I’m not a beauty blogger so this is straying a little out of my natural territory, but I’ve recently developed a bit of a new passion project for skincare, and working out how I can better take care of mine.
I’ve never had massively ‘problem skin’, growing up I was quite lucky… but as I got more active, I did find that parts of my cheeks got much drier… from all the salt in my sweat from working out so much I think (nice!)
It took me a while to perfect my plan of action as this moved me from the normal skin range to more combination skin – not super oily, but very slightly more oil-prone T-zone, and then drier elsewhere. After much research into the routines of my favourite beauty muses, and sampling lots of different products, I’ve arrived at something that’s simple and quick (it has to be, to be sustainable for me!) and seems to get results. Obviously we’re all prone to the odd breakout now and then, especially around that time of the month (!) but I’ve definitely honed my beauty routine and learned to love the skin I’m in much more. Here are the secrets I’ve discovered and stolen from the glitterati!
1. Invest in good skincare products
I love Pretty Athletic, as it’s specifically targeted at athletic women so it’s great for gym-problem-skin. Their cooling cleanser doubles as a facemask which is amazing, and their workout glow hydraulic vitamin tonic just makes you feel super fresh and glow-y.
Whatever your jam for products, I really think spending a little more on quality here helps. Cheap and cheerful makeup wipes are fine in a pinch for when as a one-off you’ve had a few too many cocktails with the girls and don’t have time for a full facial and just have to get your makeup off, but they’re quite harsh and drying on the skin. Ditching the makeup wipes for quality cleanser has made a measureable difference for me.
I personally also really love Rituals skincare products. Their face oil is my secret weapon.
2. Royally flushed – face-sculpting facial massage
Sounds strange or super-expensive? It doesn’t have to be. I discovered this releatively recently while internet-stalking my long-time girl crush Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex (who seems to have managed to convert me from a republican to an okay-with-the-royals kinda girl! I’m ridiculous haha. I didn’t like her in Suits as she went from being sassy and independent to Mike Ross’s whiney girlfriend, but then all her humanitarian work and now defunct lifestyle blog made me fall IN LOVE. And as much as I want to be all ironic and nonchalant and politically principled, the Royal Wedding was beautiful and so much fun to obsess about! I am a bit ashamed of myself ha!)
Meghan Markle’s facialist (Nichola Joss) gives you the low-down here on how to nail the facial massage yourself from the comfort of your own home.
I pop 2-3 drops of this rituals face oil on my hands and follow the steps Nichola Joss gives above and it honestly feels AMAZING. I don’t know if scientifically it actually makes any real difference (although massage does stimulate blood flow to the relevant area and allegedly give the benefits listed below, taken from the Elle article!) but it just makes you feel so good… and even if they’re ‘placebo’ cheek bones, half of the battle with skin and beauty generally is feeling confident, in my book!
1. Removes tension and stress from your jawline leaving you with a softer but stronger muscle and the face shape you’re actually meant to have.
2. Improves blood circulation which helps speed up skin cell renewal which in turn means nice, plump new skin.
3. Gives your skin vibrancy and bounce.
4. Moving the muscles in your face helps flush out toxins and pollution that can cause congestion in your skin.
5. Improves your overall facial structure so there’s less need for botox or fillers.
6. Stimulates your lymphatic system, draining fluids that can cause puffiness.
7. Stimulates endorphins! You’re always happier after you’ve done some facial massage.
8. Helps you relax.
[Edit – after original blog publishing update – On the theme of this ‘massage’ tip and my new skincare obsession-cum-quest, I discovered (thanks Harper’s Bazaar) and bought a jade roller this week. While I personally don’t believe in the alleged powers of crystals, although I am of course always open to being wrong and hearing new evidence, my mind can always be changed if you show me why – and I really do enjoy learning about other cultures’ beliefs around them. I totally appreciate that science doesn’t understand everything yet, so it would be crazy to be certain about anything. Jury’s out on if jade rollers have scientific benefits, apparently, but they feel damn good.
They were part of the beauty rituals of ancient Chinese Princesses throughout history, some claim [this article states that dermatologist David Lorscher, MD, consulted a colleague from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, who said she’d found ancient textual references to jade being used to even out a spotty complexion]
I’ve recently tried it – pop it in the fridge and use it for a morning ice-cold massage and it feels amazing and does seem to reduce puffiness (supposed to be from the lymphatic drainage benefits!) Either way, it feels bloody good. I bought mine from Spitalfields market for just £18. This chalkboardmag post tells you how to use one, or this greencreator article!]
3. It’s what’s inside that counts
Okay, so it’s totally boring to keep being told to hydrate and drink water for clear skin, but drinking water really is key. Our bodies are made up of crazy amounts of water. Drink lots of it kind of goes without saying, really.
But it’s not just water. Getting the right vitamins and minerals can do wonders for your skin, so make sure you’re aiming to beat the recommended 5 a day. I often strive for (not that I always achieve it!) 4 – 5 different portions of dark greens a day (so maybe spinach, broccoli and watercress on my lunch salad, then kale, rocket and asparagus with dinner!) plus 4-5 more serves of the ‘rainbow’ (red or yellow pepper, apple, Satsuma, pomegranate, carrot, blueberries, raspberries, courgette…) as Rhiannon Lambert, my beaaaautiful Disney Princess-esque Harley Street nutritionist days, NUTRIENTS NOT NUMBERS! (Her skin is flawless, too).
An easy way to do this is a green juice. I stalked this video interview from Shape Magazine of Meghan Markle prior to her relationship with Prince Harry and it prompted me to give up coffee for four months and swap for her fave green juice (apple, kale, spinach, lemon and ginger)- and I did feel pretty amazing (but then switched back to coffee as it tastes f****** good and life’s too short!) The Duchess also loves this superfood smoothie here.
Omega-3 and general healthy fats in salmon and avocado and nuts like almonds are important for that plump, healthy, dewy-skinned effect too.
And finally, when working from the outside in, both of my celeb skin crushes who have the most glowing skin – Emma Watson and Meghan Markle – are yoga fans (Emma Watson is even a certified yoga instructor!). Whether or not this has any direct impact on your skin is of course dubious, I’m not saying it’s magically skin-linked, but it’s great for body, mind and just generally feeling more poised and confident.
4. Keep makeup minimal
This is easier said than done for some people, but I’m a big fan of a natural look (although on actresses who are naturally beautiful I guess it’s easier than for mere mortals like me who don’t have an inbuilt glow and often feel a bit horrible bare-faced!) I do think it’s silly though that we’re made to feel less-than without makeup so it’s good to try to make peace with the skin we’re in and use makeup to enhance things, not cover them.
I try to ONLY WEAR A FULL FACE for a big event or if I need to have a photograph taken (and even then if I can avoid foundation, I will).
Try to perfect a daily 5 minute face that lets your skin breathe. Just mascara, gloss or lipstick and eye-pencil, with some emergency Touche Éclat conceal, highlight and contour pen or bobbi brown concealer can make you feel a million times better than being bare-faced, but doesn’t swathe your pores in product.
5. Saving [your skin from] the world
Sadly, living in cities, we’re exposed to a tonne of pollution, so a daily cleanse is super important… it’s scary how much gunk can collect just waltzing around London for a day.
Similarly, sunscreen is super important to protect from UV light and not just avoid burning, but avoid prematurely ageing the skin. It’s the number one thing that ages women quickly – and not in a graceful way! To avoid dry, leathery, extra wrinkled skin, it’s best to use SPF (high factor ideally!) and don’t forget to moisturise. I prefer face oil to moisturiser, but it’s personal preference and skin type I think.
Alcohol and cigarettes are also like kryptonite for the skin, so if you can’t quit, make sure you at least cut down as they’re pretty bad for our general health too!
And finally, we think a lot about what we put in our bodies food-wise… but have you ever considered what we put on our skin? Natural makeup and skincare products go a long way to minimising the additive junk we’re pouring through our pores – The Body Shop, Lush and The Honest Company are great places to start collecting ‘cleaner’ products. I didn’t even think about the chemicals in beauty products and the idea of using more organic stuff until I read this interview with Emma Watson. While maybe going 100% organic or whatever isn’t sustainable in affordability/practical terms, we can certainly aim for more!
Recently I’ve become super interested in sustainability and transparency and understanding what I’m putting on my face and on my body. It’s been a fun little mission to see how far I can go with it… Can I create a completely sustainable wardrobe? Can I dress sustainably on the red carpet? Can I put together a hair and makeup look with completely organic products? I needed to figure out if it was achievable or not. You can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. So that’s what I’ve been discovering over the past couple of years.