Hello all, and welcome to the skincare hour. It’s been a while since anything skincare has made an appearance around here; there’s been nothing but travel for weeks! So I’m going to keep things fresh (and fresh faced) with a topical subject.
WINTER IS COMING! Ok so it’s pretty much here, but there’s obviously more to come as we delve deeper into the season, with darker nights and plummeting temperatures. It’s also going to be around for a while, so we may as well get reacquainted. Winter cunningly masks itself as your ‘friend’ of festive fun and cosy nights…but underneath this façade you’ll discover she’s no more than a cruel mistress who loves nothing more than to ravage your face like a hungry dog and suck all the moisture out of your skin while it’s at it. You know, just for funsies.
To prevent her from trying to do her worst, here are tried and tested products by me, an eczema sufferer with incredibly sensitive (perpetually red) skin. Even if you don’t have a similar skin type to mine, these products will up your game and keep you from feeling like a flaky Freddie in your party dress. Or pants. The aim here is to make you hot to trot! Let’s all totally bring that phrase back. It wasn’t used nearly as much as it should have been. I can’t imagine why… I also reach for these products and repurchase them because as I’ve said on this blog many times before, I’d rather invest in good skin and wear a little bit of tinted moisturiser than cover it in foundation. The feeling of makeup is gross, and these products will help keep your face clear so when you do use makeup, a little will go a long way.
Let’s start with the face. I have included products to suit different prices ranges that don’t irritate dry sensitive skin. I always double cleanse, using a micellar water first then a good cleanser.
Micellar Water: I’m currently using the Garnier one which I purchased in Penney’s or Boots for €4.50 (travel size €2.50.) I tend to buy Bioderma which is a little more expensive but this stuff is easier to get and does the same job more or less.
Why it’s good: Kind to sensitive skin, cheap, effective at removing most makeup. The only con is it isn’t great at removing every trace of eye makeup. A good product to combine with double cleansing, I would never use it alone.
Cleansing Oil: When my skin feels drier than usual, I sometimes switch it up and using a cleansing oil to remove makeup. L’Oreal Extraordinary Facial Cleansing Oil is good for very dry skin. but if skin is a bit irritated it can make it feel overheated for a few minutes so be careful!
Why it’s good: Doesn’t irritate dry skin, good at removing makeup and can be used on the eyes and eyelashes. It’s also quite cheap and lasts for a very long time, only 2-3 pumps are needed each time to massage into the skin and melt makeup. The only con is if skin is a bit irritated or raw it can make it feel overheated so rinse with cold water.
Cream/Foam Cleanser: I’ve used plenty of cleansers only to find my skin dry and stripped afterward. It took me years to find one that actually cleanses without making things worse and I’ve finally found my Holy Grail Product, Shiseido IBUKI Gentle Cleanser.
Why it’s good: It’s amazing for sensitive and dry skin. A tiny speck of the stuff foams into a rich and extremely gentle lather that cleanses skin and doesn’t strip. It’s a little pricey at €36 but lasts for ages. I’ve just finished a tube I got last December. It cleans remaining residue so well and leaves skin soft and plump. There are no cons!
You can do all the cleansing in the world, but if you don’t take the time to exfoliate, nothing will penetrate your skin and moisturiser will just sit on top of the flakes. Gross. Exfoliating is important at this time of the year especially, with the harsh elements and heating on in the evenings you’ll end up with a dull complexion.
I use two different exfoliators depending on my mood or what my skin needs. Both are really good at sloughing dead skin off the face; because no one likes dead things on their face. If you ended up here after googling ‘dead things on face’ then you’re probably at the wrong place and I’m a little unnerved that you’re here.
Exfoliation Powder: This stuff is great, and it’s tailored by you. I use Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant about once a week. Don’t follow what it says on the packaging – for dry and sensitive skin, once a week is enough.
Why it’s good: It’s a gentle rice based powder that you add water to in your hands to make an exfoliating paste. Sometimes I add less water to make it a little rougher on the skin (but it’s still gentle!) or sometimes add more water to make it more like a light exfoliation foam with a bit of grit – it’s quite versatile. You only need a tiny amount (about half a teaspoon) and it lasts a very, very long time. Unless you get water inside the bottle; definitely don’t do that. The only con is some may find it expensive (about €50) but it’s worth it because it’s so gentle, and due to the fact that it lasts for so long, it’s worth the investment. I get mine on Kudos Beauty.
Exfoliating Toner: Toner is a (usually) a no-no for sensitive skin and in the past I would have skipped it completely, until I purchased a bottle of the much loved Pixi Glow Tonic in Target on my US Trip in September. And it definitely lives up to the hype.
Why it’s good: It actually works. It gently exfoliates and skin is indeed left glowing. It’s now available from Marks & Spencer but easy to get online and it’s relatively inexpensive and lasts for about 3-4 months. Not to mention that the packaging is lovely! I use this every 2-3 days on damp skin. It’s also alcohol free! Because really, alcohol should go in your mouth trap, not the face. The only cons (if you’d even call them that) is that it’s quite popular so it flies off shelves, a con for those who like to go in and read the ingredients or test before buying. It also makes the skin quite sensitive to light so don’t forget your SPF.
Serum: After cleansing and toning, I use serum both morning and night to brighten the skin. I have used Shiseido Ultimune for over a year now but have switched to Boots Botanics serum just to try it as it’s been recommended to me so many times, and it’s vastly cheaper.
Why they’re good: The Shiseido serum has a lovely lightweight feel and brightens my skin. It’s a completely different consistency to the Botanics one; quite a lot thicker. It’s good for evening the skintone too, and doesn’t irritate or dry skin out. The cons for me are it worked well with my skin for a very long period but recently does nothing for it and the price is a little crazy at €80 plus, and lasts three months. I was also disappointed to discover that there is alcohol in the formula, as uncovered by the wonderful Beauty Geeks.
Boots Botanics Radiance Concentrate Serum is also lightweight, and is dispensed using a cute little pipette (I love those, they feel so luxurious!) It’s not the texture of your standard serum and it’s quite watery, so using 3 drops rubbed into the palms and pressed onto a damp face is the best way to go. It’s good for sensitive skin and hibiscus is the brightening ingredient here. It’s very cheap and great for sensitive skin. No cons with this one, unless you prefer a thicker formula.
Moisturiser: The essential step of an every-day skincare routine, a step that’s very important in winter. Again I have included my two favourites in various price ranges; Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré and Simple Kind to Skin Illuminating Radiance Cream.
Why they’re good: The Embryolisse moisturiser is my HG moisturiser for three years running now. It’s got a rich and luxurious texture without clogging pores and it leaves skin soft and smooth. It can be used as an overnight mask and makes an excellent makeup primer. It lasts around 4 months for a price range of €21-28.
Simple’s Illuminating Radiance Cream is another lovely formula with added vitamins and a low factor SPF. It has light reflecting particles so it gives dull winter skin a boost, the formula is creamy, goes a long way, doesn’t irritate skin and it’s half the price of Embroylisse. Those are my top two consistent repurchases.
Moisturising Mask: Although not essential, a mask from time to time can do no harm. I got a sample of Glam Glow Thirsty Mud, which I have used a couple of times now. I don’t use it consistently, but when I do use it I feel important and grown up, like I’ve got my life together. While I can’t really comment if there’s been a difference, it’s nice to leave on when it’s particularly cold out and I’m working from home with the heating on. It smells like honey and tingles! Anything that tingles is a novelty.
Eye cream: Also an essential all year round and more so at this time of the year (eyelids etc. flake too!) is a good moisturising eye cream. They stop the delicate eye area from drying out and looking line-y. No one wants dry looking skin around the eyes, it does age you. I just mentioned the ‘delicate’ eye area, but I’m such a hypocrite. I rub and tear at my eyes any chance I get (it’s so hard not to!) and I’m surprised I still possess two eyeballs. It’s thanks to both of these products though that they still look half decent. I use mainly Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, which I’ve mentioned here many, many times. When I’m between pots I then use Boot’s Simply Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream.
Why they’re good: Another long lasting effective product, Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment is very moisturising, doesn’t irritate the skin and is great for eczema sufferers. No matter what you’ve been doing the night before, it seems to give the skin around the eyes a huge boost, and moisturises the skin so well that you won’t see any fine lines. It’s €25 for a little tub which will last about 6 months, so I think it’s a pretty good price for a consistently good product. I love the little pot and the colour, the only con is to do with hygiene, you have to dip your ring finger into the pot every time you apply.
Boot’s Simply Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream is another excellent product for sensitive dry skin. The formula is lightweight, it soothes due to the aloe vera and it’s a steal at €2.49 for the same amount of eye cream (15ml.) It’s in a little tube so it’s more hygienic. It’s moisturising but not as moisturising as Kiehl’s but it’s a wonderful product at an excellent price.
BODY & SCALP
Body Scrubbing: For the body, the best type of exfoliator for dry sensitive skin is one with shea or cocoa butter as a base, like ones from The Body Shop. These products are best for winter skin as while you are massaging the salt into the skin, the shea butter melts and works as a barrier so you don’t end up raw red. I apply this all over dry skin before I get into the shower and it’s pretty much melted and goes more transparent by the time I get in there. When I come out, I’m all soft and smooth.
Moisturising: The best and ultimate moisturiser for the body is Aveeno Cooling Menthol. This is the only moisturiser you need – no ifs, no buts, no candy or nuts. I even mention it (and the Kiehl’s eye cream above! In a YouTube video of mine!) Trust me on this one, and thank me later. Nothing else works the same way for this skin type, and I’ve tried a LOT. Aveeno Cooling Menthol is extremely moisturising, cools down any redness and irritation, can be used all over the body (including the face and it works incredibly well) The bottle will last for a seriously long time too, and it’s on offer regularly at McCabe’s Pharmacy at around the €6-€7 mark. I have used this for years now and will never stop, it’s the best moisturiser in the world. It has to be the menthol one though.If you find some parts of your body are still not as moisturised (knees, elbows) do not underestimate the power of some Vaseline applied to work overnight.
Scalp: So we’ve covered body and face..yet sometimes winter can really dry out the scalp. Especially with dry or eczema prone skin, the scalp can be no different. It’s an important area to consider if you shed like a baby* snake; especially if you like to wear black. The best home remedy for this is a very simple mask. Sometimes anti-dandruff shampoo is too harsh on harsh, stripping it of colour, so this mask will do the trick if your scalp needs moisturising.
Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a bowl for 30 seconds in the microwave, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add about 10-15 drops of tea tree oil (if you have it, it’s not essential) and apply to the scalp – leave for at least an hour or all day if you can. Shampoo the hair twice to remove all residue and style normally, your scalp and hair will both feel soft and smooth. I do this once a week and it works wonders.
So there you have it, tips for keeping dry, sensitive skin healthy and moisturised during the winter months. That and take zinc (which I have just started taking!) the supplement is said to help the healing process of skin.
I hope this helps, my flaky pals.
* Adding ‘baby somehow makes the process of shedding flakes of skin from your entire body sound somewhat less repulsive and possibly even a little bit CUTE! Ok, maybe not cute…
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