Monday, 11 June 2012

Skincare Gloss-ary

Last night Mr G and I had an argument. No, we weren't debating the European bail out, this topic was much more important. We were arguing over skincare. A few years ago, I put my foot down and told Mr. G that he had to follow a proper skincare routine of my choosing. He pushed back, said no, begged me never to tell anyone, and eventually caved in. I bought him a set of my 'basics', face wash (to replace the Imperial Leather he was using!!!), serum, eye cream and moisturiser. Last night, while rubbing these lotions and potions in, he nonchalantly asked me the difference between a serum and moisturiser. I started babbling about serum being full on antioxidants that penetrate your skin, while moisturiser adds moisture (duh). I could see Mr. G zoning out, picking up his phone and start tapping away. I told myself he was checking football scores, but a few minutes later, he started quoting (not 100 % correctly, I might add) from a beauty blog, not mine. I saw red, told him I would never believe what he told me about about social media (his specialist area) and that I would Google everything he told me about such matters in future. Hmmm, that told him. 

Anyway, this morning I thought I'd write a glossary of skincare products that I use and recommend, explaining when and where to use them, and try and describe what they do. I'm not going to lie, the sole purpose of this post is to make Mr. G feel bad, but hopefully it will be useful as well!

Cleanser: In short, something that cleans your face. These can vary hugely in consistency, from creamy to foaming, oily to balm based, and they all work differently to help different skin types, but with the overriding aim of cleaning the skin. I personally use two types most days. An oily or balm based one to remove make up and deep clean, then a foaming, wash off one to get my skin super clean. 

Exfoliator: I exfoliate regularly, but with super gentle products. My current favourites contain lactic acid and AHAs (review here), which don't scrub your skin. I also use a Clarisonic (review here) which gently exfoliates. If you don't have one, a muslin cloth can get the same effect, gently removing dead cells without causing damage. Traditional scrubs can be overly harsh, and actually damage aras of your skin that need minimal exfoliation, such as your cheeks. Your t-zone is the main area to focus on, around your nose and chin, where you can get a build up of cells. But tread gently, and limit your use if you favour a harsher product to once of twice a week. 

Toner: Not a big part of my routine, as it can be a bit too harsh, but toners are designed to remove any impurities left over after cleansing (great if you only use a oily cleanser), and refresh the skin. I only really use them in the morning, very occasionally if I wake up and my skin seems a bit oily. However, always use an alcohol free variety, not an astringent, which will just strip your skin. Even if you have super greasy skin, it will make the problem worse, as your sebaceous glands will go into over drive, replacing the stripped oil as fast as it can. A gentle, soothing formulation will be much better in the long run!

Serum: I always apply serum under moisturiser, as everyone should. It is a product designed to deliver a big hit of nutrients, antioxidants and other skin goodies as deep as possible. Unlike moisturiser, they have much smaller molecules, and are often water based, so penetrate the upper epidermis quickly, attacking the lower levels of skin with their anti-ageing, youth-boosting ingredients. For this reason, they are not moisturisers, as they do not replenish the upper layers of skin. I religiously use serum at night, as this is when skin does most of its repairing, so serum is most beneficial, but I try and slap in on in the morning too; you can never feed your skin too much in my opinion. There are thousands of serums on the market, all claiming to boost your skin in a plethora of ways, have a try  and see what works for your skin.

Moisturiser: Applied after serum, moisturisers have two roles. Firstly, they protect the skin from moisture loss. Secondly, they act as a barrier to environmental attack, such as pollution and the sun (if they have an SPF). Dryness and environmental damage are two of the biggest causes of premature ageing, and skin looking a bit rubbish. They can also help regulate oil production, address dry and flaky patches (while stopping more appearing), and help to even skin tone and texture. But, unlike serums, this is all done on the upper layers of skin, and they do not get absorbed very quickly, especially if you use a facial oil, which can take a couple of hours to get fully absorbed. Like everything, there are a huge variety of types of moisturiser, cream, gel, oil, day, get my drift. Choose one that works for your skin type, gel tends to be less oily and skins in faster (as it's water based), oils are great for nighttime, as they work slowly but can really boost all skin types. Just make sure your day cream contains SPF, even on rainy days, that sun is doing its best to make your skin old and wrinkly, unless you protect it.

Eye Cream: My favourite step. I apply after moisturiser, and pat it around my eye, avoiding the eye lid, which can get puffy with too much cream. Eye creams are very light moisturisers, normally water based, with serum like properties, delivering ingredients deeply, quickly, with little grease or oil. They can plump, depuff, dewrinkle and perform all manner of other magic. I use a heavier one at night, when it can sink it slowly, and a gel one in the morning, which absorbs instantly, so a I can apply makeup without it smudging. At night I try and do a bit of facial massage, and use the balls of my fingers in  rocking motion, from inner eye to the outer corner, to try and depuff and remove fluid from under my eye. It does work, but takes a bit of time.

Face Masks: Little pots of skincare fun, I love masks, but can struggle to find the time to use them. When I do find the time, I layer them on after exfoliator to give them their best chance of sinking in and doing their best to make my skin better. As a very general overview, clay based masks draw out impurities and mop up excess oil (but don't use the night before an important event, as they can bring out spots. they key to these masks is consistent use, to keep skin clear), creamy ones moisturise, gel ones soothe, and ones that make you tingle, give your skin a radiance boost. I've just discovered eye masks, which are wonderful at depuffing eyes.

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