Style is a state of mind.
I frequently get ID-ed for cigarettes (yelp! I know) and alcohol even though I’m a nice ripe 31 years old. Rather than being taken aback, I’ve now embraced my youthful appearance and realised it’s all skin deep. It’s taken years of daily effort, but it’s not complicated or expensive. Here are 10 simple rules I’ve been following since my teens:
1. Wash and cleanse your face daily – each morning and night.
That means never, ever skipping this routine. No not even after a night out (just get the cotton wool out, slap on some cleanser suited to your skin type and do it half drunk, with a reviving coffee in hand if you have to. But do it. Your face – and your man – will thank you in the morning.) I do recommend using a cleanser and not just lotion because cleansers are specially formulated to not penetrate your pores. That ensures they soak up make up, dust and grease (raising it from your pores to the skin’s surface) and can easily be wiped away with cotton wool. Olay, Simple, L’Oreal and countless inexpensive (under a tenner) brands are worth considering as they all do pretty much the same job. I like to use something with vit C and magnesium in it for their radiance-enhancing and anti-aging properties. I also use a gentle gel toner from Simple to lock the pores shut before giving my face a quick rinse in warm water with a blob of any liquid hand soap nearby.
Oil of Olay for Sensitive Skin is my preferred choice and works on all skin types. It’s also SPF 15 so perfect all year round to keep your skin protected from the elements. I have a naturally dry skin-type so I actually massage in some almond oil or an emollient like Epaderm ointment right before I slap on some lotion (day and night) to keep my skin from feeling tight. This also doubles up as a nice base beneath make up, so no need for all those unnecessary serums. But those with oilier skin should skip greasy formulations and just stick to a light lotion. Aloe Vera gel, which I use daily on my less sensitive legs and arms (and which costs £3 for 100ml from most chemists) is also a great alternative for those with oilier skin that suffer breakouts from other face lotions. Another great find for acne prone skin is Boots’ Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Night Treatment Gel (£2.99 for 75ml).
Even with dry skin, it’s worth exfoliating at least twice a week. These days I like L’Oréal Paris Skin Perfection Radiance Revealing Gentle Exfoliator (150ml) which contains vitamin C known for increasing skin radiance even when applied topically. I also eat tangerines, grapefruit and kiwis to keep my vit C levels up… and just because they taste good.
4. Facial masks.
This is a great treat for the skin on a Sunday after a hard week of work. But it’s fine to do this once a month only if you have sensitive skin. I swear by Jenny Lee’s Nourishing Organic Green Clay Face Mask (£5 for 60ml / £7 for 120ml) which lasts up to 12 weeks and is made from ioniseds clay from France. This is a lush formulation made with organic ingredients including rose water, rosewood oil, vitamine E oil, geranium oil and borage oil. It smells beautiful and the base oils are gentle enough not to irritate sensitive skin (like mine). The trick to an effective mask treatment is to steam your face for 10 mins before applying a thin layer on a towel dried face (do it after a shower or after a steam sesh at the gym). Leave it on for 15 mins and then rinse off. Make sure you slap on some lotion, gel or almond oil right after to seal the pores, or your skin will feel tight and dry.
5. Eat almonds.
Almonds are high in vitamin E but to get the best out of them soak a small handful in a glass of water in the morning so they take in the water and begin their sprouting phase (when a seed or grain is at its most nutritious). Then 1 hour after you’ve had your dinner, peel off their skin (or don’t if you can’t be bothered) and gobble them up as your final snack of the day. If you do this daily you’ll notice your skin is more supple and smooth in a matter of weeks.
6. Drink carrot juice.
Rather than taking supplements before a summer holiday, up your intake of carrot juice (or tomatoes/tomato sauce) which is high in betacarotene (vitamin A) in the two weeks before you hit the beach. This is a mediterranean secret to achieving the perfect golden brown tan (rather than that dull, ruddy, muddy tan we all want to avoid, no matter our skin tone).
7. Eat bananas.
As I’ve said before, these are high in magnesium so they fight fatigue and combat those dark circles round your eyes. I like them slightly unripe first thing in the early morning either as a pre-work out breakfast, or as a pre-breakfast energy boost.
8. Exercise. Running, swimming, dancing, sports…any exercise in general gets your blood pumping from your head to your toes, clearing out toxins through sweat and keeping all your organs (of which skin is the largest) revitalised.
9. Drink 2-3 litres of clear water per day This should really be number one on this list. The average human body is about 60% water, and muscle tissue a whopping 75%. There are various studies which suggest water intake has little to do with good skin, but I beg to differ. As water aids concentration, it can keep you more alert and active throughout the day, ensuring your blood is pumping and keeping all your organs functioning to their optimum. It also thins your blood helping to absorb essential nutrients from your gut into your blood vessels. It doesn’t matter how many supplements or greens you eat. If you don’t have enough water in your system all that goodness just gets flushed out as waste. Note that caffeinated tea is a diuretic so it actually dehydrates, rather than hydrates you. So don’t count those cuppas as part of your daily fluid intake. Also, cut out sugar as much as possible. Sugar (even fructose) is a toxin, it’s addictive and causes wrinkles. I’m not so good at this one so I haven’t listed it as a separate item. But worth thinking about.
10. Sleep at least 7 hours per night. This is key. But I find for some reason that if I sleep seven hours by getting to bed before midnight, my skin looks better than sleeping seven hours clocking off later than 12pm on a Friday or Saturday. Don’t quite know why – perhaps something to do with waking up with natural daylight? I’m going to research this and let you know.
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