Serums, cleansers, masks, oils– looking after your skin and hair can become a beauty minefield. Should we be going back to basics?
Over the past few years clever skincare has come on leaps and bounds. Beauty products now come as a result of years of laboratory research by scientists. From hyaluronic acid to reservatrol, 2014’s beauty buzzwords reaffirmed that skincare and technology go firmly hand in hand. Whilst we can’t, and won’t, refute the merits of skincare technology, the developments of which are often very exciting, it leaves us with the temptation to make our skincare routines too complex or confusing and perhaps doing more harm than good. When before, the simple cleanse, tone and moisturise routine would do, you’ve now got the pressure of weekly masks, gadgets and gizmos, monthly facials, serums before day creams, beauty drinks and collagen tablets.
Despite being spoilt by products and innovations, in recent months we’ve noticed a trend to a more back to basics approach. From shampoos intended to revert your hair back to it’s natural or ‘’ state to minimal make-up looks, barefaced beauty is reigning supreme. We’ve also witnessed a trend to looking after your skin from within and protecting it from the elements.
We’re not chucking out our serums just yet, but we are starting to embrace the shift to a simpler, natural approach to skincare. But how do you ‘simple’ sensibly and effectively? The top beauty experts reveal all…
WHY SO SIMPLE?
The reasons for simple skincare coming back on to the agenda are numerous. According to Organic Monitor, the latest Consumer Insights Report confirms 90% of buyers of natural and organic personal care products in the UK are going out of their way to avoid products that contain synthetic chemicals. Two-thirds stated they wished to avoid parabens, suggesting that natural and organic certification has become ever more important to consumers. ‘The skin has a natural ability to heal and generate new health skin cells. Our beauty routine should support this, not interfere with it,’ explains Wendy Sterling, founder of Botanicals Natural Skincare (botanicals.co.uk). She adds; ‘there’s a tendency to rely on too many products, and too much of them – less is definitely more when it comes to healthy skin.’
Another expert who agrees with the ‘less is more’ approach is Katie McCaffrey, Temple Spa Training and Treatment Development Manager (templespa.com); ‘It’s important not to overload your skin, pores can get blocked and when using a serum underneath a moisturiser, it is important not be using an oil or a wax at the same time – these textures work in the same the area of the skin so they will conflict. Instead of overloading with product, changing something within your skincare regime every month works well, as it keeps your skin interested.’
On top of growing skepticism over synthetic chemicals and invasive treatments, McCaffrey also suggests that it’s less about the amount of products we’re using, but how we’re using them; ‘recently we have seen more evidence to support the power of hands on massage within anti-ageing facials, self-performed facial massage to apply products and useful tools to be used by the client,’ she says.
LET’S GO BACK TO BASICS
Rule 1: Your products should compliment, not conflict, each other
So where do you start your back to basics beauty routine? McCaffrey suggests that if you’re using too many products that have the same purpose, you start to defeat the very object of skincare. If you’re using a serum to resurface and improve the tone and texture of skin then there is no need to have a cleanser, toner and moisturiser that have the same effect. She also recommends keeping an eye out for redness and sensitivity, they’re both signs that you might be scrubbing your skin too much, detoxing and using strong resurfacing products, resulting in broken capillaries and enlarged pores, as this is too much for the skin. ‘But it is crucial to still be exfoliating weekly to keep the pores clean and clear,’ adds McCaffrey. Avoid scrubbing away at the skin by using an exfoliator that can be left on the skin or one that cleanse and polishes without being harsh on your face, like Temple Spa’s Breakfast Smoothie (£24; templespa.com).
Rule 2: Keep yourself protected
‘Make sure you use SPF in addition to your makeup, even on a cloudy day, and don’t assume that if you’re make-up or skincare contains an SPF it will provide the protection you need – you’d need to put on 14 or 15 times the amount of make-up that a normal person would wear to each the SPF on the label,’ says Rosalind Chapman, founder of Transformulas (transformulas.com).
Rule 3: Beware of over-cleansing
‘Over-cleansing strips the skin of its natural oils that protect it from dirt and pollution, causing an imbalance which can lead to problematic skin conditions, including dryness, dullness and the over production of sebum,’ explains Sterling.
Whilst it’s important to get rid of dirt and free , if you’re guilty of over-cleansing or using a cleanser that is too harsh, your skin probably feels taut and tight. ‘Our skin has an important lipid barrier, this determines our natural skin balance and the acidity of our skin. The better we try to maintain this lipid barrier the better our skin will look, feel and perform,’ adds McCaffrey.
Rule 4: Understand your skin
One of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to complicating our skincare is not choosing the right skincare to suit our needs. ‘A friend may recommend a product but that doesn’t mean it will work for you, so really get to know your skin and understand it,’ says Chapman, ‘furthermore, too much skincare in the wrong combinations can aggravate inflammation or excess oil production which can cause spots leading to more fragile skin and even more visible wear and tea, making it even more important to adopt a healthy routine that suits your skin type.’
Rule 5: Go sparingly
‘More is not more when it comes to skincare,’ explains Chapman, ‘ten different day creams will not mean you are ten steps closer to fewer lines. This kind of cosmetic overkill will only exhaust your time and budget and wreak havoc on your skin.’ And this also applies to how much product you use. ‘I would recommend pea size for a serum, slightly larger for a moisturizer and for eye creams or eye serums, a rice grain amount,’ she says.
Rule 6: Go alcohol free
As well as alcohol-free cleanser, omit the alcohol from your toner too. McCaffrey explains; ‘A good alcohol free toner is often understated, the product should always be used morning and evening after any cleansing of the skin to rebalance, re-hydrate, refine pores and eliminate any leftover traces of make-up. It is important, that your toner doesn’t strip the skin, even if your skin type is unbalanced – it can reduce the amount of moisturise required each day!’
Rule 7: Bathroom cabinet essentials
It may come as little surprise that your go-to skincare routine should involve cleansing, toning and moisturizing, but multi-function products can often be your saviors. Wendy Sterling champions Botanical’s award-winning rose and camellia Cleansing Melt (£19.95; botanicals.co.uk); ‘it’s a multi-purpose product that cleanses by dissolving and lifting make-up and impurities, without irritation, leaving the skin feeling soft, protected and hydrated.’
NO CREAMS REQUIRED
‘Arguably the biggest part of minimal trend is the return to gadgets and tools that require elbow grease, rather than a power supply – think facial workouts and body brushing,’ explains Rosalind Chapman. She adds; ‘part of the ‘Botox backlash’ has given rise to new trends for facial yoga or Face Gym. Facial muscles are crucial to the way we look and with regular stimulation can tone and tighten the skin, boost blood circulation and collagen production giving a fresh and youthful complexion. A great facial exercise for lines across your forehead is to place both hands on the forehead facing inwards and spread all of the fingers out between the eyebrows and hairline, next gently sweep the fingers outwards across the forehead, applying light pressure to tighten the skin.’
‘Also, pressing on your eye cream around the eye contour following the orbital bone, them smoothly around again to drain fluid from under the eyes ensuring you are working from the inner corner of the eye to the tip of the eyebrow, will keep the eye area dark circle free and aid the absorption of a good eye product,’ adds McCaffrey.
YOUR BACKLASH BEAUTY PRODUCTS:
The Elevator (£20; templespa.com) – The unique, soft touch rolling heads and massager nodules encourage lymphatic drainage by moving toxins out of skin cells.
The Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method (£14.99 + £2.50 p&p; faceyogaexpert.com) – The world leading Face Yoga expert has created two 10-minute facial workouts (one for upper face and one for lower) to give safe, natural anti-ageing results.
Eau Thermale Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser (£8.00; Boots.com) – This fragrance and paraben free, no rinse, tissue off formula contains 96% of soothing Avène Thermal Spring Water, meaning it’s incredibly gentle.
Dr Organic Rose Otto Cleansing Milk (£8.49, from Hollandandbarrett.com) – An alcohol-free cleanser containing aromatic essential oils, and a blend of bioactive, natural and organic ingredients to ensure balanced skin tone.
Forest Dew Skin Conditioner (£35.50 for 100ml; antoniaburrell.com) – This fresh tonic refines pores, reduces inflammation and redness whilst refreshing skin.
Face Express Power Facials from Antonia Burrell (£35 for 20 minutes with Antonia, £25 for therapist; the privateclinic.co.uk) – These facials (Lift & Plump, Nourish & Repair or Polish & Glow) are the perfect thing to perk up lacklustre skin in minimal time.
Thalgo BB Cream Perfect Glow (£19.50; thalgo.co.uk) – Hybrid products are great for minimal skincare and this BB cream is no exception, working on four levels to improve radiance, conceal, hydrate and protect the skin.