For someone who regularly posts to social channels, such as Instagram, it’s taken lockdown for me to realise that I quite like my bare face. Without the need or pressure to pile on make-up or to present my ‘best’ self, I posted make-up free pictures for the first time in my life. Overwhelmingly, the comments were positive which led me to think more carefully about what I really need to be happy with my skin.
I know that I’m not alone in feeling a certain freedom in spending longer in my own space with nobody but family and friends to judge (they don’t). Other than for testing for reviews, I cannot remember the last time I willingly put foundation on my face – and yet, it’s not so long ago that I couldn’t contemplate being without it. I always mean to put a slick of Gucci translucent red lipstick on before I venture out but don’t always remember to do it. Forget my lipstick? I don’t know myself now!
So, with make-up less prominent in daily life, I find myself making more mindful choices when it comes to skin care. I stress mindful rather than complicated. With simplification comes freedom – the worry about what to layer over what, how many steps in a routine are necessary and what does toner actually do? Necessaries are simple – a decent cleanser that removes pollution and general grime keeps pores from clogging and freshens the skin. We Are Wild have a clever balm stick that you massage over your skin and turns to oil as your body heat warms it through. By adding a tiny bit of water with your finger-tips it then turns very lightly foamy, at which point, you wipe it away with a damp cleansing cloth. If the entire process takes more than a minute and a half I would be surprised, although do remember, complexions love massage, so take as long as you like.
Personally, I am not religious about an SPF day to day unless I know that I’ll be outside for a while. I always have an early morning walk with no SPF for about an hour and apply thereafter if needed. This Works In Transit, £29, doubles as a moisturiser and facial SPF 30 – I prefer a built-for-purpose dual product because often a separate SPF and moisturiser aren’t compatible with each other and form little rolls on the skin. Plus, a double layer feels heavy and who needs that on a hot summer day?
My final ‘necessity’ would be a night moisturiser – I almost never use an eye cream – it’s the same face, one product will do – a thought echoed by Colette Haydon, creator of LixirSkin whose Universal Emulsion, £29, is beautifully hydrating. Boost it up with Lixirskin Night Switch, £24, to add a lipid layer to your beauty sleep if you need extra moisture. It’s a wonderful blend of lipids, ceramides and phytosterols that all skin loves.
It’s not so much going back to basics, although you may find your skin flourishes from taking a break from too much or chopping and changing often, it’s more about de-cluttering the mindset that tells us we have to follow the trends and pile our complexions with all the stuff. It’s about finding the freedom to relax with your skin and with your face – to stop searching for that miracle ingredient, instead, nurturing and appreciating what you have with thoughtful choices that suit you. Of course, add in anything else that you please – for glow and even tone, Vitamin C is your friend and Garden of Wisdom C-Deep Vitamin C Serum is a snip at £18. For oil-prone skin, Garden of Wisdom Salicylic Acid, £10, tackles blemishes and clogged pores while their Neurophroline Serum is a pollution fighter that ensures skin doesn’t dull under pressure – stress or environmental. Any of these additions go after cleansing, before moisturising.
Although these days we don’t – can’t – live without an element of worry, the balance seems to be shifting from sweating the small stuff – all the stuff, in fact – to re-evaluating what really matters. There are real stresses and strains that come from our situation; creating moments that feel free from complexity are precious. Let’s find them and enjoy them.