A few months ago I spent a whole day in a YouTube hole. Does it sound familiar to you? I hope it does, otherwise I will probably feel pretty guilty. Binge-watching YouTube doesn't have the pedigree in comparison to binge-watching Netflix. At least you follow some sort of story arch, you tell yourself. When you find yourself in a YouTube hole, you are trapped in a cycle of ten minute highs, finding out about how someone accidentally spent £1000 in Missguided, or going even more obscure, you find yourself watching videos of YouTubers unwrapping presents (yes, this is a thing). However, amongst the obscure enjoyment of the mundane, there are little gems of video formatting that just wouldn't work on traditional television.
Personal highlights for me include Hot Ones; the series where exponentially increasingly spicy chicken wings are eaten while Sean Evans interviews celebrities (also, Sean, please book more female guests, cheers). The ability for Sean to withstand the spice is impressive and watching celebrities wincing and sweating under the pressure makes for an entertaining interview method. The jury is out as to whether celebrities are more candid. Another is Playstation Access' Friday Feature; ten minute lists of universal gaming experiences including most recently 7 Things Characters in Horror Games Seriously Need to Stop Doing and 7 Times We Played Games In Ways We Weren't Supposed To. Now, I am not a gamer but I do love a list and Rob Pearson's candid and quip-filled delivery makes this series extremely addictive. However, my day of YouTube actually concerned a beauty related series, Sali Hughes' In the Bathroom. The premise is basic; interview women in their bathroom, discussing their love of beauty and their lives. These interviews are dense too, joyfully long at around 30-40 minutes of fabulous beauty. My personal favourites include Marian Keyes (I have an irrational love for this woman, it must be the Irish charm) and Caroline Hirons.
Caroline Hirons and Sali Hughes is really what this blog post is about. Until a few months ago, I wasn't really that into skincare. I loved make-up and skincare was more of a necessity. I opted for natural skincare (I set out my reasons why in my recent post discussing my favourite natural shampoos) but I didn't think much more about it. Caroline Hirons is an outspoken advocate for double cleansing, which is cleansing before bed to remove make-up and then cleansing again. Both Sali and Caroline are also advocates for using flannels instead of rinsing when cleansing or using cotton pads. During my day spent binge-watching the In the Bathroom series, one piece of advice resonated more than another: Sali's proclamation that if you could do one thing to benefit your skincare routine, then using a flannel while cleansing is the one change you should make. Until then I had not been happy with my skincare routine. I was in a perpetual cycle of trying to search for a product that felt gentle enough for my sensitive skin but also left it feeling clean and free from make-up, in particular mascara. I also felt like my skin was dull. I wasn't sure if it was to do with working in an air-conditioned office. I like to think I live a relatively healthy lifestyle; I exercise very regularly, cycling or walking to work everyday and practicing intense cardio-filled yoga roughly three times a week as well as following a vegetarian diet. Whatever was going on with my skin, I knew that my routine wasn't working out for me, so I thought I might as well try something new.
What makes Caroline Hirons so engaging is her no nonsense approach to skincare and skincare guidance.
Do I really need to cleanse in the morning? I don't really have a polite answer to that to be honest. Why wouldn't you? Who doesn't wash their face? No I mean really?
Her advice it impossible to argue with because it makes so much sense! I can also add that she is a qualified aesthetician and is fully qualified to know the science behind your skincare. So, before I put up a fight or uttered any disputes of Caroline's claims, I set about following her Double Cleansing Cheat Sheet routine, which four years later remains one of her most viewed posts. However, I wanted to take my own ethical, natural and cruelty-free approach to it (I am happy to report that her own Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse is cruelty-free).
Following the routine on her cheats sheets (I take no credit for the routine), I have put together the products I am using now and my interpretation of the routine. I have tried to make this routine as ethical as possible; minimising waste, using products that are gentle on my sensitive skin and using products with ethical credentials that aim to reduce their negative environmental impact. I should also say that my skin is dry to combination skin at the moment (I have a very oily T-zone), I am 27 with fine lines forming round my eyes (whyyyyy!?) and I live in Bristol so my skin has to deal with pollution everyday. My main aim is to brighten my skin, moisturise around the eyes and combat dryness.
Step 1. Cleanse
Use a clean flannel. This is the part that really caught my attention and convinced me that this routine might be the way forward for me. I had been looking at ways to reduce waste in my beauty routine, even looking at washable cotton pads to help me remove my make-up, however, I had already been feeling like using cotton pads wasn't an effective part of my skincare routine so I wasn't entirely convinced. The idea of using a flannel felt like an easy option for me. I could bulk buy and wash them, cutting out the need for single use products in my skincare routine. It also meant that I could invest in some bamboo face cloths. Bamboo towels are very soft, more absorbent that standard cotton and they are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. At the end of their useful life, the fibres of the flannel will naturally decompose and disintegrate completely into the earth ensuring that bamboo is the perfect eco-friendly alternative to traditional face cloths. However, if cotton pads are an established part of your routine and you are feeling extra crafty, fellow sustainable fashion blogger Sophie Benson has a lovely crochet pattern on her blog which details how you can make your own cotton pads.
Caroline advises to use any non-foaming cleansing milk, balm or gel. Using the cleanser, massage the face without any water. Soak the flannel in hand hot water and squeeze (do not wring as it damages the bamboo fabric) the flannel and then place it on your face, letting the face steam and clean off the cleanser residue. The feeling of the hot flannel on your face reminds me of any facial I have had and it such a relaxing way to start the day. Regardless of the cleansing properties, I would recommend doing this as a great way to wake you up in the morning!
At the moment, I am using the Purity Organic Skincare Conditioning Cleansing Lotion (£5.29). This certified organic cleanser is more of a milk formula and feels gentle on the skin. You can feel the grim melting away but your skin never feels stripped. Coupled with using the face cloth, you are left with a fresh and clean feeling. The Purity cleanser is cheap as well; at only £5.29 it is great value for money. I order this cleanser about 5 months ago and I now have a tiny amount left in the bottle.
Step 2. Exfoliating (Acid) Lotion and Spray Hydrate
This is the only step that I haven't followed strictly. The toner I am using doesn't contain acid and therefore does not exfoliate the skin. I am not looking for the anti-ageing benefits of using an acid (yet) but I do understand Caroline's reasoning that these exfoliants are far better for the skin than using a traditional scrub. I detest the feeling of rubbing scrubs over my face and without a doubt, I detest the invention of micro-beads in scrubs and cleansers (thank goodness micro-beads have been banned in the UK). Facial Mist is something that I have recently introduced into my routine and I am already addicted. Currently, I am using the Wild Source Apothecary Wild Flower Skin Tonic* and I love the combination of the Rose Water and the Neroli Water, which both give you that refreshed feeling, and the Witch Hazel which acts as a toner for the skin. Wild Source Apothecary is a new brand which will be launching in October. All products are created using flowers, stems, roots, and leaves, minerals, salts and oils creating this authentic, luxurious experience. You feel like you have delved into a healer's apothecary who has whipped up a fresh concoction specially designed for you.
Step 3. Eye Cream
Don't apply eye cream last. Applying it first allows the essential moisturise and ingredients to be absorbed into the skin. I have been using Yes to Grapefruit Dark Circle Correcting Eye Cream (£11.99) which is vegan and contains 99% natural ingredients. I have prominent dark circles and it is always been something that I have been conscious about. As far as I know, it is genetic, however, I love the consistency of this eye cream for day time moisturisation. Do not be fooled by the small amount in the tube. A few times I was a touch overzealous and you only need a tiny dot of cream as it is very rich. I recommend leaving it for a little bit to absorb into the skin. Although, I am not sure if it does anything for my dark circles, I would definitely purchase this again as it is richer than my day moisturiser but gentle enough for around my eyes which is prone to irritation and dryness.
Step 4. Serum
Caroline recommends using water based serum first so I use the Green People Hydrating Firming Serum* (£18.00), which is organic, vegan, combined with facial oil to lock in moisturise and light enough to use under make-up. Ingredients include chamomile, seaweed, marshmallow and rose geranium and the formula is perfect for all skin types; hydrating for dry skin but also fresh enough for the oilier parts of my face. Since using it I definitely feel like drier parts of my face are softer and also the oiliness on my forehead has dramatically decreased. From what I understand, my forehead was lacking hydration and therefore overproducing oil, creating a film-like feeling of oil (pretty disgusting, I know). The way to treat dehydration is serums and after using the Green People Hydrating Firming Serum, that film-like texture has gone. It is still oily but it isn't over-producing oil.
Step 5. Moisturiser
I have always been very keen on moisturiser as someone who has dealt with temperamentally dry skin. My skin seems to react to changes in the seasons, to air-conditioning, to pollution, to everything, really, and I am sure you are the same too. I am also a firm believer in moisturising as an anti-ageing tool. Therefore, it was an interesting mind-shift to think about it as protection, as sealing in all the enriching products you have applied as part of your routine. It makes logical sense. I have always found simply using water-based body moisturiser as unexpectedly drying for my eczema. For moisturiser, I have been using the Green People Neutral Light Day Moisturiser (£17.50). This moisturiser is perfect for the daytime. It is extremely light meaning that it lies perfectly under make-up. This organic and vegan moisturiser is perfect for sensitive skin and is lacking in scent and alcohol free ensuring that it soothes and protects easily irritated skin. I really love this moisturiser for daytime.
If I was to recommend any change to make, I would recommend adding a hot flannel to your skincare routine which is probably a resounding stamp of approval considering the Sali Hughes statement that I mentioned earlier on this blog post. Is it too much product, I hear you ask? Actually, surprisingly, the answer is no. The products I use for the day are light enough to lie under my make-up and my skin is left feeling firm, clean and fresh. I would recommend thinking about your day products as in my follow up post, I will be discussing my night time Double Cleansing routine and you will see that it contains many more oil-based products. And finally, is it more ethical? Yes! I have eradicated single use products from my skincare routine and all the products I use are ethical, 'green' and organic.
Have you followed the Caroline Hirons Double Cleansing routine? Do you have any other tips for a more ethical skincare routine? Let me know in the comments!
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Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were sent to me free of charge.