I don’t know why it is exactly, but I am absolutely obsessed with skincare. As in, I should be sectioned for the good of myself and my long-suffering Visa card obsessed. I only have to read/hear about the latest skincare buzz, and I am filled with a raging case of The Want. Add in the phrases “must-have”, “cult product”, “beauty editor favourite” and all bets are off – that product WILL be mine. Honestly, I’m a marketing executive’s wet dream. Anything French is a particular weakness, and if it’s fancy and French? Fuggedaboudit. Clarins, and Nuxe, Caudalie and Lancome…they call to me. Funnily, I can restrain myself when it comes to makeup; probably because when I’m buying for my kit I think about the products I need and whether I will get value for money from a purchase, whereas skincare is a little luxury, all for me. And how I love a bit of luxury; if I had the money I’d be typing this blog post from my private Caribbean island, a topless Daniel Craig furnishing me with exotic cocktails on a half-hourly basis. Sadly, my budget is more Capri-Sun than Cristal, so instead of living a life of luxury, I settle for injecting a little into my daily life in the form of pampering skincare.
Although it sounds outrageously superficial to lust after skincare like a crazed toddler flipping through the Argos Christmas catalogue, I think it is extremely important, on a deeper level, to look after your skin, and to splurge on good skincare products. The act of treating yourself to a new moisturiser, cleanser or serum, and the resulting enjoyment you gain from using it is beneficial, both in the short and long term. It upsets me when I hear women say, “I don’t have time for a skincare routine”. To me, that says, “I don’t have time for myself, and even if I did I have better things to be doing”. Better things than looking after yourself? Than setting aside time out at the end of a busy day to pamper yourself a little? I truly believe that taking 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to properly cleanse and nourish your skin at the end of a hectic day is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Not only are you looking after your skin, which will pay you back in kind, you are putting yourself first, even if it’s for the briefest of moments. You are telling yourself, “I deserve this. I am worth it.” I’m not saying that you have to go out and blow the budget on expensive, high-end products – Aldi’s skincare range is a great budget buy – but to make time for yourself to use what you buy, whether it’s Lacura or Lancome. Modern life is busier and more stressful than ever. Whether we are high-flying CEOs or never-off-the-clock SAHMs we are all working harder, and for longer hours. As a result, it’s more important than ever to take time out for ourselves at the end of the day. I have a 7-step night-time routine, and it only takes me 10 minutes from start to finish. Obviously, this can be extended and added to as time and opportunity allows: a scrub and a mask here, a home mani-pedi there, perhaps a long bubble bath with a glass of wine. The point is that doing the very minimum takes very little time at all, and both your skin and your sense of self-worth will thank you for it.
I dramatically overhauled my night time routine recently, which I will write about in more detail in the weeks to come, and bought some new products, including these pictured in my lovely Clarins Haul above. I ordered all of these from escentual.com and they were considerably cheaper than buying from my local high street, so even though I was splashing out it didn’t break the bank. The more you buy the more you save, right?!
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator
This is a toner, which I have recently introduced into my routine, on the advice of Skincare Goddess Caroline Hirons. (Sidenote – if this blog is boring you, start reading with a large bottle of whiskey beside you and take a shot everytime I a): mention Caroline Hirons’ name and b): declare my undying love for Caroline Hirons. Guaranteed you’ll be three sheets by post #2). I use two toners in the evenings: one to hydrate and one to exfoliate, but Caroline specifically recommended this toner, so like a good disciple I promptly ordered it. I use this one in the mornings, as it “has the effect of blowing a trumpet in your ear. Your skin is forced into action”. This doesn’t feel at all harsh or drying on the skin, just leaves it feeling lovely and soft as it sweeps off any dead skin cells. I simply wet a cotton pad with the product, and sweep it over my skin each morning, allowing it to dry before going onto my next step.
This is €23 from escentual.com, or €31 from high-street Clarins’ stockists.
Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream for Normal/Combination Skin
I had been meaning to try this for ages, as I wasn’t using a specific night cream; just my daytime moisturiser or an oil if my skin felt dry. I fanagled a sample from my local Clarins counter, and really liked it so it made sense to splash out on the full-size version. This feels thick and moisturising and takes a little while to sink in, but it’s not too greasy and has the most gorgeous scent; really fresh and clean. My skin feels lovely and hydrated the next morning, and I hope to see more long-term benefits as the weeks go on. I rub it in very gently with the pads of my fingers, allowing most of it to soak in by itself. I don’t like to agitate my skin too much, and there is no need to rub in creams until they disappear; your skin will drink them up in its own time.
This is approx €40 from escentual.com, or €50 (usually €60) from high-street Clarins’ stockists.
Clarins Double Serum
Now, I know I said that I do in-depth, CIA-style research when purchasing a new product…well, I lied. In the case of this serum, I read some reviews which proclaimed it to be the Best Thing Since The Last Best Thing, I was swiftly overtaken by The Want, and I just ZOMG HAD TO HAVE IT. It is described as “an essential skin treatment that infuses the complexion with the power of 20 anti-ageing pure plant extracts” which “reactivates the 5 vital functions of skin: hydration, nutrition, protection, oxygenation and regeneration. This works to intensely boost hydration, radiance and collagen production, while fighting the effects of ageing, stress and pollution. Skin is firmer, smoother and more resilient day by day.” So far, so amazing, right?
Now, if I had done my research, I probably wouldn’t have bought this serum, because it contains mineral oil. I’m not sure if I buy into the whole MINERAL OIL IS OMG EVIL notions that are floating around the internets, but there are a couple of reasons why I don’t want to use it in a face cream/treatment/serum.
Firstly, some people can react badly to it and it can clog pores, causing spots and blackheads. I have noticed some congestion on my cheeks since I started using this during the week, but it also coincided with me slapping on a heavy sunblock on a daily basis due to the good weather, so I’m pretty sure that it’s the sunscreen that caused it. I live in hope…
Secondly, mineral oil is a dirt cheap ingredient. Clarins are selling this for a whopping SEVENTY EURO for a mere 30ml of product in Ireland, and it’s basically plant extracts suspended in baby oil and water. Mineral oil is the third ingredient listed, which means that it contains quite a lot of it. Yes, this serum has been in production, technically, for the past 30 years (it first hit the shelves in 1985, and the recently-launched Double Serum which I purchased is the seventh generation of the product), so you could argue that you are paying for three decades withof research. Still though, this smacks of a company taking advantage of its customers, and good skincare is expensive enough as it is.
Finally, mineral oil is occlusive, which means that it forms a barrier on the skin to stop moisture from getting out but also, as I understand it, prevents anything from penetrating the skin. So if you were to slap on an expensive night cream – like the one I just purchased above – after applying a mineral oil-based product you might as well smear it on the wall for all the good it’s doing.
After cleansing and toning I would usually apply serum/Hydraluron/night cream in that order. However, I thought that it might be better to apply Hydraluron and then this serum, so that the hyraluronic acid in the Hydraluron can extract all the moisture from the serum and deposit it into my skin. This seems to be working so far; the first morning after I tried this new order of layering products my skin looked more plumped up and hydrated than usual. However, this still leaves me with the problem of what to do with the night cream that I just bought and opened, and which needs to be used up in six months. Should I still slap it on, even though it will probably do nothing? Should I just leave it? Gaaah. This is definitely what you would term a “First World Problem”, but I’m annoyed by it. I’m tempted to keep putting it on anyway – I do feel that the night cream nourishes my skin and, as Mae West said, too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
As you can see from the bottle, the serum is in two parts – a lipid (oil) and water, in separate chambers. You dispense 1-2 pumps out onto your hand and mix them together before applying. I gently “sweep” this over my face and neck without rubbing, and allow it to sink in for a couple of minutes. It feels quite greasy on first application but sinks in quite nicely. I think 1.5 pumps is enough for me; any more than that and it takes longer to sink in, leaving my skin feeling slightly oily, though not unbearably so. For this reason, I only use it at night. I have heard that makeup “glides” on over it, but I hate greasy-feeling skin so I’d rather keep it for night-time use. My skin does look more hydrated, and my dry patches have disappeared, but due to the mineral oil content I am disappointed with this product. I feel like there is no point in layering another product over it, and night-time is when you should layer your products as your skin has more time to regenerate and soak up all the nutrients you have lovingly patted on. Part of my annoyance is that I adore Clarins as a brand and expected more from them. Unless this actively gives me the skin of a newborn, I doubt I will be repurchasing.
This cost €50 from escentual.com; a significant saving on the high-street price of €70.
‘Til next time,