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Skin

THE ALEX EDIT

The more bespoke your skincare routine for your specific needs, the better your skin will look. That’s not exactly a groundbreaking statement – but figuring out what exactly you need to get the skin you want- now that is far from basic.
Too many product choices coupled with conflicting advice can leave anyone beyond confused and deflated. Add to that the fact that often you have more than one concern and it can all get a bit too much to handle.
Binging at the skincare counter is not the answer: overstimulating your skin can lead to irritation and inflammation, which will leave your face in pretty bad shape. We all want to see results at the snap of a finger – I am the same, I want to see an improvement right away, but arm yourself with patience, it takes a minimum of three weeks to see a real effect. It’s also about managing expectations as to what skincare can and can’t achieve: skincare can without a doubt make a real difference to the look and feel of your skin, but skincare can’t fight gravity, reverse wrinkles or close pores.
The Alex Edit is my guide to help you navigate the skincare maze and figure out what works best for you – you might still need to do a bit of experimentation to build your own perfect routine, but this is a good place to start.

THE ALEX EDIT: OILY SKIN

I’m starting with oily skin, because I’ve been getting so many questions about this skin type. Genetically oily skin is a frustrating issue to deal with, because you can’t reverse it, since hormones are in the driving seat. I won’t lie – no product will stop your pores from producing the amount of oil they do. However, the appropriate routine will make your skin feel less greasy and minimise the look of enlarged pores.

CLEANSE
The challenge is not to over-cleanse. When you have oily skin, you’re tempted to excessively wash with harsh cleansers – but resist that urge as it’ll lead to the opposite of what you want: more oil production. Of course thorough cleansing is key as not removing oil and dirt will lead to clogged up pores. But remember that skin tightness post cleansing I NOT a sign that your skin is clean, it actually indicates that you’ve cleansed too much.  La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel, rinses off clean, without leaving a residue and it’s fragrance-free, which is crucial for oily skin types. Fragrance can lead to irritation and that can prompt oil production.

TONE
I’m not the biggest fan of toners – but for oily skin I think they can be really useful. Not only will they provide some additional cleansing, but they can help normalise your skin’s surface. Plus, as it’s a liquid it penetrates your skin differently than a moisturiser – so for very oily skin, a toner with hydrating ingredients alongside oil balancers, might be the only moisturiser they need. Estee Lauder Nutritious Micro-Algae Pore Minimizing Shake Tonic balances oiliness.

TREAT
Exfoliation is crucial for oily skins – but rather than a mechanical scrub which can irritate skin, I prefer chemical (or liquid) exfoliators. Make salicylic acid your best friend. This BHA, is the only acid that not only exfoliates the upper layers of the skin to get rid of built-up dead skin cells but also cleanses the inside wall of your pores (because it’s oil soluble) and thus eases oil flow. It’s also anti-inflammatory so will soothe redness too. 2% is a good concentration to start with. I like The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.

HYDRATE
Whilst not every oily skin type must use moisturiser, you can still be dehydrated when you have oily skin – which sounds so unfair. Especially if you experience flaky feeling skin on top, but with oiliness peeking through below. The bottom line is, oil doesn’t equal moisture. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel-Cream absorbs quickly and won’t leave skin shiny.

SPF
The biggest complaint I get from people with oily skin is that they don’t wear sunscreen as it feels too greasy and heavy on their skin. And you know what – I agree, there aren’t enough weightless sunscreens, that offer broad-spectrum protection and leave skin shine-free. But all you need is one good one and here it is: Avene Cleanance Solaire SPF50

NOTE: Having a consistent daily skincare routine that specifically addresses your skin type and concerns is essential but not enough. It’s not just what you put on your skin that matters, but also your lifestyle. Whilst oily skin is genetically pre-determined, foods high in sugar can increase oil production and cause inflammation.

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Photograph by Kenneth Willardt

Skin

THE ALEX EYE CLINIC

Not a day goes by without me being asked about the best way to fix an array of eye issues: crepiness, lines, dark circles, puffiness.  The truth is, the eyes are the part of the face where flaws, signs of ageing and lack of sleep are most noticeable, since the skin in this area is thinner and contains less fat than elsewhere on the face.

There is a school of thought who believes there is no need to bother with a separate eye cream, but I have always been incredibly consistent about using an eye-specific product and am positive it’s the reason my eyes look pretty fresh and line-free. Also – and more crucially – because the skin around the eye area isn’t thick, it means that you will see quicker results from using treatment creams, as they will penetrate this area better than other parts of your face.

So, what results can you expect? Perhaps it won’t be a dramatic overnight overhaul, but adding an eye-specific product to your regimen will make a difference in the long-term. As with everything, to see a visible improvement you need to be consistent. And for the best results, the approach should include other lifestyle adjustments: don’t skimp on sleep, put the breaks on sunbathing, kiss cigarettes goodbye and limit your alcohol intake.

I get asked to recommend ‘the one’ eye cream that ticks all the boxes. But as anyone who has ever gone shopping knows, one size doesn’t fit all, and the same goes with eye treatments – here’s how to find your perfect match:


YOUR MAIN CONCERN: “EEK, IS THAT A WRINKLE?”
Your eyes show so much about your health and age. Fine lines and loss of elasticity over time will result in an overall less-youthful look. Applied to the outer upper lids, eye corners and under eyes, Olay Eyes Firming Eye Serum features an amino-peptide complex. This powerhouse treatment also contains serious skin-replenishing moisturisers such as glycerin, and since dryness is one of the top reasons your eye contours look more lined, hydrating the area will make it look instantly better and smoother.

YOUR MAIN CONCERN: “I CONSTANTLY LOOK EXHAUSTED”
Sleeping on your back with your head elevated will help prevent puffy, bleary eyes. As for under-eye shadows, reach for Olay Eyes Illuminating Eye Cream. Featuring niacinamide and restorative panthenol – this targeted formula supports skin’s ability to retain moisture. It might not be able to make you feel less groggy, but it’ll certainly make you look more awake. The addition of light-diffusing mineral pigments also give an immediate brightening effect.

YOUR MAIN CONCERN: “I HAVE NO TIME TO DO AN EXTENSIVE ROUTINE”
If you want to pare down your morning beauty routine, check out Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream. This clever multi-tasker containing tried-and-trusted peptides encourages firmness while its peachy hint of tint holds enough pigment to disguise fatigue, yet it’s light enough to blend completely into the skin. So, you get a no-make-up impression. How’s that for instant gratification?

 

SMALL EYE TRICKS THAT CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE:
1 Always put eye cream on before your concealer – it plumps and smooths the skin so concealer goes on creaselessly.
2 Staring at smartphone and computer screens all day is a stressor – soothe tired eyes by lowering your screen brightness.
3 Frowning and squinting can hasten lines by straining the facial muscles surrounding your eyes, so always wear sunglasses when exposed to sunlight.

This Blog post is kindly sponsored by Olay.

 

Skin

The Story Behind The Sunday Facial

I started doing a version of The Sunday Facial when I was a teenager – back then it was no more than a bit of a good cleanse, a face scrub and face mask. Over the years my routine has become more sophisticated and targeted as I got to know more about ingredients and how to look after my skin, but the premise remains the same: it’s about taking time out once a week just for myself. It’s something that was transmitted to me by my mom, who in turn got it from my granny. They both instilled the importance of a skincare routine in me and not to see it as something frivolous and vain, but as something as essential as looking after your teeth or having clean hair.

We live in a non-stop society – when we’re not working/studying, looking after kids/husbands/boyfriends (wives/girlfriends – this applies to everyone), or taking care of basically everyone else before ourselves, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat….you see where I’m going with this. We are never OFF. I certainly feel that way – I’ve never been as busy as I am now. I happen to love my job – but I could be doing it 24/7 if I didn’t make myself PAUSE.

 The Sunday Facial is so much more than just a superficial skin-fix –it’s my time-out from the world, my me-time, it’s when I come first. Now I’ll admit I’ve never had truly bad skin (my granny and mom have pretty darn good genes) – however that doesn’t mean I have a perma-flawless complexion, I have a tendency to being always dehydrated, I get puffy eyes and I do get the occasional pretty nasty red and flaky reaction from trying out products all the time. Plus ageing is a fact of life and I haven’t been granted immunity by the universe

 Of course this is only one aspect of great skin, your daily habits (from the products you use, to the foods and drinks you consume, your exposure to pollution etc) are crucial. But here’s what I know for sure: It’s a mistake to think that your skin will take care of itself –it’s the largest organ of the body and needs upkeep, just like you have to exercise to stay fit. I always joke that if I was as dedicate to my fitness routine as I am to my skincare, I’d give a VS Model a run for her money (not really – but you catch my drift).

 I’m so happy that you enjoy The Sunday Facials I have been doing on my Instagram and Snapchat – one of the reasons for doing the Blog, was so I can put together even more in depth and targeted routines, so I’ll make sure I post them on here every Sunday too. Remember one person’s miracle in a jar, is another one’s poison. The most effective way to make positive changes in your skin is to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t and if I can help you along the way to ultra-healthy and flawless-looking skin for now and forever more, then I’ll consider my job done.

Skin

Your Easy Party Prep and Recover Plan

I’m not going to preach to you about the effects of cumulative late nights, fuelled by indulgent dinners and free-flowing drinks on your skin. I know that you already know. Have fun and try some of these tricks to bounce back the next day (even if you suffer from a double-whammy food and alcohol hangover).

 party-night

The Night Of

1 No matter how late it is, I take my makeup off the minute I get home. If I can’t face my usual double-cleanse, I grab Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Clothes and rub everything off before falling into bed. I keep them on my bedside table so I have zero excuse no to use them.

2 To remove heavy eye makeup without over-rubbing the delicate eye area, Simple Kind to Skin Dual Effect Eye Make Up Remover gets the job done in one or two swipes.

3 Alcohol dehydrates skin (because it’s a diuretic) – to prevent looking excessively parched, I layer a humectant serum like NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex to act as a moisture magnet under La Mer The Moisturizing Cream which creates a barrier to slow down the evaporation of water. Together they maintain hydration and give the skin a chance to regain a sense of balance.

4 Drinking a lot of alcohol also expands blood vessels, which causes extra fluid to spill around the very fragile tissue around your eyes. I sleep on an extra pillow to help drain some of the fluid. And I dab on  Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye to minimise inflammation and repair skin.

5 Skin on lips produces less oil than skin on your face. To keep my lips soft, plump and smooth I swear by Lucas PaPaw Ointmentthe papaya extract sloughs of flaky skin gently, whilst the pharmaceutical grade petroleum wax relieves chapping.

 morning-after

The Morning After

1 The first thing I do when I wake up is drink two giant glasses of water. It’s about hydrating my whole system before touching tea or coffee. For added cleansing I add a tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar into the water.

2 To decrease puffiness around my eyes, nothing works like a bit of cold therapy. I take a pack of peas out of my freezer and place it over my under eye area for a few minutes. Or for a more sophisticated approach I love Bakel Blossom Ice, which boosts skin oxygenation and de-puffs.

3 Stronger eye makeup can sometimes leave some residue in the eyes, even if you’re meticulous with your removal. This can make eyes feel a bit sticky and bloodshot when you wake up. To clean my eyes I use Bebisol Serum Physiologique – they instantly make my eyes look bright and refreshed.

4 Really massage in your morning cleanser to increase blood flow, bringing oxygen to the skin and clearing carbon dioxide – it will also bring colour to your face and relax facial muscles. For partied out faces I like Skinceuticals Gentle Cleanser.

5 Estée Lauder Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask is my morning after must. It plumps out any little lines thanks to its water binding ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, leaving me looking refreshed, glowy and not like I have spent the night partying.

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Skin

Routine Regulars

As a beauty editor it’s my job (and passion) to try out products regularly. It’s what I’ve done over the past 15 years – interviewing dermatologists, researching ingredients, deciphering labels and testing, testing, testing, not to keep all the good stuff to myself, but so that I can share the best of the best with you. Because for me, the one thing better than a beauty secret, is a shared beauty secret.
The secret to great skin is not an extensive time-consuming routine using a million products. For me it’s always been about keeping it easy and effective. And whilst I’ll incorporate newness into my routine, these are the skincare heroes I’ll go back to time and time again because simply put, they deliver.

skin

1 Bioderma Sensibio H20
My first cleanse is always with a micellar water to dissolve a full face of makeup and prep skin for the next steps. This is such a cult product.

2 Swisscode Hyaluron
I love Hyaluronic acid and this serum is the best – it acts like a moisture cushion delivering instant tightness and glow, but also protecting your skin’s moisture barrier long-term, which is crucial to healthy, dewy youthful-looking skin.

3 Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II
I love this lightweight oil-free serum. I’ve used this for years and am convinced my skin is in great condition because of it. It hydrates, smoothes, evens tone and basically makes my skin look young.

4 The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel
This is such a great morning cleanser – super gentle, smells lovely and cleans skin without stripping it. Skin is left fresh and radiant.

5 Zelens PHA+ Biopeel
I stay away from anything that has the potential to irritate my skin – acids, whilst effective for exfoliation , can be troublesome when misused. I’ve never had an issue with this blend of AHA’s and BHA’s

6 Crème de la Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream
My delicate, dehydrated skin responds so well to Crème de La Mer – this lustrous cream-gel formula makes my face look so glowy and juicy.

7 Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist
This is so much more than a hydrating mist – it’s a miracle mist! A blend of moisturizing Red Algae and Squalane, it brings the face back to life. I spray it on bare skin and over makeup multiple times a day.

8 Heliocare Gelcream Color SPF50
Oil-free, yet hydrating and non-pore clogging. This tinted sunscreen (comes in 2 shades) is the one that works for everyone (even spot-prone skin) and it actually makes your skin look retouched.

9 Environ C-Quence Eye Gel
Eye creams can make my eyes puffy. This gel is light yet packed with wrinkle busting peptides and skin building vitamins A, C and E.

10 Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream
The nappy rash cream that works like a charm on calming inflammation from breakouts.

11 Sarah Chapman 3D Moisture Infusion Masks
This bio cellulose mask takes the whole concept of sheet masks to another level – it perfectly adheres to your face shape thanks to its second skin texture and delivers an all-inclusive boost of hydration and radiance.

12 Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Hands down the best liquid exfoliator to clean out pores, control oiliness and calm inflammation.

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Skin

The Skin Rules I Live By

It’s all very well to focus on the latest and greatest, but we can sometimes forget the basic skin facts that hold true for everyone. No hype, no hyperbole, these ten rules work for all, regardless of age or skin condition.

Don’t Be A Clean Freak
A cleanser is not meant to make your skin squeaky clean, a toner is not meant to make your skin feel tight and an exfoliant shouldn’t sting, burn or make your face red. All of those are signs of irritation and irritation leads to inflammation, which is never good news for anyone.

Wash With Lukewarm Water
Very hot water dries the skin and can stimulate sebum flow. Dial down your tap and finish with a cold rinse. As for cleansers – I only use soap-free, non-irritating formulas.

Be Careful Not To Over-Moisturise
Products that are too rich, can block pores, provoke blackheads and breakouts.

…However Even Oily Skin Needs Moisture
dehydration can make breakouts worse. Just make sure you use oil-free products.

Look After Your Neck and Hands
A lot of people take care of their faces, but totally neglect their neck and hands.  I apply the same thing I use on my face, down my neck and over the back of my hands, so they get equal level of hydration, protection, cell renewal and sun protection as my face.

Sleep On Silk
Silk pillowcases cause less friction against your skin (and hair!) so I don’t wake up with creases and hopefully get fewer lines in the long run.

Invest In A Humidifier
I noticed a real difference since using a humidifier in my bedroom –especially in winter when there is less moisture in the atmosphere, which tends to dehydrate skin.

Pop a Pill
A lot of experts will say that there is not evidence vitamin supplements are of any value to the skin. Regardless, I can only go by my own experience and they work for me. I take a high dose of Vitamin C daily (Biocare Vitamin C 1000) to help with collagen production, Fatty Acids (Advanced Nutrition Skin Omega’s+) to lubricate the skin from the inside whist also reducing inflammation and a Pre/Probiotic complex (Dr Nigma Healthy Flora) to keep my gut working optimally which is vitally important for healthy skin function.

Avoid Piling On Products
I’ll admit I have a lot of skincare products, for one because I earn my living trying new products, but I’m also a skincare obsessee. However – I’m very methodical about introducing new ingredients. I’ll try one new product roughly every two weeks (and I make sure I’m not duplicating ingredients), so I get the opportunity to see if it’s working for me. And if my skin reacts badly – I back off.

Do A Sunday Facial
It’s something I’ve done ever since I was a teenager. Taking time out once a week to put yourself first is great for the soul and skin. You don’t have to do endless steps – even if it’s just a good cleanse, exfoliation and mask – that’s perfect. Going to get professional treatments is wonderful but the ultimate secret to good skin is what you do at home and that means building a routine that is targeted and effective for you – quick and easy during the week and a bit more indulgent on Sunday.