Something I think I need to get straight from the outset. This is a beauty blog, but it’s not about beauty. Beauty has such frivolous connotations and reminds me of those girls who sit around talking about their highlights and nails. Yes, I do sit around talking about highlights and nails (mine are bright pink with black tips at the moment!) but beauty is about more than that.
I was intrigued to discover that cosmetic products are divided into groups such as skin care, hair care, personal care, sun care, lip care, foot care, hand care….you get the gist of it. It’s all about “care”. In terms of trade, cosmetics and toiletries are classified as luxury goods but when you really think about it, they’re a lot more important than that.
Sun care, for example, is not just about preventing sun spots and wrinkles. You wear sunscreen to protect you from skin cancer. Daily rituals of cleansing, toning and moisturising are not just about looking good, but also taking care of what I think is the most important organ in your body – your skin. I know they say beauty is only skin deep, meaning it’s not that important but hell, I think your skin is pretty darn important.
Few things in life make me happier than smooth, silky skin. I once watched a video clip of market research done by L’Oréal where they filmed women performing their morning beauty routines. I’ll never forget the gasp from the audience as we watched a woman scrubbing her face like she was being paid per skin cell. Since then, I’ve been extremely hesitant to use anything harsh on my skin.
In spite of my reluctance, I’ve come to realise that exfoliating is really important. As one of Dermalogica’s skin care professionals explained to me recently, “you need to remove the layer of dead skin in order to let your other products act more effectively”. There’s no point putting on layers of expensive anti-ageing cream if half the active ingredients can’t get to where they need to go.
Everyone knows the skin is made up of the dermis and epidermis. But did you know the epidermis actually consists of five different layers? The top layer is the stratum corneum, also known as the horny layer. No, seriously. I’m couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s basically a layer of dead skin cells that are ready to be shed by the body through everyday actions.
Quick random fact – the skin effectively renews itself every eight years because of daily cell-shedding. Another reason to vacuum your home regularly!
But back to the beauty stuff. Exfoliate. It is important and with the products available on-shelf today, there really is no excuse not to. Find a product that contains mechanical exfoliants like salt or sugar – my two favourite products at the moment are the Self-Heating Sugar Scrub from Spalicious and the Body Exfolia from Caribbean Tan. Both of these products are manufactured locally by companies headed up by women who know what they’re doing.
Caribbean Tan was brought into South Africa by the lovely Cindy Nell and if you’ve checked out her skin, you’ll quickly see why this is such a great product. One warning though, it’s available in a cinnamon and coconut variant that will have you craving something sweet. You will be tempted to eat the scrub – don’t. Your insides have their own mechanisms for exfoliating. No, really. I didn’t make that up either.
If you have sensitive skin and need something that is perhaps a little gentler, try the Body Shop’s Body Polish. There is a reason this brand does so well in the bath and body industry. It does what it says – it polishes. Alternatively, there is a lesser-known (in SA, that is) brand called [comfort zone] (brackets included) who do a really gentle body scrub called Sacred Nature Bio-certified Gommage. It’s the perfect product for “greenies” who are really into the whole natural and organic thing. One of the ingredients is butterfly bush extract which I think just sounds pretty.
Something else I HAVE to mention before signing off. Exfoliating goes hand in hand with moisturising. You’ll see most exfoliating products also contain oils. It’s basically a two-for-the-price-of-one concept which in that it saves you from having to moisturise like a crazy person afterwards. Alternatively, you could start to cultivate your own skin care obsession, like me, and stock up on an inordinate amount of body butters but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m running out of bathroom space…