I have tried many products over the years (one of the reasons I decided to start blogging) and have eventually found products that work for me, and my previously dry and dehydrated super sensitive skin with some nasty jaw-line and chin huge spots thrown in for good measure. Thanks Mother Nature.
CLEANSER: My absolute favourite is Superdrug's Naturally Radiant Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser. It is a cream but has a slight balm texture to it, and is so comforting on my face. It has a slight herby scent to it, but a pleasant one, and is a dream to massage into my skin.
I don't use it for eye make-up removal, instead I use Garnier 2in1 Eye and Face Make-Up Remover (lovely bi-phasic mascara munching stuff!) or Avon Extra Lasting Make-up Remover (oily goodness that really does remove every scrap of eye make-up).
I also don't use the muslin cloth that comes with it; call me old fashioned but I only use flannels! Muslin cloths just don't give me the same 'clean' feeling, and flannels are thicker so I can use both sides if I need to without transferring wiped off product back onto my face. I use a new flannel each morning and night-luckily I have tonnes of them in various colours and states (hate throwing holey and frayed ones away, they literally have to be falling apart for me to do so!).
The cleanser claims to "awaken skin's natural glow" and I haven't seen any demonstration of this, however my skin is calmer and hasn't reacted even in the slightest to this product, which is more important to me than achieving a glowing radiance.
This cleanser really is super fantastic, so much so that I actually cut open the squeezy tube (nice design too!) to get the last bits out! I have never done that for any other product, not even super expensive ones.
Overall a cheap but nourishing cream-balm cleanser with a light scent and plenty of oooomph to remove make-up. I use it morning and night with a flannel, and don't intend to go looking for another cleanser any time soon.
TONER: If you read Caroline Hirons' blog (or watch her now on You Tube *Bob's your uncle*) you will know I am not talking about old skool toners. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to visit her blog and unearth the differences and why it is now OK to 'tone' after cleansing (you would have stripped every piece of natural barrier from your skin if you used to use the old skool ones, which is why I didn't use them).
So once my face is cleansed and rinsed, I swish a cotton pad with Dr Organic Rose Otto Skin Toner from Holland and Barrett to prep my skin for acid toning (yep Aciiiid!). There is no alcohol in this toner, and it is hydrating and smells gorgeous. I hate the scent of 'fake' rose, but this stuff smells good. Really good.
ACID TONING/EXFOLIATING: By far, this is my favourite step in my skin care regime. In the morning I use an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid, such as glycolic acid) to help skin cell renewal and diminish age lines. I am currently using Pixi Glow Tonic which has a distinctive scent that I can't put my finger on, but you get used to it pretty quickly.
In the evening I use a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid, such as Salicylic acid) to keep pesky spots/invisible under the skin bumps away. I have seen a huge improvement around my jaw-line and chin where the unwanted visitors used to congregate despite my protests. The BHA I am currently using is Paula's Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Targeted Blemish Relief Toner 2% Salicylic Acid and it has cleared up the marks left from the cystic acne beautifully.
If acid toning/acid exfoliation is a new concept for you, there are some super helpful guides from Paula's Choice here and here and here.
**Note- Caroline Hirons' advice is to use a hydrating spritzing toner post exfoliation, however I personally prefer to use my hydrating toner before exfoliating. No reason why, it's just what I do**
EYE CREAM: I am head over heels in love with Balance Active Formula Snake Venom Eye Cream absolutely smitten in fact!
This stuff is wonderfully hydrating, without upsetting make-up application, and doesn't cause millia. It has softened my crows feet and got rid of the tightness I used to feel by mid-afternoon when using other eye creams.
SERUM: The serum that beat all others hands down is the Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum. It is pricey, but Boots tend to have brilliant offers on Indeed Labs products periodically so wait for them and stock up then. My dry and dehydrated skin totally transformed into hydrated and comfortable skin (with no flaky dry patches around my nose and temples) after using 3/4 of my first tube morning and night.
The hyaluronic acid retains moisture, and over time you will need to use less moisturiser....I really thought this was utter tosh until I used the product. I no longer have to use heavy duty moisturiser (Oilatum, Skin Food, aqueous cream), I can use 'normal' moisturiser which is great for make-up application. I use a pea sized amount all over my face (including eyelids!) and another pea sized amount for my neck and décolletage. I think it is unlikely I will switch serums, this really is a precious skin care staple/Holy Grail product.
MOISTURISER: Now my skin is behaving itself impeccably, I am trialling many moisturisers and tend to use which one works best with my foundation choice (powder or liquid) of that day. One I have been reaching for quite regularly is Good Things Manuka Honey Daily Moisturiser which smells delicately of delicious honey. It can leave a bit of a sheen on my skin (I prefer the matte look) if I use too much, but my husband always says I look lovely when I have been heavy handed and retain the sheen....so I'm trying to embrace the slight sheen, but cannot deal with the 'dewy' 'glowing' or 'moist' look. Ever.
I'm enjoying testing out moisturisers, it is a real novelty for me, so I cannot imagine I will still be using this particular one in a month or so. That does not mean this isn't a lovely moisturiser, because it is, I'm just revelling in having the chance to finally use pretty much any moisturiser I fancy. I am currently using this moisturiser both day and night.
I spend my money on acids and serum, and save with my cleanser, eye cream and moisturiser. SPF on the other hand is not about price, but how it sits on my skin and reacts with my make-up.
SPF: I use SPF all year round, every day. I choose to use at least factor 30 and one that had UVA and UVB protection. I am super pale and up until this summer have had to hide from the sun due to hives and distressed skin from the sun (no burning, but very tight unhappy skin).
I don't really like SPF in my moisturiser because I'm concerned that it will react with the SPF protection I get from the pure SPF I apply after my moisturiser. I used to use Clinique Super City Block SPF 40 but the 'subtle' yellow tone of it made me look jaundiced on non-make-up days. I then tried La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Comfort Cream SPF 50 but found it too heavy on top of my previous heavy duty moisturiser......but I have now discovered a total winner....
.....meet the fabulous Soap and Glory Make Yourself Youthful Sunshield Superfluid SPF50 a true hero in my eyes. I was initially put off when I tested it on my hand in Boots as it was tinted, however it is completely colourless/totally invisible when it is rubbed in. I can't even feel it on my skin once applied, and it does not affect my make-up in any way whatsoever. S&G products are pretty much always on offer in Boots so I have stocked up to see me through winter and into spring. If you haven't tried this I really recommend doing so.
**SPF 30+ broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) is imperative when using acids as they are revealing lovely new skin cells, and if no SPF (or poor quality, low rated SPF) is used you are just damaging those lovely new skin cells, thus wasting your money on acids. Also, if you are trying to avoid skin cancer and slow the ageing process down, there is nothing better than broad spectrum SPF daily. Every day. Yes even in the UK!**
I wasn't expecting this post to be so long, congratulations (and thank you!) if you have made it to the end. I hope this inspires and helps anyone who is looking to switch up their skin care routine, or even to start one.
*Products purchased with my own money*