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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.

 

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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