Design Soda Beauty Edit: Products I rate in your late thirties

March 17, 2020

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Unsettling times in the world outside at the moment, I’m cocooning myself in blog writing and have a few posts in draft for the week ahead hoping to provide some light distraction. This one is an unusual post for me, and one that’s sat in draft for a while, because it’s a little off piste from the usual interiors fare on here, but don’t worry I am not after a beauty bloggers crown, just sharing some of the things I’ve tried over the last few years and have found worked for me. I’ve spent the last 18 months taking note of beauty product tips, reading about how different types of skincare works (I had no idea it was so complicated – moisturiser or serum, hyroloronic, glycolic, vitamin c, retinol, where to start!) trying things that sounded useful (some were, some weren’t, some were very kindly gifted) and I am now more aware of beauty products than any other point in my life, guess that’s what an upcoming 40th birthday does!

 

So my vital stats, I’m 39 and my skin is fairly in tact, until I hit my mid-thirties I always had good skin, in fact I used to get complimented on it and would think it an odd compliment, now my skin is no longer like this I wish it back with regularity(!). Over the last few years I have developed a few wrinkles, have increased redness, particularly on my cheeks, I get the odd hormonal spot on my chin, I am a smoker and I could probably get more shut eye than I do (couldn’t we all!). I started noticing a deterioration in my general completion after I had my son five years ago (yes, I know!) and have gone from a person that never washed their face with more than water or even used moisturiser, to one who knows what’s what, what works for me, and when to use it. I will be up front, I have invested in product more over the last 18 months than ever before, and one thing I’d always advocate is getting a sample first, after all what’s miraculous for me, may be rubbish for you! And there are a great many products I’ve bought or been sent with a lot of hype surrounding them that just haven’t suited my particular skin make-up…
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So after a few years of trial and error, I thought I’d share the stand out products I’ve found along the way. This is an impartial review of things I’ve tried, no brands have asked me to post this, some products have been gifted (they will be marked with * throughout piece), but I am not working with anyone and you won’t find any affiliate links in this piece, just an honest account of my journey with skin care since I turned 35 after becoming a mum. I do not say that any product I rate is guaranteed for you but I’ve loved reading other people’s recommendations over the years and finding things that work so I thought today I would pay back by documenting my favourites. One general note is that I’ve loved trying sample sizes of products and you can buy great sets with huge savings online, I love the edits Harper’s Bazaar make for their beauty boxes and there are several websites that you can pick samples from when you spend £30, Space NK may be the best of them as not only can you pick numerous samples with orders but if you take out a loyalty card you will also earn points for discount.
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My Two Skincare Staples
I’ve found there aren’t many cheap shortcuts but some very basic advice I’ve come across (that’s virtually free) are also some of the most invaluable. The first is cleansing, even though I only wear make-up on average once a week I cleanse my face twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening (the earlier, the better if you are home all evening) with a fresh flannel each time (so that you aren’t spreading old bacteria around) varying the product you use. It doesn’t really matter what you use, but try to vary it. I rotate between two simple face washes – I can’t decide which is best(!) (Elemis Gentle Foaming Face Wash & Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Cleanser*), a clay based masks for when things need to be sucked out of the skin, and a cleansing balm with essential oils when I think my skin needs some extra help, I adore Emma Hardie’s Moringa Cleansing Balm).
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My second staple is such a game changer. Jade face rollers, a beauty staple of Korean origin, are brilliant, firstly at helping skin absorb product better. But also because this little magic roller helps drain fluid from your face aiding lymph drainage. It was introduced to me by a make up artist a brand sent for a shoot I did and I was amazed to see the level of definition it brought to my face. I use it often in the morning for draining puffiness around the eyes, and always in the evening to absorb skincare, there is a method to rolling which you can google.
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Moisturiser
One thing I’ve learnt is that moisturiser is a bit of a fallacy, especially if it promises you glow. You need it, but always invest in a serum over a moisturiser and wear whatever fits your budget but doesn’t make your skin feel claggy or congested. I’ve always liked moisturisderrs with vitamin C, but again when I think of the best Vitamin C it’s actually a serum (C-Firma Day Serum by Drunk Elephant). The other product I really rate as a moisturiser but tend to use in a different formula is hyaluronic, hyaluronic holds the greatest quantity of water as a molecule so is super hydrating, I have it in my cc cream (light colour correcting foundation) which is Madara’s City CC cream* which I use in medium.
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Glycolic 
This is probably my favourite type of skincare, and nowhere near as scary as it sounds, it doesn’t come cheap but it does a great job at gently clearing away dead skin to reveal a better completion beneath. Glycolic is an absolute staple for me and my favourite by far is Sunday Riley’s pricey but miraculous Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment. I find it’s great at calming redness, reducing spots and leaving skin plump and glowy. If you are thinking of investing in glycolic Good Genes is a really good bet, and has quite a reputation, but do try a sample first to see how it takes on your skin.
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Retinol
For the longest time retinol scared me, I don’t have particularly sensitive skin but I know this is getting out the big guns and I was a little scared of a skin reaction. I have tried two retinols and to be completely honest the first didn’t really agree with me, I don’t know if it was the formulation on my skin or the texture which made it move around, but I’m sure it gave me repeated conjunctivitis and I didn’t notice much improvement elsewhere on my face. However, this winter I was sent a Retinol trio from doctor brand Murad* which is the number one selling retinol in America. I am really convinced by this, I use the serum and moisturiser with eye cream most nights and I believe it’s helped diminish fine lines, discolouration and contributed to my skin looking generally younger than it is. It has just been reformulated and I am still loving the set.
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The best SPF for face
Using retinol makes your skin far more sensitive to to the sun and you absolutely must use an SPF with it. I developed Melasma when I was pregnant which is very common, for me it effects my upper lip and makes me likely to pick up dark pigmentation there when I go in the sun so I have tried a number of SPF 50 products as I need this from March-September daily when I leave the house. I’ve tried a fair number and none can touch French chemist brand Roche Posay’s Anthelios SPF50+ , without shine or white residue this SPF just melts into your face leaving no visible trace.
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The Rolls Royce of skincare
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A massive treat I use once a month is the Alpha Beta daily peel from Dr Dennis Gross. At £19 for a pack of five, each application works out at £3.80 which I definitely couldn’t justify daily. But, and it’s a big but, I have never tried anything like this, when you apply the cloths it feels like insects are crawling over your face, the first time I used it I was worried I was going to have a terrible reaction to it, but far from it, my skin looked incredible, as near to 18 again as I can ever imagine it looking. The absolute best product I’ve ever tried and if I were a millionaire I would use this everyday!
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Bringing body to fine hair
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If there’s one thing I feel pretty expert on it’s how to bring body to fine hair. I have tried every kind of product on the market over the last twenty years and boy have they improved! As someone who used to spend an hour curling their hair as a teenager before going out I can safely say that I am now down to 5-10 minutes spent on my hair daily, 15 if I’m going out in the evening, and there are a few basics I swear by, I will come to product in a second but must mention the following tips first.
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Firstly, a good hair cut is everything with fine hair, keep it shortish, avoid lots of layers, and instead plump for something with one soft layer further down. Secondly having colour put in really adds to the allusion of volume. A full head of highlights is an expensive habit so I commit to once a year in early spring. I dye my roots in a natural light brown inbetween and as the sun lightens what’s been highlighted I add the brunette dye at random to small sections to conceal regrowth. I know this sounds very low fi, but at the end of summer I have often been complimented on my balayage so don’t knock it(!). I then go completely back to base each December and dye my full head brunette in prep for spring highlights again.
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The products I use are varied and I have a change up regularly. One thing I’ve found is that there is no one dream product, you need a couple of different ones to solve different problems, just as with your skin, your hair will get used to product and it likes a change up. I vary between texture sprays (I love Colour Wow Texture Spray and Eau de vagues by Kerastase) and heavier duty products like Perfect Hair Day* or Thickening cream both Living Proof*. For going-out hair I use Madara Grow shampoo and conditioner*, it leaves my hair feeling a little rough but it really holds volume and is perfect for going out hair. Finally once a fortnight I use a restorative mask to keep my hair in good condition and I am a massive fan of Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer.
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My Favourite Fragrances
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And finally this isn’t skin or haircare related but I love fragrance. Essentially if it’s citrus and complicated I’m there! So I’m also including some of my favourite (mainly artisan) fragrances, two are centred around notes of geranium (Geranium Bourbon which is a limited edition by Miller Harris* released every few years, and the very pocket friendly Blanc by The White Company*). The other two are new editions, firstly Lilac Wine by Art Meets Art*, each fragrance from this artisan French brand who have enlisted the expertise of world class perfumers to interpret songs into scents is distinctly unique. I absolutely love Lilac Wine which is a complicated slightly masculine take on a sweet fragrance, and as summer approaches I’m really keen to get my hands on the citrusy and intoxicating I Put A Spell on You which I have a sample size of and adore. Finally, I can’t get enough of Le Labo’s Bergamote 22 which is perfect for all year round, fresh and a little earthy, this is a go-to scent for any occasion. I also include Aesop’s Rejuvenate Intensive Balm in shot because it’s just the best smelling body lotion I’ve ever smelt, mixing tangerine rind with vanilla is absolute genius, and it’s a perfect base for any scent I put on top.
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If you have read this far, thank you for allowing me this one off indulgence! I’d love to hear your go-to products in the comments below.
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2 thoughts on “Design Soda Beauty Edit: Products I rate in your late thirties

  1. Kelly Glen

    This was a very interesting post and it was good to see you branching out into other topics. Even though you are an interior blog it was good to read something beauty related.

    Reply

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