There are all sorts of things that happen in spring. Clocks go back. Blossom starts. Mum switches out her winter wardrobe for her summer wardrobe and vacuum-seals the stash with militant precision. I’ve never really been organised enough to follow suit. But something I won’t compromise on is a ritual skincare spring clean. This serves several purposes: 1) it forces me to respect use by dates. 2) it’s chance to pair back my routine and move (slightly) towards a more minimalist approach. 3) it makes space for new launches. 4) it allows me to switch out heavier, winter-appropriate formulas for lighter, more summer-friendly versions.
The last point is arguably the most important. Skin changes constantly – the average regeneration cycle is approx 27 days. Which means that fresh new cells reach the surface on a monthly basis. So it makes sense that what your skin needs is also constantly changing. Here’s what to prioritise as the weather changes..
This one is an obvious one, but it still amazes me how many people don’t wear an SPF as standard on a daily basis. I think the hang-up many have with SPFs is the association with the highly perfumed, thick formulas we grew up with. And I get it – the entire Nivea range is out of bounds to me unless I’m on actual holiday, bcos it transports me instantly to fam time in Portugal. But Face SPF has come a long way since then, and now presents in super-light, non-sticky-or-greasy offerings. Katherine Daniels Daily DNA Defence SPF30 comes out of the bottle opaque but quickly blends into a thin, invisible veil. Which is pretty genius in itself, but they’ve also added in Active DNA Defence Enzymes, which protect cells from the damage caused by UV, pollution and blue light (emitted from smart phones and computers). Clever, right? Another hero of mine is Murad Invisiblur, which doubles as an excellent make-up primer, since it is entirely matte and velvety. Or their Essential-C offers impressive, broad spectrum protection, paired with brightening vit C. Which brings me to my next point….
Antioxidants protect against cell oxidisation caused by free radical damage. When I was on the beauty desk at Marie Claire, I struggled to get my head around what this actually meant. It was explained to me like this: “think of an apple slice. If you expose it to oxygen, sunlight and other aggressors, it’ll start to turn brown. That’s why people put lemon juice on apple slices – to slow down this change”. Anti-oxidants (vitamins C, E & A (aka retinol) are probably the most widely-used in skincare) act like the lemon juice on the apple slice, protecting skin cells from both visible and invisible damage. My go-to vit C cream is Kat Burki’s, which uses Reishi Mushroom to promote optimum absorption of Kat’s 15% STAY Vitamin C. For eyes, I love Murad Environmental Shield Vita-C Eyes, a cooling and refreshing eye cream that combines vit C with Red and Brown Algae to help to reduce puffiness so common around the delicate eye area. Both have an impressively stable form of the vitamin, which is important because unstable versions can breaks down when exposed to light or air. That’s why you’ll usually vit C formulas in frosted glass, opaque bottles, or capsule form like Elizabeth Arden’s Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum. I’ve mentioned the latter – the targeted, pre-measured super serum is basically like a facial in a capsule. Love.
You’ll have heard about this one, I’m sure – it’s been a buzz word since circa 2015. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the skin, and swells to hold a thousand times it weight, which helps keep skin hydrated and plump (on which note, those fine lines that appear as a first sign of ageing are often simply caused by dehydration and are easily reversed by a campaign of re-hydration). Using HA daily helps retain that youthful, dewy radiance as it prevents moisture from being lost so rapidly from the skin. Jane Scrivner Bioluronic Buzz is a highly potent, silky gel infused with aloe vera, white willow and hyaluronic acid. Cleverly, Jane’s original formula contains the same amount of HA in a bottle twice the size, so this is a super SUPER concentrated option.
Collagen is a protein that is an important part of connective tissues in the body, and is (along with elastin) what gives us that youthful, plumped appearance in our skin. Levels of collagen begin to decrease around age 30 (sob), so many products either contain collagen or contain ingredients that help stimulate our own collagen production. Skinician Advanced Restoring Night Cream powerfully increases production of collagen and elastin while you sleep, and is clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. And Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is an absolute hero product of mine. There are also options for supplementing collagen, like Skin Woof Collagen Beauty Drink. It’s surprisingly yummy, and delivers a super-blend of Marine Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C, to fight skin ageing from within. Win win.
Fruit acids and imperfection purifiers
You know that fresh, tingly feeling you get when you use a really good toner? That’s because of the highly-potent fruit acids in the formula, which encourage cell regeneration by getting rid of dull, dead skin cells. REN Summer Limited Edition Daily AHA Tonic promotes healthy, brighter skin by stimulating this process, helping to minimise the appearance of any pigmentation, large pores or fine lines. I also love Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Toner, which has a deep cleansing effect, helping flush to out toxins from the skin and preventing breakouts. And True Skincare’s latest Hydrating Toner uses pine extract as a base to help to brighten and nourish skin whilst reducing sebum production by up to 70%. If toners aren’t your thing, there are also clever hybrid products out there that promote cell turnover whilst adding hydration and moisture. L’Abu Skin Hydra Face Lotion is somewhere between a serum and a moisturiser, with Camelia Sinensis extract to help even out the skin tone, and Rosehip Oil to promotes cell regeneration. .
Vitamin E / Anti-inflammatories
It goes without saying that a calm, even complexion is the gold standard in skin. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and it can be easy to end up with a build-up of sebum and pollutants, especially if you live in a city like London. Products with anti-septic or anti-bacterial properties can help – I always use Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Toner after a heavy workout. The Witch Hazel is a naturally occurring antiseptic, that balances oil production, prevents acne-producing bacteria and impurities from entering pores, reduces pore size and fights inflammation. Another little gem is Polaar Eclat Boreal Anti-Imperfections Solution. The clever comination of Siberian Olive and Grapefruit Extract delivers a highly potent dose of skin-regulating vitamins and anti-oxidents, plus powerful anti-viral strength.