Sometimes, I like to think of myself as low maintenance, because it usually only takes me a few minutes to put on my makeup. However, have slowly come to realise that this is only becomes I am completely devoted to a finely honed skincare regime that renders foundations and concealers fairly unnecessary. Although I still like them, because I don't like the size of my pores (which always makes me think of that bit in Mean Girls when we are meant to laugh at the fact someone thinks their pores are too ugly and cringe in shame).
Anyway, a somewhat clear complexion is is not some weird gift from God, I am not blessed with radiance or anything, I genuinely believe that it is not my genetic makeup but rather because I am besotted with smearing nice things on my face. I have spent the significant majority of my life in active drug addiction and struggling with an eating disorder. Funnily enough, neither of these things are conducive to dewy-faced-ness, except in a sweaty post-puke or withdrawal way, but I have usually managed to use some of my trusty products short-term to bring me up to scratch for, say, an intervention.
What I am saying is two-fold: 1) if it has worked for my poor, mangled body, it might work for yours too and 2) even if you only manage to do this stuff sporadically, it still works better than doing nothing. Also, I truly believe that loving and caring for my body helps me to actually love it and care about it, and it's a lot cheaper than therapy. So I am going to share my discoveries in this series.
I’m starting with the complete basics- removing your makeup. Always. Always. Always remove your makeup. Keep a stack of baby wipes next to your bed. If you are even semi conscious, you are able to smear off your mascara to stop your lashes falling out overnight, WHICH HAPPENS, and most importantly salvage your poor skin from the almost inevitable breakout that comes if you don't.
I always try and have some baby wipes in my bag because they are so multifunctional and, if your newly radiant skin attracts an overnight stay somewhere, you can wipe off your face and not wake up looking insane. The rest of the time, I am a big believer in hot cloth cleansers- a product that relies on the principle of lathering cream all over your made up or dirty face and wiping it off with a hot, wet muslin cloth.
I got into these with the pretty expensive Eve Lom Cleanser (£45) which was super rich and luxurious feeling- and smells delicious, like being in a spa- but it’s incredibly heavy and a bit greasy, almost like paraffin. It makes your skin feel lovely and plump, which is always the by-product of using something that feels quite oil-heavy, but I never felt completely clean. I hate residual shine from cleansers almost as much as I hate the tight feeling I get from chemical facial washes, so I became disenchanted with hot cloth cleansers. But do not fear, I persisted.
I got given Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (£14.95) in a gift bag and after being told it scored 11 out of 10 somewhere, I gave it a go. It’s made of plants, which I feel must be a good thing, and it is incredibly moisturising, Because it uses cocoa butter rather than mineral oil, it’s creamy rather than oily, so I didn’t have the Eve Lom problem and it sluices off eyeliner pretty efficiently.
I had a pretty magical few months of it, but by this point, my muslin cloths had started getting a bit manky- you really need wash them every two days (with your laundry is fine) and they looked far from cleansing so I bought a pack of Emma Hardie Natural Sculpt Dual Action Cleansing Cloths (3 for £10). The combination of the two was pretty much life changing- the cloths are double sided, so you can use the smaller side first to take off your makeup and then essentially buff your face with the larger side.
I started getting breakouts after a while, so I thought I’d change it up (rather than modify my lifestyle, obviously) and found The Sanctuary Polishing Hot Cloth Cleanser (£10.20) and have not turned back ever since. It’s fluid and buttery and, although it takes a little more effort to remove heavy eye makeup than with the Liz Earle, it is my dream cleanser. I think it’s the hemp oil (I love anything hemp, I think it is the remnants of my love of drugs) that makes it so moisturising- but quite frankly, I would be hard pressed to care if it was the blood of puppies or something because it is great. It leaves skin plump and smooth and clean but residue-free, and if it could ease my skin's pain whilst I was completely malnourishing it, it must be the closest I can get to magic outside of Hogwarts.
The great thing about a cleanser like this is that you are sort of forced to give your face a little massage when applying it, which is apparently what you are meant to do anyway to stimulate circulation, and it is incredibly hydrating. This ‘polishing’ your face exfoliates dead skin cells and renders use of a daily moisturiser near redundant. I know it sounds a bit mental to rave so much about what is essentially a fancy flannel, but just trust me.
When I am going through a bad time with my food, I get incredibly dehydrated and stressed which manifests in a weird sort of face-eczma that gets really easily irritated, but is soooothed by massaging the Sanctuary into it. Having a face like a lizard isn't conducive to thinking loving things about myself so it's incredibly important to me to have a gentle and moisturising way of cleaning off the makeup that I can pile onto it when things are getting rough.
I also get really visible pores around my nose and it reminds me to thoroughly (but gently) scrub at my T-Zone (forehead, nose, and the bits to the side) which helps no end. You just don’t get all that with a traditional makeup-remover or a cleansing wipe. I always splash my face with cold water afterwards and soak the muslin cloth in freezing water and then sort of lay that on top of my face to close my pores rather than using a toner.
I’m always amazed by how much my skincare routine indicates what sort of mental space I am in, and how much more emotionally managable I am when I force myself into doing loving things for my body. Am I alone in this belief that healthy skincare practically equates to spiritual fulfillment? Do you have any cleansers I haven’t tried? There’s nothing I love more than a recommendation...