Saturday, 30 October 2010

# 137 Soul Sister

'I'm 24 and work in an office in London. I currently use just a Neutrogena Oil Free moisturiser, as being 24 I was still getting the odd spot, someone suggested that I try something without oil. It worked, for a while, but now my skin is dry, lifeless, and still getting the odd spot. I'm nervous about changing moisturiser though. I try a Kiehls one about 6 months ago, but my skin just went haywire. I do however know that I need to find something to start giving my skin back its moisture, stop being flaky, hopefully keep away the odd spot and stop me feeling ancient before my time! If you could point me in the right direction of a relevent post, or have any advice I would be so grateful!'

Hey sister, I can relate! Ever since I popped out my little'un, the skin has been having an extended schizophrenic moment. It's superficially oily, deeply dehydrated, prone to dry patches and, out of nowhere, the odd forehead blemish has also made a determined comeback. Darn it to hell. The thing is, I've learned from past experience that it does no good to chop & change - to gauge if something's working or not you need to allow at least 6 weeks. Having said that the gut's a good indicator of the skin's proclivities - and it's pretty easy to tell if something's not going to suit you, full stop. The range I’ve always relied on to right my up-and-down days is ESPA. I’ve written about them several times in the past, but it’s the combination of balancing oil, balancing moisturiser, cellular hydrating complex and that lovely creamy easily-emulsifying oil-based gentle cleanser that most often gets my skin back up to scratch. I must say, however, that without the cellular hydrating complex, the combo is not quite hydrating enough as my skin switches from combination to dryness-prone the moment winter appears – but using a more moisturising line-up, such as, e.g. Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser, which is packed with avocado, borage and wheatgerm oils, does leave me superficially ‘slick’ looking [even when using the LIGHT formula – I get that suspect 2pm shine on the ol’ forehead]. So, my advice would be to supplement a skincare routine that you’re happy with – i.e. a cleanser & moisturiser that seem to work with your skin – with masks, serums and concentrates. That way you can ensure that you’re not changing things up too much or constantly trying and testing formulas out on your complexion (which is the shortest cut to skin chaos). Some of the very best hydrating and ‘enlivening’ masks I’ve used over the years include:






I’d also like to stress the fact that I’m a massive fan of oils for ALL skin conditions. I’ve never ever found the oil-free method to help with my oil- or spot-proneness, in fact, whenever I’ve used entirely oil-free formulas in the past – from Leaf & Rusher; Dr Brandt; Dermalogica; REN – my skin has initially settled (for a day or two), before becoming increasingly oily and spotty. My theory (and several skincare experts would agree with me), is that by using entirely oil-free products, the skin begins to overcompensate by overproducing sebum. However, by selecting facial oils designed to treat OILY skin (wonderful combinations are made by Aromatherapy Associates, Daniele de Winter, Darphin, Decleor, Clarins and, as previously mentioned, ESPA), the skin seems to settle down far more easily – and provides a far more successful longterm solution.

Please, do let me know how you get on!

Yours sincerely,

A sympathetic sister in search of skincare perfection

Saturday, 16 October 2010

# 136 Conditioning Complex

A couple of weeks ago I had a big interview. I needed to look a-mazing - chic, sleek, grown-up and 'with it'. Looking with it is a whole new challenge these days what with a new baby, gazillions of short-lead deadlines & a new job kicking off in less than two weeks. The problem is, post-baby, my hair's developed an entirely new personality. It's still shiny [thank gawd], but it's also prone to kinkiness and sheds in clumps in the shower [truly, it looks as though I have a dead mogwai in my bathroom bin]. I'm lucky to have enough to spare - but when hair's proving tricky I need something extra - something that keeps strands in place, come rain or shine. My sister - her of the feted Absolom-esque locks - cannot live without Pantene. I've never been a fan - I don't like Sodium Laureth Sulphate for a start. She has told me, over and over again, that nothing produces such reliable sleekness, malleable softness, shiny, tactile, styleability. Pass, I say, not for me. Having spent more time of late out in Kent with Ma & Pa Malcontent, I've became a dab hand at forgetting my essential grooming products. And the night before this 'big interview', I realised that my amnesia extended to haircare. After a minor freak-out [Ma Malcontent's TIGI was not to my liking], I decided to bite the beauty bullet and trial the leftover Smooth & Sleek range in lil' Sis' bathroom. Well. My oh my. Words duly swallowed. Hair blow-dried in record time, with supreme shine, and so slippery-sleek was the result that I wore it down for the first time in weeks [Mr Frieda, we must make another date soon!]. Gorgeous. And I never, ever say that about my hair. The following day hair was scooped up into a sleek ponytail, still very shiny and healthy looking. By day 2.5, however, gloss began to turn to grease... and by day 3 hair was crying out for another wash. Now, this is something I'm not used to. I have thick, full hair - and going 3 days without a wash is just par for the course. Just not with Pantene. And, I've since discovered, that if left on hair for more than a minute, the in-between-wash time is reduced by 24 hours. So, while it saves time with the dry and style, it also demands a more regular shampoo session... highs and lows. But... that initial smooth operation... the shine, the sleekness, the softness... hmmmm... I bought my own. Because, it's [just about] worth it.