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There's alway been such a link between fragrance and luxury skincare, because of course scent is part of the overall experience of using a product. However, not everyone can or wants to use fragrance within their routine and not everyone wants purely-functional skincare, so today I'm talking through some amazing products that will start you off on building a fragrance-free routine that feels special and delivers results...
The Elemis Pro-Collagen Naked Cleansing Balm | £44 | full review | was formulated in response to interest from people who really wanted to see what all the hype was with this cleansing balm but can't or don't want fragrant essential oils in their skincare. This strips all of that back whilst still giving you that buttery texture that melts effortlessly into an oil on the skin, effectively removing makeup and sunscreen before emulsifying on contact with water (if I'm wearing makeup, I like to use the Elemis face cloth damp to remove it all). Or, you could use this in the morning for extra-soft, super-moisturised skin.
The Nue Co Barrier Culture Cleanser* | £32 | full review | is my water-based pick. This is a gel formula that lightly lathers with water but doesn't foam up and doesn't strip the skin of moisture. This is formulated with fermented ingredients as well as pre, pro and postbiotics, which I deep-dived into here, but in short: they can help support a healthy skin barrier. Amino acids help replenish the skin, we have soothing chamomile, glycerin and hyaluronic acid to draw water into the skin and lactic acid, which (being at the end of the INCI list) is probably in here for hydration and to increase penetration of the other ingredients.
It's so hard to find face mists that don't contain fragrance, because that delivery method is really all about the experiential; the cooling, often fragrant sensation of giving your face a good spritz. However, the Zelens Provitamin D3 Fortifying Mist* | £48 | full review | is a joy to use without the fragrance. This is actually an amazing product for sensitive skin or a compromised barrier because it's not only fragrance-free but is formulated with ingredients to fortify the skin (name drop!) like the titular Vitamin D, microbiome support, humectants, amino acids, panthenol and Sodium PCA. It not only hydrates the skin but helps it retain hydration and moisture, whilst soothing and calming the skin.
Next, as a multi-purpose gentle 'active', I have the Venn Probiotic Cica Biome Booster* | £153 | full review | which is one for the skincare nerds! It's obviously not cheap, but this is a luxury skincare post! This contains lots of fermented ingredients that can help boost the potential of the overall formulation, and antioxidants to protect against free radical damage. Cica (or centella asiatica) is a K-beauty staple; this plant extract has fantastic skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits. Beta glucan is fantastic for bringing hydration into the skin and niacinamide helps boost the skin barrier by increasing ceramide production (an essential component of the lipid barrier) and can prevent the spread of hyperpigmentation through the skin, as well as balancing out oil production. We also have plenty of peptides, which might help boost up collagen production but definitely have a hydrating, plumping effect. This is a soothing, hydrating serum that noticeably decreased redness in my complexion as well as making it look plump and healthy. It's a multi-pronged attack on common skin issues people experience at this time of year that should be safe for even very sensitive skin types.
I couldn't do this post without my beloved Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream* | £69 | full review. This was developed as a really replenishing cream to slather onto post-treatment skin. It's a buttery, delicious hug for the skin, that's perfect for pairing with strong actives (most of those are fragrance-free, which is why I've not got into them in this post) or at this time of year to head off potential winter skin issues. It's packed full of ceramides and nourishing extracts like honey, cucumber seed oil and rice bran. We also have ginger extract for its anti-inflammatory benefits and a peptide to replenish the skin and have it looking its best. This is my second winter of obsession with this stuff and I'm sure there are many more to come!
Last, but certainly not least, is a tricky category when it comes to fragrance-free: oils! I chose the Monday Muse the Nectar Vitamin Facial Oil | £48 | full review | for this post because it has an amazing anti-inflammatory quality to it, along with being nourishing for the skin without smothering the pores or feeling remotely greasy. The (mostly plant / fruit-derived) oils in here are rich in replenishing omega fatty acids and really lock the hydration into your skin when used as the last step of an evening routine. Hemp seed oil is super-nourishing and calming, cucumber seed oil is moisturising and calming, cumin seed oil is where that anti-inflammatory benefit comes from and there are plenty of antioxidants in here. It's elegant and layers beautifully with other products, as well as obviously looking beautiful on your shelf. No mean feat when it comes to fragrance-free skincare!
Do you prefer fragrance-free skincare? If so, do you find it hard to hunt down products that don't feel overly-functional?