Insider Tips for a Beautiful Skin at Any Age
"Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve." Coco Chanel
As I wrote previously, over the last few months, I have really simplified my beauty rituals and the more I simplified it the better my skin looked and felt. I work in the beauty industry, so I am exposed daily to new products, the latest gadgets, trends and I am incredibly passionate by cosmetics. With all the new products that get all the time into my hands, it is hard to stay on track but I have managed to stick to a simple, clean beauty routine for over a year now and it is paying off. Despite my mid-thirties around the corner, I often go out with a make up free skin and feel absolutely confident about it. You can see in today's picture my bare skin here, taken in my room, totally makeup free. I will be sharing here some of my tried and tested tips for uncomplicated rituals that simplify and beautify. Those tips are valid for both men and women. But before we dive into those rituals, I would like to explain a little bit the biology of skin, different skin types and some frequent skin concerns such as acne and hyperpigmentation.
Skin Biology Basics
Our skins are a wonder. It’s our body’s largest organ and their main function is to protect us. There are several layers in our skins: the hypodermis, the dermis which has collagen and elastin that needs protection and epidermis that you can touch. There are also sweat gland pores and hair follicles. Whenever they are clogged, there is a risk of congestion resulting in clogged pores. That is why cleaning is an extremely important step, if not the most important of any skincare routine. Millions of skin cells are dying everyday as our skins are renewing themselves constistantly.
Our skin is exposed at all the time to free radical damages that attack and damage it. Skin is made up of billions cells. Bad food, alcohol, sun, yo-yo dieting, abusive exfoliation, overzealous cleansing, smoke and pollution damage cells, leaving them unstable in the process. The damaged cells will in turn damage other cells. A healthy lifestyle, as well as antioxydants and creams help reverse the damage.
Let us also not forget that our skin starts aging from the very first day we are born. The process is irremediable. But by taking good care of our skin through good nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, we can age, gracefully and beautifully.
Every single skin is unique. We actually do not have the same skin everyday. Depending on the weather, the amount of sleep you get, your environment, your stress level, your nutrition... Your skin changes. But all skins can roughly be classified as normal, dry and oily. A combination skin is as its name implies, a mix of two or three main skin type. For example my skin is combination: oily in the T zone and acnea-prone especially in summer and normal in the rest of my face. I also suffer sometimes from dry patches in winter or when I fly a lot. Dry skin should not be confused with dehydrated skin, which not a skin type but rather a skin concern. Dry skin naturally lacks oils, while dehydrated skin lacks water.
What about Acne?
Acne is the result of an hormonal imbalance and is not contagious. It is not just for adolescents but it also affect adults, both men and women. There are five different levels of acnea and I actually suffer of the mildest of all, Grade I. Thanks to a carefully crafted skincare ritual, I am able to keep it under control. The first thing is to keep your hands off your face, regardless of how tempting it is to pick at your blemishes, because it does make them worse. A good natural remedie is tea tree essential oil. Other remedies include Salycilic Acid and Benzol Peroxide. Zinc, found for example in whole grains is also good to heal your skin. Even though many over the counter products containg the above mentioned ingredients help reverse the effect of acne, the best thing to do is to consult a dermatologist.
Hyperpigmentation is a real skin concern, especially when like me, you have a dark skin. Whenever I have a pimple or hurt myself, if I am not careful, I will be left with a scar that will be darker than my tone and be there pretty much forever. I also have a very thin and extremely reactive skin. The best thing is to start by avoiding the scars at the first place. But if you really cannot (and accidents happen), start using on the scar while it is still fresh, Vitamin E oil that you could get from your local drugstore or pharmacy. You should also make sure to use a high SPF to protect it from the sun if it is in an exposed area, such as your face. If you have some older scars, by having a consistent skincare routine, you support your skin as it renews itself, so your scars should fade away. To boost the process, you can use a pigment corrector. I I have been quite happy with Skinceutical's Pigment Corrector in the past to care for some minor scars that I had left from acne. If you are looking for a natural remedy, lemon juice is a good one; it acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid and bleach but you should use it with caution, as it photosensibilizes your skin. As tempting as it may be, never, ever, EVER use products with hydroquinone or otherwise harmful ingredients that claim to whiten your skin. If hyperpigmentation is of a real concern for you, I would strongly recommend that you consult a dermatologist who may give you some prescription only medication to help.
A Clean Skin
May I ask you, how clean is your skin? Honestly? Our skin has to take on a lot of dirt, both from your own body and external factors, creating free radicals that damage it. The key to flawless skin is cleaning day and night, regardless of whether you put on make up or not. I often hear from people that say that they don't clean their skin beyond water and perhaps some soap because they do not wear makeup. But if you think of all the dirt our skin take at all time from our own shedding and external factors, it really does not matter how much makeup you wear if any.
In the morning, cleansing removes residue from night cream (and its toxins), shedding cells and sweats. It take a couple of minutes, so really no excuse! Water alone removes only 55% of oil in face. My great aunt used to say that if water really cleaned, fish would not smell! Cleaning also stimulates lymph flow that drive toxins out through urine or sweat and provide oxygen to your skin.
In the evening, I recommend double cleansing especially if you have applied makeup. The first cleansing will remove all makeup and other residue. The second cleansing will remove any remaining residue from your makeup and otherwise, prepping your skin to receive any night serum or cream. You can also use a facial brush like Clarisonic, but if you are going the simple way, it is really not necessary.
Please also do not use, if you can avoid them, makeup wipes! There are more often than not full of preservatives, chemicals and harsh alcohol that stripe the skin. Instead of cleaning thoroughly, the wipes actually do so superficially and in the process push dirt and makeup further down the pores. I have to admit that I am guilty of using them sometime when travelling but it’s never, ever a good idea.
If you are getting weird breakouts in a specific part of your face, sometimes, all you have to do is change your pillowcases more frequently. I change mine between once and twice a week. Also make sure to keep your hair off your face, as it can also cause breakouts. If you can't because you have a frange for example, make sure to keep it clean.
When you use the cleanser, use lukewarm –never hot water as it dehydrates and irritates most skin types. Below, I detail the basic morning, night, weekly, monthly and yearly ritual for a radiant skin.
1/Basic Morning Ritual
-Clean. I am currently using Skinceuticals cleanser and I am very happy with. I also like in winter or whenever my skin is feeling drier, or a little reactive a simple make cream based cleanser such as Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser by La Roche Posay. But the truth is that any drugstore bought cleanser will do. I have used in the past cleansers I got from Target, CVS or Boots with good results. Some examples include Clean & Clear Morning Burst and Neutrogena Deep Clean. More than the product you use, the fact that you are cleaning your skin means that you are already winning at least half the battle!
-Tone. I am currently using a Skinceutical toner to keep minor breakouts and my acne at bay. Otherwise, the Bioderma Eau Micellaire is an excellent product that truly respect your skin. Other favourites of mine include pure floral waters. French brand Sanofolore makes excellent ones. Their rose water is a personal favourite! Otherwise, the beautiful organic German brand Dr Hauschka also have first class toners like this one and in general extraordinary products.
-Prevent. If you are over 25, I would strongly advise that you start with your anti-aging regimen. I started around 24 and this is probably one of the best decisions that I ever took regarding my skin. I started using about two and half years ago Skinceuticals Phlorentin and it is handsdown the best skincare product I have ever came accross. It is pricey but worth a every last drop and you actually need very little product. You should also eye care. I use and love Skinceutical's AOX + Eye gel.
-Moisturize and Protect. Your moisturiser should have a SPF withat least SPF 30. Given my darker skin, it is complicated to find a good moisturizer with decent SPF that does not leave my tone ashy. After trying dozen of products, I found two years ago the Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defense and never looked back. I also used and liked in the past Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch and found during a trip to Brazil (where I seriously sunburned- yes, contrary to popular belief, it happens to even us, darker skin people!) an affordable Nivea SPF cream that helped me protect my skin.
2/ Basic Night Ritual
-Double Cleanse. I would recommend here a first step with a cleansing oil. The Rolls Royce of the category that I love and use daily is Shu Uemura Sublime Beauty Ultimate 8. For a more budget friendly option, I also love simple plain organic coconut oil that removes makeup and leave skin clean, radiant, supple and wonderfully nourished. You do not need to get it from specialty store as long as it is virgin and organic: I get mine from my local Naturalia supermarket in Paris, and when I lived in the US from Wholefoods. Amazon is also an excellent option if you are shopping online. The second step is exactly as described above under the morning ritual above.
-Tone. Please see morning ritual above.
-Night Cream or Serum. I am a big fan of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate. I love that the formula is very clean- 99% natural and how it leaves my skin glowing. I discovered Kiehl's when I trained at Equinox gym in New York and have since fallen in love with the brand. When my acne gets out, I use Blemish + Age Defense from Skinceuticals that is great to gently exfoliate your skin. In addition, I tried and love Skinceuticals Retexturizing Activator. I have also used with some good results La Roche Posay Redermic line.
If you are under 25 you don't really need a night product after cleaning and toning your skin. Your skin is in its prime- beautiful, radiant, evenly toned and smooth. It produces enough collagene and elastin to renew itself. It is usually problem free and you do not need to do much, except for cleaning, toning, moisturizing and protecting against sun damage.
3/Basic Weekly Ritual
Scrub your face weekly with a really gentle scrub, and then apply a mask depending on your skin needs. If during the week you are already using an chemical exfoliator with glycolic acid, vitamic A or C, you do not need to mechanicaly scrub your skin. I would actually recommend that you avoid scrubs with grains altogether as they tend to be aggressive on skin. But if you like your grains, then go as small as possible and don't overscrub your skin. One of my favourite facial mask is a mix of simple green tea with clay. The powerful antioxydant in green tea coupled with the detoxifying power of clay will deeply clean and brighten your skin. Another favourite mask of mine is rhassoul clay from Morocco- this ingredient is quite amazing as while it cleanses your pores, it will refill it with beneficial minerals. I also love traditional remedies used by women in Chad such as Sandalwood and Mahlab masks for their brightening and healing properties. If you are looking for some products in store, I absolutely love Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to clear pores. You could make a DIY version by using drugstore or pharmacy bought charcoal mixed with water and add as an option your favorite essential oil. Lavender (Lavendula Angustifolia) is a great one as it is good for all skin types. It is one of very few essential oil that can be used undiluted and is safe for everyone including infants and pregnant women. Do not also forget the age-old trick of adding organic fresh cucumber to your eyes, lay down and relax as your beauty treatments work their magic!
4/Monthly and Yearly Rituals
I would recommend that you give yourself a monthly facial (you can go to au beautician or do it yourself, just like the weekly ritual but by making more time for yourself and pampering other parts of your body and your hair). I often just do it myself: the hammam is a favourite place of mine to do so. You have the steam that relaxes you and help open your pores for even better penetration of your treatments. When I don't feel like doing it myself or when my skin is not doing very well, I go to l'Ambassade de la Beauté in Paris. The brand behind Ambassade de la Beauté is Biologique Recherche that I discovered 6 or 7 years ago while going through at the La Première Air France Lounge in Paris Airport and have since become a huge fan of it. I really love their concept of Skin Instant, taking into account the fact that our skins are changing consistently and that you should care for it accordingly. The treatment you receive is then tailor-made for the need of your skin at that very specific moment. If you are ever in Paris, and would like to treat yourself and your skin, you should definitely go there. I love to add on to my facial their "Super Booster Remodeling" module that uses a biostimulation for both immediate and long-term results. I can guarantee you that you would come out with a fantastically glowing skin. I would in particular recommend that you see Cécilia- she is amazing and hands down one of the best facialist I have ever come accross!
Lastly, you should also see at least once a year your dermatologist for a routine skin check up including cancer and any other concerns such as dermatitis, couperose, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, shaving irritation, razorburn, sunburn and herpes.
Voilà! If you apply all of those simple tips, your skin will thank you by becoming everyday more beautiful. Those have been working wonderfully well for me and some close friends and family members for a long time. I hope they also work for your skin. You will already see results within the first few days of caring properly for your skin. The key is consistency. I also wanted to tell you that I am now slowly starting to move to a 100% organic and vegan skincare routine. I am still produts and routine testing, I will share with you in due time what I find that works best! What do you think about those rituals? What are your own skincare rituals? Do you have any particular concerns? Please comment and do not not hesitate to share this article around you and to suscribe!