I began my Pilates journey having absolutely no idea what I was getting into. The start of my career as a beauty editor was similar, so it was no surprise that I had to reconsider the products I used on a daily basis. Everyone talks about the more "obvious" benefits of a Pilates-led fitness regime, but have a tendency to skim over the smaller, skin-related details. While Pilates is lower impact than weight lifting or running, it has may of the same (if not all) the same impacts on how my skin responds to physical activity. I don't perspire easily, but when I do, I notice how my complexion responds to it. Blemishes appear overnight along my t-zone, prompting me to spend extra time cleansing my skin and replenishing essential hydration.
Over the past year of countless mat and reformer Pilates sessions, I've had the opportunity to evaluate the pros and cons of every one of the skincare products populating my vanity; zeroing in on the ones that have been the most helpful with delivering hydration, playing defense against environmental aggressors, combating hyperpigmentation, and keeping post-work-out breakouts at bay. Below, I'm sharing the 18 skincare picks I can't live without as well as my gym bag must-haves. No fitness journey is without its wins and fails, but your skincare product lineup can definitely be all wins.
1. Non-Stripping Cleansers
Formulated for all skin types, this resetting cleanser effectively removes impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils; delivering antioxidants and seven amino acids to hydrate and nourish the skin. Since incorporating this into my skincare routine, I've noticed a major improvement in in my complexion's moisture retention and uneven texture.
Glowing Review: "I have combo/oily skin that is very sensitive. This cleanser has been a game-changer for my morning routine. It removes excess oil without drying my skin. I have been using it for three months now and am really enjoying the results!"
Osea's moisturizing, cream cleaner has been part of my skincare lineup for the past three years, so I'm always recommending it to my friends and family. Designed to gently remove makeup and surface impurities without damaging the skin barrier, the pH-balanced formula that nourishes and soothes the complexion.
Glowing Review: "This is my second bottle of the Ocean Cleansing Milk, and by far my favorite cleanser I’ve ever used. The smell is mild and nice, and always removes all of my makeup. It’s a very light product and I appreciate the minimal, vegan ingredients. Thank you Osea!"
As my workout routine changes from season to season, so do the product I use to give my skin a good cleaning. I love using the pH balanced cleansing gel because its luxurious foaming formula work hard to remove dirt, oil, and makeup while unclogging and minimizing the appearance of pores. I'm especially a fan of the its use of willow bark extract since it's a natural source of salicylic acid that provides gentle exfoliation.
Glowing Review: "I have been using this product to wash my face after running. It has significantly reduced the amount of acne that I develop from clogged pores, sweat, oil and sunscreen. The craziest thing about this cleanser is that it doesn’t dry out my skin at all. My skin is very dry and this doesn’t cause any irritation."
After an especially hard reformer or mat Pilates session, I treat myself to this foaming face cleanser by Dior. Its effective formula is comprised of 90% percent natural-origin ingredients (including french water lily and cornflower water) with a lightweight, airy texture. It's purifying, soothing, and keeps my skin hydrated for hours.
Glowing Review: "Super luxe, foamy, creamy, and has a luxurious scent. A little goes a long way! Leaves my pores feeling clean and skin feels very hydrated. Will definitely repurchase."
2. Soothing Serums
This is a new addition to my skincare collection that I can't get enough of. Merit's Great Skin Instant Glow Serum uses niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to quickly hydrate and visibly plump the skin while leaving it calmer, visibly brighter, and more even-looking with every use. Its formula is weightless, absorbs quickly, and leaves no residue for a healthy-looking glow.
Glowing Review: "This is magic. After a few days of usage, it improved my texture and I got glass-like skin. I felt like my skin was hungry for such a product. I don't use too many products but this is awesome. From now onwards I will add to my daily routine. This is Great."
One of my top picks for the warmer months, the Dream Oasis Deep Hydration Serum by Summer Fridays find is a weightless, non-comedogenic jelly-serum that helps support the skin barrier with a powerful blend of squalane, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. My skin also feels soothed thanks to the addition of aloe, colloidal oatmeal, arnica, and tiger grass.
Glowing Review: "It’s been difficult keeping my skin hydrated and not a peeling mess. I’ve noticed if I use this after washing my face and before my moisturizer, I’m definitely seeing less peeling and I don’t have to reapply moisturizer in a couple hours!"
Have you ever heard of a serum spray? I didn't until I was introduced to this Iris & Romeo 3-in-1 serum spray, moisturizer, and luminizer. It hydrates, plumps, and soothes the skin; promoting a healthy skin barrier and a sophisticated glow using hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. I carry this one in my gym bag (a classic Sporty & Rich tote) for a go-to refresher post-Pilates session.
Glowing Review: "I purchased this on a whim because I was desperate to try to fix my severely dry skin. I started using this then added a thick moisturizer after and I’ve seen a huge improvement! Highly recommended for those struggling with dry, flakey skin."
Clearly, I'm a fan of Osea's line of naturally-derived skincare products and their Hyaluronic Sea Serum is one of the brand's very best. Clinically proven to smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, its formulated with Japanese Miru Seaweed, hyaluronic acid, volcanic marine ferment, and snow mushroom to deliver and seal in moisture.
Glowing Review: "I have had amazing results with this. I don't have any issues with stickiness or drying out my skin. A little goes a long way, it applies so smoothly and absorbs quickly and completely. Other hyaluronic acid serums I have used seem to sit on top of my skin, but this one is amazing [since] it fully absorbs. I use it every day morning and night."
3. Brightening Face Oils
Adding face oils to my post-Pilates skincare routine has been a game changer over the past year. This one, by Korres, is a must for anyone who's been dealing with uneven skin texture and loss of firmness. Made with Santorini grape extract, grapeseed oil, and resveratrol; the Santorini Grape Velvet Skin Drink visibly softens and smooths the complexion while promoting a glowy appearance with essential hydration.
Glowing Review: "My dry, sensitive skin soaks up this product! A little bit of moisturizer before putting on this oil, and my skin feels plump day or night. It works magic on me during the harsh winter months, but I can't wait to try it in the summer when my skin is still dry and flaky. It might not work for others, but I think I find my holy grail."
If this isn't already in your skincare cabinet, where have you been? The Blue Orchid Radiance & Hydrating Face Treatment Oil leaves the skin moisturized and silky-soft using a formula enriched with 100% pure plant extracts and essential oils that's all-natural and preservative-free. It delivers hydrated, soft, and supple skin every time.
Glowing Review: "I absolutely love this face oil, I have extremely sensitive dry combo, acne prone skin and this oil never breaks me out smells amazing, it has a very herbal smell, but it’s very nice. I love the way it gives my skin a nice glow but doesn’t make my skin look greasy, and it makes your skin very soft! I would definitely recommend!"
I've been slowly incorporating this Herbivore face oil back into my morning and night skincare routines and couldn't be happier with the results. It defends against free radicals while supporting natural elasticity and hydration using a formula containing orchid extract, jasmine sambac, and Japanese camellia flower oil along with beneficial vitamins and fatty acids.
Glowing Review: "I put this on my face and neck after a shower and let it sink in for awhile before I put on regular moisturizer. It has that mild, warm, authentic floral scent, not sweet at all, like smelling a fresh flower. It doesn’t make the skin sticky and I feel like it’s worth the money."
I've only recently been introduced to Ogee as a brand, but have been absolutely loving their Jojoba Glow Face Oil so far. Both biocompatible and noncomedogenic, the face oil deliver intense hydration while encouraging a healthy microbiome, balanced moisture, and the appearance of firm skin. It also absorbs quickly and leaves no residue, making it the perfect base for makeup application.
Glowing Review: "I put this on every morning before applying my make up. It feels like it just adds the right amount of moisture to my skin so that the make up does not settle in cake in the fine lines. It smells wonderful and it feels amazing. I love this face oil and use it every day."
4. Nourishing Moisturizers
I can't imagine a day when I won't be raving about my beloved Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. Ideal for dry skin, this vitamin-enriched moisturizer features a light and milky texture that quickly absorbs into the skin; restoring moisture levels and creating a soft complexion. Its super hero ingredients include skin-nourishing fatty acids to help repair the lipid barrier and increase elasticity.
Glowing Review: "As it's hard to find an oil-free, plumping moisturizer, Lait-Crème does deliver it all! Soft, creamy yet still light. Perfect over serums and under SPFs. Can be used under eye, allover face or as a spot treatment - truly a versatile product. 1oz tube is slick and perfect to keep with you on a plane. FYI: smell does not linger after application."
The Outset's lightweight, clinically proved moisturizer provides immediate, long-lasting hydration with a formula using soothing botanical extracts that help reduce the appearance of redness and improve the tone and texture of the skin. It also pairs brilliantly with the brand's aforementioned Gentle Micellar Antioxidant Cleanser.
Glowing Review: "This is honestly the best moisturizer I’ve ever tried. I’ve got super sensitive skin It’s lasted through intense workouts/ballet classes without breaking me out. 10/10 made for everyone. Truly the best."
I like to use Charlotte Tilbury's crowd-favorite anti-aging moisturizer to visibly plump and smooth away fine lines and wrinkles for a glowing complexion. Ideal for all skin types, the Magic Cream delivers intense moisture, providing a gorgeous base for all your makeup needs. Plus, it looks incredibly chic on my vanity.
Glowing Review: "It is so light and melts into the skin like butter. A luxurious and highly nourishing face cream that is sure to leave your skin feeling dewy, soft, and glowing."
Using this ultra-rich, multi-tasking Perricone MD at the end of a lengthy Pilates session is always a treat. It moisturizes, smoothes, firms, and evens the skin tone using a unique-balm like formula. It soaks into the skin for immediate hydration and is powered by antioxidants and a moisturizing complex to leave the skin vibrant, supple, and youthful.
Glowing Review: "I have tried many products but this is a phenomenal moisturizer. Upon the first application my skin became supple and immensely moisturized. Can't wait to reap more benefits in the coming days. "
5. Hydrating Face Mists
Designed for us with sensitive skin, La Roche-Posay's Thermal Spring Water soothes and refreshes the skin using a high concentration of mineral salt and trace elements to combat environmental free radicals. It can be used as the last step in cleansing or as the first step to refresh the skin after a trip to the gym.
Glowing Review: "I know it's 'just Spring Water' but ever since using this spray, the foaming cleanser, and the double moisturizer my face looks and feels so good. I believe this can be used as a 'toner' spray too but it's so gentle and the mist just feels good on ur face and leaves feeling really smooth after."
Caudalie's best selling antioxidant-rich face mist is a favorite among Who What Wear's beauty team. Made with 100% organic grape water, it delivers hydration, reduces skin sensitivity, and soothes the skin instantly. I keep this one in the refrigerator to keep it cool until after I'm done with my work out to feel cool down and feel even more refreshed.
Glowing Review: "This spray is cooling and soothing to the skin. I got it because it has minimal ingredients, which is important for sensitive skin. No bad reactions, so that’s a win for me. Seems to add hydration. I keep mine in the fridge. A quick spritz feels good a couple of times a day."
Also In My Gym Bag...
I can't say enough good things about Touchland's hand sanitizers. It sanitizes, hydrates, and moisturizes while leaving the lands lightly scented. Its formula has aloe vera which moisturizes without leaving a greasy film while lemon essential oil nourishes and purifies the skin.
Glowing Review: "I love this hand sanitizer and I’m so glad I picked it up at the checkout line. After the pandemic I’ve been on my A-game, applying sanitizer when I’m in public. Touchland makes it so easy to do! Just toss the pretty little spay in my bag. I like that it’s pretty hands free application. Plus, it smells delicious!"
Made with Melanated Skin in mind, Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 protects against the damaging effects of UV including fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots. Its sheer formula is infused with moisturizing ingredients like jojoba oil, cacao, and avocado oil that allow it to double as a moisturizing lotion.
Glowing Review: "I cannot recommend this sunscreen enough. It goes on a little shiny, but after a few minutes it looks like there's nothing on my skin. There's no white cast, and unlike other sunscreens, it doesn't irritate my skin or burn my eyes. This stuff is amazing."
While this is not necessarily a skincare must-have, it certainly works well for both my nails and skin. Deborah Lippmann's exfoliating cuticle treatment gently loosens and removes dead or dry skin to make the cuticle easier to manipulate with a cuticle pusher when I have extra time before or after a workout session.
Glowing Review: "I have been using this for several months and it works truly well. I have very dry sensitive skin and my cuticles tend to grow rather quickly . This has made an incredible difference; it has been far more effective that anything that I have used previously. Additionally, it does not cause any irritation to the skin."