ontario wind!!).

While I maintain the belief that there’s no such thing as a single secret to perfect skin, there are good habits that I’ve managed to instil in myself to help make my skin behave a little more and not make things like breakout and dryness as bad. Most of those habits include:

  • Only wearing makeup if I feel I have to, like to work or parties, and diligently removing it with non-irritating products the second I don’t want it on my face anymore;
  • Wearing SPF on my face, whether it’s in my BB cream or my moisturizer;
  • Keeping the amount of products I use on my face (in terms of makeup and cleansing products) relatively low; and
  • Not letting a ton of excessive oil accumulate on my face.

This last one is key, but a fine line to walk — I use the word “excessive” because your skin does need moisture from oil. I’ve learned to not freak out when I see a little glisten, and I’m not about to stop touching my face all together. But because I’m an athletic person, I’ve definitely learned to take some precautions when working out such as removing 100% of my makeup before I work out, wearing a headband to absorb the sweat from my hair before it drips down to my face and, well, using a toner immediately after.

This toner is a combination of things I had lying around. ACV may make you smell like a chip bag for a few minutes, but it does help to naturally restore the PH balance of your skin and is great at clearing away dead skin and dirt. Witch hazel helps to lock in moisture as well. I added a bit of Vitamin E oil to balance out any dryness, but that’s totally optional — if your face is excessively oily or acne prone you could also add a few drops of tea tree oil, but be warned, this stuff can be drying, so don’t go nuts!

Here are the proportions of what I used.

  • Two parts cucumber water (I just infused half a sliced cucumber in a cup of water over night)
  • One part unscented witch hazel
  • One part apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s)
  • A few drops of vitamin E oil (this is optional because as I get older my skin is more sensitive)

I just added everything through a funnel directly into a small spray bottle (which I bought from Muji for only a few dollars).

I store it in the fridge just to give it a nice cool feel for when I spritz it on. I use this every time I work out and also immediately after I wash my face to remove the residue.

I’m not exactly a DIY queen (besides my Christmas spice sugar scrub) but this has turned out to be one of the most useful things in my personal pantry. Go DIY-ers!

What’s your favourite DIY or store-bought beauty product? What skin challenges are you facing as you’re getting older? Let me know in the comments.