Skin care. A topic I bang on about incessantly to friends, colleagues and loved ones. It is essential to the whole philosophy of this blog. If you invest in having healthy, glowing skin, everything else becomes so much easier. You can get away with wearing little or no makeup, and what you do wear will sit better and look better on your face.
I have skin that is very fair and prone to sunburn, as well as being both sensitive AND oily and prone to breakouts. When it’s in good condition, I can achieve the full-on porcelain doll, peaches and cream look with very little effort. But when I haven’t been looking after it, look out! Sun damage, pimples, flaky dehydration, oiliness… it’s not fun.
As a teenager, I had bad acne which had to be treated with strong medication. As an adult, my skin has calmed down and I have learned to manage it with professional facials a few times a year, regular DIY facials at home, and a commitment to a great skincare routine every day. (And I do mean every day. I once managed to perform my full pre-cleansing, cleansing, serum, moisturiser, sunscreen routine with bottled water on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere. I do not recommend it, but that’s a story for another day…)
I am often asked for basic skincare advice by my friends (“hang on, the moisturiser comes after the…what’s a serum?”) and happily dole it out. I want everyone to have great skin! For the next few posts, I’m going to go through my whole skincare routine: what I use, and when, and where I go to get things done. This is obviously only an account of what works for me, and you’ll need to do some some trial-and-error to figure out what works for you.
I know this might sound silly (“What? You’re now telling me I have to cleanse before I…cleanse?”) but I am completely sold on the benefits of using a pre-cleansing oil. Put simply, you rub the oil into your dry face and it picks up the top layer of gunk that would otherwise prevent your cleanser from getting right down into your pores and doing its job properly. The cleansing oil takes off makeup, sunscreen, the oil secreted by your skin, any layers of moisturiser/BB/CC cream you’ve built up over the day, as well as general grit and environmental pollutants. After you’ve rubbed the oil in, you wet your hands and massage them over the top, which turns the oil into a lovely milky texture. You can then rinse it off, along with all of the aforementioned gunk. Your skin is now ready for your cleanser to do its thing, unencumbered by (literal!) barriers. I use it every night and, on the odd occasion that I’ve been away for a night and forgotten to bring it with me, get very cranky about the less-than-ideal cleansing treatment my skin is getting.
Bonus! I find that rubbing the oil on my dry skin functions a little bit like a magnifying glass for my fingers. Because of the lubrication of the oil, I can very easily feel what condition my skin is in that day. Dry patches feel rough, and I can really feel when I’m in need of exfoliation. On the other hand, when I’ve recently had a facial, exfoliated or used a resurfacing mask (more on that later) my skin feels plump, smooth and lovely under my fingers.
I am absolutely wedded to Dermalogica’s Pre-cleanse, but there are a lot of cleansing face oils on the market, and all of them (well, all of the good ones!) do pretty much the same job. I hear great things about Bobbi Brown’s Soothing Cleansing Oil and Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil in particular.
Back when I was a student on a limited budget and just venturing into the world of professional skincare to get my stubborn acne in order, my beloved beauty therapist advised me that I didn’t need a fancy branded cleanser. Any gentle cleanser would work well with the Pre-cleanse and moisturiser she had recommended for me. I took her advice and happily used Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, before upgrading to Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel when graduation and a full-time pay check came along. I still love the Special Cleansing Gel and do steal some of my Sydney housemate’s on occasion when I’m in town and have run out or forgotten to bring my own. However, about a year ago I switched to Go-To Skincare’s Properly Clean, and haven’t looked back. Being a long-time fan of the fabulous Zoe Foster-Blake, and having learned a lot from her skincare bible (Ahem! I mean book!), Amazing Face, I was pretty excited when she announced she was launching a line of all-natural skincare products. I have been using Go-To ever since, and this fantastic brand probably deserves a post of its own, but for now, the cleanser.
The one thing I didn’t like about the Special Cleansing Gel was that it contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate, along with a host of other sulfates, acetates and chlorides that a lady doesn’t necessarily want to be putting into her body on a regular basis. I had looked for a more natural alternative, but it can be hard to find something that ticks all of the boxes and actually, you know, still WORKS. When Go-To’s Properly Clean came along, promising to do exactly that, you’d better believe I had my order in fast. I have not been at all disappointed in this delightful cleanser. It smells yummy, does the job properly, has a sturdy lid (very important given how much I travel) and the pretty packaging looks lovely in my shower. It foams beautifully and I find that one squirt cleans my whole face, leaving it feeling soft and, er….properly clean.
Next up: Our heroine navigates the tricky world of (*ominous music*) …. Exfoliation!