Do you view your skincare as a practice, in the same way as a mediation, exercise or hobby? Or is this just a hygiene obligation like brushing your teeth? Now imagine your skincare as a ritual not a routine. Something sensory and enjoyable. Self-care is not selfish it’s your personal wellness.
In an age of excess, there’s a never-ending array of products to choose, but what exactly do you need? You may be sabotaging your skin by using a toner which is too astringent for you or even using far more products than you need, which is overloading your skin. Using too much product is actually worse than using too little. It doesn’t really help that, the skin care industry is always coming up with new products, so what to choose is totally baffling.
So, what do facial skincare do you actually need and what do they all actually do? I would recommend the following as essential in your skincare routine. But its very personal and if you are buying new skincare do get advice and if you can do a patch test. (This is using a small amount of the product, to check you have no reactions) Check that any items you are using are in date and its best to keep your lotions and potions in a cupboard. Bathrooms can be too hot and humid so don’t leave products out if you can help it. If your skincare, starts smelling strange, or changes or texture don’t use it, even if it was very expensive as it could be harmful.
To give you a little information: the skins barrier function is called the stratum corneum and is a mix of natural oils a microcosm of beneficial bacteria. At the mention of bacteria, we start to panic, however this protects the skin from the environment, defends against pathogenic bacteria and helps keep in the moisture. An unbalanced skin can be red, peeling or have a rough texture. (Think of Sunburn) Most people have skin that is too dry or too oily and the goal is to achieve a healthy balanced skin.
Cleanser-Cleansing is the first step in any routine, a good cleanser should detoxify the skin and remove any impurities like dirt, sebum, sweat, pollution and dead cell build up. My personal favourite is cleansing lotion, my skin tends to be on the drier/ sensitive side. Cream cleansers dissolve make-up, dirt and epidermal debris, without stripping the skin of its natural protective barrier. . Cleansing gels or facial washes, are formulated to degrease the skin, so work better for an oily skin. High foam cleansers and surfactants can strip the skin of natural moisture. You should cleanse in the morning and at night. Over-night your skin repairs itself and often secretes sebum, cleansing after sleeping removes this. In Japan, it become popular to triple cleanse, is this essential? If you wear heavier make-up double- cleansing may be required to remove all the residue or if you live in a heavily polluted city. When I lived in London, I did double- cleanse as I felt my skin needed it, to remove all the grime etc. For most of us, cleansing once is fine.
Exfoliators– remove the outer layer of dead epidermal cells on the surface of the skin. Which helps with the texture of the skin. Your skin does naturally shed skin cells, however with age this process slows down and sometimes it needs a helping hand. In general, most people don’t exfoliate or exfoliate too much. Its more harmful to over-exfoliate, as it damages the skins barrier function. Beware of very harsh exfoliators, as these can damage the skin and are intended for only occasional rather than regular use. Personally, I feel a gentle exfoliator using natural ingredients, like orange peel, works the best. There are two types of exfoliations, physical or chemical. Physical exfoliators are rotary spinning brushes, dry lymphatic facial brushes, cloths or pads or granular scrubs. Do be gentle when using any of these, also rotary brushes come into contact with your skin so have to be cleaned after every use. Many facial scrubs are on the market, it’s best to opt for a fine power scrub rather than a large granular size as the texture is softer. Chemical Exfoliators are professional treatments, these can sometimes be mis-used and never try at home!
Toners– are a must, don’t be tempted to miss this stage out. These are fast absorbing liquid products that restore the skins PH balance, as well as any remaining impurities after cleansing. Your skin needs oil and water to be happy. Facial mists, are a botanical water, produced in the making of essential oils. I love these and have used them for years, the most popular been rose, lavender and calendula. Mist onto clean skin or use a cotton pad before applying a moisturiser, these are perfect in hot and humid conditions. Astringent toners are often marketed to oily, acne prone skin because they contain alcohol, which can dry the skin. Witch hazel toners can be a good option which will balance and clarify the skin without over stripping it.
Face masks– you ever love using these or don’t like them at all, put using a mask for one or two days (never more than this) week can have a positive effect on your skin. Once again, there is a huge variety to choose from, sheet masks and clay, would be my best choices. Sheet masks are hydrating, often using a gel, with ingredients like royal jelly, fruits and glycerine. These can be ideal as relaxing masks, for a pamper day or night. Clarifying masks are clay or mud based, look for kaolin clay for all skin types, marine extracts or charcoal for oily skin. These are to left on for up to 10 minutes, never longer and should be removed before fully- hard. A face mask can make the most difference and give the most benefits in your skincare routine. They can draw out impurities so always use a few days before any special events, just in case.
Facial moisturisers- provide a thin layer on the outermost layer of the skin, they can slow down the process of transepidermal water loss and enhance your body’s natural functions. They are the last step in your routine. Face creams are known to combat dehydration. They are an emulsion of water and oil. Some people opt for very rich heavy creams, a nutrients rich lighter cream can work even for a very dry skin as heavy cream can block pores, which causes spots.
Serums– are used before a traditional moisture, they are highly concentrated and formulated to penetrate beyond the surface of the skin, so as to repair skin at a cellular level. Often these have anti-aging ingredients added, so are great for a more mature skin that needs a little more TLC.
Face oils– there is not a skin type on the planet that does not benefit from using oil on the face. I am not talking about heavy mineral oils which should be avoided but lightweight, nutrient rich plant-based oils. These helps regulate the skins own natural sebum production. I am a total fan of these and have used them for years. Do buy natural, essential oil- based ones.
Eye creams, the skin around the eyes is the thinnest on your body and does not contain oil glands. So, using a product specially formulated for the eyes is vital. Every need these, even the young, the earlier you start using the better. Aging shows first around the eyes and is the most noticeable.
Buying natural and organic products is best, although these can be a little bit more expensive, a little usually goes a long way and they are free from harmful chemicals. I will go into more details about what to avoid in a later blog.
It can sound like a lot but once you get into a routine or even make it a daily ritual, it can be enjoyable, beneficial to your skin and something to look forward too. A healthy, glowing skin is always in fashion, at any age for women and men. And real men do use skincare!