The Key Skincare Ingredients That I Have Been Befriending

key skincare ingredients

…And just like that, I’ve completed the first year in my 30s. We all know how well I took to transitioning into another decade so it’s fair to admit that my birthday was mostly spent in the company of my good friend vodka.

I must admit, however, I’ve had a pretty good year. I now understand why many believe that your 30s are the best years of your life. For however great my 20s were, I’ve never felt as confident and as certain of what I want in life as I do now (probably because I spent the majority of my 20s partying).

Along with new found confidence, my 30s brings along clarification that my body is changing. My skin, in particular, isn’t what it once was 10 years ago. I’ve recently dabbled in private dermatologist visits to really understand what my skin needs now that the years are rolling by. Drastic measures needed to be taken along with a few tweaks to my current skincare routine to ensure that my 40s isn’t spent picking my face up from the floor.

Here are the key ingredients that I have been incorporating into my skincare routine now that my 30s are in full swing:-

Hyaluronic Acid

As we grow older, the moisture levels in our body reduces significantly. Hyaluronic Acid, for as scary as it sounds, isn’t what we would typically associate with acids. Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally within human genetics and our ability to produce Hyaluronic Acid declines with age. So what is Hyaluronic Acid I hear you ask – to put it simply, it is a jelly-like substance which cushions and plumps our skin. As we grow older, the cushioning begins to reduce and we’re left with swallow, dry, sagging skin with pesky lines and wrinkles! It’s no wonder why skincare brands go crazy for Hyaluronic Acid as an integral ingredient to many of their anti-ageing products.

I’ve been dabbling in the thought of derma fillers for some time. Popular methods such as Juvéderm use HA rather than collagen for its long-lasting power. Although I’m preparing myself for the years to come, I don’t think I’m quite there yet for botox (I’m also afraid of needles) so for now I’ll stick to topical use and for that I use none other than Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair. Estée Lauder was the first brand to bring HA to the mainstream beauty market and their iconic Advanced Night Repair Serum awards HA as its core ingredient for combating ageing skin.

AHAs 

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) sounds like something that you would never want to put on your face, but trust me when I say – you need it in your life if you have dry skin like mine!

AHAs, in simple terms, are dissolving agents for dead skin. Imagine a glue that bonds together debris and dead skin particles on the surface of your skin, exfoliation gets rid of them, but requires some vigorous rubbing to do so. AHAs are used as a gentle exfoliant to ‘eat’ the crap off of your skin without causing irritation. Sounds scary right? Not at all. If it’s done in a gentle way and with a small percentage, AHAs can be your skin’s best friend. The most common AHAs are Glycolic, Lactic, and Mandelic Acid. I won’t go into the science behind each one, but Glycolic Acid is my personal favourite as it has the smallest molecular structure therefore penetrating deeper into the skin.

My favourite favourite favourite product of all time is the Alpha-H Liquid Gold Concentrate; which uses 5%  of naturally derived Glycolic Acid to promote cell-renewal and skin resurfacing. Although I take care of my skin well, I suffer with uneven texture and pigmentation around my face. I’m a loyal exfoliator, but despite exfoliating my skin twice a week, I’ve never been able to rid myself of those pesky issues. That was, of course, until I started using Alpha-H Liquid Gold Concentrate; which has made skin appear brighter and more even-toned than ever before.

Retinoids 

We’ve all heard of Retinoids, but many of us are unaware of what it really is. Retinoids are a class of compounds; which are derived from vitamin A. Hailed as the ‘cure-it-all’ skincare saviour, Retinoids have been in our skincare products since the 60s.

The first FDA-approved Retinoid was first discovered over 40 years ago as a miracle treatment for acne. In addition to this, Retinol is now also famous for its anti-ageing properties. When Retinol and other Retinoids come into contact with skin, enzymes in the body convert the Retinol into retinoic acid, the active form of the vitamin. This puts the skin cells into gear by increasing cell turnover, stimulating collagen and encouraging elastin production. This also helps to fade hyper-pigmentation as well as helping the skin to stay hydrated and glowing without irritation. Thanks to all this healthy turnover, Retinol can treat and prevent everything from stubborn cystic acne and eczema to sun-induced wrinkles and dark spots.

Retinoids should be approached with caution as many of them would be prescribed to you through a professional dermatologist. There are several over-the-counter products; which include the use of Retinol should you wish to test the waters without having to commit to expensive dermatology visits. Peter Thomas Roth’s Retional Fusion PM is a great alternative to medicated Retinoids and should be used as part of your nightly skincare routine. If you do chose to dabble in Retinoids, please please please remember that SPF must be worn during the day as Retinoids have a tendency to cause sun-sensitivity.

 

What are your favourite skincare ingredients? Comment below with suggestions of what I should try out next.

The Hangover Beauty Routine

The hangover. The dreaded post-celebration disorder; which involves a slow and painful death typically incurred by excessive consumption of alcohol and a bad sense of judgement. An ailment; which is at high risk during the festive period and can leave many people crawling their way into the new year in hopes for a clean slate. Symptoms usually involve sore heads, unquenchable thirst, insatiable desire for junk food and an extreme lack of mobility. Those who partake in Christmas celebrations often ignore the signs and further indulge in another glass (or bottle), because getting sloshed is pretty much what Christmas is all about.

It’s times like this that I look back at my youth and wonder how I was able to consume that much alcohol without the slightest glimpse of a hangover. Now that I’m in my thirties – that shit takes me two days, a constant flow of trash tv, a full body massage, a mental breakdown, an overdosing on pain killers and a large pizza with extra cheese. If only I could turn back the clock to a happier time. A time when life was simple. A time when everything made sense. A time (just before I ordered my last shot) when I can just walk away…with the tiniest bit of dignity. Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen and neither will my sense of judgement be improved so for now I’ll live with the fact that I turn into a a raging lunatic when it comes to Christmas.

It’s the general consensus that doing any kind of manual labour during the period of a hangover is simply not on. Many women would shudder at the thought of a full beauty routine when they feel as though their lives are hanging on by the last strand of tinsel. Normally I would agree, but I’ve learnt that a little bit of TLC can cut my hangover time by half. I’m not talking full spa days or bikini waxes. I’m talking a slight bit of pampering to scrape off the remnants of last night’s makeup and make you feel SLIGHTLY human again. Of course – trash tv and engaging in any sort of human interaction is at your discretion.

Here’s my non-strenuous routine…

Taking off the cake face

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When I’ve stumbled into the house, greasy kebab in tow, the last thing I think about is taking off my makeup. I know I come across as a complete skincare advocate, but once in a while I give myself a break and enjoy the prospect of waking up with lipstick smeared across my forehead. Sounds awful to hear, but if it’s not a regular occurrence who cares?!

To rid myself of last night’s shame I turn to Hard Candy’s Take It Off makeup remover and Garnier’s Micellar Cleaning Water. The makeup remover literally ‘melts’ off my makeup (even stubborn waterproof mascara). It certainly beats scrubbing away at my face with a makeup wipe or going in with a facial brush. Garnier’s Micellar Cleaning Water is a lazy girl’s best friend when it comes to cleansing. I soak a cotton pad with the solution and swipe it all over my face and neck after I’ve removed my makeup. The micellar water literally ‘sucks’ out the dirt from your pores and removes anything the makeup remover leaves behind. Your skin feels fresh and clean without having to go through a huge skincare routine.

Scrubbing away the dirt

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My most strenuous, yet satisfying part of my routine. Exfoliating, for me, means ridding myself of the toxins, dirt and shame from the night before. It makes me feel new again, like I’ve shed a layer of skin. Sounds like an awful analogy, but putting in that little bit of effort to exfoliate your skin will make you feel whole again.

Soap and Glory’s Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub has been a permanent staple in my bathroom for quite some time. It’s perhaps not the best scrub to use considering that I’m sensitive to smells during a hangover, but I absolutely love the texture. I pop myself into the bath, dampen my skin slightly and scrub away the grime from the night before.

Float in the bath

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Experts say that a good soak in the tub does wonders for your overall health and wellbeing; such as lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, improving blood circulation and so on. That’s a statement I certainly agree with and when I get the opportunity, I plonk myself in a tub full of bubbles and let the world drift away. When I’m hungover, a good soak in the bath can do wonders for releasing the toxins and relaxing your muscles that, quite frankly, have been abused the night before. A nice, warm bath allows your mind, body and soul to unwind and de-stress; which sounds ridiculous when you think about it, but excessive drinking can cause mayhem for your body so relaxation is exactly what you need.

Being a bit of a bath enthusiast I have an array of relaxing smellies; which get me in the mood for drifting away. Molton Brown’s Relaxing Yuan Zhi Bath and Shower contains Yuan Zhi, a wild plant from the southern region of China; which is traditionally used to balance your Chi (energy). It contains moisturising and soothing properties to combat stress, promote relaxation and ease tension – perfect for washing away the booze from the night before.

Add the moisture back into your skin

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You know, I know, my next door neighbour knows, and their cat knows that I LOVE coconut oil. For me, my home is not complete without a jar of this stuff. Coconut oil has a multitude of uses, all of which are too lengthy to list individually. However, when it comes to hangovers, coconut oil is your best antidote.

Oil pulling, in particular, is one of the best natural hangover cures out there. A tablespoon swished around your mouth and through your teeth draws out the harmful toxins from your body and removes the impurities ingested from the night before. Lathering your body in coconut oil, fresh out of the bath, can also do wonders for your hangover. Excessive drinking causes dehydration; which is greatly visible in your skin. Adding moisture back into your skin is essential for re-adding that youthful bounce and you can’t get more moisturising than coconut oil. Unlike many moisturisers on the market, coconut oil also absorbs quickly into the multiple layers of the skin; which means less time getting ready and more time lounging around being a slob.

Don’t be particular about the coconut oil that you use, any will do provided that it’s 100% organic and unrefined. My current favourite is Vita Coco Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil; which I get from Amazon.

Add a sheet mask for instant hydration

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The skin on your face should never be treated as same as the skin on the rest of your body. The skin on your face is far more delicate, far more sensitive and requires far more attention than the robust skin on your body. However, like I mentioned earlier, I’m not up for strenuous routines when I’m hanging. In situations like this, a sheet mask is a life saver.

Much like my bath products, I have a collection of sheet masks to choose from. Most sheet masks are used for intense hydration so picking which one to use isn’t a difficult decision. However, on a recent trip to Boots, I noticed that the Garnier Moisture Bomb Tissue Masks were reduced down to 99p! I quickly gathered a couple (10…I got 10) and added them to my collection for days like these when I really need some deep moisturisation. These masks promise to add intense hydration in just 15 minutes, just enough time for you to get your Dominos order in. They’re slightly thinner than your average sheet mask, but the amount of serum that is included perhaps exceeds the amount which you really need for one use. Nevertheless, this mask is exactly what you need to add a bit of life back to your face, because let’s face it – none of us look particularly delightful after a night of drinking. Excessive alcohol draws out moisture from the skin, adds deep pigmentation around the eyes and exaggerates fine lines and wrinkles. Once you remove the mask, pat in the remaining serum around your face and you’ll feel like a new person by the time that delivery guy rings the doorbell.

Add some more coconut oil

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You would think by now that I would’ve left the coconut oil alone, but alas, I’m not done yet. Upon a recent trip to TK MAXX (TJ MAXX for my American readers), I discovered the Pearlessence Coconut Water Facial Mist. I absolutely loved scouring the shelves of TK MAXX to find little beauty discoveries; which aren’t as widely available in the UK. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate the facial spray on the internet so I have no link to share with you, but I suggest heading down to your local TK MAXX, where you will find it in abundance.

When I’m hungover, I bundle myself in a blanket, crank up the heating and wallow in my own self pity. Whilst that sounds like complete bliss, it’s also very bad for the skin. I keep a bottle of this facial spray on hand so that I continuously add moisture back into my skin; which can dry out due to excessive heat. It’s not greasy by any means and despite its moisturising capabilities, it’s actually quite absorbent.

Veg out and chill

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We finally made it! I know my routine looks lengthy, but I promise it takes me no more than 45 minutes to complete.

It’s now time to put your feet up, veg out with some junk food, put aside any important tasks you needed to complete and switch off until you’re ready to do it all again. Oh how I love Christmas!

My Experience With Lip Masks | Do They Really Work?

Would I consider myself a vain person? Probably not, but I’m sure many of my friends and family would disagree. Being a beauty enthusiast means that a number of assumptions are attached to your title. For me, it’s not about vanity. I enjoy beauty products and all the glory that comes along with purchasing them. Despite their obvious intentions, beauty products, for me, aren’t all about how they can alter my appearance.

I’ve lusted over the notion of bigger lips for quite some time. Not so much a ‘trout pout’, but a perkier set of smackers that would enhance my facial features (I promise that wasn’t vanity). I wouldn’t say that I have thin lips, in fact, they’re already fairly full, but like many women, they are uneven and have an undefined outline. 9 times out of 10 that problem can be rectified with a good lip liner, but who has time to line their lips every day?! I certainly don’t and if I can alter my lip shape without having to layer on the makeup every morning then I’m all for it.

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Lip masks are a fairly new concept to the beauty community; which is strange considering that Hollywood starlets having been sporting ‘enhanced’ lips for quite some time. Pop culture icon Kim Kardashian paved the way for lip masks after she posted an Instagram picture of her favourite weekly treat, KNC lip masks. Whether you love her or hate her, everything that Kim Kardashian touches becomes instant phenomenon and this has certainly been the case for lip masks.

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So what is a lip mask I hear you ask. Well imagine a facial sheet mask for your lips. Most lip masks mimic the look, feel and packaging of a traditional sheet mask, but in the form of a cute little ‘lip-shaped’ style. Some masks, like the Nugg Lip Mask, offer the same service in the form of a lip balm. Others, like the KNC lip mask, offer a thick hydrogel ‘sticker’ infused with a serum.

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Like many great beauty products available in the western world, the idea of lip masks originated from the Korean beauty market. We all know how I feel about Korean beauty products, so trying out a lip mask was a natural progression for me. What I want to know is – how do the Koreans do it?! I seriously can’t keep up; which may be a good thing as I would be seriously broke if I lived over there.

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Applying a lip mask is very similar to that of a traditional mask. The cloth/hydrogel patches can be applied just like a sheet mask – peel off the inner and outer lining and smooth directly over the lips. The ‘lip balm’ versions can either come with a tiny brush to paste onto your lips or can be applied directly with your finger. If you plan on eating, drinking, talking or breathing with these masks on…think again. They’re mainly meant for overnight use or for the obligatory #lipmaskandchill selfie. The great thing is that 10-15 mins with lip sheets is all you need to achieve maximum results; which means you can slap it on along with a face sheet mask, add some under eye patches and freak your husband out as you sit and wait for him in a dark room (no? just me?). Lip masks like the Nugg Lip Mask require pasting on and allowing to absorb overnight. The ‘lip balm’ style lip masks aren’t particularly uncomfortable to wear overnight, in fact, they feel like a very thick layer of Vaseline on your lips. However, if you like to move around or you’re a dribbler you may find remnants of it on your pillow case the next morning. In my opinion, lip sheet masks like the KNC, Tony Moly or Starskin options offer a great excuse to take 15 minutes out of your day to wear and they’re more suitable for travelling or whipping out whilst you browse your wardrobe for your night out.

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The main question here is – do they work? Well yes and no. It all depends on what you’re looking for from a lip mask. If you’re looking for a lip mask to fulfil its promise of needle-free plumping then you’re going to be massively disappointed. Here you can see my result from using the Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask and as you can tell, there’s not much difference in terms of lip shape. If you’re looking for intense hydration then lip masks will be your best friend. Most masks are infused with collagen, Vitamin E and essential oils. The Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask contains molasses, pomegranate, honey and flax seed; which all serve the purpose of nourishing your lips. You certainly get a deep level of moisture from lip masks; which is always a welcomed feeling, particularly in the winter. However, you would need to maintain a weekly routine with these and top up with lip balm in between sessions in order to maintain suppleness. That might be too much to ask for from the average Joe, but if you like to treat and pamper yourself (like me) then upholding a routine with these shouldn’t be a problem.

If you suffer with burning, cracked or sore lips then a good lip mask would be a real treat for you as most of them offer cooling properties. This usually entails a tingling sensation when applied to your skin, but I didn’t experience that with the Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask. They also offer a reduction in fine fines and wrinkles around your mouth; which is normally exaggerated by age, smoking and consisted pursing of the lips (that’s right ladies…kerb the pouting). Do I think that this claim is true? Can be! Fine lines and wrinkles are normally remedied by deep conditioning (i.e. moisturising) and although they can’t be completely eliminated, lip masks can certainly help along the way (just be sure to apply a lip mask outside of the perimeter of your lips if you’re going for a ‘lip balm’ style mask).

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So where can you get these masks from? Well ‘lip balm’ style masks are readily available in the UK beauty market (Nugg and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask are some great options). The lip sheet/hydrogel masks, however, are a little hard to come by on this island. The Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask is the most widely available in the UK; which is why I chose it to test for this blog. The more ‘Korean’ brands (if there is such a way to describe them) such as Tony Moly or Etude lip masks require a little searching around the net. I’ve found a great site called Yesstyle.co.uk; which offers a lot of the Korean brands with shipping to the UK.

Wow – I didn’t realise that I would have so much to say about lip masks! On that note I leave you with my final review on my experience with lip masks. Are they life changing? No. Are they essential in your skincare routine? Probably not. Do they offer a quirky gimmick to make you feel special when indulging in a pamper night? Most certainly yes. Finally, would I continue using them? 100%. When I’m indulging in a face mask, sheet mask or any other pamper session, I see no reason why I wouldn’t include a fun lip mask to my routine. They certainly offer the short-lived hydration that I look for when I’m treating myself and they give me the perfect excuse to take a silly #lipmaskandchill selfie. So pucker away ladies! Lip masks are here to stay!

What Sleeping In Your Makeup Really Does To Your Skin

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Guilty or not guilty? – that is the question. How many times do we hear the cardinal rule of never sleeping with your makeup on? It’s ingrained in our minds from the moment we discover the true meaning of mascara, but how many of us actually adhere to the rule?

I’ve been guilty of it in the past (many many times over). Late nights, one too many strawberry daiquiris and just plain laziness all get in the way of self motivation. The last thing that I want to do after a heavy night out is spend precious snoozing time wiping off the slap. So much so that I actually justify leaving it on – ‘if I sleep really really still then maybe, just maybe my lipstick won’t end up half way up my forehead’. Of course, that never works out for me and I awake from my deep slumber looking like something that’s been run over (twice).

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So running a makeup wipe over your face before bed is a good thing right? – wrong! I spent many of my youthful years believing that a simple makeup wipe would suffice for my night time skincare routine. That, of course, was when I was young, dumb and full of…fun, but now that I’m old(er) my skin needs so much more! Makeup wipes do wonders in taking off the initial layer of makeup (the Neutrogena All In One Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes are by far my favourite wipes ever), but in order to get the real nitty gritty out from your skin you need a proper cleansing routine (check out my nighttime skin care routine here).

Sounds like a lot of work? It is! I can’t tell you how jealous it makes me feel when my husband flops straight onto the bed after a late evening leaving me to perform nothing short of a mini surgery on my face before I can even think about going to bed. Perhaps jealous is a harsh word to use, but I’m definitely envious – some of us aren’t born naturally as beautiful as others (I’ll take my cheque in the post husband). However, what if I were to tell you what happens to your skin when you don’t take your makeup off at night? Would it change your perception on things? Well let’s take a look shall we?…

Enlarged pores and blackheads – The most obvious result of not cleansing your face at night. Makeup, along with daily dirt and grime can cause excessive build up of your skin’s natural oil glands. Excess oil, mixed with other substances cause your pores to clog making it difficult for the natural oil to flow freely. This, in turn, causes the pore itself to enlarge to allow for the additional oil, but with great difficulty. Barriers such as makeup cause the oil to become trapped (particularly around the nose) and therefore leads to issues such as blackheads.

Sensitive skin – Sleeping in your makeup causes a lock-down on your skin. Foundations, concealers and practically any form of makeup that you put on your face creates a barrier against natural elements. Sounds like a good thing, but in actual fact, you’re reducing the amount of oxygen and moisture that your skin would otherwise receive if you had no makeup on. Irritants are essentially ‘locked’ into the skin, exacerbating allergic reactions. Feed your skin, like you would with any other part of your body when you’re ill and your skin will love you for it.

Dryness – Much like my previous point, lack of moisture and oxygen leaves you with parched skin obviously. However, not taking your makeup off at night reduces your cell renewal process therefore creating a backlog of ‘dead’ skin. This dead skin is further exaggerated by foundations and other base makeup. It’s a vicious cycle, but it can all be avoided by cleansing your face in the correct manner before you go to bed.

Eyelash reduction – Read what you will of the latest mascara to take the makeup world by storm, but the bottom line is – it’s a chemical that you’re applying to your natural lashes. Weighty chemicals worn for a prolonged period of time on your lashes can cause a breakdown of the hair follicles and therefore reduce the amount of lashes that we naturally reproduce. Treating your lashes to a growth serum or even a natural oil will encourage growth and ensure that your lashes stay in place.

Eye irritation – We naturally rub our eyes without thought. Now imagine rubbing mascara, eyeliner, shadow, glitter and all that in between into your eyeball therefore aggravating irritation. Allergens in mascara have been associated with contact dermatitis as well as conjunctivitis. You may not see it straight away, but continuously sleeping in your eye makeup can cause serious infections that can put a damper on your next night out.

Premature ageing – I once heard that sleeping with your makeup on for just one night can cause your skin to age by three days! Times this by 365 and you could like several years older by the end of the year! Sounds scary, but premature ageing is massively exaggerated by lack of makeup removal at night. Pollutants stick to makeup, causing what is known as Oxidative stress where skin is attacked by harmful free radicals. These molecular compounds cause damage to various cellular structures in the skin therefore decreasing the production of collagen. Collagen is needed to provide a little plumpness to the skin and if your skin is lacking it then things start to turn south, leaving you with folds and creases that you’ve never seen before.

Dry lips – I’m a firm believer in applying copious amounts of lip salve/balm to my lips before bed time. Not only is it a treat for the lips, but the feeling of soft lips in the morning is wonderful. Chemicals in lipsticks, particularly liquid lipsticks reduce the amount of moisture in your lips leaving them parched. Not forgetting that left-over lipstick smeared across your face in the morning is never a good look.

Lacklustre skin – Dull skin is caused by ‘dead’ skin build up on the surface area of your face. Anything that deprives your skin of much needed oxygen and nutrients will result in a dull skin tone that can only be relieved through cell renewal. Regular exfoliation and the right nutrients can encourage cell renewal providing free blood flow throughout your skin and therefore allowing you to shine from within. Don’t forget that no matter how much highlighter you may wear, if your skin’s texture is not on point, it will never look good.

It’s fair to say that removing your makeup at night is essential for clean, beautiful and healthy skin. Someone pass me the soap!

Daytime Skincare Routine | Winter 2016

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Just when you thought that I couldn’t fit anything else on my face, here comes the second installment of beauty routines – my daytime skincare! I think it’s safe to say that I love to ‘baby’ my skin. Skincare, to me, is an essential part of my daily grooming. Whilst it may seem excessive to some, this routine genuinely works for me and ensures that my skin stays in the best condition possible.

Genetic structure also plays a big part in your skin. My mother, who will be turning 60 this year, barely has a crease far less a wrinkle on her face. For as long as I can remember she’s never had a pimple or any other skin issues. Along with trouble free skin, my mother also passed down to me her views on skincare. Growing up I would always see jars of expensive creams on her vanity. I assumed she just liked the way they looked (partly true), but my mother always believed in a good skincare routine; which is why she looks years younger than her age.

As mentioned in my last blog post (you can view it here), my evening and daytime skincare routines are very different. My bedtime skincare routine is slightly more intense as I reserve most of my products for the evening. My daytime skincare is very minimal in comparison. I tend to rush in the mornings, so I built a routine which is quick and simple. After cleansing multiple times in the evening, my skin is generally clean in the mornings and therefore doesn’t require a vigorous regime.

Your skin reacts differently depending on the time of day. The most important rule of thumb is to remember that the night time is all about repairing and rebuilding whilst the daytime is all about protecting. Your skin deals with a lot of crap throughout the day, so creating a barrier between your epidermis and the elements of life will ensure that your skin doesn’t get clogged up.

Cleanse

Philosophy | Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser £18.00-£29.50

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If you read my last blog post, then this product would seem very familiar to you. I use this cleanser for the morning as well as the evening, mostly because I didn’t want to fork out for another cleanser, but also for its super gentle formula against the skin. I’m somewhat of a zombie in the mornings. Whilst stumbling on my feet and mindlessly turning on the tv rather than the coffee machine, having to factor in complicated and time consuming skincare products is the least of my priorities. This cleanser is perfect for fuss free cleansing. I squirt a pea sized amount in the palm of my hand and lather with a bit of water. I easily glide this cleanser over my eyes as it does not irritate them. I only cleanse my face once in the mornings as my skin is generally clean from the night before.

Tone

Liz Earle | Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer £14.75

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We’ve previously spoken about the benefits of toners, however, I can understand why most people find it a mundane step in their skincare routine. Having to faff about with cotton wool pads and spending precious sleep time on aimlessly swiping a product over your skin seems a little, well, rubbish. Not that toners take up a lot of time, but when you’re still half asleep with your clothes on back to front, spending a second on something you don’t consider important can be a chore.

This non-drying, floral toner is perfect for busy mornings. The spray bottle design leaves a fine layer of moisture to the skin. What can only be described as a drink for your skin, this toner will add additional moisture along with a refreshing feeling. Extracts of aloe vera, calendula and cucumber soothes redness and ‘wakes up’ your skin, ready for the day ahead. A couple of sprays across the face gives me enough product to effortlessly tone my face without fuss. I also use a travel sized version of this spray throughout the day for when my skin feels dehydrated and tired.

Moisturise

NUXE | Crème Fraiche de Beauté 24hr Soothing and Moisturizing Cream £25.00

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Now that we’ve cleansed and toned, it’s time to put on our body armour aka day cream. The day cream that you choose determines the type of skin that you have. Oily skin types would go for gels and light lotions, mature skin would go for anti-ageing creams with a high spf factor and dry/dehydrated skins would go for thick and creamy formulas. My skin type is the latter and when looking for a day cream, if it doesn’t use the words hydrate or nourish in the product description then it’s not for me.

The NUXE Crème Fraiche range is specifically formulated for skin that requires hydration. The formula is thick and creamy, almost like whipped butter. It contains 8 plant milks and Salicornia; which basically boosts moisturisation for up to 24 hours. The richness of the cream comes from shea butter, but rather than a thick, gloopy, oily cream that you would expect with shea butter, the cream is smooth and instantly absorbs into the skin. I’ve tried a lot of hydrating day creams over the years and the NUXE Crème Fraiche range is by far the most moiturising of them all. My skin feels comfortable, soft and plump all day.

Eye Cream

Clarins | Eye Contour Gel £31.00

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Drinking up to 3 litres of water a day is also an essential part of my day. Drinking water not only does wonders for your health, but it literally feeds your skin. Drinking an adequate amount of water ensures that your skin is smooth, plump and bright. It also does wonders for your eyes and the skin around them. Being of Indian descent, I suffer with dark circles around my eyes. Despite getting enough sleep each night (when my husband decides not to snore), my dark circles will not vanish. Combined with dry skin and irritable eyes due to wearing contact lenses, my eyes sometimes look and feel like I’ve had a round with Mike Tyson.

My morning routine calls for an eye cream; which can refresh and revitalise my tired skin. The Clarins Eye Contour Gel is the perfect pick-me-up for someone like me. Not only does the super-active organic plant extracts soothe and cool my skin, but the combination of caffeine and Ginkgo Biloba reduces puffiness around my eyes. They also claim that the extracts of Wild Rose helps to reduce dark circles. In terms of the dark circles around my eyes, I’ve noticed no difference at all. However, after trialing hundreds of eye creams over the years, I’ve learnt that there is no wonder product on the market to completely remove dark, under-eye circles. Rather than crying in a corner, I’ve learned to embrace them…oh and how to cover them up with a corrective concealer! I do, however, feel that this eye gel is the perfect addition to my morning skincare routine simply for its cooling and de-puffing effects. The cooling blue gel makes my eyes feel alive, ready to take in the world.

So here it is – my skincare routine in its entirety. For my ‘wash and go’ girls, I urge you to step outside of your comfort zone and invest in a few skincare products to take your skin to the next level of perfection. The routines that I have detailed in this blog post and the last may seem very detailed, but both my morning and evening skincare routines take no longer than 5 minutes of my day (except my weekly face mask). Whether you’re a working girl or a busy stay-at-home mum, we all have 5 minutes in the day to help better ourselves. I am happy that I have managed to inspire some of you in your future skincare routines and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoy mine.

What are your favourite skincare products? I am always looking to expand my horizons. Comment below with your favourite skincare tips and tricks.

Evening Skincare Routine | Winter 2016

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I thought it only fitting that as my first blog post for 2016 I should dedicate it to my first true love – skincare. Although I am a self-confessed makeup lover, skincare has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Not just the products themselves, but the routine that they require thrills me. I love nothing more than wiping off the slap and treating my skin to some much needed R & R.

Now that I am approaching the dreaded 3-0 I have learnt, more than ever, the importance of a good skincare routine. After a certain age consistency and quality are two necessary factors in skincare. Investing your time and money into your skin will benefit you in the long run. After all, who doesn’t want to look young and youthful as the years roll by? The products mentioned below may seem excessive and time consuming, but trust me when I say that it makes the world of difference.

My evening and daytime skincare routines are slightly different. I reserve most of my skincare products for the evening as I tend to have more time to dedicate to my skin. A night time skincare routine is important, because your skin naturally regenerates, repairs and restores itself while you sleep. Cell renewal is significantly higher, your skin is more responsive to active ingredients and your body temperature is higher allowing for faster absorption of products. While you drift into dream land your skin is hard at work so treating it beforehand, with high quality products, will ensure you arise to a plump, smooth and glowing face.

My skin type is dry with a slightly oily t-zone. During the winter months, my skin dries out further and craves nourishment. I am not susceptible to break out or any other skin conditions. I use the products below in the order that they are listed. Each of these products have been tried and tested for several months. I have found that these products are perfect for my skin type. If you have a different skin type or particular concerns then you may want to consider products more specifically tailored to your needs.

Pre-cleanse

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I’m sure you have all heard the cardinal rule that you should never sleep with your makeup on, but how many of us actually adhere to it? I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past. Certainly after a night out I’ve gone to bed (greasy kebab in tow) with a full face of makeup on. However, studies have shown that for every night you sleep in your makeup, your skin ages by three days!

Pre-cleansing is essential for removing the initial layer of grime, sweat, oil and makeup that sits on top of your skin. Some may find this step unnecessary as you’re going to go in with your regular cleanser anyway, but pre-cleansing is the gateway for your regular cleanser. By removing the first layer of dirt, you allow for your regular cleanser to delve further into your skin layers providing you with a deeper clean.

Simple Kind To Skin | Cleansing Facial Wipes 25s £3.25

I use these wipes on days that I’m feeling particularly lazy or when I’m wearing little to no makeup at all. It may seem silly to use face wipes on your skin when you have no makeup on, but you’ll be surprised at how much dirt a wipe will pick up from your face.

I love the size of the wipes. One wipe is sufficient for your entire face and removes eye makeup with hardly any force. As a contact lens wearer I love that the wipes don’t irritate my eyes. They’re free from alcohol and harsh chemicals; which make them very comfortable to use. They’re also perfect for travelling.

The Body Shop | Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil £11.00

I absolutely love cleansing oils. I love watching a silky-soft oil dissolve away my makeup with ease. I use cleansing oils on days where I’ve worn heavy makeup and a facial wipe will not suffice. Removing stubborn makeup such as waterproof mascara, liquid lipstick or glitter eye shadow is effortless with cleansing oils.

Being somewhat of a cult item in the beauty world, The Body Shop’s Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is by far my favourite. I’ve tried a lot of cleansing oils in the past, but the formula of this one is super soft and feels incredible against the skin. It’s also very safe to use on your eyes without irritation; which is perfect for a contact lens wearer like me. Makeup literally ‘melts’ off your face with this oil and once mixed with water, the oil turns into a milky cream-like emulsion.

Cleanse

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If there’s one bit of skincare advice that I could give my younger self it would be that facial wipes and cleansing oils alone are not sufficient for beautiful skin. For years I believed that facial wipes were the only step I needed in taking off my makeup. It wasn’t until I discovered top quality facial cleansers and facial brushes that I realised how deep into your skin makeup and grime can go.

Philosophy | Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser £18.00-£29.50

Named as one of Sephora’s top beauty products of all time, Philosophy’s Purity Cleanser has definitely earned its stripes. The texture is soft and creamy; which is perfect for the colder months when my skin needs a pamper. It’s super gentle and therefore suitable for most skin types including sensitive skin.

As can be expected with a Philosophy product the smell is lovely and clean with infusions of sage, chamomile, and carrot. The pH balancing formula dissolves dirt and grime and gives you a deep cleanse without being too harsh on your skin.

Philosophy have marketed this cleanser as an ‘all-in-one’ product, meaning it completely eliminates the need for eye makeup removers, cleansing oils or toners. Whilst the idea of an all-in-one product is great, a pre-cleanse is necessary to remove your makeup along with a facial brush to give your skin the best cleanse its ever had.

Magnitone | BareFaced! Vibra-Sonic™ Daily Cleansing Brush £70.00

If you haven’t got into facial brushes yet, what are you waiting for? Facial brushes have completely changed my skincare game. What can only be described as a workout for your face, it’s become somewhat of an obsession for me. It can be hard choosing the right facial brush as there are so many available on the market. However, when I had the opportunity to test out Magnitone’s double award winning Barefaced Daily Cleansing Brush I fell in love. The rotating brush massages your skin while gently exfoliating dead skin cells. I use a small amount of facial cleanser directly on the brush to deeply clean my skin and extract any grime and makeup left behind.

I love the fact that this brush is 100% waterproof. That means I can use it in the shower without making a mess. The brush also comes with a protective travel case for days that I’m away from home and a USB charger.

Whilst some facial brushes can be harsh and abrasive, the Barefaced Daily Cleansing Brush is gentle enough for daily use without causing any damage. All you need is 60 seconds for your entire face; which makes it a super easy, yet effective, addition to your skincare routine. Once the brush makes contact with your skin, the brush will beep every 20 seconds to let you know to move onto a new area of the face.

Exfolitate

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Exfoliation during the winter months is very important. Harsh weather conditions and low humidity levels in the air means that your skin is deprived of moisture. Skin cells become dehydrated leaving a dry, flaky and lacklustre appearance. Central heating can also contribute to irritable skin.

In order to maintain a healthy, glowing appearance, regular exfoliation is necessary. A gentle, yet effective exfoliant will remove dead skin cells from the surface and speed up cell renewal. As we age, our cellular turnover slows down significantly. Excessive dead skin cells sit on the surface of the skin; which not only clogs your pores, but it also exaggerates wrinkles.

Peter Thomas Roth | Firm X Peeling Gel £32.25

The fact that it’s labelled as a ‘peeling gel’ makes it sound slightly scary. Remember that episode of SATC when Samantha had that unfortunate face peel?! Awkward. However, this isn’t the harsh, abrasive peel you would initially think of.

Utilising multi-action enzymes including pineapple, pomegranate and keratinise, dead cells are gently removed from the surface of your skin. Hyaluronic acid is also used to plump and hydrate the skin, giving it a youthful glow.

Although I love traditional exfoliators and their scrubby bits, this exfoliant offers something completely different. Rather than exfoliating beads to slough off dry skin, this is a smooth gel which ‘eats’ the dead skin cells off of your face. As you rub the gel over your face, you can see residue literally falling off. Perhaps a little gross, but I love it! It’s hugely satisfying to see a product work right in front of your eyes. I use this peel twice a week to ensure my skin stay smooth and bright throughout winter.

Face Mask

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With all that cleansing, you would think that there’s nothing left to clean right? Wrong! Whilst cleansing will remove dirt and grime, face masks actually draw out the impurities deep beneath the top layers of the epidermis. Face masks help with exfoliation, toning, hydration and protection. They also improve blood circulation and leaves your skin feeling smoother and softer. So many people believe face masks to be nothing but a placebo for the skin. Whilst they are utterly relaxing, slapping on a face mask once a week ensures that your skin is in tip top condition. For those who don’t find time for a face mask – if you have 10 minutes to spare, you have time for a face mask. In fact, I put my face mask on while I’m doing the housework or whilst watching tv. It’s called multi-masking! Sorry bad joke…I did mention that I’m getting old.

GLAMGLOW | YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment £49.50

I’ll be honest, I’m not faithful with my face masks. I sway between different brands all the time. However, GlAMGLOW is one of those brands that I keep on coming back to. My favourite pre-event grooming technique is slapping on a GLAMGLOW mask. This mud mask guarantees brighter, more radiant skin in just 10 minutes. Perfect for those who lack the time or the patience. The ingredients list includes french sea clay (fancy), pumice, green tea leaf, chamomile and lavender. I spread a thin layer of this mask with a foundation brush to ensure that it’s spread evenly. Within 10 minutes the mask beings to dry leaving patches of moisture; which is actually the oil and grime being extracted from your skin.

Tone

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Many people don’t know what toners do and therefore skip this step. I’ll be honest, I used to be one of those people. After constantly hearing skincare experts drone on about cleanse, tone and moisturise; I felt as though I was missing a piece of the puzzle in my skincare routine.

Toners have many purposes for your face. They contain vitamins and antioxidants to help refresh the skin, providing a boost of energy and calm. They can help fight free radicals and rejuvenate the skin by providing a protective barrier that will help your skin retain moisture and maintain the capillary walls. Certain toners contain alpha hydroxy or glycolic acids to gentle exfoliate the skin and tighten pores.

Pixi | Glow Tonic £18.00

Being in the beauty world, I constantly hear the words ‘cult product’ all the time. However, being the skeptic that I am, I always feel that I need to try out the products themselves before I join the fan base. The Glow Tonic from Pixi is one of those products; which sits on the shelves of pretty much every beauty blogger that I know. It’s a gentle exfoliating toner; which gentle dissolves dull skin cells. It also contains aloe to sooth your skin and create a luminous layer on your skin.

As you can tell from the title, this toner provide me with a glow after cleansing and reduces any redness caused by the exfoliating peel and face mask used previously. I lightly soak a cotton wool pad with this toner and rub all over my face.

Facial Oil

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About 5 years ago I made the switch from night creams to facial oils. Not that I have anything against night creams, I have just fallen head over heels in love with the feel of a luxurious facial oil on my skin.

Facial oils have long been a secret of beauty insiders. Not only do they offer intense hydration, but they contain high levels of anti-ageing properties; which trump over any regular moisturisers. Facial oils are also excellent at eliminating many skin conditions such as pigmentation, scaring or psoriasis.

From the age of 25, wrinkles appear due to the skin’s natural oil decrease. The moisture barrier breaks down and the skin dries out. Most night creams contain a small percentage of oil, but not enough to make up for the loss in moisture. Oils are lipophilic (fat loving) and they pass through the lipid layer of the skin faster than any regular moisturiser. Skin appears plumper, smoother, brighter and all round amazing. Facial oils are the best way to moisturise your skin after your cleansing routine as it soothes irritated skin and adds a level of hydration that will last well into the next morning.

Caudalie | Polyphenol C15 Overnight Detox Oil £29.00

The ultimate indulgence for a night time skincare routine, it’s my secret weapon for flawless skin. This facial oil is excellent at repairing daily damage. Two drops is enough for the entire face and provides unbelievable moisture. It provides rehabilitation for stressed out skin. It contains antioxidant grape polyphenols to encourage cell regeneration and repair. A ‘detox’ for the skin, this plant-derived elixir helps to fortify its natural defenses, enhancing the free radical-fighting cell pool, to leave your skin better equipped to protect itself against the elements. Neroli works to purify and decongest. Rosehip oil encourages repair, healing scar tissue and strengthening elastin fibres. Lavendar and carrot oil soothes irritation, softens, hydrates and detoxifies.

Eye Cream

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The skin around the eyes are fragile and more pore to dryness than the rest of the face. Your eyes are the quickest part of your skin to show age and fatigue with constant movement and squinting. Fluids collect under the eyes and cause puffiness and dark circles. Eye creams soothe the skin with intense moisturisation. A good quality eye cream will smooth out fine line and winkles by stimulating collagen production and promoting cellular regeneration.

As the skin around your eyes are a lot thiner than the rest of your face, it is advised to only use an eye cream in that area and not your regular moisturiser.

Kiehls | Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado £20.00

During the winter months, the area around my eyes get very dry and irritated. Being a contact lens wearer, extreme weather conditions make me eyes stream constantly, causing puffiness around my eyes.

My first impression of this cream was that the creamy consistency was perfect to soothe my dry eyes. The natural ingredients list (avocado oil and vitamin A) meant that it would not sting or irritate my eyes when I wear contact lenses. This eye cream doesn’t promise the world. It doesn’t claim to cure dark circles or deep rooted wrinkles, however, what it does offer is intense hydration; which can actually slow down the process of ageing and discolouration. Upon application the cream turns into an almost gel/water like texture.

What are your skincare tips for a flawless base? I’m forever looking for tips and tricks! Comment below and share the love!