Ever since 2012, when I started working for Boots, I have been interested in skincare. Over the years and have learnt so many invaluable facts, tips and tricks that I thought I’d share with you all.
Know your skin: Before you go out and spend your money on anything and everything in the skincare aisle you need to take a look at your skin and decide what you want your skincare to do. Do you want anti-ageing; correcting, protecting, moisturising or a mixture of those and more? When you know this you can then tailor your purchases towards what you actually want to achieve and look for skincare that contains active ingredients to help your skin concerns.
Don’t believe all the marketing, look for ‘actives’: The vast majority of skincare on the market is purely cosmetic, i.e. it doesn’t actually do anything. Most face creams will not realistically help your skin in any way other than a bit of superficial moisturising. If you want to properly look after your skin then you need to look out for the active ingredients that will play a part in preventative or reparative treatment. Retinol (many uses including anti-ageing, scarring, acne), hyaluronic acid (moisture), peptides (essential in getting to work deep down under the skin), vitamin C (brightening), caffeine (help to combat puffiness and darkness, usually used under eyes) to name but a few, will all (in a high enough concentration) help to actively protect or repair your skin.
It’s not all about the brand: It is a common misconception that a ‘luxury’ brand is always better. ‘You get what you pay for’ is a phrase spoken all too often in the beauty industry, but this isn’t always the case. Essential skincare ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin c and retinol can be found, in ‘active’ quantities, in both high end and budget products. Look at the ingredients list on the back of a product, the higher up on the list an ingredient is, the more of it is in the product and therefore the more ‘active’ it is. This is the same across the board whether something costs £5 or £55.
Where to spend the money: I can’t really give any better advice other than what I heard from Caroline Hirons when she appeared on This Morning:
SPF: One of the most important things, missing from most people’s skincare regime, is SPF. The sun (UVA and UVB) is the number one cause of skin ‘ageing’. Even in countries like the UK, where the weather is predominantly cold and/ or raining, excessive unprotected exposure when outside (even on a cloudy day) is enough to prematurely age your skin. Invest in a good SPF. Even though a lot of the other skincare products in your regime (such as your moisturiser or foundation) may claim to have an SPF, in reality this is not enough. To feel the full effect of the claimed SPF in your foundation you would need to apply a tablespoon of it to your face! Go for anything that is ‘broad spectrum’ (protects equally against UVA and UVB) and apply daily (although during winter months you may wish to stop doing this in favour of a thicker moisturiser).
Clean your face! It is imperative that you effectively clean your face at the start and end of each day. This will cleanse the skin and clear your pores in preparation for the skincare products (or so that your skin is clean if you prefer to sleep without).
Blemishes or breakouts: From time-to-time (although some people suffer chronically and should treat those breakouts differently) your skin will break out. It can be caused by everything from stress and hormones to the weather. The best treatments for those breakouts is salicylic acid. It is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) and is great for exfoliating and unclogging pores therefore clearing the blemish or blemishes. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties making it great for spots!
Treatments: Once or twice a week you can treat your skin with treatments such as face masks, peels or scrubs to deep clean and revitalise your skin more intensely. Make sure products such as scrubs and acid exfoliators (such as AHA and BHA) are used sparingly and no more often than 3 times a week as stripping the skin too often can lead to break outs. Sheet masks are nice but are bad for the environment, a paste mask is better value and more environmentally friendly (and still as Instagram-able). There are face masks for everything from moisturising to skin calming and complexion brightening to anti-ageing. Choose some that will treat your skin concerns and use throughout the week.
What are the actives?
There are too many different ‘active’ skincare ingredients for me to list them all here so I’ll list the most common ones and what they’re used for:
- Retinol: has many uses. Most commonly found in anti-ageing products but can also help with scarring and acne. When used to treat acne it is usually a much higher concentration than when used for anti-ageing and therefore has to be prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist.
Here are my favourite retinol products:
- Hyaluronic Acid: this is used to help with moisture levels on the skin. In basic terms it acts like a sponge drawing moisture from the atmosphere onto the surface of your skin.
My favourite hyaluronic acid products:
- Salicylic acid: great for treatment of spots and blemishes as it is anti-inflammatory and will help to unclog the pores. Put it on your spot and notice a difference within a few hours.
Here are some of the salicylic acid products I use:
- Vitamin C: often used to brighten a ‘dull’ complexion, vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps your skin repair damaged cells thereby regenerating the skin. It also inhibits melanin production and is therefore widely used in treatments to lighten ‘dark spots’ or ‘age spots’ and help to even out skin tone.
Some Vitamin C products I personally recommend:
- Peptides: these are building blocks for your skin. When used in skincare these amino acids help with production of proteins that naturally occur in the skin like collagen and elastin .
Peptide serums I really like:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid: glycolic acid is a common AHA used in skincare peels and exfoliants. They work by helping to peel away the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin so that cell regeneration can take place.
Here are some good AHA cleaners:
- SPF: the Sun Protection Factor refers to the amount of protection a product has against the suns rays (UVB unless it is a broad spectrum SPF which protects against both UVA and UVB) compared to unprotected skin. When applied correctly (in the correct quantity and at correct intervals) SPF 30 would allow 3.3% of the sun’s rays to reach your skin whereas SPF 50 would allow 2%* (therefore blocking 97% and 98% of the UVB rays respectively).
Here are the SPF products I used: