Madeline Brewer Drops Her Skin-Care Routine

The "Handmaid's Tale" actor shares the high-low routine she swears by to keep acne in check.

Madeline Brewer is known for taking on grittier roles. Her breakthrough was Orange Is the New Black’s Tricia Miller, whose tragic death still sticks with me. And most recently she plays the rebellious one-eyed Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale. But when it comes to skin care, she has a very different attitude. 

“I definitely approach it from what feels good,” Brewer tells Glamour. “I hate feeling like my skin is tight and dry. I also hate feeling like there is any sort of residue from my face wash.”

When it comes to finding products that live up to her standards, she turns to the same place that many of us have been using lately: TikToK. “There’s so many incredible estheticians and dermatologists and skin experts on there that recommend products,” she says. “I have some stuff that’s been sent to me that is outrageously expensive, and they’re not something that every day someone would be able to use. Skin care should be affordable, because it’s something we all need.”

But just because Brewer likes her products to feel good doesn’t mean she sacrifices efficacy, as she’s been dealing with a recent bout of adult acne. “I was one of those people who was lucky as a teen. I had very clear skin with just a little pimple here and there,” she says. “I also used the harshest stuff because I’m like, ‘If it’s really harsh, it’s working.’ But now that I’m in my late 20s…I don’t know if it’s hormones, I don’t know what’s going on, but my chin is a mess. I’ve tried everything. I’ve gone to estheticians, I’ve gone to dermatologists. Everybody’s got their opinion, so I’m doing the best I can here.”

Ultimately, through trial and error, Brewer has found what works for her. “I feel like you know your skin the best because your whole life you’ve seen the little changes. Right now I have a nice little system that works for me that I’m really enjoying.”

So what does she swear by? Read on for her routine. 

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My cleanser

I wear retinol at night, so in the morning I wash off my retinol. The cleanser I use is Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser. I have really sensitive skin—my skin reacts to everything—and this has been wonderful. It was a TikTok recommendation. I’ve really noticed the difference. It’s not stripping at all, and I’ve really enjoyed it. 

If I have makeup on, which I don’t usually wear, but I get my makeup done a lot for stuff, I double-cleanse. I use an oil cleanser, and then my Vanicream. Cocokind has an oil-to-milk cleanser that I really like. There’s also the Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil, which is my treat to myself.

At night I use this little vibrating scrub brush thing. I have been using that and it’s really helped because I have these insane clogged pores on my chin. They never turn into anything, and they’re not black heads. They’re just raised texture. So the brush has been helping a lot. I also love The Inkey List. Their salicylic acid cleanser is one of my favorites that I travel with if I’m having a troublesome time.

Vanicream Unscented Gentle Facial Cleanser

$9TargetBuy Now

Cocokind Oil to Milk Cleanser

$22TargetBuy Now

Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil

$35ShiseidoBuy Now

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser

$10The Inkey ListBuy Now

My serum

Next, I follow up with a serum. For a while I was using 111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Serum, which is outrageously expensive, but it’s amazing. Maybe when I get a big paycheck, I’ll get another one. But I also have a serum I really like that’s from Glossier, the Super Bounce hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 serum. A lot of hyaluronic acids leave me tacky and sticky; I really don’t like that, so this one from Glossier has been nice. 

111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Serum

$600111SKINBuy Now

Glossier Super Bounce Serum

$28GlossierBuy Now

My cream 

I follow that up usually with a face cream. Right now I have the Augustinus Bader Cream that I got from a friend of mine. I get milia on my cheeks if I use anything too rich, so this cream has been doing really well. I also have the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA from The Ordinary for a light cream. And I have a BB cream that’s Maybelline to cover up some of the discoloration on my chin and on my nose and forehead. 

Augustinus Bader The Cream

$265Augustinus BaderBuy Now

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

$6The OrdinaryBuy Now


I have La Roche-Posay SPF 50 that goes on every day. 

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50

$37La Roche-PosayBuy Now

My retinol

At night I use a retinol. I have a prescription retinol because I was using The Inkey List, and I liked their retinol a lot, but I needed something a little bit more intense. I’ve been using that for three weeks, and I haven’t had any skin peeling, but I have had moments of dryness. It’s helped, but it’s not doing everything I want it to do.

My face oil

Lastly, at night I’ll use a face oil. I have several that I really like. I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills Hydrating Oil. I use that if my skin’s really thirsting out. So good! There’s a Goop face oil that I like. And then, of course, there is the Augustinus Bader face oil. It smells weird, but it’s really good.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Hydrating Oil

$45Anastasia Beverly HillsBuy Now

Goop Goopgenes All-In-One Super Nutrient Face Oil

$98GoopBuy Now

Augustinus Bader The Face Oil

$230Augustinus BaderBuy Now

My mask

I am an internet and TikTok fiend, so I use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution on occasion. My face feels very fresh after I use that. I don’t feel like it’s ripping my skin off, but some people do because they use way too much—like way too much. There’s this idea, there has been for years with Clearasil and stuff, that if it hurts, it’s working. The opposite is true. Don’t get me wrong; I get a little itchy and a little irritated while the mask is on, but if it comes to a point where something doesn’t feel right, it’s coming right off. I also love a sheet mask.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

$8The OrdinaryBuy Now

My tools

I was, for a while, using gua sha, which I love. I’m not kidding you; it’s changed the way my face looks. TikTok is my resource; it’s incredible. There are people who are Chinese American who are teaching the traditional Chinese medicine usage of gua sha and what it’s for, the medicinal purposes, not just the aesthetic purposes. It’s so interesting. It’s so cool. It’s the perfect way in which you can appreciate another culture. 

I’ve watched that happen online where it’s like, “Hey, if you’re going to get a gua sha tool, get one from a Chinese-owned store or beauty supplier. Do your research and do it well.” You’re putting the time and energy into it. It’s only going to do better things for you as a person.

Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool

$28Mount LaiBuy Now

My spot treatment

Pimple patches have never worked for me even though I do get cystic acne on my chin, but I do on occasion use Mario Badescu’s spot treatment. It’s a classic. 

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

$17SephoraBuy Now

Bella Cacciatore is the beauty writer at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.

This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Condé Nast

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