I'm back! And with softer, smoother skin. No, really!
Full disclosure: taking a few days off blogging will not result in softer, smoother skin, but worshipping at the temple of Caroline Hirons will. I always felt I'd been blessed with genetically wonderful skin and would never really need to follow a proper skincare regime. That was at least until a year or so ago when I realised I was horribly, horribly wrong. I'd made it to the wrong side of 25 without so much as a hint of crow's feet by some miracle but suddenly there were lines on my forehead that hadn't been there before ...
Then last week I discovered Caroline's blog. Considering she's been blogging for four years next month I was somewhat aghast that I hadn't stumbled across her site before, but better late than never. This is a GOLDMINE of skincare advice. I spent probably two solid days reading up, and if you're looking for a quick start guide on looking after your skin, spend a little time reading her cheat sheets, particularly the ones on morning and evening routines, cleansing, facial massage and her top tips. Seriously. Reading this site will change your life. Or at least your face.
So with all this powerful new knowledge, I pulled out every single product I own (including hair and make-up stuff it covered my 5ft bed) and sorted through the skincare looking for nasties like mineral oil, SLS, granular exfoliators, silicone, lanolin and anything else that looked a bit dodgy. This meant getting shot of about half my products, at which I almost cried.
However, I've now been following Caroline's routines and recommendations for less than a week and already my skin looks a thousand times better. Honestly – my spots are rapidly disappearing, my skin is brighter and more even-toned and feels softer and smoother to the touch. It is actually amazing. So I wanted to give a little shout-out to Caroline, and to some of the products that I've been using – and, I might add, using properly, possibly for the first time ever.
I have been a devotee of this eye makeup remover for some time now and recently recommended it to a friend with the words, "It's the only thing that can cope with my industrial mascara and eyeliner habit!" Anyone who has ever used Benefit's They're Real! mascara will know exactly where I'm coming from. I have yet to find another remover that does the job quite as well, though No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-Up Remover is a well-priced alternative.
Good Things Fresh Start Creamy Cleanser
I picked this up in the supermarket the other night when I was beginning to despair of finding something gentle for Mini-Me to wash her face with. I'd never heard of the brand before, but a little digging revealed it to be the brainchild of well-respected beauty journalist Alice Hart-Davis who is on a mission to create a skincare range that isn't full of crap. This cleanser is not only comprised solely of Good Things (see what I did there?) but also smells delicious AND is amazingly afforable. WIN.
Elemis Tri Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash
I got a little bottle of this in a goody bag at London Fashion Week (I can't remember from which show) and have been using it A LOT. It makes my skin feel really clean without drying it out, and since I've been using it my skin tone has definitely improved. Yes, it's a more expensive cleanser but it works, and you only need to use a little at a time.
Dr. Organic Manuka Honey Face Mask
I love honey as a natural skincare ingredient because it has a wealth of benefits – it's antibacterial, full of antioxidants, moisturising and soothing and can help to unclog pores. So picking up this face mask in Holland and Barrett was kind of a no-brainer. It's clay-based (great for drawing out all the accumulated crap in your face) but very gentle and doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped of its natural moisture.
Lancôme Génifique Yeux Youth Activating Eye Concentrate
I got a little sample pot of this from my sister, who used to work for the L'Oréal group, but no longer – meaning I have to buy all my L'Oréal-brand products full price and STILL love them. This includes Lancôme, Kiehl's, Shu Uemura, Yves Saint Laurent, Kérastase and a host of others. This eye gel-cream is richly moisturising and brightening – but apparently does contain parabens, so keep that in mind.
Yves Saint Laurent Forever Youth Liberator and Forever Light Creator
I love both these serums equally and if I had them both at the same time I would use Youth Liberator in the morning and Light Creator in the evening. Yes, it's bloody expensive (though this twin-pack is an absolute bargain – remember a little goes a long way) but you only get one face so it's worth looking after it, no? Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate
When a product achieves 'cult' status it's because it gets results. Midnight Recovery Concentrate should probably be renamed 'Magic', not least because it's less of a mouthful. I put this on overnight and wake up to softer, plumper, happier skin. Simple as that.
REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream
I really, really, REALLY love REN products. I mean REALLY. This moisturiser is light and lovely and suited to almost all skin types – handy for me as I have days when my skin is super-sensitive and reacts to everything, except this. Other REN superstars include the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (which I MUST restock because I love it so much) and the Active 7 Eye Gel which is my favourite de-puffer and dark circle ass-kicker.
I'm still on the hunt for a really great exfoliating toner and hydrating toner, though: any recommendations?