How to make skincare less intimidating

 Skincare was a phrase not even used when I was a teenager. There was makeup.  There was Anne French and there were face masks to apparently ‘open your pores’ (whatever that meant, apparently we should be doing it).  Moisturisers were for old ladies with skin like the dried-up leaf in the Oil of Ulay ad. I spent half a decade of my life as a young woman in LA without a moisturiser – a thought which now gives me nightmares.

     It's hard to accept that, after you’re 20, your skin is officially ageing.  We equate ageing with dying but really it’s to do with declining quality.  In deprived areas, people ‘age’ faster as their bodies do not get what they need to thrive and the quality of their cells - their life in a very real sense- declines.  They don’t age because time goes faster.  Ageing, then, has to do with health and well-being; it’s the difference between a neglected, malnourished or under/over-watered plant and one in optimal conditions.  And ‘optimal conditions’ do not stay the same as all living cells are constantly changing.

     I had been loyally slathering on the same organic moisturiser for over a decade and started accusing my longsuffering skin for revealing my years. It turns out it wasn’t my skin’s fault – or even the moisturiser’s. It was mine. There is nothing WRONG with Neals Yard’s Frankincense hydration moisturiser. It had suited me fine in my thirties in damp, cool Scotland and even in the desert heat of Santa Monica mountains. However, when my hormones took the menopausal plunge, my old trustee moisturiser just couldn’t deliver to the new demands. On top of that, the climate was now drier, more polluted, my collagen levels lower. I needed a new skin diet.

     But where to start?  My skin has always been super-sensitive hence my religious allegiance to Neals Yard; at least I didn’t get nasty reactions.  Starting a new skincare routine can  be more daunting than a new job or relationship. At least it is for me.  I scrolled online, read blurbs about ingredients and try to separate the spin from the substance with my complete ignorance. Beauty editorials are often intimidating, glossed up to be sophisticated but confusing readers.  Although they may be trying to be informative and precise, the result is often total system overload and desperation.  I had to do something.

     It was the pandemic so I signed up for an online Bare Minerals tutorial.  Having a friendly Geordie beauty technician who knew what she was doing walk me through the process in her own home made me feel ‘I can do this.’  I used the routine for a year.  The game changer was the serum but the problem remained the moisturiser – it just wasn’t moisturising.  Yet I had become familiar with some of the processes now so didn’t feel so ‘out there’.  At least I knew the serum worked.

     Kylie Jenner has always been my fave 'Kardashian'. She’s just such a girl’s girl yet an outlier.  Her visual language is profound yet simple, she’s fun and pretty. It’s hard not to trust her.  I wanted to try the makeup cleanser as I felt bad about the volumes of micellar water I used. I bought the Kylie Makeup Melting Cleanser – probably due to the packaging and because I used her lip glosses. That cleanser lasted me a year.  Actually, it’s still going, and I use a healthy big splodge each day. The double cleansing transformed my skin.  I liked her vegan, cruelty and paraben-free ethos, so bought the moisturiser and the eye cream.  I watched her online tutorials when she first launched it and that was the first time I saw someone show me how to apply eye cream properly.

     Both products were lovely, silky and my skin drank them up but I am twice the age of young Kylie and probably needed a bit more help!  Still, she was foundational in helping me move my routine on as she had produced easy-access, trustworthy products which built up my confidence to explore more tailored products for my skin.

     The Cult Beauty edits were another way in. Whereas I would never, ever have justified buying one of those luxury serums or moisturisers cold online, when I got to sample what they did (or didn’t) do, I began to feel I was making progress. Kylie eye cream wasn’t helping with the fine lines (probably because she has none!), Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic eye cream gave me an inflamed and stinging reaction but Elemis Pro Collagen Eye Renewal has been wonderful! My eye area is smooth, plumped up and silky with no redness.  The lid dermatitis has totally gone. I am not longer a lizard.  That and the Odacite Pure Elements Baobab-Sarsaparilla eye serum underneath.

     It's hard to explain how happy this makes me. Having healthy eyes as you get older is so critical. Because Elemis Eye Renewal was so transformative, I tried the Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Moisturiser which is like sinking into silk. It’s rich, nourishing but not heavy ; it just disappears into my skin.  Journey complete – for now.  But hopefully I won’t be so scared to change up now I am more confidant.

     What I have learned is it’s not just about the quality of the product but about my own body at that time. My body, like any living organism is very specific about what it wants and needs and, if I don’t listen, it tells me very explicitly that something’s wrong.

     The more beauty technicians share genuine science and simplify application in person or online, the less daunting it is for the rabbits-in-headlights like myself.  Changing routine or product can be super scary so please don’t make us feel worse or stupid with intimidating blurb.  Good scientific knowledge is demonstrated by clear communication.  Kylie Jenner sells, not just because she has quality products, but because women perceive her as guileless, friendly, fun and trustworthy.  Beauty is complex but someone who really lives, loves and knows it can break it down so that everyone gets a shot at being their best self.