Face facts

Natural beauty expert Cherry Woods offers her top skincare tips plus some advice for choosing the right natural product for your skin type

When it comes to our skin, most of us want to keep things simple, uncomplicated and as natural as possible. Luckily, our skin actually responds better to a fuss-free, stripped-down routine as this encourages a better skin barrier function and protects our moisture levels.

Cleansing

Cleansing effectively is key and a good cleansing routine, regardless of your skin type, needs a ph-balanced, surfactant-free cleanser (a wash-off if you like the feel of water or a milk, cream or balm if you prefer no water or if your skin is dry, sensitive or reactive).

If you have dry or sensitive skin, choose ingredients such as coconut or chamomile to soothe and condition the skin and really massage the product well into your face. Take care not to miss out under the jaw line and in the eyebrows (these areas are often missed by those of you who are in a hurry) as this can result in blackheads or spots in those areas.

In reality, your skin is never exactly the same every evening. For example, you may have worn make-up all day in a hot, sticky office or you may have come back from an evening of dog walking or boot camp in the park. Your skin’s needs change from week to week and month to month, depending on the time of year. Unfortunately there isn’t one single cleanser that can answer all these needs.

Therefore, make sure you have a few options: a good natural cream or balm to remove your make-up, then a wash-off cleanser to clean out those pores and remove any congested build-up of skin cells.

Toning

Toning is a nice addition, although not a necessity. If you have more irritated, touch-sensitive skin then you might want to choose an organic chamomile spray toner or a water mist. These not only cool and calm the skin, but help to avoid unnecessary contact with cotton wool which can often irritate the skin. If your skin is oily or mature, choosing a toner with an AHA fruit acid can assist with the daily exfoliating of dead skin cells and grime. It can also encourage new cells to come to the surface and in the long-term this will reduce wrinkle depth too.

Moisturising

Before you moisturise, why not consider giving your skin the benefit of a nutrient-boosting oil? My favourite ingredients are jojoba for dry skin, rosehip for itchy or sensitive skin and lotus oil for oily or spotty skin.

Using a natural oil at night, either on its own or just underneath your moisturiser, is a way of making a targeted, bespoke skincare routine unique to your skin’s needs. And the more you use your hands to deeply massage your skin, the more glowing and happy it will appear, especially in the winter months when the skin can be sluggish due to poor circulation.

Carry the theme of the oil into your choice of moisturiser by looking for the same key ingredients. If you have dry skin, choose a cream or a balm-based moisturiser. With oily skin, either go for a water-based lotion or an oil-control lotion. Or if your skin is very oily opt for a gel moisturiser – younger teenage skins prefer this.

It is preferable to choose two separate products rather than a moisturiser with an SPF included. There is a good reason for this. Have you ever used a shampoo and conditioner in one? Does it really do both jobs effectively? Most of us would conclude not. A sunblock is designed to stay on the surface of the skin and not evaporate or be absorbed – a bit like a barrier cream. Moisturisers, on the other hand, are designed to be absorbed into the skin. When both ingredients are working against each other, neither do a perfect job. Additionally, if you have dehydrated or dry skin, and you apply a separate sun block on top of your moisturiser, it will have the bonus effect of sealing in all that moisture, keeping your skin hydrated and comfortable on those outdoorsy days.

Try this!

Try using chamomile chilled face cloths during your weekly routine. They reduce redness and inflammation – so are very anti-ageing – and they also reduce spot breakouts, oil flow, and help your make-up to stay in place longer, minimising open pores.

Here’s what to do:
1) Soak three to four soft cotton cloths in warm water. Throw in a few chamomile tea bags or a few drops of chamomile essential oil.
2) Squeeze out the excess water and put each one in an individual freezer bag in the fridge.
3) Use one of the cloths at least three times a week – or even the night before a special event – after you have cleansed and toned. Hold the cloth over your face, taking care not to rub. Pay extra attention to areas prone to redness, irritation or breakouts. Discard once the coldness has subsided and continue with your skincare routine.
4) Extra tip: Use a chamomile cloth over your face as you soak in a bath. This will counteract the negative effects of the hot water.

How to apply your products

One of the most common mistakes with skincare products is not so much choosing the ‘wrong ones’ but applying too much in the wrong places. In the evening, apply your products first to the neck, lips, upper lip, outer cheeks and sides of the face, ears and back of neck. Then, in the morning, apply them to the neck, lips, upper lip, outer cheeks and sides of face, followed by a gentle touch down the T-zone/forehead, ears and back of the neck. This distributes more of the product in the needy areas and less in the areas where there is more oil flow. This avoids overburdening the pores with extra product which could, over time, cause exaggerated pore size and blackheads.

Try this!

This DIY vitamin exfoliator treatment is suitable for all skin types except reddened or sensitive skin. It can be adapted for different skin types and can be either an exfoliating mask or an antioxidant moisturising mask.

  • Mix together one teaspoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of natural yogurt, half a teaspoon of honey, half a teaspoon of avocado and a quarter of a teaspoon of natural sugar. Mash into a smooth paste.
  • Massage all over the face and leave for a few minutes, but no more than five minutes.
  • For sensitive skin, leave out the lemon juice and sugar and only leave on for a few minutes.

Why it works

The combination of the lemon’s citric acid, along with the enzymes of the yogurt, helps to gently brighten, exfoliate, reduce spot formation and stimulate cell renewal. The honey hydrates, soothes and heals, plus the sugar de-flakes and stimulates microcirculation. Finally, the avocado is packed full of antioxidants like vitamins C and E and fatty acids. It’s totally natural and very effective.

Cherry Woods is a luxury facialist and founder of The Cherry Woods Clinic.

Visit www.cherrywoodsclinic.com

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