One of my passions from being very young has been skin care. I’ve always loved makeup but it didn’t take me long to work out that if I didn’t look after my skin no amount of makeup was going to conceal that I had bad skin. It is true that concealer can help cover up the odd blemish but if your complexion is more like the surface of the moon than flawless velvet then no amount of makeup is going to cover up the damage. So beauty starts with the perfect canvass, namely good skin, and good skin starts with a good skin care routine.
So what is the best skin care routine and what are the best skin care products to buy? The truth is that any skin care routine is better than none. There are products which work better than others for example, retinol has been proven to help reduce the signs of ageing. It does so by stimulating cell renewal which means that the cells die of and regenerate faster giving a more youthful appearance, but ingredients in skin creams that actually work in this way tend to be expensive. If you can find a reliable brand that contains proven ingredients that is also affordable then go for it, but the old adage cleanse, tone and moisturise still holds true. One caveat here, stick to reliable brands. There are plenty of skin products that claim to contain this and that or to have the next miracle ingredient but unless they’re a big brand, that will draw the attention of the regulators, they can pretty much say what they like until they get caught.
Common sense dictates that if your skin is not cleansed regularly bacteria can thrive and cause imperfections so it is important to clean your skin properly. This can be achieved in any number of ways. Soap and water will clean your skin but I would not recommend it as the soap may also strip your skin of natural oils making it dry or causing your own sebum glands to over compensate and make your skin oily. Some people use wipes impregnated with cleanser to remove dirt and impurities. Now apart from the environmental considerations, it seems fairly obvious that if your going over and over the same area again and again with the same wipe any dirt and debris will be redeposited so several wipes would be needed to give a thorough cleanse. In spite of manufacturers claims that wipes will remove makeup I find that invariably they don’t. So my recommendation if you are wearing makeup would be to start with an oily eye makeup remover, on cotton wool pads to remove waterproof mascara. I also find this good for removing lip inks. Baby oil would do the job too but it does leave it’s own greasy deposit which is sometimes hard to get off. Once I’ve got the majority of makeup off this way I then use a wash off cleanser specifically designed for the face. (Shower gel won’t do for the same reason soap doesn’t). If I’m not wearing makeup then I go straight to this stage.
Stage 2 is to close the pores that have been opened by washing and you can use a toner, although I would not recommend astringent as again this can be too harsh, but splashing cold water onto the skin will have the same effect.
Finally you need to apply a moisturiser. Now this is where it can get complicated if you were to believe the marketing hype of most cosmetics companies. The number one question that I get asked as an Avon representative is “what is the difference between a day cream & a night cream”. Put simply day creams and night creams are different. A night cream will always have a higher concentration of active ingredients (if there are any) because your skin regenerates most whilst you are asleep so this is when the ingredients will be most effective. A day cream, if it’s a good one, in addition to any active ingredients, will contain sun screen. Exposure to the sun is the number one cause of premature ageing so your day cream should always protect you against sun damage. It will also be lighter in texture than the night cream otherwise it would be too oily and would quickly shine through your makeup.
So do you need a separate eye cream? The short answer is yes. The skin around the eye is more delicate than on the rest of your face, so eye creams are specially manufactured to take this into account. That is why the skin around the eyes is the first area to show signs of ageing. You should never stretch or drag the skin around the eye area because one day it won’t bounce back and you’ll end up with more lines and wrinkles than you should have, or worse eyebags and hooded eyes. When applying cream to the eyes it should be patted in gently using the ring finger as it’s harder to apply pressure with the ring finger.
So what about serums, treatment products, masks and scrubs? Well serums and treatments are to be used in addition to your cleanse, tone and moisturise routine. They contain super concentrates of active ingredients that will give your skin a boost. They can be used every day but they will be most effective at night whilst you sleep so putting them on in addition to your day cream rather seems like a waste of time and money. Personally, I use them once or twice a week in addition to my night cream. Scrubs are to exfoliate your skin. To basically slough off all the dead skin cells to reveal your radiant glowing complexion underneath. One word of caution, go easy. Massage in gently. You’re trying to remove the dead skin cells of the epidermis not brillo pad down to the bone. Masks can do the same job if they’ve been designed to exfoliate. Some masks are to super hydrate following exfoliation, but others for example clay masks will tighten and exfoliate at the same time. Peel off masks will remove dead skin cells and ingrained dirt and debris. Masks and scrubs should be used once or twice a week in addition to your usual skin care routine.
So which is the best skin product? The answer is simply the one that works for you. Everyone is different so what suits one person may not suit another. The other factor to consider is that your skin care needs will change over time. You’re skin has different needs as you age and you naturally start to lose elasticity, so don’t think you can get away with finding a skin cream when you’re 17 and still be getting the same benefits when you’re 70. So unfortunately, or maybe fortunately if you like messing about with creams and potions, there is a certain amount of trial and error. It’s useful if you can trial a product in a smaller version before splashing out on the full size product especially if it’s a good product packed full of active ingredients because they tend to be more expensive.