Guest Post on spring skincare from Vivienne McAlister-Geertz natural skincare expert at Simply Skin
The days are getting longer and the dark winter evenings are becoming a long-distant memory. The temperature outside is starting to slowly rise inviting us to throw aside our winter woollies and enjoy the freedom of wearing fewer layers and lighter clothes. Where you may be singing farewell to a long, tough winter and welcoming with open arms the freshness of spring, how does your skin feel? Let me help you through the fresh spring weather sporting healthy skin.
Spring-Clean Your Bathroom Cabinet
When we talk about spring, often the first thing that pops into our head is spring-cleaning. When we get the unshakeable urge to clean the house from top to bottom, getting into every nook and cranny. But how many of us spring clean our bathroom cabinets? Indeed, how many of us ever spring-clean our bathroom cabinet?
It is important to periodically purge our skincare and beauty products and there can be no better time than springtime as it gets you into a routine of reviewing your skincare and beauty products each year. But why spring-clean your skincare and beauty products? Because all these products have a shelf-life.
Products that are older than their best before date (BBE) can lose their effectiveness and can carry bacteria which could cause skin infections. In some cases the active ingredients may become even stronger and this could lead to skin irritation, whereas other ingredients may degenerate and cause rashes and other skin problems.
What skincare and beauty products should you toss out?
Discard all products which:
- are older than their best before or expiration date
- look different, either in consistency or colour, and/or smell different
- have developed a crust or have become dry
- have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and you have had them for over a year
When it comes to makeup, especially eye makeup, you need to be very vigilant. Our eyes are more prone to infections than our skin and in severe cases, infections can lead to blindness. So I recommend you throw out mascara which is older than 6 months, and dirty, used makeup sponges and brushes.
Pump Up On SPF
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a necessity for your skin all year round. But as the days grow longer and warmer, we begin to shed heavier clothes, expose more skin to the elements and stay outdoors for longer. So sunscreen and SPF become of greater importance.
What does sunscreen do?
It’s common knowledge, nowadays, that over-exposure to the sun can lead to the development of skin cancer. This doesn’t mean that only sun-worshippers who bathe in the midday sun could contract the disease, it can also impact people who’ve exposed their skin, without getting it burned, to the sun without protection. But, additionally, sunscreen is the one ingredient that all dermatologists agree is anti-aging. Research performed by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia concluded that the use of sunscreen on a daily basis can actually stop skin aging for up to four and a half years in healthy middle-aged men and women.
When using sunscreen on your skin, be aware that SPF products that work well on your body may cause the skin on your face to breakout. It may be better to choose a product which has been formulated especially for facial skin. When choosing a sunscreen, try to avoid products which contain chemicals (where some ingredients have the suffix -salate or -benzone). Rather choose products which contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide on the ingredients label, as these do not react with skin the way more harsh chemicals do.
When it’s cold outside and we need to wrap up warm, covering our bodies from top to toe, we tend to neglect the need to exfoliate our skin or we simply forget. If we haven’t been as vigilant as we should have been during the winter months, in springtime our skin can look dull and patchy, thanks to the heavier moisturisers we’ve applied during winter and the drying effects of central heating. Gently exfoliating the skin will brush off old dead skin and dirt from the outer skin layers. This will help unclog blocked pores to reveal healthier, new layers of skin underneath.
When choosing an exfoliant or scrub for your body, I recommend you choose one which isn’t too abrasive; one which contains primary ingredients such as salt or sugar. More abrasive scrubs may tear and damage your skin.
When it comes to your face, where the skin is thinner, I recommend using a scrub specifically designed for the face which incorporates fruit seeds as its exfoliant and a product which doesn’t actually feel scrubby when you use it. Products which use exfoliants which are more scrubby than fruit seeds (eg salts, sugars, nut shells) could damage the capillaries in your skin. And facial products which have a high content of exfoliant in their ingredients could also damage your skin. If you can feel the exfoliating ingredients scratch or abrasively rub your face when you’re using the product, it’s most likely that the product is too aggressive for use on your face.
When we look for exfoliating products, we tend to forget the need to exfoliate our lips and our feet. Lip scrubs are not a fad or gimmick. They are designed to keep your lips healthy and to reduce the chances of developing chapped lips and cold sores. Our feet are made up of areas of tender skin and areas of tough, harder skin. On this part of our body we want to use a scrub that is not too abrasive on the tender areas and is effective on the tougher areas so I recommend a foot scrub which uses salt or sugar as its primary ingredient. When applying the scrub, rub much more gently on the tender areas of the skin to avoid damage.
You only need to exfoliate your skin once a week in order to keep it looking and feeling healthy. If you exfoliate more often you could damage new, healthy cells. If, however, you feel the skin on your body requires a bit more maintenance I recommend using a secondary, very gentle product containing fruit seeds which are designed to buff, rather than exfoliate, your skin.
It is also beneficial to exfoliate prior to shaving or having hair removed and prior to a spray tan. Do not exfoliate on the same day, however, as this can cause irritation and even damage. I recommend exfoliating 24-48 hours prior to your appointment.
Switch To Lighter Moisturisers
The cold winter weather and central heating draws moisture from our skin. So in this weather it is recommended to use heavy moisturisers such as body butters which, preferably, do not contain any water (look for the word ‘Aqua’ on the ingredients label). Because body butters should be a combination of only butters and oils, they absorb more slowly into your skin and create a protective layer which traps in moisture. Usually one application per day is suffice.
As the warmer Spring weather arrives, our skin becomes naturally more oily so it is important to switch to a lighter moisturiser such as a lotion. Water-based lotions, which are lighter than oil-based lotions, should contain up to 80% water (look for ‘Aqua’ as the first ingredient). The water helps the lotion absorb faster into your skin and makes the product feel lighter on your skin.
After being hidden in boots all Winter, the skin on our feet can become cracked, hard and unsightly if we’ve forgotten about them – out of sight, out of mind. To help return your feet to a more healthy state, I recommend following a home foot spa treatment each week which consists of a foot soak, foot rub, and foot butter. If your feet are in really bad condition and you need to jack up the moisturising I recommend applying a foot butter at night and wearing cotton socks while you sleep so the moisture is locked in.
Our hands, too, can sometimes come out of winter looking a bit worse for the wear if we haven’t given them the attention they required. If this is the case and a hand cream or lotion doesn’t revive them, then I recommend slapping on some body butter before you go to bed at night and then wearing cotton gloves while you sleep.
Also, with the arrival of spring comes the re-awakening of the garden. Whenever you go to put on gloves to do either housework or gardening, I recommend wearing hand cream and cotton gloves under your household or gardening gloves.
Revive your skin this spring with my spring skincare recommendations above and enjoy the longer spring days in the outdoors.
Featured image via: Unsplash.com
My name is Vivienne McAlister-Geertz and I’m the Owner and Chief Skin Lover at Simply Skin, a handmade skincare company. In late 2009, after being seriously ill with Crohn’s disease for over 3 years, I decided enough was enough and it was time to take a giant leap of faith, leave my stressful corporate finance job and pursue something that really tugged at my heartstrings. At first I didn’t know what I would do, but before long skincare found me and soon I was attending course after course, gaining my certifications and falling more and more in love with creating beautiful products which would make women swoon and feel beautiful in their skin.