Our resident beauty columnist, Ava Welsing-Kitcher, is ready to answer all your questions.
In the summer months, my approach to beauty is very minimal. If there’s a heatwave, I want as little on my skin, body and hair as possible, so opt for lighter-than-lightweight formulas that won’t make me feel coated. But as the seasons shift into colder temperatures and more rain, my body goes through a rapid change, both internally and externally. My skin starts to feel tighter, even after just a quick splash of water in the morning. My hair loses some of its bounce and shine, as though weeks of sun and pool water have finally caught up with it. Rough, patchy skin starts to emerge on my ankles and elbows, and I wake up with puffy eyes as soon as the central heating starts becoming a nightly fixture. These are the signals that it’s time for a beauty-routine switch-up, starting with the most indulgent of them all: the self-care Sunday ritual.
When I think ‘restore’, I think of this face mask. I’ve used it for years, and my skin emerges feeling more supple, bouncy and nourished each time. Packed with tiny shreds of rose petals suspended in argan, Bulgarian rose, safflower, sesame, avocado and grape oils, it’s a decadent treat for the skin. Rose powder’s also in there to gently exfoliate as you apply, plus vitamin C for a flash brightening session. For dry, puffy eyes, I like to multi-mask with Decree’s newly launched eye mask. Made from biocellulose and completely biodegradable, the mask lies across your eyes and soaks the delicate skin with rose, niacinamide, panthenol and caffeine to smooth, energise and renew.
My skin doesn’t take well to oils and essential oils now, but when I first tried this years ago, I really liked it. It’s one of Laura’s firm favourites: “I’m a big fan of the brand and it’s ethos,” she tells me. “I love the idea of a face oil that uses seasonal plants and ingredients, too. I also love the ritual that comes with applying the product, which invites you to enjoy a few moments of quiet as you spread it on your hands, inhale deeply and then apply with a face massage. It’s that little bit of extra self-care that makes the whole thing more special.” It contains prickly pear oil, a powerhouse for restoring skin with vitamin E, and rich in phytosterols, which help hold water within the skin to boost hydration and normal cell function.
There are body lotions, then there are body butters. This one isn’t like either, or like anything I’ve tried before – my first trial was like dipping a spoon into an untouched pot of clotted cream. But somehow, despite its intensely rich texture and additions of shea and cocoa butters, it glides onto the skin so smoothly without the need for extreme rubbing in. It sinks in without a trace of oiliness – just a glowing sheen that lasts all day (a lot of products say this, but often don’t deliver), which lets me skip body oil. It’s my go-to when I’m in a rush and need my skin to look and feel at the peak of its health, or need some true nurture. Plus, the comforting rose scent makes it truly feel like a self-care Sunday.
I’m obsessed with baths, but even in the summer I find it hard to stay in the tub for more than 10 minutes. So I wholeheartedly anticipate them to help ward off end-of-summer blues, and give my skin and spirit a much-needed soaking. Epsom salts and oils are usually my go-to, but when I need something more nourishing (and almost lighter and cleaner feeling than an oil), I reach for Soapsmith’s handmade milky goodness. With coconut milk and oat powders, plus three different types of sea salt, it’s incredible at restoring vitality to tired skin. Bergamot and musk blend with coconut for one of the most decadent yet subtle scents I’ve found in a body-care product.
My year-round favourite for years has been CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser, but sometimes even that isn’t quite enough for my parched-skin moments. I was introduced to Exuviance’s creamy one via the beauty advisor service Lion/ne, whose co-founder, Megan Felton, gave me the ultimate prescription for my sensitive skin. I don’t really like most cream cleansers; many leave a residue and not as clean as I’d like, but that’s not the case with this. It’s non-greasy, can be removed easily with water or a reusable cotton pad, and has PHAs, which are the most gentle of all the exfoliants. It somehow doesn’t contain soap, but still leaves my skin feeling fresh and clear.
Nothing says seasonal reset like filtering out a few problematic ingredients in your routine and starting afresh. I limit the amounts of sulphates and parabens in my haircare, using different alternatives and saving sulphates for when I truly need a deep cleanse every few months. Rahua’s a firm favourite for being plant-powered and sustainably sourced from the Amazon, where they respect and help communities through the small-scale farming of their ingredients. You can find mini versions of their shampoo and conditioners to see how your hair transitions, but the quinoa, lemongrass and tea tree in this volumising edition puts so much pep back into my curls.
This mask is like a thick, sumptuous green smoothie for your hair. With chia, avocado, spinach, spirulina and kiwi, it’s packed with antioxidants and enriching fatty acids to supercharge tired, frazzled strands that need both a detox and a big hydrating hug. It works across all hair types and textures, neither weighing it down, nor feeling too lightweight for thicker heads of hair. As a huge fan of the partnering apple and mint shampoo and conditioner from Briogeo, this has quickly become my go-to when my hair needs a helping hand during transitional colouring, weather or lifestyle periods.
One area that really takes a hit during the cold season is the lips. Dry, flaky, cracked, sore – sounds familiar? A deeply nourishing balm is a daily essential, and RéVive’s Intensité Moisturizing Lip Balm really delivers. The conditioning formula combines extracts of mango and marula with beeswax, to plump and soften skin while offering protection against environmental pollutants. It has a cooling feel, which is intensified by the specially designed metal applicator, giving instant relief. The natural finish means you can wear it alone for a minimal beauty look or use it as a base layer for lipstick.
Let’s start at the bottom. Summer wreaks havoc on our feet, so I like to restart everything with a deep foot peel. These socks contain a blend of potent acids that get to work on rough foot skin for about an hour, then help the dead skin shed itself over the next couple of days. It’s seriously satisfying, but make sure to do it when you’re not planning on wearing sandals, as it’s pretty unsightly. After everything’s shed, I like to go in with Patchology’s wonderfully indulgent foot mask, which uses a shea and coconut oil formula to cocoon and nourish.
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