Like many women, I’ve strove (hold up — apparently “strived” is not a word??!) to simplify my skincare routine in the last few years. Few people take pride in having a wide array of products that spills out of their medicine cabinet and requires so much liquid that yeah girl, you definitely have to check that bag at the airport.

But the problem (I find) with the much-coveted capsule skincare collection is that so many of us still don’t actually know what products we need the most in order to actually make our skin behave — never mind trying to stick to a budget. It feels like we can either have a $100 moisturizer that actually somehow manages to do the trick, or a $12 moisturizer that leaves your skin with an uncomfortable milky residue so hey let’s also buy a $10 pack of blotting papers and a $20 loose powder and throw in a spot treatment while we’re at it.

Finding my groove has been tough, especially when you add in the need to keep it all vegan. Yes, despite what some mainstream “vegan” blogs may have you believe, animal exploitation is still exploitation even when it’s used to make your skin supple and glowing. But in the last two months I’ve finally whittled it down to four — yes, just four! — key products to keep my skin healthy and balanced.

Of course, I’m going to point out what should be obvious but can never be said too many times: my skin is my skin. Accepting skincare advice from someone you don’t know is not something I’m a fan of, so I’m not going to bill this as skincare “advice.” My skin isn’t perfect (and some of my problems, like clogged pores above my lips, are frustrating to still have to deal with at 28), but I’ve also not had to deal with a lot of really horrible chronic issues like cystic acne or severe dryness and/or eczema. These recommendations should be considered mostly if your skin is on the oily side of combination and you struggle with dull or tired skin, but it’s by no means a miracle cure.

None of these are sponsored and I have never posted a sponsored skincare post. Just spreading the love.

Cleanser: Deciem Hylamide high-efficiency cleanser, $21 CAD | I use this every day in the morning and in the night if I’m wearing makeup (if I’m not wearing makeup, it’s just hot water and a facecloth). This is a weirdly oily cleanser considering it’s meant for oily skin — but it gives a surprisingly deep clean and leaves pretty much no residue. If you’re a morning shower-er like me, it’s convenient, because if you aren’t wearing makeup, you need to apply it to an already-wet face, whereas wearing makeup requires a dry-face (yep, you don’t have to bother removing your makeup before you cleanse).

Moisturizer: Sukin Sensitive Moisturizer, $10.95 CAD | I use moisturizer every morning right after cleansing (I’ve switched to using a few drops of serum at night). I found that getting a sensitive skin moisturizer was the only way to get something that felt light but still keeps my cheeks hydrated. I’ve been using this moisturizer for most of the last year and it sits nicely under makeup and never feels greasy — no fragrances, no cooling feeling, just a straight-up moisturizer!

Toner: Milk Makeup Matcha Toner, $31, CAD | Definitely the one “splurge” on this list, and at $31 I think this is still pretty reasonable. I don’t use this every day and it is definitely more of a hot-day kind of thing when I find myself getting a little shiny. It has a bit of a cool sensation which feels great when I’m feeling dull (and apparently it brightens dull skin, but maybe that’s a bit of a placebo effect). I really like the effect this has on my pores — they feel cleaned out but not awkwardly parched and tight. Also, the solid stick format makes this incredibly travel-friendly.

Serium: Deciem 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil, $9.90 CAD | Like I mentioned, I’ve transitioned to just using a couple drops of oil/serum before bed. Rosehip oil is one of those core ingredients that’s good for all skin types (that’s what they all say, right?) and I can definitely say I enjoy the effect it has on my skin. It absorbs quickly (but not freakishly so) and doesn’t leave a slick feeling on my face but definitely penetrates deep. It’s especially useful (I think) if you have skin that’s uneven or patchy in texture.

Stay tuned for more vegan fashion, makeup and beauty content and, of course, lots of food and entertainment!