Every single product in Issa Rae's skin care routine

Fun fact: Her PM routine only takes her five minutes

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / March 07 2024

Issa Rae has damn near perfect skin, but the Barbie actress' flawless complexion isn't a result of good genes alone.

As Rae recently revealed in an interview with Allure magazine, she's very much committed to her highly involved skin care routine because she values the luxury of a bare face most days.

"It makes me happy to be barefaced," she revealed.

"I hate the pressure to pump your face with a bunch of things to make sure you feel you look young. No judgment but I hate the pressure around it," she went on to say. "I've even found that in conversations people are like, 'Oh, just do this, this, this.' I'm like, this is just the way my face is moving right now. I just let it rock."

She's also inherited some good skin care habits from the women in her life, like not wearing makeup while flying — something her makeup artist Joanna Simkin is very passionate about.

"My makeup artist, does a ‘Bare in the Air’ campaign just to make sure that people know how unhealthy it is to fly with makeup on your face," Rae explained. "I don't always follow the rules, but I know that it's bad for you."

But, according to Rae, her weirdest beauty habit is actually something she adopted from her grandmother.

"[I slather] aloe vera on my face at night," she told the publication. "I look like a big grease ball. I like the way that it dries on my skin when I wake up. It’s something that my grandmother told me to do. Maybe once or twice a week and I'll do that and no other products."

Aloe has moisturising, soothing and brightening properties, which is why it makes such a great overnight face mask. If you'd like to try this trick at home, we'd suggest opting for a skincare product that utilises the ingredient in high quantities such as Plunketts 99% Pure Aloe Vera Soothing Gel ($12.99 from Chemist Warehouse), Thursday Plantation Aloe Vera Gel ($18.99 from Chemist Warehouse) and Holika Holika Soothing Gel Aloe 99% ($15.15 from iHerb).

Issa Rae's AM Skin Care Routine

The actress' morning skin care routine is all about hydrating her dry skin and prepping it for any makeup she may be wearing. Although most of the time she prefers to go without. "I like to keep a clean face with a lip, mascara, and tinting my eyebrows, and glasses. That is my uniform," she told Allure

"[My skin care routine is] also a way to just unwind and get ready for the day. I do bask in it when I have time," she told Vogue: Beauty Secrets. "When I'm traveling, this entire routine goes in a small pouch, like a kit. It comes with me everywhere, every bathroom, I unpack it first. Wherever I'm at, I know that I'm home and that my skin will be taken care of."

After cleansing her face with the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($5.99 from Chemist Warehouse), she applies Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly ($5.99 from Chemist Warehouse) to her lips, because she hates it when people look at her dry lips. 

"I'm dry. I'm dry all the time everywhere," she joked in the video.

Then she applies Eminence Skin Care Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum ($199 from Eminence) to simultaneously moisturise and brighten, and follows it up with the Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Face Cream ($279 from Net-A-Porter).

"Even when I tried to approach doing this skincare routine in my twenties, I didn't see specific products for Black people," Rae told Vogue. "This immediately appealed to me."

Rae uses the Lancer Legacy Eye Treatment Duo ($553 from Net-A-Porter) to combat dark circles and then she applies the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 PA+++ ($63.78 from Revolve).

"I use sunscreen a lot and I've gotten better about it because I was one of those ones," she confessed to Vogue. "I was one of those Blacks that was like, 'Mm, do I need it?'. [But] I've learned that cancer doesn't care where you're at. So, I make a concerted effort to put on sunscreen."

Issa Rae's PM Skin Care Routine

"The last thing I do before I go to sleep is my skin-care routine which usually takes me five minutes," she told Allure. 

First, she cleanses her skin with the Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser ($99 from Cult Beauty), then she balances her complexion with the Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner ($27 from MECCA) and applies her first serum — Dr. Sturm For Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum ($493 from Net-A-Porter).

Next, Rae uses the Cosmedix Elite Revive and Renew Serum ($185 from Adore Beauty), which contains plant-derived growth factors, and Tata Harper's Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil ($250 from Sephora), to enhance the skin's natural cell turnover process.

But, it's the last serum she uses in her routine that she counts as her favourite  Ole Henriksen Dewtopia Retexturizing Night Serum ($90 from Sephora), which contains a blend of AHAs, PHAs and lemon enzymes that help to exfoliate dead skin, even out texture and tone, and brighten the complexion.

"I have not had a pimple in a year and a half since using this," Rae told Vogue in 2023. "Not even period pimples. Period pimples used to piss me off. I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I love this product."

"Once every other week I'll do an extensive night time routine with all Ole Henriksen products and that takes me like 20 to 25 minutes," said said in her 2024 interview with Allure.

To finish, she applies the Cosmedix Humidify Deep Moisture & Firming Hydrator ($1149 from Adore Beauty), to seal in all the serums she already has on her face.

Issa Rae's not the only celebrity who's committed to her skin care routine. Lily Collins' skin care routine is an ode to France.

Main image credit: @officialsheiks

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).