Skincare Brand To Know: Garden Of Wisdom

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After recently discovering a shared love for it in our office, we thought we’d let you in on this game-changer… Garden Of Wisdom.

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    When a brand gets 5* ratings on just about every beauty site imaginable, we take note. And when we see seriously impressive results for ourselves, well, we go out and clear the shelves. The premise of Garden of Wisdom (it’s become so cult its also known as GOW), is simple: dubbed The Ordinary’s natural equivalent, the formulas have minimal ingredients, allowing the actives to get to work properly. The pH of the acids have been adjusted too so they don’t irritate the skin, yet still perform their roles of exfoliation while enhancing collagen.

    How long has it been around?

    Longer than we even knew! The pros have been making these formulations for over a decade. The products are potent and cruelty free without common skincare additives such as alcohol, silicones or soya. While it’s not technically new, 2019 is very much about brands with easy-to-follow skincare instructions which skip any science speak, making GOW feel very much of the moment. Read More…

Travel size beauty product of the week

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Our favourite beauty product this week is a sheet mask that’s utterly perfect for a long weekend away – Nannette De Gaspé Vitality Revealed Face – by Catherine Robinson

 

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    The first nudist restaurant in Paris, O’Naturel, is to close. While I don’t like another’s downfall, I cannot help but feel thoroughly relieved. The dream of a romantic weekend in Paris and dinner in a cosy bistro was eclipsed by the terror of being asked to drop my drawers at coat check. And don’t get me started on the sanitary issues I have with sitting on a chair that has played base to other bare-bottomed folk.

    It’s not that I don’t love naked flesh, I do, in fact, I positively endorse it when Nannette de Gaspé brings out a new mask. Nannette is the executive chair of Quebec based bio-tech company Biomod which researches wearable skincare technologies and developed the first ever dry sheet mask. I love dry sheet masks because of their mess-free ease, I wear mine when I’m getting dressed without the worry of getting cream all over my clothes and if you don’t mind looking a little funny, they give the best post flight glow if worn 20 minutes before landing. Her latest, Vitality Revealed, is designed to be worn for five consecutive days for 20 minutes. Read More…

Everything You Need To Know About Dermarolling

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The idea of puncturing your skin with sharp 0.5mm long needles for three minutes, twice a week, might be enough to make some people squirm, but dermarolling, or microneedling, has received a lot of press in recent months. The technique isn’t necessarily new, but more experts are rallying behind it as a way of rejuvenating your skin quickly. So, what are the benefits?

First and foremost, what is a dermaroller?

It look like a medieval torture device, but the spiky, roller gadget can be hugely beneficial to your skin. Dermarollers have lots of small, sharp needles that you roll across your skin to create micro punctures. Needle length varies from 0.2mm to 1mm for both in-clinic and at-home dermarollers. Nannette de Gaspé’s Roller Noir has 0.5mm length needles to ensure it’s safe to use at home yet still offers collagen-boosting results.

What are the skincare benefits?

Microneedling creates thousands of tiny punctures to your skin, which not only help to slough away dry skin, but also turbocharges your collagen and elastin production. Essentially, microneedling makes your skin think it’s been injured and forces it into repair mode.

While you will notice your complexion looks fresher, don’t expect overnight success in terms of skin firmness as it can take around eight weeks for your skin to produce collagen.

How do you use it?

Experts recommend rolling upwards in a diagonal direction across your face at least twice, if not three times for the best results. Always roll on freshly cleansed skin and wash/spritz your roller with alcohol afterwards to avoid any bacteria build-up. Expect your skin to be a shade of pink for at least 15 minutes after you’ve rolled.

What’s the best skincare to use alongside your dermaroller?

If you usually apply your vitamin C or retinol serum in the evening, alternate these with your dermaroller. Reactive ingredients, especially exfoliating acids can be too harsh on skin after microneedling. Instead, opt for a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum or a soothing, nourishing formula to help replenish your skin. Remember you’ve just caused micro-injuries across your face, so be gentle.

How long will your dermaroller last for?

Similar to razor blades, over time the needles on your dermaroller will become blunt. However, this should take around six months if you’re using it a couple of times a week.

The Importance Of Acceptance

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We know lots of women who’ve had fillers, Botox and other cosmetic ‘tweaks’. And if that includes you, that’s your choice. But you won’t find us lining up for a syringe-ful of anything ‘age-defying’ in a cosmeto-dermatologist’s waiting room. Not now, not ever. We have plenty of beauty editor colleagues who’ve done so, of course – sometimes in the line of duty, to educate other women about what it’s like and what results to expect. But along the way, in some cases, they’ve entirely stopped looking like the women we knew (and not in a good way).

Fact: once you have that first procedure – even if it’s something as simple as Botox – you’ve crossed the rubicon. If that doesn’t make you better and solve all your life problems (and trust us, it won’t), then where next…? It’s a rabbit hole and a slippery slope. (Possibly a slippery slope into a rabbit hole, actually, is how we see it.)

Do we always love what we see in the mirror? No. Nobody said ageing was easy. But we’re happy to be living in a time when there are, at last, fabulous older role models out there. The ninety-something, super-stylish Iris Apfel, for instance. Linda Rodin, who sold her Rodin Olio Lusso skincare line to Estée Lauder, and whose grey-haired fabulousness (and pet poodle, Winks) we just adore following on her @lindaandwinks Instagram account. Or Jan de Villeneuve, 60s model, still going strong in her 70s (and soon to make an appearance in a quirky Jo Malone London campaign). They don’t airbrush or ‘fix’ their lines – they embrace them. And that’s what we strive for, too.

What is entirely possible, however – as the women above all prove – is that it’s easier than ever to look good for your age. So this month on VH, we thought we’d share what we have learned, over our long careers, really, really works.

Get a great makeover

Before anyone heads off to a doctor’s surgery on a quest for eternal youth, we like to divert them to a beauty counter – probably Bobbi Brown’s. One of the things that happens as we age, and which women find most distressing, is that their make-up doesn’t work the way it used to. It settles into lines. The complexion underneath has changed, too – often becoming paler and more washed-out. Brows go grey. Because of that – and the ever-present fear of looking like Widow Twankey, and having someone shout ‘Mutton!’ after you in the street – some women stop using make-up altogether. Which is absolutely the worst thing to do, because you will simply fade away.

Pale skin, pale brows, pale lashes, paler lips – it all adds up to a disappearing act. But Bobbi Brown’s make-up artists, in particular, are great at giving makeovers that make you look like you – only better. At the very least you’ll pick up some tips and tricks (and it’s only make-up, not a tattoo – if you hate the results, just cleanse them away when you get home).

Find a great facialist

For our money, a good facial with massage by skilled hands can give some gorgeous instant results and really get skin glowing. Ask friends for recommendations, because not all facialists are created equal, by a long chalk. (But you might just find a magic-worker round the corner.)

Add at-home facial massage into your regime

It works wonders; on ‘grey days’ it revs up circulation, restoring glow. We love the following, from Annee de Mamiel, which is fantastic performed with her facial oils. (Find them here.)

• Smooth your favourite facial oil over entire face and neck.

• Cup hands over nose and mouth, breathe in and out deeply.

• Tug your earlobes with thumb and index finger.  Then with fingertips, use firm, circular movements to massage from behind ears to base of neck.

• From the point of your chin, work up and outwards along the jaw to your ear; then from corners of mouth over the cheeks to ear, with circular movements; then from base of nose to top of ear.        Repeat the whole sequence three times.

• Sweep your fingertips firmly over your eye brows, then under, then gently pinch along them. Repeat twice.

• Pressing firmly with your middle fingers, circle the eyes beginning above the inner corners and working outwards.  Repeat three times.

• From the centre of your forehead, just above the nose, zigzag middle fingers in small, firm motions out to the temples; repeat working up the forehead.

• With the side of your index finger (held vertically), smooth skin from centre of face outwards, beginning with your forehead, then sides of nose, middle of mouth and centre of chin.

• Finish by breathing deeply, hands cupped over mouth and nose.

Try a jade stone

If there’s one thing more effective than massaging with fingers, it’s using a tool to do so. The Hayo’u Beauty Restorer has become a ‘cult’ product, and we’re so not surprised – it’s brilliant for dispelling fluid build-up and eliminating facial puffiness, especially around the jaw.

Get the needle!

Not Botox, or fillers, but acupuncture needles. We swear by them. And believe us, the needles truly aren’t scary. We were having facial acupuncture long before we met the wondrous Annee de Mamiel (see above), but we love her philosophy and her explanation of why facial acupuncture works. ‘Beauty is about being balanced on the inside, in every way – physically and psychologically. If you feel good about yourself, it reflects in the way you look. Dry, wrinkled, saggy skin mirrors what is happening in your body, so a facial acupuncturist looks at the roots of the problems and treat those too.’ For instance, the common problem of vertical lines between your eyebrows can relate to liver energy not flowing properly (frowning too much is a factor too!), so as well as needling the lines themselves, an acupuncturist will treats the liver. It’s also incredibly relaxing, we find – and of course that shows instantly on the face, too.

Never, ever, EVER look at yourself in the ‘vanity’ mirror of your car

If you want to feel good about yourself, and practice ‘acceptance’, that is. Invariably, lines appear there that weren’t there yesterday. It’s some kind of quirk of physics, we think. (Jo’s stuck gaffer tape over hers, to avoid nasty surprises.) And be really careful with FaceTime on your phone, too – we kinda hate Apple for coming up with that.

Last but not least, think nice thoughts

Your skin and face reflect your state of mind. If you’re stressed, you run the risk of looking pinched and peaky. Try thinking of a couple of nice things that have happened to you today – remember someone you love and, or something delicious that you have to look forward to. Even if life is really tough (and it happens to everyone), there’s almost always something positive. Gratitude and hope are great beautifiers. Be kind to others, and to yourself, too. That’s true beauty, in our book.

How I Found My Skincare Style

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All this recent talk about “skincare wardrobes” courtesy of Lisa Armstrong in her GoW article (here) and Gill in last month’s newsletter got me thinking about my own skincare style and how I found it. I get asked all the time about how to curate the perfect set of products, aka a skincare wardrobe and it is something I like to think I have pretty much perfected now, although it wasn’t an easy process. It took a lot of time, a lot of money spent and wasted and a lot of bad skin days before I truly realized what worked for me and why. Knowing this is what allowed me to formulate my current results driven skincare style, which is focused on ingredients and formulas that do the most for my skin.

I went through a lot of different phases before I found my personal skincare style. In the beginning it was non-existent as I only used face wipes and a moisturizer. Then I went overboard and jumped on any new trend, launch and brand I could get my hands on. There was no structure and my skin was not happy. I also copied a lot of what I saw other people using, but that didn’t help either. Neither did using only products from one brand, it just wasn’t for me. Eventually I found my way to green beauty where I primarily used only organic and plant based products, but there was always something missing, which brings me to where I am now.

My product style is focused on ingredients and results. Sounds simple enough and when it comes to results you would think that’s what most people are after, but that isn’t always the case. For example, some people are looking for an “experience” from their products, which I can relate to in terms of self-care and others are more concerned with how a product will look on an Instagram #topshelfie post, which I don’t recommend doing. For me, after struggling with my skin for so long my number one concern is if a product actually works. I don’t care about the price (to a point) or the packaging (as long as it’s functional I’m happy) and I am not “loyal” to any brand. I want results and having a luxurious experience or pretty branding is not a major deciding factor when it comes to what I use.

What I learned over the years is that while no one brand has been able to completely cater to my combination skin, certain ingredients work really well for me and I seek them out in as many products as I can. My skin loves green tea (soothing antioxidant), salicylic and mandelic acids (generally gentle exfoliants), aloe vera (anti-inflammatory), zinc (wound healing), fruit enzymes (natural exfoliants), retinol (anti-ageing and anti-acne) and PHAs (more on this wonder ingredient soon). On the other hand, my skin doesn’t like lactic acid, some forms/strengths of Vit C and too much fragrance – synthetic or naturally occurring, so I try to avoid those. Now I can pretty much tell without even using something if it will work for me or cause a break out. Of course, I still get excited by new launches, but now I find them easier to resist the majority of them as my purchases are much more educated and less hopeful guesses nowadays.

How did I find all this out? Through trial and lots of error and finally playing attention to the information on the back of the product box (the inci list) instead of the claims being made on the front. For the longest time I had no idea what worked for my skin and most importantly, why until I started educating myself. This is also when I started to see the best results and after dealing with acne for so many years that’s really all I care about. Beautiful packaging, gorgeous scents/textures and “all natural” ingredients are meaningless to me if they don’t provide results worth paying extra for (yes extra, because that’s exactly how it works). We pay more for all the bells and whistles, as well as the fantastical claims about purity and wellness, which are usually just a marketing smoke screen for grossly overpriced subpar products. Be warned – expensive doesn’t always mean better.

If you are still struggling to hone in on your own personal skincare style then I have a few pointers that might help. In general, once you have figured out your skin type and/or major concerns you are then free to decide what factors are most important when it comes to choosing your skincare products. It could be refined textures, certain ingredients like me or you can choose to go the more clinical route with cosmeceutical brands or stick to more “natural” products from “green” companies. You can also decide on being a minimalist with just 2-4 steps or going all out with a full Asian skincare inspired 10+ step routine.

You can also take in to account how much you want to spend on skincare. I know that for many buying skincare products is more of a treat than a necessity and not everyone can afford to have multiple cleansers, eye serums and moisturizers (trust me, it’s probably better if you don’t). Luckily the industry has a skincare line to suit every budget and you can spend as little as under £10 on a product all the way up to thousands. Just be sure you’re getting your money’s worth and that being frugal isn’t costing you in the long run. Whether it’s cheap and cheerful or advanced science and luxurious, it has to give results to be worth buying.

When people ask me how to put together a skincare wardrobe I generally recommend mixing it up in a way where the most money is being spent on the most important areas or steps. The high-low approach that Lisa mentioned is a great place to start because it allows you to save on steps like cleansers and toners where you’re not likely to see visible changes (unless you’re using the wrong one) and invest in targeted treatments that will actually make a difference to your skin. Your skin style should be personal to you and your wardrobe should include products that you enjoy using and see results with.

Luckily, like with fashion there’s not really a wrong way to do it. Whether you go all out and spend a small fortune or opt for the budget friendly brands, or even stick to one brand because the products work that well for you, as long as you and your skin are happy then that’s all that matters. The only thing I would be wary of is the changing season as most people will need more hydration during the winter and then lighter layers in the summer, but those are easy to make small tweaks. Definitely pay attention to how your skin responds to what you’re using and try and do as much research as you can before buying (get samples!). This way you should find your skincare style will naturally evolve the more you begin to understand your skin.