Beauty

Skin care: the basics and why should we even bother?

As a skin care professional, I can talk the talk and advise on the ideal but honestly? Do I follow my own advice, every day? Erm… No. Now that’s a scary admission. No, I don’t always walk the walk.

Life happens: I have two young girls who knacker me out, some evenings I just crash, occasionally I’ve had a few and can’t be arsed, so sometimes, the wet wipes come out. But I always, without fail, pay for it: the next day I’ll have greasier skin that just feels like it doesn’t belong to me and the day after that, most likely, I’ll have spots. The unhappy and difficult skin is never worth the laziness but I just know I’ll do it again.

I have many conversations on this topic, both professionally and personally (normally with people who don’t bother cleansing and get away with great looking skin nonetheless) and I’m always asked: do we really need to cleanse our skin? What’s all the fuss about?! Well ok then, you asked…

Men, women, make-up wearers and non-make-up wearers should all be cleansing their skin twice (first cleanse and second cleanse) and doing this twice a day (morning and night). After that, you might use a toner and you should definitely use a moisturiser. Sounds like a right faff doesn’t it? It’s really not, you just manipulate things to work for your lifestyle.

Your skin is the biggest organ you’ve got and it’s the first part of your body that faces the elements, bears the brunt of your lifestyle and shields you from your surroundings. Because of all this, it’s really vulnerable and susceptible to change. The pH of our skin is slightly acidic (which is why it’s also referred to as the acid mantle). This acidity is created by a clever cocktail of sweat and oil (otherwise known as sebum – our natural moisturiser) and is vital as our first line of defence against pathogens like bacteria and viruses. If your skin’s acidity balance is out of whack, your skin’s barrier function doesn’t work as effectively and you might notice a whole bunch of things like tightness, redness, itchiness, excessive greasiness, etc. Having a suitable skincare routine everyday, keeps all of this in check.

Here’s why I make this claim:

Cleansing:

As mentioned before, your skin produces sweat and sebum (plus a whole lot of other lovely secretions throughout the day). These are important but they also act as a kind of glue, so as you go through your day, dust, dirt, pollution, microorganisms, etc. all cling to your skin. If you’re a make-up wearer too, you’ll have a layer of make-up in the mix, along with your usual cocktail of sweat/sebum production and don’t even get me started on our skin cells that are constantly shedding, millions at a time. All of this collecting on the skin, impairs its ability to function as it should, whether you visually notice this or not.

Cleansing lightens the load and keeps your skin breathable. The physical manipulation of cleansing stimulates the blood flow to your skin, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells (so they work better and are healthier). The physical manipulation of cleansing also helps to dislodge dead skin cells and slough them away, revealing healthier, more glowing skin (look out for a future post on exfoliation and how doing it, saves you money!).

You might remember I mentioned earlier that the ideal is to cleanse twice, twice daily. The idea behind this is that your first cleanse dislodges and lifts dirt and make-up away from the skin and that the second cleanse deep cleans the skin and treats your skin type (providing you’re using cleansers suited to your skin type). You should cleanse in the morning to clean your skin from overnight sweat and oil production, plus the amazing amount of dirt our skin picks up just while we’re asleep! And also to give your skin a fresh start for the day. If you’re a make-up wearer then it’ll also give you the best base for an application that’ll last longer. You should cleanse in the evening to (simply put) take the day off.I’m currently using Dermalogica’s Precleanse (RRP £34.35 for 150ml), an oil based cleanser which I massage into the skin and then emulsify with water before rinsing off. I have a combination skin type with an oily t-zone and to start with I didn’t like the idea of an oil based product but I’m now a total covert; there’s nothing this product won’t shift and you can use it over lips and eyes too if you’re wearing stubborn make-up. It works on the principle that like attracts like, therefore and oil based product will attract oily dirt, grease, grime and make-up,so as to effectively remove it from the skin. I love it. I can’t see that I will ever use anything else.

Alternative cleansing oils include:

  • Superdrug Vitamin E Dual Phase Cleansing Oil £2.99 for 150ml
  • bareMinerals ‘Oil Obsessed’ Total Cleansing Oil £22 for 175ml

After Precleanse has dislodged my make-up, etc. I then do a second cleanse with a cleanser that’s suited to my skin type. I’ve recently changed mine and have now bought Dermalogica’s Ultracalming Cleanser (RRP £48 for 500ml). I’ve been suffering with dehydration, redness and excessive greasiness recently and blame it on the change in seasons (plus a few other things), so I thought I’d play it safe, get something really calming and restoring, that will cleanse without stripping my skin and I’m sooo pleased I did, I’ve noticed such a difference already and I now feel comfortable in my own skin! Like what I did there 😄

Alternative cleansers for sensitive and reactive skins include:

  • Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser £9.99 for 170g
  • Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser for dry/sensitive skin types £19.50 for 125ml

Toning

Toners were originally introduced when (back in the day) cleansers and face creams were thick, goopy things that didn’t absorb or remove very easily (anyone remember Pond’s Cold Cream?!). So astringent toner products were introduced to refine the skin and ensure that all traces of previous product were removed. In more recent developments, other toners (aside from astringents) were developed and marketed to do a whole world of things (but mainly to refine pores and remove excess traces of cleanser from the skin); the industry is swimming with them, which can be very confusing. Basically put, choose a decent quality, water-soluble cleanser that removes thoroughly from the skin and there’ll be no need for a toner to remove excess traces of cleanser. In which case, a toner now has the opportunity to just be a  refreshing product that delivers extra nourishment/hydration/whatever your skin needs. Now that little snippet might just save you a few pennies 😉I use a spritz on toner by Dermalogica called Age Smart Antioxidant Hydramist (I know, I’m a Dermalogica junkie! I just love how their products do what it says on the tin. This one’s £36.90 for 150ml) and the spritz action of it feels so lovely and refreshing, plus the bottle controls the product delivery, so it’s harder for you to use too much, making it last longer and it’s therefore more economical!

Alternative spritz on toners include:

  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Face Mist £9.50 for 100ml
  • Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray £22 for 125ml

Moisturising

I know and have spoken with so many people who don’t moisturise… They say they just don’t need to and their skin is fine without. This practically breaks me out in an itch! Not because it’s ‘bad’ to not moisturise or anything like that but because of what it would do to me if I didn’t moisturise. My skin goes crazy and gets angry very quickly if I don’t moisturise! So I’m partly envious of those who don’t, because they clearly don’t experience that discomfort like I do.

Our skin’s natural moisturiser is sebum (oil) and when we cleanse, we remove this. This leaves our skin unbalanced, so we need to put the moisture back in with a moisturiser that’s suited to our skin type. If we don’t (and we leave our skin unbalanced), we risk a number of things but mainly: our skin’s acidity being out of balance and therefore not protecting us like it should (leading to things like tightness, dry/flaky patches, redness, itchiness, excessive oil production, breakout activity, infection, the list goes on…) and also excessive oil production, which is our skin’s way of compensating for the lack of moisture after cleansing.

Choosing the right moisturiser is key, as something too rich won’t absorb and will leave you greasy (your make-up will therefore not last and you’ll feel gross too) but something too light won’t nourish your skin enough, so you’ll be back at square one again. Plus it’s a waste of your money, so it’s good to get what works. Knowing what’s the right moisturiser for your skin type? Well that’s another post for another day…

I hope the above information has been useful in some way. I absolutely love to share information, tips, advice, anything that might help or enlighten. I hate to think of people being misadvised, taken advantage of or wasting their money on things that might not be quite what they need and so I like to post on subjects that let people in on some dermatological and beauty industry know-how.

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Thanks so much for reading xx

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