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Make your skincare work even harder

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I have a confession. My name is Samantha, I am Stylist’s deputy beauty editor and I have never used a toner. I religiously cleanse twice a day, serum is one of my top five essentials and I wouldn’t contemplate using a moisturiser without an SPF of less than 20. But a toner? Frankly, I can’t be bothered.

What I didn’t know, though, is that 10-15% of make-up remains on the skin after cleansing and as Fiona Brackenbury, Decléor’s head of education and training, warns, “If your skin isn’t totally clean it stops anything you apply next from absorbing effectively.” A toner removes impurities such as residual cleanser and traces of make-up which block pores leading to blackheads. Without it, that £100 moisturiser is unable to fulfil its potential because it hasn’t been able to penetrate your skin properly.

But it isn’t just a lack of toner that can render your cocktail of beauty creams pointless, it’s also the order in which you use them, how long you leave them to penetrate and how you apply them. Last year, women in the UK spent almost £1billion* on skincare. Think about that. It’s an awfully huge figure for a country that is supposed to be in the throes of recession. That means that a lot of you prioritise skincare, choosing to opt for the best serum you can afford. You are committed to your skin.

It’s the equivalent of paying for a personal trainer then having burger

But while we might know all about which wonder products to buy, when it comes to using them correctly, most of us don’t have a clue. Our Japanese sisters seem to be more on the case. On average, they take 10 minutes to apply around eight different products to their skin each morning – a strict double cleansing regime is instilled into them from an early age: on the flipside 56% of UK women** rely on a quick polish with a face wipe before randomly daubing on their expensive creams. Consider it the skincare equivalent of paying for a personal trainer then having a burger. Despite having the best resources, if you don’t use them properly, you won’t see results.

The order we use products is crucial. Brackenbury advises eye cream should be applied before moisturiser – how many of us do this the other way round? I know I do. The eye area is more delicate than the rest of the face, so the product is lighter. By applying the eye cream first you are forming a barrier against a heavier moisturiser that can cause puffiness.

To avoid any confusion, we’ve put together a cohesive (and effective) routine. Don’t be daunted; it won’t take you any longer to get ready. While you shower, cleanse your skin then tone as you dry off. Apply serum and eye cream before you blow-dry your hair and moisturise afterwards. Once you’re dressed the products will be fully absorbed, leaving you ready to apply your make-up. Now meet the Stylist five-step plan…

The Ultimate Skincare Routine

Get the most out of your beauty products by applying the right amounts in the correct order and timeframe. Here's how...

Step 1

Cleanser

Amount to use: 50p piece

Application: Spend a minute massaging in a lightweight cleanser. Use circular motions on areas of congestion – the chin, nose and forehead – as this drains toxins. If you’re using a balm or cream cleanser, don’t allow it to sink into the skin. (It needs to remain on the surface to draw out impurities.) Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Wait one minute before moving on to the next step.

Wait one minute

Step 2

Toner

Amount to use: 20p piece

Application: A toner balances the skin’s pH levels and removes residual impurities and dead skin cells from the surface. Saturate a cotton wool pad with alcohol-free toner then sweep over skin before absorbing any excess with a tissue. If you don’t do this, the atmosphere will pull moisture away from the surface and with it moisture from within the skin, leaving it dehydrated.

Wait three minutes

Step 3

Serum

Amount to use: 5p piece

Application: A serum is an ultraintensive, lightweight formula that can deeply penetrate the skin as it contains molecules that are much smaller than those in a moisturiser. Apply three drops in the palm of your hands and massage into dry skin until fully absorbed. Look for one containing antioxidants to provide protection from environmental damage.

Wait one minute

Step 4

Eye Cream

Ionzyme C-Quence Eye Gel-Cream, £44, Environ

Amount to use: Grain of rice (per eye)

Application: The skin around the eye is one tenth of the density of the skin on the face, so an eye product has to be much lighter than a moisturiser. This formula drip-feeds a blend of wrinkle-fighting pentapeptides and health-boosting vitamins. Use your ring finger to pat it around the orbital bone (eye socket) but avoid puffiness by steering clear of the tear duct.

Wait one minute

Step 5

Moisturiser

Amount to use: 20p piece

Application: To check you are using the right amount, apply it to the back of your hand rather than dotting moisturiser onto the face then rubbing it in, warm it between your hands to activate the ingredients then use firm upward motions from the centre of the face towards the hairline where the lymph nodes are located. This aids detoxification.

Wait three minutes

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