It’s that time of year again, when beauty experts counsel us on the pernicious power of winter to strip our skin of moisture, and go forth to recommend the latest wonder-creme. Speaking as a beauty writer, (please, refrain from laughter until the end of the piece) I rejoice at the thought of new product, new launches, new slatherings.
But speaking as a human with highly sensitive skin prone to redness, dryness, breakouts, inflammation, (and yes that is separate to the ordinary redness), I wince. “Will it be different this time?” I wonder aloud about the new product in front of a full-length mirror. That last part might be an alternative fact. I mean, I wonder aloud about a lot of things, but full-length mirrors are generally a scourge.
This year I dared to ask for more, at least in terms of skin care, and I found out there’s a way through.
Step one: never go outdoors again. Jokes! But you’d be surprised how many experts recommend avoiding airconditioned or heated environments, as if you can avoid going to your own place of work. Many times I’ve sat in a heated office, my body warm as toast, while my face was tight and red from forehead to chin.
National Education Co-ordinator Cara Doncovio at endota spa gets me. “If your skin is feeling tighter it means you’re dehydrated. This leads to more flakiness, and other visible signs – all are due to lack of moisture in the environment.”
“A mask is great to super soak the skin, and I’d add a nourishing serum to assist the skin’s barrier of protection,” she says. “A diet full of essential fatty acids, natural/good fats and protein, such as salmon, fish and foods with vitamins and minerals, and omega 3 fats will also help in the long term.”
Look, I barely have time to cleanse, so I’m going to skip the mask. But the gentle serums I can get behind. So here is the real step one: Go easy on the products, opt instead for gentle, nourishing, serumy type things that contain natural-as-possible ingredients.
I know it seems obvious, but sometimes brand loyalty and the pressure of the “HASHTAG LATEST THING” can keep us from seeking out that which is truly good for us.
For instance, I love my motorised scrubbing brush. Most people who have them swear by them – and for good reason, they leave skin super-soft and they clean really well. But every time I went to see any sort of skin care practitioner they would all say the same thing: “That brush is too much for your skin.”
“Oh-ough, is it … ?” I would ask in mock shock.
“It’s way too harsh,” they’d say, while lightly massaging my jowls with their fingertips. “It’s creating more redness and irritation.”
I’d nod in furious compliance and then go straight home and scrub my face like my life depended on it. I was wearing a moisturiser, and it had a SPF of 20, so there was no problem as far as I was concerned. I’d be damned if I was going to turn into some sort of caravan-dwelling, herbal-tea sipping, flower-crown-wearing, Earth Mother who dabbed almond oil on my temples and pretended that was effective.
But then I kept getting really dry, red, dehydrated skin on my face every time the weather got cooler, so I surrendered to the elements and my own skin, which, come to think of it, is a very Earth Mother thing to do.
Below are five of the best skin care products for this time of year. They’re for sensitive skins so you know they’re going to be as calming as herbal tea, (I’m now a convert).
1. Ella Bache SensiBeautics Intensive Recovery Serum 30ml, $109
This little dude helps minimise unwanted redness and increases the skin’s tolerance. I put it on at night.
2. Trilogy Sensitive Very Gentle Calming Serum 30ml, $42.95
This hydrates fragile and irritated skin, with a blend of avocado oil, aloe vera juice extract, green tea extract and chamomile flower extract.
3. Billie Goat Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin 100ml $8.75
I was nonchalant about this until I felt my skin the next day. Seriously, this stuff is the … stuff. My face was soft as butter.
4. Endota Spa Deep Hydration Face Moisturiser 60ml, $60
This organic cream has the avocado and the grapeseed oil as well as omegas 3, 6 and 9 to get right in there and hydrate the skin.
5. Aveda Botanical Kinetics intense hydrating Rich Crème 50ml, $54
You know that scene in Mrs Doubtfire where Robin Williams (RIP) has to stick his face in the cake icing to disguise himself? Well this lush, velvety creme felt exactly like putting frosting on my face. Delicious! Left it supple, too.