How To Find The Right Liquid Exfoliator For Your Skin

Garden of Wisdom

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you will have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of acid-based skincare products hitting the shelves. While scrubs might have been the tried and tested method of sloughing away dead skin a few years back, now it is all about the liquid exfoliator. So much so, Pinterest has seen a 58% increase in searches for liquid exfoliators. Read More…

Post-Summer SOS

bb-september-18

It isn’t usually like this. We get through to the end of August feeling like we need to add tanning drops to our moisturiser, spritzing BetterYou Vitamin D spray to make up for the sun we didn’t get during our British summer, and lamenting money spent on swimwear not worn.

And then along came ‘The Summer of 2018′ – to go down in history, like ‘The Summer of 1976′ (only this time we weren’t, alas, cruising London streets in the passenger seat of a Triumph Stag with the roof down…)

Hasn’t it been quite extraordinary living in a country where everyone – but everyone – seems to have a tan? Because basically, all the wisdom we preach about shielding skin against UV light went out of the window, along with the intentions not to eat more than one ice cream cone a day. As a nation, most of us have soaked up every ray we could. We’re certainly guilty. (Though we think it’ll be interesting to see whether we all get fewer colds and ‘flu this winter.)

The bottom line is, even if you languished like a heroine from a Victorian novel under a parasol, it has been almost impossible to escape without some collateral damage from the sunshine – not just to skin but to hair. So rest assured: you aren’t the only person whose face, body and hair is suffering from post-summer skin stress, right now. Yes, we all headed into summer knowing full well that UV light’s the enemy, ageing-wise. But short of spending summer in a darkened room, almost everyone’s caught red-nosed/cheeked, this year. The solution? Once you’ve unburned your sunburn, you need to answer some other urgent beauty needs – and here’s how.

First, tackle dryness

When you’re actually enjoying the sun, skin can seem miraculously dewy and gorgeous. Then the minute you get back home – or to the office, where the air-con may be on (and we’re only weeks away from the central heating season) – something hideous happens, and almost everyone starts to look like a snake due to shed at least one skin. So: replenishing moisture and nutrients, top-to-toe, is No. 1 beauty priority – not least because moisture is essential for healthy cell communication and regeneration.

So: start by quenching skin with a boost of hyaluronic acid, the ‘buzz’ molecule which can retain over 1,000 times its weight in water, making it just about the best complexion drink we know. Garden of Wisdom Hyaluronic Serum can be layered under any other serum or moisturiser (and is suitable for all skin types, including oily and sensitive). We also love This Works Light Time Skin Plumper – and both of these can just be slotted, hassle-free, into your existing regime. Alternatively, power up the moisture factor by switching to Derma E Hydrating Night Creme with Hyaluronic Acid, perhaps, or – one of the richest, simplest rich moisturisers we know – good old Weleda Soothing Facial Cream.

Turbo-charge moisturisation with a twice-weekly face mask

They’re a great way to get back some of that dewiness – and we’re always happy to obey the command on the packaging of a face mask to ‘relax for 10 minutes’. We may not do much else we’re told to, but we’ll happily submit to teeny-tiny writing on the back of a sachet of Sarah Chapman Skinesis 3D Moisture Infusion, a jar of Temple Spa Quench or a tube of Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Treatment Mask. (However, avoid mud and clay-based masks just for now; you want moisture, not skin purification.)

Treat your body to some TLC

If you’re anything like us, it isn’t just your face that’s suffering. (Jo noticed ‘shin dandruff’ on her yoga mat the other day, swiftly remedied by a generous application of This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil, which is nothing short of a miracle-worker. We love, love, love a rich body butter for everywhere else – the Soapsmith Butter Melts are gorgeous (and affordable), though requiring a tad more elbow grease to apply than Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Body Butter, which is coming to a desert island with us if we’re ever marooned (or invited by Kirsty Young). For the ultimate indulgence, there is Temple Spa Body Truffle, which rivals Fortnum’s food hall for luxurious ingredients (caviar, truffles, champagne, etc.), and which won a Gold Beauty Bible Award in the Anti-Ageing Body Creams category of our annual awards.

Secondly, tackle pigmentation. 

The most angst-inducing legacy of summer exposure isn’t flaky skin, however (even if it is a harbinger of lines and wrinkles to come). It’s the longer-term, tougher-to-tackle challenge of pigmentation, which women find so very distressing. In the Garden of Wisdom (GoW) range, you’ll find various products to target dark spots/sun spots/whatever you like to call them. GoW 100% Pure Prickly Pear Seed Oil, for instance, is charged up with super antioxidants, alongside vitamin K to help brighten age spots and hyperpigmentation. The most potent product in the range, however, is GoW Alpha Arbutin 2% and Kojic Acid 1% Serum, containing two ingredients considered to be a gentle but effective alternative to hydroquinone, alongside paper mulberry and vitamin B3, also known to help correct uneven skintone. As the name suggests, iS Clinical White Lightening Serum also targets hyperpigmentation. Invest as your budget allows, is our advice – but be aware that if you’re using a product to tackle pigmentation, you also absolutely 100% have to wear an SPF30 over the top, a) to give the product the best chance of effectiveness, and b) to shield vulnerable skin against future damage.

Whack on a hair mask

Absolutely the best way to get hair back in good nick – although we also prescribe a salon appointment, to snip off ends that are probably beyond repair. Unless you have the very finest hair, more is more when it comes to hair treatments. More product, more generously worked through from roots to ends after shampooing, and left on for more time than you’d imagine. Overnight, ideally (we cover a pillow with a towel when we do that, to avoid trashing a pillowcase). Alternatively, again shampoo first, smooth on your chosen product, wrap your hair in clingfilm, and let it work its magic while you devour your latest chosen boxset. (‘Big Little Lies’, anyone? Eighth, albeit Meghan-less, series of ‘Suits’? Just don’t bother with Matt Groening’s ‘Disenchanted’, is our advice. You’re welcome.)

You’ll find some great hair-boosting options on VH: we’d point you in the direction of Peter Lamas Youth Revival 5 Oil Hair Treatment Mask, or 72 Hair Intense Replenishing Mask. Then simply invest some time over the next few weeks in putting back what ‘The Summer of 2018′ took out.

And if you follow this advice, your skin (and straw thatch) may just forgive you.

Azelaic Acid: Why You Should Be Using It

Azelaic Acid

Yes, there has been a lot of chatter about acids over the past year or so, and yes, there always seems to be a new one that you should be using. But, Azelaic Acid genuinely should be on your radar regardless of your skin type or concern because it has an impressive skill set and helps to soothe and smooth skin. Read More…

Everything You Need To Know About Pigmentation

Wheat field

At last, we’re having a summer. Getting the limbs out. Firing up the barbecue. Turning our pale faces to the sun. Only – let’s stop right there. Because while getting some sunshine on your face and chest feels just sooooooo good, there’s a heavy price to pay not too far down the line. Not in terms of wrinkles – we know all about those – but pigmentation problems.

You can call them ‘age spots’ (although they tend to turn up way ahead of cashing in your pension). Your Great Aunt Dorothea probably referred to them as ‘liver spots’. But in fact, they should better be referred to as ‘sun spots’ – because they’re a direct result of accumulated sun damage, which triggers melanin-producing cells in the skin to lose control and produce too much pigment as a defence mechanism – on the face and chest, in particular, but also the arms and backs of the hands, where they’re harder to conceal.

Fairer skins are more susceptible – and against a paler background, age spots show up more, too. (Jo had one of those ‘oh s**t’ moments when a dermatologist told her that the dark patches on the side of her face were sun spots, not – as she’d thought, beauty marks. Which goes to show how easy it is to miss the edges of the face and the outer jaw-line when applying sunscreen. So be sure to smooth your a.m. SPF into the whole face.)

Many botanicals have proven pigment-lightening actions, including azelaic acid (from barley and wheat), kojic acid (from fermented mushrooms), retinoic acid and retinols (vitamin A derivatives which are also famously effective against lines), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (a stabilised form of vitamin C) and licorice. (They all work by inhibiting the melanin-producing enzyme tyrosinase, if you really want the science bit.) But sun spots – as with almost everything to do with the body – are far easier to prevent than to cure. So here’s our suggested plan…

Never venture out without an SPF30 or over

Starting. Right. Now. This is non-negotiable  it should prevent the spots you have from getting any worse, and may actually go some way towards slightly fading them. If so far you aren’t affected by age spots? This daily SPF30 (or higher) will go a long way to preventing their future appearance. (We’re huge fans of This Works In Transit Skin Defence SPF30, which goes on really smoothly and is a great basis for make-up.)  Hand creams with a built-in SPF can be super-useful on the backs of hand/forearms, or if you tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, apply regular sunscreen to these vulnerable zones, and remember to repeat after hand-washing; Aurelia Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream is formulated specifically to diminish the signs of pigmentation – and just feels and smells so heavenly, it’s a positive treat to apply and reapply.

Wear a hat

If you have sun spots, or seek to avoid their appearance, we also advise: get yourself a fabulous, stylish collection of fairly tightly-woven straw hats, and keep on a peg near your door/s, for easy grabbing when you go out on a summer day (not a baseball cap because the brims aren’t big enough). Sometimes anti-ageing solutions can be wonderfully low-tech.  (Wide-armed, large-lensed sunspecs also help.)

Try a specific ‘age spot’ treatment

A vast amount of cosmetic research dollars are currently being channeled into this area of skincare, blending tried and tested botanicals like kojic acid, mulberry and alpha arbutin, for instance, with whiz-bang skin delivery systems. (Alpha arbutin is the natural alternative to skin-bleaching hydroquinone.) Some super-high-tech options to try that you’ll find right here in VH’s edit included Sarah Chapman Skinesis Skin Tone Perfecting Booster, White Lightening Complex by iS Clinical and Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% and Kojic Acid 1% Serum.

Apply very carefully – don’t slap the treatment on

And be aware: most of these treatments take some time to kick in, and there are no overnight miracles here. (You may be looking at three months minimum, which is longer than most ‘miracle’ wrinkle treatments take.) Be aware, too, that some are for all-over skin application, and others are literally ‘spot-targeted’, requiring the use of a cotton bud to apply precisely. Get out your magnifying glasses and read the instructions before throwing out (or preferably recycling) the box. Actually, we suggest applying a thin amount to dark areas at least one hour before bedtime; this will let it fully absorb into the skin so it won’t slide into your eyes when you press your face into the pillow.’ (Albeit mild, these skin-lightening ingredients can still sting eyes.) And the usual advice applies: nothing works if it’s left sitting on the bathroom shelf in a jar or bottle. You’ve got to be religious about using treatment products to see effects. Once or twice a week when you can be bothered makes any investment you make in anti-age spot skincare completely worthless.

Use make-up to conceal the spot

Once you’ve got an age spot, what’s to do? After your primer or moisturiser in the morning, dot on a matte yellow- or peach-based corrector or concealer (deeper peach for women of colour), using a little brush. Then press it into skin with your finger – don’t sweep it on or it’ll sweep right off again. If needed, top up with foundation or concealer (again, dab and press rather than blend), or brush on a mineral powder base.

And be careful with fragrance

Certain perfume ingredients – particularly those derived from citrus (such as bergamot) – can interact with sunlight to cause permanent pigmentation problems, in the form of ‘staining’ of the skin, with dark streaks or patches – typically on the neck and chest, where perfume is spritzed or splashed. We counsel: in summer, it’s safest to apply skin to perfume for evening rather than daytime, or put it where the sun won’t strike directly. (So long as there’s no risk of staining your clothes, fabric is a wonderful ‘carrier’ for scent, too.)

 

Should You Be Using Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic Acid

From salicylic and mandelic to glycolic and lactic, the sales of acid-based skincare is on the rise. Not only are these ingredients highlighted on the labels of serums and creams, but more brands are unveiling formulas dedicated solely to individual acids.

As more of us become ‘skintellectuals’, we’re beginning to appreciate the value of chemical exfoliation, via alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids. But how do you know which one is right for you? Read More…