Don’t know about you, but for us, September’s fresh start is somehow more welcome than January’s (when we’re mostly feeling sluggish from too much Christmas pud and box sets, rather than energised by an outdoorsy summer). It harks back to those wonderful days of sharpening pencils and getting a shiny pair of school shoes, in preparation for a new term.
So it’s a pretty good time, we think, to revisit the ways to do things – and maybe pick up some new tricks. It’s incredibly easy to get stuck in a rut with our beauty techniques – and at the same time, there are so many new product categories on the beauty shelves that it’s easy to be confused about what to do in what order. (Feedback we so often hear, from Beauty Bible readers.)
Here, then, is our advice on what to use when, for getting the best results from your regime. And remember: it’s never too late to shake things up and learn new tricks – no matter how long it is since you said goodbye to the classroom.
Use a face serum before your moisturiser. (And do use moisturiser, by the way: serums aren’t moisturising enough in their own right to keep skin plumped and ensure healthy cell communication – which is essential, for anti-ageing.) A basic rule of thumb is: products with a thinner consistency go on before thicker ones – otherwise they will ‘block’ penetration. So: serum before oil or moisturiser – and moisturiser before facial oil, too. (We like the way it ‘seals’ in the moisture.)
Apply a shine serum before blow-drying. Don’t be tempted to skim serum over the finished ‘do’; it will end up looking uneven, perhaps clogging some strands together. The way to apply serum is to squirt a dollop – no larger than a 5p piece – into palms, rub them together and skim from root to tip, ideally on wet or ruffled-dry hair, before you get that nozzle going.
Brush your teeth before cleansing and moisturising. Otherwise when you rinse your mouth and pat it dry, creams tend to get wiped off again. (And those feathery lines around the lips need all the help they can get!)
Do your make-up before drying hair. This is a bit of a time-saver, actually; hairdressers everywhere recommend hair should be at least 70% dry before you start styling with a drier, so wrap your hair in a towel, turban-style, and get on with doing your ‘face’.
Put on your eyeshadow before you apply your foundation. A make-up pros’ tip, this: first, smooth on concealer or lid primer, then do your eye make-up. This ensures that if your smokey eye pencil smudges, or you get specks of shadow on your cheeks, they’re easily wiped off without messing up your face base.
Do your brows last. They’re the final step to ‘balance’ your face, in order for them to complement the intensity of your blusher, eyeshadow and lipstick. Sometimes you’ll need a stronger look; other times, if they’re too dark, they’ll be all anyone sees when they look at your face.
Apply SPF after moisturiser. Yes, even at this time of year; we recommend an SPF20 from September to April or so, and higher for the summer months. Unless you really, really don’t see UV light during your scamper from the car to work, or wherever. To ensure the SPF works to full potential and isn’t diluted, it needs to go on after moisturising – or look for a moisturiser that incorporates sun protection (there are more and more of them about.)
Always apply creams before powders. This includes eyeshadows, bronzers and blushers; the powder ‘sets’ the cream and ensures it stays in place, in just the same way as face powder does foundation.
Curl your eyelashes before mascara. You might get slightly more impact by squeezing mascara-ed lashes with your curlers, but mascara hardens the lashes and makes them more vulnerable to breakage. (And if you’re anything like us, you need every last lash!)
Ruffle hair dry before conditioning. This way you’ll get a more intensive treatment, and your conditioner won’t be diluted by the wetness of your hair. Even if you can’t towel-dry before conditioning, simply squeezing the water out helps a lot.
Apply nail oil after polish. We’re big fans of oils, for nourishing nails and cuticles, but even a trace will affect the way that varnish adheres, encouraging peeling or chipping. By contrast, applying oil as soon as your nails are touch-dry speeds up the drying time, and also creates a slippery surface which resists ‘fluff’ sticking to it.