Like many women, I have always had a borderline obsession with beauty products and always attempted to look after my skin – both on body and face – from a relatively young age; believing if I looked after it there may come a time when it may look after me.
As our skin is the largest organ in the human body it is also the first to show signs of aging. The very structure of our skin changes as we age and it’s this process which causes fine lines and wrinkles.
My own experience
For longer than I care to remember, each evening I have done a double cleanse (it’s what the Japanese have done for centuries): one to remove makeup and the daily dirt and the second to cleanse the skin. I use a gentle exfoliator (be it in a cloth form or cream) up to twice a week to remove dead skin cells. This not only helps your moisturiser to be more effective but it has the added benefit of making your foundation sit better.
I have dabbled with toners over the years and always insisted on a decent moisturiser. Having skin which is on the drier side – this is an absolute must for me. I also use a face mask when I remember to. My favourite is Origins Out of trouble mask. It’s meant to be for problem skins – something I am lucky enough not to have, but my skin seems to like it and any breakouts I may have are effectively dealt with.
The things we do in the name of beauty...!
As the years have passed, I have been even more passionate about finding amazing, non-invasive products or services which give mother nature a helping hand in holding aging at bay for that bit longer, allowing me to age (dis)gracefully, and as naturally or fabulously as possible.
Scarily, I probably could have bought a house (or an island, for that matter) with all the money I have ‘invested’ in products over the years – but I haven’t wasted a drop of them. I have used them until their pots or tubes are bone dry and there’s not a smidgen of product left in. Some have worked, some have not. But you live and learn. Most importantly I have enjoyed trying each and every one of them.
Give it what it needs!
As I have got older, obviously the products I used have changed according to my skins needs, but my routine has remained much the same. I have always subscribed to the school of thought that ‘if your old enough to wear make up you’re old enough to care for your skin’ – not that I ever wore that much make up, preferring a more natural look – unlike many of the youth of today who seem to look much older than their years and as if they’re off for a night out on the tiles regardless of the time of day! However, saying that, I have been known to rock a good smoky eye on nights out too. Always eyes, rarely lips!
When I trained as a make up artist several moons ago, I learned many skills – not just in make up artistry either. One of the most important lessons I learned was hydration is key at every age. This literally is the holy grail. Good hydration is the difference between your makeup looking glowing and flawless or dry and dull.
Your face is like a canvas: if you don’t take care of your skin and moisturise it well, no matter how good the make up you put on, it won’t sit right and will look dull or patchy. For example, if you don’t gently exfoliate, you will have dead skin cells on the surface which the make up will sit upon – making your foundation look very patchy.
Nourishing on any budget
Skincare should also adapt with the seasons because what your skin needs to nourish it in the colder winter months and what it needs in the warm summer are two different things. I tend to need a richer cream in the winter and a slightly lighter one (with an SPF) in the summer – despite the UK lacking a ‘traditional’ summer, these days!
As for the products themselves, I have been in a rather priviledged position (in my role as a makeup artist) where I was given a lot of ‘freebies’. I have tried many expensive brands which claim to do all manner of amazing things including to make you look like you’ve drank the elixir of youth – If only!
I have also tried many cheaper brands, which often make similar claims. Actually, there’s one which springs to mind which I saw recently. It claims they have a product for every concern you may have with your aging eyes…the girl in the advert can be no more than 24! When I was 24 I’m pretty sure I didn’t allow the crows to sit there long enough to make feet imprints around my eyes either! It’s not age appropriate advertising!
A few months ago, I invested in a top brand night cream which I had used sometime before – I liked the smell and it made my skin feel hydrated. I have always had quite dry skin – It feels tight after cleansing, before I put my moisturiser on. This time round I wasn’t overly impressed with it’s performance especially considering it’s hefty price tag. I was on a mission to find a better alternative…
Skin Savvy Supermarkets!
I’ll tell you what I discovered. Many supermarkets have cottoned on to the key anti-aging ingredients which many of the more expensive brands use. They have started to incorporate them into their own, at a fraction of the cost to the consumer. Yippee!
Tesco have their sCosmetics range in their understated packaging – the sCosmetics Anti-Wrinkle Ceramides & Hyaluronic face cream is pretty good.
sCosmetics Face cream from Tesco
I also read an article which raved about the Lacura Icellage Cellular Skin Science range in Aldi, no less. So much so, in the name of stamping on my skepticism (that the supermarket stuff wouldn’t be up to much), I went and bought some. And do you know what? For the price, it’s pretty good – who would have thought it?!
My skin seems to like it and so does my purse! Am I a convert? I think the jury is still out as only time will tell. But perhaps my fine lines and my annoying ‘number 11’ (between my brows) looks a little softer…or maybe it’s that ‘aging is all in the mind’ philosophy I keep harking on about up to its old tricks. Either way I am happy (not to mention) a little bit richer!
Aldi's Lacure Icellage Skincare
The key to youthful skin
So back to skincare: I’ve already established the need for hydration. But if you need to further back up to my claim, let me tell you about some research I read a few years back by a top skincare company. They carried out a survey which included many people and asked them to describe youthful skin, in one word. How did they respond? The word ‘dewy’ popped up over and over. So, to achieve that dewy youthful glow (think: not powdered prune!) at any age – hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more!
Actually, bearing this in mind, one tip which I have learned: if you put your moisturiser on and feel the need to reapply more, then that moisturiser is no good for your skin. You need a richer one.
I believe, as we get older it’s also a good idea to introduce a serum and an eye cream/gel to your daily skincare routine. They pack more of a moisture punch to the different layers of your skin, boosting the hydration levels.
You are what you eat (or drink, or do for that matter!)
So far, this has been all about putting products ON the skin. But one of the very best things you can do for your skin is to nourish it from the inside. Drink water – preferably 2 litres per day. I know everyone preaches on about this and it sounds dull, but it’s true: what you put on the inside shows on the outside.
In Ayervedic medicine they say that if you have dark circles under your eyes it shows you’re dehydrated. By the same token, if you have more yellowing circles in this area, that’s your liver telling you to cut back on the booze! Your face is a reflection of your overall health.
A few tips…
However, there are other lifestyle factors apart from drinking more water which affect aging. Here’s just a few of the more obvious ones I can think of:
1: smoking (obviously) reduces vitamin intake and changes the elastic fibres which maintain a youthful appearance;
2: aggressive exfoliation and harsh cleansers causes imbalance and they strip the skin of natural oils and moisture;
3: another obvious choice is lack of sleep – it’s at night when our body regenerates & repairs;
4: not using an SPF – 70% of cutaneous aging is caused by the suns rays which produce skin damaging free radicals;
5: lack of exercise as exercise regenerates cells and tones skin;
6: Stress is an all round killer and needs to be managed effectively to benefit health in general;
7: Unhealthy diet – clogging up the body with foods which are not nutrient dense clogs up the system and the skin. Detoxing is said to brighten the skin and keep organs healthy and working well;
8: Not removing make up blocks the pores and reduces the skins ability to take in oxygen – which in turn starts the aging process. I can honestly say I have never done this. Not once. (Oops, my halo has just slipped!)
But If you feel you’re doing all of the above and more and are not achieveing the desired results. Or mother nature is not showing you the love you deserve, there’s always cosmetic procedures or surgery. I’m not there yet, but never say never!
Making up is not so hard to do…with a little bit of know-how
It’s not just our skincare we should address as we age, we should also overhaul our makeup. Like most things we consume, it has a point where its ‘past its best’. If you can’t remember when you bought it – ditch it! Your skin will thank you.
It’s surprising the amount of women I have heard say they don’t really think about their makeup. They still wear what they wore 10-20 years ago! Bizarre! What suited you 10 years ago probably won’t suit you now. Your whole appearance, not to mention your style, may have changed dramatically since then. I know mine has. My hair, for one, was most definitely a totally different style and colour (I dread to think which!) back then.
I’d like to share a make up artist tip with you, with regards to aging skin. As we age, we should stay away from powdery finishes. They will only sit in any fine lines or wrinkles you may have and in turn make you look older. Opt for a decent primer (to hide those pores). A cream finish will also help you attain that fabulous dewy look.
A little bit of pampering hurt no-one but…
With all this said, this is only really focusing on the outside. If it makes you feel better then where’s the harm? But I believe being beautiful really comes from within. Not just the food you nourish your body with, but having inner confidence and generally being content. This radiates on the outside and it’s this that makes us truly beautiful.
And I know many men have said it’s this which they find the most attractive about a woman…
Now go and drink some more water!
Okay, so after using up those supermarket savvy creams they didn’t ‘quite’ live up to their promises…no real surprise there. So the quest goes on… I’m currently trialling a Japanese brand called Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion (I like Japanese skincare). We all know Hyaluronic Acid is a fantastic thing to put on your skin but this contains hydrolized hyaluronic acid which means that it could actually penetrate the skin to give deeper hydration AND plumper looking skin, and not just sit on top of it – bonus! Its like a toner and moisturiser in one (although I’m adding a serum and moisturiser on top). I think it will last almost forever, as you only need a few drops in the palm of your hands and then press it into your skin (as with a lot of Japanese skincare). Watch this space!
I’ve always been a firm believer of beauty starts from within. A ‘you are what you eat’ kind of theory. So, with that in mind I have decided to trial some supplements specifically designed for women. There are several you buy off the shelves – some of which I tried and didn’t experience any difference yet had a hefty price tag. But the ones I am trying now come with heaps of positive reviews. They are called Lumity and are still rather pricey. I wanted to see if I can believe the hype this time. The main reasons I wanted to try them was the reviews claim they make you less irritable (something I *annoyingly* seem to have acquired of late) and give you a deeper, more restful sleep – again something which seems to have disappeared from my life this past year.
I am almost a month in and I have to say I am noticing a difference. Previously, I felt a little ‘off kilter’. I am less grumpy (my kids love this side effect!) and more calm like a ship with an even keel. I think my sleep is deeper, although the jury’s still out on that score. Whether they make my skin look like their ambassador Helena Christensen is another matter, but at the moment they feel like a helping hand – which I clearly needed. The benefits vary for each person: some feel the benefits almost immediately after taking them whereas, for others, it may take 3 months…I’ll let you know how I get on!