Gemma Watts Reveals Her Routine For Glowy, Hydrated Skin
The whole concept of "glow" can be a little daunting to unpack: we all want it, but what exactly goes into achieving it?
Gemma Watts is an expert on all things "glow". After building a name for herself within beauty media industry over four years, she launched Glow Journal in 2016, an editorial hub where skincare fanatics can delve into the best in beauty. Since then, she has worked with brands like Mecca Cosmetica, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, Estée Lauder and now Swisse Beauty, as well as launched the Glow Journal podcast which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the business of beauty.
With Winter upon us and as we look to spending even more time in doors over the coming months, unsurprisingly, we're looking for ways to level-up our routines to ensure our skin looks and feels its radiant best. So, we asked Gemma to share with us the skincare philosophies that help her achieve that desirable glow everyday.
POP: Walk us through your morning skincare routine.
GW: I exercise first thing in the morning, so I need a really thorough cleanse to get rid of all that disgusting sweat and prepare myself for the role of "elegant woman". I almost always double cleanse, starting with a light textured cleanser then moving on to either an oil or balm cleanser and removing the residue with a soft cloth — Bisous make the best ones!
Recently I've actually been using a mask in the morning. I think we often reserve masks for evenings or special occasions, but I love using a brightening mask, like the Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Clay Mask, in the mornings to give my skin a real glow throughout the day.
I'll follow this up with a serum if I feel I need one, and my serum choices change most days based on how my skin is looking and feeling. I'll lock that in with a simple moisturiser. I don't believe moisturisers need to be fancy- they just need to moisturise! The real targeted stuff is what your serum step is for. Recently I've been using the Swisse Manuka Honey Glow Boosting Moisturiser.
I'll always, always finish off with sunscreen. There is literally no point working through a thorough beauty routine if you're not applying sunscreen, because sun damage will just erase all of your hard work.
While it's not technically topical skincare, I consider taking beauty supplements as part of my morning routine too. Currently, I use Glow Powder, Gut Primer and Antioxidant Elixir, and Swisse Beauty Collagen Glow with Collagen Peptides which I am LOVING — anything with "Glow" in the name and I'm sold.
POP: What is the one step you would never skip?
GW: Sunscreen. I know it's the most boring answer ever, but I'll keep saying it until everyone starts actually wearing it. Broad spectrum, SPF50+. It's essential and I've worn it every day since I was 13 because I read an interview with Jessica Alba when she was promoting Honey and she said she wore it every day, so I figured it was the secret to success.
POP: How do you keep your skin hydrated and fresh during the day?
GW: I think this really comes down to having a thorough morning skincare routine or, if you're wearing makeup, really solid skin prep.
I have fairly "normal" skin, which is a word I hate but by that I mean it's neither oily nor particularly dry, but if my skin does start to feel a bit tight or uncomfortable as I'm sitting under a heater, I'll use a bit of face mist for a quick hit of hydration.
POP: Walk us through your night time skincare routine.
GW: In the evening, I'll double cleanse regardless of whether or not I'm wearing makeup (an aside: often when people complain of SPF breaking them out, it's actually because it's not being properly removed. A deep cleanse is essential!), and sometimes I'll actually "triple" cleanse starting with a Micellar Water, moving onto an oil cleanser like Go-To's Fancy Face, then finishing with an Eve Lom balm cleanser. This is probably (definitely) excessive, but I love beauty so I love really thoroughly working through a routine.
I'll then apply a Treatment Lotion to prep my skin for serums. I have so many favourite serums, and I'm really in tune with my skin so I use this step to customise my routine to suit how my skin is looking and feeling on the day. Today, for example, my skin is looking a little dull, so I'll choose a brightening serum.
I'll often use the same moisturiser morning and night. I'm not big on specific "night creams," as I believe your moisturiser only really needs to moisturise, as its name suggests. Your serum should do the heavy lifting. If I really need an extra overnight moisture surge, however, I'll add a drop of oil to my regular moisturiser- I've been reaching for Swisse Rosehip Antioxidant Facial Oil.
POP: What changes do you make to your skincare routine in winter to protect it?
GW: Controversial, but I actually don't make any major changes! I'll sometimes swap out my regular moisturiser for a slightly thicker formula, I might amp up the amount of Hyaluronic Acid I'm using to help moisture bind to the skin that bit more.
I'll often start exclusively using balm and oil cleansers to get in that extra moisture hit. Regardless of the season, however, I'm still wearing SPF50+!
POP: Did you make any changes to your skincare routine in isolation?
GW: I've stripped things back a lot! I spoke with a dermatologist on my podcast about isolation skin, and it's a real thing- underlying feelings of uncertainty trigger our stress hormone, which throws our skin off balance.
I've been using less actives and relying on simpler products to focus on rebuilding my skin's barrier function.
POP: Do you have any hacks for keeping your skin hydrated while travelling?
GW: I am mad for a mask on a plane, and equally mad for a good mist (although make sure you have good aim- fellow passengers may not love the mist as much as you do!).
The other big thing for me is to make sure my skin is absolutely and completely free from makeup on a long haul flight and, where possible, on shorter flights too. I'll usually pack a little micellar water and some cotton pads to get my skin back to a clean canvas if it's starting to feel a little off kilter in the air.
POP: Do you use any beauty tools?
GW: As far as manual tools, I use a Zove Beauty Rose Quartz Roller and Gua Sha (the latter is HEAVEN for massaging out jaw tension) and the Aceology Ice Rollers (wonderful in the summer, life changing when the skin feels hot after a laser facial treatment, and also one of my all time favourite hangover cures).
I also use the NuFace Trinity and Fix devices, the Dr Dennis Gross SpectraLite Eye Mask and the Foreo UFO 2, Luna 3 and Iris.
I'm a bit of a beauty tool collector, and am so fortunate that my job allows me to trial so many. A very lucky girl!
POP: What foods do you swear by for an inside-out glow?
GW: Foods that are easy on my digestive system tend to give my skin the best glow. I recently undertook The Beauty Chef Gut Guide program and it was really like hitting reset on my skin.
I'm fortunate in that my skin doesn't really react too badly to foods (other than excessive chocolate and alcohol, which I think is a given), but for that real GLOW I find beauty-specific supplements work best.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.
POP: How do you prepare your skin for an event that requires a full face of makeup?
GW: I treat event skin prep as a ritual! I'll do a deep cleanse (I find that makeup always lasts longer and sits better following a really thorough cleanse), I'll mask, then I'll work through a full facial massage routine.
I use mostly La Mer products for event skin prep, also due to me being very extra. Why am I like this? I do not know.
This article was first published on Pop Sugar Australia here.