I was in a meeting with the team at John Lewis a little while ago and our conversation moved on to beauty. I explained that I always find the niche beauty brands to be the most interesting. I like the fact that they dedicate themselves to specific concerns and weight their investment towards research rather than marketing. The irony of course is that this low scale marketing makes these companies difficult to find. So my favourite part of the John Lewis beauty halls is always the area that they dedicate to smaller brands. I feel confident that it’s a good edit knowing that the beauty buyers have already done the product assessment and testing.
It was February when we were having this conversation and at the time I felt I had my beauty regime nailed down. I was using good retinols, acids and a heavy moisturiser and my skin was looking as good as I felt it could. And then the hot weather arrived. As you’ll know you have to be careful with retinols in the sunshine because they increase skin cell turnover, exposing new UV sensitive skin. My face started feeling and looking dry and my make-up wasn’t staying on well in the heat. So when John Lewis invited me to trial a skincare régime tailored to summer, I had nothing to lose by putting myself in their hands.
A skincare régime tailored to summer by John Lewis
This is the completely new summer skincare edit that they sent me and I was pleased to see that it included both familiar and lesser known brands:
Their régime is designed to help combat the higher levels of pollution that summer brings and protect the skin from exposure to UVA / UVB rays and air conditioning. The ultimate aim is to get skin glowing naturally so that there is no need for heavy products such as foundation which tend to slide off in the heat. So let me talk you through the routine, the products and how I’m finding them.
Preparation: an intensive treatment to kickstart the régime
Summer skincare issue: skin doesn’t feel radiant enough to go without foundation.
Solution: turbo-start the summer skincare régime in 15 minutes with a mask that includes ingredients chosen to help skin look naturally radiant.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: Rodial Vit C Energising Sheet Mask which includes vitamins C and B3 to resurface texture and reduce wrinkles; green tea to soothe irritated skin; hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and restore plumpness and amino acids to protect against external aggressors and help repair visible damage.
Rodial Vit C energising sheet mask
My verdict: as you know, I’m very low maintenance on the beauty front and so I’d never used one of these sheet masks before. However I put it on and was glad that I could wear my glasses over it so that I could spend 15 minutes in the garden reading a magazine. It was very cooling to apply and other than alarming next door’s cat, it was a generally pleasant experience. After 15 minutes I was surprised to find that the product had been almost completely absorbed by my skin so there was nothing to wipe off. There was a visible difference which I didn’t expect – my skin looked plumper and it was rosy (in a good way).
Would I repeat buy the product? Yes – I think this is something that I will use year round and I will try to remember to apply one at the beginning of each month.
Having used the mask to get things off to a good start, this is the régime that the team recommend using on a daily basis throughout the summer months.
Step 1 – careful cleansing
Summer skincare issue: in the heat, pores are enlarged and then easily clogged which can result in an uneven skintone. However harsh cleansing products can cause dehydration.
Solution: a gentle cleanser that will remove dirt without stripping or irritating the skin.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. This is a cult product worldwide and has five star reviews everywhere you look. Soy is rich in amino acids which help support elasticity, rosewater has calming and balancing properties, cucumber extract soothes the skin and borage seed oil nourishes it. A hardworking make-up remover that is extra gentle and can be used around the eye area.
My verdict: this was an unusual start for me because I don’t like using water on my face, I prefer a cream cleanser. I applied it straight onto dry skin to remove my make-up and wiped it off with damp cotton wool pads as instructed. I then used a muslin cloth to rinse the rest from my face.
I was surprised to see that it removed my mascara quickly without rubbing and my skin certainly didn’t have the tight feeling that I usually experience with products that are rinsed off with water. In fact it felt soft and nourished.
Would I repeat buy the product? Probably not. It’s refreshing to use in summer but for me it’s a personal thing and I prefer a cream cleanser. If you like a wash-off cleanser though I would say that this is easily as good as other popular brands you’ve tried.
Step 2 – strengthening
Summer skincare issue: skin needs to be strong enough to face up to UVA and UVB exposure.
Solution: support and build the collagen in skin’s deepest layer, strengthening the skin’s foundation.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen. A vegan formula of plant collagen and Microalgae Oil beads to restore skin’s bounce and resilience. There are 13,000 beads of Microalgae Oil in each bottle which is rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9, and a natural source of Vitamin E.
My verdict: this is the investment product in this summer skincare régime however the good thing is that the pipette dispenses a tiny drop. I needed one drop to cover my face and one for my neck so it would last a long time. It has more substance to it than other serums I have used with an almost jelly-like texture. Trials show that the best results begin to be seen after 10 days but I saw an immediate difference. My skin felt retextured and more bouncy straightaway.
Would I repeat buy the product? Yes I would. It’s expensive but I think a single bottle will probably last at least six months. Going forward, I’d like to apply it in addition to a matrixyl based serum that I already use so I’m going to ask the team for advice on that.
Step 3 – improve moisture levels
Summer skincare issue: it can feel counterintuitive to moisturise in the heat, especially when it’s humid but it’s important to keep both your skin and your body hydrated.
Solution: a lighter, breathable moisturiser that protects and hydrates.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: the team at John Lewis have named Clarins extra-firming day cream as their favourite summer moisturiser. Enriched with Kangaroo Flower extract, it is lightweight and yet it protects, firms and hydrates. Swapping your heavy winter formula for a lightweight moisturiser in summer ensures that skin can breathe.
Clarins extra-firming day cream
My verdict: this showed me instantly that the moisturiser I have been using is too heavy and that is probably why my face has been looking so shiny. It’s clearly important to lock moisture in during the winter but in summer when you ‘glow’ it also needs to escape. I usually opt for formulations for dry skin but because my complexion feels so dewy and plump from the Algenist collagen, for once I’m finding that an ‘all skin type’ moisturiser is suiting me well.
Would I repeat buy the product? In summer yes, this will now be my go-to. I’m not sure whether it will be powerful enough when the weather turns colder – it will be interesting to find out.
Add this to your moisturiser for an extra boost
Summer skincare issue: foundation slides off in the heat and yet skin looks uneven without it.
Solution: go bare-skinned – revitalise the complexion instantly with a boost of fresh Vitamin C.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: Clinique fresh pressed daily booster. This contains 10% pure vitamin C which is one of the most powerful de-ageing vitamins. From the first application, experience brighter, more radiant skin. With continued use, see transformative results: skin that’s noticeably firmer, more even-toned, smoother, with visibly diminished lines and wrinkles and a radiant, youthful glow.
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster
My verdict: it took me a while to work out how to use this because it really isn’t very well explained on the pack. In the box there is the vial (on the right) and a set of seven sachets. The idea is that you can use the sachets mixed with water as a powerful brightening cleanser. I haven’t done this yet because I don’t want to do too many new things to my skin at once. The vial dispenses a few drops of vitamin C to be mixed with your moisturiser (in this case the Clarins cream above). Vitamin C is notorious for deteriorating quickly but this is only activated when you click the dispenser and shake it which ensures that it is extra fresh. The vial lasts for seven days and so you need to use it within that time and then discard it.
Would I repeat buy the product? In comparison with the other products here that are having a visible effect, it’s harder to say whether this is giving me a result or not. I would probably buy it every so often, for example as a boost at the beginning of summer to get my skin into shape, but not on an ongoing basis.
And all that’s left to do now is finish off with an SPF of your choice and then move on to make-up but you can always add…
Step 4 – maintain your fresh look throughout the day
Summer skincare issue: by lunchtime the glow has worn off
Solution: a facial spray packed with complexion boosting ingredients.
John Lewis Beauty Team recommended product: the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. This has more benefits than the cooling mists or make-up fixers that you see people using. It’s a “hydrating wake-up call for your face and an exceptional anti-dull complexion treatment.” The fragrance alone wakes you up because it’s blended with essential oils including rosemary, orange blossom, organic balm mint, benzoin and myrrh. A quick spritz mid-morning and then again in the afternoon will tighten pores and give your skin that ‘lit from within’ glow.
My verdict: I like this product. I was sent the large 100 ml bottle to test so I’ve been keeping it on my desk. The best way to describe it is that it is the facial equivalent of brushing your teeth. It’s a blast of freshness that brightens your complexion and the fragrance of the natural oils lingers for a few hours.
Would I repeat buy the product? Yes – I’ve already bought the smaller spray to keep in my bag and I will be using it a lot, particularly when we’re on holiday.
I’m really enjoying this new beauty routine, changing everything over for the summer has been the right thing to do. My complexion is brighter, fresher and it feels more comfortable. I’m not at the stage where I would go without foundation for work yet but that could be because the importance of grooming was drilled into us so hard during my early years at Selfridges that I feel naked without it. In fact I think my favourite Golden Glow Booster Drops are the one thing that is missing from this collection. I’m adding them to the moisturiser along with the Vitamin C to give a boost of colour to the skin.
My complexion feels particularly well prepared for our holiday when I will be barefaced all of the time but I think the biggest surprise for me was seeing a difference so quickly. By nature I am quite cynical abut the claims of skincare brands but these are products that really work. So thank you John Lewis, I hope this is a project that you will continue, I will be really interested to see the routine adapted as the seasons change.
(NB the products in the summer skincare edit are quite highly fragranced. Because they use so many natural ingredients they smell fantastic but if you have very sensitive skin, it might react).
Quick midlife lately
I’ve been travelling up and down to London this week focusing on everything Christmas (yes really) and I’ll be doing it again next week so everything’s topsy turvy at the moment. There will be another post on Tuesday though when I’ll be running a flash sale to clear the last remaining tricolor bags in the Midlifechic Boutique. I need to make space for the new autumn styles that will be arriving before too long. I’ll also announce the winner of my brand name competition. It was a close run thing… Until then, have a good weekend… and who stole the sunshine? It’s raining here today!
Disclosure: ‘A skincare régime tailored to summer’ is in collaboration with John Lewis but all products have been tested and honestly reviewed by me. I was under no obligation to write about them if I didn’t notice a distinct improvement.
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