The art of exfoliation
Once you’ve removed your makeup or initial dirt, you may like to exfoliate. Exfoliating boosts circulation, gets rid of dead skin cells and brightens the complexion, giving you a coveted healthy glow. But when it comes to polishing, no one scrub fits all.
Lush co-founder and exfoliating enthusiast Rowena Bird has some tips. “You have to have the right size grain of exfoliant otherwise it doesn’t do the job. If it’s too big, you’re just chasing the granules around the skin. When it’s small enough, you can have a good scrub. Then you come down to how hard it is. If it’s really hard, like salt, you’re going to get a really good scrub. But if you’ve got more sensitive skin, you need a gentle scrub like the ground almonds in Angels On Bare Skin. It’s about looking at our collection of scrubs and then finding the grade and size that suits your skin.”
Finding what works for you, is all about listening to your skin. Ro explains: “Everybody needs to do what their skin wants it to do. Some skins do not want a strong, salty scrub like Ocean Salt. Some skins do. You may want to exfoliate once a day or once a week. It’s about being aware of your skin and listening to it. What you put on your skin is as important as what you put in your body.”
A note on soaps
If your skin tends to err on the drier side, chances are you steer clear of soaps. But if you have a complexion that feels oilier, the desire for that squeaky-clean feeling can have you reaching for a bar. But both Mo and Helen have a word of caution. “Oily skin does need to be treated in a kind way, rather than just drying it out with soap,” the former explains. “Soaps, I think, should be a last resort when it comes to washing your face because they are pretty stripping. I would never recommend any kind of soaps for face but we have made an offering for those who do with the Coalface and Fresh Farmacy which are as mild as you can get really.
“Fresh Farmacy is about 40% clay, with lots of calamine powder too, so you’re not going to get a high lather but you are going to get a delicate clay cleanser wash. Coalface is charcoal and clays and ever so slightly medicating - so gentle you’d barely notice you’d used it. You can use these on any part of the body. Like I say, I don’t recommend using soap on the face, but if you are going to do it use something that’s sympathetic to your skin. Muds, clays, sands - you can clean your skin with all kinds of things other than soap.”
Helen adds: “Oily skin is so delicate - it’s only people’s attitudes towards it that leads to them punishing it. That’s where our philosophy of ‘how do you want your skin to feel today’ came from. Because a lot of how you want your skin to feel depends on how you feel on that day in yourself.”
Getting it right
Forget the myth that a really efficient cleanser can initially break you out in spots thanks to all that extra dirt it’s removing, Helen says that’s simply not the case. She explains: “If you’ve got a cleanser that isn’t right for you, what will often happen is that it will overstimulate the skin. Very often you will see someone with just one spot but otherwise clear skin. What’s often happening there is that the cleanser they are using is too strong for them so the skin protects itself by swelling a little bit and then it becomes very easy for a follicle to get trapped and then for that to turn into a spot. This is what often happens to people who have generally good, not difficult skin. They overstimulate it. If you’ve got a cleanser like that, then for a couple of days your complexion might look really vibrant but then your skin starts to think ‘I really don’t like this’. It’s telling you it needs something gentler.”
Treat cleansing as an essential, not a chore, put the effort into doing it thoroughly but gently and Helen is confident that your skin is sure to reap the benefits. “Your skin does change throughout your life,” she says “but if you’ve got your cleansing routine right, it shouldn’t have to change that much, unless your skin requires very particular care. If you can sort your skin out with the right cleanser and get it really settled, then you can get the very best out of it.”
Who knew the humble cleanser could be the key to healthy, contented skin?