Demystifying skincare

 “A lot of clients are using the wrong products for their skin needs,” says Hefina Rees, lead aesthetician at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Silver Rain, a la prairie spa.
   The world of skincare is a complex one, and it is intimidating to attempt to sift through the various product categories and types to find the best and most appropriate ones for each individual’s needs, so The Observer on Sunday consulted the experts to put together a guide to skincare basics.  
   All three skincare experts that The Observer spoke to agreed that an individual consultation with a beauty advisor or aesthetician is important prior to purchasing skincare, however.
   “Clients may have 10 to 15 products at home that they don’t really use because it hasn’t been the right one for them, so they tend to give up on skincare and think it’s not worth the money,” says Rees. “I do believe in investing in one or two products, whether it’s a cheaper brand or a more expensive brand. It’s what suits you.”
   One consensus? Cleansing and moisturising are vital.
   “You must cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and night,” says Tracy Purdon, the Clarins beauty advisor who mans the Clarins counter in Kirk Freeport’s La Perfumerie II store.
   “It is important to have a good cleanser to remove excess oil, debris and make-up,” concurs Tricia Nelson-Hurtt, clinical aesthetician at Beyond Basics medical day spa.
   “Choose between a facial wash or cleansing milk – this is really down to preference, whether you like the feel of water on the skin or if you want to use a cotton pad or washcloth,” explains Rees. “Another important element is a good daily moisturiser with SPF.”
   The latest skincare line to hit Beyond Basics is Image skincare, which is a cosmoceutical line which combines pharmaceutical-strength products with antioxidants and cold-pressed essential oils to benefit the skin.
   “Using a cleanser is like taking the roof off a house so we can get inside,” says Nelson-Hurtt.
   Rees does not agree that toner is essential in a very basic cleansing routine.
   “It does help to tighten the skin but the main thing toners do is to remove any excess dirt and make sure that your skin is squeaky clean,” she says. “So if you are going to bare basics, you can skip that step. But if you wear make-up, double cleanse.”
   Although Purdon believes that toning is important for a daily routine, Clarins products make it easy to minimise the amount of time spent on cleansing.
   “The One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser exfoliates, cleanses and tones in one,” says Purdon, “which can definitely save time. Otherwise we also have the One-Step Purifying Water which cleanses and tones, and is perfect for freshening up after the gym or after work before going out.”
   For saving time, la prairie’s platinum cream is a one-stop shop as a moisturiser and serum, says Rees.
   “A lot of people are buying the platinum cream,” she says. “If you use that you don’t need to use anything else, just cleanse and moisturise with the platinum. You can use a serum if you want, but you don’t really need it.
   “The platinum cream sits on the surface of the skin and acts more like a catalyst, drawing moistures to the surface and trapping it in. It helps with climate control as well, adjusting itself to the climate. It has a light feel so is perfect for everybody.”
   Purdon explains the importance of having both a daytime and night-time moisturiser on hand.
   “It’s not just a sales gimmick; you really do need a separate night-time moisturiser, as daytime moisturisers protect the skin and night-time ones put back into the skin what it lost during the day,” she explains.
   She adds that constantly going in and out of hot and cold temperatures, exposure to false lighting and environmental pollutants like exhaust fumes all contribute to the skin’s aging process.
   “It is essential as well to use sunscreen during the day,” says Nelson-Hurtt. “The Image Oil-free SPF 30 Solar Defense Gel is organic and tinted, giving a glow to the skin.”
   Many Clarins moisturisers contain an SPF. Most of la prairie’s moisturisers contain anywhere from SPF 15 to 30, says Rees.
   “These days, no matter where you live, SPF is very important, because our environment is changing,” she says.
   The extras
   Once a cleansing and moisturising routine is set in place, extras can be added, including eye creams, serums, lip treatments and toners that are designed to target specific issues.
   “Serums penetrate faster than moisturisers and target specific concerns,” explains Rees. “They are applied before moisturising so they can get deeper into the skin. La prairie is moving into more multi-tasking serums now, so instead of having to use two or three serums a day, they are bringing out a serum that targets more than one concern.”
   Masques are another skincare element that can be beneficial for specific concerns, whether for deep cleansing or for hydration, says Purdon.
   “For a hydrating masque, you can use one up to two to three times a week, or for deep cleansing clay masques use just once a week,” she advises.
   Nelson-Hurtt believes that peels are an excellent treatment for transforming skin, but explains that they start with “lower-level peels” for people who have never had them before, building up from there. “Peels are basically exfoliating treatments. People get scared by the name peel, but we have some gentle organic enzyme peels that exfoliate the skin nicely.”
   For eye creams, Purdon recommends using a gel in the morning and a cream at night, so that eyes can be revitalised by the gel and moisturised by the cream.
   “They’re great for all ages,” she says.
   Rees agrees. “La prairie has the largest collection of eye creams,” she says, “and eye gels are great for younger clients who want to reduce puffiness and dark circles. Creams are better for tackling fine lines and pigmentation.”
Creams Lotions and serums

* There isn’t an absolute definition between a serum, a lotion (sometimes referred to as a fluid or fluide) and a cream in the cosmetics industry; companies are free to use whatever descriptors they want.
* In general, creams are made by mixing oil with water. They tend to be moisturizing in action and may or may not contain active ingredients such as antioxidants or skin lighteners. Creams are best suited for normal and dry skin types.
* Lotions or fluids are very similar to creams in containing both water and oil. They tend to be lighter than creams. Lotions can be used by all skin types, though some oily skin types may find them too heavy. Like creams, lotions may contain active ingredients.
* The last type of formulation is a serum. Serums are the newer cousin of creams and lotions and are currently very much in vogue in the cosmetics industry. Serums tend to be thick liquids and are usually (but not always) clear. They are water based which makes them lightweight and quickly absorbed into the skin.
* Many companies formulate serums for the delivery of topical active ingredients such as Vitamin C, peptides, alpha hydroxy acids or retinols. They are a concentrated way to get anti-aging ingredients into the skin and can be layered under other products without interfering with them. Because serums tend to be light and water based, most skin types can use them.