I have been looking for a natural skincare routine that works for years, thanks to always struggling with sensitive skin. That's where S.W. Basics of Brooklyn comes in. My "combination skin" has a number of issues, ranging from oiliness and acne scars to eczema and dark circles. So finding one wash that is good for treating all of these things is pretty much impossible. In all honesty, my standards have mainly consisted of finding a wash that doesn't make my face totally freak out.
When I went to India last summer, I thought I had found a face wash there that agreed with my skin. Featuring a gentle, non-lathering wash and formulated with neem and turmeric, it balanced out both my acne and my eczema at the same time. I was overjoyed... for about six months. My skin started flaring up in the winter and the wash only made it worse.
I stopped using face wash altogether for a little while as I tried to find a new one. It was during this time, interestingly, that my eczema disappeared and my acne calmed down. With everything I know about skin maintenance being disproven by this strange occurrence, I stopped washing my face completely for about four months.
Then the summer arrived. With my oil production mounting during the humid months, I became extra determined to renew my search for the perfect wash — and the skin gods sent me a blessing in the form of a tweet.
When I wrote a story about my sensitive skin in June, the skincare company S.W. Basics of Brooklyn responded. After browsing its website and getting a handle on its all-natural approach and adorable bottles, I was ready to give face wash another try. I decided to focus on S.W. Basics' Cleanser and Toner and focus on those two products for a week to take note of any change. This is what happened.
S.W. Basics Cleanser, $22, TargetS.W. Basics Toner, $22, Target
As soon as I read the bottles' labels, I was relieved. The cleanser was a no-lather formula, which suggested it was going to be pretty gentle. The fact that everything had only three to five ingredients in it (and nothing was impossible to pronounce) made me feel optimistic. Also, rosewater!
Due to some hesitation about getting back into a face washing routine, I half-heartedly rubbed the stuff on my face with my hands, rinsing quickly thereafter. The stuff smelled amazing, and so natural. I moved on to the toner, which I was less weary about, and applied it all over my face with a cotton ball. The main ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which is super healing for any inflammation of the body. But I was disappointed that my face, which moments ago had smelled like roses, reeked of vinegar. Luckily, it felt refreshed, so I couldn't complain much.
By the next day, I was brave enough to go all in, and truly give my face the wash it deserves. I applied the cleanser all over my skin with a cotton ball. It felt cool and refreshing, and not oily or harsh in the slightest. I felt so luxurious rubbing this water all over my face, but wasn't sure how clean I was getting without a lather.
However, when I got a glimpse of the cotton ball after I rinsed the wash off, I was surprised to see just how much dirt and makeup residue came off. You don't need a lather or any kind of chemicals to get that deep clean, it would seem.
Both products are amazing, but the cleanser is definitely my favorite. Maybe it's because I've gone so long without a cleanser I like. Maybe it's just because it smells like roses. Either way, on the third day I only used the cleanser. I spent about an hour afterwards feeling fresh and smelling of roses. My skin still wasn't irritated and was actually beginning to look a bit more even than usual.
I returned to the toner the next morning, knowing how much I needed the apple cider vinegar's healing properties on my red skin (especially since I was experiencing the beginnings of my usual pre-menstrual breakout). I wore a mascara the day before that is always very hard to take off with my usual makeup removing wipes. The next morning, my eyes were a smudgy, ink-covered mess.
I used the cleanser on my eyes and was happy to see that it was pretty effective in removing almost all of the residual makeup gently and quickly. By day four, I felt clean, my pores were unclogged, and my face was less oily and red. I was feeling less cynical about skincare, and looking forward to future results.
The next day, I began to reassess my skin situation and took note of any improvements I was seeing. The red areas on my forehead were looking super calm, and the two pimples that had sprouted the day before (on my cheek and above my lip) seemed as though they were stopped in their tracks. They were less red and raised, and didn't feel irritated at all. Still no eczema rashes, either.
This is the first time I've seen quick results from a skincare routine without observing damage in other parts of my skin as well. Overall, I looked less red and more even than what is usual for me.
My skin feels amazing! I feel vital, balanced, refreshed, and those pimples are still shrinking. I'm glad I'm using the toner in my routine as it's successfully calming my skin overall. I even notice my acne scars looking less irritated.
By this point, I began to look forward to my morning skin routine. Even just getting the bottles off the shelf adds fun to the ritual (I'm obsessed with the packaging). I feel as though I'm taking time for myself every morning. And the fact that the product is so gentle and effective makes it all the more exciting.
OK, I'm officially in love with S.W. Basics of Brooklyn. I might have found the one. The products are gentle and ideal for anyone with acne, dryness, eczema, redness, scarring, or a combination of all (like me). Using them for a week helped reify that my skin needs natural and minimal ingredients. Chemicals that strip me of my natural oils or harsh scrubs and lathering washes only really irritate my skin.
Researching what ingredients would be most helpful for your kind of skin is crucial in figuring out your skincare, of course. But if you know your body craves all-natural formulas, I definitely suggest giving this one a try.
Images: Meg Zulch