I wouldn’t necessarily blame you for giving me the side-eye here – it’s not like I’m the poster girl for incredible skin.
But let me assure you, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has used more skin products than I have over the past two decades. And I’m one of those people who won’t try anything without reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about it beforehand. Reviews, blogs, articles, medical journals…..(only occasionally, because they are a bit dry, and I prefer my information in handy bullet points).
It’s only this year, however, that I’ve started treating my skin properly. And by that, I mean treating it as a whole, instead of aggressively attacking break-outs or random dry patches or whatever else might be going on.
I did a bit of research (read a few blogs, trialled a few sample-sizes of posh products) and decided to implement Operation Spa Face.
(Operation Spa Face coincides with Operation Phoebe Bath, so it’s not as relaxing and rejuvenating as, say, a weekend at Champneys. But it’s pretty damn close.)
Operation Spa Face is based upon a simple 6-step process (you know how much I love a stepped process):
- Cleanse again.
- Acid product to eat away top layer of skin (or something).
- Eye-cream (when I remember/can find one. Mostly I leave this step out).
This is a stripped back regime based on the advice of Caroline Hirons, skincare guru and aesthetician. She suggests much more focus on treatment serums and oils and hydrating toners, but Operation Phoebe Bath (and my budget for cosmetics, for that matter) leaves me with a pretty tight schedule, so I picked out what I thought was most important and ran with it.
Before I run through what products I used, I just want to clarify that whatever I’ve been doing has definitely, definitely worked. My skin looks a billion times better, and I don’t necessarily mean the quantity of breakouts (which have also improved, but that could also be down to a number of other factors). My skin is smoother, clearer, brighter and scars are fading quicker. I’m sold. And I don’t even think it’s down to the products, if I’m honest. I’ve been switching between a few, in order to eke out some posh miniatures, and I think that the improvements are down to what I’m doing rather than what I’m using.
However, I’ve really loved what I’ve been using, so it’s worth sharing them in case they are actually miracle-products.
Pictured: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser £29.50, Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm £45, Clarins Cleansing Milk £19
Of all the cleansers I use, the Clarins one is the least effective. The Emma Hardie is the best – it smells spa-like, and just melts everything away in a lovely, balmy oil. I like it so much that after my miniature ran out, I splurged on the full-size product. Whatever cleanser I use, I take it off with a hot muslin cloth, then use a little more, and take it off again, leaving me squeaky clean.
Pictured: Alpha H Liquid Gold c.£33.50 for 100ml, Clean&Clear Deep Cleansing Lotion c.£3.20
I’m pretty sure that no aesthetician worth their salt would classify Clean&Clear as a toning acid, but it does have salicylic acid in it, and it has always been fab for keeping my skin clear and toned. The Liquid Gold is a more heavy duty acid designed to ‘resurface’ the skin, so I use that every other day, and the lovely cheap one in between.
Note: they both sting my face. But it’s acid, so I suspect that’s par for the course.
Pictured: Laboratoires Filorga Time Filler c.£48, Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion c.£65, Hydralauron Moisture Boost Serum £25
Please don’t think I spent over £100 on serums. The Filorga was one of my miniatures, and the Murad I got as part of a gift-set with the exfoliating cleanser I bought. The only one I spent money on was the Hydralauron, and I’d recommend it. It contains hyaluronic acid, which does something impressive vis-a-vis water absorption, so if you use a water-based moisturiser on top of it you end up with super-super hydration. Plus you can get it in Boots, and it’s the cheapest of the three.
(Although the Filorga serum is LOVELY. If I have any money spare one month, I will splash out on it.)
Pictured: M&S Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream £22, Nivea Soft c.£3
The M&S sleep cream is SO GOOD. It is SO good. Just buy it. It’s so hydrating, and in the morning my skin is all plump and soft. The Nivea cream is a staple for me – I use it in the mornings, and occasionally at night to make the sleep cream go further! I don’t know if you need to spend much on a moisturiser, really, to get good results. Despite my love of skin-care, I do think that products can only do so much. This is why I think it’s more about the way you use them, as opposed to exactly what. If you are inclined to spend money somewhere in the skincare process (and you might not believe in anything more than bracing cold water, which is fine) then I would suggest that good quality serums and acids are the best place to spend.
I left out eye creams because I don’t regularly use one yet – I haven’t allocated money for one in my budget and the only eye-cream miniature I got for Christmas was the texture of cottage cheese with a minty aroma – so weird.
Of all the above, if you need a very easy list of recommended products to go out and start using now, and if price is no object, then I’d suggest:
- Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm
- Alpha H Liquid Gold
- Filorga Time-Filler
- Formula Absolute Sleep Cream
And remember, kids, stay hydrated.