Abigail Cowen has the kind of bright red hair and fair complexion that makes you stop in your tracks and take notice. However, growing up in Florida, the young actor was noticed but not for the reasons she ever wanted.
“[Where I grew up] in Florida, if you're not tan when you're young, you're [considered] not pretty, not hot, not attractive,” she tells Glamour while doing press for season two of the hit Netflix series Fate: The Winx Saga (out now), on which she plays lead character Bloom. “Luckily, I had a mom that's also a redhead, so she kind of got me through that [time]. A fake tan was my best friend; still is.”
Even so, Cowen was bullied for her appearance. And while it hasn't been that long since Cowen was in school, she's hopeful beauty standards have become much more accepting for everyone. Regardless, “you find the silver lining,” she says. “I am thankful for knowing how it feels to be picked on for being different. It sounds so dumb now, but I feel like I have a really strong sense of empathy.”
In many ways it prepared her to play the role of Bloom, a fairy who must learn to manage her perilous magical powers, who in seven action-packed episodes in season two comes more into her own and feels more confident with her magic. “We have new threats to the school this season…a new headmistress…[and] a new regime,” Cowen says. “Everyone has to adapt to it.”
Adapt is the key word for Cowen, who found that to be true with her so-called complicated skincare journey as well. She dealt with oily skin and acne a lot growing up, specifically on her back. As she grew older, her skin cleared up, but being on set—often in heavy makeup—didn't help. "When I was on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I remember looking in the mirror up close one day and every single pour was completely clogged,” she says. “It was crazy, and that's when I was like, ‘Okay, I need a real regimen.’”
Now that she's in her mid-20s, her skin is more combination and dry, but still very sensitive. “My pores can clog very, very easily,” she says. “What I've learned is that just sticking to a specific routine has been a lifesaver.”
And so, for Glamour's latest edition of Drop the Routine, Cowen shares the tried-and-true products that have rescued her skin, whether she's in the humidity of Florida or the dry climate of California.
I use Shiseido Urban Environment Sunscreen. It's really lightweight and doesn't clog my pores. By the way, don't forget about applying sunscreen to your hands, especially when you're driving, because your hands get so much sun. My mom always reminds me of that. I also love the ClearChoice Sport Shield sunscreen. It smells like cucumbers, is so lightweight, and does not clog my pores. I sometimes switch off between that the Shiseido sunscreen.
Cerave or Cetaphil. It has been the most amazing thing for my skin since I was young. I keep going back to that because it is just it's gentle and it kills bacteria, but it still is hydrating enough. It's just the greatest.
I always like to use a toner because when I don't, that's when I will get those little bumps on my skin. Makeup artists have given me the Drunk Elephant C-Firma. It's natural and hydrating and very gentle.
I love hyaluronic acid. And it's cheap. You can get in on Amazon and it's the greatest. Sometimes hyaluronic acids can be so overpriced.
La Roche Posay double repair face moisturizer. It's been really great for me. And it's clean, plus fairly priced.
My eye cream
My holy grail for eyes is the Pixi brightening eye patches, which come in a little tub. I will use them on set. I will use them in the mornings. If I have puffy eyes, I use these and [the results] are incredible. For my birthday my mom got me a little mini fridge for my skincare products, so I'll put my hyaluronic acid in there and eye patches and it's great. I know they say leave the eye patches on for like 20 minutes, but I just do it until they're completely dried up and they're kind of falling off my face. They're perfect.
My face masks
The Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Water Facial Mask that you leave on overnight. It is insanely hydrating. It doesn't clog my pores. And then the Mario Badescu Super Collagen Face Mask. It's very soft and very hydrating.
My spot treatments
The original Mighty Patch. If I have a cystic [pimple] coming, I will put that on and it will completely be gone the next morning. It is great. I won't even do pimple cream anymore. I just do that. And you just put it on and leave it and then it dries it out but it doesn't dry it out too much.
My resurfacing serum
I also like Pixi Glow Tonic Serum. It has glycolic acid. I mix it with moisturizer and it just does a very light peel. It kind of resurfaces and it's been really good. I used it a lot when I was filming. I really like Pixi, and it's affordable too.
The Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. It's a powder and you mix it with some water, so it becomes a paste and then exfoliate with that. I love it. I do it once or maybe twice a week.
My face oil
People with problematic skin, like myself, are often so terrified of oils. And then I tried jojoba oil, which is meant to soothe and not clog pores. And it's also antibacterial. I'll pat it under my eyes or on my entire face and my neck and chest. I did a deep-dive research of oils that are noncomedogenic, and sunflower seed oil is really good too. I do that on my body, as well as a rose hip oil. You can go on Amazon and just look up 100% rose hip oil, 100% sunflower oil, 100% jojoba oil, and buy it there. I think it's so more natural and better for me [to use raw oils]. Just know you have to keep them in a cool place.
My lip balm
The original Carmex. I will always stand by that because it is just so good. I'll apply it at night and it just sticks.
I use this little microcurrent handheld device called Ziip. It's on the pricey end, so it was a little gift to myself. But I do recommend it. You connect it to an app and it talks you through lifting treatments and draining your lymph nodes and stuff like that. It's so cool. I woke up the other day and was pretty puffy, so I used it right before an event and it worked. It's just like a five minute thing and you can choose which treatment you want. I'll also use the 3D electric face roller you can get on Amazon, but I really like the one with the double end where it kind of squeezes your jaw. And I'll use that to kind of drain.
My hero product
My all-time favorite thing is aloe, so I have an aloe plant that you can get at Trader Joe's or at the grocery store. They'll have it usually in the produce section—a really big aloe stem. My mom does this too. We had a huge plant growing up and with all the sunburns in our house, she'd just go pick aloe, put it on our bodies, and the next day it would be gone. I know people will buy products with aloe in it or just aloe gels or stuff like that, but I highly recommend just getting an aloe plant and using that. You put it in the fridge and get a little handheld whisk and then it creates a serum straight from the plant. Or you mix it with some hyaluronic acid or your favorite serum and put it all over. It is incredible. Lifesaver.
Jessica Radloff is the Glamour senior West Coast editor and author of the upcoming book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series (October 11, 2022). You can follow her on Instagram @jessicaradloff14.
Originally Appeared on Glamour