One reason why skin starts to look generally older is that it starts to look drier and dustier and just doesn’t have that youthful radiance any more. The reason, I’ve learned, is simple: cells turn over more slowly, and when they sit on the surface, they just don’t bounce light back in the same way as dewy, fresh young skin.
Which is why every woman of forty-plus needs to – yes! – become a wee bit of a scrubber. In other words, exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. I’m not talking about cosmetic peels or the kind of dermabrasion that you go to a cosmetic dermatologist’s surgery for: those can be harsh and require quite considerable recovery time. I’m talking about daily skin-buffing, to slough away those dead (and dead-looking cells), revealing the fresh and more glow-y skin beneath. Trust me: this daily microdermabrasion can be your fastest-track to great skin.
I now – as you know, have my own skincare line, Lulu’s Time Bomb. I can put my hand on my heart and say that these days, that signature range is all you’ll find on my bathroom shelf because the formulator and I worked to create the exact products I’d spent so long searching for. My Take Off Time Cleanser actually contains teensy particles of magnesium oxide, a mineral, to gently buff skin while it’s melting away make-up. The Take-Off Time Polishing Pads were designed to be used in tandem with the cleanser, for ultra-effectiveness: one side’s soft (use on fragile skin), while the other is textured, to enhance exfoliation.
The key, whatever brand you shop for, is to choose an exfoliator with gentle particles – because your skin still needs to be babied, even while you’re scrubbing it. Avoid harsh exfoliators with crushed nuts or olive stones, for instance, because the skin-sloughing particles have such sharp edges that they can actually scratch the skin and leave it red and sore.
You can test an exfoliating skin scrub on the back of your hand, massaging it in using circular movements: if it feels too abrasive there, forget it, because it’ll ultimately leave your skin feeling sore. What you’re really looking for is something that’s gentle enough to use every single day, rather than in a weekly blitz – because that’s the way you’ll see real, ongoing results. When I started daily exfoliation, I noticed that all of a sudden my skin started to look more regenerated, and brighter – and all of the things that had started to slow down. As I say, this skin-buffing doesn’t have to be harsh: if I can get away with daily microdermabrasion on the most delicate Scottish skin, then anyone can.
The trick is to massage your daily gentle scrub into wet skin, using those light circular movements. So: if you can find a cleanser that combines sweeping away make-up with skin-sloughing that’s just perfect, because it’ll do double-duty. Work it into the areas where skin cells build up, and avoid go way more gently around the eye zone, where skin’s thinner. By removing the dead cells, your skin’s ‘prepped’ for the next step: your moisturiser or anti-ageing cream. And trust me: if you don’t get rid of the dead cells, you might as well be applying that cream to old leather for all the good it will do!
It’s important, year-round, but it’s especially important at this time of year because we’ve all spent more time indoors, in centrally heated environments – and it’s so easy for skin to become dingy. But not – trust me! – if you tap into your inner scrubber…
PS Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can’t mix and match skincare products. I’m living proof that you can! At the first sign of ageing, I started using every product I could find: serums, oils, creams, you name it. In the past, my secret was to buy lots of products, mix then up and start blending them together: a touch of this, a smear of that, to create a cream that was rich enough for my skin, but didn’t leave it so slippery and greasy that I couldn’t apply make-up over the top. I became known among my girlfriends as this mad chemist, mixing and matching myriad lotions and potions! Over the years, I tried everything. EVERYTHING! From La Prairie to Crème de la Mer (I never got on with that because you have to work so hard to massage it into the skin). In the end I only got my perfect cream when I worked with Joe Cincotta – my brilliant chemist – to come up with something that was skin-plumping but didn’t leave my face greasy or wet, didn’t take an age to sink in before I can apply make-up – and actually helped my make-up to stay put. (So many of those ‘investment creams’ made my make-up slide right off my face as the day wore on…)