My 40-Plus Skincare Routine
If you're a fan of beauty blogs, it's probably worth me saying that the 40-plus in this post title refers to age and not actual products. Thought it best to clarify as so many beauty bloggers seem to use so many products as part of their skincare routine. OK, so 40+ may be a bit of an exaggeration but one blogger - a real beauty she is too - used 12 products before she even started on her make-up! Even if I had the time to apply all those products, I very much doubt my face would welcome them. Congested pores? No thanks.
I'm doing this post at the request for one of my Instagram buddies (@kirstenspread) who very kindly complimented my skin and said she'd love to know my secrets. Well, here is my biggest secret - and you might have already guessed it - I like to put as little skincare on my skin as possible. I know that bucks the trend - especially here in blogland - but it's what now works for me. When I was younger I was a real beauty junkie and, because of my work as a fashion and beauty editor, it was an addiction I'd easily satisfy as I'd have to try all sorts of lotions and potions for reviews. So in my twenties, I was into serums, moisturisers, eye creams, lip creams, you name it, and if I didn't already have it on my face, I would by tomorrow. Maybe that's made a difference to my skin now but I doubt it. You see, I'm a firm believer that your skin is more a product of your parents than, well, products. That's not to say some products they can't make a difference, they can but you need to be consistent and until those age spots subside or natural radiance kicks in, you can always cover up or fake it with make-up (I'll do a follow-up post on my favourite foundations/bases and how to apply soon). Sure my skin was a little firmer and looked younger (because it was) but did it perform better? I'd have to say no, it pretty much behaved in the same way it behaves now, twenty plus years on.
But back to now and my current skincare regime, which consists of one routine for bedtime and another for daytime. My skin is pretty normal, with no real issues other than the passing of time (I'm 48 at time of posting) and a little bit of pigmentation on my cheeks (which you'll spot if you go way up close to the photo above as I'm make-up free and filter-free in that - although the lighting is good...). Hopefully you'll find some of it useful, especially @kirstenspread who inspired it and, as ever I've put the prices, etc. in the captions but if you've any other questions, just get in touch.
If I’m not completely exhausted, I’ll do a thorough double cleanse, using a balm or an oil first. Some of you are no doubt doubling cleansing too but I still meet a number of women who haven't heard of the double cleanse or the benefits of this method (don't know if that's the right word but 'ritual' sounds wrong too, so let's go with method for now), so think it's worth doing a brief summary here (those f you who already do it, indulge me or skip to the next paragraph). The double cleanse is just that, cleansing twice. The first cleanse involves using an oil or an oil rich balm to take - but effectively melt - off the day's make-up, skincare, pollution, the works. The theory behind using an oil based product to do this is scientifically sound as like attracts like and like also dissolves like. You know how oil and water don't mix? Well, keep that in your head to make sense of the routine. Now most make-up and skincare contains at least a bit of oil (and silicons, butters, the skin's natural sebum and the like) which means using water doesn't really cut it. Plus even if you're using Mircellar water (which I do sometimes use and talk about before), you're often having to drag your cotton pad or ball all over your face, which when that skin is a little looser than it once was, isn't a nice sensation. Using an oil or balm to remove that make-up, etc. is actually really soothing and gives you the opportunity to massage your skin (so important at any age but especially north of 40) while taking the day off. I use either a damp warm face or muslin cloth to take the oil and the residue off. I warn you it's a bit mucky and it's best to have a household cleansing spray and cloths on hand as the basin does get grimy, which further proves the water doesn't dissolve oil theory. After this first step, which has effectively just removed the 'day', it's time to truly cleanse the skin. To do this you then use a water-rinsable cleansing product, best suited to you skin. There are so many products on the market, at so many price points that you're sure to find one that works for you. And again this works on the 'like attracts like' theory, helping remove water-based or loving impurities like sweat (OK, glow juice) and dirt from the skin. Again don't be too rigorous on this step, you've only got one skin so love it! Did that make sense? If not, please drop a comment and I've try to explain it better but if it did, I'll pick up on my own routine again.
Personally, my balm of choice is the great value Boots Botanics Cleansing Balm, seen below, but unless you order online it can be tricky to find in store. When I run out (which happens a lot) I turn to good old coconut oil. When it’s solid it feels like a balm and it melts away make-up in much the same way. Messy but strangely satisfying (or is that just a me thing?)
It's quite an expensive coconut oil I've photographed here but that's only because I was given it by a friend. I'm happy to slather on any coconut oil, as long as 100% coconut. I massage the balm or the oil all over my face - including eye lids and lashes - and then use a warm face cloth (one comes with the Boots balm) and wipe it, and my make-up, off. Next up, and necessary to get my skin really clean, I use a foaming cleaner such as Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Cleanser, which Boots and Superdrug often have on offer. If I feel my skin's a little on the dry side, I'll swap the Nip + Fab for Eve Lom's Gel Cleansing Balm but more on that when we get to morning.
However, if I'm completely exhausted (has been known), I reach for the Garnier Micellar Water and some cotton pads, which stand on sentry duty on my bedside table. Because there’s no rinsing required, I can do this in bed meaning there’s zero excuse for sleeping with my make-up on. And that, if my skin is playing ball, is it. No eye creams, nightcreams, or lipcreams. I find the massage from the balm is normally enough to keep my face from tightening and I don't find the Nip + Fab too drying. I have dabbled a little in using Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair, which I liked but not quite enough to repurchase, and The Ordinary's 2% Retinoid but I gave up on that because I do like a light tan (I know, I know it's bad but...) and I prefer using Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid exfoliant, seen below, when my skin needs a boost. If my skin's looking a bit dull, I'll use the Paula's Choice every other night to brighten. This is also good for tightening enlarged pores (although nothing really takes them away boo hoo) and I find chemical exfoliants much kinder than physical scrub type. Retinoids and retinol do work wonders on mature skin (check out the blogs of brilliant beauty queens Caroline Hirons or Nadine Baggot if you want to educate yourself on these) but, even at 48, I'm not sure I really need them right now. I will definitely incorporate one into my routine once I do though, and promise to keep you in the loop as to how I get on.
I really can't be bothered faffing in the morning and, as I've done a decent job of cleansing at night, it's usually two pumps of Eve Lom's Gel Cleansing Balm popped straight on my dry face. If you've tried the original Eve Lom Cleanser this is similar but, being more gel-like, is more lightweight and less pungent. I really rate this and think it gives my skin it's start-off glow. At £45, it's an invest purchase but, unless your skin is super dry, you're unlikely to need a moisturiser so it's a worthwhile multi-tasker. After it's massaged in (read rubbed all over), I use a facial brush to gently work it into my skin. I really like my old trusty Clarisonic Aria and, if it were ever to fail me, I would repurchase. Maybe not in black next time though, as it looks a bit sinister. A word to the wise on facial brushes; by in large these brushes are to clean your face, not exfoliate it, so don't drag the brush around your face and definitely don't scrub! And do change the heads regularly (likewise cleansing cloths) to avoid bacteria building up. I pop mine in the dishwasher on the hot wash. I'm guessing you knew that but just in case.
Most of the time I can give moisturiser a miss after using this balm and, to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of moisturisers anyway. I do like a good serum though. The one I'm using at the moment is Origins Renewal Serum Willowherb, which I've been mixing with a little Darphin Revitalising Oil, seen below, over winter. I'm not terribly loyal when it comes to serums - buying what takes my fancy at the time - but, as they are packed with higher concentrations of active ingredients I think they provide far better value than most moisturisers. When this one runs out I'm going to try the Paula's Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Serum, which is £34 to the Origins £45.
And that my friends is it, until the make-up (but that's a post for another time). I've found that cutting my skincare routine right back to just four core products (night balm, foaming cleanser, day balm and serum), along with some guest appearances from other products as and when needed, has been my 'secret' to keeping my skin balanced and achieving a regular glow. I'm also realistic about what can actually be achieved with skincare, so as well as keeping my routine quick and consistent (hugely important), fewer products also mean I'm not investing a fortune in face creams and feeling defeated when they don't turn my into the 20-something model advertising it. I know things will change as time marches on (Hello, retinols calling!) but at the moment this is the routine that works for me. Faff free and fool proof.
So, what about you? Have you an radiance boosting or line eliminating beauty tips? Also what's your view on wrinkle freezing injections and fillers such as Botox® and Restylane®? That's another post that's been suggested to me, and while I have used the former, I'm only now considering the latter, so any words of experience are most welcome.
All Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce
No element of this post was sponsored or paid for, all views expressed are entirely my own and all prices correct at time of posting.