10 August 2017

Feature: Beauty and Wellness

Moisturised AF, or Your Complete Guide to Less Parched Skin (Even if You’re Breastfeeding a Toddler)

Some time ago I was having a conversation with a friend who complained that her tried, tested and true skin care and make-up routines just weren’t cutting it any more in the moisture department.  Her powder was too powdery! Her was skin too tight! The office and the toddler and the crazy British weather were sucking all the dewy plumpness out of her face.  As I am always wont to give both solicited and unsolicited advice, particularly in the beautisphere(™), I immediately said something along the lines of making recommendations as soon as I could.  Well, embarrassingly, my very dear and very patient friend has been waiting.  And waiting.  Until now!  And my response is in an even fancier and better-researched format, so, friend who-knows-who-they-are: you’re welcome.  

In no particular order, the chief complaints I hear, and have experienced myself, are: drying environments (mostly offices or airplanes), changeable weather, breastfeeding babies/toddlers sucking every last bit of moisture from you, age related changes to the skin and not drinking enough water.  So, what to do?  My common sense theory is that a multi-pronged approach is necessary.  No product is going to magic more moisture into your entire system, BUT, a number of products can help your skin retain moisture, maintain cell turnover and create an ideal canvas for applying whatever make-up you choose.  If you meet these products half-way by exercising, eating well and avoiding excess alcohol and cigarettes, you’re well on your way to dewy, lit-from-within-literally-okay-figuratively-glowing-skin.  You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘drink a stupid amount of water’.  Read on my friend;  it’s worth it because, science. 

Even though I’m acne prone, I don’t have particularly oily skin; it’s fairly normal and occasionally tight feeling.  If you’ve got oily and/or spot prone skin, it’s pretty easy to go nuts trying to treat the spots and end up stripping the skin and disturbing its acid mantle (been there).  It can’t be stressed enough how important it is NOT to do that.  As a first step in helping your skin retain moisture, and heal if it needs to, your mantra should be: do not disturb the acid mantle.  Your skin’s acid mantle is its protective layer and it is composed of water, fats and acids which act as a barrier and help to guard against environmental stressors and bacteria/viruses, as well as keeping your skin supple and soft.  Take into account city living, stress, air travel, office and home central heating/cooling systems, harsh or astringent products and the myriad assault courses we all navigate every day, it’s obvious that this barrier function needs all the help it can get.  So, if you have spot prone skin, keep those suckers well hydrated; if you have oily skin, don’t try to dry it all up.  The spots will be easier to cover and heal faster, and your skin’s oil production will balance, leaving you with better looking and more comfortable feeling skin.  Mind.  Blown.

So, without further ado, I will take you on a product filled journey through the day, replete with recommendations to help you live your best life in your best skin, maintain your acid mantle, retain moisture and stop traffic with the glowy beacon that is your face.


Rinse. With tepid water.  I firmly believe there is no reason to wash your face with a cleanser in the morning.  What were you up to last night?  If you washed your face properly before going to bed (which, of course you did) then there’s no need.  Freshen up with some warm water and you’re done. 

Tone.  I don’t always do this but I do endorse it.  Rosewater is my favourite when I do.  Glossier makes a lovely soothing face mist, as does Idil Botanicals.  I’ve currently got a tester of this one and it’s brilliant.  I rarely use testers up, especially of products that I don’t consistently use, but this is making me see the light (again) when it comes to toners.

Treat.  I use a vitamin c serum (The Ordinary's Vitamin C Suspension).  I choose to use this a) every day and b) in the morning.  Both of those choices are a little maverick; not everyone’s skin can take it every day, and there is definitely room for discussion regarding its use morning vs evening.  HOWEVER, my skin responds very well to vitamin c and, as an effective antioxidant, it does help to boost the efficacy of your SPF. 

Boost.  As I entered the wrong side of 30 while continuing to breastfeed an increasingly large baby, I noticed that by midday by skin would feel tight all over.  I tried hyaluronic acid, which basically the whole Internet (well, the only bit of the internet that matters) raves about, and it didn’t seem to agree with me.  I then went for heavier moisturisers but that was a blunt instrument and ultimately unsatisfactory.  What worked for me was squalane.  Again, The Ordinary offers a brilliant and affordable product.  I’ve never looked back.  I would recommend giving hyaluronic acid a try, especially as the whole world seems to love it (maybe I was doing it wrong?) but do keep in mind that there are alternatives if you’re just too much of a paradigm shifting maverick genius to go with the HA crowd.  

Moisturise/SPF.   Either a two-in-one works or a moisturiser followed by an SPF is good.  I won’t be super prescriptive here; I’m assuming you’ve been using moisturiser and SPF long enough to know what works well for you.  My only advice is that neither product be too heavy or too fragranced.  For what it’s worth, my favourite at the moment is Antipodes Immortal Moisturiser and SPF 15.  It absorbs nicely and make-up rests well over it.  I’m about to get the Glossier SPF though (BEYOND EXCITED, thanks mum) and I will use that most likely with a separate moisturiser, especially as we go into autumn/winter when I tend to stop my two-in-one habit, in which case a fairly light and milky moisturiser, like Pai’s calming day cream, is a great option.   Glossier’s priming moisturiser (both rich and original) are also great shouts for daytime. 

Optional Extra. If I have a particularly knarly spot (read: I picked and now it’s dry, flaky and uncomfortable) I apply a balm of some sort over it.  Even if I’m not applying make-up, it helps to keep the skin calm, protected and hydrated throughout the day.  I’ve got a great one from a little Greek shop near me; it’s made of olive oil and beeswax.  It’s also wonderful for the lips, and, for all you newly breastfeeding mums out there, amazing as an ointment for sore nipples. 


This is clearly occasion and mood specific, however some layers never change, even if you’re getting your best David Bowie on. 

I like to look at cosmetics as an enhancement to skin care and features.  For me, make-up is about looking as natural as possible, but with just a bit of help to get you from what you really woke up like, to how you let people think you woke up.  There is always a time and a place for a smoky eye and a red lip; however, if you don’t get the basic architecture right, none of the fabulous lighting you’ve bought will stay put in the ceiling.  No one wants to get crushed by a mid-century modern chandelier.  So, in order of importance, set out below are my top tips for a fresh, well moisturised face to build on.

Avoid powder.  But not if you love it! I’m sure there are options.  Have I ever mentioned Glossier? They’ve just come out with a powder that doesn’t do all the things I hate about powder.  You should try it.  They’re shipping to the UK from October (#notanadIswear).  And then tell me about it because I probably won’t try it.  I have also heard great things about RMS Beauty’s Un Powder.  It comes in sheer and also tinted.  I wish I could say I’ve tried it but, again, you’ll have to be the ones to let me know what you think.

As much as necessary, as little possible. That’s my philosophy for coverage.  I think it’s important to allow as much of your skin to show through as possible, without showing any of the things you don’t want to.  Use the lightest coverage foundation you’re happy with.  For me, at the moment, that’s Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint.  I also love Dr Perricone's No Foundation Foundation, and for super light coverage, Ilia’s Beauty Balm (though I think it might be discontinued).  If I’m feeling extra happy with my skin quality, I’ll eschew the foundation all together and go straight for targeted coverage using Glossier's Stretch Concealer or RMS Beauty's Un Coverup

Brows.  My husband tells me my eyebrows are my best feature, and I never know whether or not to be flattered.  But I’ll go for flattered.  So I treat them in the same spirit as the rest of my face: subtle enhancement.  I use Glossier’s Boy Brow or Ere Perez’s Clear Aloe Gel to fluff and brush.  It makes such a difference to the entire face, not just the brows.  If you’ve got a good set of brows on you, it lifts and brightens your eyes and defines your bone structure; not only that, I swear the increased contrast helps to make your skin appear clearer. 

Highlight.  In this I include bronzer as well as the more traditional pearlescent sort of highlight.  Dabbled along the top of the cheek bone and then into a ‘C’ shape up to the brow bone, down the bridge of the nose and on the cupid’s bow.  Many people also daub on the inner corners of the eye, but that’s not my favourite place.  So many options for good highlighters and bronzers.  All of RMS’s highlighters and their buriti bronzer are some of the best I’ve ever tried.  They have just launched a quad of their highlighters too, which is, I think, worth the purchase.  Glossier, of course, has also made fantastic products in this field.  Highlighting and hydrating and the same time, their product is perfect for a well-moisturised, dewy glow. 

And that’s it.  Above is your basic architecture on which to build, or not.  Either way you look great.  


Cleanse.  So important to take the grime of the day off.  Even if you’ve not worn a lick of make-up, cleanse your face.  You need to be mindful not to strip your skin in the pursuit of cleanliness (as already reviewed).  

It isn’t always necessary to double cleanse, but I do tend to if I’ve had make-up on or I’ve had a particularly long day around the city.  Start with something balm like to loosen all the grit and make-up.  I’m loving Niod’s Low Viscosity Cleaning Esther right now.  It’s got a beautiful texture that’s very liquid and light, but massages on like a balm.  It takes care of make-up and grime wonderfully, with zero tightness afterwards.  Honourable mentions also go the Antipodes and Elemental Herbology cleansing balms.  If I’m double cleansing, I’ll then use a treatment cleanser with an exfoliating element - but not physical exfoliation.  No one wants micro-tears!  Go for a low concentration, gentle and no frills glycolic cleanser.  It’ll encourage cell turnover and give a brighter appearance while helping to prevent acne and clear up existing spots.  Even if you aren’t spot prone, a fairly gentle AHA chemical exfoliant twice a week or so is a good idea for those reasons.  If you don’t fancy it in a cleanser, The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid (in two strengths) is also very effective and gentle. 

Treat.  Retinol is serious kit.  It can cause irritation if not slowly introduced and generally speaking it’s got the reputation of being the nuclear option.  That being said, used in certain formulations it can make a hugely positive impact with little irritation.  I’ve been using The Ordinary’s Advanced Retinoid, 2% every evening for the past six months or so, without experiencing any adverse reactions in the same way as I have with, for instance, Differin (which I had on prescription, but which I understand can now be purchased over the counter in the States).  My skin texture has improved and my acne has improved - the severity and length of break outs in particular.  And no irritation.  I highly recommend this formulation as an effective introduction to, or supplement for, traditional and potentially more irritating retinols.  

I then follow up with rosehip oil (The Ordinary again, 100% Organic and Cold Pressed).  Rosehip oil is great for soothing redness, easing inflammation and helping skin heal.  Jojoba oil is also a fantastic option.  It very closely resembles the sebum our skin naturally produces, as well as myriad vitamins and minerals to help enhance skin health.  It can also help balance oil production as your skin recognises it as sebum, and does not over produce its own. 

Moisturise.  Find a good, creamy moisturiser.  Glossier’s Priming Moisturiser Rich is so lovely.  I am currently using and very much enjoying Antipode’s Avocado Pear Night Cream.  A little goes a very long way and it softens the skin beautifully.  Just to note, this last step is a bit weather dependent.  If it’s nearing 40C - maybe just stick with some rosehip oil. 


Moisture masks are wonderful options for a quick hit of hydration.  My favourite sheet mask is Dr.Jart’s Water Replenishment.  This provides immediate results, and if you’re using it before applying make-up, it goes on smooth and sits beautifully.  Another great night time option is Glossier’s Moisturising Moon Mask. I like Glossier’s mask in particular at night, after cleansing and before the remainder of my routine.

So, there you have it.  A complete guide to mitigating whatever it is that’s drying you up from the inside out.  Stay moisturised, protect your acid mantle, and keep your face plump-in-a-good-way dewy.  Always bear in mind, none of the above is gospel.  Work around these recommendations, figure out what works for you and always remember, on top of all of this, drink those eight damn glasses of water a day.  Or don’t.  Ha! I told you so mom, Coach Fober, husband.  

Written by Mallory from @the_parlour_hackney  


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