What dictates whether or not you spend ages on a rigorous cleansing regime, or be content with a five-second splash? As little girls, we’re influenced by our mothers, and as grown women we’re likely to emulate her routine. If she used a cold cream cleanser and not much else, for instance, your ethos may well be that less is more.
Friends can influence the types of products you use and the way you use them, and having a facial will usually inspire you to take a bit more time and care with your skin.
‘I’ve noticed that women can generally be grouped into four ‘personality’ categories when it comes to the way we like to look after our skin,’ says Noella Gabriel, Elemis director of treatment and product development.
‘There’s the woman who wants a straightforward, non-time consuming regime, one who chops and changes, and wants instant results, the stuck-in-a-rut woman, and the one who invests a lot of time and money into her skincare.’
1. The minimalist
You favour a wash-off cleanser, and a moisturiser to make your skin feel more comfortable and less tight. You aren’t over-fussy with brands and like something that does what it says on the tube, and is simple and quick to use.
Pros: ‘You save time and money’, says Dr Leslie Baumann, dermatologist and author of The Skin Type Solution (Hodder & Stoughton). She adds that if you’re a minimalist by nature, it’s crucial to know your skintype.
Someone who’s spending so little time on a routine needs the right products to combat oily or dry skin. ‘If you have skincare problems, look for a cleanser aimed to treat them, such as an acne cleanser, glycolic cleanser if skin is rough, or a moisturising one for dry skin,’ she says.
Cons: Washing off with water is quick – but can be harsh for your skin, damaging the surface and inducing a tight feeling.
‘A lot of minimalist clients opt for “quick” foaming cleansers,’ adds Amanda Birch, therapist director at top London salon Michaeljohn. ‘Avoid these if they contain sodium laureth sulphate – a harsh foaming agent that strips skin after a while and can cause sensitivity and premature ageing.’
If you do one thing: ‘A pared-down skincare routine can work, but every six months change your moisturiser. This will boost cell regeneration, and is the product that makes the most difference to your skin, particularly if you aren’t using exfoliators, masks or rejuvenating serums,’ suggests Amanda Birch.
2. The trend-seeker
You expect quick, visible results from your skincare, and always look for a new product that might work better than your last investment. You have several pots of moisturiser, cleanser and masks on the go, ready to use for your skin’s changing needs.
Pros: ‘This woman is always open to advice and is enthusiastic about looking after her skin. She won’t miss out on any part of her routine, whether it be cleansing and/or exfoliating or applying intensive treatments. And if she has a normal skin type, will generally benefit from her product,’ says Amanda Birch.
Cons: ‘You can increase your risk of contact dermatitis, especially on sensitive skin, if you keep chopping and changing your products,’ says Dr Jennifer Jones, British Skin Foundation dermatologist. ‘Remember that ingredients need the stated amount of time to work, so you won’t get overnight results from something that has been tested to show effects in 28 days.
If you do one thing: ‘Play around with the products that don’t really matter, but stick with the core ones that are necessary to treat your skin concerns. For example, if you are worried about wrinkles, always use a retinoid cream and just change around cleansers and moisturisers,’ says Dr Baumann.
3. The connoisseur
You take skincare seriously, are well versed in the latest products and know what works for your skin. You don’t mind taking the time to use a multi-step program, or investing in new technology.
Pros: ‘Using a lot of different products, adapted to different skin areas and skin needs will give outstanding results but in terms of tolerance, it is safer to use products from the same brand, as they are tested for compatibility,’ says Marie-Helene Lair.
Cons: Maintaining this level of commitment can be time-consuming and expensive. ‘It’s easy to get swept up in product promises – it’s really important to realise that unfortunately creams can’t work miracles,’ adds Dr Jennifer Jones.
If you do one thing: ‘Make your products even more beneficial,’ says Lair, ‘by doing a specific facial massage, as instructed with your product. There is a real synergy between formulas and massage to boost efficiency of active ingredients and stimulating the skin.’
Don’t forget that diet, exercise and lifestyle have a huge impact on the way your skin looks and behaves. You may find it easier to choose a new do-all cream with multi-benefits to cut out a step or two of your regime.
4. The pragmatist
You’ve found a range of products you love and suit your skin. You stockpile when there’s a special offer on and see no reason to look for anything new.
Pros: ‘You won’t have any issues about reacting to a product,’ says Amanda Birch. ‘Using your products more frequently than, say, the trend-seeker will mean you’ll see the long-term effects of products used daily,’ adds Marie-Helene Lair.
Cons: ‘You could acquire tachyphylaxis when you’ve used something for a long time, meaning your product may stop working or may not produce the beneficial effects it once had,’ explains Dr Jones.
‘The same happens with deodorant, shampoo and drugs – you have to increase the dosage to see a difference.’ If you’re sticking with a product you first discovered years ago, there may be some huge scientific advances since then that you’re missing out on.
If you do one thing: ‘Analyse your skin at least once a year, or after a major life change such as a move to a new climate, pregnancy, menopause, a new stressful job or new diet,’ advises Dr Baumann.
Look out for the following, suggests Marie-Helene Lair: ‘Objectively, we can see a change in skin complexion, blemishes, dark circles, lines or redness. Subjectively, we can feel tightening or stinging sensations, discomfort, dryness or heat.’ This is when you need to address your skin.