For some reason, this fall has been one whirling, psychotic, stressful cyclone of insanity (no, I am not prone to drama. Why?). Tiredness, stress and lack of time mean that I haven’t had any time to take care of myself and although even at my most rushed and exhausted, my evening routine tends to be a lot more comprehensive and involved than most people’s, I was starting to miss the indulgence of some luxurious pampering and to feel the effects of its absence on my skin. Which was why last night, with The Bear in bed and The Englishman on a business trip, I decided to treat my skin to a mini-spa experience (and my tired brain to some favorite episodes of Friends). Since I ended my home spa adventures with my standard evening routine, I also thought this might be a good time to share it with you.
Obviously, the first step in any routine, whether casual or indulgent, should be a thorough cleanse. Since it was a rainy, lazy Saturday and I had spent the day indoors, I didn’t feel the need for serious balms and double cleansing and quickly washed my face with my beloved Easy Does It cleanser from One Love Organics. I will speak about it at greater length in my next cleanser post, but this is probably my favorite, easy and lovely facial cleanser (it’s also my standard morning cleanser).
After cleansing, I first applied the True Nature Botanicals Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask. My love for True Nature Botanicals (formerly Marie Veronique Pacific) is well known. I received the Exfoliating Moisture Mask as part of the A Night for Green Beauty/Goodebox limited edition box and have fallen in love with it from first try. This mask is fairly unusual in the green beauty world: containing a pretty high concentration of lactic acid in a base of nourishing butters, this is a peach-colored, thick gel formula that has the soft smell of tuberose and star jasmine that I have come to associate with all of the Pacific products (and which I simply adore). The mask provides gentle, yet effective exfoliation, while the glycerin and natural butters in the formula prevent irritation and stripping of the skin. Another great thing about this mask is that you only need to apply it for 2 to 5 minutes, which means that unless you are either incredibly lazy (like me) or incredibly busy (like me), you can easily find the time to use it the recommended couple of times a week.
After washing off the Pacific mask, I brought out the heavy artillery: a mixture of May Lindstrom’s Problem Solver mask and Honey Mud cleanser. The Problem Solver has achieved something of a cult status in the green beauty world and with good reason. This coal-black powder that smells like German gingerbread is a blemish busting, pore purifying powerhouse. And have I mentioned that it smells like cake? The warming spices responsible for this delicious scent help stimulate circulation, while a mixture of clays and charcoal powder purify the skin. This mask is intense though. You will likely experience tingling on first application (and probably for a while longer, too, because this mask is supposed to be kept on for 45 minutes).
Because Problem Solver is a powder, it needs to be mixed with water prior to use, but May suggests curbing its intensity by mixing it with something like honey or coconut oil, which makes it more moisturizing and soothing. My favorite way of making the mask gentler and quite a bit more luxurious is by mixing it with the Honey Mud. Once again, I will talk about this gorgeous gem of a product in a separate cleanser post, but suffice it to say that the Honey Mud is pure luxury. A mixture of raw honey, white clay, macadamia oil, cocoa absolute and a score of other delicious and beautiful-smelling oils, this cleanser looks and smells so much like a creamy chocolate pudding that I half expect Bill Cosby to burst into my bathroom and yell at me for putting it on my face. Mixed with the Problem Solver, it creates a rich, creamy mask that doesn’t fully dry even in the full 45 minutes I gave it and it significantly diminishes the heating power of the Problem Solver.
This is also a good time to mention May’s treatment bowl and brush. I remember raising my eyebrow when I first looked at May’s site – something like a bowl and, especially, a brush specially for face masks seemed like a ridiculous and unnecessary indulgence. Then I ended up both as part of two different sets and my mind was both changed and completely blown. Now, I will grant you that May’s bowl is not strictly a necessity and you could use any appropriately-sized bowl that you have to hand, but this particularly bowl is just. so. gorgeous! From its shape to its texture to May’s signature golden dandelion at its bottom, using this bowl is a total sensory experience. And then there is the mask brush. It may seem slightly insane to say this, but this brush is a life-changer. One of the reasons I don’t do too many masks is because they are just so damn messy. The mixing, the scooping with the fingers, the schmearing it on my face – all of this is an affront to my slightly persnickety, Virgo nature. Which is why this brush is perfection: it picks up the perfect amount of the mask, somehow keeps it adhering to the bristles (no ugly splats on your bathroom counter) and then deposits it on the skin so softly and gently, it feels like being kissed by angels.
After removing my May Lindstrom concoction with a warm washcloth, I wanted to treat my skin with kid gloves. I first sprayed my face with Annee de Mamiel’s amazing Dewey Facial Mist. This is probably one of my favorite facial mists: it’s filled with seriously fabulous ingredients like peptides, kakadu plum extract, panthenol and hyaluronic acid to name a few. Plus, like all of the de Mamiel products, it smells like absolute heaven. On top of this hydrating layer I applied one of my all-time favorite masks: La Bella Figura’s Bioactive Healing Mask. It completely calmed down my skin, which was feeling ever so slightly delicate after my mask jamboree, and left it pillowy soft.
And speaking of jamborees, I have to make a confession: I have actually sort of overdone it with the masks. It was an overindulgent and slightly frenetic end to a stressful and slightly frenetic week and it’s just what I needed, but I wouldn’t actually recommend it for normal circumstances. Now, I think combining two masks is a great idea, but I would recommend pairing an active mask like the Pacific or the Problem Solver with a calming, nourishing one like the Bioactive Healing or Blissoma’s Lavish Mask. Pairing an exfoliator and an active clearing mask like the Problem Solver is probably not the best idea for all, but the hardiest of skins.
After my masking blowout, I followed up with my usual nighttime routine. Although some components may change from night to night (the facial spray, the top layer), the basics stay the same. I apply the LBF Decouverte Eye Serum around my eyes. I then liberally mist the skin with one of my more hydrating sprays (since I bought the Yüli Cocoon Elixir, I have been using it almost exclusively) and follow with LBF’s Modern Radiance Concentrate and Aria Nighttime Treatment. Since I treat the MRC and Aria as serums, I always use another product on top to seal in the actives, add hydration and address any other skin concerns I might be having. On this particular occasion, I used my beloved May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon. I have raved about it before and I never tire of its comforting smell, its rich texture and its serious anti-inflammatory mojo.
Last but not least, lately I have been religious about using a lip product before going to bed. My lips have not been dealing well with the change in seasons, so keeping them slathered in hydrating balms is the key to keeping dryness and flakes at bay. This time I used R. L. Linden’s gorgeous La Balmbla Rosa. I wanted something both very gentle and extra-healing and La Balmbla fits the bill to a T, while also being fabulously luxurious and delicious in keeping with my evening of indulgence.
Though you might not use the same products as me, I do think that if you are over 30, a comprehensive and effective nighttime routine should include an eye product, and active serum (or two) and a moisturizer or a balm. All after a thorough cleansing, of course. As for masks, use them wisely, use them regularly and your skin will thank you. More importantly, though, take time for indulgence. In the end, a mask is only part of what gives your skin glow. The secret ingredient is those moments you take to indulge yourself, relax and enjoy your own company. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes.