As a teenager, my skincare routine was truly diabolical. My mum, bless her, did everything right, buying me whatever face wash, wipes and moisturises were being best advertised in Boots at the time, but to no avail: where my face was concerned, I was inherently lazy. (Actually, I was pretty lazy about most things....) I would remove my makeup with face wipes, something I hate myself for (read about why you must throw yours away immediately HERE) and let the remaining products sit, unused, pretty much unopened, in my wash bag.
Although I was lucky to have never suffered with acne, my skin was pretty terrible for most of my school days and I was so unhappy with it. I would have bad spots, be really oily in between my eyebrows and at the side of my nose and then have the driest skin on my chin and cheeks, but despite all of that, I was never really proactive enough to do anything about it.
When spots appeared, as they inevitably did, i was quick to try everything: like the Thunderbirds getting ready to save the world, I would release my lotions and potions from my bag and apply them ALL. Toothpaste, sudacream, tea-tree oil, I used it all. Due to a total lack of any ongoing routine however, all of my attempts would fail.
My 'problem' skin remained a problem for years, far beyond my days as a teenager and even the point at which I believed I would turn into the spot-free, clear skinned, glowing grown up that I thought I deserved to be.
Mum continued to drop hints regarding skincare, but for years they fell onto deaf ears. I was NOT in a rush to start giving my skin the hydration that it was so clearly desperate for and I'm sure I was still of the belief that when I became a grownup I would have good skin because that is how it works... I continued with those pesky makeup wipes, despite the fact they often made my face sting and dutifully ignored the fact that every time I went outside during the winter, the skin on my face would feel so tight and painful.
Thankfully though, this story has a happy ending as after years of hopelessness, I finally found the answer. A couple of years ago, I met a lady called Alexandra Soveral, a Cosmetic Designer/ Aromatherapist/ Facialist (and now good friend) who insisted that I sort my skin out. For the first time I took an interest and listened to her as she explained what my skin type required and I began to sort my shit out.
(Before I continue I want to say this post is not in anyway sponsored by Soveral, I'm just sharing my skin-story and the fact that these products worked for me!)
I started using her Awaken Cleanser to remove my makeup with and would follow that with her 'Moody Skin' (what a great name) Moisturiser - this was the most attention that my skin had ever had and it really thanked me for it, the pain totally stopped. But there was one thing that I had been advised to use, that I had bought even, that I was still yet to try, and that was face oil.
Why, I thought to myself, would I put oil on my skin? I thought oil was the reason I was getting spots in the first place and the last thing I want is more of those...
Although Alexandra no doubt knew her stuff, I was at a time of my life where I just thought that I knew better and I neglected to use it for years. What I didn't realise of course, was that I wasn't going to be rubbing the same kind of oil that could be found at the bottom of a deep fat fryer onto my face. There's more than one kind of oil Em...
The kind of oils that Alexandra Soveral, and other skin wizards like her are creating, are different things entirely. They are full of good things, vitamins, antioxidants and numerous other impressive ingredients that I cannot pretend to have heard of or understand. My oily skin argument became null and void the minute I realised that feeding your skin oil will actually make it LESS oily. When your skin is lacking oil for whatever reason, perhaps after you've used products that were too harsh (makeup wipes here's looking at you again), it will respond by producing more oil to compensate.
And it's not just good for people with oily skin, face oils have a tonne of benefits: they've been proven to reduce wrinkles, they properly hydrate your skin, they shrink your pores and they actively banish spots (something I still don't really understand but definitely don't want to question).
I'm not proud of it, but my skin did used to be so dry it was not uncommon for it to come off in flakes. Mmmm. Flakes. (Queue an Austin Powers reference...). It doesn't do that anymore, ever. I no longer have clusters of blackheads on and around my nose and I also get about one tenth of the spots that I used to get and even if one does appear, it is much less red and angry than the kind that used to grace my face.
The most obvious change though, has been in my complexion. Despite only being 23, I was beginning to develop some quite remarkable wrinkles, most notably a really deep one that appeared between my eyebrows when I frowned, which has now all but gone. I also find that when I am tired (or hungover usually), it is the bags under my eyes that give me away; not always heavy and black like we are told about, but dry, a little red and weirdly wrinkly. I can SEE that they are thirsty and when I give them something to drink, they honestly disappear.
My skin is still so thirsty. It's generally advised that you should only use a few drops but often, especially in the colder months, I find that those have been absorbed before I have had a chance to even reach my hands from my cheeks to my forehead. It's like the poor stuff trying is trying to make up for years of severe dehydration. I got skincare so wrong, for such a long time, and my face really did pay for my laziness.
It seems mad that something so damn useful was not a part of my life for so long and I'm so angry with myself for coming to the party so late. There I was spending a fortune on makeup (that I was then sleeping in and not removing properly) and totally forgetting to look after the canvas on which I was painting.
If you are experiencing problems with your skin than I would really recommend finding a face oil and using it often. I obviously love Alexandra's oils but am aware they are quite expensive. Personally, I do feel that they are worth it, I only get one face and one set (is that what you call it?!) of skin after all, so if you would like to give one of them a go you can have a look here. Otherwise there are so many alternatives out there and I would suggest you did some research of your own, sorry not to be more help in that department!
I now spend a couple of minutes twice a day massaging oil into my skin and it is glorious. Plus, it doubles as a great primer for my makeup. And it makes me glow.
I love oil. And you should too.