Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wading Through The Bullshit: Talking Silly Trends, Excellent Tips and Essential Basics With A Skincare Expert

You've probably all heard of "revenge body" before but, as I don't enjoy sweating or being out of breath, that was never going to be an option for me. When I first had my heart broken a few years ago, I decided I'd show everyone with "revenge face" and, in the following months, countless family members, friends and acquaintances noted that I was glowing. This was when my skincare routine was born and I've never looked back. In fact, today, I'm a bit of a skincare fanatic.

Previous to these events, my skincare routine involved washing my face at night (maybe), slapping on some moisturiser (very rarely) and using acne creams (during manic bouts of trying to obtain "perfect skin"). Horrifying as this may seem to me now, I don't think that I was much of an anomaly for a young Irish women. I think many of us on this island, in fact, don't take care of our skin unless we suffer from incredibly bad acne or are starting to worry about aging.

But that's changing. As beauty influencers continue to sweep the internet, the culture of filters and Instagram distorts our view on beauty standards further and skincare becomes trendier and sexier, people are paying more attention. Skincare routines are becoming something less for celebrities, beauty editors and the organised and more something that everyone is adopting in one form or another.

Yay, right?

Well, not so much, as, because of that trendiness, there are infinite opinions, sources and products out there. Beginning is overwhelming and, even if you already have a routine, you're likely to hear about fads, solutions and problems with your skin that you didn't even realise you had!

How to wade through the bullshit then?

This bit is tricky. It can be hard to know who or what to believe as the whole industry has an agenda, I mean it is an industry: the point is to make money.

However, as someone who reads about the industry a lot and gets a lot of press releases, I feel like my bullshit radar is pretty well-honed. When I started getting press releases from Anne McDevitt - a skincare and beauty clinic that has been an Irish industry-leader for decades - I noticed a distinct lack of nonsense between the lines. In fact, I can't put my finger on just why but, for some reason, I felt like this was a company that I could believe. So, I contacted them and finally found a skincare specialist to sit down and answer all of my (and some of your) burning questions.

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Manager Jenny Philpott agreed to chat with me about skincare concerns, basics, cosmetic procedures and where to start with an industry so oversaturated in information and claims to solve all of your woes...

The first thing I wanted to know was if there were any beauty trends that she saw lately which bothered or worried her and she was quick to answer: "Overdoing it on lip-fillers. We have a doctor who has been coming to us for sixteen years now and, from the get-go, he has always been 'less is more'. Suddenly that trend started to creep in of 'more and more and more' but he refuses to do that." That there are less conscientious doctors out there (including the one giving an acquaintance's 17 year-old cousin top-ups on fillers every couple of months), is concerning. While you might be tempted to go all out with cosmetic procedures and should always have the freedom to do as you please with your own body (*ahem**Irish government**ahem*), you should also ensure that your doctor isn't just taking money without putting your well-being first.

Jenny's biggest pet peeve when it comes to skincare is simpler, however: "Not taking off makeup! Or just using makeup wipes. Or, if you want to get technical about it, people who don't take advantage of exfoliating their skin. You can be religious about cleansing, toning and moisturising your skin but if you're not getting those antioxidants on there, you just won't get that 'wow' skin. You need to do all your steps - they're there for a reason!...But the makeup thing is a big one."

When I bemoan my own personal struggle to get others to abandon wipes, she has a simple solution: "Cotton wool. Throw the cleanser on, on the couch, as you're watching television, massage it in and wipe it off with cotton wool. The Ph of wipes is damaging to your skin and leaves it dehydrated, which means you're going to get lines and wrinkles that much more easily. If you're prone to acne, they can make you break out more. Irish skin, as well, is typically sensitive so wipes are really just not for us in any way."

If you're already throwing away the wipes and promising yourself to turn over a new leaf as you read this (I wouldn't blame you after that), you may wonder what a routine should consist of. Well, I'm not going to lie and Jenny wasn't either, there are multiple steps and for a reason. A routine should consist of cleansing, toning, an antioxidant serum, moisturising, eye cream and SPF during the day. If you don't have time for all that, at least get the SPF on. And the factor? "At least a 30! Makeup brands got into the trend of 15 but we're all about the 30 here." But how to top up with sun protection? Because, if you have makeup on or simply don't have a moment to pull out the cream and reapply, that's the awkward thing. "It is an awkward thing. Eminence have an SPF 30 mineral powder that can be reapplied throughout the day to top up your protection," which is pure genius and a really handy solution. Remember that SPF only last ten times its number - for example, SPF 30 is good for 300 minutes - so, be sure to top up somehow through the day!

Speaking of routine essentials, here's a question people always ask me: What even is toner and why is it so important? Can't you just skip it? As I never manage to form a convincing response on the spot, Jenny has a simple explanation: "It is to balance the Ph in the skin after cleansing. However, it also is great for getting rid of residue [dirt, makeup etc] that may be left on the skin and it preps the skin for the next steps of a routine."

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When it comes to more complex routines, we discussed the concept of visiting a skincare clinic regularly. I've always been intrigued by this but, in Ireland at least, it seems the territory of only the wealthy or those with very problematic skin. In other countries, getting regular treatments and facials is somewhat common-place but I think the cost and lack of culture of it here puts people off. I ask if there is a way to do this that might match normal budgets or if you merely have to suck it up and shoulder a heavy cost for such a thing? Jenny was quick to emphasise that at Anne McDevitt they will do their very best to accommodate people. "We'll do treatment plans and do our best for clients. If someone comes in and says, 'I've three months until my wedding, what can I do?' we'll make an ideal-world plan but, if that doesn't work because of budget or something, we'll find a way to work around it. It might be using stronger products at home as a substitute or coming in every three weeks instead of every two weeks. We always customise everything. So, even if you're just coming in for a facial, you'll get a different facial every time."

On the topic of facials, I'm happy to hear that they do extractions because I've, literally, never had a facial in Ireland where they've done extractions. "Pretty much, for everyone's skin, no matter how clear, we'll have to do extractions. A lot of places don't do them as part of facials, or they do them wrong. You need to lift the skin, lift the pores - you don't pierce them or break into them. We open them with ingredients and steam, as an add-on." When I mention that I remember my sister saying she'd never have a facial again after breaking out and how I explained that facials bring stuff to the surface quicker and shouldn't be had before big events, Jenny nods in agreement: "You want a facial to change your skin but it might not change it for the better, at first...but if you get regular treatments, you don't have to go through that downtime as badly because we're maintaining it."

If you do have a breakout (particularly because of pesky hormones), though, what should you do immediately to help? "If you can feel it but can't see it yet, it's going to go one of two ways - it's going to come to a head or it's going to linger as a little red bump. The best thing to do is to get a fruit acid on it like a poultice and pull it out as quick as possible. When you get a head, it's an infection at the surface and it is great if you can extract it out but if you don't do it right, it's going to cause it to spread or to cause damage to the skin. You could also just leave it to heal naturally and just cover it up in the meantime."

Just leaving things is sometimes the way to go and, certainly, some things are best left to experts. "You can go too far with skincare. People come in for glycolic peels - and they can be great - but if you start getting them every week, you can wreck your skin. Home versions terrify me and there's going to be an epidemic, in years to come, of pigmentation and damage done."

Speaking of protection and later issues with your skin, I personally wanted to know about anti-aging, especially after a beauty rep recently scared the crap out of me about it. Jenny assures me that, at 25, I can calm down and should only worry, "really, once you hit your thirties. It's different person to person but that's a general rule." To begin, you should be wearing SPF always throughout your life and this will help slow the aging process "but, once you get to your thirties, you need to start looking at ingredients. Acai berries, for example, are really hydrating and full of antioxidants to help slow down the aging process, not to target it yet. You want to encourage collagen production and keep your elasticity stimulated."

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It was at this point in our conversation that I became aware that some people might still be lost and that we'd just thrown a pile of information at them. Having researched the clinic in advance, I had seen that one of their services was a consultation and Jenny explains that this isn't just for those starting a course of treatments, they can help you design a routine that is right for your and your own concerns. Best of all, she assures me, "We won't just sell everything. We can go through products you already own and tell you what's what. We have a brand and we'll recommend products from it but we won't push products in people." My Spidey senses, it turns out, were right. "We don't lie. If someone comes in for a consultation with bad pigmentation, for example, I'm not going to lie and say I can get rid of it unless I'm a hundred percent convinced I can really make a visible improvement on it."

And if you just were to start doing things at home to help your skin right now? If you can't afford treatments or to greatly update your routine? Firstly, that whole water thing: "Increase of water intake. We used to typically say 2 litres but I read about increasing it to 3-4 and did it myself and it made a big difference!" Other than that? "Spend an extra minute massaging products in," and Jenny's golden tip: "Exfoliation."

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If you're interested in talking to Jenny or any of the specialists at Anne McDevitt, for yourself, just check out their website here. Thanks to Jenny for making time for me!

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way, shape or form and all opinions are my own.


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