One of the New Year resolutions I made this year was to make sure I never ever went to bed without washing my face. While I have always tried to do this, the truth is that I would forget on nights where I was too tired (or had had too many glasses of wine) and collapse into bed to wake up with streaks of mascara down my face or staining my pillowcase. This year, I decided there would be zero excuse and that having a good sleep – and good skin – were critical to my feeling anything like the word luxurious the next morning.
Ask any skincare expert about having healthy skin and they will all pretty much tell you that it all starts with having clean skin and then moisturizing as appropriate for your skin type. The key to the whole puzzle is in finding exactly the right products to work with your skin type. Once you find the right products, you will start to see some results in about a week of using the products consistently and properly. For me, this meant finding products that would cleanse my combination skin which was sometimes oily, sometimes dry and sometimes both at the same time. I also wanted to try and keep my products to a minimum; meaning I needed one face wash, one makeup remover, one scrub, one day/night cream and one mask. Easier said than done!
I had previously been of the impression that it really did not matter what you washed your face with, since, you know, it got washed down the drain in about 30 seconds. What I have discovered over the years is that neglecting this step can mean that no matter what else you do later on that the train is already on track to crash. Wash with a product that is too harsh and your skin will be stripped of moisture, wash with one that is too oily and you’ll wind up with an oilslicked face that can’t absorb moisturizers properly. When I heard that one of my favourite skincare lines, Kiehls, had a new cleanser out that was perfect for normal-to-oily skin, I jumped to try it. Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash ($29) cleans away dirts and oils but leaves your skin feeling great afterwards. Plus, the skincare nerd in me loves how you put on this gel like formula to get all the yucky stuff off but then add a little water and voilà! It’s a foamy nice smelling lather to wipe away.
Try: Knowing your skin type can be confusing if you’re combination skin like me, but the easiest way to figure it out is to go to the washroom at lunch and take a peek in the mirror. Does your whole face look like it’s shiny, not in a good way? You probably have oily skin. Do you have visible oily patches on your forehead and nose? You’re likely combination skin. If you’re not seeing much oil at all and are even seeing some dry patches, you’re likely a dry skinned individual. Another tip is to take a trip to a local Department store and visit a skincare counter where the salespeople will be able to pretty quickly (and accurately) identify your skin’s weaknesses.
If you are like me and wear a waterproof, sweatproof or any other random “proof” makeup, you may need more than just a standard cleanser to get it all off. I found the solution to this problem in the past to be bottles of eye makeup remover that I had to cautiously apply to avoid getting it anywhere near my eyes to avoid problems with stinging and my contact lenses, and I was pretty excited when my favourite perfumist, Diptyque, announced their skincare line not very long ago and along with it came a product called the Diptyque Nourishing Cleansing Balm ($65). Designed to remove makeup, cleanse and nourish the skin, the amazing smelling balm (it’s made with sweet almond oil and geranium) goes on to dry skin and becomes an oil when it is massaged into it. I use a cotton swab to pinch eyelashes and get into all the little eye creases to make sure I’ve gotten everything off, and then rinse with warm water – where the balm turns into an easy to wash away lotion.
Try: If you’ve got dry skin, this may be all you need! There are all kinds of new products in the oil/balm market as this is really only starting to be explored, and if you’re a little put off by the price tag without knowing the results, try a cheaper alternative from the drug store to make sure the texture works for you and your skin. You can also swing by the Diptyque counters at department stores and ask for a small sample, I’ve found them to be quite accommodating especially as they are expanding and promoting this new line of their range.
There is nothing to me that feels as clean as when your skin has been polished of any dirt and grime possibly left behind and you can literally feel the smooth skin underneath. The challenge with this step is finding the right balance in something that’s gritty enough to clean your pores without being so rough that it will damage it. Many of the cheap alternatives aren’t great as they fall into one of these categories. I found a product that has dual use that serves this purpose really well for my skin, Diptyque’s Multi-Use Exfoliating Clay ($65). While I prefer it for it’s exfoliating properties, it can also be used as a mask to encourage skin rejuvenation. When scrubbing, the clay has a very fine marble powder that gently, but effectively, removes dead skin cells. I avoid the eye area (far too delicate!) and massage in small circles on the rest of the face, making sure to get oily or dull patches especially. To use as a mask, you just put on the clay, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then massage and exfoliate as you’re removing it.
Try: Try a wide variety of brands! I have several friends who have found that the best scrubs for their skins are the cheapest, I’ve found the opposite. The joys of everyone being unique! My advice or caution is for those of you with oily skin who may think that exfoliating, especially harsh exfoliating, is the best way to cleanse your skin. This is often a recipe for disaster, as over exfoliating will cause your skin to go into overdrive and produce even more oil making the situation worse, not better.
While I have mentioned one mask option above (hooray for 2 for 1 products) sometimes you need to put on a gentle, soothing moisturizing mask, especially in the cooler winter months or after a day in the sun in summer. My favourite mask is Fresh’s Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62) which smells like you are in the most amazing rose garden of all time. The mask is designed to rejuvenate and relax the skin and that rose scent is from the crushed rose petals that are an ingredient that help retain moisture and tighten pores. The mask also has cucumber extract and rose oil/water to help improve the overall appearance and chamomile, calendula and allow to soothe. It’s perfect to put on and then to relax with a nice bubble bath while letting the mask do the trick.
Try: There are so many masks out there, and while I love the smells of this one, there are different options at about every price point out there. The key, I believe, is to make sure that the skin is clean before you start and that you allow sufficient time for the product to sink in and do its job. There are also dozens (hundreds?) of masks that people make at home for pennies using moisturizing ingredients like avocado to save money and use greener alternatives.
Moisturizer for Day/Night
Now that your skin is cleaned and cleansed (my aesthetician calls it “priming the canvas”) it’s time to put on the next layer. I have found that my skin requires two different treatments now that I’m not 16 and I need to start making sure I stay as unwrinkled as possible, but that may not be the case for you. In the morning, the moisturizer I use is the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ($26.50) which I layer underneath my omnipresent sunscreen if I’m heading out for the day (and depending on the day a BB cream as well). I like it because it is both light enough to go underneath several layers if needed but also strong enough to provide the moisture my skin actually needs. At night after making sure my skin is clean, I put on the Kiehl’s Multi-Corrective Cream ($82). This cream helps corrects and protect against the most visible signs of aging although I may have bought it initially because it advertises the three words I think everyone wants to hear about anti-aging: Lifts! Firms! Sculpts! If you’re not worried about anti-aging as much as I am, you can also use the same day cream in the morning and at night. It’s one of the other reasons I really like the Ultra Facial Cream, it doesn’t have the sunscreen built in so it can be used for both.
Try: This is a category that is extremely personal, perhaps most of all. Finding a moisturizer that works for you can be like finding your soulmate! To help, moisturizers are often available at the sample checkout from stores like Nordstrom or Sephora – and if you can manage to sneak in a sample of Crème de la Mer, let me know! (Crème de la Mer is the crème de la crème of the skincare world, but is extremely expensive)
The most important thing I’ve found in sticking to this regime is to not make excuses – somehow easier when you have luxurious products to use which will help relax you as well as help your skin. For nights that I crawl home in the wee hours after an event, I even built in a contingency plan of a small stash of travel wipes which I store in my night table to be sure that there is literally no excuse for missing my target. With these five steps, you’ll have some of the cleanest and healthiest skin you’ve have ever had, and that is definitely a luxury we think is worth it!