Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thoughts about skin

Today I have been thinking about skincare. It is something thats easily taken from granted if you have lovely clear skin, but can be a battle for those who might have more trouble keeping everything nice and peachy. I have been a lucky one where this is concerned, but I wonder whether this might have anything to do with my fascination for natural skincare. I've always loved lotions and potions and remember making rose water to bottle and sell back to the neighbours (who's roses we had probably nicked that morning) and creating balms and tinctures for friends at Christmas. Good skin can change the way you feel about your entire appearance. Ever got yourself all dolled up for a party, hair done, fab dress and a wee tiny pimple on your chin? Guaranteed that will be the thing on your mind all night. But fresh skin, clean hair slung up and you can be happy as larry bumping into that ex/intimidating colleague/perfect friend and feeling that you look not so bad after all.

My number one absolute with skincare is, the more natural the better. If it smells like chemicals, I aint using it. I've always had a good nose for artificial smells, and I just feel they have no redeeming qualities (incidentally I also feel the same way about artificial sweetner, but that's a story for another day). So, get out there, buy yourself a super light cotton cloth, arm yourself with a good hairband and a sink of warm water and we'll begin...

Firstly, dehydrated skin can be the worst thing to deal with, once it's dehydrated you've got a bit of repairing to do. Now, this can happen if you work in a big office with heating/air conditioning, if you don't drink enough fluid, or even if you use a soap on your face that's too harsh. This will strip your face of it's lovely oils and it will either become dry and flaky or it will overproduce these oils in a panic and you will find yourself spotty and shiny. Once you've found yourself at this point don't panic. There's plenty we can do now. Grab yourself a nice big glass of water/juice/tea whatever. Also consider using a balm based product, even if your skin is quite oily. Remember what that nasty harsh soap does? Good clean healthy skin won't overproduce sebum unless there is another factor involved. Best to take the guesswork out slightly by removing the soap and all the dirt. Then we can really see what's going on.

Balms I would highly recommend:

Lush's ultra bland. This is a product I came across about 5 years ago but only very recently truly appreciated the value of. I've always loved lush and worked there for a while, but I think people really only see them as a colourful bath bomb and soap company. Behind all that in those wee black pots is some really amazing stuff that can work wonders on lots of skin types. Ultra bland is made using the most gentle on the skin ingredients that simply take every last speck of dirt from the surface. There's no soap in there so nothing harsh and drying, and you can take your mascara off with it as there are no nippy to eyes ingredients. Using it alone is lovely and will make the skin fresh and clean, or slap on some ultra balm afterwards for a wee treat.

Soap and glory fab pore hot cloth cleanser. Similar to the last but a wee bit more scent about it on not so thick feeling on the skin, this one has some soothing lavender in it to help with trouble skin. There's even a wee cloth included so that you can get started right away. I also love some other soap and glory products, more on them later.

Now that your skin's peachy clean it's time to have a look at the condition of it. What do you have going on there? A wee few lines by the sides of your eyes? Dark circles? Spot prone zone? We'll have a bit of a trouble shooting session now.

Firstly, no matter what I do I can see it in my skin. If I'm tired, maybe had a few too many the previous night, scoffed a load of easter eggs, it'll show. Lifestyle plays a huge part in the way you look and genes generally do the rest. Now this works on a sliding scale. You might have the genes of Aphrodite herself, but go out on the lash 5 nights in a row, eat a fry up each morning to combat the hangover and smoke 40 cigarettes and it will still show. Unfortunately the same applies in the other direction. You might eat nothing but raw veg and never touch a drink and still be struck with the odd acne prone zone. We need to just concentrate on balancing out the bad with some good. Don't give up all joys and treats and vices, just try to acknowledge you've had them and enjoyed them and that you want to make sure you do  het rid of those bags under your eyes. Seeing a pattern here? Fluids and vitamins and minerals are constantly required, so don't fight a losing battle with your body and then wonder why your hair isn't lovely and shiny. Take in lots of fluid (noticing I'm  not saying water here? I'd be a fibber if I said I drank 2 litres of water a day - but juice and tea and all these things are great too) and eat your fruit and veg and you'll certainly be on the right path.

So your skin's clean, your body's nicely hydrated and your brocolli has all been eaten. What next? Have a look at what's going on now. Are you getting a few breakouts? Some oily patches? Is it getting dry or feeling great? If you're having breakouts it could well be that your body is happily ridding itself of all the rubbish it's been storing up during your bouts of dehydration. Once we're done with this phase we can start to really look after it and see the best skin possible.

A great moisturiser is really important for happy healthy skin. I personally am a fan of a serum for my face rather than a thick moisturiser, but you can guage for yourself what your skin needs. A serum is a great way to get deep down through the layers to give moisture all the way down. There are several that I've found are really fantastic and would recommend.

Firstly, my gorgeous Mama is a huge Chanel fan, and I have been lucky enough to be able to raid her bathroom cabinet over the years. The green hydromax + is just so fabulous for thirsty skin and smells amazing. There's something that just feels so decadent about it too and you can waft about the house all smug in the knowledge that your face is just slathered in Chanel wonderfulness.

If the £58 price tag on the hydromax serum feels a bit out of reach, don't panic. Soap and Glory also have a fantastic range of very specific skincare. I love the serum and night cream, but you can tailor the range to your needs and they all work very well. There are great caffiene gels for tired eyes and an amazing wee cream I use mixed in with my foundation (more later). Don't be fooled by the funny names and comedy packaging, there are some damn fine products with excellent ingredients (and quite often available on 3 for 2 in boots...)

Now, how about that tired looking skin? When your eyes are dropping and the bags under  your eyes feel like they're showing the whole world that you just have not made an effort and no matter what you do the make up you painstakingly applied just seems to keep sliding right back off your face? That's a rubbish thing to have to combat, and one of the hardest to hide.

My eyes are always by biggest giveaway in this situation, I find it very difficiult to hide my tired eyes. So first thing's first, grab some drops or an eye spray. You can choose whichever you feel would be best for you, all we're concerned about is taking away that dryness that will then lead to redness if we don't sort it. Excellent. Now, try to put off make up application till much later, have a wee cup of tea and let any puffiness go from your gace and eyes. I find that my eyelids get very puffy when I'm tired and if I didn't have every tiny scrap of make up off before bed I'd have to pay for it big time. So clean every inch of that skin now. If you have time, it's a good idea to have something other than coffee, let that skin relax and uncrease (I look like one of those wrinkly dogs some mornings with my face all pillow creased.) Caffeine can make you feel artificially more awake, then you slap on that make up and it all runs back off.

The next thing we need is a good base. A serum or moisturiser that you know works well under a foundation. This is a super important step otherwise you can find that they react badly and cause the foundation to crumble and flake. Then you need to start everything all over again! Then a nice good primer, foundation, powder and eyes. Don't over emphasise those eyes, it'll only make you look worse. Simple eyes, no eyeshadow and a nice liquid blusher are good tools to work with. We're thinking dewy here, not caked. Then when dewy has been accomplished, feel free to knock back that espresso...should you wish.

That's enough for now eh?! More later!

Love, F xx

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