Five Steps to Fabulous Skin

Sunday 2 February 2014

You know when you have that big night out or special occasion coming up, and you want to achieve the sort of luscious Hollywood glow that movie-stars have, only without the Botox/ $600 facial/month-long holiday in Mexico that they have access to?

Well, help is at hand. But its all to do with layering your products. Instead of relying on one pot of wonder to work its magic, using a combination of products can give you the kind of deep-treatment effect you want -quickly and on a budget. Think of it as an at-home, mini spa experience for your skin.

Before an event or even just on the odd random Sunday night, I make some time for this little routine if I want to get my skin looking good:

1) Deep Cleanse

L'Oreal Skin Perfection Soothing Gel Cream Wash, £2.99,

If you have make-up on, you're going to want to remove it with a good cleanser. But using wipes or even micellar water isn't really enough on its own. You need to make sure that every trace of dirt is gone. So start your at home facial with a good wash.

I love the whole L'Oreal Skin Perfection line, but one of the hero products is this Soothing Gel Cream Wash. It's effective, without being harsh and overly drying. It doesn't contain soap, but it does a great job at lifting dirt and debris, leaving you with a clean finish.

2) Turbo Charge Your Routine with Glycolic Acid

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads, £12.95,

Exfoliating your face thoroughly will strip away dulling dead skin cells, unblock pores and maximise the effect of whatever products you apply afterwards, by allowing them to penetrate deeper into the dermis. It's the real secret to success with any facial routine, and will make products work far harder. You can use a physical exfoliant (one with little gritty bits in) or you can use a chemical one (containing some for of AHA), it's just a matter of finding what you prefer.

I'm all for the power of chemicals. A genius product I've been using for a while now are the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads. They're little cotton discs saturated in 2.8% glycolic acid, which helps to retexturise and resurface your skin.

They've also got hyaluronic acid, which is basically a moisture magnet that helps to draw water into the skin, giving a plumped appearance. And they contain blue daisy extract, which is soothing, making sure your skin isn't too aggravated. Wipe one of the pads carefully all over your face and it will really make all the difference to the rest of your skincare.

3) Use a Clay Mask to Draw Out Impurities

Sanctuary Warming Charcoal Detox Mask, £11.99,

Follow up with any form of clay based mask will help to draw out all the pore-clogging bad stuff and give your skin a bit of a glow. Use it after your exfoliator for maximum effect- then it can really penetrate the skin and get to work.

This mask is a favourite. It's thermal, so when you rub it on damp skin it warms up, which is especially nice on cold winter days and nights. It contains kaolin clay and charcoal to purify, and it really refines the texture and finish of skin.

4) Follow Up with a Hit of Collagen

Collagen Essence Paper Daiso Sheet Mask, about £2.68 for four,

I am such a huge, huge fan of these paper sheet masks. When I was on the training course I mentioned the other day, I was banging on about them and people seemed genuinely interested to try and get them. They come from Korea, but you can source them easily - just type 'paper sheet mask' or sometimes 'daiso mask' (they can be named after the type of drugstore, a 'daiso', that they come from in Japan or Korea). They're amazing and so cheap (you can pick up a pack of four for about £2.68).

They come in a huge variety of formulations - from the standard, like aloe vera and my favourite, collagen- to the exotic. I've seen bee venom, snail extract and sheep placenta ones!

They all come in the form of a sheet of thin paper, with holes pre-cut for your eyes, nose and mouth, that are saturated in a gel. Unfold them carefully so they don't rip, and pat the sheet into position. Leave on for as long as you can -  I usually try for 20 minutes - and then remove, massaging in the excess gel. They give an amazing radiant, rested glow, especially when you've already taken the steps above.

Try not to do the above when you're expecting will look like Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient wearing them, but its totally worth it for the beautiful skin you'll have afterwards!

5) Finish Up with A Shot of Toner

Garnier Skin Naturals Fresh Essentials Refreshing Toner, £3.15

Finally, to close the pores and ensure that you end with a smooth finish, swipe a cotton pad in some toner and over your face before going on to your moisturiser etc. This little extra step just closes the pores and seals in the loveliness, meaning that your skin is ready for what comes next.

I love this Garnier Fresh Essentials Toner because its not one of those super-astringent ones that makes your eyes sting and leaves your pores screaming for mercy. It's really softening and gentle on the skin with a great, gentle green fruit smell.

Spending time on great skincare before your put your make-up on is a little like selecting a great quality canvas to paint on. It can sometimes seem like a step that's easy to skip, because hey, you're covering up anyway, right?

But getting that flawless, movie-star glow lies all in the prep. You can have the best products and brushes, and they will of course, also make a difference, but the true secret to that level of polish is the accumulation. All the little layers of added extras that add up to a big difference.