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Serums – The crème de la crème of performance skincare

Serums – The crème de la crème of performance skincare

 

Serums are the doer, the hard grafter of the skincare family, addressing specific skin concerns. We are lucky to have so many to choose from. Serums treat a plethora of different issues ranging from lack of radiance, pigmentation spots, dehydration, oiliness, large pores and spots, redness, fine lines and they can even exfoliate. Many will tackle more than one issue under the umbrella of ‘anti-ageing’. I’ve said before that I don’t like the term anti-ageing. Surely we want to live until we are old. This is the aim, right?! However, serums are designed to deliver a powerful hit of active ingredients, such as vitamins, peptides and high tech molecules, directly to our skin and can offer all kinds of benefits. This is why you will often find that they are of a higher price point compared to all other skincare steps. They cost more to produce because they contain more active ingredients. Think of your serum as having the biggest job to do. This is where you treat, repair and correct your skin. It’s stimulation for the skin. So if you are able to invest in the right one, your skin will thank you for it.

 

What types of serums are there?

Thankfully there are many kinds available, so you should find one to suit you and you may benefit from more than one. Below are the main ones:

 

Vitamin C

This is an antioxidant powerhouse, a true skincare superhero, that helps protect skin against free radicals which can cause damage. They do this by breaking down collagen and elastin production. Pollution, cigarette smoke and other factors within our everyday environment are nasty culprits but vitamin C fights back. It improves the look and feel of the skin by boosting collagen production and is glow giving . Vitamin C is recognised as an anti-ageing ingredient and I use it every morning without fail.

 

Vitamin A

Retinoids are a form of vitamin A and are the best topical treatment (a product applied to the skin) for long term reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage, along with many other skincare concerns. Some are able to reduce the appearance of pores, improve acne and psoriasis. They work by promoting skin regeneration and can be quite potent. So most need to be introduced gradually into your skincare routine as they can cause flaking and redness but this doesn’t last long. Always follow the instructions on the packaging. Don’t be tempted to slather it on. Less is definitely more to start with. Vitamin A products must always be used in conjunction with a broad spectrum sunscreen as the ingredients can leave the skin more sun sensitive. It usually takes several weeks to see a difference in the skin. It’s an investment and one that needs patience but don’t give up. The results can be incredible. There are many brands now triumphing natural alternatives which is wonderful for consumer choice. They tend not be quite as potent which might appeal to some. I use a Vitamin A serum every other night as part of my evening routine. When I first started I used it twice a week and built it up. I haven’t suffered any adverse effects.

 

 

 

Vitamin E

This is a skincare all-rounder.  It’s found naturally in the skin but when we are exposed to the sun and free radicals it diminishes.  It really helps to retain moisture, is an effective anti-inflammatory, a wound healer and can reduce redness. This is a great option for those with really sensitive skin.

 

Hyaluronic Acid

This might sound scary but if you’ve read my blog about acid toners you’ll know that there is nothing to fear. These products don’t contain harsh acids. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance which is already present in your body. It has the ability to hold more than a thousand times its own weight in water. It will grab onto water in your skin and plump it up as well as brighten the skin tone. So by doing this it helps the skin to look and feel plumper and smoother. It’s widely used in serums as well as creams, foundations, body lotion, lip balms and can be used on any skin type. Perfect for this time of year when skin tends to be drier and more dehydrated than normal. I love it because results can be instant. I use this in the morning when I feel my skin needs it and sometimes in the evening.

 

Peptides

These are collagen boosters that stimulate the skin’s stem cells. When collagen breaks down, as we get older, it releases peptides. By applying a topical peptide it encourages the skin to make new collagen. Copper Peptide is certainly a favourite. It accelerates collagen production and increases the skins natural moisturisation encouraging firmer more hydrated skin. I have a peptide serum which I use a few times a week when needed.

 

Niacinamide

Also known as vitamin B3. It has been shown to work well for acne/blemish prone skin. It works by enhancing and strengthening the barrier function of the epidermis (the outer layers of the skin), therefore protecting against bacterial attack. It works well to soothe redness and irritation so it’s good for rosacea, hyper-pigmentation and fine lines. I keep a Niacinamide serum in my bathroom cabinet at home as I sometimes get a rosacea flare up on one cheek and will use it to calm the area.

 

When should I use a serum?

As a rule - every day. Don’t save them for best.  They are the boss of skincare products so weave them into your routine. As a general rule use Vitamin C in the morning after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product. Then follow with moisturiser and your sunscreen. Vitamin A can be introduced gradually into your evening routine after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product. Then follow with facial oils, night creams and blemish treatments. Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and peptides can be fitted in as and when you need them. Try to always follow with a moisturiser because, even though they contain more active ingredients than a moisturiser, they don’t tend to contain enough moisture. Remember – use your serums every day. Make them your friend. Having said that, you don’t need to have every one of the serums that I’ve mentioned. Start with a vitamin C and use it in the morning. You can then add others to your skincare shelf as and when you want to.

 

 

 

How much serum should I use?

Most serums come with a handy pump dispenser or pipette (dropper) which makes them super easy to use as they dispense the correct amount. Always follow the product instructions but they will generally say one pump or half a pipettes worth. A little goes a long way to cover the face. They are normally light water based formulas which means that they sink into the upper layers of the skin easily and tend not to leave an oily residue. Massage in well to face, neck and décolleté, there is no need to gently pat the product in unless this is specifically stated (but even then I always massage it in).

 

In what order should I apply my serums?

If you are applying more than one serum, for example a vitamin C and a hyaluronic acid always apply the lightest consistency first. Although most serums are quite light, there is a mixture of textures available. They are designed to be layered under a moisturiser and will penetrate into the upper layers so ensure skin is regularly exfoliated with a physical exfoliator or acid toner. This will mean that the product will effectively penetrate rather than sit on the surface with the dry dead skin cells. We want those active ingredients to absorb well.  Your moisturiser then works predominantly on the surface of the skin.

 

Serums according to age:

Here is an outline of what you could use according to your age and the condition that your skin is in. It is a loose guideline as you will ultimately know your skin best.

 

Teens

A vitamin C would be great but a very gentle one. It doesn’t need to be too active or aggressive.

 

20s

An antioxidant serum like vitamin C and niacinamide plus a hyaluronic acid serum. From our mid-twenties our cell turnover slows down, this is the start of the aging process. Skin will find it harder to retain water and oil, this is called trans epidermal water loss, and so Hyaluronic acid will really help to combat this.

 

30s

A good antioxidant serum like Vitamin C and niacinamide. Use daily in the morning. Also a daily dose of a good quality hyaluronic acid to combat trans epidermal water loss which is quite common at this age and can get worse. From our mid 30s we can step things up with the use of peptides and retinoids too. Don’t leave these until you notice lots of signs that your skin is getting older, if you’d prefer to keep them at bay.

 

40s 50s 60s 70s 80s & 90s

A good quality antioxidant serum like Vitamin C. But you may also want to spend money correcting issues i.e. a good quality pigmentation serum, good quality hyaluronic serum, Vitamin A, these should be a staple as the skins cell turnover is very slow at this point and vitamin A will help to speed it up.

 

Perfumery & Company have lots of serums for you to choose from and lots of knowledge and advice to help you select the right one for you. Below is my review of several on offer:

 

The Organic Pharmacy

This London based brand has only recently been stocked in Perfumery & Company. They were the first pharmacy dedicated to all things organic and have been trading for two decades with a factory in West London.  They use organic ingredients whenever possible and are sustainably sourced. Many of their products are vegan and none have been tested on animals. They fuse ‘nature with nurture’. The best of both worlds.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Hyaluronic Acid Serum

For all skin types

This is a vegan 95% organic lightweight, easily absorbed serum that works wonders on parched skin. It delivers a hit of hydration to lock in moisture. This enables skin to appear more plump by reducing the appearance of wrinkles. One full dropper is enough for the face, neck and décolleté every morning and evening. It sinks in easily and doesn’t leave an oily residue.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Stabilised Vitamin C Serum

For all skin types

91% organic and vegan friendly.

This serum is effective in brightening and evening skin tone. It gives a lovely glow. It’s a great choice for anyone who’s noticed a lack of radiance, dull complexion, some pigmentation. Apply one full dropper every morning. The organic Pharmacy suggest every evening too but you may decide to use another serum instead. It’s a lovely light consistency.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Skin Rescue Serum

For dry and sensitised skin, eczema, psoriasis

98% organic

Think of this as your first aid serum for skin that needs calming, soothing, healing and hydrating. It’s a great serum for eczema and psoriasis. Once applied it restores some elasticity to the skin making it more comfortable and adds a layer of protection against external aggressors and the potential of water loss from within the skin. Apply between two to four drops up to one dropper full each morning and evening and whenever it’s needed. A light consistency which doesn’t sit heavy on the skin.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel

Suitable for all skin types

90% organic and vegan friendly

This is a serum that gently exfoliates and brightens the skin to reveal a smoother complexion. It helps to fight blemishes and boosts the radiance of the skin. No need to wash off and no exfoliating particles. A Combination of plant derived acids naturally dissolve dry dead skin cells including glycolic, lactic and citric acids. Super easy to use and a lovely lightweight texture. Can be used once a day but I would start off with a couple of times a week.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Retinol Night Serum

Suitable for all skin types

93% Organic and suitable for vegans

This is The Organic Pharmacy’s retinol offering for targeting signs of skin getting older i.e. fine lines, wrinkles, reducing enlarged pores. It speeds up the renewal of new skin cells. It contains an encapsulated retinol which means that the retinol is protected from degradation, increasing its stability and improving its delivery to the skin. The Organic Pharmacy suggest using one full dropper on the face, neck and décolleté every night to clean skin. I’d say introduce it a couple of evenings a week, then every other evening and then every evening. This serum works well being applied after the Four Acid peel (which aids better penetration of products). All of these have a light texture that is really easy to work with.

 

Clarins Double Serum

Suitable for all skin types

This is without doubt one of Clarins hero products. It has a cult status as a fantastic comprehensive ‘anti-ageing’ product containing twenty one plant extracts. Improved radiance, firmer and plumper skin, smoother fine lines and skin texture and reduced appearance of pores. It has a light fluid texture which sits brilliantly under a moisturiser creating a lovely base for makeup. It can be applied morning and/or evening. The special rotating push button also delivers the correct dosage of serum. I can also be mixed with your foundation for a beautiful dewy look or under a mask for an extra skin boost. I love this product, it’s a great allrounder and can see why it gets so many rave reviews.

 

L’Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil in Serum

Suitable for all skin types

I am a real fan of L’Occitane’s Immortelle range. This is an overnight oil in serum which has a light gel texture, it contains 92% natural origin ingredients. It’s an effective night time treatment to encourage rested skin, improve radiance and reduced signs of tiredness. Some of the ingredients relax muscle tension whilst soothing skin from redness and tightness. The formula stimulates microcirculation and increases collagen production. It doesn’t leave the skin oily or tacky. Apply to cleansed and toned skin and follow with your regular serum and moisturiser.

 

So, make friends with a serum. They won’t let you down. They are a hard worker and your skin will be so thankful that you met.

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Facial oils – The quickest way to get the glow

Facial oils – The quickest way to get the glow

I adore facial oils. They are one of my favourite skincare steps and a game changer when it comes to achieving glowing skin. The humble facial oil is the quickest and simplest way to bring some luminosity to the skin. But if you’ve previously avoided them, put off by applying an ‘oil’ onto your face, I’m here to persuade you to think again. It’s earned its place within the ‘skincare wardrobe’ and it will be a staple that you can pull out time and time again.

 

Facial oils are nutritionally brilliant for the skin. I often refer to them as food for the skin with many containing fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, peptides etc that really pack a punch when combined with a little facial massage. The oils available to us vary a lot from simple seed and nut oils to much more complex blends often containing plant extracts like essential oils.

 

Facial oils are loved by men and women. Whether you have dry, combination, oily skin, sensitivity, concerns about your skin showing signs of getting older, dehydrated skin, blemishes – there is an oil for you.  Different oils have different molecule sizes which means that they can penetrate into the skin at different rates and levels, some deeper than others. They replace oil that the skin has already lost and help to prevent further moisture loss which can happen with any skin type. They are classed as an emollient so they encourage softness and smoothness and are typically water free which means that they have limited preservatives. There are many beautiful blends available and usually smell absolutely divine. With amazing formulas for all skin types and concerns you will find one of these skincare saviours that’s just right for you.


Depending on the type of facial oil you need, here are some of their benefits:

  • Improved radiance and glow
  • Stimulated skin cell renewal
  • Hydration and moisture replenishment
  • Improved elasticity
  • Balanced excess oil production
  • Anti-inflammatory and comforting
  • Reduction in puffiness
  • Prevention of razor burn, soreness and rashes from shaving
  • Increased feelings of relaxation (a secondary benefit of inhaling the aromas of the oil and massaging it into the skin during your evening routine)

 

What can an oil do for different skin types and concerns?

There is an abundant choice of oils for all skin types and concerns. First and foremost it will bring amazing luminosity to the skin but there are so many benefits if you choose one for your specific skin type or concern. Lots will contain active ingredients and these are ingredients that are clinically proven to deliver results and are what makes the oil effective.

 

Oily/Combination

Facial oils for oily and combination skin types will help to balance and regulate the natural oil production whilst leaving the skin soft and supple. They won’t make the skin any oilier. Blemishes and acne do not clear up by starving them of moisture. It’s just not the case. They are more likely to become red, angry and sore as the protective layer of the skin is stripped away. If harsh alcoholic based product are being used in the hope that they will dry out spots, what happens is that moisture is banished. Skin becomes confused and starts producing more oil to compensate, comfort and treat itself. These formulas are often ‘dry oils’ which have a lighter texture making them quicker to absorb. Therefore not leaving the skin feeling oily or blocking pores. Apply as part of your evening routine. They can work wonders!

 

Dry and/or dehydrated skin

Dry skin is usually caused by lack of oil in the skin. You may feel tightness, flakiness, a dull complexion, find that products don’t absorb well and experience some sensitivity. If your skin is dehydrated (this can affect any skin type) there is a lack of water in the skin. Skin can have areas of tightness and areas of oiliness, moisturisers are absorbed really quickly, makeup disappears, goes patchy, or seems like it slides off of your face.  Most of us at one time of another will have dehydrated skin.

 

If your skin is dry and/or dehydrated try to include several ‘oily’ products into your routine to keep the dryness and dehydration at bay. For example a balm cleanser as well as a facial oil. Layer products up by applying a facial oil under your moisturiser during the day.  Even mix a couple of drops with your moisturiser or foundation. Apply again as part of your evening routine. Be aware of how your skin feels as the evening progresses. I know this might sound a bit weird but if you tend to get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet do a quick check of your skin and if it feels parched apply a little more.

 

Sensitive

Skin sensitivity can be due to lifestyle or genetics. A dryer skin type will be more prone to sensitivity because the skins protective barrier is compromised. The sensitivity should be temporary but could take a while to manage. Facial oils for sensitivity will contain ingredients known to soothe and comfort the skin. They will calm the skin down whilst adding vital moisture. Pat onto skin before moisturiser in the morning or evening. A facial oil or a moisturiser specifically designed for sensitive skin are your first port of call if you want to try to address some sensitivity issues.

 

When do I apply a facial oil?

As part of your evening routine:

The optimum time to apply your facial oil is as part of your evening skincare routine.

Cleanse, tone, eye product, serum, oil, moisturiser.  You’ll sometimes find me massaging a facial oil into my skin whilst curled up on the sofa watching TV.  Once a week, usually on a Sunday, I will do a longer massage. I have created a place for my skincare application within my evening routine and it works really well. Whether you do this when you get in from work or just before you go to bed is entirely up to you. But, what I would say is that, you may be feeling too tired if you leave this until bed time. An added bonus is that the oil will help reduce pillow crease marks when you wake in the morning. You could even apply a layer to your face as you lay in the bath relaxing.

 

 

As part of your morning routine:

As a pre shave to lift and soften the hairs in preparation for shaving. Also to shave with as the oil will help the razor to glide over the skin. If you prefer to use a shaving foam apply the facial oil underneath and it will act as a buffer between your skin and the razor, counteracting any drying effects of the blade scaping the skin. Putting an oil on the skin post shave before your aftershave balm/moisturiser is another great use. Either under or over your moisturiser or mixed into your cream when extra hydration is needed. This is a brilliant and effective moisture boost. A couple of drops in your foundation can give a lovely dewy look. But don’t apply over an SPF as this may break down the efficacy of the sunscreen.

 

When you are taking part in sport:

Heat and oils work well together so if you love spin, hot yoga, running, cycling etc an oil can be a great addition to your shelf. They are also great to use in a sauna or steam room too.

 

When flying:

Oils really come into their own when travelling on planes. Flying is extremely dehydrating so having a facial oil in your hand luggage, applying before you board and topping up on the flight will help to keep your skins hydration levels up and keep it soft and supple.

 

When the seasons change:

When the weather starts to get colder and the central heating kicks in our skin suffers. We can notice dryness, dehydration, a change in texture etc. Upping your facial oil application, whether applying it on its own, underneath or over the top of moisturiser or mixed into moisturiser will help to feed the skin with the moisture it’s craving. Having said this I use an oil all year round but I always assess my skincare with each season and look at what’s working and what needs to be switched up.

 

How do I apply a facial oil?

One of the things I like most about facial oils is that they encourage you to massage your skin as you apply it. The texture lends itself to be massaged in which will help them to penetrate effectively.  Through the mere action of your fingers, palms, heels of hands and finger tips applying the oil around your face, neck and décolleté (avoiding the eye area) blood circulation will be boosted and puffiness drained, alongside a myriad of other benefits. Facial massage is your secret weapon delivering visible benefits. Think of it as a workout for the skin.

You don’t need to warm the oil in your hands for it to be absorbed onto your face. Most formulations these days are ready as soon as they leave the bottle. But in the case of oils, distributing the product into your hands means you will be able to evenly apply it onto your face. There is a great opportunity here to inhale the beautiful aromas of the oil by cupping your hands around your nose and mouth. Take a moment to breathe in and out slowly three times before applying to your face and massaging in. They are a delight to use. 

Your skin shouldn’t feel greasy when you’ve applied oil. If it does, you’ve probably applied too much. A couple of drops is all that you will need. Most facial oils come in pipette or pump form so getting the right amount is easy. You want to be able to feel some grip to the skin rather than your hands slipping and sliding all of the  place. It’s a restored fresh healthy glow we are after rather than looking like we have dived into a vat of olive oil! Although I’m sure this has its own benefits but maybe not just before bedtime!

Visit my website www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com where I’ve written about facial massage www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/facial-massage-at-home and my Instagram @nicolameirholistictherapies and Facebook @nicolameirbusiness where you will find information on facial massage techniques. However, don’t get bogged down by thinking that you have to use specific techniques and that everything must be just so. As long as you are using sweeping upward and outward movements you’ll be fine.

 

How should I store them

Keep them out of sunlight and they will last longer. If they come in a box store keep them in this. They will eventually go rancid but you will notice this as they will smell different or off.

 

When should I start using a facial oil?

I’d suggest that from your thirties a facial oil is a must. It’s a quick fix for glowing skin. I’ve used an oil since my mid-twenties and I’m now into my late forties. If you are in your teens and twenties a facial oil is a great product to have on your shelf. Just spend what you can afford. Pop a couple of drops into your moisturiser for convenience. You’ll soon see the difference, especially if your skin feels a bit dry or dehydrated during the colder months, or after a few too many wines, lack of sleep, burning the candle at both ends etc! This isn’t to say that the rest of us don’t experience any of these things but I remember those heady days in my teens and twenties.

 

There’s a huge choice of oils on the market and Perfumery & Company stock a great selection of them. Here are a few picks to help you choose:

 

Wildsmith Skin is a brand relatively new to me. I’ve been using some of their products for the last nine months or so. I haven’t been disappointed. They are a company based in Hampshire with roots firmly in the natural world. Their products use the latest bioactives, botanicals and minerals combined with optimal delivery systems that make a real difference to the skin.

 

Wildsmith Active Super Oil

Suitable for most skin types

Wow, what an oil!! This is a superior vitamin rich, nourishing and repairing overnight facial oil.  It’s definitely an investment but a little goes a long way. It contains seventeen premium plant oils which have been blended to regenerate and rejuvenate the skin and will benefit dehydrated, dry and ageing skin.  It seals in moisture and helps to reinforce the skins barrier whilst powerful antioxidants protect against cell damage from external aggressors.

 

Clarins do facial oils so well. They’ve been formulating facial oils for over sixty years. I have adored them for many many years and I usually have at least one of them on my shelf at any one time. They are plant based oils and offer a wide choice for different skin types and concerns.

Clarins Blue Orchid Treatment Oil

Dehydrated skin

An absolute firm favourite of mine with a beautiful aroma. Blue orchid & patchouli essential oils are efficient at delivering a hit of hydration, softening the skin and brightening the complexion. Love, love, love!

 

Clarins Santal Treatment Oil

Dry skin

Sandalwood, cardamom and lavender essential oils work perfectly on skin that is dry, red and uncomfortable. They soothe the skin and restore suppleness, whilst encouraging luminosity.  

 

Clarins Lotus Treatment Oil

Oily or combination skin

Geranium and rosemary essential oils combined with lotus extract will purity, refine the skins texture, regulate oil production in addition to much needed hydration. This is a great choice for anyone who has oily or combination skin. And remember, it won’t make your skin more oily.

 

Clarins Restoring Treatment Oil

Sensitive skin

A beautiful oil containing clary sage extract to soothe feelings of tightness, dryness etc. It will protect the skin, hydrate, and smooth the skins surface. It can be used to ‘reset’ the skin after a bout of sensitivity. Think of it as a blanket for your face.

 

Nourish London is a British organic skincare company offering scientifically developed organic and vegan products powered by ingredients found in nature. Their products are made in London.

 

Nourish London Radiance Firming Facial Oil

For all skin types

This contains a luxurious blend of omega rich oils including pumpkin seed oil which has been scientifically proven to improve skin tone, boost radiance and protect the skin. French marine algae extract slows the breakdown of collagen and elastin encouraging skin to stay firm and supple. A beautiful light fragrance which is a pleasure to use as part of your evening routine.

 

Neals Yard Remedies were stablished forty years ago. They are a modern apothecary, established as a successful creator of natural and organic health and beauty products. Neals Yard produce oils that are a pleasure to use. I use several doing my client facial and body treatments.

 

Neals Yard Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil

Normal skin (although I would suggest it suitable for most skin types)

This oil has a heavenly fragrance dominated by the infusion of damask. It soothes and revitalises whilst balancing the skins natural moisture levels.

 

Neals Yard Orange Flower Facial Oil

Dry Skin

A skin quenching formula for dryer skin. Nourishing neroli oil combined with a blend of omega and antioxidant rich botanical oils not only feeds the skin with what dry skin needs but also protects the skin from further moisture loss.

 

We all want glowing skin, right? Head to Perfumery & Company (in person or online) and they will be so happy to help.

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The importance of Sun Protection – Do you want to be a grape or a prune?

The importance of Sun Protection – Do you want to be a grape or a prune?

Those teenage days of laying on Brighton beach covered in baby oil are well and truly behind me. I remember my best friend lathering herself in cooking oil and she literally fried! We didn’t know any better. But thankfully things have changed, there is a lot more knowledge about the damaging effects of the sun and so much choice to protect ourselves including specific products for the face, body and scalp. 

Our skin is the largest organ of the body, we wear it every day, so we need to look after it and protect it properly. The sun can be great for us both physically and mentally. I love that feeling of the warm sun on my skin. It’s so uplifting. But unprotected and/or excessive exposure is extremely damaging. It can be the difference between having skin that looks like a plump smooth grape or a dry wrinkly prune (I know which I would prefer) and this is without the added danger of skin cancer.

 So let’s start with the basics – What does SPF stand for?

All sun protection products will display an SPF number. It indicates the products Sun Protection Factor. There are differing SPFs and the number (i.e. 30 or 50) extends the amount of time our skin can normally be exposed to the sun unprotected before burning. So let’s say that we choose a product of SPF15.  This means that once we have applied the product to our skin it will multiply our natural protection (when we don’t apply sunscreen) by fifteen times before we would start to burn. So an SPF15, in theory, would protect us for 150 minutes. However, I say ‘in theory’ because I don’t think it’s wise to rely on this calculation to prevent burning. It can give a false sense of security that we will be fully protected until our SPF time is up. This can be really damaging for our skin. I wouldn’t lay in the sun for two and a half hours straight, let alone when the sun is at its strongest (11am-3pm) using a SPF15. I wouldn’t lay in the sun for this long anyway. It would definitely result in sunburn and most sunscreens won’t remain effective after one and a half to two hours of being applied anyway.

 It is much safer to opt for either SPF30 or SPF50 and reapply regularly. Please don’t go any lower. It’s not worth it. The higher the SPF number, the more protection our skin will get. I always use a factor 50 or 50+ on my face and either a factor 30 or 50 on my body.  As I’ve mentioned, I love that feeling of the sun warming the skin but I try to be so careful and spend more time in the shade these days.

 As a general rule this is how the SPF numbers are categorized:

Low – 6 to 14 (long gone are the days of using Hawaiian Tropic SPF2!)

Medium – 15 to 29

High – 30 to 50

Very High – 50+ (this must provide at least SPF60 in testing)

Very high SPFs are suggested for those with red hair and freckle because burning can happen super quick. High SPFs are for people, like me, with fair skin. A medium SPF would be ok if you are any type of ethnicity where your skin tans easily and rarely burns. But I would suggest using a higher SPF to be safer (just one that doesn’t contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as these can form a visible ghostly look on the skin, although technology is evolving all of the time.

What is a broad spectrum sunscreen?

As well as making sure that we are choosing a high SPF always look to see if the sunscreen is broad spectrum. This means that it will help to protect from UVA and UVB sun rays. Some sunscreens only protect against one.

UVA are the ageing rays (think A for ageing) which penetrate deep into the skin (to the subcutaneous level) destroying its collagen and elastin causing premature ageing, wrinkles, uneven surface, sagging, pigmentation. UVA also penetrates clouds and glass so even on a cloudy day or when sitting by a window (driving in our car) we need protection.

UVB are the burning rays (think B for burning) which cause skin damage. They have the ability to alter the structure of skin cells (damaging their DNA) and can ultimately lead to skin cancer. Skcin, a melanoma and skin cancer charity, recently reported that one in thirty six UK males and one in forty seven females will be diagnosed with melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in their lifetime and it’s one of the biggest killers in the 15-34 age group. They talk a lot about taking steps to prevent this from happening by using a broad spectrum sunscreen and reapplying regularly (even in cloudy weather). They also promote early detection by regularly checking moles for changes, being aware of any new growths and seeking medical advice if we notice anything different. Early detection is crucial.  The World Health Organisation have identified UV light as a proven human carcinogen.

It’s important to note that the sun protection factor (SPF) is usually only relevant to UVB light (burning rays) so it is only giving us half the picture about how much the product is going to protect us. Look out for the letters UVA in a circle on sun products as this proves that it will provide at least a third of its protection against UVA (as well as UVB) and will be broad spectrum.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

So we’ve looked at what the Sun Protection Factor means . Let’s now look at the types of sunscreens available.  There are two main types – Chemical sunscreens and Physical sunscreens (which are sometimes referred to as Mineral or Natural)

Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV light and turn it into heat. When applied they trigger a chemical reaction within the skin which activates their protective mechanism.  It’s usually recommended to apply twenty minutes before going out in the sun as this allows the process to take place. Some commonly used chemical UV filters are octocrylene, helioplex, avobenzone, oxybenzone.

Physical/Mineral sunscreens are sometimes referred to as natural sunscreens, usually for marketing purposes. They work by reflecting the UV light away from the skin. However, it has been recently proven that they only reflect a very small amount and absorb most of it, turning it in to heat within the body like chemical sunscreens. They are effective as soon as they are applied. But because they sit on the skin they need to be reapplied often especially after swimming or exercise etc as they may have been washed or sweated off. Physical sunscreens are usually made with minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Although they will go through a chemical process to become part of the sunscreen so are not necessarily ‘natural’. These minerals are pulverised (mostly invisible to the naked eye) and when applied in a sunscreen they sit on the surface and reflect the UV rays. They can sometimes leave the skin looking ghostly, can feel a bit greasy and may not create the best base for make up if this is being applied after SPF. However, formulas are evolving continuously.

Is there a way of tanning safely?

The crux of the matter is that there is no safe tan.  When our skin tans this is a sign of DNA damage. It’s our body trying to protect itself from the UV light. So a tan is sun damage. Melanocytes are cells that are responsible for creating a pigment called melanin. This is what determines our skin tone. The more melanocytes we have the darker our natural skin colour. When exposed to the sun they produce more melanin to try to protect the skin. But this is actually sun damage. Avoid the hours between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. This is the time that we are most likely to burn. It is possible to still tan in the shade. The sun reflects off of water, floor tiles and sand right onto our skin. But we are less at risk of burning. If tanned skin is what’s wanted, try to opt for self-tans. Many of the formulas are fantastic these days.

How much should I apply and how often should I apply it?

Most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen. We need to be more generous. Slather it on!  Don’t be shy! If we look at our forefinger and middle finger with the knuckles facing down we need to apply a line of facial SPF to each of those fingers from base to tip and that’s how much we need to apply to our face, neck and ears. Depending on how tall we, are a couple of teaspoons is good guidance for each area of our body i.e. each arm, each leg, chest, back. Don’t forget feet and hands too!  Most of us may find we go through SPF quicker than we usually do if we take this advice on board.

Regardless of the factor reapply sunscreen every one and a half to two hours if we are sitting in the sun, more frequent if we are in the water. When applying to the face first thing in the morning it should always be the last cream applied to the skin (after cleansing, toning/acid toners, eye creams, serums, moisturisers/aftershave balms) and before applying any make up.

I have an SPF in my moisturiser/primer/foundation, surely that’s enough?

There are a few reasons why SPF in a moisturiser or other product isn’t the best option for us. Firstly SPF is a combination of powerful ingredients which will overtake any active or expensive ingredients within any other cream.  So if we are buying a pricey ‘anti-ageing’ moisturiser with an SPF it will literally be an expensive SPF moisturiser without the benefits of the other ingredients.

Secondly, an SPF within another product like a moisturiser will often give a false sense of security. We apply it in the morning and that’s it. When in reality we should be applying it throughout the day at intervals. SPF needs to be reapplied and there are some fantastic SPFs available on the market these days that can be sprayed over make up.

Thirdly, chances are that we aren’t as thorough when applying moisturiser as we are when applying a dedicated SPF so our faces won’t be fully covered. We might be a bit more slap dash with our moisturiser compared to applying an SPF.

Another reason is that a moisturiser containing SPF will usually only protect against UVB rays, so we may not burn but we aren’t protected from the UVA rays. These are the rays that have a detrimental effect on our collagen and elastin.

And lastly, moisturisers with an inbuilt SPF will invariably not be water or rub resistant. So if we apply make up over the top of it with a brush or our fingers we will rub some of it off. If it’s been a particularly hot day and you’ve sweated it will be gone!

It's so much better to layer up. Allow our moisturiser to deliver great skin benefits, our SPF to protect our skin in the best way possible and our foundation to provide fabulous colour and coverage. Be aware that if several different products are being applied with differing SPFs the overall SPF rating will not accumulate. We can’t add them up and be triple protected. We will be protected at the level of the highest SPF that we have applied.

What is the best SPF for me?

The best SPF is the one that we are going to use and continue using.  If it’s at all possible, try several before buying and see how they feel on the skin. Find one that you like where the texture works for you and keep on using it. Bear in mind if make up is going to be applied on top. Does it provide a nice base? SPFs have come a long way since the days of being greasy and gloopy. There are many non-oily and non-comedogenic (won’t block pores) formulations available. And at the other end of the scale there are richer creams for those with a dryer skin type.

But what about Vitamin D, don’t we need sun exposure for this?

We need some exposure to the sun to produce Vitamin D.  Without it our bodies are unable to properly absorb calcium and we may be more susceptible to high blood pressure, headaches, low mood, poor quality sleep, osteoporosis, diabetes and arthritis to name a few. Food sources are quite difficult to come by. So exposing our skin to UVB is the primary way of making it in our bodies. The sun’s UVB rays interact with a protein called 7-DHC in the skin, converting it into vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.

It’s been recommended by The British Skin Foundation that we get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure a day to fortify our vitamin D production. These can differ from person to person depending on skin type, weight etc and generally the darker your skin the more exposure you will need. Many people, mainly women, now take daily Vitamin D supplements as they are deficient. So here we have a juxtaposition – the need to protect our skin from the sun’s rays and the need to exposure our skin for vitamin D absorption.  So how can we get vitamin D exposure safely? Clinical studies have shown that sunscreen use doesn’t lead to vitamin D deficiency. In fact, it is the case that people who use sunscreen daily can maintain their vitamin D levels. One explanation for this is that no matter how much sunscreen we apply to our skin, there will always be some of the sun’s rays which will reach the skin. For example, an SPF50 will filter out 98 percent of UVB rays and this is only if we apply it properly. So it is possible to synthesis the vitamin D necessary for our bodies whilst still wearing sunscreen.

Other important considerations

  • Most sun damage is done in the first twenty years of our lives. The appearance of age spots and pigmentation when we’re older is due to sun damage when we were younger. So sun protection needs to become a habit early on in life.
  • Even though the darkest of skin tones have an inbuilt SPF of around 13 and are not quite as vulnerable to UV light they still need protection from UV damage by using an SPF. A minimum of SPF30 is recommended. No one is immune from sun damage unfortunately.
  • If our SPF doesn’t have an expiry date, assume that it will last a year. After that it loses its efficacy. Buy new SPF every year.
  • In Europe SPF label classification is not the law, it’s just for information because it is classed as a cosmetic. In the US SPF classification is required as it’s considered a drug. However, European manufacturers are permitted to use seven proven UVA filters while the US can only use three. This means that European products definitely have the potential to be more effective.
  • A lot of skin damage (in addition to on the face) happen to the back of the neck, tops of the ears and tip of the nose. We mustn’t forget these areas when applying product.
  • If swimming in a chlorinated pool it’s necessary to shower before applying more sunscreen.
  • If acne is a problem opt for an oil free SPF as some can be too rich and block the pores which will only exasperate the situation. But thankfully there is a lot of choice available.
  • Don’t use SPF instead of moisturiser, they do different things. Apply moisturiser first and follow with SPF.
  • Always double cleanse (cleaning our faces twice) at the end of the day if SPF has been applied. SPF is designed to stay put on our skin, to protect it, so it will take more rigorous removal. Balms and oil cleansers are best for this in conjunction with a soft flannel.
  • SPF isn’t just for use abroad, the sun is still very strong in the UK. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the case though. If you go shopping in Boots or a supermarket during the summer months that’s when all of the big sunscreen displays are on sale. Go in during winter and you won’t find them. Most people think that sun protection is only needed during the summer months. But the sun’s rays are always there, even on cloudy days, even in winter. 75% of UV rays can penetrate through windows too.
  • If on holiday and sunbathing, carry a small bottle of micellar water and cotton pads in a beach bag. Instead of putting layer upon layer of SPF on which can end up blocking pores, trapping sweat and dirt (which can cause blemishes), remove with the micellar soaked cotton pads and apply a fresh layer. Keep pre soaked pads in a small lunch box for extra convenience.
  • Sunscreens work best on exfoliated skin. Otherwise we are just sealing the SPF to dead skin cells which can rub off more easily.
  • Avoid using perfume on top of SPF as it will break down its efficacy stopping it from working as well, plus it can cause pigmentation and sensitivity.
  • Avoid using retinoids, peels, glycolic acids when in the sun for long periods (I wouldn’t recommend being in the sun for long periods anyway) as skin will be a bit more vulnerable to sun damage and sensitivity.
  • Aftersun is a must. Apply after a shower to dry or damp skin once chlorine, sunscreen, sweat, sea salt etc has been thoroughly washed off.
  • If you are a teenager or in your early 20s please don’t think that SPF is decades away. It really isn’t. Most sun damage occurs before your 21st birthday but it won’t show up for a while. Now is the time to start taking ownership for protecting your skin.
  • Don’t forget hands. When we protect our faces (and the rest of our bodies) we should be protecting our hands too. If pigmentation is already a concern, this may get darker when exposed to the sun. Slather SPF on them during the day and cover in a hand cream containing a proven ingredient that works on signs of ageing i.e. retinol, AHAs, to treat any damage that has already been done.

I really hope this has given an insight into the world of SPFs and shed some light on what is, sometimes, a confusing area of skin and body care.

 Let’s take a look at a selection of great Sun Protection products available at Perfumery & Company. They stock, among others, two excellent sun care ranges – Clarins and Lancaster.

Clarins Sun Care

Clarins have a comprehensive range of sun care. Here are a few that I have tested and they are all broad spectrum:

 

For the face

Clarins SPF50+ Very High Protection UVA & UVB Dry Touch Sun Care Cream for the Face

This gives the highest level of sun protection. It contains a complex of six plant extracts to work on signs of skin getting older i.e. fine lines and age spots/pigmentation and dehydration which can all be side effects of sun exposure. Clarins state this is a cream suitable for all skin types. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it for oily skin types because, even though it’s a dry touch cream, it seems too rich for oily skin and may sit uncomfortably on the surface. If applying makeup over the top I would suggest leaving a few minutes before doing so in order for the cream to sink in. This will then create a lovely base for foundation to sit on.

Clarins also have the above cream in a SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB Dry Touch Sun Care Cream for the Face.  If your skin is naturally darker and doesn’t burn easily, this is another option to consider. But if in doubt opt for the factor 50+.

For the Body

Clarins SPF 50 High Protection UVA & UVB Sun Care Gel-to-Oil for Body

This can be applied to wet or dry skin. The gel to oil texture makes it easy to massage in. It’s  a great hydrating body product suitable for all skin types.  I would suggest applying to either dry or damp skin rather than wet skin as I don’t think it would massage in as easily. This body care product contains the six plant extracts to help prevent visible signs of ageing and dehydration.

Clarins Soothing After Sun Balm for Face and Body

Enriched with anti-oxidants to prolong your tan.

This is a light cream balm texture which is easily absorbed into the skin.  Great for all skin types.  Sunflower extract helps to soothe skin if it is sore from too much sun exposure. Aloe vera, watermelon and shea butter hydrate and soften the skin. It acts as a great body moisturiser for all skin types. If you have a tan that you are wanting to maintain this cream will prolong it with the help of safflower extract.

Lancaster Sun Care

Lancaster is synonymous with excellent sun care. Here are some that I tested and they are all broad spectrum:

For the face

Lancaster Sun Beauty Sublime Tan SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Velvet Cream for face

All of the Lancaster products featured here have a patented Full Light technology which not only protects from UVA and UVB rays but also visible light and infrared light. Lancaster state that this cream is designed for medium to dark skins. I think this is because it is SPF30 rather than SPF50. It contains a special complex called Sunsicalm which soothes skin suffering from any sun sensitivity. The texture is light and easily absorbed which would provide a great base for make up for most skin types, except maybe very dry skin.

For the body

Lancaster Sun Sensitive SPF50 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Oil Free Milk for body

Specifically formulated for sensitive skin that often turns red and feels uncomfortable. But it’s suitable for all skin types. The texture is a light weight oil free milk which leaves a silky matt finish to the skin once it’s dried.

 Lancaster Sun Sport SPF50 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Cooling Invisible Mist

This has been specifically formulated to be applied to wet skin but isn’t designed for use on the face. Water and sweat resistant (no sunscreen is waterproof), this is a convenient product aimed at those who are very active.  I would say that it should still be applied frequently, especially after swimming and other activities. It is a cooling mist which dries quickly but it’s very important to apply it thoroughly. As it’s a mist, you can’t always see where it has been applied to the skin so ensure it is massaged in properly.

Lancaster Sun Beauty Sublime Tan SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Velvet Milk for body

Lancaster suggest this is ideal for medium to dark skin, skin that tans gradually and sometimes burns.  Again, I think this is due to the fact that it is SPF 30 instead of SPF 50. A richer cream texture which is moisturising and hydrating. Perfect for any skin type including dryer skins.

Lancaster Golden Tan Maximizer After Sun Lotion

This is an after sun moisturiser for the face and body. It’s a light velvety lotion texture which hydrates and soothes the skin. If you have a tan that you would like to prolong this product will help to do this for up to one month. I assume that this is due to the fact that new skin cells production generally take around 28 days to replenish. Suitable for all skin types.

The guys at Perfumery and Company are on hand to personally advice you and answer any questions you may have. If you don’t live close enough to pop in, give them a call or check out their website.

But remember, don’t let any sun screen give you a false sense of security. Don’t stay out in the sun for prolonged periods even with sun cream on. They are designed for shorter periods. And anyway, who wants to look like a prune when we can look like a grape!

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Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

 

During my last two blogs I’ve written in depth about moisturisers. Feel free to take a read if this skincare staple is new to you. They are an essential part of looking after your skin as they have many benefits, including:

 

  • Help to protect the skins natural barrier.
  • Keep it hydrated by maintaining our natural moisturising factors.
  • Prevent moisture loss from our skin.
  • Soothe irritated skin.
  • Fight against free radical damage which can cause fine lines, a break down in collagen, blemishes and pigmentation.
  • Smoothing the skin’s surface.
  • Providing a perfect base for make up to be applied so that it stays put all day.
  • All of which can improve the appearance and feel of our skin.

 

Many brands not only produce day time moisturisers for different skin types but also evening moisturisers.  More often than not they are called night creams and they are designed to be used at the end of our evening skincare routine before going to bed.  I’ve mentioned before about how I’m a fan of starting my evening routine a couple of hours before going to bed. This means that through cleansing my face I’m getting rid of any make up, SPF (sun cream), dirt, pollution, sweat etc before treating my skin with other products. I usually, but not always, finish with a moisturiser. As I do all of this way before my bedtime the products have a chance to penetrate into the skin so that my face doesn’t stick to my pillow! It also means that by the time I go to bed I can feel if my skin needs any more hydration, in which case I can pop a little more product on.

 

Our skin is repairing all the time, the difference at night is that it isn’t being hit left, right and centre by dirt, sunlight, environmental aggressors etc. and having to protect us. Therefore it can go into full repair and regeneration mode by increasing blood flow and cell turnover, rebuilding collagen and repairing damage from UV sun exposure.

 

Does everyone need a night cream?

 

I’ve said before that we generally don’t need lots of moisturisers. There are other steps in our skincare routine that warrant a selection of products i.e. toners/acid toners, serums etc. We should choose a moisturiser that is suited to our skin type, so even those with an oily skin can benefit from the right moisturiser and quite often this can be used day and night.  However, there are instances where a night cream would work really well and be a valuable part of our evening routine. Both day and night creams are purposely formulated differently.  In short, day creams protect the skin whilst night creams work hard to repair and regenerate and you’ll normally find that day creams are generally lighter in texture than night creams, which tend to be richer.

 If skin is particularly dry, dehydrated, uneven in texture, uncomfortable or there are real concerns about signs of ageing then a night cream can be a great addition. It’s important to note that as we get older our skin’s ability to retain moisture reduces, so our need for moisture increases. It can also help induce repair by amplifying cell turnover. Be guided, in the first instance, by how the night cream feels on the skin, if it just sits on the surface it is probably too rich and may clog pores which can result in blackheads and other blemishes. It should sink in and leave the skin feeling comfortable. Don’t forget to apply cream to the neck and cleavage (décolleté) area too. There’s no point in having a lovely looking face, but a neck and chest area that doesn’t match. Any excess product can be massaged into the back of the hands. Waste not want not I say!! However don’t apply a thick moisturiser around the eye area as this can result in puffiness which is not a look most of us are aiming for when we wake up in the morning! A good cream can also reduce that droopy creased lines look we might get after several hours in bed (a silk pillow case can also reduce this from happening). Bear in mind that if you exfoliate your skin regularly any product that is subsequently applied will sink in and work far more effectively than if you don’t. You’ll definitely get more for your money as you won’t need to use as much product each night.

If you are really not sure if your skin would benefit from a specific night cream you can do a little experiment. Take some time to establish your skin’s night time needs. Cleanse your face in the evening and go to bed bare-faced i.e. don’t apply anything else. When you wake up, go straight to a mirror in good light and look at your face. Do you have any dry patches, does your skin feel sensitive, is your complexion a little dull, do you look a bit deflated or drained? If this is the case you may benefit from something which boosts cell turnover, plumps or really feeds the skin with nourishment and much needed moisture. If your skin feels oily and congested on waking you may benefit for something skin balancing. Don’t think that night creams are only for night time use either. It is possible that, if your skin is particularly stressed, sensitive, parched, these technical formulas can deliver an intensive hit of nutrients whenever needed. The important thing to remember is that our skin can go through cycles and changes and therefore it’s advantageous to have a couple of options available depending on what your skin is like, what season we are in, your hormones, stress levels etc.

Here are a few night cream options available at Perfumery and Company 

Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream

Suitable for all skin types (I think this may not be enough for really dry skin though)

This cream is specifically targeted for those of us who are experiencing hormonal changes as we get older. I would say that if your concern is loss of firmness, pigmentation spots and dehydration give this cream a go. Montpellier Rock-rose works to reduce the appearance of dark pigmentation spots and evens out the skin tone. Harungana extract, also known as a healing tree in Madagascar, replenishes the skin to prevent it from sagging and has been proven to increase firmness. Ginkgo Biloba brightens the skin giving it a rosy glow. Shea Butter is such a fantastic ingredient as it provides a lasting hit of hydration and nourishment.

I certainly noticed my skin glowing on application and the next morning. It is a beautiful lightweight cream with a delicate floral fragrance. It’s been a delight to apply to my face, neck and décolleté at night time.

Clarins Multi-Active Nuit – Targets fine lines, revitalising night cream

Suitable for normal to dry skin (I think this is fair, it would be too heavy for an oily skin type)

If you are concerned about noticing the first signs of your skin changing and getting older i.e. fine lines and lack of radiance perhaps due to tiredness I would suggest this cream. Golden Poppy extract revitalises the skin (which is great if you’ve not had a lot of sleep!) Organic teasel extract promotes the production of energising molecules which help fight against free radicals, therefore helping to protect the skin and boost glow. You will also get a lovely dose of hydration to maintain skin health.

I know fragrance isn’t an important factor in skincare to everyone but I like products to smell nice, unless of course they are fragrance free and I use plenty of these too. This cream has such a comforting soothing fragrance that reminds me of suntan lotion and being at the beach. This is slightly richer in texture than the Super Restorative Night Cream but sinks in to the skin effectively.

 Clarins Extra-Firming Nuit – Wrinkle control, regenerating night cream

Suitable for all skin types

This cream has been designed for skin which is experiencing a loss of firmness and the appearance of wrinkles.  It will also keep hydration levels high. Kangaroo flower plumps and helps to firm the skin whilst Moonstone Hydrated Silica encourages the regeneration of skin cells for a healthy radiant complexion. It’s a lightweight cream that is easily worked into the skin so should work well with oily/combination skin types and has a delicate fresh woody fragrance. Apply as your last skincare step before bed.

If you are local to Perfumery and Company pop in to check out their night creams or browse through their website (Clarins can be ordered on the phone).

 N x

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Which moisturiser is right for your skin type? Part 2 Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

Which moisturiser is right for your skin type? Part 2  Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

 

Following on from my last blog – ‘Moisturisers – Your protective skincare shield Part 1’ here is Part 2 – ‘Which moisturiser is right for you?’ If you are looking for a new moisturiser or want to start using one for the first time read on. Here are my personal reviews of some of the moisturisers available at Perfumery & Company.

 

Wildsmith Skin

Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream

I would suggest for dry/mature skin/concerns about skin showing signs of ageing

 

I love every Wildsmith Skin product I’ve tried. They are really cleverly constructed and based on science. Copper is one of the body’s natural trace elements.  Copper Peptides are a copper element with three amino acids. These are proteins which help to moisturise, regenerate and stimulate cell renewal, basically working to produce changes in the skins appearance. They occur naturally within the skin but also feature in this cream.

 

You’ll also find amazing free radical fighters within the formula. These are so important in protecting skin against damage from external factors such as pollutants. These are unstable molecules in search of other atoms or molecules that they can hook onto in order to make them stable again. They can wreak havoc with our skin in their quest to find other atoms and electrons to steal. The best analogy I can think of to illustrate this is to envisage what happens when you leave a slice of avocado or apple out on your kitchen work top. It’s not long before they turn brown.  This is deterioration caused by free radicals in the atmosphere.  The deterioration or damage that we can experience with our skin from free radicals are decreased elasticity and collagen, a reduction in hyaluronic acid and an increase in fine lines and wrinkles.

 

So this cream contains a mixture of Peptides, free radical fighters (also called antioxidants) and amino acids to encourage an increase in skin cell metabolism, stimulating collagen production, neutralising free radicals, providing anti-inflammatory and tissue repair properties.

 

This cream has a light but substantial texture meaning that it melts into the skin easily. It has a subtle unisex fragrance. Perfect for day and night time application after cleansing/serums/oils/post shave etc.

 

L’Occitane En Provence

Immortelle Divine Cream

I would suggest for dry/mature skin/concerns about fine lines, lack of firmness or radiance

 

This is part of L’Occitane’s ultimate skincare range designed to tackle signs of ageing. It’s based on the essential oil of Immortelle which is an amazing active ingredient. It’s a flower which grows wild on shrubland in Corsica. Interestingly it never fades or wilts, even after it has been picked. This cream is powered by two Immortelle extracts which are blended together. The first is an Immortelle Super Extract which is a gentle 100% natural alternative to Retinol. (Retinol is a really effective ingredient that works on signs of ageing). This Super Extract has the ability to increase the skin’s density and boost collagen to encourage firmer and plumper skin. The second extract is the Immortelle Essential Oil which is a natural antioxidant, as powerful as vitamin E, to protect the skin against those nasty free radical aggressors such as pollution.

 

It has a rich velvety texture which feels very luxurious. It will bring immediate comfort to the skin whilst feeding it with hydration and boosting radiance. The fragrance is indeed ‘Divine’ and instantly transports you to those sunny hillsides. It’s not an overly feminine fragrance so would appeal to most people. Apply morning and/or evening onto cleansed skin, after serums, oils, shaving etc. It’s a real pleasure to use.

 

Clarins

Hydra-Essentiel

I would suggest for normal, combination, oily, skin experiencing some sensitivity

 

This is a non-oily cooling gel which works on hydration. It’s possible to have oily or combination skin that is dehydrated. Sudden changes in temperature, central heating, air conditioning and pollution can contribute to dehydration. This might look like dry patches on the skin, fine lines or sensitivity.

 

What I love about this gel is that it seems really well suited to normal and combination skin types (that are perhaps normal on cheeks and more oily on forehead, nose and chin). It  would suit oily skin too as it’s a non-oily gel formula as opposed to a lotion or a cream. It has a fantastic cooling effect on the skin which soothes and leaves it looking matt whilst still keeping it hydrated. It has a light fragrance.

 

Use this in the morning on cleansed skin after applying serums/oils/post shave. It could also be used in the evening if your skin is oily or combination. If your skin is normal (not many people have normal skin with no issues) you may need something richer in the evening.

 

Nourish London

Argan Skin Renew Moisturiser

I would suggest for all skin types (including oily)/concerns with signs of ageing and dehydration

 

This moisturiser contains omega rich Argan oil, antioxidant Vitamin E and tripeptides. It  works to increase hydration levels, essential for healthy skin that looks and feels great, plus it smooths and firms.  The mix of essential oils of Frankincense, Myrrh, Borage and Rose of Jericho help to boost skin cell turnover, hydrate and strengthen the skin cells therefore reducing fine lines.

 

It has a rich lotion texture, so lighter than a cream but still quite substantial. Suitable for any skin type. This is a great all-rounder with a very light unisex fragrance. Apply morning and evening onto cleansed skin, after your oil, serum or after shaving.

 

 

Clarins

Re-Boost Refreshing Hydrating Cream

I would suggest for normal/combination/slightly dry/dehydrated skin

 

The main aim of this cream is to provide your skin with a hit of hydration which lasts all day. It has a powerful mix of ingredients to re-energise the skin which include fig extract, organic goji berry extract and shea butter. They not only boost the skins hydration levels but increase glow too.

 

It’s a cooling, lightweight gel/cream consistency which glides onto the skin easily. It has a light fresh fragrance and leaves the skin with a matt finish. Clarins suggest this for dry skin but I don’t think it is enough for a dryer skin type. It would be great as a morning moisturiser/following a morning shave to give glow to the skin due to its cooling effect and will help to soothe redness and irritations. But it won’t leave the skin dewy. Most moisturisers can be used morning and evening but I would say that this one is particularly suited to morning unless you have combination or oily skin when you could use it twice a day.

 

Neals Yard Remedies

Rejuvenating Frankincense Nourishing Cream

I would suggest for dry and very dry skin types

 

The ingredients within this moisturiser are perfect for nourishing and calming the skin. Frankincense is a wonderful rejuvenator encouraging the skin to look less tired, whilst Myrrh essential oil nourishes and feeds the skin with what it needs to feel hydrated.

 

This is a very rich thick cream which will help to bring comfort to dry and very dry skin types. It has a very light fragrance, great for soothing dry skin conditions and razer burn. This could be used morning and/or evening after cleansing, serums, oils, shaving. Depending on how dry your skin is, or perhaps just as a night cream.

 

L’Occitane en Provence

Immortelle Precious Cream

I would suggest for normal, dry and very dry skin types, concerned about the first signs of skin getting older

 

This is one of my personal favourites. It’s a great allrounder. Like the L’Occitane Divine Cream, this Precious Cream is made with the amazing oil from the Immortelle flower, known for its ability to fight visible signs of ageing. It also includes a Hyaluronic Acid complex (which is twice as powerful as standard hyaluronic Acid). This helps the skin cells to renew at a quicker rate, retain water, keep tissues well hydrated, moist and plump.  Free radical fighters (antioxidants) work against daily aggressors that try to attack skin cells causing damage.  It gives a lovely glow to the skin, a brighter complexion. L’Occitane say that the combination of Immortelle and their dynamic hyaluronic Acid complex powers up your skins natural renewal in just ten days (as opposed to around twenty eight days).

 

It’s a velvety cream texture. Really feels like it is feeding the skin with hydration to soften and plump it’s appearance. It has such a beautiful light floral fragrance. I would say that this cream is a wonderful option if you are concerned about the first signs of ageing or if you have normal or dry skin. You could opt for the Divine Cream if you have visible signs that your skin is getting older. Use in the morning and/or evening after cleansing/serums/oils/post shaving etc.

 

Clarins

Super Restorative Day Cream

I would suggest for dry and very dry skin types, those that have noticed hormonal changes in their skin

 

A vitamin C derivative encourages a brighter more even complexion. Whilst Hyaluronic acid, shea butter and mango butter provide a powerful hit of moisture and comfort. As we get older and as our hormones change, the many components within our skin change too. Clarins have included an organic extract of Harungana, which is known as the ‘healing tree’ in Madagascar. They have found that it has the ability to reactivate fibroblast cells within our skin which in turn stimulates collagen fibre production.

 

Clarins recommend this cream for women over fifty but I would say it can be used by anyone if you are experiencing pigmentation, fine lines, dehydration and they are causing concern. I personally really like this cream. It’s rich and substantial without sitting on the surface of the skin. It feels like it is nourishing the skin and leaves a lovely glow and sheen with a beautiful light fragrance. Use morning and/or evening on cleansed skin after serums, oils, post shave.

 

If you are lucky enough to live close to Perfumery & Company you can pop in and get some expert advice about the best products for you. Aside from anything else it’s the most inviting store and great to browse around and treat yourself. However, if you can’t just pop in as you live too far away, fear not! It’s super easy to order on their website and have your products delivered to your door. The blog is also a great point of reference if you want to learn more about your skin, skincare and some of the products which have been personally selected for a prestigious place on the shelves in store. Looking after our skin is part of looking after ourselves as a whole. Think of applying your moisturiser as a real act of self-care, take time to massage it into your skin, breathe in the beautiful fragrance and take time for yourself. A still point in your busy day.

 

N x

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Our skin is a Super Hero! Why is an exfoliator the perfect multi-tasking Side Kick?

Our skin is a Super Hero!  Why is an exfoliator the perfect multi-tasking Side Kick?

Our skin is a Super Hero

Why is an exfoliator the perfect multi-tasking Side Kick?

Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

Fact. We all have dry dead skin cells on the surface of our skin. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? But it’s completely natural.  This layer of cells is called the stratum corneum, also known as the horny layer (don’t laugh!). It can cause skin to look and feel dry, give an uneven texture, create dehydration, dullness and cause problems with shaving, to name just a few. How can we deal with this so that we don’t end up with skin that looks like an elephants backside?  By exfoliating. This is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin using a physical or no physical exfoliator. Skin will instantly feel more comfortable, smoother, brighter and more radiant. If done before shaving it will help to lift the hairs and provide a smoother and more comfortable shave. But get this! It will also help subsequently applied products to penetrate more effectively. Therefore you won’t need to use as much of them. Let’s think about this, if we don’t exfoliate, we are just applying product to the stratum corneum, and a lot of it will sit on the surface. So our exfoliator is multi-talented.

In order to fully understand how exfoliation works, and skincare in general, let’s look at how the skin functions. It’s an amazing organ, a super hero in fact. It’s the largest organ of the body. So we need to look after it as we would any other organ. It consists of 80% water and if we were to spread it out it would measure around 1.8 square metres. As humans we shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. But let’s not think about that fact too much! We always have that layer of dry dead skin cells on the surface. So how does this happen? Cells are constantly being made in our ‘skin cell factory’. The journey from cell birth to death takes approximately twenty eight days although the rate at which they are produced slows down as we get older. Depressingly, this is anything from about the age of twenty five.  Or skin becomes lazy and therefore needs a helping hand.

The Epidermis

This is the outer most layer, it’s what we see and is about 0.1mm thick. It forms a protective waterproof barrier over the whole body including the face to protect against toxins, bacteria and fluid loss. It doesn’t contain any blood vessels but it’s where the skins pigment and proteins are. There is a thin layer of sweat, water, lipids and sebum (oil), like an emulsion, known as the Hydrolipidic Film. This is a natural protective layer and the secretions help to keep the skin supple. This is where you’ll find the Stratum Corneum (that horny layer) of dead skin cells. Our skin cell factory is here too, in the lowest layer which is called the Basal layer.  These basal cells start their journey and make their way up to the surface over a period of around twenty eight days. This is the timeline for a young healthy person. It takes longer when we get older or if we smoke, have exposure to the sun, a bad diet etc. So shedding often needs help through exfoliation to smooth and freshen the skin. Skincare products will often say ‘See results in twenty eight days/one month’ and this is working on the duration of the skin cell journey. However, if we are older and cell turnover slows down, skincare products can take longer to have a positive effect.

The Dermis

This is the middle layer which is thicker and contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, sweat and oil glands. This is where our pores start and they are able to push sweat, oil and hair to the surface. In addition to this you will find collagen and elastin (two types of protein).  These give strength to the skin as they are a supportive mass of connective tissue. Collagen gives skin it’s shape, support and fullness and elastin gives skin its flexibility (its ability to ping back into shape) and its resilience. Fibroblasts, which are the cells that make these proteins ,are enveloped in hyaluronic acid which is a lipid great at holding water and giving skin its bounce and texture. As we get older collagen and elastin deplete which leads to fine lines, wrinkles, loss of volume and dry skin.

Subcutaneous layer (Fatty tissue)

This is where we find fat and tissue to protect the muscles and internal organs. It also helps to regular our body temperature. Connective tissue is looser here and we may start to notice cellulite appearing in other areas of the body. Collagen makes up about 70% of the building blocks of our skin but its renewal depletes by 1% each year after reaching about the age of twenty five years. If we look past how our skin makes us look, it has several functions which are pretty amazing:

Protection

Forming some protection from sun damage by producing melanin. It produces this as a way of protecting the skin from the suns UV rays. It’s what gives the skin its colour.

Excretion

We produce sweat which in turn cools the skin. Sweat is a great vehicle for removing waste substances from the body such as salt and ammonia.

Absorption

It has the ability to absorb certain substances i.e. oxygen, skincare products, medical ointments etc.

Water resistant

It acts as a water resistant barrier to stop essential nutrients from leaking out.

Regulates body temperature

Blood vessels which dilate and constrict (open and close) control heat. When we sweat, it evaporates on the skin which helps to cool us down.

Barrier

It acts as a shield between the outside world  and our insides from harmful toxins.

Produces Vitamin D

It converts vitamin D for healthy bones and organs.

Sensation

There are lots of nerve endings that react to touch, pressure, tissue injury, heat, cold.

Our skin can also affect our emotions. We feel more confident and happy when our skin is looking and feeling good.

So, our skin really is a super hero.

Let’s talk now about exfoliators. We don’t need to get the sandpaper out! There are much kinder ways to deal with the natural build-up of our dry dead skin cells as well as boosting cell turnover and radiance, creating a smoother canvas for subsequently applied products and make up.

There are two main types of exfoliators:

Physical/mechanical exfoliators are products that requires manual scrubbing to remove dry dead skin cells. It’s this texture which buffs the skins surface. For example a facial scrub (with particles) or the use of a muslin cloth for the face, body scrubs, body brushes and loofahs. It’s really important not to go hell for leather scrubbing away because this could irritate the skin. Go gently. Skin will still be left smooth and fresh. Always follow up with an oil or serum, rich in hydrating ingredients, to minimise irritation and lock in moisture.

Non-physical exfoliators (sometimes called Chemical exfoliators – don’t let the name put you off) do not contain particles. They generally contain acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids with enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells, even out the surface of the skin and pigmentation. These usually come in the form of liquids, pre-soaked pads and gels. Like physical exfoliators it’s still important to follow up with an oil or serum to keep the skin comfortable and hydrated. I’ve written lots about Acids, what they are and where they derive from, in my previous blog about toners. If you haven’t read it, take a look.  I hope it’s really informative.

As a side note we should never use a scrub designed for the body on the face. They are generally harsher (to deal with the more robust skin on the rest of our body) and may tear delicate facial tissue.

How often should I exfoliate?

This will depend on what your skin is like – your skin type. Most people would be fine using a physical exfoliator once or twice a week. Non-physical exfoliators can be used more often. Thicker and oilier skin could exfoliate up to about four times a week. But I would say that if you are new to this, start slowly. If you struggle with sore skin after shaving or usually end up with an uneven shave, exfoliating can really help to lift the hairs making shaving more pleasant with great results.

I’ve handpicked a couple of fantastic scrubs that are stocked at Perfumery & Co. If you haven’t visited this beautiful store before, the guys are fantastic. If you don’t live close by you can place an order on their website.

Clarins Comfort Scrub

This scrub does what it says on the tin. It comforts the skin. It’s a nourishing gel in oil scrub with sugar microcrystals made from beetroot to smooth and bring comfort to dry and sensitive skin. Mango butter, which is rich in essential fatty acids, nourishes the skin helping it to feel hydrated and comfortable. However, I think it would be fine for all skin types. The particles are small enough not to cause any irritation.

Use after cleansing the face. Mixed with water it transforms into a milky consistency. Gently massage in circular motions before thoroughly rinsing off.

 Neal’s Yard Remedies Honey & Orange Facial Scrub

This smells good enough to eat! It’s a best seller for Neal’s Yard. 

Organic rice powder smooths the skin, kaolin clay purifies and absorbs oil.

It’s suitable for all skin types. Although I would say especially for anyone who loves a larger particle to exfoliate with. Oilier skins who want to purify and absorb oil. Also a fantastic pre-shave to encourage the hairs to lift making shaving easier and more comfortable. 

Use after cleansing the face. Mix it with a small amount of water in the palm of your hand to form a paste before gently massaging it on your face and neck. Avoid the eye area as our skin is thinner here and therefore more delicate. Massage in circular motions and rinse thoroughly. I’d recommend using this once a week.

 This has been a bit of a biology lesson. I hope you’ve found it informative and can see the benefit of using an exfoliator.

 N x

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Why toner could be the secret skincare weapon you didn't know you needed!

Why toner could be the secret skincare weapon you didn't know you needed!

 

Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

To tone or not to tone? That is the question!

 If you’ve ditched toning in the past I’m here to ask you to give it a second chance. It may have behaved badly in the past but it’s turned over a new leaf.  I think you’d actually be surprised now by its positive traits. You’d also be forgiven if you are somebody who has never given it a chance in the first place. Toners have been very misunderstood.

 

Historically they have been the second step in any skincare routine after cleansing, usually in the form of a liquid poured onto a cotton pad and swept over the face and neck. However, many contained large amounts of alcohol which stripped the skin of natural oil. Their aim was to make the skin feel ‘squeaky’ clean as this was associated with having a clean face. But it left skin dry, flaky, sensitive, uncomfortable and understandably confused. So you wouldn’t be alone if you have decided in the past to give this (often) badly behaved skincare step the heave-ho!

 

Good news! Modern day good quality toners are much kinder and more sophisticated.  Long gone are the harsh astringent based toners, making way for more complex formulas. They may look just like water in a bottle but they are so much more. They target many specific skin care concerns, whether that be signs of ageing, blemishes, dehydration, sensitivity or discomfort and offer fantastic results. They can soften the skin, balance the pH levels of the skin, remove any residue from the cleansing process, slough off dry dead skin cells, brighten the complexion and in turn prep the skin for further products. They can really complement subsequently applied skincare products.

 

It’s important to say that many toners nowadays contain acids. Don’t let the name put you off. They aren’t going to strip your skin and leave you looking like you’ve been in the sun with a piece of tin foil and no sun cream!  They derive from sugar cane, willow bark, sour milk etc and they can be used every day as part of your normal skincare routine. Some acid toners have been in existence for several years, the oldest having been around for fifty, but they’ve only gained popularity over recent years. They will exfoliate without containing any physical granules in the product and will brighten, hydrate and balance the skin. They usually come in the form of liquids, pre-soaked pads and gels. However, there is a wide choice of toners on the market that don’t contain acids so the choice is yours! Rest assured there is a toner out there just for you!

 

What types of toners are available?

The easiest way to categorise toners are to put them into three sections:

Hydrating

Skin balancing

Exfoliating and brightening

 

Let’s take each of them in turn:

 

Hydrating

These toners are great for anyone who has noticed their skin is dehydrated. You could have a dull complexion, fine lines and wrinkles, increased sensitivity, oiliness, breakouts, make up that doesn’t last or goes patchy, moisturiser which gets absorbed super quick and possible itchiness. Your skin can be dehydrated no matter what your normal skin type. So it’s entirely possible for you to have oily or combination skin that is dehydrated.

 

These toners are packed with lots of water-attracting ingredients to keep the skin hydrated and comfortable. These may include glycerin and hyaluronic acid among others. They may also feature powerful antioxidants which help to fight free radical damage. These have a detrimental effect on the skin so antioxidant ingredients act like a super hero to restore the skins protective barrier.

 

When your skin is properly hydrated it will be able to absorb subsequently applied products much more effectively, for example, serums, oils, aftershave balms and moisturisers and will feel comfortable and supple. Think of these types of toners as adding an extra boost of hydration to your skin after cleansing or shaving.

 

Skin Balancing

These toners work well for anyone who has oily, blemish prone skin, or skin that feels a little upset or confused. Some have the ability to effectively manage blocked pores and treat breakouts.

 

These formulas are great to balance the skin’s pH level. Our skin’s normal pH level is around 5.5. The acidity level is an essential part of our skin barrier which helps to protect against external irritants entering our skin layers and helps prevent water being lost from our skin. Cleansing our face will naturally raise our skin’s pH level (pH of water is normally 7.0) therefore your toner will rebalance the skin by reducing the pH to its normal state.

 

Exfoliating & Brightening

These toners work well for anyone who has noticed signs of ageing. They usually contain an acid as these are most effective at gently removing dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin which in turn stimulates skin cell turnover to reveal a fresher brighter looking complexion.  They can hydrate and many stimulate collagen product to keep the skin looking plump.

 

Let’s quickly talk through the three main acids you might see (although there are many more):

 

Glycolic Acid (an AHA – Alpha Hydroxy Acid) - it’s derived from sugar cane. It mainly concentrates on signs of ageing i.e. increasing new cell production, evening out skin tone, stimulating collagen production for plumper skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It’s considered by many to be the most effective AHA because it contains very small molecules to penetrate the skin and is an excellent exfoliator. Use an SPF (sun cream) after your moisturiser to protect your skin afterwards as you normally would.

 

Lactic Acid (another AHA) is derived from sour milk although now it’s made synthetically so that it remains stable within a product. It mainly concentrates on dull, dry or dehydrated skin. It gently dissolves dead skin cells and helps to resurface so that skin is left smoother. It offers a good hit of hydration. The molecules are larger which means penetration is slower and less likely to irritate or cause any redness. This is a great one to start with if you are new to acids. Use an SPF after your moisturiser to protect your skin.

 

Salicylic Acid (a BHA – Beta Hydroxy Acid) is derived from willow bark. Fantastic for oily skin and breakouts. It is oil – soluble and is able to breakdown what causes breakouts and oily skin by cleaning out the inside of the pores. This then allows excess sebum (oil) production to be released rather than being held prisoner which in turn can create blocked pores and breakouts. It’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It’s possible it can have a drying effect on the skin but this can be counteracted with using other more hydrating products. This BHA doesn’t make the skin more susceptible to sun damage. But it’s good to get into the habit of using a SPF (sun cream) every day after your moisturiser if you don’t already.

 

Spritzers/Mists/Sprays/Essences

I’ve added these into this blog because they are a great way to keep the skin hydrated and comfortable throughout the day without applying heavier products like moisturisers.  They look like toners and come under the toner umbrella. Often containing glycerin or hyaluronic acid which are amazing hydrators. They are designed to be sprayed on the face and neck at any time – after toning (as a second tone), before moisturiser, after moisturiser, after shaving, before applying makeup, after applying makeup, etc. etc. They can really be sprayed at any time of day whenever you feel your skin needs a pick me up, or more hydration, a revitalising boost, a soothing veil, to cool down or to set your make up. I always keep one of these in my bag, especially in the hotter months or when I am on holiday (they are a real blessing on flights), as they are wonderfully cooling and refreshing on the skin.

 

As a side note I wanted to mention Hyaluronic Acid. You may have heard of it as it features a lot in television and magazine ads as a key ingredient in lots of skincare products.  It is in fact not an acid. But I wanted to include some information as it’s called an acid. It’s basically a very large sugar found naturally within our bodies, 50% of it within our skin. It holds moisture in the spaces between the cells of the skin helping them to stay plump. Babies have very high levels of it, but it depletes as we get older and most noticeably from our 40s onwards.  It’s usually found in serums (which you’d apply after cleansing and toning, and before moisturising) and it is safe to use morning and night.

 

I hope this has given you some insight into toners and how they have evolved over the years.

 

So let’s look at some of the fantastic toners available at Perfumery & Co. The guys there are excellent at advising on the best product for your skin.

 

 

 

 

 

Clarins Super Restorative Treatment Essence

Wow, what a product! This beautifully fragranced treatment essence, for all types of skin, targets signs of ageing. This is definitely a toner for you if you have noticed your skin ageing. Hibiscus gently sloughs away dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.  Green coffee and ginseng wake the skin up improving radiance. Glycerin helps to boosts hydration so the skin doesn’t feel tight or uncomfortable. It’s also a great way to prepare the skin for further products. It has a gel/lotion texture which feels very luxurious. Pour onto a cotton pad and apply to your face and neck or pour into your hands and dab directly onto skin. I personally prefer the cotton pad route. It can be applied after cleansing morning and/or evening.

 

Nourish London – Relax Soothing Toning Mist

A fantastic toner that not only soothes and balances the pH levels of sensitive skin, which is prone to allergic responses, but it’s also a great product for delivering a hit of hydration with the use of glycerin. One of the main ingredients is carrot which contains carotene, a natural antioxidant. This is very effective at providing protection to skin that has experienced irritations, stress and pollutants. Lavender also features because it’s so good at calming discomfort and irritations. As well as using this as your toner, by spraying it onto a cotton pad and sweeping over the face, it’s the perfect product to keep in your bag and spritz any time you need to soothe or cool the skin. A real multi tasker.

 

(Nourish London also offer other toning mists – Radiance Refreshing Toning Mist, Protect Cooling Toning Mist, Antioxidant Peptide Mist & Balancing Refining Toning Mist)

 

Neals Yard Remedies Rehydrating Rose Toner

One of Neals Yards best sellers, this is a great choice for all skin types. It not only helps to hydrate the skin with glycerin, but also balances and cools, prepping skin for further products. It has a delicate floral fragrance largely due to the beautiful damask roses. Close your eyes whilst using it and you could be transported into the middle of a beautiful rose garden. Aloe Vera works wonders to cool and soothe. Apply to a cotton pad and sweep over the face and neck.

 

Clarins Toning Lotion with Iris

This toner is an effective gentle toner for oily and combination skin types. It works to help purify the skin without upsetting the pH level. Therefore it’s not going to strip the skin of natural oil which in turn encourages it to produce more oil as a result. Iris is very refreshing and glycerin offers hydration to keep the skin supple and comfortable. It’s delicately fragranced. Apply to cotton pads and sweep over the face and neck.

 

I hope that this article has helped to answer the much asked question “To Tone, or not to tone?”

 

This skincare step has featured within my routine for many years. Why not give it a go if it hasn’t featured in yours.

 

N x

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WHY DOUBLE CLEANSE? NIC TELLS US WHY...

WHY DOUBLE CLEANSE?  NIC TELLS US WHY...

The power of double cleansing for healthy looking skin

Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

 

For years I’ve been wittering on about the importance of thoroughly cleansing our faces and how double cleansing is the gold standard of any skincare routine. But, understandably, there is sometimes confusion surrounding cleansing, double cleansing and their benefits and worth.

 

Cleansing is the most important step in our skincare routine because, if it’s done properly, it leaves a clean blank canvas for the rest of our products to work effectively. Would we polish our car without washing the dirt off first or iron our clothes before putting them in the washing machine? Hopefully most of us wouldn’t and it’s the same principal for our skin. Wash the dirt, grease, pollutants, make up and SPFs (sun protection cream) off to prevent the pores from becoming blocked and then clean the skin before applying other skincare products.

 

When should we cleanse?

Every morning and every evening regardless of whether we’ve been wearing makeup, an SPF or both. Overnight the skin eliminates toxins via the pores so cleaning in the morning removes this residue on the surface of the skin. These days I’m not wearing much make up but I will still thoroughly clean my face in the evening. I tend to do this when I put my PJs on which, at the moment, is around 8pm! My life is so rock and roll! In ‘normal’ life or for those of you that are still leaving your house for work, I’d do it as soon as you walk through the door after work. Don’t leave it until you go to bed as you may feel too tired to do a good job.

 

So what is double cleansing?

This is when we use more than one cleansing product (or the same product twice) to clean our faces in the evening. The first cleanser targets and works loose make up and SPFs. These are designed to stay on our faces all day, therefore they need to be removed thoroughly. The second cleanser actually cleans our skin. The only time I wouldn’t need to double cleanse at night is if I hadn’t left the house all day, wasn’t wearing any make up or an SPF. I’d still cleanse my face thoroughly though, but just once. This is also the case each morning as we’re not going on any wild nights out at the moment and forgetting to remove make up before bed. So a simple cleanse is all that’s needed.

 

What types of cleansers are there?

The cleanser you choose will depend mainly on your personal preference and your skin type or any skin conditions you are experiencing. I like to have a few cleansers on the go so that I can pick and choose on the day according to how my skin is feeling. I also like to use a flannel or muslin cloth that’s been soaked in warm water (not hot) to remove residue and gently remove dry dead skin cells in the process. I’d suggest having a stash of these at home so that you can use a fresh one every day.

 

 Cream/Milk

These are soothing on the skin and are usually applied all over the face using cotton pads.  I like to pop some into my hands, massage onto the skin and then remove with a flannel or muslin cloth. If your skin is really sensitive to water you can stick with the cotton pads.

 

Balms

By far my favourite way to cleanse. These are generally gentle and nourishing blends of great ingredients that can not only effectively remove make up (including mascara) but also thoroughly clean the skin. Their solid texture which melts on the skin means that a little goes a long way. Once massaged in, they can be removed with a warm flannel or muslin cloth.

 

Oils/Melting balms/Gels

These will often transform into more of a milky consistency once mixed with a little water on the skin. They are generally a newer generation of cleanser and are great for removing make up and dirt using a flannel or muslin cloth.

 

Washes/foams

These need to be mixed with water. In the past face washes and foams have been quite harsh on the skin, making it dry and uncomfortable. This is normally due to the chemicals used to ensure the product lathers. At no point during the cleansing process do we want our skin to feel super tight and squeaky clean. Therefore I would steer clear of varieties that use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which may disrupt the skins natural protective barrier.

 

Micellar waters

A simple, gentle and convenient way to remove make up. I don’t consider them to be a full on cleanser for the whole face but act as a really effective makeup remover.

 

Face wipes

These might feel convenient but try to give them a wide birth.  They are usually packed with alcohol and fragrance and just smear the dirt and make up around our faces rather than giving a good cleanse.

 

What to use for a first cleanse?

These are products to remove make up and SPF and our main aim is to loosen these on the face so that they can be easily removed with a warm flannel or cotton pads. I usually apply them to dry skin as I find there’s less slippage on the skin and the product can really get to work.

  • Eye makeup removers
  • Micellar waters
  • Cleansing oils
  • Cleansing creams
  • Cleansing balms
  • Say ‘No’ to cleansing wipes

 

 What to use for a second cleanse?

This is when we are actually cleaning our skin. It’s not to remove our make up or SPF as we’ve already done that. My advice is to use the best cleanser you can afford for this stage. Our aim is for our skin to feel comfortable and hydrated. Again, apply to a dry face, massage the product thoroughly into the skin and remove with a warm flannel. The massaging action of working the product into the face and neck also helps bring fresh blood flow to the surface of our skin aiding detoxification. This encourages it to look fresher and more radiant. So if you can spend a minute or so massaging the product in before removing it you will certainly see the benefit. This is also a great time to really inhale the wonderful fragrances of the products. Cup your hands around your nose and mouth and take several slow deep breaths.

  • Cleansing balms
  • Cleansing oils
  • Cleansing creams
  • Cleansing milks
  • Cleansing gels
  • Say ‘No’ again to the cleansing wipes

 

Perfumery & Co. have a comprehensive collection of cleansers to choose from and offer fantastic personal advice. Here’s a selection of cleansing products they stock if you don’t know where to start:

 

Wildsmith Skin - Active Repair Nourishing Cleansing Balm

A wonderful balm/gel texture which glides on the skin and is super easy to use. It’s packed with lots of plant based ingredients to breakdown surface oils, make up and pollutants.  It has the most invigorating fragrance. It’s incredible at its job whilst leaving the skin hydrated, comfortable and protected. I’ve used this as both the first, second and both cleanses by applying a small amount to my palms, massaging onto my face and neck before removing with a warm cloth.

 

Neals Yard Remedies - Wild Rose Beauty Balm (One Pot Wonder)

A beautiful rose scented balm to nourish and soothe skin and provide a warm glow. Containing organic wild rosehip oil which is a fabulous skin protecting antioxidant and an amazing blend of essential oils. It comes with its own organic muslin cloth so will provide a gentle exfoliation on the skin to smooth its surface and boost radiance. Perfect for your first or second cleanse or both. I use a small amount and warm it in the palm of my hands, before massaging it into dry skin. I then remove with a warm flannel. It’s called One Pot Wonder as it has so many uses. Not only is it a cleanser, it can be applied and left on overnight as an intensive nourishing boost, can tame eyebrows, be a lip balm, accentuate cheek bones as a highlighter. It’s a delight to use.

 

Nourish London – Skin Renew Cleanser

A rich and creamy texture packed full of wonderful ingredients, including argan, jojoba and borage oils to hydrate the skin.  It’s a nourishing formula with a really comforting fragrance and is great at removing make up whilst being gentle on the skin. I use this for a first or second cleanse and sometimes both. The pump ensures you use the correct amount so as not to waste any. One pump into the palm of my hands, mixed to warm and massaged into dry skin loosens any make up, SPF, dirt etc. I remove with a warm flannel. This product is a great find.

 

L’Occitane en Provence – 3 in 1 Micellar Water

A very light texture infused with cucumber and thyme to refresh, hydrate and purify the skin. A perfect product to use as a first cleanse to effectively remove make up. I soak cotton pads with this and hold them onto my closed eyes to break down eye makeup before using a gentle sweeping motion to remove the residue. I then use fresh ones to sweep over my face afterwards. This is an easy to use product which does its job quickly.

 

Clarins – Cleansing Milk

A classic milky texture with a comforting delicate fragrance. This cleansing milk contains alpine herbs to soften the skin and vegetable extracts to help rebalance the skins natural protective layer. I use this for a second cleanse and work it into the skin before removing with a warm flannel or muslin cloth. It could equally be removed with cotton pads if your skin is particularly sensitive to water.

 

So, do you already double cleanse or have you been inspired to start?

 

Here's to glowing skin!

 

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