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Skin Routine: I Don't Know Where To Start!

Since I joined Glowday a couple of years ago, I've learned a whole world of new things about looking after my skin. I've always loved buying skin products in Boots, picking the bottles and jars of lotions and potions based on how much I like the packaging (in the same way I choose my wine) and I've always taken my make-up off at night and sort of always lived by the cleanse, tone and moisturise mantra that I picked up in the eighties and nineties. In fact, thanks to my whole family working at The Body Shop HQ and an endless supply of free products, I felt rather advanced in my skincare. Ha! But as I hit my late twenties and thirties and skincare exploded, I often felt overwhelmed and confused by what I was supposed to be doing. So, I took the easy way out. I used wipes to take my make-up off, bought whatever No7 cream that was advertised for my age, and randomly did face masks when I was feeling like I 'should' do something a bit extra.

LED Masks have nothing on this bad boy.

Skincare Is Too Confusing!

When I speak to my friends about skincare, everyone says the same: "It's too confusing. There is too much to understand, I don't get what everything does. I just want someone to tell me what to do and when."

The problem with skincare is that it's unique to the person and there isn't one-size-fits-all. What works for one person won't work for another person. It's like buying glasses. Your mate's prescription won't help you to see - unless by some fluke you have exactly the same prescription but even then the frames may not fit you or be a style that suits you. It's all individual. Women I speak to are thirsty for info 'tell me what I should be doing!' and it's not that easy, unfortunately.

But I thought I would share just a little bit of what I have picked up, as simply and as easily as I can!

The Skin Routine.

What is universal for everyone is it's important to have a skincare routine. Especially when you hit 30, but the sooner you start, the better.

The basics of that routine should consist of:

  • Cleanse
  • Tone/Exfoliate
  • Serums with active ingredients
  • Oils (optional)
  • Moisturise
  • SPF
  • Optional: eye creams, spritzers, masks

What products you should buy and use is way more complicated. It will depend on your age, your skin type, your skin issues and your what your skin goals are. There isn't one kit we can all by and be done with it.

When I've explained this to people, as their shoulders slump because I don't have the answer they want the next question is always then 'so what do you do?'.

I now have a thing for skincare products. A real thing.

So What Do I Do?

My skin is in pretty good condition. I'm not talking about the wrinkles and lines and sagging jowls (eugh) but my actual skin health - it's not bad - and much improved - now I follow a routine and have experimented with loads of products. I don't get nearly as many spots as I used to (especially around the time of the month) and it feels much more hydrated and less dry than it did a few years ago.

What Have I Changed?

The first thing I ditched within about 3 days of talking to aesthetic practitioners on Glowday was my 'make-up-be-gone' wipes. I always felt pretty smug that I took my make up off every night, without fail, and while I knew wipes weren't the most environmentally friendly products, I hadn't realised they were actually BAD for my skin.

Charine Patel, cosmetic practitioner at Bisou Clinics, explains; “Face wipes and makeup wipes are a lazy way of removing your makeup. Is it better than leaving it on? Debatable! Makeup wipes rub the bacteria and dirt into your pores, which can lead to breakouts and blackheads, whilst the pressure applied to remove the makeup with the wipes can, inevitably, cause premature ageing of the skin.”

So, I was actually contributing to my ageing process by using wipes. WELL THAT IS AWESOME. Not.

What Do I Now Use Instead Of Wipes?

Stage 1. Cleanse.

I totally girl fan Caroline Hirons, the GURU of skin and I now do two things (I know, I know, it does take longer). I now take my make-up off (a first 'cleanse') with Micellular water. I find this works really quickly and effectively and it's a good way to remove that first layer. I wear make up every day and quite a bit of it. So my face needs a good wash. I then use a lovely cleanser and flannel for the second 'cleanse'. This is called double cleansing. Caroline recommends you always do this - unless you have been indoors all day and haven't worn any makeup or SPF (we'll come onto this). You can use the same cleanser for cleanse 1 or cleanse 2 - or use different ones (like I do). Cleansers I love are Kate Somerville's Goat Milk (smells amazing, goes on like a dream), and Beauty Pie's Plantastic, which is more like a balm (it's really good for getting mascara off if you're using the same cleanser for your double cleanse). I've also been trying Votary's cleansing oil, which is bonkers because it's an oil and I'm not used to an oil feeling like a cleanser. I kinda like it but it doesn't leave me with a squeaky clean feeling like the others do. And although I haven't tried it, a lot of people swear by the cheaper option of CereVe. I bought a load of cheap flannels from IKEA and use a clean one every day. Almost every expert I have listened to rates a flannel more highly than those muslin things and fancy face cloths. The texture of a flannel means you get more 'scrub' going.

What's Next?

Stage 2. Tone/Exfoliate

This is perhaps the newest element of my routine that one that I've only recently (I'm 43) really understood. Back in the 80s and 90s, we would have referred to this as 'tone' in the 'cleanse, tone and moisturise' mantra …but toners are now on a DIFFERENT LEVEL. I'm sure I used to be told that splashing cold water on my face was 'toning', ha ha! Toning is now to exfoliate. But not in the way you probably think of exfoliating. I always thought exfoliating was where you used a face scrub or a brush (which is one way of doing it but is faffy and not the best) but actually toning or exfoliating the modern way is to use a lotion, a chemical - which contains acids (don't panic, they're good acids), rather than doing it mechanically. Caroline says this is akin 'to blowing a trumpet in your ear' and wakes up your skin and it's forced into action. It's the stuff that gets rids of old skin cells and promotes the renewal of new skin cells. Sometimes it stings a bit (but that's good I always think - it's doing something!).

Exfoliators contain different acids that will do different things such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acids. I'm not going to go into too much detail here as you'll instantly feel it's too much info. If you want to know more about acids, check this out I can't tell you which exfoliator is best for you, it depends on your skin! I personally like The Pixie Glow Tonic and the MEDIK8 PRESS AND GLOW TONIC (I find this is a bit stronger on my skin).

Exfoliating / toning (whatever you want to call it) with a lotion is weird. It's usually a really thin consistency, like water, and you just wipe it over your face using a cotton pad and at first I thought this can't be doing much - until I felt the little tingle. Yep, it's doing something.

Now It's Time for The Big Boys.

Stage 3. Serums.

Serums are the lotions that tackle things. The front-line. The battlefield has been cleared by the cleansers and exfoliators and it's now time to send in the SAS to do the job. This bit is perhaps, usually, when your eyes glaze over and you're not sure what to use and when, and there are a lot of options and layering you can do. I keep it simple. I use two products best for my skin and me. One in the morning and another in the evening.

Morning

Okay, so if it's the morning I'll use a Vit C serum after I have exfoliated. Vit C does loads of different things, and you'll want to zone out again as it's complicated - for the whole lowdown read this. There isn't a “one size fits all” approach to vitamin C formulations. The best product for your best friend may not be the best product for you. It's really hard to recommend a Vit C product as they're all so different and will have different amounts of Vit C in. The stuff you buy in Superdrug, really, probably won't do much and will just sit on top of your skin (it will smell lush though!) and for it to make a difference to your skin you'll need one with a high potency of 'active' ingredients. This is where medical grade skincare comes into its own and this is why you should talk to an aesthetics practitioner (yes, they do skin too!) about what products are best for your skin needs.

Evening

At night time, I won't use Vit C (and the jury is out on this - some people say use it at night time, some say don't). I use Vit A - or what you may know better as Retinol. Everyone over the age of 30 should use it!

There are loads of versions of Vit A - again it's complicated! Read more here. But retinol is the most widely available and oldest form of vitamin A. It comes in VERY variable strengths, usually from 0.3- 1% (a lot of high street products are not worth wasting your money on, so check the strength before you buy). It brings great results but sometimes needs a little bit of time to work. When I use a high-dose retinol I skip the exfoliation- as Vit A is also an exfoliator. You don't want to either reduce the effect of Vit A or over work your skin. Also, you should leave it to absorb for 20 mins before moving onto the next step.

"I can't use retinol, it makes my skin irritated and awful" says the whole world ever when they start using it.

That's kinda the point of it. When you haven't used retinol before, your skin will often get worse before it gets better. This is also why you should also introduce it slowly. One night a week, increasing as your skin gets used to it. And tiny amounts. And if your skin starts to feel bad, that's not bad!

One of the most effective retinols I've found is what I used when I first consulted with an aesthetics practitioner and I was introduced to medical grade skincare brand Alumier , it certainly did things to my skin! I've since been trying Beauty Pie's Super Retinol which did make my skin feel uneven and rough for a bit, but now seems to have settled again.

To be quite honest, I'd rather go back in time where my main job of a night was to put these in and sleep on my face because they were so uncomfortable.

Next Bit Is The Best.

Stage 4. Oils.

This is my favourite part. It's like feeding your face with a luxurious, indulgent and rich meal. Applying an oil makes it feel all supple and glowy. Hydrating and heavenly, Oils are thicker than serums, and the general rule of thumb is to layer your skin products working from thinnest to thickest - and although oil molecules tend to be bigger than moisturiser, oils will help your moisturiser penetrate and then the moisturiser will seal the oils. So I put on oil before moisturiser. Because Caroline told me to.

My absolute fave oil is Oskia Restoration Oil - my god, it's divine. Smells like a dream. I'd rub it over my whole body if it wasn't so expensive. This is my real luxury product. I'm not using it at the moment because of its price, I'm using a cheaper one which is okay but not great enough to shout about. You don't have to do this stage, you can skip straight to moisturiser.

There was nothing like putting a bit of Kiwi flavoured castor oil on your lips, back in the day.

The One Most Of Us Do Anyway.

Stage 5. Moisturise.

Don't think I need to explain this one! Caroline Hirons says you should choose your moisturiser by your skin type, not your skin condition and it's like your coat/your protection. My skin type is dry.. and the older I get the drier it gets, so I tend to choose moisturisers for dry skin. But my favourite cheap secret is Welda Skin Food, it's very thick and really brings my skin to life with a bit of a glow under my make-up. I like to sleep in it too. But you won't like it if your skin is oily.

And Finally... (in the mornings!)

Stage 6: SPF.

SPF. Man. This is the one thing I wish I had been doing every day since I was born. It is undoubtedly the number one piece of advice every practitioner give to women of all ages to help prevent the signs of ageing (and to protect against cancer of course) and is the only product they would save in a fire (if you were gonna save your skincare products)

DON'T think you can cheat it by using a foundation or moisturiser with an SPF in it. And again, the wonderful Caroline says don't think you can use an SPF instead of a moisturiser - as 'that's like going out with a raincoat on and only bra and knickers underneath'. She suggests you wear your clothes (moisturiser) under your raincoat (SPF).

There are thousands of SPFs, from spenny to cheap. Always go factor 50. For so long I didn't do it because I was putting cheap sun lotion on my face that was thick, creamy, made my face white and stung my eyes. My personal favourite this year, that has done NONE of that, has been Supergoop's Play Every Day SPF

You can never get enough SPF on your face, but you don't have to look like a ghost these days.

Things I Don't Do...

Eye cream. I just find it does nothing for me and it's too faffy. Maybe I just haven't found an amazing one but I have never used one that has made any kind of difference, so I can't be bothered. But some women swear by them, so don't listen to me! I think I'd rather save up my money for tear trough fillers to be honest. But if you're going to use eye cream, it goes on after you've exfoliated, before the serums. If you put it on last it's 'like wearing knickers over your trousers' says Caroline Hirons!

Spritzer/Mist. My skin Queen Caroline, is obsessed with spritzer and sprays it on at many stages in her skincare routine. Spritzers are like liquid moisturisers, and Caroline is an advocate for spraying then on between the layers - she likes to sandwhich in moisture wherever possible. They often have added minerals and stuff in. But for me, this is just ANOTHER thing and I don't want to spend ALL of my money on skincare. I have got some but I'm a bit 'meh' about it.

Medical Grade Skincare.

A word on medical grade skincare products (please watch this), as I'm super aware that I promote their brilliance but don't use them exclusively myself. I went straight from wipes and Nivea to a full-on medical grade skin regime. Wow. It was insane. My skin reacted, it buzzed, it changed. This was my wake-up call. And yes, I was a cynic. I didn't understand what made them so good, I did think it was all a marketing ploy and a load of BS. I was wrong. I'm actually keen to try a different brand and range now but just haven't got round to having a consultation with one of our practitioners. Meanwhile, because I don't really have any skin concerns and I now follow a consistent routine, I don't feel an overwhelming need to use them. But I can confidently tell you they are not a con, they are not snake oil and you will notice a difference when you start using them and they are completely worth discussing with a practitioner!

Watch this video to find out why medical grade skincare is worth it!

I Still Don't Know Where To Start.

I hear you. You end up never starting because you don't know where to start. I can not tell you how good it would be for you to speak to someone who will tell you where to start, how to start, and will introduce you to some amazing medical-grade products. It's the best spring board and is way better than trying to go in blindly by yourself. If you really don't want to do that, then check out Caroline Hiron's book as another good place to start - but remember she's talking to the masses, she's not talking to you personally and she can't see, touch and judge your skin.

If you can't be bothered to do the research yourself or like me, find all the information just too overwhelming and confusing, then book in a consultation with one of the Glowday practitioners we have near you.

You might not care what you are given or what you have to do - you just want to be told what to do and when. You might not want to even understand what various things do, you just want to improve your skin or get great skin. That's okay!

So, just search here to see who is close to you. Type in 'consultation' in the treatment box, and find a date to go to their clinic. Once you're there, tell them you want to start a proper skincare routine and ask them what they would recommend. They'll ask you tonnes of questions, they'll look at your skin, they'll help you to get going! So go on, JUST DO IT. Book in now!

I'm no expert.

Do not take what I say as gospel. I'm still learning. I'm still getting to grips with it all too. I'm fully expecting some of our practitioners to read this and tell me I've got it wrong (and if they do, I will edit accordingly!). But I am an ordinary woman like you and I can say that sorting my skincare regime out, putting in just a *little* more consistent effort and making myself understand what skincare products are and do has been beneficial and my skin is much more fresh, hydrated and smooth.

But it's much easier to see who is near you and book in for a consultation. You don't have to have a skin 'issue' to see someone - just wanting a proper routine. to try new products or to improve your skin generally is a reason! Off you go....

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