Friday 9 May 2014

Knowing Your Skin: Caring for dry, fair complexions

It took me until my mid twenties to really get to grips with my skin type. As many people do, I saw myself as pretty invincible in my teens and earlier twenties. Getting the occasional sunburn, picking spots and scratching my eyeliner off with cheap face wipes just didn't seem a problem. I always got told that I looked young for my age, and the idea of looking older was more appealing to me than preserving what I had! Not that I was hell bent on torturing my skin, I just didn't believe that my bad habits were going to make any impact.

Now I'm not going to spend this post pretending that I have massive skin problems because that's not true. I'm also well aware that I am relatively young and have plenty more wrinkling and sagging to come. What I do want to do is mention some good habits that I have acquired after educating myself on good skincare.

For years I used to struggle with dry, flaky skin. My foundation would cling to dry patches and make it even worse, so I gave up on wearing it most of the time. That wasn't so much of an issue, but my skin just looked dull and miserable a lot of the time. In the 90s and early 2000s, I just wasn't aware of 'skin types' and the products available for dry skin.

Nowadays, I wouldn't dream of not using a good moisturiser every morning and every evening. My routine also involves regular exfoliation and use of serums.

I posted recently about exfoliation and I really do swear by it. In this post I go into more detail about chemical and manual exfoliants and how they can be used. To those who believe that they don't have time for laborious routines, it really isn't a chore once you get into the habit. Of course your skin cells shed naturally, but dirt, oil and make-up can collect and cause blemishes if not given a helping hand now and again. I cut out on long routines by using a balm cleanser and a muslin cloth: this way I am exfoliating and cleansing in one step. My favourite is Emma Hardie's Cleansing Balm in combination with her cleansing clothes which have a muslin side for exfoliation and a towelling side to gently sweep off eye make-up. No longer do I scrub away at my eyes with wipes that can make delicate under-eye skin lose elasticity. I hold the cloth on my eyes and with a few sweeps, eye make-up is no more. The process of using the muslin cloth on the rest of my face stimulates circulation and exfoliates beautifully. The Body Shop does a great cheaper alternative that I have been using recently. The Camomile range also includes a superb cleansing oil at a very reasonable price which I alternate with the balm.
The Body Shop Cleansing oil;   my chemical exfoliators of choice;   The Body Shop's cleansing butter
I do tone with a hydrating toner at the moment. It isn't a step I always use, but it is a good thing to be doing to ensure skin is fully clean after cleansing. Do not strip drier skins with toners that remove skin's natural oils. Don't even be tempted if you have blemishes because dry skin needs to hold onto those oils. The Body Shop's Vitamin E toner is quite a nice choice.

Serums and oils have also done wonders for my dry skin, and I have tried many. There are some well-priced, natural products out there. I often get samples of products when shopping online (Feelunique and SpaceNK always give samples with orders) and Glossybox is also great for trying new products. Here are some treatments that I like:
Left to right: Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Serum (wonderful stuff);   ESPA facial oil sample;  Darphin's Melaperfect Treatment (for fading sun damage- ridiculously expensive, but I got on a better than half price deal a while ago);  Dr Jart's Water-Up Serum (a nice treat for dehydrated skin) 
Finally, I am a firm believer in using SPF on a daily basis. My skin is fair and I have freckles and moles in abundance! Obviously, this means that I have to be very careful in the sun. I gave up on tanning years ago as I came to terms with the fact that it's practically impossible for me. If you have pale skin, I say: embrace it! Of course I have times when I envy those who have gorgeous darker complexions, but you have to be grateful for the skin you're in because it's he only one you're going to have.
Left to right: Sarah Chapman's skinesis SPF15 day cream;   Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturising Lotion SPF30;  Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF50 (amazing!)
I wear at least SPF15 every day and usually opt for SPF30 or 50 as the sun comes out. I had an ESPA facial recently and they shone a UV light on my face, showing up some, but luckily not too much sun damage. I am determined to avoid further damage and would recommend that you do the same. The best creams I have found are pictured below. It can be tricky to find a good SPF that doesn't give a sticky, shiny finish. I've found some lovely products, and to be on the safe side I also use a BB cream or foundation with SPF15 or higher on top. Don't rely on foundations to give you protection in hot weather; SPF needs to be liberally and regularly applied, so a good layer of sun block is a must if you're looking to protect yourself from damage.

Summing up, whatever skin type or colour you were blessed with, getting to know your skin's needs is important if you want it to look its best. Look at how your skin reacts to different products and listen to what it is telling you. Once you understand its needs, you will be friends for life!

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