It’s never too early to start thinking about our skin’s future. The better the preventative measures early on, the less damage control there will be later. If you can get yourself into a good routine from the start, then best practices for your skin will become a habit, not a chore. Having received lots of wisdom from my older friends – who, yes, look amazing, without getting work done – I’ve put together a list of tried and tested, excellent products that are the perfect additions to add to your cosmetics arsenal.
Do remember, everyone’s skin is different. What works for one person may not be suitable for another and if you have skin sensitivities, please don’t commit to a product without doing a skin test or checking with your doctor or dermatologist.
A quick note about these products – most are quite pricey. However, they last a very long time, and in my experience, they’re worth it. In the long run, you probably spend just as much on buying highstreet brands more frequently, and which are at best not as effective and at worst, actually damaging to your skin. So do consider the investment – you’ll be spending a lot more trying to get rid of those wrinkles when you’re older, believe me! Also, that’s what birthdays, Christmasses and vouchers are for.
Also, there are more and more websites popping up offering amazing discounts on high end cosmetics, like lookfantastic.com or Brand Alley. If you do want to keep it on a tighter budget, just try to minimise the chemicals – I find Simple and Aveeno are the best quality highstreet brands out there right now, or any products meant for babies! A great mid range choice is La Roche-Posay – I especially like their toners and SPF range.
Let’s start with cleansing. Even if you haven’t had a busy day running around the city, it’s important to cleanse your skin before you go to bed. Needless to say, remove your makeup (but we’ll get to that) and don’t neglect your neck and decolletage. Wrinkles in these areas build up before you know it and give away your age just as much!
If you just want a quick once over, micellar water is a great and inexpensive choice. Wash your face with warm water and use a cotton pad, or better yet, eco face cloth, to apply the micellar water. You don’t need to rinse it off and it leaves a lovely fresh feeling on your skin.
For a proper cleanse, my absolute favourite is Shiseido’s cleansing foam. They have a couple of different options, depending on skin type, but when I say your skin is left squeaky clean – I mean it. It’s like getting your face gently dry cleaned! They also have a great day cream, which is SPF 20. Don’t think just because you’re not on holiday, you don’t need to protect your skin from the sun. It’s a good idea to always wear SPF if you’re going to be outside for long periods and even if not – this cream is great, leaves a super light supple feeling and that little pot lasts ages because you only need a little amount for full coverage. Perfect for first thing in the morning – leaves your face feeling great all day.
If your skin is in need of a bit more TLC, especially after a long, tough week, then supplement your evening routine with a scrub. I find you don’t need to scrub every day, I do it a couple of times a week or if my face is feeling particularly soiled. Clarins’ One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser has been my go-to for years now. Its texture has just the right balance of rough and soft, leaving your skin feeling not just extra clean, but like it’s just had a relaxing massage.
It’s great for areas of dry skin or clearing your pores from those pesky blackheads. Clarins also makes an amazing Toning Lotion with Iris. It’s alcohol free and leaves an amazing cooling sensation on your face, like you’re wearing one of those gel ice masks. Perfect if I wake up somewhat pouffy or didn’t sleep well. Generally, their toners are great, featuring one of my favourite ingredients – witch hazel!
If you have particularly sensitive skin, Lancôme is an excellent brand as many of their products are very gentle and don’t include many of the ingredients that make other brands more harsh. Their rose sugar scrub is another favourite of mine – it really gives your skin a great jump start, so I quite like to use it in the morning if I’m feeling particularly run down.
While we’re talking about Lancôme, they make my favourite makeup remover of all time. I don’t wear makeup very often, but whether you’re a light user or an absolute addict, you won’t find a better remover than Bi-Facil. The bottle describes it as non-oily, which refers to it not leaving that vile, shiny residue you often get with other removers. But it is an oil-based remover, so don’t use it if you’ve had lash extensions done. It easily removes waterproof mascara and everything comes off literally in two wipes.
Constantly daily scrubbing isn’t good for your skin, so the less abrasive your remover the better. Shake up the bottle to mix the lipid and water laters, soak a cotton pad or face cloth with a few drops and press and hold it to your eye for a few seconds. Then gently wipe – you’ll be amazed how much comes off in one go! I’m a contact lens wearer and this remover is perfect because it’s super gentle and the minimised scrubbing means I don’t lose or damage my lenses.
Pucker up! Time to sort out our lips. While I often succumb to inferior lip balms because they taste nice (if you know what I mean), when it comes to keeping them soft and protected from the elements, it’s important to go opt for something effective – especially if you’re a smoker. Absolutely on judgement, to each their own, but smokers do tend to get very strong wrinkles on their lips, so it’s best to off-set that as much as possible.
My go-to is Elizabeth Arden’s 8-hour lip balm. The rest of the 8-hour range I’m actually not a fan of – the face and hand cream are very heavy and sticky and take ages to absorb, but this lip balm is perfection. If you use something else while on the go, that’s fine, I like to apply the 8-hour after my evening cleanse and first thing in the morning. Useful tip: this lip balm comes in a lipstick case and costs a fortune, but, they make a vaseline style case which is exclusive to airport duty free. Just as much product, but half the price!
So next time you’re on the move, stock up – it’s become so popular you usually find it among the impulse purchase temptations in the queue to pay. Since England doesn’t get much of a summer, I haven’t yet investigated what SPF lip balm I like best, but for winter time, my lips can get quite cracked and dry.
Remember we mentioned baby products? This is seriously a lifesaver. Anything made for babies is all but guaranteed to be super gentle and suitable for sensitive skin and one product in particular is ideal for chapped lips – nipple cream. No, don’t recoil! These creams are designed for super sensitive, cracked skin, courtesy of those tiny squooshie humans sucking up a mother’s life force. Shampoos, body oils, soaps – anything made for a baby is a great choice for us adults too. My personal favourite is the Erbaviva nursing balm. After a winter trip to freezing New York City, my lips were absolutely destroyed – erbaviva saved them and almost overnight!
On the topic of dry skin, I’ve suffered with mild eczema on my hands for years. If you have a similar issue, then first thing is to switch to a hypoallergenic soap asap. But if your eczema gets really bad, I actually use Aqueous cream, especially in the winter months. It makes a huge difference to your skin and any damaged areas heal very quickly. Whether I’m having a flair up or not, it’s important to moisturise your hands every day anyway.
Due to my history of eczema, I’ve tried many different hand creams over the years, but I finally settled on L’Occitane. Their facial products I’m not a huge fan of – a bit heavy for my taste – but their original shea butter hand cream is fantastic. Also comes in nifty little travel sized tubes, that I always carry in my handbag.
Now we come to the ultimate product. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. The actual ingredients of this product are under patent and probably kept in a secret vault guarded by robots. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made out of unicorn tears – this stuff is incredible. Yes, it’s very pricey. One 50ml bottle will set you back £80 (again, duty free this if you can!) but it genuinely lasts a very long time.
And… did I mention the unicorn tears? I genuinely don’t know how it works, but this is the best thing I’ve ever put on my face. I don’t use it every night, but after a thorough cleanse, this is the ultimate weapon to complete your beauty routine. It’s insanely light and absorbs very quickly so you don’t need to wait ages before collapsing into bed. Either apply it right after your cleanse, while your skin is still damp or I like to spray a bit of Evian on my face before application – you can get little aerosol cans from most pharmacies. Also great to have in your handbag during hot days – a lovely misty instant cool off!
The serum also has a complementary product in the form of an eye concentrate, which I also thoroughly recommend. Crows’ feet have a way of sneaking up on you, so get in the habit of caring for the skin around your eyes early. When applying these, you should also practice a bit of face massage, which helps relax your facial muscles and promotes blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
You’ll likely hear me mention this often, but I’m a big believer in skin oils. Ultimately, it’s the best thing you can use for hydration and stopping wrinkles than any moisturiser. For me, the only drawback is that even the oils that absorb quickly still take a while to absorb, which is why I opt for my Shiseido day cream for first thing in the morning, but otherwise – it’s all about the oils.
There’s a little known startup in the US that makes my absolute prized product – Taza Ayurveda. Featuring all-natural ingredients – and I mean all natural, just reading the ingredients list make you feel like you’re at a spa – they produce two oils – one for the face and one for the body. Suggested use is at night, but if I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere first thing or working from home, I like to apply it in the morning. When you apply it, you’ll notice a slightly yellow tint – don’t freak out, it’s just the Himalayan Saffron and it doesn’t stain your hands or your face. It might stain your clothes, however, so be sure to apply carefully over the sink or you know… in the buff. We’re going au naturale afterall!
Something everyone should have is coconut oil. Just make sure to get the pure all-organic stuff. You can cook with it AND you can moisturise with it. It’s one of the simplest and most effective things you can use. I personally find that it’s a little heavy for my face – if you do apply to your face, I recommend a very thin layer and don’t do it every day. I prefer to use it on my body, specifically chest, neck and elbows. I confess I used to have hideous, super dry elbows, but as soon as I started using coconut oil, they could give silk a run for its money. I also like to apply it to my legs after shaving or my feet, post pumice.
Lastly, I do also use Bio-Oil on occasion. I’ll be completely honest, it didn’t help me at all with my stretch marks – in my experience, I found that Bio-Oil is really only effective when the scar is fresh. Once it’s old and settled, this oil really won’t do very much. So actually, puberty might be the better time to start using it for that purpose, but I actually use it in a slightly different way. Firstly, it’s not just wrinkles we need to worry about.
You’ve heard of liver spots, yes? Bio-Oil can help with this, and generally it does leave my skin feeling quite lovely, so I apply it to my chest and neck on occasion. But also – I’m a spot picker. There, I said it. I can seriously go to town on my blemishes and blackheads, especially if I’m stressed out. And this can leave my skin looking pretty nasty, with the consequences of my actions taking a long time to heal.
Enter fresh little scars for bio-oil to deal with. Don’t apply it to broken skin! But once it’s scabbed over, dab just a little bit over the affected area – I find the part I tortured heals so much faster and doesn’t leave behind a scar! When I was a teen and got nasty spots, I’d have some ugly scarring left over for ages afterwards, but with timely use of Bio-Oil, evidence of any spot related indiscretions is quickly gone! Bio-Oil is sadly quite chemically, so I only use it once in a while – stick to Taza and coconut for everyday use.
So there you have it, those are my delightful favourite products and I only need to resupply at a push once a year! Next time you’re in a department store skincare section, see if they’re willing to give you a few testers with a purchase – you can try them out yourself and see what you like. The skincare industry is constantly evolving and improving upon their products, so as and when I discover something new that really works, I’ll be sure to let you all know!