When I hit my teens, my first skincare purchase was an electric blue-coloured Clearasil cleanser, which I dabbed onto cotton wool and smeared over my skin morning and night. And then aged 16, moisturiser was added to the mix. About a decade later, I dabbled with several different varieties of the whole ‘cleanse, tone and moisturise’ schtick. Progressing into the world of beauty journalism, my skincare routine became even more complex – trialling and testing different products with varying outcomes. Now at nearly 30, I’ve been around the beauty block so to speak, and think I’ve just about sussed the essential steps you do need for a successful skincare routine …
Remove Your Make-Up Separately
Just like washing a car, you need to get rid of the excess dirt before you can start properly cleaning. Some people like to just cleanse twice, but I’m a fan of make-up wipes as you can really see all the gunk coming off. Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Wipes are devoid of chemical nasties and I’ve found them to be brilliant at removing any last traces of foundation and stubborn mascara.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
Cleansing is probably the most important step in any skincare routine. If you don’t cleanse thoroughly, your skin will look dull and flaky and your moisturiser won’t absorb properly. Finding a cleanser that suits your skin is a matter of trial and error though. Hot cloth cleansers like Liz Earle’s famous Cleanse & Polish seem to work wonders for many people, the cloth does the exfoliation work, while the heat (from soaking the cloth in warm water) opens pores allowing the product to give a really deep clean. A great option for dry skin is Pond’s Cold Cream– a skincare brand which has been around since the 1800s, while using a gentle scrub like Estelle & Thild’s Lily Micro Scrub two to three times a week (more can irritate the skin) removes dead skin cells which can lead to break outs.
Do we really need toner?
This one always divides beauty experts. The official party line is that it refreshes skin, tightens pores (although in my view the first two can be achieved with a splash of cold water) and restores the skin’s natural pH balance after cleansing. I’ve never seen the need to use one and so far my skin hasn’t shown any signs that it needs one. But if you like using it and feel that it’s benefitting your skin, who am I to stop you? I’m rather fond of Suti’s Rose Water Facial Toner to wake my skin up if I’m feeling tired, but for me it’s more of a luxurious treat rather than an essential step.
While moisturisers mostly work on a surface level, a serum absorbs into the lower layers of skin to plump it up and boost elasticity from within. They can be costly, but I saw results instantly with L’Oreal’s Revitalift Repair 10 Instant Serum at a budget-friendly £13.99. There’s also Estee Lauder’s famous Advanced Night Repair which repairs and rejuvenates the skin (you’ve guessed it) overnight. Apply before your moisturiser.
The area of the face which is driest and ages the quickest is around the eyes – hence a good eye cream morning and night is a must. Orico London’s Hi Rise Rejuvenating Eye Elixir is organic, cruelty-free and contains bioactives to keep the area firm and hydrated. It’s great at reducing dark circles too.
These are essential for keeping skin happy and hydrated, while locking in moisture. A great choice for everyday use is Cowshed Quinoa Hydrating Daily Moisturiser which fights harmful free radicals and keeps skin nourished and hydrated – without feeling too greasy or heavy. Massaging the face while you apply moisturiser is good for releasing tension, shifting toxins and toning the facial muscles (a good guide to facial massage can be found here). While a light day cream is good to use first thing in the morning, a decent night cream such as Eucerin Q10 Active Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream tends to be slightly richer and is specifically aimed at restoring the skin while you sleep. I also love a dab of Decleor Neroli Essential Night Balm when it’s particularly cold, as it stops my face becoming parched by central heating come the morning.
You can spend countless amounts on face creams and the latest hi-tech facials but unless you use sunblock, all that ain’t worth a penny. UVA rays, as well as causing cancer, are the main cause of ageing so apply sunblock (such as Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream) after your moisturiser every morning. And you should apply even when it’s not particularly sunny, as those UVAs will still be doing their damage.
Spots will become redder, angrier and inflamed if you try to poke around with them so it’s just a waiting game until they go away. If it’s got a yellow or black head then you can wrap your (clean) index fingers in tissue and gently press either side – don’t dig your nails in. If it refuses to pop, then stop! It’s not ready and you can end up scarring skin. Once you’re done dab a spot of Savlon or another anti-bacterial cream on the area, as the skin will be broken and vulnerable to infection. You can sometimes get painful red lumps under the skin – nothing can be done about these, again they will just swell up in retaliation if you attempt to do anything with them (squeezing them is also very painful!).
If you suffer from bad acne, this is usually due to hormones – make an appointment with a dermatologist or doctor to get a prescription treatment. Drinking lots of water, cutting down on sugar and lots of sleep will help keep skin clear too. And for prominent blackheads on the nose, there are few things more satisfying than a Bioré strip, which after being left on for 10 minutes, slowly lifts out blackheads which you can examine on the strip if you’re so inclined!