HOW TO LOVE YOUR SKIN AND LOOK FABULOUS THIS WINTER

Skincare

December is here !

Yes, our favorite time of year. And the countdown to Christmas has begun.

Whilst we plan our vacations, attend Christmas parties, sip mulled wine or vin chaud in beautifully dimly lit cafes with all our festive feels – lets spare a thought for all Santa’s little elves. Buzzing around, working overtime. And to the postal workers world over recovering from Black Friday – (happy thanksgiving to you!). And, of course, to us. Living our lives, working hard and generally under much more end of year work/school/life related stresses than our Instagram posts would care to reflect. (Except if you’re a ‘studyspo’ ‘grammer. If so, all the best to you. Much respect. And happy procrastinating.)

If you live in the northern hemisphere as I currently do – you may be reading this wrapped up indoors. The winter is a trying time for our skin. And this applies to our acne prone friends too. As a member of this group – let’s just try to take advantage of the popularity of the ‘dewy’ look. As our skin competes with the glimmer of our lovely Christmas party dresses.

In the T-zone, that is. Ughh. (I’m here for you, too – combination skin friends)

As promised, here’s a slightly more detailed version of my last post. SO LETS GO – Good habits, good feels, good skin. And as a side note – here’s what I do with my skin in the winter.

  1. Moisturize

FIRST ONE AGAIN. Because it is really that important.

There is no way around it. The cold weather lends itself to extra dryness in our dry areas, and, oftentimes, to what may look like the sudden appearance of fine lines – creases in your foundation, if you are that way inclined.

All of this can be remedied. Wash your face at night and pay particular attention to making sure you are using a toner. Be sure to use the right serum for you (a discussion for another post.)

Then, be sure to moisturize your skin very well at night. Give your skin the opportunity to be rehydrated at night so that when you are exposed to the elements again, likely in the morning, you have already done the pre-prep and thus avoid having to do so to the same extent in the daytime – and risk looking like a kid who has slathered their face in Vaseline.

 

DRY SKIN:

 

If you have dry skin or combination-dry (most all combinations lean one way or the other) make sure to moisturize heavily at night and during the day. You have more liberty here. Skip the mattifying primer. If you are happy with Hyaluronic acid based products – use an HA product at night too to lend more moisture. Retinols are also your friend. See where the ‘lines’ start to appear and be sure to use your retinol product in these areas. Its not a quick fix – more of a future investment. If you’re new – start with a 0.3 concentration and see how your skin responds. What we are trying to avoid is allowing our skin to become so dehydrated that we cause the appearance of fine lines or even peeling – dear oh dear. Ashy face. Imagine that.

 

OILY SKIN:

 

Isn’t it amazing? It’s THIS cold and our skin still finds the abilty to shine – shine bright like a diamond – except not like a diamond. In that weird ‘stuck on’ dry sheen, unblottable way.

Let your skin start getting used to a basic, water based moisturizer. Particularly at night. Your skin will start to regulate its sebum production. Wash your face at night with something milder than what you use when it is humid or in hot weather. It will do the trick and you will not strip your face entirely. Unless you are incredibly sure – try not to skip moisturizing. I did this for years. And I had to learn better.

 

  1. Wear SPF!!! ❤️

Just because we don’t always see the sun, doesn’t mean it isn’t still there J

Winter is not the time to abandon ALL of our good skincare habits. Just some of them. (Kidding.)

Don’t be afraid to be extra. Wear lip balm, wear hand cream, lather, rinse and repeat.

 

SO WHAT TYPE OF SUNSCREEN:

If you wear a dry, mattifying SPF product, you may want to start mixing this with a moisturizer or use a product that is less dry. This will make sure that your skin is still protected all winter without giving you ‘stiff face’ which in my case, only serves to enhance my RBF and can give you the appearance of brand new smile lines when you finally reveal your beautiful laugh.

If you are acne prone, I highly recommend using non-comedogenic products in general. No matter what your skin type, however, if you are applying make-up, be sure to put moisturizer on your face first. Then go away and make a nice cup of tea. Or something. Give your skin a chance to absorb your moisturizer first. Don’t stop exfoliating occasionally to keep your skin from starting to look dull. Ideally, we will maintain a similar rate of turnover to what your skin is used to, just making sure not to act in a way that will make your skin *appear* not to be producing natural moisture in the best way possible.

On an unrelated note. My hands get so dry its ridiculous. They are literally peeling as I type this. Ugggh.

 

  1. Routine!

 

I have said this waaay too many times. But I can’t stress it enough. It was consistent, relentless routine that brought me out of that dry, ashy, acne riddled place. And it is routine that is the key to success in virtually every area of your skin and life. Routine is like persistence. For your face.

So keep doing all the good stuff. And do it day and night. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day, or a night. But put in the time. This will help you in the long run.

 

  1. Tap your face.

I talked about this in the original post and I’m almost embarrassed to write this (again). I don’t know how to phrase this so it doesn’t sound utterly ridiculous. I think I started doing this myself and my aesthetician confirmed that this is an excellent technique to use.

Once you have applied your serum/s – wait no longer than a minute and just gently run your fingers across your face in a tapping motion. Forehead, cheeks, chin, nose, around the mouth. What this does is stimulate blood flow to the skin. Not only will your skin appear temporarily more oxygenated, but this stimutes blood flow to the dermis. This is beneficial in many ways – it can also aid in increasing collagen production which could potentially keep fine lines at bay in the long run.

 

  1. Enjoy your face!

 

WINTER IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO WEAR MAKE UP!

At least I feel so, as we don’t become all sweaty etc. In fact, I rarely wear it in the summer. However, as I mentioned before, I personally avoid using a setting powder because I feel that this can just give your skin a dryer, less smooth texture as the day progresses. I only use a setting powder when it is humid or hot.

Enjoy a hot bath from time to time, treat yourself. Wear a moisturizing mask and keep your skin clean and hydrated. I aim to treat my skin once a week in the winter (ambitious – more like twice a month – que sera sera) Let it glow and shine from within. Exposure to the elements is virtually impossible. But these simple additions may help you maintain beautiful skin all through the festive period, its parties and nighttime occasions.

Let me know if you would like to know what products I use and recommend!

Merriest wishes to all!

Christiana

 

I Got Bit in the face

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Books, reading and lessons learned, Skincare

There are certain sayings that I have always known and yet always disliked.

“It’ll come back and bite you in the butt’

Well, in my case, at the end of my week (and a bit) of trying to return to my Plan A skincare routine, I left London for a few days – spent some time in the English countryside, then ventured home to Geneva for a few days.

It was then that I got bit. In the face. Twice. By a mosquito. Or two. On a romantic dinner, perhaps. How pleasant a thought.

The charming lumps under my left eye and on my left cheek respectfully, are the evidence of the scene of a crime. But more than that, they are a lesson. Three, in fact.

  1. Your skin is part of you. Your body’s largest organ. It is there to protect you. It is important. But it is not one’s heart, liver or lungs. So as we indulge in caring for our skin, we remember that this aesthetic pleasure is a secondary one. Lest we make the pride and joy of our lives something that is inevitably, temporary.
  2. Anything can happen. Be prepared – and keep calm. One cannot plan for everything in life. (As much as we may wish to)
  3. Remember the lessons of the past. The hyperpigmentation work I had to do after overcoming pretty severe acne will be of use now in this, albeit, very small facial region.

So, so some pointed remedial action will be necessary in ‘Plan B’. The plan I am in the middle of constructing. This time I will bear in mind that change takes time. Ideally I should set aside a few months. But let’s try two weeks shall we?

Peace, love and joy,

Christiana

PLAN A: Returning to my Old Skincare Routine – A (very) comprehensive, step by step review

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Life Essentials, Skincare

How did I ever keep up with this?

My MSc was hard. It was an intense year. Stress is what initiated adult acne for me when I was almost 19. And remained a constant catalyst for MEGA breakouts and skin mishaps. I will share my misadventures in skincare and repair another time. But adherence to this routine kept my skin clear, and pretty much amazing. After a few haphazard months; this is my return to the old routine. A few months have gone by. And my skin is in need of some TLC. For one week, I will try my old tried and tested – to see if it will help return my skin to its former glory.

So here’s the theory. Please note that I have, for reasons I may explain another time, what might be described as combination-oily skin. My skin was always very oily and acne prone. The major part of my skincare journey and the catalyst to my becoming more ‘skincare savvy’ and applying my scientific background to my personal skincare was dealing with very oily skin and SERIOUS acne. Having dealt with that, I now get away with additional moisture that I wouldn’t have before. That said – my skin type still leans towards being oily.

 

Morning:

Duration: 8 minutes

When I constructed this I decided to go light in the mornings to make it as quick as possible. The evenings are when I do the real repair. My morning focus is antioxidants to prevent sun damage and skin radical formation, light moisturization (especially in the spring, autumn and summer) as well as SPF cover.

Step 1: Wash

Garnier Pure Active face wash / Alchimie Forever Purifiying Facial Cleanser

Step 2: Air Dry then Pat Gently with a Thick Disposable Kitchen Towel

This is how I did it. And I explain why later in this article. If you plan to emulate this step, make sure to use and absorbent, thick towel that doesn’t break apart and transfer itty bitty bits of tissue onto your face. (Speaking from experience)

Step 3: SERUM!

I used the Skinceuticals Phloretin cf. THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LITERALLY SPILLED THIS! It isn’t cheap and I have spilled so many bottles of this. It actually once stained my walk in dressing room table. I might do a tour of my itty-bitty-serum-stained-walk-in if anyone is interested.

As for the serum – I can’t tell you what this does for me. Full transparency. Because I don’t know. But I didn’t want to alter any part of my routine. I have used a LOT of Skinceuticals products. I like the products but I hold some reservations here and there.

Step 4: Locking it all in

La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo +. Not sure why. It was recommended to me by an aesthetician a while back. And I like the smell. Voila.

Step 5: THE GOOD STUFF: Moisturizer

Even if you have acne, try not to skip on the moisturizer. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in some form as drying it out constantly (something I TRIED FOR AGES) tends to self-perpetuate a cycle of continuous sebum production. I haven’t read any scientific literature to support this claim – but I experienced it myself. I use Dermalogica Active Moist moist of the time and when I feel like a lighter moisturiser with SPF I use the Alchime Forever Protective Day Cream SPF 23.

Step 6: Sun Protection

Last but not least! Both my dermatologist and aesthetician admonished me to wear SPF. I would sit in the sun for ages without any coverage for years. I travelled around on summer vacations in the blazing sun without any sunscreen on my face or body. I just loved the sun and with my dark skin – thought I was somehow immune to the dangers presented by prolonged sun exposure. Oh, how wrong I was. Minimally from the standpoint of keeping my skin looking and feeling lovely.

Now I use SPF every day. My final morning step was using the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Dry Touch. Forever a fave and a gem for those of us with oily skin who don’t want that “sunscreen sheen”.

 

 

Evening:

Duration: 15 minutes

Bearing in mind that this is my old (successful) skincare routine, without any of the new ‘last minute’ repair measures. Just stable, good and routine.

Step 1: Wash (again)

Washing my face. (Every night!!? YES. I did this every night. Despite almost never wearing make up. And I tell you that this works magic!)

Usually used the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming gel. I find this nice and gentle for the evening.

Step 2: Air dry my face and pat with a kitchen towel (again)

It’s a bit of a repetition game here. But routine is good. Right? I use a kitchen towel because when I had acne, I realised that I didn’t want to transfer the bacteria that might potentially dwell on a facecloth onto my face. This just seemed like the easiest option – outside of purchasing several facecloths and washing them at a frequency that would allow me to use a new one each morning and another new one in the evening. This is the ecological (and reasonable) choice. I was simply too busy/lazy for this. People still wonder why I have a roll of kitchen towel in my bathroom. But they never ask.

Step 3: SERUM TIME!

At a particular point in time I was layering on up to 3-4 serums a night! But in its unadulterated form this is what I did. I will be skipping one of these now as I no longer need it.

1. Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector – I would use this only on the areas where I was still trying to fade acne scars. (Incidentally – an aesthetician once told me that some of them would never fade – this routine conquered that!)

2. I then used the super gentle Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Fantastic for skin texture. I recommended this to friends, family and professors alike. Everyone fell in love with this and noted an improvement in tactile skin texture if they used it for a while. It also helps with mildly evening out the skin tone. This one is a true gem. Let the serums soak in here. There is no rush.

Step 4: Sealing it all in: Lovely, glorious acids

After this I used the Eneomey Stim Renew 8 – Anti-ageing Radiance Night Cream. This is actually the new version. The original one had the same chemical composition in terms of the proportion of the constituent acids but just different packaging and marketing. So not to worry if you happen to come across the old version. This is a little known product recommended to me by a very well known aesthetician. I started out by using this only over the dark hyperpigmentation spots but moved on to using this everywhere. It is very moisturising too – which is why I didn’t use it everywhere at first. But I later discovered that this night moisture does absolute wonders. Again, let this soak in. Do this whilst listening to an audiobook. I used this as my winding down time.

Step 5: Finally – Moisturiser

Maybe an overkilll. But I would always round this up with the Dermaligica Active moist once again. This is the best, all-rounder, light moisturiser for acne prone skin that I have used. If you have acne, ideally you should err towards a water based moisturiser. In the morning this will also avoid that 12pm noon ‘shine’ in the t-zone.

 

 

Twice weekly:

  1. Physical Exfoliation: Clairsonic Mia 2 or for something more gentle Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining scrub. (LOVE IT). I would replace this with the evening step 1. This is long enough already. I will talk about occasional masks and blah blah some other time.
  2. Acne (+ fine line) Prevention: The final part of my evening Step 3 about four – five times weekly was the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Corrective Treatment. In Switzerland, 0.3 is the highest concentration one can obtain. In the UK, however, I know that one can obtain retinol up to 1.0 concentration without a prescription. (I appreciate the pump bottle of the 0.3.) I used the lowest concentration as this was sufficient to help me to keep my acne at bay (after it had cleared up). Depending on your skin and skin type this is one to introduce carefully and build up if necessary. If you use a retinoid (at any concentration) by prescription I would strongly advise that you do not use a retinol.

So, here goes! Wish me well!

P.s. I am only starting my week TOMORROW. The reason for this is because I had to reorder one or two of these because I realised they were not all in my arsenal anymore.

*Most of the links are (generally) in pounds. I just assumed this would be easier as I wrote this in London. (Although I am currently posting in Switzerland! Only home for a few days.) I will try to use international shipping sites where possible.

A New Era

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

And so begun my ‘quarter-life crisis’. Or, perhaps, begins.

After five and a half years, two degrees, one business, two blogs, and many memories – here begins my last 5 weeks in London. I have never been a Londoner. In fact, I have never really been fully anything. And my time in London has been spent largely travelling to get away from this wonderfully miserable, awfully magical city.

I ‘return’ to Switzerland. A brand new city – not Geneva, but the charmingly beautiful city of Lausanne. For my new adventure! I came to London at 18. And now, at 24, I am ready to move on. I have learned a lot, grown into an adult, bought my own ‘stuff’ and paid bills.

This, however, is about another journey. My skincare journey. My skincare story has been a long and winding one. So let’s just start here.

After my MSc, jumping straight into 5 months at a crazy, hectic job, almost two hours daily commute on the underground under the armpits of fellow Londoners during rush hour, poor self care, high stress and not nearly enough sleep – my skin is in shambles. Utter shambles and its true! At least I now know I have pores. (Seeing is believing, right?) And, to aid my 2014 nostalgia – the occasional forehead acne blowout party! As if that wasn’t enough – the heatwave, pollution, winter realisations that my oily skin is actually combination….. ? Wait what. As a self-proclaimed skincare connoisseur – the past year has taught me a lot. Serums serums serums. The ‘bloggers fave’ from the in-flight duty free catalogue that gave me a full fortnight appearance of a hass avocado. After only one use! (Talk about results) You know who you are. I bought two of you .And I paid in euros. But I was invoiced in dollars.

But now, I’m free. Two full working days of marvellous unemployment and I’m as anxious as ever. So what will I do with my skin?

PLAN A: Try my old skincare routine with adherence. Lets see what happens after a week, shall we?

Today I will take a photo and in one week, another. I will detail my skincare routine in steps. Let’s see if it works!