Cruelty Free Skincare Drugstore Routine for Combination Skin

Recently, my acne-prone, combination skin and I have been getting more acquainted. Over the last couple of years, I have discovered some amazing vegan and cruelty free skincare drugstore brands and products for acne and combination skin which have more or less become permanent staples in my regimen (The Ordinary, I am looking at you! Also, I should probably mention that I am not exclusively vegan, but I have been taking steps to invest in cleaner, more sustainable and planet-friendly beauty.)  

A little (okay, a lot-tle) skincare ingredient research later, ‘turning and learning’ my products (as Cassandra Bankson likes to say), and some experimenting with skincare for my skin type, has led to me developing the perfect skincare routine that is not only great for combination, acne prone skin, but great for our furry little friends, AND our bank accounts, too! Guess you could call it a triple threat.

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Hyaluronic Acid

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

After cleansing, I apply The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid serum while my skin is still damp. 

Hyaluronic Acid works by attracting water molecules within the skin to keep it hydrated and plump. 

The Ordinary’s offering is by far my favourite. For one, because I sincerely trust in their brand and mission to create innovative vegan/ cruelty free skincare @ drugstore price points. But, Ive used this continuously for around 3 years and it makes a huge difference to the texture of my skin, which I really struggle with.

At almost 30 years old, and as a sufferer of acne prone, combination skin, plus a history of pretty intense cystic acne, I not only have fine lines, but also some pitted acne scarring and large pores. With daily use – morning & night – it helps to plump up and smooth out those fine lines and texture, and leaves my skin looking radiant and healthy.

Can Hyaluronic Acid Cause Acne?

Many people have been asking: “Can Hyaluronic Acid cause acne?” The answer to that is typically no. Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally in the skin and is generally suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin profiles. In fact, it’s one skincare ingredient that I encourage just about everyone to incorporate into their regimen for the simple fact that it is so versatile. 


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc

Niacinamide: A Miracle Worker for Acne Prone, Combination and Oily Skin Profiles (is what it should be called). And trust me when I tell you that is no exaggeration. 

Niacinamide is another skincare ingredient/ product that has undeniably changed my skin completely, and I came to find out exactly how much it benefitted my skin when I was forced to go without recently, after both The Ordinary online store and Boots were completely sold out.

Almost 8 weeks without my beloved The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc serum and my skin was wreaking havoc. My complexion was suddenly oily, blotchy, and breaking out. The pores around my nose were huge, and my jawline and chin were plastered in tiny blackheads. Just 2 weeks later and my skin is much calmer, more balanced, less oily and red, with breakouts once again minimal. Which pretty much speaks for itself, right?

vitamin c serum

Garden of Wisdom Vitamin C 23% + Ferulic Acid

I actually received the Garden of Wisdom Vitamin C serum as a birthday gift and I had never heard of GOW beforehand. It couldn’t have come at a better time since I was researching vitamin c skincare and was looking to incorporate it into my night time regimen!

I was a little apprehensive at first, since there are countless reports of my beloved Niacinamide and Retinol not getting on with Vitamin C. Reportedly, co-usage of Niacinamide and Vitamin C can result in a production of nicotinic acid which causes irritation and skin redness. However, after a little research, good ol’ Paula’s Choice came through with the debunking goods and put those claims to rest! 

As for using retinol alongside Vitamin C, I simply apply the Garden of Wisdom Vitamin C serum 30 mins beforehand to allow my skin to return to its usual PH level, before applying The Ordinary Gran Retinoid. My skin has honestly never been better since using these two amazing products together.

So, what does vitamin c do for your skin? Vitamin C skincare is known to brighten, reduce hyperpigmentation, increase cell turnover and the production of collagen. It’s an amazing skincare product offering some brilliant anti-aging benefits.

Vitamin C & Retinol Before & After

The most noticeable difference in my skin is the dramatic reduction of hyperpigmentation. In just 2 weeks of use, my skin went from a blotchy, uneven skin tone to clear and bright, with my freckles, dark spots and acne scars significantly faded.


The ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Another product that I have only recently discovered is retinol, more specifically The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. I’ve been using it for around 4 months now, more consistently for the last few weeks since also incorporating the Garden of Wisdom Vitamin C into my regimen.

I wasn’t sure I noticed much difference to begin with, which is why I was so sporadic in using it. I read that a lot of people experience irritation and peeling, neither of which I did, so I presumed it wasn’t doing anything for me. But looking back on the before and after photo’s above, it’s clear that, in combination with vitamin c, it’s worked wonders for my skin. I’ve since found that The Ordinary retinol is specifically formulated to reduce irritation associated with retinoids, so is perfect for first time retinol users!


Simple Radiance Booster with SPF30

I never used to use SPF but since getting chemical peels, I’ve learned just how important sun protection is for the skin. It’s also imperative to use sun protection in conjunction with acids, actives and retinol. While these can help to reduce hyperpigmentation and discolouration, they can also make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, which can undo their hard work by making hyperpigmentation worse again.

The Simple Radiance Boosting Drops, not only brighten and hydrate, but contain an SPF of 30. I have never heard of sun protection being incorporated into a brightening oil-based formula like this one, so I guess curiosity got the better of me when I decided to pick it up. And I am so glad that I did.

If you saw my August beauty favourites, you will know that I’ve been using this for a few months now. I still love it just as much as I did back when I created that blog post!

If I’m out and about, I prefer a factor 50 sun protection, especially in the summer. But, I would layer this with a second SPF, as well as my L’oreal True Match foundation with SPF17, for added protection. During the winter or while we’re stuck at home, SPF30 is fine and it’s what I reach for most days.

Not only does it contain SPF, but it is great at hydrating the skin and giving a really lovely glow. I love it as a base under makeup as it produces so much radiance and foundation glides on and blends out so smoothly!


Simple Rest & Reset Hydrating Gel

The Simple Rest & Reset Hydrating Gel moisturiser is part of the same Simple Protect n Glow range as the Radiance Booster. Technically, it’s a night cream formulated to protect against pollution, boost the skins renewal process and help to repair blue light damage. However, I didn’t know that it was meant to be used in the evening until I really started reading up on the product.

I’ve actually been using the Radiance Booster first and then applying this over the top during the day, and I much prefer it to using it at night. It has this super hydrating, bouncy gel-like consistency that makes the skin feel ultra smooth. It feels some-what like a silicone primer and gel moisturiser combined, so is more like a 2-in-1 product than a night cream. My skin always feels so silky soft and plump after use and my makeup applies like a dream.

Acid Exfoliator

The Ordinary Peeling Solution

Another product from The Ordinary that I absolutely swear by! In fact, I’ve already written a whole review and all you need to know guide on The Ordinary AHA + BHA Peeling Solution, and I’ve spent the last year since discovering it, raving about how much I love it over on my Instagram stories. I won’t go into too much detail because I have mentioned this incredible skincare product countless times and I don’t want to bore you all. But, if you’re looking for clear, smooth, fresh, bright skin in a bottle for just £6, then this is the skincare product for you. 

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