I’ve decided that after trialling loads of skin care products towards the end of last year that it was high time I simplified my routine and put more of an emphasis on the hardcore basics which no 35+ woman should do without. Which are, IMO:
1) RETINOL – time to switch it up a gear and use a prescription strength formulation, none of this 0.000000000001% nonsense you buy over the counter. I’m 40, I can handle it.
2) GLYCOLIC – or whatever AHA / resurfacing acid / liquid exfoliant you like because **DISCLAIMER** not everyone gets on with glycolic!
3) HYALURONIC ACID products. Creams, serums however you take it, make sure you include on a daily basis. Because even if you don’t have dehydrated skin, it’s winter, so actually you probably do.
4) EXERCISE. Unfortunately it turns out that we have to work out our faces as well as our bods! FFS! There are loads of options out there but I will be trying some fairly new and promising ones so stay tuned for that. I would offer to do this as my first ever clog for comedy value but er…perhaps not!
5) MICRO-NEEDLING, derma-rollering or whatever you want to call it. Basically, sticking pins in yourself. Ideally I will try a proper derma-roller facial at some point, but all in good time. I don’t want to over-do it, what with the retinol and the glycolic and all that.
So first up – night time routine. I’ve decided to alternate 2 different, but hopefully complementary evening regimes, to avoid any totalitarian skincare situation. One night will be ‘Retinol Night’ and other ‘Glycolic Night’ because they are both too hardcore to use EVERY night and using them BOTH TOGETHER might well give you amazing skin but it’d be skin that would fall off your face and onto the floor. And nobody wants that.
Night 1 – Retinol.
I’ve used Retinol products for years, mainly Environ. And I’m sorry to say this but until they publish their ingredients list in proper detail and put a figure on the amount of retinol they use I’m going to stop using them. It’s a fairly expensive range and certainly costs in the same ball park as other retinol brands like Obaji, SkinCeuticals or Paula’s Choice. But unlike them they’re not prepared to state what percentage they actually use. And this makes me think it probably isn’t very high and so not worth the cash. Sorry to be negative here, but transparency is everything nowadays and if the competition are prepared to get it all out on the table I don’t see why they shouldn’t. It’s a real shame because they are such a credible Doctor-led brand in every other respect AND real market innovators in the field of sun protection and formulation of peptides in particular. Plus they invented the derma-roller, right? So it’s merely a case of: if I’m spending £40-50 on a retinol I want to know it includes the same amount that a similarly priced brand has, otherwise I’m wasting my money. Environ please take note.
Anyway, rant over. I’m opting for Obaji simply because they have a good reputation and there is a stockist near me, so it’s easy to get hold of.
The routine. After cleansing, I’ll skip the usual liquid exfoliant and do a light rollering.
Then eye serum (Hylamide) and eye cream (Neo-strata) to protect the eye area. Put this on first. (Important.) And probably use the wee bit of moisture provided by this to do some facial massage, cos it’s going to get pretty arrid from here on it. *gulp*
Finally – the main event Obaji 1% Retinol ‘Brightenex.’
This is advertised as a product for hyper-pigmentation so seriously consider it, if that is a problem for you. It’s one of a few similar % retinol products they do, so there’s plenty of choice.
And that’s pretty much it. Leave that on overnight to do it’s dastardly work.
There is some other stuff you need to know before going down this route.
You CANNOT buy this % retinol over the counter and with good reason. It needs to be prescribed by someone who is medically qualified as it is ‘medical grade.’
How do you get a prescription? If the UK, you could pay to see a private dermatologist (ask your GP for a referral) or find a teenager with acne and a prescription for a RetinA cream and offer to go to the off license and buy them some booze in exchange for the cream. If you’re in the US or most parts of Europe you can probably walk into any pharmacy and buy some if you know the exact percentage to ask for. If you’ve never used any retinol before, start with the lowest available (usually 0.01% and work your way up through the grades very gradually.)
Better still, go to an Obaji (or other brand) stocking salon or clinic where a nurse will assess your skin and advise on which product and which strength retinol to go for.
I went to Skin and Laser Clinic in Kent where I had a consultation with practice nurse Aksana Sapezhka. She thought that after having used some Retinol products I could try the stronger 1% stuff, provided I introduced it to my regimen gradually.
To start with I’m using it twice a week on my face and maybe once a week, if that, on my neck. Go carefully with retinol on your neck, the skin is way more delicate. It’s also advised not to use a high percentage strength on your eye area. There are plenty of lower strength Retinol eye creams out there so maybe opt for one of those first.
I’ll let you know how I get on with this. After 2 applications so far I can definitely tell it’s having some effect. Generally with gradual use you can expect a good few weeks of dryness and maybe even peeling, until it calms down and your skin starts to look AMAZE!
Despite dryness being a major factor in early days of proper retinol use, Aksana advised NOT to use any oils, which I found interesting. She thinks it clogs pores and overloads the skin (which is kind of under attack from the Vit A – in a good way!) and trying to regenerate.
Her advice is to use a very pure and simple glycerin / lanolin / hyaluronic moisturiser while your skin is acclimatising, to counteract any dryness and make sure you don’t wake up looking like Michael Gambon in the The Singing Detective.
Ok so that’s all for now – part 2 ‘Adventures with Acid’ to follow. Eek!
Let me know if you’ve used any Retinol products and what difference they’ve made to you.
Hope you’re having a great day!
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