Life clearly is not fair, because Alexa Chung has one of the nicest complexions I've seen on the red carpet—but she barely works for it.
In fact, the 33-year-old has been quite vocal over the years about not only "smoking like a chimney," but also her nightly habit of sleeping in makeup. (Gasp!)
"I don't think it's very sexy to have a routine," she told Byrdie in 2013. "Like if you're going home with a guy are you like, hang on a minute?"
Fair enough, but she might be changing her ways now, at least in the mornings. "Now I take skincare a bit more seriously as I'm getting older," she admitted last year.
Here's what's involved in her routine (or lack thereof):
Alexa's Morning Skincare Routine
Ingredients: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben.
"It's not expensive, but it works."
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Propanediol, Isohexadecane, Poloxamer 184, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Xylitylglucoside, Betaine, Allantoin, Glycerin, Panthenol, Symphytum Officinale Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Anhydroxylitol, Polysorbate 80, Xylitol, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Isopropyl Myristate, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, PEG-40 GLYCERYL COCOATE, Lilium Candidum Flower Extract, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf, Lavender Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylparaben, Potassium Sorbate, Propylparaben
Ingredients: Sodium palmate, sodium cocoate/sodium palm kernlate, water (aqua), pressed sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, titanium dioxide, sodium chloride, pentasodium penetate, tetrasodium etidronate, natural color.
"Solros-Tvål Swedish Dream Sunflower Facial Soap is good—I love it mostly because of the packaging; I give it to people for Christmas in a stocking. Plus, it doesn't dry out my skin too much, and it says it's made of egg whites, and it's five bucks."
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Disodium EDTA.
"I went to the Ling Spa in New York once and the facialist was like, 'Very dry skin, driest I've ever seen!' So she gave me this serum that has something acid [editor's note: hyaluronic acid!], so I travel with that that."
"We had this disaster recently—I say 'we' because Tamah is my makeup artist and pal, and we just found out that our favourite moisturizer, Moisturel Therapeutic Cream, which was basically like Cetaphil Cream but thicker, has been discontinued. Why? We just don't know. So I'm on the hunt for the best moisturizer. Currently I use a mixture of stuff... I'll do anything that I think might save me."
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Squalane, Bis-PEG-18 Methylether Dimethyl Silane, Sucrose Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, PEG-8 Stearate, Urea, Myristyl Myristate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Persea Gratissima Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Oryza Sativa Bran Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Imperata Cylindrica, Stearic Acid, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, PEG-8, Glycine Soja Oil, Tocopherol, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Myristyl Alcohol, Collagen, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine ,Chitosan, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate.
Ingredients: Water, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Carpylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Pentylne Glycol, Persea Gratissima (Avocodo) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Sorbitol Esters, PEG-31, PEG-6, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Panthenol, PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Parfum (Fragrance), Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetyl Palmitate, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, 12-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Polyquaternium-39, Butylphenyl, Methylpropional, Hydrolyzed Viola, Tricolor Extract, Tocopherol, Discodium EDTA, Hexyl Cinnamal, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Maltoxextrin, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil, Citronellol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Ehtylhexylglycerin, Limone, Geraniol.
"I really like the Hydra Floral by Decléor one."
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Lanolin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Beeswax, Beeswax (Cera Flava), Alcohol, Polyglycerol-3 Polyricinoleate (Polyglycerol-3 Polyricinoleate), Glycerin, Limonene*, Viola Tricolor (Pansy) Extract, Hydrolyzed Beeswax, Sorbitan Olivate, Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Leaf Oil, Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria (Chamomile), Calendula Officinalis (Calendula), Arginine, Zinc Sulfate, Fragrance*, Linalool*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Coumarin*. * from natural essential oils
"I use it on my face."
Ingredients: Fermented Fresh PawPaw Fruit, Rhus Succedanea Wax, Glycerine, Petrolatum, Canola Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Beeswax, Corn Starch, Potassium Sorbate
"Yesterday, I just put Papaw all over my face on a plane because it got pretty bad. We are having a crisis, a full-on crisis."
4. Face Oils
Ingredients: Neroli oil, sunflower oil, caldenula flower oil, arnica montana flower extract, rosehip oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, evening primrose oil, jojoba, apricot and jasmine.
"My skin is drier than the Sahara desert—it's like sandpaper and the outside of a cactus had sex and made my skin. So, whereas some people are like, 'I hate oily things because I get breakouts!' I'm like, 'No, give me a vat of oil that I can dunk my head into, please.'"
Ingredients: Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Oil, Linalool, D-Limonene, Geraniol, Farnesol, Citral.
"I love oils, but the [Ling Spa] facialist was like, oils are not great to use—I thought it was hydrating. It's not. It's a barrier after you've done the hydrating. I didn't realize that, so now I've been using a serum, then moisturizer, and then the oil."
Active ingredient: 6.8% octinoxate. Inactive ingredients: water, cyclopentasiloxane, glycerin, dimethicone, isododecane, PEG-10 dimethicone, sorbitol, bis-PEG/PPG-14/14 dimethicone, synthetic fluorphlogopite, sodium chloride, silica, dimethicone/polyglycerin-3 crosspolymer, phenoxyethanol, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, capryly glycol, disodium stearoyl glutamate, disteardimonium hectorite, silica silylate, tocopheryl acetate, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance, aluminum hydroxide, ascorbyl palmitate, ethylhexyl hydroxystearate, triethoxycaprylylsilane, dipropylene glycol, ruscus aculeatus root extract, BHT, tocopherol, sodium citrate, isopropyl alcohol. May contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, bismuth oxychloride.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.50%, Avorbenzone 2.00%. Other Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Xylitylglucoside, PEG-40 Castor Oil, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Hexyl Laurate, Anhydroxylitol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), XYlitol, Copper Gluconate, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Tribehenin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate. (+/-): Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Mica, Tin Oxide.
Alexa's Evening Skincare Routine
Ingredients: Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate Or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891).
"Sometimes I wash my face at night and sometimes I don't. I use whatever's available to me. Dove soap is good."
“My nighttime skincare routine is walk in the front door, put my keys down, take my shoes off, get naked, clean my teeth, go for a wee, drink some water and go to bed in full makeup."
Alexa's Skincare Treatments
"I don't really indulge myself in beauty treatments. Whenever I've had a facial, I get spots, so I don't see the point."
Alexa's Exercise and Lifestyle
"I weirdly look better hungover with a bit of a puffy face than I do when I've had loads of rest. That's annoying, isn't it?"
"I'm obsessed with Ballet Beautiful; it's good. I have a one-on-one situation, I try to go three times a week, but not in pointe shoes. It's all normal exercises, they just make you think it's ballet because you have to move your arm in a certain way. But I only just got into that. Before that, when I was modelling, I used to do yoga and swimming and jogging and then I stopped and I realized that my body looked exactly the same. Then I turned 30 and I thought I should probably start doing something. I chose ballet for the outfits. I don't think I look that different, but I feel better."
"I just gave up smoking because I was deathly ill and couldn't fit the smoke in my lungs. Whiskey is my main indulgence."
Nobody in the skincare industry would EVER advise a) smoking, or b) sleeping in makeup, but from what I can tell, Alexa's complexion hasn't been affected... yet.
If I habitually went to bed without cleansing, it would be a recipe for disaster, but Alexa just doesn't break out. "I've been quite lucky because I don't really get spots," she told Hello! "At school and as a teenager I never had spots so I don't really know how to deal with them."
Instead, her battle is dryness. I think proper evening cleansing—with oil removed by a warm, wet cloth—might actually help with that by gently removing the dead skin cell build-up that blocks moisture from reaching the live cells. In the mornings, she is using soap-free (sulfate-free) cleansers, which is great.
As for moisturizing, Alexa's Ling Moisture Plenish serum looks really good. But she would be better off avoiding all those mineral oil- and silicone-based moisturizers, because they only smooth out the skin's surface and can lead to dehydration over time. LXMI Crème du Nil Pore-Refining Moisture Veil, made with healthy oils and no plastics, would be a much smarter choice.
Regarding oils, her facialist is exactly right—they form a barrier, so they should go on after serums and creams for best results. But she's using an awful lot of unstable (aging!) oils like sunflower oil. I would suggest Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil (squalane oil), MV Skincare Pure Jojoba (jojoba oil) or RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream (coconut oil) instead.
Oh, and she really needs a proper sunscreen instead of relying on makeup! Find my list of the best and safest sunscreens over here.
What do you think of Alexa Chung's skincare routine?
Have you tried any of the products she uses?