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MIA FREEDMAN: How my skin is better at 52 than it was at 32.

My skin is really good right now.

It’s not that I look particularly young, just that my skin is clear, bright, the texture is pretty good and my pigmentation is under control. I get a bit of rosacea, and I have lots of laugh lines, but my face feels like the version of me I want to be at this point in my life, being an exceptionally vain woman who recently became a grandmother and like everyone my age (and younger) is trying to reconcile what I see in the mirror with what society tells me a woman ‘should’ look like.

It has not always been this way. I am a 52-year-old woman who has not taken especially good care of her skin for the first 48 years but got her shit together during the pandemic because it felt like something I could pretend to have control over while our collective hair was on fire.

Now, I’m the girl who turns first towards the skincare section when I walk into Myer or Mecca or Sephora and it never used to be like that. Makeup was always more fun for me. More instantly gratifying.

Does this mean I’m finally growing up? It’s possible.

And I’m not the only one who has found her interest moving from painting my face to improving its texture.

When I do my Instababbles in the mornings (random chats while getting my face ready for work), I’m asked a lot of questions in the comments about my skincare routine.

So, with the dual disclaimer that it’s always evolving as I try new things, plus noting that I tried injectables for the first time last year to soften the ‘elevenses’ between my eyebrows, here’s what I’m using right now.

Before we start: Some of the skincare products I use are spendy. I spend more than the average bear on clothes and beauty, I know. This list is by no means a suggestion that you buy these exact products or use as many skincare products as I do. It’s just what I’m using ATM. 

Because cost-of-living etc, I’ve tried to include a savey option as an alternative.

Also: occasionally, I get sent products to try by beauty companies but I only tell you about the ones I then go on to purchase for myself at full price. Glad we cleared all that up. 

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.

Image: Supplied.

I used to think double cleansing was a bullshit way to make women use more cleanser, and maybe it is, but what got me over the line was skincare expert Caroline Hirons’ insistence that cleansing was an underrated step in a skincare routine, and that double-cleansing was necessary if you wear sunscreen and makeup and go outside. Since I tick all those boxes, I started using a balm cleanser in the shower at the end of the day, and taking it off with a wet flannel, because balms and oils can be clingy and leave a residue. A bit of a splash with your hands isn’t enough.

This Clinique balm is a cult product for good reason. It feels delicious going on and it doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped. It can be hard to find cleansing balms that are cheaper, so if you want to do the double cleanse you can ABSOLUTELY use the same cream cleanser twice at night (not necessary to double cleanse in the morning unless you wear sunscreen or makeup to bed, and if you do, get your shit together).


Image: Sephora/The Inkey List.


SAVEY OPTION: MECCA COSMETICA Mecca-Morphosis Purifying Cleansing Balm.

Image: Mecca Cosmetica.


Tatcha The Rice Wash.

Image: Supplied.

This is my ‘second’ cleanse at night after the balm and the only one I use in the morning. The word ‘rice’ might make you think that it’s grainy, like an exfoliant or that scratchy Apricot scrub we used as teenagers that basically ripped our faces off, but oh no. Not this. I can’t describe what it feels like, or why it feels so good, but I did once say it was like an orgasm on your face. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, admittedly, but given that I never thought I’d feel anything about a cleanser, this was a revelation. It’s exxy and an indulgence. You don’t need it. So long as your cleanser isn’t foamy and doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight or – god forbid – ‘squeaky’.

SAVEY OPTION: Naturium Fermented Rice Enzyme Cleanser.

Image: Naturium.


SAVEY OPTION: La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Biome Cleanser.

Image: AdoreBeauty/La Roche-Posay.


Biossance Squalane + Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum.

Image: Supplied.

This sounds like a mouthful, and honestly, I don’t know what half of those words mean. But from what I understand (Leigh Campbell spoke about this on our You Beauty podcast and I trust her implicitly), it’s a chemical exfoliant which means it’s like a non-abrasive version of a deep-clean. This is NOT a daily product. I only use it once a week at night, instead of a retinol. I put a moisturiser over the top before I go to bed and I don’t use it around my eyes – “take it to the tits” though, as Caroline Hirons says. Neck and upper chest.

SAVEY OPTION: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA.

Image: The Ordinary.


SAVEY OPTION: The Inkey List Lactic Acid Face Serum.

Image: Supplied/The Inkey List.


Sukin Original Hydrating Mist Toner.

Image: Supplied.

This is another one of those skincare steps I thought was bullshit and never used to do. I also don’t like the feeling of spraying water on my face. But my skincare gurus all independently said that your skincare (except for retinols, which should be put on dry skin) is far more effective on damp skin and this is not only the cheapest mist I’ve used but it’s also the best. You can get it at the chemist and it sprays so evenly and feels so lovely, I can’t begin to tell you.

I use this directly before I apply my serums in the morning.

SAVEY OPTION: Essano Rosehip Mist Toner.

Image: Chemist Warehouse/Essano.


SAVEY OPTION: The Jojoba Company Jojoba Water Toning Mist.

Image: AdoreBeauty/The Jojoba Company.


Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum.

Image: Supplied.

This is another serum with lots of words and who knew that Copper was something you should put on your face. The word ‘plumping’ is so alluring though, right? The only word I like more is ‘rapid’.

More Squalane, and I really must learn what it does at some stage, but it’s the “peptide” that is key here because apparently peptides are the future of skincare or something.

SAVEY OPTION: BOOST LAB Multi-Peptide Anti-Ageing Serum.

Image: AdoreBeauty/Boost Lab


SAVEY OPTION: Paula's Choice Pro-Collagen Multi-Peptide Booster.

Image: Paula's Choice.


Mecca Cosmetica Replenishing Niacinamide Serum.

Image: Supplied.

This is a new addition because my BFF Paula Joye, who has written a book about skincare, told me I needed niacinamide and she’s another one whose advice I always take. The word ‘replenishing’ sounds good because my skin is getting drier as I get older. I’m hopeless at putting lids back on properly, and the top of the bottle is getting a bit crusty as you can see, but I put this on after I’ve cleansed in the shower.

SAVEY OPTION: The Ordinary Supersize Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

Image: AdoreBeauty/The Ordinary.


SAVEY OPTION: Viviology Niacinamide + HA Serum.

Image: AdoreBeauty/Viviology.


SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum.

Image: Supplied.

This is not actually the one you can see above in the photo but I bought this one by accident from Adore because I wasn’t concentrating and how much fun does “silymarin” sound? The CE Ferulic is the cult product you’ll hear people talk about, and since I’m a sheep, I breathed through the pain of how much it was and gave it a go. It smells like ham and despite being a vegetarian, I’m into it. Who doesn’t like the smell of bacon, come on.

I LOVE vitamin C as a skincare ingredient. Vitamin C is ‘brightening’ and who doesn’t want brighter skin? If you can only get your head around using one serum, or if money is tight, make it a Vitamin C one.

I have a few different serums that I rotate kind of randomly in the morning after I cleanse. I never use more than two and often I’ll just use one.

I like complicated and mixing things up, possibly because of my ADHD, but if you’re more of a basic bitch, my advice to you is to choose one of these serums and use it in the morning after you cleanse until it’s finished and then either buy it again or try one of the others.

SAVEY OPTION: Viviology Vitamin C Serum.

Image: AdoreBeauty/Viviology.


SAVEY OPTION: Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster.

Image: Paula's Choice


SAVEY OPTION: No7 Radiance+ 15% Vitamin C Serum.

Image: Priceline/No7


Tan-Luxe The Face Rejuvenating Self-Tan Drops.

Image: Supplied.

Look, I don’t know about the anti-age or the rejuvenating but I won’t say no to those things in my self-tan. This is a game-changer. It’s a small bottle but will last you a year at least. I have never found a fake-tan for the face that doesn’t look fake or make me break out or leave my skin looking patchy as it fades.

I just pop a couple of drops of this into my moisturiser once a week or whenever I’m feeling pasty or grey. I usually do this before bed so I can wake up with a glowy tan.

SAVEY OPTION: Eco Tan Organic Face Tan Water.

Image: AdoreBeauty/Eco Tan.


SAVEY OPTION: Bali Body Face Tan Water.

Image: BaliBody.


Lancome Renergie HPN 300-Peptide Cream.

Image: Supplied.

Using moisturiser is this is the biggest change I’ve made to my skincare routine in the past few months and I’ve noticed a real difference. I’m using this one at the moment because I was sent it (and then I re-bought it when it ran out) but I’ve used others and it doesn’t have to be a spendy moisturiser.

I got so into serums for so long, and got so excited about the ‘active’ promise of all those ingredients, that over the past few years I just stopped using moisturiser because it felt boring and unnecessary. Paula reminded me that what moisturiser does is seal everything in and because my skin is getting slowly drier (and now it’s winter), the moisture and the sealing is a crucial step.

I don’t like being too greasy during the day so I use just a little bit after my serum and before my sunscreen in the morning. And slather it more heavily at night.

SAVEY OPTION: Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Face Cream Moisturiser.

Image: Chemist Warehouse/Olay.


SAVEY OPTION: The Jojoba Company Hydrating Peptide Day Cream.

Image: AdoreBeauty/The Jojoba Company.


Murad Resurgence Retinal ReSculpt Overnight Treatment.

Image: Supplied.

Look, all the nouns in the name of this product make it sound a bit like Harry Styles is going to come and sit on your face. That’s not quite it. But it came to me recommended by a bunch of different people with good skin, so I gave it a try. I like to use one retinol cream until it runs out and then switch to a different one. I’m very promiscuous with my retinol. Some people have to start every second or even third night with a retinol (depending on strength) before working up to using one every night. My tip for this is to use nothing else - just put it on clean, dry skin and then once it’s absorbed, whack a heavy moisturiser over the top before bed if your skin is aging or dry.

If you only use two active products, make it vitamin C in the morning and retinol in the evening. That’s the basic skincare routine I force on my friends who are happily clueless about such things, mostly because they have jobs, lives and they read books while I’m reading about skincare.

SAVEY OPTION: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane.
Image: AdoreBeauty/The Ordinary.


SAVEY OPTION: CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum.

Image: AdoreBeauty/CeraVe.

Image: Supplied.

Who has time to put a mask on their lips, my god. But really this is just a fantastic lip balm. I’d heard about this brand as being the best in lip balms but I’d always just used whatever was lying around. I’m highly promiscuous when it comes to lip balms. When my lips started peeling this winter though (possibly because I’ve started wearing matt lipstick again), I knew I needed the big guns and this came highly recommended. It’s a bit annoying having to open a pot and stick your fingers in, but hey, these are the sacrifices I’m prepared to make for soft lips.

SAVEY OPTION: W7 Sweet Dreams with Vitamin E Aloe Vera & Grape Seed Oil Strawberry Overnight Lip Mask.

Image: Chemist Warehouse/W7.


SAVEY OPTION: Petitfee Oil Blossom Lip Mask.

Image: iHerb/Petitfee.

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