The Skin Series: The 'Power Three'

Skincare can be a fuss. I get that - that's why I did this series. We are taught growing up to 'cleanse, tone and moisturise' but there's so many products on the market that I understand the confusion about where to start when buying skincare.

My skin was good for years - I say good and not brilliant. I had teenage acne, I get hormonal spots - so really, I'm probably like most women. I have what I would call 'normal' skin - I can get a little oily around the t-zone if I've had a long day or dry in the winter if it's very cold. I suppose I never really listened to my skin and what is was trying to tell me until this past year. I feel like I have found my dream trio that has transformed my skin from good to excellent. It's like going from your t-shirt bra into your good push up night out bra - it just takes you to the next level!

I think this is a great combo for everyone but particular for people who have been cleansing & moisturising for their whole life but want to take things up a notch. Welcome to my 'Power Three': exfoliate, serum and moisturiser. It's those two little steps before the moisturiser that have added so much glow to my skin plus it feels smoother & makeup goes on much better.

Exfoliating is key to helping you get a deep cleanse and remove dead skin cells. I've had some bad experiences with exfoliators in the past that have been too abrasive and damaged my skin. Your ideal exfoliator should make you feel like you've had the best cleanse of your life & not strip your skin. Ideally you should cleanse twice a week for maximum results (although I've been known to do it 3 times a week if my skin has particularly needed it if I've been wearing lots of heavy makeup etc). There's two exfoliators I absolutely adore to keep in tip top shape. Firstly, The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion is a great product. It's £18 and as it has Vitamin C in it, it aims to help your skin texture and tone. I found this great to use twice a week as it wasn't too heavy on the skin. My current exfoliator of dreams is Dermalogica Thermafoliant. They describe it as a 'skin polisher' with anti-ageing ingredients. I love this as when it contacts with water it heats up giving you a little bit of the spa at home. I feel this has helped the blackheads around my t-zone a huge amount plus a little goes a long way - a great investment product!

One of the most asked skincare questions I get is 'When do I use serum!?'. To be honest, I love serum far more than I love moisturiser. I actually hate anything in cream formula and use body oil on my limbs! Serum is KEY to making your skin balanced and hydrated. Although I have good skin I realised that my skin was dehydrated - despite drinking litres of water a day! This was causing me to look more tired and baby fine lines were appearing around my eyes. A great all rounder for this anything with hyaluronic acid in it - it will help skin to hold moisture and look bouncy! I've tried and tested lots of versions of this and the best I've found is the Irish brand Pestle & Mortar (I get mine in Avoca). It goes on like a dream and I saw results from it really quickly. I also love BYBI's Supercharge Serum - it's great for day and night. It's light enough that makeup looks great on top of it. A product that I've been OBSESSED with is Skinceutials Phloretin CF. It's an antioxidant serum that I use in the morning. I've been reading up so much more about the damage that pollution can do to your skin and this serum combats it head on. It's expensive but I can truly say I've never seen results like I have from this. It has a range of ingredients (many of which I had never heard of until this serum!) and it balances my skin out hugely. I tried not using it for about two weeks and my skin looked so dull and horrible! It's truly a magic product that has smoothed out and perfected my skin.

In short - there's a million serums on the market. Start out light and work your way up to the big guns! I personally like to use serum morning & night but if your starting out, try it for bedtime and see how your results go!

Moisturiser is the basis of good skincare. Like shampoo, you need to cater a moisturiser to your specific needs. If your skin is dry, go heavier. If your skin is oily, go for a mattifying moisturiser. As I mentioned, I don't love a very sticky moisturiser so I look for lighter formula's that still pack a punch ingredients wise. I love Dermalogica's Calm Water Gel as the formula is so weightless. It's packed with hyaluronic acid and it's great for day and night.

Need a skin update? Try the Power Three: exfoliate twice a week and serum & moisturise daily! 

The Skin Series: Toners

Toners get a bad rep. It's the bit of skincare that people tend to skip or leave out either for speed or because they don't feel the benefit of it. I too have been that person but toning is important for two reasons. It firstly helps to remove any left over grime from cleansing (which even for avid double cleansers like me, can still be present!) and it can help to treat pores by removing any oil build up (this is why you need to tone in the morning and at night!). In fact, I've been known to skip cleansing in the morning and headed straight for toner to remove any bedtime grime. I also love using toner to refresh my makeup

I use all sorts of different things for toner. If my skin is being sensitive, I head for something like my Evian spray (it's literally water!) or rosewater. Both just help you feel a little bit fresher and brighter post cleansing. The Skinician Purifying Toner is what I head for if I'm a little bit oily so around more hormonal times this is my go to. My everyday go to at the moment is Mega Mist by BYBI. The entire BYBI range is amazing - it's all vegan and cruelty free. This mist is full of Hyaluronic acid that makes my skin more hydrated and glowy. At £26, it's more of a luxury cleanser but in my experience, toners last for AGES so it's worth the extra spend for the results. 

One toner that really changed my skin was Alpha H Liquid Gold. There's so much written about this toner and acid toning online that I'll not bore you with the details. Acid toning basically is like a liquid form of exfoliation so it's toner with extra punch. For me, Liquid Gold helped to dull so many of my acne scars and improve the overall texture of my skin. Acid toners aren't for everyone but for me, Liquid Gold was a game changer that I would highly recommend. 

Don't skip on toner. Add one in to your routine - pick up a simple rosewater or mist and go from there!

The Skin Series: Cleansers

My favourite part of the day: taking off my making and cleansing my face. Let me make it clear that taking your makeup off is very different to cleansing.

I liken it to doing your floors at home. You brush off any dirt - i.e. take the rough off like taking off your makeup. Going in with a makeup remover or micellar water is perfect for this. I always do this bit with cotton pads as it helps you to see how much you've got off! 2 - 3 cotton pads later, I go in with cleanser. This is like mopping your floors! If you continue just to brush and not mop, you're going to have some deep dirt in there!

Cleansing is so important, particularly if you wear a heavy foundation. Stockpile on face cloths - they are so cheap so make sure to use a fresh one every day for the ultimate cleansing experience. 

A few of my favourite cleansers are:

An amazing product for the price. It easily melts makeup away on both your face and eyes (I love anything you can out on your eyes too!). I love to double cleanse with this if I have a heavy makeup day. A great cleanser for all skin types. 

This is my 'oh my skin feels a bit dirty' cleanser. Maybe you're having a busy week and your skin hasn't been your priority. This is a foam cleanser (which I have to admit that I usually don't like!) but as the name suggests, this cleanser gives a lovely deep clean resulting in a post cleanse glow! I recommend this for dull skin and particularly like to use it in the winter months. 

This is a recent addition for me. Full of 'good' ingredients, this gel cleanser leaves your skin squeaky clean. This is my go to on days I haven't been wearing much makeup or for a second cleanse. Good for normal & oily skin types ... and great for men and women (and any teenager you might have in the house!). An all rounder! 

One of my original favourite cleansers. My preference is always for a milk or an oil because I feel they are nourishing and gentle on my skin. The Yon-Ka cleanser is again great for all skin types and leaves your skin soft. I've been using this cleanser for over 5 years and continue to repurchase it! Plus a bottle seems to last for ages!

In summary - find a cleanser that works for you! I've tried hundreds over the years but you know your skin best. Make sure your cleanser makes your skin feel clean but not tight. If you notice makeup on your pillow cases, a double cleanse might be required for you. Cleansing is the most important step in achieving your skincare goals - start as you mean to go on!

The Skin Series: Inside Out

It's the posts you've all been asking for... skincare! Over my past almost 8 years blogging, I've talked about skin and products endlessly. However, I'd say it has taken until the last year for me to get my skincare routine down to a tee. It's been a lot of trial and error but mostly, learning what my body responds to from the inside out.

I decided to do skincare justice that this will be a five part series, starting with understanding the key thing that has made a difference to me. Learning what causes your skin flare ups has been key to me making my skin so much better. Hopefully my advice will resonate with you. I'm not a skin expert (but I promise I'll tell you who my fab people to go to are in this series!) but I feel like I've learned so much that I wanted to share it with you all. My posts are hopefully designed to make you think and devise your own skin solutions. 

Let's start with things that can make your skin go up the left... 

It's a pretty obvious one. Always get a bit spotty around your time of the month? It's a very obvious warning sign of your impending monthly visitor. Hormones can also play havoc with your skin in pregnancy and menopause with lots of people reporting excess oil or extreme dryness. For me, I always get one 'period spot' on my chin ahead of my time of the month and tend to be a little bit oiler - the oil will account of the spot. Using products tailored to helping excess oil in your period week can really help get this under control. 

This is the BIGGEST skin disruptor for me. For years I couldn't work out why my skin was playing up but taking time to asses it, stress can make my skin go haywire. In fact, this year when I was moving jobs and moving into my house, my skin completely exploded. I wasn't taking time to look after my skin, remove my makeup properly and I wasn't eating well. All of these stress factors contributed to my skin looking dull and spotty. Self-care is key to this one - take time for your skin even when life gets really busy. 

The warm and cold can cause skin to have a little freak out. Particularly if you are going from one extreme to another, your skin may get really tight with dryness. This is a great reason to go for a seasonal facial to address any skin concerns you may have and to update your products from season to season. 

Along with stress, water is the other big factor for me. Ideally, my skin likes 3 litres of water a day. This seems like a lot but the more I drink, the clearer and more plump my skin will be. It means I pee 20 times a day, but it's worth it for good skin!

A controversial one but I've been taking some supplements that I have felt have really helped with my skin texture and overall glow. Firstly, the Clear Marine Krill Oil is a great supplement for helping those hormonal breakouts. I also found it really helped with my PMS symptoms. I have recently started trying out Nature's Bounty chewy multivitamin gummies (available at Medicare) - both the collagen and biotin versions. I've noticed hair growth already with the biotin ones and find they are a really easy way to get in some good skin boosting ingredients such as Vitamin C to help with brightness. 

Stay tuned for post 2 all about cleansers...

The Injectable Debate

Injectables.... botox, fillers... are HUGE business right now. It's something I've watched a meteoric growth of in the past five years where now, going to get your botox is as normal as a teeth cleaning at the dentist. 

The growth of injectables has made me really assess if it's an option I need to explore. I know many of you have come to this post probably hoping for me to confess what I've had done but short of the odd heavy duty skin peel, I've never done anything invasive like injectables. There's an abundance of people offering injectables at the moment which scares me a little. It's quite like the dodgy hair extensions epidemic of a few years ago. It isn't a tightly regulated business and people doing injectables seem to be popping up everywhere. The cost can vary from £50 to £500 and you can go everywhere from your dentist to your local hairdressers down the street. 

The rise of injectables has given me reason to look at my own face and think about what I would improve. Do I need bigger lips? Do I need my brows lifted a little bit? Do I want Khloe Kardashian style jaw fillers? I have never really felt insecure about my face. In fact my face & my legs are the only two things that I feel I wouldn't want to change. But, when something becomes so popular, regardless of what your own thoughts are, you start to indulge in 'Should I join the crowds' mindset. It's a fear of missing out - despite the obvious cost and pain involved!

I'm not running down injectables because they certainly have their place & have given lots of women and men the confidence they really desired. If you choose to do it, go to someone who is professional and you've seen lots of their work that has come out beautifully. 

Part of my confusion around injectables has some from so many companies approaching me to offer me free injectables to promote their business. I found it was a strange pitch because my ultimate reaction was 'Well they must think I need something done if they are offering these to me'. But I suppose that's the point - I feel like I need something so I go to that business and give them publicity. But that scares me too - what if I hated it? What if I sent you all somewhere and you had a bad experience? This isn't just a manicure that you can take off with remover, you're actually messing with your face. I've made the decision that if I ever want to get something, that I'll do it on my terms paying for everything with someone I trust. 

I've had the injectable chat with a few practitioners - two of which told me I had a lovely face and they wouldn't change a thing. I found this really decent because the easiest thing would be to take my money. Ethical practitioners are a gem to find - seek them out. So, if you are in the same mindset as met  give yourself a break. If you really want something done, go for a few consultations an weigh up your options. Although injectables aren't a life long commitment, I do feel that they start an addiction once you've seen the results.

Be wise and be kind with yourself - do you really need injectables or are you following the crowd? I'm 26 and I don't have any wrinkles or creases yet. Perhaps when that day comes, I will feel differently. So whether that day is five or fifteen years down the road, I will still apply my own rules of going for a few consultations. 

Do you research, ask all the questions and ensure you are 100% comfortable before you embark on anything.