Have you ever wondered why one day your skin will lap up your favourite serum, then another, it’ll have a mare and kick off? Like us, our skin can be contrary and depending on different external factors, you might encounter a variety of skin moods: chill one day, raging the next.
The simplistic “skin type” approach (normal, combo, oily) doesn’t account for these fluctuations in condition, which is why many skin experts are calling for a more holistic approach.
Call it skinstinct, call it skintuition but our skin can tell us all sorts of things without ever uttering a word. We just need to be paying attention.
“Our skin needs can change from day to day as a result of surrounding circumstance such as heating and air-con, or seasonal changes,” explains facialist and Aurelia Brand Expert, Michaella Bolder. “Internal influences such as hormonal in-balance as we head in and out of our monthly cycle can cause issues in the skin’s behaviour, as can diet changes, cheat days, overall poor gut health and medication,” she adds.
Then there’s physical influences such as over exfoliating and using incorrect skincare. “All of the above, even the smallest of changes, can be the reason your skin reacts differently at different times,” says Michaella.
It sounds obvious when you think about it, but there are very few brands or services that approach our skin in such a considered manner. “There are constant new launches and product development but not much innovation in terms of marketing and services that really help consumers navigate this space and find the products really suited to them,” explains skin expert Megan Felton, which is why she set up skin support service Lion/ne alongside co-founder Ksenia Selivanova.
The service’s main objective? To identify and address skin moods. The jist of it is you pay £65 for a consultation where you’re matched with a skin mentor based on your main skin concerns. They’ll take you through a “skinterview” then provide you with unbiased product recommendations from a range of brands (including Murad, Paula’s Choice and La Roche Posay) alongside a personalised morning and evening regimen.
“Skin mood is something that can vary day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month,” explains Ksenia. “We take skin profiling very seriously. It’s a crucial part of our skinterview because it really helps to define where your skin stands currently. It’s very different from skin condition (which refers to problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea),” she says.
“We define the whole story of your skin rather than stopping at skin type, because this only tells us 10% of what’s going on with your skin. We coined the term Skin Moods and we use it to describe extrinsic skin conditions that occur due to lifestyle factors. Sometimes we can adjust our skin mood by changing our diet, our stress level or the amount of sleep, whereas other things are more out of our control like hormones, genetics, weather etc,” she adds.
The consultations are a great place to start if you want some personalised advice. Generally though, there are things you can do to track your skin’s mood day-to-day.
We asked Michaella how to nurture that skintuition we mentioned earlier…
Get to know your skin
“Really get to know your skin,” says Michaella. “I always tell my clients to try and understand their skin’s normal behaviour. Then when you see slight changes you can try to pin point the reason and work towards putting it right. Once you get to know what sets your skin off – for example sugar or dairy might cause breakouts – you can treat it immediately.” This can mean skipping foods that don’t agree with you – if not flush it through with hot water and lemon, says Michaella – or upping the ante with your skincare. “For instance, you can incorporate an exfoliating peel or clay mask,” she says.
Don’t overdo it with powerful products
“Certainly over-exfoliating is a ‘thing’. Especially during the past year or so, people have been experimenting and stripping the skin back too much, causing a shift in their skin integrity,” explains Michaella. “Chemical acids should only be used 2-3 times a week unless advised otherwise,” she says. “Be aware that not every product in your routine needs to be an active that results in cell turn over (exfoliating). Retinoids should be used with caution and correctly, personalised advice from a professional is ideal to help with making these changes.” The bottom line? “Healthy skin comes from a deep hydration and ensuring you’re physically healthy from the inside out. Over-exfoliating weakens your skin barrier function and makes for red, inflamed, dry or uneven skin that’s easily irritated by products being applied on top.”
Keep an eye on your cycle
“Around ten days after your monthly cycle your skin is at its strongest, meaning the barrier function of the skin is stronger than usual,” explains Michaella. “However this only lasts a couple of weeks at most, then your oestrogen levels drop and the body makes excess sebum causing breakouts. It’s a game of tracking your skin throughout the month and using correct products to suit your concerns at that time,” she says, so pay close attention. “Seasonal changes can also cause havoc, exacerbating dryness, inflammation and breakouts due to shifts in temperature. Ensure you are applying enough hydration and treating your skin to a regular routine, taking into account any changes.” This means, rather than chucking on the same moisturiser every night without thinking, consider if you’re feeling a bit dry, a bit oily, or a bit dull and pick the best products from there.
Find gentler alternatives
“Try using gentler versions of skincare actives,” says Michaella. “For instance, Aurelia London’s Resurfacing Serum has natural bakuchiol instead of retinol but offers the same benefits on a gentler level,” she says. “Use lower percentage exfoliating acid levels such as 2 or 5% and only use them once or twice a week,” she adds. And incorporate soothing ingredients. “CBD, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, niacinamide and bisabolol are a few good options to help calm the skin.” And for major flare ups, “cool the skin by putting your facial tools or table spoons in a food bag in the fridge, then using them to massage the face,” says Michaella.
When in doubt, strip things back
“I always recommend stripping it back to the simple basics when your skin is up in arms,” recommends Michaella. Stick to cleanser, serum, moisturiser and SPF (in the morning) or facial oil (at night) for two weeks to let the skin settle. Less is more when it comes to changes in the skin’s behaviour. Try to figure out why your skin reacted and then reintroduce your active products once you are happy that your skin feels stronger again.”
Basically treat your skin like a pre-menstrual queen. Be gentle and for the love of God, don’t anger it. Do that, and you should be totally fine…
For more from GLAMOUR’s Deputy Beauty Editor, Elle Turner follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk.