Monday, 28 January 2013

How To Look After: Sensitive Skin

(Note: this is only from my understandings as a makeup artist/skin consultant. I have no medical qualifications)

Oh, you poor, sensitive soul! Sensitive skin can be an absolute nightmare, as lots of people out there know, including myself. It doesn’t have to be a burden though; there’s plenty of things you can do to make sure that your skincare regime gives you the TLC you need and doesn’t leave your skin stinging and burning. There is no singular cause of sensitive skin; and therefore there is no one universal answer to solve the issue. However, here is a little list of helpful tips to help you calm and soothe your skin.

Q) Do I have sensitive skin?

Does your skin sting, burn or itch when you try new products or certain product ranges? Is your skin generally easily irritated? Can certain products trigger breakouts for you? Does applying/taking off makeup multiple times a day aggravate your skin? If you answered yes to any of this, then this might be you.

Q) What causes sensitivity?

Thinner skin, medication and hormones, allergies, over-abrasive products and environmental causes can all be causes of sensitivity. Think back to when you’ve had a reaction in the past, and try and link it to one of the above. Recognising the trigger will help in preventing the reaction.

Q) What skincare should I use?

The simpler the better! With sensitive skin, it is far better to use fewer, quality products which you trust than trying to overload your skin with remedies. The more products you use, the more your skin may react. Bare your skin type (oily/dry/combination) in mind, but think minimalist in the products you buy. Also, look at the ingredients. Personally, I like using more natural skincare rather than high-tech skincare on my sensitive skin.
My skincare regime is:
Morning: Warm water to cleanse and a calming, balancing day moisturiser
Night: Oil cleanser, (toner if I can be bothered) eye cream, oil/serum

Try and avoid over-exfoliating, and also try and avoid doing too many intensive masks or treatments. At the most, stick to once a week.

Q) What ingredients are good for sensitive skin?

Aloe vera, rose, lavender, chamomile, calendula, and calamine are all soothing and calming for irritated skin. Honey, oats and oat milk are also very soothing (oats have traditionally been used to treat eczema).
Try and avoid products with high alcohol content or salt-based cleansers (sulphates).

Q) What makeup is good for sensitive skin?

This is a difficult one, but you really do get what you pay for when it comes to makeup quality. For sensitive skin, it is important that you don’t use any old thing as poorer quality products could cause you to react. Do a bit of research before you invest, however; read reviews online and see what others think of the product you are interested in. This should save you wasting your money. On the other hand, you don’t have to fork out loads for a whole new makeup bag; I have found Bourjois and Maxfactor to be nice cheaper brands for sensitive skin. If you invest in one thing, get yourself a quality foundation as this has to go over the largest area of your face. Secondly, prioritise mascara, as your eyes can be the most sensitive part of your face.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

How To Look After: Dry Skin

(Note: this is only from my understandings as a makeup artist/skin consultant. I have no medical qualifications)

Dry skin, like oily skin, is also a common problem which affects most people at some point in their lives.  Here I am looking only at looking after dry facial skin, although some tips (such as what ingredients to look for) may be transferable to other body bits. Dryness often leaves your face feeling uncomfortable, sore and dehydrated. Although dry skin is naturally associated with age, (the older you get, the less your skin is capable to balance itself and it will be naturally drier) anyone of any age can have a dryer skin type.  As my own skin type is normal/dry, many of the following tips are ones I apply to myself as well as others.


Q) What is/do I have dry skin?

Dry skin is when your skin does not naturally produce enough oil to keep itself balanced, causing your skin to feel taut and parched. It may be flaky and dull, and in extreme cases itchy or prone to cracking. If you wake up in the morning and your skin feels two sizes too small for your face, then you, my friend, have dry skin.

Q) What is the difference between dryness and dehydration?

Dryness is a lack of oil in your skin; dehydration is a lack of water.  If you pinch your cheek gently in your fingertips and you see it’s very finely lined, it is dehydrated. Drinking lots of water will help this dehydration but will NOT  help with a lack of oil.

Q) What else causes dryness?

Your skin can be made dry by the environment, or abrasive and harsh products you may already be using. Environmental causes include sunbathing, air conditioning, central heating, and drinking alcohol.

Q) Are there any benefits of having dry skin?

Chances are, your makeup will last longer on your skin, and you probably won’t be as prone to spots and breakouts. The bad news, however, is that you are more prone to signs of aging and wrinkles; as the skin is tighter, the wrinkles will show quicker. Think of your dry skin like linen and of oily skin like latex. Latex is harder to crease, as it is thicker and it bounces back when you bend it; it’s an oil-based fabric. Linen is thinner, drier and if you crush that bad boy it will CREASE.

Q) Should I exfoliate? How often?

Yes you should! Your skin cells’ cycle, or the lifetime of the cells, lasts for about 28 days. Dry skin cells go through the cell cycle quicker, therefore they die quicker. Dead skin cells can lie on your skin and block your pores, make your skin look dull, and look flaky, so you need to exfoliate roughly every other day to get rid of the excess. (If you are sensitive, you would scrub less often, but with a super gentle cleanser you could still exfoliate once or twice a week)

Q) What cleanser should I use?

Stay away from one with drying Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or a high alcohol content. A nice milky or oil based cleanser would be lightly hydrating while still removing dirt and makeup.

Q) What about toner/moisturiser?

If you invest in one good quality, expensive product make it your moisturiser. Preferably, get a day moisturiser with a high SPF and a rich, hydrating night cream without SPF. Alternatively, get one good all purpose moisturiser for day and night, and invest in a facial sunscreen (these are about £5 and generally last for about 3 months) to wear during the day. SPF cannot be worn at night as it is damaging to the skin. Moisturise twice a day, morning and night. While toner is beneficial and may soothe and calm your skin, and prep it for moisturising, it is one thing that you can skip if you’re feeling lazy. 

Q) Anything else?

TOP TIP! If you’ve been out on the razz, you cheeky monkey, or enjoying a bit of a bevy, this is not going to do your dry skin any favours. Get a nice moisturising mask for the morning/afternoon/evening after, it’s going to give your skin back the moisture that alcohol sucked away.

Q) When should I wash my face?

Try and avoid over cleansing if you can. I only use water in the morning, and then moisturiser.  At night when you remove your makeup is the time to cleanse more thoroughly. Definitely avoid over-scrubbing as this will make your skin drier than it is.

Q)  What ingredients should I look out for?

To moisturise, look for any nut oils. Cocoa butter, shea butter, illipe butter, olive oil and honey also moisturise. Aloe vera, rose, chamomile and oats will soothe redness, soreness, and dryness.  Hyaluronic Acid and Alguronic Acid will help with water retention for dehydration.

Q) What makeup is good for dry skin?

A hydrating primer is a good idea, as this will work with your moisturiser to keep your skin feeling supple throughout the day. Liquid foundations or tinted moisturisers also work well for dry skin types as they are less likely to dry out and look cakey, however, make sure that the moisturiser is not oil free, as a little bit of oil works well on dryness. Mineral powders are great as they are so fine that they will not look clumpy on dry patches. Creamy blushes and eyeshadows will keep your skin looking more moisturised and also give a lovely skin-like finish. If you want to boost radiance, look for illuminating products with light reflecting pigments in; these will bounce light off your face and give you a health glow

Thursday, 17 January 2013

How to Look After: Oily Skin

(Note: this is only from my understandings as a makeup artist/skin consultant. I have no medical qualifications)

Oily skin is something which affects us all at one time or another. Whether this is your general skin type or excess oil tends to affect you more sporadically, you’ll probably need to tailor your skincare regime to make sure you’re looking after your skin properly. However, from talking to customers and models at work, I feel like there is a lot of mixed messages out there about the best way to do this. I thought I’d do a little FAQ answering questions and comments to the best of my ability about how to deal with oily skin.

Q: What is/do I have oily skin?

Oily skin is when the glands in your skin produce excess oil, which can lead to shininess, visible open pores, blemishes, blocked pores etc. If you wake up in the morning and your skin feels greasy, like you can’t wait to wash it and you also find that you sometimes suffer from some of the above, then you may have an oily skin type. 

Q: Are there any benefits of having oily skin?

Yes! An oily skin type will keep your skin more supple and better hydrated, so you will be less likely to get wrinkles as you get older if you look after your skin properly. You may not like it now, but you will love it when you’re 40 and you look younger than all your friends, promise.

Q: Should I exfoliate every day?  I do need to get rid of my blocked pores!

No! This is a very common misconception, especially in young people. The more you stimulate your skin (by touching/rubbing/exfoliating), the more oil it will produce. A daily scrub might initially make your face feel squeaky clean as all the oil has been blitzed and scrubbed away, however your skin is likely to react by going into overdrive and producing even more oil to make up for what you lost.  Also, spots are infected pores. Scrubbing will spread the infection around your skin to other pores, causing more spots. I’m not saying don’t do it, just try exfoliating a couple of times a week instead with a gentle scrub.

Q: What cleanser should I use?

Try and avoid one with high alcohol content as this will over-dry your skin. Like over-scrubbing, your skin will produce excess oil to make up for this dryness, leaving you in a vicious circle of dry/oily/dry/oily. Another ingredient that will do this is sodium lauryl sulphate, a salt based foaming agent. Also try and avoid face wipes if you have lots of blemishes as these tend to spread the bacteria round your face. Use cotton pads instead, as this is more hygienic.  Oil based cleansers can also be effective and tend to be more gentle. It may seem strange to put more oil on your face, but oil cuts through oil, so as long as you wipe or wash of your cleanser, your skin will thank you for it. You don't have to spend a lot, but if you are only going to invest in one high quality product, get yourself a nice cleanser. For oily skin, a quality cleanser takes priority.

Q: Do I need a toner?

Yes, this is especially good for oily skin as it will close your open pores, and therefore prevent bacteria getting stuck in them.

Q:  What about moisturiser?

Oily skin needs a moisturiser just like any other skin type, and there are lots of good ones out there which are oil free or have low oil content. Remember the vicious cycle, you don’t want to let your skin dry out, or the oiliness may get worse.  Maybe just apply it at night to avoid getting shiny in the day. Also, don’t rub it on, but pat it on lightly with your finger tips to avoid over-stimulation.

Q: When should I wash my face?

The most important time to wash your face is at night, so your skin can take in all the benefits as you sleep. Make sure you do your cleanse/tone/moisturise routine then, you can keep things simple in the morning. You may benefit from a clay mask once a week to draw out any more deep-set, lingering nasties in your skin. I had horrible breakouts when I moved to London and Lush’s Cupcake face mask sorted me right out.  

Q: What ingredients are good for oily skin?

Tea tree, witch hazel, peppermint, and any zesty fruit (lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple etc) are all purifying, brightening and antibacterial. Aloe vera, rose and lavender will soothe redness, inflammation and soreness. Kaolin, or china clay, and Rhassoul mud are absorbent and will also draw out dirt from your pores. Salicylic acid (in small doses) is great for preventing spots and blemishes.

Q: What makeup is good for oily skin?

Mineral powder foundations, such as Bare Minerals products or MAC’s Mineralize powder, are fantastic as they do not block your pores. They will, however, mattify excess oil on your skin and give buildable coverage. In terms of liquid foundations, try and avoid oil based ones. If your makeup tends to slip, try investing in an oil-free primer to use first, this will anchor everything in place. If you wear a lot of eye makeup, I’d recommend using an eye base primer, such as Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion, to fix the products in place and stop them slipping. It may also be handy to carry around little blotting papers (which you can buy from any high street cosmetics company) to blot oil on your T-zone during the day.

If you’re a little oily, it is even more important to wash your makeup brushes regularly. Excess oil and bacteria on your brushes will build up and spread spots.
Always, ALWAYS take your makeup off. I cannot stress this enough. Old makeup will make every problem oily skin already has worse. Also make sure you wash your face well after exercise, as sweat may contribute to blocked pores as well.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

7 Beauty Sins

We all have our bad habits when it comes to our beauty regimes. This is true of everybody I can think of, including myself. However, we now find ourselves in 2013; it’s a brand spanking new year, and let’s face it, you owe it to yourself to exorcise some of the demons lurking at the bottom of your makeup bag. To give you a head start, here are my personal seven deadly beauty sins:

1)      Not washing your make-up brushes
This can seem like the very last thing on a long list of priorities you have, but a LOT of bacteria can build up and fester on a brush.  This can cause spots and blocked pores, and also ruin brushes you may have spent a lot of money on. It’s so easy to clean them once a week, just run a bowl of warm-ish water with shampoo in, swirl ‘em around and dry them overnight on loo roll. Done.

2)      Not knowing your skin type
Get to know your skin type. Whether you have oily, combination, dry or mature skin, get to know your skin’s needs and wants, and get to know what ingredients you like on your skin. This can make all the difference when you get round to choosing your skincare, trust me. No more wondering aimlessly round Boots looking desperately for a moisturiser, you will save time and money if you already have some idea what you need. It will also give you a better chance of getting the perfect product – nobody knows what your skin likes and needs skin better than you do.

3)      Not reading the ingredients
Most people think about what they put in their body, but who really pays attention to what goes on their face? By reading the actual ingredients of your product you can wise up about the content. Does it contain mineral oils or parabens? Does it contain alcohol or perfume? If the product advertises the benefits of plant or fruit oils, how much do they actually feature in the formula? By comparing the ingredients you can tell more about the quality of the product, especially if you can’t test it then and there in the shop.

4)      Using Vaseline (and any other petroleum or paraffin based products)
Sorry, this one is personal. Vaseline is made of petroleum. This is bad for the environment and has no beneficial effects for your skin. It may act as an emollient and stop your skin feeling dry but it does not moisturise at all, it just sits there. That’s why you have to reapply it a million times a day.

5)      Not taking your makeup off
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. This is the quickest way to blemishes and blocked pores. Use a cleanser, use oil, if you absolutely must use a face wipe, even use soap and water if that’s your bag, just take it off.

6)      Not wearing an SPF
Even in the winter, your skin is exposed to the rays of the sun, and harmful UVA rays can travel through walls and glass at anytime of year. 90% of environmental aging is caused by the sun. Luckily now, it’s fairly easy to get your hands on a moisturiser, foundation, BB cream etc with SPF and UVA/UVB protection, or even use a cheap sunblock over your day moisturiser. There, you have no excuse.

7)      Not using an eye cream
Pffffft, eye cream! Who cares!’ I hear you say. Fact is that the skin on and around your eyes is super thin and very delicate, therefore your eyes are more prone to showing signs of aging as the skin is easier to damage. Applying and removing eye makeup, putting in your lenses, rubbing, itching, and scratching your eyes is something we all do on a daily basis; and all of the above contribute to damaging the skin. Give your peepers a little extra help at night, no matter what age you are (I’ve used it since I was 19) and slow down signs of aging, prevent puffiness and banish dark circles