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Skin

HOW TO GET BETTER SKIN OVERNIGHT

In Association with Estee Lauder

As I write these lines, I have to pinch myself- I am so thrilled to be partnering with Estee Lauder as their ANR (my favourite ever serum!) Ambassador. My 15 year old self would never believe that one day I‘d be working with Estee Lauder (True Fact: Instead of pop stars, I used to stick Estee Lauder beauty ads of Paulina Porizkova on my bedroom walls!)

You see, I am passionate about Skin. And my passion goes way back- it all started in my early teens when my grandmother instilled good skincare habits into me. Ever since then, any money I made (at first from baby-sitting and then waitressing) went into cleansers, masks, serums,moisturisers and the list goes on….Whilst all my girlfriends were more into makeup, for me it’s always been about skincare and to this day, I firmly believe it’s the starting point and core of Beauty.

I love that skincare has become a much bigger focus lately and that women (and men!) are investing in their complexion. On the flip-side, this increased usage of products has led to many experiencing more skin issues. Not using the right ingredients for one’s skin, or simply adding too many actives to a routine, can lead to reactions and inflammation. Anyone who reads my posts or follows my Sunday Facials knows that I talk about inflammation A LOT- and that’s because it impairs your skin’s natural barrier function. The bottom line is that you need a well-functioning skin barrier in order to have glowing, healthy skin. The key to good skin comes from a combination of quality sleep, smart nutrition, managing stress levels and using effective products. And this is where my all time favourite serum, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II comes in.

 

It’s hardly a secret that I highly rate ANR and I have credited it countless times as being my holy grail skin product. So what makes Advanced Night Repair so special? I won’t pretend I don’t use other products- of course I do, it’s my job to trial the newest treatments. But there are a handful of products I am very loyal to and ANR is my #1 . Why? Because it’s a miracle worker, my do-it-all-serum, my soothing safety blanket that brings my skin back into balance when it plays up. The serum contains anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid – which improve the skin’s moisture content whilst simultaneously helping skin to boost its natural night time repair.

When your barrier is healthy, your skin feels softer and looks smoother. An important element for me is also that the serum is devoid of synthetic fragrance (fragrance can be an irritant). And the oil-free lightweight texture is perfect for just about anybody: All skins benefit from using a light humectant – and for oilier skins this hydrating serum may even deliver enough moisture. Dehydrated or drier skins (like mine) will want to layer an emollient moisturiser on top to seal in moisture and add nourishment. We actually filmed a tutorial to show you the new “Power Nap” facial that you can get at any Estee Lauder counter now, which shows you my perfect night time skin care tutorial using my beloved ANR (see below link!). And I am sharing a few BTS images of our fun shoot day.

My lifestyle is pretty much on the go and no matter where I am or what time zone I am in, ANR is the one constant in my skincare regime. I use it twice daily- AM and PM (even though it’s got the word ‘Night’ in it – you can use it mornings too, in fact I believe you should.) I often get asked what the immediate results of using ANR are and for me that’s not really what this product is about (yes, you do get instant plumpness, softness and glow) but in actual fact, this is a longterm investment in the future health of your skin, I actually refer to ANR as my ‘Clock-Stopper’. My philosophy will always be: It’s not about chasing every single little line, wrinkle or pore- but about aiming for your best skin and this I guarantee you, is achievable by understanding what works and what doesn’t. Regardless of age or skin condition, Advanced Night Repair is a great addition to your skincare routine.

Click below to see what a typical day in my life looks like and to get a view into my night time skin care ritual
https://www.esteelauder.co.uk/estee-stories-article-alessandra

MY EXCLUSIVE ANR EVENT

And to celebrate the partnership I am so excited to be hosting an exclusive event in John Lewis Oxford Street on Saturday, January 13th. I’ll be doing one on one skin consultations on night-time skin care, where I’ll tell (and show you!) what ANR has done for my skin, plus you will receive a gorgeous Power Nap Facial AND a little bespoke gift from me. There is no fee! To enter check out the call to action on my Instagram and see full details of the event and t’s & c’s here (entrants must be over 18, closing date is Wednesday 10th January).
http://bit.ly/2CVERjI

Skin

THE FAST WAY TO AMAZING SKIN

I love a challenge. Especially a skincare challenge. When Avène asked me if I would trial their new Hydrance Intense Serum for 3 weeks, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough as I’m a fan of the brand (Their Micellar Water and Cicalfate Cream are firm skincare staples). Little did I know that it would end up being one of the truly most challenging times for me and my skin, so the serum really did have to work unexpectedly hard.

 I generally suffer with serious dehydration, which always peaks as we head into winter. Seasonal switch-over is the most difficult time for our skin as it’s struggling to adapt to fluctuating temperatures. Add to that a not always perfect diet (hello French fries!), intense stress, constant travelling and not getting enough sleep, which are all taxing on overall wellbeing. Plus, during the trial, I ended up being really ill, bed-ridden for 10 days with high temperatures, which is an added stress for the whole body and that sent my skin into total meltdown.

First let’s settle a frequently asked question – what is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? If you have dry skin, you have likely been born with it and have always had a slightly rough, flaky texture and you’ll be dry all over your body too. Dehydration is not a skin-type, everyone can get dehydrated (yes even oily skin) and it’s mostly lifestyle induced (but can also be due to medication).

 So, when you get that tight sensation, and see those little dehydration lines popping up, you might think I’ll just use a richer moisturiser and it’ll all be fine. Getting skin into balance is one thing. Keeping it there is another. Just when you feel it’s all working and under control, boom, it feels out of sorts again. Was it your cleanser? The over-heated office or something you ate? If you’re dealing with dehydration, making the right changes to your routine can help get your skin back on track, fast. Because the truth is that a lack of hydration is one of the main issues that can make you look way older than your years.

Alongside lifestyle changes, which include taking omega supplements and dialling down my caffeine consumption, I switched up my skincare routine and this is where the Avène Hydrance Intense Serum slotted in. There are lots of products available aimed at tackling dehydration: You’ve got your creams, you’ve got your essences, you’ve got your oils and you’ve got your serums. So, what makes this product stand out? It took Avène seven years to create Hydrance Intense, as they worked in conjunction with Standford University to develop a new hydrating complex called Cohederm, made up of three active ingredients: Triethylhexanoin (an emollient derived from glycerine), Beta-Sitosterol (a plant sterol, which aids build cell membranes) and Isocetyl Steaoryl (a skin conditioner). Surrounding the encapsulated Cohederm is Avène’s proprietary Thermal Spring Water – this delivery method promotes optimal hydration for up to 24hours post application and discourages water loss by supporting skin barrier function.

Ah!the all-important skin barrier. This is something I can’t talk about enough –  a healthy barrier is healthy skin and crucially hydration is key in keeping the skin barrier functioning at its best. The stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of your skin, constitutes the barrier against excessive transepidermal water loss and one of the factors influencing water levels in the stratum corneum is the natural moisturising factor, which is mimicked by the Cohederm Complex.

So how did I fare with the Hydrance Intense Serum? Whilst a lot of products overpromise and under-deliver, this serum didn’t let me down. It has a pretty impressive immediate plumping effect, even when I skipped a day (as I did at the height of my fever) I noticed a difference- it has just made my skin look better. I also love the ultra-light texture, almost water-like when it touches the skin and absorbs in seconds – so you get this deep hydration without any sense of greasiness. And with the added strain the antibiotics and painkillers took on my skin whilst I was unwell – my skin remained plump and hydrated. Obviously, this is not a scientific fact, but my observation – however I was stunned that my complexion hadn’t suffered more. I’ve now been using the serum way longer than three weeks –in fact it has gained permanent residence in my bathroom cabinet.

 

Eau Thermale Avène Hydrance Intense Serum, £18 (available at Boots) 

This Blog post is kindly sponsored by Avène.

 

Skin

BE SUN SMART

Sunscreen you’ll actually want to use.

I get it- when it’s hot and humid, the last thing you want to do is add an extra layer of product on your skin. Common complaints about sunscreens are that they feel heavy and cloying. But if you want healthy, youthful, glowing skin then sun protection is non- negotiable. Sun exposure causes inflammation-wearing sunscreen strengthens your skin barrier and protects from photo-damage.

Whilst most of us are aware we need a broad-spectrum filter which shields from both UVA and UVB rays, a much lesser known but no less harmful danger is lurking in the form of HEVL (High Energy Visible Light) also commonly referred to as blue light. HEVL is essentially as third band of sun ray (which is thought to cause as much damage to skin as UVA and UVB combined!) Furthermore, it generates DNA damage through oxidative stress, leading to premature ageing, pigmentation and reduced barrier function. What makes matters worse is that this blue light is not just emitted from the sun, but also from blue light devices such as smart phones and computer screens, so even sun avoiders like myself are at risk and need to protect their skin.

As this is a relatively recent discovery, scientists are racing to develop ingredients to include into skin and suncare products to address this. Eucerin are ahead of the game, by incorporating a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant called Licochalcone A into all their greatly effective, photostable UVA/UVB suncare line-up. It’s a plant extract derived from the roots of Chinese Liquorice, which supports the skin’s own protection mechanisms against HEVL by defusing free radicals. In summer, I like to wear an all-in one tint with sun protection and I’ve been loving the Eucerin Sun Crème Tinted CC SPF50+. As I’ve been looking into the brand more, I was so impressed by their expansive offering for different skin types and issues, often ones that other brands don’t address, here are my highlights:

FOR ALLERGIC SKINS:
Allergy Protection Sun Crème Gel SPF50+
Sun allergies affect around 15% of the UK population – that is A LOT and there aren’t many products formulated for people who suffer with them: symptoms range from redness, blisters to patches, accompanied by strong itchiness. This formula contains the host of effective screening ingredients mentioned above, but what really stands out for me is what this formula is free from: preservatives, perfumes and emulsifiers. All to minimise the risk of irritation.

FOR ECZEMA PRONE SKINS:
Eucerin Sun Face Crème SPF50+
An incredibly comfortable texture, perfect for dry skin and it’s also the one to use if you have atopic dermatitis. Atopic skin has a weakened barrier function because it lacks natural moisturising factors. You’ll benefit from this truly emollient sunscreen to keep skin elastic and moist to reduce itchiness.

FOR OILY SKINS:
Eucerin Sun Fluid Mattifying SPF50+
I get so many questions about sunscreen for oily, blemish-prone skins. The truth is that the majority of people with oily skin hate sunscreen and I get why – most of them make their skin feel even stickier. But ditching sun protection is not a clever option. I recommend this formula because it’s thin and fluid, not pasty nor chalky. Plus, it sits beautifully under makeup too.

This blog-post is kindly sponsored by Eucerin

Skin

CLEANSE THIS WAY

It’s time to switch up how you wash your face

From a very young age, I’ve always been a skincare fanatic. Whilst most of my fellow teens were obsessed with lip-gloss or nail polish, I was always about the facewash and moisturiser. Fast forward to today and though quite a bit has changed (I most definitely now own more makeup than my ex-classmates, but then testing products is my job!) I am still first and foremost focused on taking care of the skin.

Though products and routines keep becoming more and more sophisticated, the initial and most crucial step in any skin regimen for a healthy, glowing complexion is cleansing. I’ve been an early adopter of double-cleansing (where you take off makeup with a dedicated remover and then cleanse with a face wash). There’s a whole army of products on offer to perform cleansing functions and my preferred method for makeup removal are micellar waters.

I first encountered micellar water years ago, not on a skincare shelf in a department store, but backstage during Paris Fashion Week in makeup artists kits. At first, I thought it was just a pro product (also at the time only available in pharmacies in France), but then suddenly every model I’d interview would say that for their skin they swear by drinking lots of water (yes, I know YAWN! – but true) and that they take off their makeup with micellar water. This piqued my interest – whilst most models don’t have a degree in dermatology, they are in practice the people who more than anyone have makeup applied and removed constantly (during show season, multiple times a day) and no matter how good your skin is, it will suffer from repeated on and off action. So, I ran to the closest pharmacy and bought my first bottle of micellar and I haven’t looked back.

 

What actually is a micellar water? It looks like water, feels like water – but is so much more:  It’s made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules called micelles, which are suspended in soft water. Basically, the truth about oil attracting oil applies her too: the micelles latch onto impurities and sebum, drawing them out – crucially without drying out the skin. What I love is that it deletes a full face of makeup without leaving a greasy residue. It’s so easy to use: you apply it with a cotton pad and watch how it instantly dissolves makeup as you wipe it over your face (did I mention there is no need to rinse it off?). Skin feels clean, fresh and glowy – but never tight.

When I wear my normal daytime makeup, the micellar water is enough and I can skip my second cleanse (you also don’t need an additional toner). When I wear heavier stubborn makeup, I’ll follow with a face wash and if you use waterproof mascara I recommend a separate eye makeup remover.

I’ve tried a bunch of brands over the years and I always seem to go back to the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water – it’s my favourite and I’ve mentioned it countless times across my social channels. I like the fact it’s not fragranced, I like the fact it’s alcohol-free, I like the fact it comes in 4 different sizes (700ml, 400ml, 125ml and a handy travel size of 100ml) and I like the friendly price, because why pay more for something that’s great?

When Garnier asked me if I would agree to share my views on micellar in a video, I wholeheartedly agreed since it’s hardly a secret that I genuinely love the product. Check out the video below and by the way, I was totally unscripted, these are fully my opinions:

This blogpost is kindly sponsored by Garnier

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.