Skin Series Part I: My Morning Skincare Routine

19th January, 2017


The reason I'm writing this is because so many people have asked about my skincare routine, which sounds incredibly self obsessive and for all you know I could be lying and maybe no one has asked me to write this, but I do really enjoy talking about skincare as I've been learning more and more about the science behind it. A lot of people have asked how I get my skin to look so "glowy" (not a technical term but a direct quote nonetheless) and while I do believe that great makeup does sweet FA if you're not putting it on an appropriately prepped base, I think I should make it known that I wear approximately 4 highlighters at any given time- THAT is where the glow is coming from.

Knowing that, feel free to ignore this post and revisit my highlighter edit from late last year, but if what I put on my clean skin is still of interest to you, stick with me.

I'm not a scientist nor a dermatologist, however these products work for me and I have, at the very least, a top level understanding of why it is that they work. They may not work for you, but the tips I've included in this post are fairly universal. My one major disclaimer should be for those with sensitive skin. Always patch test before committing to a full face, and I'd suggest opting for products with the fewest ingredients (less chances for your skin to react poorly to something in the product). Organic skincare products are normally a good starting point for sensitive skinnies (not a collective noun but it should be).


The first skincare lesson I ever learnt was from my mother and her dermatologist (who I will forever refer to as "The Face Lady" given that I was about 8 at the time- I'm now in my mid-20s but #nostalgia) who simultaneously told me to "cleanse, tone and moisturise." Having known those steps for so long, I cannot for the life of me understand how and why anyone would skip a morning cleanse. "But Gemma!" you object, "I don't have makeup on first thing in the morning, so I don't have anything to cleanse off my face!" Shut your damn mouth. Cleansers aren't specifically for makeup removal- this is just an extra thing that they do, and not particularly well I should add. You MUST cleanse in the morning to clear your skin of any dirt and grime that has floated onto that precious little cherub face of yours overnight, as well as removing any sweat that can/most likely is clogging your pores. I'm not calling you sweaty and disgusting, but your body is doing it's thing 24 hours a day so naturally it needs a little TLC after 8 hours of such work. I use Aspect Gentle Clean as my morning cleanser as it's light enough to not leave any residue on my face (the residue from oil or gel cleansers doesn't sit particularly  well under makeup in my opinion), and it doesn't contain any of the awful surfactants that they pack into foaming cleansers. On that note, STAY AWAY FROM FOAMING CLEANSERS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. The ingredient that lets these cleansers foam will alkaline the surface of the skin, which will make it feel temporarily squeaky clean (which is why so many foaming cleansers are very unfairly targeted at those with oily and acne prone skin), but they turn the skin into a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.


A lot of people (including skincare experts and beauty editors) find toning to be entirely unnecessary. I would agree that if I were to skip any step, this would probably be it, however as mentioned this is a step that has been drummed into me from an early age. A lot of toners don't do a whole lot as far as evening out your skin tone (which, as its name suggest, is what a toner should do), so I look for toners with slightly acidic properties as they seem to kill any of the bad stuff that causes more bad stuff (science). I also like that a toner can remove any dirt or grime that your cleanser may have left behind, as well as clearing off any residue from said cleanser. My all-time favourite is La Roche-Posay Serozinc (this one has a cult following with good reason) as it has a mattifying effect on the skin, which I occasionally swap out for Caudelie Eau De Beaute (this has quite a strong fragrance so probably not as good for sensitive skin types).


I've worn sunscreen every day since 2003 because I read an article in Dolly Magazine in which Jessica Alba, on the press trail for Honey, mentioned that she wears sunscreen even when it's overcast. You know why you have to be wearing it (UV rays penetrate clouds/skin cancer/sun damage effects a layer of the skin that topical skincare can't get to and therefore the age damage is pretty irreversible) so I won't harp on about it, but what I didn't know until I read Amazinger Face by queen Zoe Foster-Blake was that chemical sunscreens (ie. pretty much all sunscreens, apart from ones like zinc) need to be applied to CLEAN skin in order for them to work. It's not recommended to apply more skincare on after sunscreen, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do. They just don't work unless your skin is clean. Lesson learned. I wear Mecca's To Save Face Superscreen because it's 50+ and it doesn't feel greasy or make my makeup do any weird shit (you know when you get to midday and your foundation has literally grown legs and walked over to the other side of the room? That kind of thing). 


Serums, not to be confused with moisturisers, are more concentrated products that you can use to target specific skin concerns. For this reason, I cocktail a few together depending on what my skin is asking for (my skin doesn't directly speak to me which I find to be quite impolite, but I have a fairly good understanding of what it wants). At present, my concern is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which is a fancy/scientifically accurate term for those annoying red marks left behind after a breakout. I haven't had a serious breakout since mid 2016, however the hyper pigmentation has stuck around for a long time because I was initially treating them the way I would treat a scar- these marks are not scars, so they need a different plan of attack. I use Aspect Dr Multi B Plus Serum (the Aspect Dr range is only available in skincare salons I believe, but the mainline Aspect Extreme B Serum is a readily available alternative) as vitamin B boosts the effects of any other vitamins you're applying, a Vitamin C serum as it's truly the best vitamin for treating pigmentation as well as hydrating the skin (I'm using the Antioxidant Serum by D'Lumiere Esthetique) and a bit of Cosmedix Affirm for its anti-inflammatory qualities rather than its firming ones. 


For some, SPF may be enough moisturiser. For most, a serum will be enough. I have dry skin and I like to look like a radiant goddess so I'll wrap things up with a moisturiser for good measure. My favourite is Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre because it doesn't make any wild claims (if you're using serums to target your skincare concerns, you just need a moisturiser to moisturise- not to treat) and it literally just hydrates the skin. The scent and texture feel a bit old school, which I love- it's just a good quality moisturiser that feels light on the skin and does its job. It's also great for plumping up the skin ahead of makeup application, so I'll often skip priming if I'm using this.