29th January, 2017
SKIN SERIES PART II:
MY EVENING SKINCARE ROUTINE
As I mentioned in Part I of my Skin Series, I am not a dermatologist nor am I a beauty expert of any kind. What I use on my skin may not necessarily work for you. The tips I've learnt, both prescriptive and general, have been passed on to me from beauty industry heavyweights who I've met over the years, and the routine I follow has come down to a lot of trial and error.
Skin changes. I didn't have particularly problematic skin growing up, then in May of last year I suddenly had to deal with spots. They were disguisable with makeup, so by no means were they the end of the world, but my confidence took a bit of a hit. I went from having dry skin, thus the focus of my skin routine was brightening my complexion, to focusing on spot treatments. I've worked hard at it and my skin is finally back to its normal texture, so now my focus is more on hydrating my skin and removing the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation said spots have left behind (the next part in this series will be how to get rid of pigmentation, so I'll talk more about that in a separate post).
I get sent a lot of products across both the skincare and colour cosmetics spheres, so although I'm trialling something different at any given time, THESE are the products I always come back to when I need a clean (no pun intended) slate. These products may not necessarily work for your skin, but the advice I've included is (hopefully) pretty universal. Always pay attention to the ingredients you're using and try to take note of ingredients that your skin does or does not react well to.
CLEANSE AND TONE
I mentioned in my morning routine post how consciously I avoid foaming cleansers and whenever I need to convince someone to make the switch to oil and balm cleansers, Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm is what I recommend. Most (not all) foaming cleansers contain surfactants to create the foam, these alkaline the surface of the skin and remove the protective layer, the skin works overtime to create more oil, etc etc you're back to square one why didn't you listen to me. A thick balm like this is applied to dry skin and massaged in. Balm and oil cleansers will quite literally melt the makeup off your face, then you remove the makeup and bacteria by wiping your face with a warm muslin cloth. Coconut oil also works really well for this step if you don't want to fork out the big bucks (my favourite is Niu Life because the profits go back to the villages in which the oil was sourced), but I'd still suggest following that up with a gentle cleanser (along the lines of the Aspect Gentle Clean I use in the mornings).
EXFOLIATE AND TREAT
I consider my introduction to Alpha H back in 2011 to have been my first encounter with "serious" skincare, and I have been using their Liquid Gold ever since- before I truly knew what it was and what it was doing for my skin (I just knew my skin looked "better" on the mornings after I'd used it). I could talk about Alpha H Liquid Gold until I am blue in the face, so I will attempt to keep it brief. Alpha H is a chemical exfoliant (an AHA) that you apply by moistening a cotton pad then wiping it over the skin, much the same as you would a toner. As with any exfoliant, it's only recommended that you use it every second evening (at most) to give the skin cells time to renew. I don't use physical scrubs as exfoliants as they are just too abrasive for my skin (I feel the same way about Clarisonics), and they only work on a literal surface level. If you're using a scrub exfoliant at the moment and it's working for you, then that's great, but I just find them to be far too abrasive for the delicate skin on the face. I use a chemical exfoliant (either this or a BHA, in which case I'll usually reach for Mario Badescu's Anti Acne Serum) three times a week to brighten the skin, even out the skin tone (AHAs and BHAs will help remove pigmentation- a scrub probably won't) and remove any dead and dry skin cells. I should also note that scrubs aren't ideal for acne prone skin- they might make your skin feel clean and bright afterwards, but they're aggravating the pimple in the same way picking at it would.
A good way to remember which order to apply your products in is to just work from the thinnest to the thickest consistency, so on the nights that I exfoliate my next step is serums. I usually cocktail a few together (as I do in the morning) depending on what my skin needs. At the moment I find myself reaching for Aspect Dr's B and A serums (B to boost, A for cell renewal). I only use A a few times a week, as retinol is about as pungent as the ingredients in my chemical exfoliants and overdoing it with your astringents will do more harm than good. Mature skin types can benefit from Vitamin A each evening.
MOISTURISE WITH A NIGHT CREAM OR OIL
My last step is a night cream or oil, and the products I use will probably be polarising to a lot of people so I'd suggest sampling anything before you buy. My skin errs towards dry and I like a night treatment that leaves a bit of a residue for me to wash off in the morning, otherwise I don't feel like it's done its job. My all-time favourite is Sarah Chapman's Skinesis Overnight Facial because it has the consistency of an oil but is packed with the active ingredients I look for when I want an almost instant skin turnaround (A, C and E). If my skin is begging for moisture, as it does in the winter, I'll use Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Night Cream. This has been reamed by critics, so it's a good example of something working for one person and not for another because I bloody love it. It's excessively sticky so don't use it if you're sharing your bed with someone cute, but my skin feels and looks dewy and plump the next morning. The price is extortionary and the texture will quite possibly cause breakouts in oilier skin types so I cannot stress enough how important it is to try a sample before selling an organ for this one.
Technically skincare but not traditionally included in these types of posts, I thought I'd pop my lip routine in here as I know a lot of dry skin honeys have to deal with chapped lips too. Every night I'll do a gentle scrub with the Frank Body Lip Scrub which has a really interesting waxy consistency that I've not found any other lip scrub to have (especially not the lip scrubs made by a certain very heavily-scented store that have a near-cult following, but are literally just sugar). I'll follow up with Mecca's Lip De Luscious Overnight Lip Treatment, which is basically the same as the regular Lip De Luscious but without SPF. When you're looking for a really hydrating lip product, look for something packed with lanolin. One of my best friends actually uses Lansinoh, which is technically a nipple balm, but it's just straight medical grade lanolin so it's more hydrating than anything in the whole world ever.