Posted in Feminism, Health and beauty

Skin care like a grownup

(A short history of my skin: it was good while I was at school; any issues in my late teens and early twenties were kept at bay by the contraceptive pill and its miraculous skin-calming qualities; I moved to the UK in my early twenties and my skin rebelled against me for several years, despite a fair bit of investment; I eventually returned to New Zealand and got pregnant, which did wonders for my complexion; since having the kids my skin has remained fairly decent, with only the occasional spot.)

I have been undeniably low-key about looking after my skin since it improved, partially because skin care products are much more expensive in New Zealand (and facials are regarded as luxury items), and partially because I’m both a bit lazy, and very busy. I also don’t worry about fighting various signs of ageing, for three reasons:

  1. I already look pretty young (thanks to genetics and, I suspect, living in a very overcast country for nearly fourteen years of my adult life).
  2. I reject the notion that only ‘looking young’ can be (or is) regarded as attractive.
  3. I resent the ongoing assumption that men can age gracefully, but women are supposed to worry about it. I’ve got better things to do with my time, thanks – I’ll start stressing about grey hair and wrinkles when EVERY SINGLE MAN I know does likewise.

However, despite not being concerned about the inevitable lines and wrinkles, I do like my skin to be soft, supple, healthy, and as clear as possible. And thanks to Burned Out Beauty, the blog written by my friend Jackie Danicki (the Original Beauty Blogger who was busy in this game when the current crop of beauty bloggers were probably still using Clearisil), I actually feel like I know now how to achieve that!

Jackie’s approach is less about the products (although she will recommend brands if she thinks they’re worth it), and more about an overall attitude to skin care. Here are the main things I’ve learned:

  • Foaming cleanser is nobody’s friend (and I have stopped using it as a result).
  • Nobody should be influenced by weird celebrity trends, like not washing one’s face in the morning (it wasn’t something that had occurred to me to try, thankfully).
  • If you want clean skin at night, you should double-cleanse (just washing your face once is unlikely to get it properly clean).
  • You should have a ‘menu’ of skin care products, to use in response to what your skin needs each day (I’d assumed that the same stuff would be fine every day).
  • Oil should not be feared as a skin care product, even if you’re occasionally inclined towards spottiness.
  • Micellar water will not get your face properly clean, despite what bottle labels and advertisements say (and if you take a look at the cotton pad after you’ve used this stuff on your face, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you).
  • Serums really are a good thing to incorporate into your skin care routine.
  • Skin care products are insanely cheap in the USA, and reading details of the offers that Jackie mentions will make you sick with envy (they make me very nostalgic for my days of living in the UK and being able to access the wonders of Boots and Superdrug).

Since following some of Jackie’s advice the overall condition of my skin has improved substantially, so I thought I’d share the details of my ‘regime’. They are extremely budget-friendly, as we’re a one-income, mortgage-and-au pair-paying family and I don’t have much cash available for this kind of thing (but one day I’m going to make it back to New York, at which point I will raid Jackie’s bathroom for her cast-off products).

I wash my face each morning either with Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, or with Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub, and then I massage three drops of By Nature Organic Rosehip Oil into my dried skin:

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Although the scrub claims to be gentle enough for daily use, I’m not convinced – I use it a couple of times a week. And that rosehip oil has been what the youth of today describe as ‘a bit of a game-changer’: it’s improved my skin more than anything else, in my opinion.

If I’m staying inside for the day (or if it’s raining) I then use By Nature Hydrating Day Creme, and if I am going to be outside I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen:

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That’s been my go-to facial sunscreen for at least the last three years. It’s brilliant: it absorbs very well, and leaves a matte finish that is perfect under makeup. I also use it as the kids’ facial sunscreen, since it’s very easy to apply and isn’t runny.

Most of the time I don’t bother wearing any makeup, because the combination of the oil and the moisturiser or sunscreen seems to be enough to make my skin look fine (plus: lazy, remember). But in the evening I still stick with Jackie’s recommended double cleanse. The plot twist is that I use Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water in Oil for the first cleanse, and Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Make-Up Remover for eye makeup (if I’m wearing any, which only tends to happen once or twice a week).

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I figure that the micellar water is OK for the first cleanse, since I’m going to be giving my face a thorough wash straight afterwards. I use it exactly as directly, and am always amazed at how grimy the cotton pads look afterwards, and how crazy it would be to assume that my skin was then clean. It’s also hopeless for eye makeup removal, despite what it claims: it stings, and it doesn’t shift even very light coatings of mascara. For that the Neutrogena product is great: the only decent (cheap) alternative to my all-time favourite (and now out of my price range) eye makeup remover, Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover, which is the best one I’ve ever used (if you ever visit me from abroad, please bring me some from Duty Free). I tried several low-cost eye makeup removers in my quest to replace my beloved Bi-Facil, and this Neutrogena one was the only thing that didn’t sting my eyes.

For my second cleanse I use either Goodness Every Day Cream Cleanser, or Yes to Cucumbers Daily Gel Cleanser, depending on how my skin’s feeling that day.

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That cream cleanser is the first Goodness product I’ve tried, and I really like it – I’ll definitely experiment more with that brand, and this particular cleanser is likely to migrate into my morning routine when I use up my current Neutrogena cleanser. And I really like the gel cleanser, which leaves my skin feeling very clean without making it tight and dry, but one of these days I’ll have to come up with a good alternative: the ‘Yes to’ products were all over the place until recently, and now all of the supermarkets seem to have decided not to stock them (fortunately I’ve stockpiled another one or two tubes of this cleaner, plus a couple of the scrubs I mentioned earlier, so I’ll be fine for a while).

And after I’ve cleansed I follow yet more of Jackie’s advice, using By Nature Moisture Replenishing Face Serum, followed by By Nature Replenishing Night Creme. And I pat a bit of By Nature Rejuvenating Eye Creme under my eyes, since that skin is very delicate and prone to looking a bit dry and crepey otherwise.

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The combination of that serum and the night creme makes my skin feel like velvet.

And that’s it! Although it sounds like a lot of products, it takes no more than a couple of minutes, morning and night. And the products I use are seriously affordable: those By Nature products are incredibly well priced – only $20 for the oil, which will probably last me until I’m 50 – and $10 for the eye creme – and extremely good quality. I became quite keen on prioritising the use of natural and organic products when I was trying to get pregnant, and continued it when the babies were on board, and now it’s become second nature, so those Neutrogena products are likely to be phased out as I find slightly more ‘natural’ alternatives.

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