Despite having left school many moons ago, come autumn I can’t quite shake the sense of it being the beginning of a school year. This feeling spurs renewed exercise efforts, lists galore materialising in every room of my house, and a whole new skincare regime.
I cannot offer guidance on the first two: my exercise efforts still consist of getting in a bit of cardio (currently courtesy of FitStar) and the odd yoga class, and the lists… well, suffice to say I currently have seven on the go with a master list to manage them.
On skincare, however, I have (as always) much to say. Here are the rules – and products I’m using – I’m following to support my skin as we segue into winter…
Make Pals With Retinol / Retinol (aka Vitamin A), is a bloody powerful anti-ageing ingredient that normalises cell function and can repair damage. Proceed with caution if you’re going to buy some though – retinol when overused can damage skin and it has to be paired with other ingredients or products that bolster and offer nutrition, as it were. Also, it must be packaged in an airtight, opaque tube; Vitamin A is easily damaged when exposed to air and light.
Try / NeoStrata Retinol + NAG Complex is well-formulated, and I’ve been applying it weekly at night without any redness or sensitivity cropping up. Over the coming months, I’ll be working my way up to twice weekly, but will stick to that so as not to overdo it. I use it neat (straight on cleansed skin, nothing on top), but avoid the area around my eyes – as should you.
Slough Off The Surface /… But gently. Join me on this to encourage speedier turnover and lessen pigmentation patches if your skin has been sunned a touch too much (mine has). Now is the ideal time to start as exfoliation makes skin more photosensitive, so the sun’s retreat means that damaging fresh skin is less likely.
Try / I’m using Dr. Levy 3Deep Cell Renewal Micro-Resurfacing Cleanser at the moment in two ways: first, I apply it every other day on damp skin to slough off any surface dead cells; second, I apply it to dry skin and massage in for a bit of stronger exfoliating action weekly.
Up Barrier Function / While a little exfoliation in the above fashion serves the skin well, I’m always careful about not stripping the all-important barrier away (this is why I favour chemical exfoliants as they are less likely to do so). I try support this barrier function by eating mindfully (omegas and veggies help), and by avoiding overworking my skin by not applying anything else during the 24 hours pre/post retinol or exfoliation that’ll tax it in the slightest.
Try / HealGel Intensive. Designed by plastic surgeons to be used after operations/laser treatments, this forms a protective veil over the skin while the anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients go to work. I always reach for this when I suspect my skin barrier is damaged (signs of damage = skin behaving oddly or becoming reddened/sensitised for seemingly no reason).
Protect Against Sun Damage And Pollutants / Rather annoyingly, pollution particles abound year round. There’s only one thing for it: get a sun cream (I am, as you may already know, a proponent of the year-round sunscreen rule) that also shields against the oxidation that pollution causes.
Try / I am completely bananas for the Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF 50 Hydrating Shield. A new discovery, this is lightweight but also feels hydrating – my favourite combo. It also contains little pigment spheres so you won’t end up looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
… Annndddd Hydrate / ‘Feeding’ skin from the outside with lots of yummy ingredients shouldn’t be confined to autumn, but if you’re ever going to start diligently moisturising, autumn is a good time to hop to it after the damage of summer has been reaped. Look for a plant oil to cosset the skin and offer lots of antioxidants to mop up damage caused throughout the day.
Try / I’m brimming with recommendations on this one, but as I am currently using Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules and finding them to be all kinds of brilliant, I’m going to go with them. They’re noteworthy not only for the contents (which are truly fantastic on all but the greasiest of complexions and even then, I’d say give ’em a whirl to see if the addition of oil balances the production of excess sebum out), but they also come in pleasing little capsules that are an education in how much oil you need to use – turns out I’ve been going for about 5x the recommended dose.
… And Don’t Forget Your Neck / So easily done – and often by me. On a similar note, I also rarely remember to cleanse all the way down my décolletage as facialists always tell me to, primarily because I am a little baffled by what state I ought to be in when I do so – fully dressed, I don’t want to shove a warm flannel down my top, my nightwear is often a high-necked, Victorian affair nowadays (lucky hubs), and cleansing in the nude seems odd. I fully intend on getting around this odd conundrum this autumn, primarily because I like to be clean when I apply…
Try / Sisley Neck Cream. Swiping this delicious, souffle-like cream onto my neck is the bit of my evening skincare routine I currently look forward to the most. It’s absurdly indulgent (£100+ for a neck is a borderline crazy price that I am fully aware only beauty junkies would be able to justify), but it has reduced the ridges on my neck after only a fortnight’s use and really does feel like heaven to smooth on.
Brighten Up / The retinol and exfoliating cleanser already do a good job of brightening my skin, but I’m adding glow-booster every weekend in the form of an intensive Vitamin C treatment. As it’s another potent one, I use it away from any other actives and follow up with a nice plant oil.
Try / Ole Henriksen PowerBright. This three-part face mask is clever if you want to maximise luminosity and aren’t very good as assembling your own at home face mask routine. Just cleanse, apply exfoliating first step, flannel off and then smooth on step two. Once that’s been on your skin for a few minutes, apply the third step on top of the second and wait fifteen minutes before removing.