** I'm so sorry, I still have not had a chance to finish this post! Due to popular demand, I have decided to post most of it now, and the rest over the weekend. Sunscreens, masks, scrubs, lip balms, and other (products to treat specific skin concerns) to come!
Okay, so let's get to the fun part! Please forgive me here - I do not have much experience with inexpensive cosmetics. I started working in luxury cosmetics at a young age and I have become accustomed to beautiful, quality products that tend to cost an arm and a leg. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you buy products you absolutely love, which really work and suit your skin, then you will save more money than you would if you bought unsuitable products that you never finished because they didn't give you the results you wanted. Well, that is my justification anyway, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you agree!
Now, when it came down to writing this list, I was faced with a dilemma. There are the products that are universal favourites - the ones that all my friends and clients absolutely adore, those fail-safe products that people repurchase over and over again because they are so amazing. And then there are those products that I have "discovered". You see, I don't like to go with the flow and stick with those popular cult classics... I prefer to try things that nobody else has picked up, so I can find hidden gems where others may not usually look (and then take all the credit for them!) I couldn't decide which products I should recommend here so, in the end, I decided to share one of each for some of the categories. I hope that makes sense to you!
Nude Skincare Facial Cleansing Oil and Nude Skincare Cleansing Facial Wash
These two cleansers are both universal favourites and my hidden gems. I highly recommend that they be used simultaneously as part of a daily double cleansing ritual at the end of each day. The cleansing oil removes your makeup and the cleansing wash rinses away any residue from the oil, as well as excess oil and impurities that have built up throughout the day. If you prefer just one cleanser, then a dry/combination skin would use just the oil, while an oily/combination skin would use just the wash. Keep in mind that both cleansers are suitable for ALL skin types, especially when used in combination.
Just as a way of background, Nude Skincare is a collaboration between Bryan Meehan, founder of Fresh and Wild (now Wholefoods) in the UK, and Ali Hewson, Bono's wife. They wanted to create a skincare regime that was natural and effective, as they found that a lot of natural ranges on the market were ineffective and/or too heavy on the skin. All of their products are at least 98% natural and do not contain sulphates, mineral oil, silicones, parabens or GMO ingredients. The packaging is recyclable and the brand is carbon neutral. Please check out the website for more information!
Anyway, the reason I really love the Nude cleansers, besides the fact that they are so lovely to use, is that they contain probiotics. Nude is the first skincare brand in the world to incorporate pre and probiotics, which feed the good bacteria in the skin. Just like the stomach (have you seen those Metamucil ads?) you need a balance of good and bad bacteria in the skin for it to be at its optimum health and vitality. So many cleansers (and toners) on the market purely focus upon stripping away the bad bacteria, which only causes it to grow back again. Probiotics keep the skin beautifully balanced and strengthen its ability to defend itself against irritants.
The cleansing oil is 100% natural and has an amazingly silky texture. You simply massage it onto dry skin and then rinse it off with lukewarm water, leaving your skin soft and nourished. The cleansing wash is a very gentle foaming cleanser that rinses away residue from the oil and gives that lovely clean feeling, yet does not dry out the skin at all as so many foaming cleansers do.
I don't want to make any promises, but the wash in particular has made such a difference to some of my clients' skin, especially those experiencing breakouts who had previously invested in harsh foaming cleansers made up of sulphates, alcohol and acids. The simple act of changing their cleanser to one which was gentle and balancing severely lessened the angriness of their acne, and some with purely surface acne saw it eradicated. Like I said, I don't like to make promises - after all, most acne is caused by hormones - but cleansers are important!
Please keep in mind that, for young skin, cleansing can be the most important step and using the right cleansing products can really make an incredible improvement to the skin. The value of a quality cleanser does not lessen with age, but the the value of a quality moisturiser increases. The point I am trying to make is that under 25-year-olds can afford to invest in quality cleansers and skimp on moisturisers (as long as you are using sunscreen!)
I have to give a special mention to Bioderma Crealine H20. This beautiful makeup remover, lauded as a cult favourite by models and makeup artists, feels like water on your skin, and is incredibly gentle and effective. I bought four large bottles when I was in Paris but, sadly, I am just nearing the end of my last one. You can buy them online in Australia, but at about four times the price! You can also buy them at the Dubai Airport pharmacy.
Nude Skincare Clarifying Water
Did I say that I didn't play favourites? Well, I lied. I love Nude! This toner contains a lovely chemical exfoliant, salicylic acid, which is naturally derived from willow bark. As I mentioned in part one, salicylic acid (also known as beta-hydroxy acid or BHA) is lipid soluble and can penetrate the hydro-lipidic barrier of the skin, so it is brilliant for deep-cleansing the pores, alleviating breakouts and dislodging blackheads. It also contains probiotics and, in true Nude style, does not contain any alcohol. (Please, please, please avoid any toners that contain alcohol - it is an environmental aggressor that causes free radical damage!)
As for me, well, I don't use one! You only need to use a toner if you have particularly oily skin, clogged pores or breakouts, or you are one of those people who simply must have that very "clean" feeling. To be honest, toners are a thing of the past. We have learned that you don't need to strip the skin with astringents to keep it clear and healthy.
As I mentioned in my previous post, you can choose between a basic and an advanced skincare regime. If you decide that you only need a basic regime, then you can skip the serum stage. I highly recommend, though, that if there is anything you would like to change about your skin at all, then you need to start using a serum! Serums are used before your moisturiser. They contain active ingredients and penetrate more deeply into the skin than a moisturiser. You choose your serum to correspond with your skin concerns, as I explained before - dehydration, uneven pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, etc. The two serums I will mention here are excellent all-rounders, but those that target more specific concerns are mentioned at the end, under "other".
Ren Keep Young and Beautiful Serum is the universal favourite. It smells like green tea and feels amazingly light yet incredibly hydrating. Ren is another of my favourite brands. Like Nude, it uses 98% natural ingredients, yet is also effective on the skin. This serum is perfect for people of all ages and skintypes, from dry to oily, and addresses dehydration, uneven pigmentation and dullness. It contains Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Sirtuin (known as the "youth protein", for plumping the skin). If you have very oily skin, you can use this serum as a moisturiser.
My miracle in a bottle is the N.V. Perricone Advanced Face Firming Activator. It is not quite as elegant or luxurious as the Ren serum. In fact, it has a faint fishy scent (it contains a firming agent called DMAE, which is derived from anchovies). My boyfriend Andy hates it with a passion. But... it WORKS! It really and truly keeps my skin incredibly smooth and supple and hydrated. Its main ingredients are hyaluronic acid, alpha lipoic acid (an antioxidant) and glycolic acid (a chemical exfoliant), which address dehydration and dullness. N.V. Perricone is an amazing cosmeceutical brand that is perfect for anybody with aging concerns. As for me, my priority is to keep my skin clear, fresh and radiant - and this serum does that beautifully!
Everybody should use a moisturiser. Moisturisers are designed to hydrate and replenish the uppermost layer of the skin. Particularly lovely ingredients to look for in your moisturiser are essential fatty acids and antioxidants like Vitamin E, C and A, green tea, argan extract and pomegranate. All of these will help to keep your moisture barrier intact, locking in your skin's water (preventing dehydration) and the beneficial ingredients of your serums.
Some people like to use a moisturiser with sunscreen in it. I wouldn't recommend that, for a few reasons. Firstly, your moisturiser should be used in a way which reflects the moisture levels in your skin. Your cheeks are usually more dry than your nose, and so you would use less in the oily T-zone. With sunscreen, you need to use at least a teaspoon of product all over your face and neck. That is far too much moisturiser for most combination skin types! Secondly, the sun protection factor of most moisturisers is quite low, and in Australia we need to use an SPF30+, even in winter. Don't worry, I will explain that further.
The Darphin Hydraskin Light is the moisturiser that everybody adores. It is, as the name suggests, light, and provides the skin with the replenishment that it needs without any greasiness at all. Those with a dry skin type would benefit from using the Hydraskin Rich, or perhaps using the Hydraskin Light in the mornings and the Hydraskin Night in the evenings.
Nude Skincare Age Defence Moisturiser is my personal favourite. I only use it at nighttime - I have oily skin so I just use a serum and sunscreen in the mornings - and I only need one pump. One thing I forgot to mention about Nude Skincare earlier is that all of the ingredients are sourced ethically - the argan extract in this moisturiser is sourced from a women's refuge in Morocco. It's beautifully light and hydrating, and keeps my skin soft and supple.
Eye cream is one product that is often over-looked. Some people are blessed with smooth, flawless undereye areas, but for the rest of us, we suffer with dryness, puffiness, dark circles and fine lines. Now, to be completely honest with you, I don't believe that an eye cream can do much for dark circles - they are heredity, and caused by a proliferation and leaking of blood vessels. How can a topically applied cream affect that? No, you need a concealer to hide those (stay tuned for my makeup post, up next!) As for puffiness, the best remedy is pressing a cool spoon to each eye before you go out. Eye cream can, however, make a huge difference to the hydration levels of your eye area, which ensures that you look more revived and makes your concealer sit much better, looking a lot more natural and subtle.
As for application, eye cream should not be applied directly under the eyes. Simply pat it gently along the orbital bone and it will travel on its own. Also, be careful to use only a small amount of product - too much can cause milia (those little white pimples, which are clogged pores - they also appear when you apply your moisturiser too closely to the eye).
Kiehl's Creamy Avocado Eye Cream is really, really lovely and a fantastic choice for a first-time eye cream user. It is incredibly soothing, gentle and hydrating. There is not really much more I can say, except that it's great - and if you are not already using an eye cream then GET ON IT!
This Works Tired Eyes Serum is has a lighter texture. It is perfect for use in the mornings because makeup sits perfectly on top of it. This is the one that I use. This Works is a beautiful aromatherapy-based skincare and bodycare line from the UK, created by the international beauty director for Conde Nast Asia, Kathy Phillips.