I've been looking after mine skin since early teenage years, unfortunately most of the time I wasn't using the right products. As my skin became oilier I started using products that were supposed to keep the oil at bay and balance the skin. Years have been passing and I kept struggling with oily skin, clogged pores and uneven texture, I was lucky not to have acne but of course I had to deal with some spots. Even in my adult years my skin was the same oily and I kept using products that were aimed at oily skin. Now, after all these years I can see that my main skin problem was the oiliness and I was using way too harsh products in order to calm it down but of course I was only aggravating it.
Only when I ventured into the beauty blogs world a few years ago and came across real skincare experts like Caroline Hirons I started learning more about what my skin needs to look and feel its best. And at the age of almost 37 I can finally say that I'm happy with my skin, well, most of the time, there are still days when I don't know what's going on with it :)
Today I want to share with you a few skincare steps which really helped my skin to look much better since I incorporated them in my skincare routine and consistently followed. My skin isn't perfect, it has flaws but I'm much more confident with it and feel like I finally know what it needs.
My skin is not very oily anymore although my T-Zone still gets shiny throughout the day, I have large pores which get clogged quickly if I'm not taking good care of them. I have some fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead which I'm not too fussed about as it's just part of the aging process. What I am concerned about is the dehydration of my skin which occurs usually during colder months and can make my skin look dry and patchy and my fine lines more prominent.
I want to share with you a comparison photos of how my skin looked a few months ago and how is looking now (totally unflattering photos but that's not the point of this post, LOL).
As you can see my skin used to be so much more uneven with lots of hyperpigmentation (results of my pregnancies but also careless sun tanning), large pores, congestion, little bumps.
The 'before' photos were taken when I was contacted by Ole Henriksen team in order to put together a skincare routine right for my skin and its concerns. You can read all about my experience in this post.
I'm glad I kept the photos as now I can clearly see how much better my skin looks right now.
After all this long intro let me now tell you what skincare steps have been crucial for me and helped to improve my skin's appearance.
I always used to clean my face before going to bed and in the morning but I wasn't exactly doing the 'double cleanse' method right. I used to remove my eye makeup with makeup remover and then follow with a face cleanser, usually aimed at oily skin.
Now I always remove my eye makeup with cotton pad soaked in micellar water, my personal preference, and use the back of the cotton pad to quickly wipe off some of the face makeup.
Then I use oil cleanser to properly remove my face makeup, I massage it all over my face for 20 seconds or so and then remove it with a wet face cloth.
The last step is the cleansing gel or balm to finally cleanse my skin from any residue of makeup, oil and all the dirt gathered on my skin. I massage it again for about a minute and remove it with damp face cloth.
Garnier Micellar Water, £4.99 - I've been using it for years to remove my makeup, it's gentle on the skin yet effective and it's very cheap.
Bravura First Cleanse Oil, £14.50 - I've mentioned Bravura products in my February favourites post and I'm really enjoying everything I got from them. The main oil in this cleanser is Safflower oil, which contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that offers many benefits for skin and powerful dirt- and oil-removing abilities. Coconut and Avocado oils nourish the skin while Vitamin E is a fantastic, natural antioxidant. Essential oils of Lavender, Chamomile and Rosemary are soothing and purifying, the essential oil content is enough to offer the benefits from their natural properties but low enough to avoid causing irritation, particularly to sensitive eyes. This cleansing oil doesn't have strong scent and it doesn't irritate my skin in the slightest, it removes all makeup easily (although I don't use it on my eyes) and it's such a pleasure to use.
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, £29.50 - one day I was feeling a bit spend-y and ordered this cult cleanser and I'm not disappointed, although not sure if it's worth the price tag but it's really nice.
Lactobacillus (Pumpkin Enzyme) purges pores and dissolves the bonds that bind dead cells to skin’s surface; Vitamin A Palmitate helps improve the appearance of sun damaged, dry and mature skin by gently resurfacing and promoting elasticity; Vitamins C and E are known for their restorative properties and work to fortify and protect against free radical and environmental attack; Starflower Oil (a potent source of Omega 6), Magnesium and Vitamins B2 and C promote firmness while Oskia’s signature MSM (the most bio-available form of Sulphur) detoxifies, soothes and reduces inflammation.
I'm really enjoying using this gel cleanser which after massaging it into the skin it turns into oil and I really take time with it so it can work its magic on my skin. It leaves my skin super soft, perfectly cleansed and not dried out at all. And it smells so lovely!
I used to exfoliate my face regularly, using those harsh grainy scrubs that didn't do anything good to my skin in the long term. I dabbled in some chemical exfoliators in form of mask or toner but they weren't effective enough. Until I dived in to the world of acids and, honestly, my skin loves them! Being a chemist (I studied Chemistry at University) I love me some acid action in the bathroom, LOL!
Products containing AHA (Alfa Hydroxy Acid like Glycolic and Lactic Acids) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid like Salicylic Acid) are very effective at removing dead cells and exfoliating process deeper in the skin, not only on its surface. They help to increase the cell turnover and boost collagen production which in turn make the skin smoother, plumper and more radiant, pores are clearer and look smaller and hyperpigmentation diminished.
I use on a daily basis acid tonner and every other day I add to my evening routine acid treatment, either one of the Bravura Acid Peels or face mask containing AHAs.
Every skin is different and not everyone might be able to use products with AHAs every day due to skin's sensitivity but it's all about testing it and I'm sure that every skin type benefits from regularly using products with AHA or BHA.
Bravura Revitalising Ginseng Toner, £12.40 - this is very similar to the cult Pixi Glow Tonic, it's gentle to use it every day but perfect to keep the skin in good condition in between more effective treatments. It also helps to lower skin's pH after cleansing so the acid treatments applied afterwards have the perfect base to work effectively.
Bravura Lactic, Glycolic, Salicylic Acids, each £9.59 - I alternate between these three acids, they're very effective but gentle enough to use them a few times a week. I usually leave them for up to 30 minutes on my skin and then rinse it with water to neutralise them but some people use them as serum and leave on the skin overnight. I talked about them more in my February favourites post if you want to know more what's each better for or you can check the Bravura website which has a very informative description of every product they sell.
Merumaya Skin Brightening Exfoliating Peel, £19.50 - this gel-like mask contains Glycolic Acid and Pomegranate Enzymes to exfoliate the skin, Aloe Vera to keep the skin moisturised and Allantoin to soothe it. It's an effective mask which leaves my skin smoother and softer without drying it out.
REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, £32 - it contains Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid to gently exfoliate and encourage cell renewal but also Omega 3 & 7 to help with the skin regeneration and to reduce inflammation. I reach for it when I want some more complex treatment then just an acid.
Two years ago I couldn't imagine using an oil on my oily skin but since trying it last year I learnt that facial oils have amazing benefits to the skin. Ever since I started using them my skin is not only much more hydrated and radiant but it's also less oily! Everyone seems to be loving facial oils at the moment and brands keep bringing new to the market every few months so there's plenty to choose from. It's all about trying different ones to see which will be the best for your skin.
Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil, £47* - it contains 100% concentrated Rosehip Oil which is amazing at repairing skin, helping with cells renewal, nourishing, boosting collagen production, brightening and hydrating. I use it a few times a week at night time and in the morning my skin always looks radiant and plumped. It has very nice citrus-y scent and deep orange colour (characteristic to Rosehip Oil) which doesn't stain my skin but if I go to bed straight after applying it, it transfer to my pillow. It's a small price to pay for how fantastic it is on my skin though :)
Marula Facial Oil, £37.50* - I have a in depth review of this oil if you want more information on it but in short, it's an amazingly hydrating oil and every time I feel my skin needs extra boost of hydration I reach for this product. It doesn't sink in to the skin completely so it's best to use it at night for me. It feels very lightweight though and it smells amazing.
Sunday Riley Artemis Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil, £60 for 30ml - I got a sample of this oil with one of my Space NK orders and although it's only 7ml I've been using it 2, 3 times a week for 6 weeks and I'm only finishing it now so the full size will definitely last a long time as you need literally a drop. It has a very reach, gel-like consistency which turns into oil once warmed up on the skin.
An essential oil complex of Australian medicinal plants, Lemon Ironbark and Lemon Myrtle provide anti-inflammatory, purifying, and cleansing support to the skin. Milk thistle seed oil, black cumin seed oil, and pink grapefruit essential oil help fight redness and premature aging caused by toxins and inflammation. Balanced with super CLA from pomegranate and Omega 3 from flax seed for a “clean, healthy glow from within.”
I'm not a big fan of the scent, for me it's not very lemon-y but I can deal with it as the oil leaves my skin very soft and smooth and the next morning my face looks nice and glowing and I think it helps with oiliness as well. I'm not sure I would buy the full size cause it's rather expensive but if your skin is combination/oily and you have the budget I think you will benefit from this facial oil.
Daily facial SPF
The last step which I think has been very important in how my skin is looking now is to wear facial SPF on daily basis. I used to be terrible when it comes to protecting my face from harmful sun rays and would only wear SPF when being on the beach. Hence so much damage on my skin and lots of hyperpigmentation that even increased when I was pregnant with my boys due to hormonal changes. I'm still guilty of not wearing SPF every single day, especially during Winter but when sun is out I would not leave a house without slathering SPF lotion on my face before applying any makeup.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50 Dry Touch Gel Anti-Shine, £16.50 - finding the right SPF product that will be perfect to wear under makeup without leaving a white cast on the skin or making the face looking greasy is not easy and I'm still testing different products to find the perfect one. In general I really enjoy the La Roche-Posay Anthelios range as they're high quality products and they're designed for everyday wear. The Dry Touch Gel doesn't leave my skin greasy and it doesn't make me oilier during the day which is a big bonus but it can leave a white cast on the skin so I need to make sure I work it into my skin well, the 'quickly slapping it all over' method doesn't work here :)
So these are all the important steps in my skincare routine that helped significantly with my skin's condition. Of course I use more products on daily basis, like serums or moisturisers but double cleanse, chemical exfoliation, facial oil and daily SPF have been definitely crucial for me and since religiously following them my skin has never been better.
These steps have helped me and should help anyone with any skin type so if you're struggling with your skin but still not regularly implementing the above skincare steps I highly recommend you do, you should definitely see the difference.
Of course you can use different products, here I only gave you the examples of what I'm using at the moment and what's working well for me.
As a disclaimer I need to add that I'm not a skincare expert, I'm only talking about my experience and what have worked for me.
Which skincare steps are very important for you to keep your skin in best possible condition? Do you have any special products that you can always rely on?