Sun Creams vs Moisturisers With SPF

SPF Moisturisers_VH

Speak to almost any dermatologist and they will say that the best method for keeping your skin healthy is wearing SPF every day. The detrimental impact that sunlight has on our skin, in terms of health and cosmetic, is well documented. A recent study called into question our approach to sun protection and how we apply it. Read More…

Do You Really Need To Switch Up Your Skincare Every Season?

Spring On White

As the season’s revolving door swings into spring it feels only right to embrace the change by updating our skincare routine. In the same way that layers of your clothing get lighter and airier, logic would dictate the same goes for your creams and lotions. But is it a necessity for achieving healthy and glowing skin? The good news is that you don’t need to completely overhaul your winter skincare routine in a bid to fix any problems you now face. However, the devil is in the detail when it comes to perfect skin once the mercury rises. Here’s everything you need to know about trans-seasonal skincare.

Adjust moisture levels

If you used creamy cleansers and heavy duty moisturisers to counteract the cold climate and central heating throughout winter, it’s time to give these a ghosting. This is because during the warmer months our skin is able to hold onto more water, so as a rule, you don’t need as much hydration once spring hits. Moreover, continuing to layer on thick moisturisers can actually make your skin lazy. Instead you want to give it the ‘tools’ it needs to do a good job by itself.

Look for moisturising ingredients that have skin affinity, such as hyaluronic acid (it’s naturally occurring in the skin) as well as urea and glycerin. These will provide quick relief to a dry complexion, but are also able to draw water in the skin and retain it for longer.

Forgo physical exfoliators

In spring, your natural oils are coming back to balance after a cold snap, so you’re likely to produce more sebum. If you find your skin gets too oily reach for an oil-removing cleanser such as iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, £35 to help control breakouts. If feel like you need a deeper clean, look for formulations that contain salicylic acid (Garden of Wisdom Salicylic Acid 2%, £9), and apply after cleansing. It’s also worth adding an acid to your routine to help decongest skin. Try a retinol, a topical form of vitamin A that aids healthy skin-cell turnover. It’s clever stuff: retinol binds itself to receptors in our cells, which help to normalise the production of new skin, clearing breakouts and reducing the overproduction of oil.

Up your SPF level

If you’ve down-graded your SPF, or even worse, not applied one at all this winter, then now is the time to add one to your arsenal. It’s non-negotiable for damage control. Skin ageing UVA rays don’t change much through the year, however UVB get stronger once the temperature starts to rise, so it’s a good idea to up your SPF protection to 30-50. Try Sarah Chapman Skin Insurance SPF 30, £49. It offers stellar protection from UVA, UVB, thermal and infrared radiation has a clever knack of airbrushing the face no matter your skin tone thanks to light-adapting pigments that make you look dewy and glowing no matter how unforgiving the spring sunshine is.

Supercharge your skincare with vitamin C

Supercharge your SPF with topical vitamins. Vitamin C in particular can help to combat the ageing rays that aren’t fully blocked by your SPF. LixirSkin Vitamin C Paste, £32, has a fresh-squeezed citrus scent, and provides natural sun protection while also scavenging free radicals. It’s also worth keeping a vitamin C mist handy for a quick fix throughout the day.

Keep your pH levels in check

Overloading your skin with lots of products in winter may have sent your pH level off kilter. pH stands for ‘potential hydrogen’ and is used to describe the skin barrier’s acid-alkaline ratio, which ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline). If your skin is plagued by severe dryness and lines this could be a telltale sign that your acid mantle is too alkaline and falling prey to bacteria. If your skin is inflamed, oily, prone to breakouts or painful to the touch, that indicates it’s too acidic. To bring back its sweet spot of 5.5, reach for Aurelia Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser, £58, which strengthens the protective barrier by feeding skin probiotics.

How To Spring Clean Your Beauty Stash

Beauty Bible Makeup

Time flies. And the evidence of that is almost certainly there, in your make-up bag/on the bathroom shelf or your dressing table. It’s ridiculously easy to let expiration dates on cosmetics fly by, or say to yourself: ‘I’ll get round to washing my make-up brushes at the weekend.’ Only – invariably – you get a much, much better offer. (Let’s face it: almost anything is a better offer…)

But just as reorganising your clothes seasonally allows you to identify gaps and make room for new finds by disposing away older items, so it can be hugely satisfying to spend an hour or two cleaning, caring for and organising the beauty products you’ve lavished your hard-earned money on and figuring out what’s missing from the line-up. So: this is the perfect time to edit your kit – and prepare your beauty stash for spring. (Before the sun really comes out and all anyone wants to do is loll around outside. )

First off, check expiry dates. You’ll probably need specs for this – or maybe even a magnifying glass – but this should really be done twice a year. Beauty products do go ‘off’ and lose effectiveness. Beyond that, there’s a potential risk of bacterial infections or breakouts. If anything’s gone beyond its best-before date (or you’re in doubt), throw it out. Use your nose: does anything smell ‘off’? And use your eyes, too: anything which has separated really needs to go. Mascaras, meanwhile, should always be ditched after no more than three months – or sooner if you have any kind of eye infection.

As a little PS, we also like to reassess what our skin may need whenever we finish a bottle or jar of anything. Are we restocking on autopilot? Have the needs of our complexion/hair changed? Beauty habits are all very well – but beauty ruts aren’t.

Be ruthless about disposing of products you haven’t used in a while

Fact: if it’s more than six months since you put a product on your face or body or hair, the realistic chances are you’re never going to use it again. This can be a really hard thing to tussle with; it seems like such a waste. A half-way house, if you feel torn about throwing something out, is to put it centre-stage on the shelf of products that you use every darned day: cleanser, toner, moisturiser. If you still haven’t opened the jar or bottle after a week passes and it’s been staring you in the face, consider it to have signed its death warrant.

Don’t put packaging straight in the bin, though

Be sure to recycle wherever you can – glass jars and plastic containers can often be put in with your other recyclables. Again, you’ll probably need a magnifying glass for this (we’re never without one!), but look on the bottom for the numbers identifying what kind of plastic it is, for recycling. (Although many councils nowadays do all the hard work for us and recycle what they can, without the need to separate. Or the need to go blind figuring out WHAT to separate).

Dispose of last year’s suncare

Sun protection isn’t cheap – so this can definitely hurt. But not as much as sunburn hurts. SPFs should never be ‘over-wintered’, but bought afresh each season to ensure optimum protection. This is the time to invest in a new SPF 30 minimum, for the coming sunlight season. (It is coming, we promise.)

Organise a ‘kit-to-go’

This is a good time to assemble a travel kit-bag with small pots of the products you like to use – for face, body and hair – so that you’re packed for any emergencies. Just add cotton pads, a needle and thread and you’re good for any last-minute getaway invites. Ditto to save time before your next trip, put together in-flight essentials and stow them in a zip-top, security-friendly plastic bag. Job done. Several Brownie points awarded.

Clean your brushes

Brushes are prime breeding grounds for germs – and every make-up artist we’ve ever spoken to recommends washing them once a week. Use just a little gentle shampoo on the bristles and swirl against the side of the sink till the water runs clean. Alternatively, you can use a professional brush cleaner which will be solvent-based – but to be honest, even though most of the solvents evaporate after you’ve done this, we still prefer the old-fashioned washing-in-warm-water technique, which feels more thorough when done correctly.

Let the brushes fully air-dry before using; leave them to dry with their ends over-hanging the edge of the counter, resting on towel so they don’t roll off. (And maybe set a diary reminder on your phone for you to do this more regularly than oh, once every spring…)

Reorganise what you have

Harness spring time’s glorious throw-the-windows-open energy to take an honest look at what’s left, and figure out how to display it more attractively. Group like with like. (It’s easier to see what you have that way.) Find pretty containers: upcycled candle jars, hand-painted vintage teacups, trays and acrylic beauty organisers.

It’s all too easy, though, for a bathroom shelf to become like one of those arcade games where you roll a penny down a lot and small change cascades off the front of the shelf. (Are we the only people to have bruised our toes with products that have fallen off when we’ve tried to add one product too many to an overcrowded…?)

So we suggest that for the Zen feeling it gives you, tidy away anything you don’t use every day, tidy away – face masks, perhaps, or depilatories/razors (as well as any medical non-necessities). Notwithstanding this neatnik advice, Jo’s tip is to keep this ‘non-everyday’ beauty stash in a glass-fronted cabinet – as all too easily out of sight can be out of mind.

Beauty Confessions Of A 56 Year Old

ja-september-18

Hello 56, who the hell let you in?

One minute you’re a dimple-cheeked forty something who could get away with being several years younger and the next you mistakenly press FaceTime and this scary apparition is peering down at you – all folded neck and chin and hooded eyes.

What can you do?  Few have the time, money or inclination to spend the next  20 years sealed inside a medi-spa or to be stretched and stitched by some weird-looking dude in Harley Street.  Here’s all I know about looking as good as you can, without being ridiculous.

Most expensive beauty unctions are a waste of money

Gill would agree, which is why she spends so much time weeding out the over-packaged rubbish. Only this week my husband brought me back a “collagen molecular spray” from Milan – he knows of my love for foreign pharmacies – which promised, as ever,  to be ‘anti-ageing’. Of course I’ll spray it around and am grateful for the thought, but it will not make one iota of difference to my skin.

A pot of coconut oil is mostly all you need

It’s the perfect cleanser and make-up remover and costs next-to-nothing.  Massage it into your face while in the bath, then thoroughly wipe off with a wet muslin cloth.  Naturally antibacterial,   it’s also a breath freshener,  body moisturiser,  scrub (just add salt or sugar) and an overnight hair treatment.  NB: Remember to seal the jar well and use a wooden spoon to extract the oil or it could go rancid. PS Do not eat. This stuff is 92% saturated fat.

A half decent moisturiser will do

All moisturisers fundamentally form a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss when exposed  to dry air or wind.  Which is why I often prefer more moisturising facial oils, my current companion  being an organic Argan oil for which I was recently royally fleeced in Marrakesh’s medina. In my VIP days,  Sisley moisturisers were a requirement, but nowadays I’ll reach for anything that’s affordable and begins with ‘organic’ or ‘bio’.

Serums can be seriously good

They’re the magic weapon in your beauty armoury.  GOW’s Niacinamide Serum is great for regulating sebum and costs the price of two fancy coffees (£9).  Change it up with  GOW’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum which seems to plump everything. Squirt on after toning (use pure rose water which costs about a fiver from your local chemist) and before moisturising.

Sun = wrinkles

Those with beautiful skin never, ever roast it.  I’ve been a hat and factor 50 wearer ever since a friend got skin cancer in her early 20s. Desist now and ensure your foundation/base/whatevs includes a high SPF.

Facial horticulture is a weekly must

Buy decent tweezers and a magnifying mirror with suction pads.  No-one wants to be that woman with errant waving follicles.

Invest major money in your hair and teeth

Either go au natural grey and channel a fabulous sharp haircut, or find a colourist you love. Shiny, swingy, perfectly tinted hair from Josh Wood is worth forgoing any amount of seasonal fashion fripperies. Ditto get those snaggly teeth sorted – no-one wants Tony Blair’s smile. Also keep up with the hygienist appointments as there’s a halitosis epidemic out there, and nothing screams ‘old’ more than sour breath. Also lightly bleach if you can be bothered. There’s lots of kissing years left.

Hands and necks are a dead giveaway

Do yours now look like they’ve been vacuum sealed with a Hoover nozzle – every blood vessel and sinew on show?  Sadly, zero can be done. Don’t bother with half gloves, a la Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, but do consider soft turtlenecks or distracting jewellery, a la Anna Wintour.

Parmesan feet suck

I once heard a well-known magazine editor ridiculed for having crusty “Parmesan” heels on the front row. The horror!  It was enough to send me scurrying for my Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File, which is truly brilliant.

No eyebrow shades of grey

They frame your face, so keep them on fleek. Save yourself the cost and humiliation of sitting in one of those eyebrow bars in Selfridges (where you are bound to see an old boyfriend), and buy yourself a Julienne eyelash and brow tint from the internet. Easy peasy.

Forget Botox and plastic surgery

Do like Anna Murphy in this brilliant read and get over trying to completely change your face – everyone’s used to it by now.  If anything,  get those brown spots zapped off – an unmottled complexion is a younger-looking one.

These pills really do pop

Not a fan of gobbling handfuls of pills but I believe entirely in these four: Turmeric that targets inflammation,  Vitamin D for bones and immunity, Ionicell for great hair and nails and Hyaluronic Acid High Strength because it actually plumps skin from within and it’s Shabir’s favourite.

Try smiling more

Your resting face looks increasingly worse as gravity takes its toll. Just saying.

And finally…

Ask for facials instead of gifts. No-one needs more stuff and they have the added benefit of letting your lie down undisturbed for a least one whole hour.

My go-to are both celeb magnets for a reason. Anastasia Achilleos is a genius who will even massage inside your mouth to get results, and Amanda Lacey’s complexion is a perfect advert for her plant-based range. Anyway I’ve known her since we were both truly young in Sydney in the 1980s, and as author Gertrude Stein once wisely said: “We are always the same age inside”.

Is Aftersun Worth The Investment?

aftersun

We’re all more than aware of the importance of wearing SPF and most of us are pretty good at slathering it on when we’re relaxing on a sun lounger on holiday. It’s the day-to-day application that some of us fall short with. Yet, with the UK experiencing one of the hottest summers in years and the record heatwave showing no sign of abating, wearing SPF every day has never been more essential.

If you’ve been caught out you’ll be well associated with that scorched, tight feeling too much sun can have on your skin. Enter your trusted bottle of aftersun. Brands often tout the cooling, soothing benefits of their aftersun, but is there any difference between them and your regular body lotion?

In a nutshell, yes. “Often traditional body lotions contain oil which create a barrier on the skin and trap the heat, causing prolonged burning,” says Dr Maryam Zamani, Oculoplastic Surgeon and Aesthetic Doctor.  “Aftersun on the other hand is a lighter cream or gel, which does not create a barrier and keeps the area underneath hydrated.”

Most aftersun formulas, including Coola Ecocert Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion, £30, are also packed full of aloe vera, which is renowned for its cooling and soothing powers. While there isn’t a huge amount of scientific data to show that aloe vera is one of the best soothers for sun burn, almost every skin expert recommends using the ingredient for this purpose. Although, as Dr Zamani says, it’s better to opt for light lotions or gel formulas to allow the heat to escape as the aloe soothes your skin.

What if you’re allergic or sensitive to aloe vera? Fear not, social media has the answer and it’s an unusual one. This summer one Instagram user’s post went viral after she revealed her trick of using a menthol based shaving foam to help alleviate her husband’s sun burnt back. While it’s not a technique we’ve tried and tested, it’s worth exploring if you’re unable to use aloe vera as it’s likely the menthol will cool your skin and the foam will be incredibly lightweight.

Whichever approach you take, remember it’s a good sign when your skin starts to itch as it means it’s repairing itself. But, make sure you wear plenty of sun cream the next day and seek shade where possible.

Sun Protection: The Ultimate Guide To SPF

sun and ocean

Yes, we should all be wearing a minimum of SPF 15 every day, regardless of the weather, but a lot of us only really start considering sun protection around this time of the year. Whether you always leave it until the last minute and make a last minute dash in duty-free or you prefer to take time to consider your options, here is a straightforward guide to provide you with all the information you need to make the right selection. Read More…