Sali Loves: What I’m Using Right Now

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How and why I choose the skincare products I use every day


I sometimes Instagram pictures of my nighttime skincare routine and recently, have found that people get in touch afterwards to ask how exactly I use the products. Firstly, my routine is very simple. I’m passionate about good cleansing but at the same time, am simply too knackered of an evening for elaborate 10-step rituals. I want to devote no more than five minutes to getting ready for bed and I believe that the most effective skincare routine is one you can easily stick to – a complex cleanse is hard to sustain so is ultimately setting yourself up for failure. Secondly, I switch products a lot, but mainly because of my job and not out of some BS belief that change is imperative (I do not buy at all the commonly held belief that skin ‘becomes used’ to product and it stops working. Your upper layers today are not your upper layers of next month. It is not possible for them to ‘know’ what’s been treating their predecessors, never mind get a bit bored FFS). For the most part, I use products until they’re finished if I’m enjoying using them. Constantly chopping and changing is pointless as you’ll never really have a clear idea of what’s effective. If something doesn’t feel nice, is causing a reaction, or leaving my skin looking worse than before, then it’s passed on to someone more suitable or enthused. Life’s too short and there are too many good products to be wasting time on the poor performers. So here are the products I’m using right now and how. The players might change as I test things, as the weather changes, as I get bored or curious, but the game always remains the same.




As a rule, I clean my teeth and cleanse my face before showering, then apply the rest of my skincare as soon as I emerge from the shower, no hanging around. I couldn’t entertain the notion of nipping off to make a cuppa without first applying serum and day cream. My dry skin would freak the hell out. I feel ouchy just typing it.


Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Cleansing Balm, £26.40

This is something I tested for my column and loved so much that I couldn’t let it go. I’m on my third tube now. It’s unusually thorough for something so gentle and makes my skin feel very soft after I’ve removed it with a hot flannel – I am no longer frantically grabbing my serum before my skin starts getting sore. You need to use very little of this balm, meaning it lasts a long while for your money.


astalift_1-1Astalift Jelly Aquarysta, from £23.49

I just love this so much that I am probably boring you by now. My reasons are already documented here. I spread a blob between my fingertips then massage firmly into my skin – all over face, neck and around my eyes.


Astalift Replenishing Day Cream, £39.49

I love the Jelly Aquarista so much that I thought I’d give the follow-up day cream a whirl. I must admit that when a brand is so famous for one ‘hero’ product – in this case, the jelly – I sometimes find the rest of the product range is mere filler. So I was somewhat surprised to find that I like this very, very much. It’s rich and velvety but not at all greasy, plumps fine lines very well, and provides an excellent base for make-up – it’s never patchy and doesn’t peel (my biggest bugbear with moisturisers). It smells nice, feels great and isn’t insane money. It contains no SPF so I wear it only underneath a sun protecting foundation. If I’m not wearing foundation at this time of year, I skip day traditional day cream altogether and proceed straight to Origins VitaZing, a wonderful tinted moisturiser with decent sun protection. Astalift do a great sunblock for sunnier months.





I generally cleanse a few hours before bed, not because I think that inherently makes any difference, but because it’s when I’m not yet too knackered to do a decent job of it. I also find that cleaning my teeth and completing my skincare routine stops me pointlessly snacking at nighttime. It calls time on the day even if I’m staying up a little longer. That said, it is now 10pm and I type this one handed while holding an oat cake topped with parmesan cheese in the other. I really should have cleansed earlier.


Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 09.51.22Aurelia Miracle Cleanser, £34

I’ve been meaning to get onto this for ages but was busy trying other things. I was curious, firstly because I rate the British brand behind it and the values they’re trying to promote – clear labelling, full ingredient lists, quality oils and no nasties. But also because I’m a complete sucker for a cream cleanser. This is a thick and rich one (it contains shea butter, which is sometimes not great for oily and combination types) and doesn’t change consistency as you massage it in. It’s very thorough – I removed an entire face of heavy photoshoot make-up in one application earlier this week, though I confess I still did another for good measure (the cloth came away clean though). My skin feels very soft and smooth after removing.

My only gripe is the smell. It’s extremely strong, thanks to the high concentration of some pretty potent essential oils like bergamot and chamomile. The eucalyptus and rosemary oils give it a whiff reminiscent of Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish, but for my nose, take it a weeny step too far. Still, this is a wonderful cleanser and it’s unlikely to prove a total dealbreaker – I may just not be able to face it every night and will instead reach for my beloved Clarins Extra Comfort or REN Hydra-Calm.


Estee Lauder New Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, £48

Serums come and go, but the original ANR has never left my bathroom cabinet. For me it’s just a great multi purpose serum, a rare gem in a product category that largely refuses to accept that you might want intense, hyaluronic-rich hydration as well as a serum to treat sun damage, fine lines and sagging. ANR doesn’t make you choose. It addresses both day to day dehydration and longer term anti-ageing concerns at a cost that, though certainly not insignificant, isn’t prohibitively bonkers (it is also very good on many rosacea sufferers, by the way). This new version has now replaced classic ANR, but fear not. The texture is nicer, leaving a dewier but less sticky finish. It contains an algae based complex that is meant to purify and affect metabolism, though I certainly couldn’t tell you if that’s working. What I can say, however, is that new ANR is a visible improvement on the much loved original. And critically, nothing has been taken away to leave its devotees bereft.


Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 09.52.49Darphin Ideal Resource Overnight Cream, £52

Oh man, this has been a very pleasant surprise indeed. It arrived a month too late for a column I did on night creams, but the use of knotweed, a rarely used invasive species that looks a bit like bamboo – drew me in. This nightcream claims to lightly exfoliate and soften skin for a more radiant look, and speaking as someone prone to dullness, I am absolutely convinced on that score. I’d like to be more expansive but Darphin are frustratingly economical with ingredients lists. What I will say though, is that this is an extremely elegant cream. The texture is beautiful – a perfect balance of light and rich. I feel as though my face breathes a sigh of relief as I massage it in. It’s soothing, non greasy, and makes my skin look better from the moment I apply it, through to the following morning. It is not heavy enough for super dry skins, but since my central heating’s been back on, I’ve got around the problem by adding a couple of drops of my beloved Clarins Blue Orchid Oil, £24, into the dose of cream. This richer DIY blend works very well, giving the extra moisture injection I need.



Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 09.56.20Zelens Triple Action Eye Cream, £75

This eye cream is really bloody expensive (and not suitable for very sensitive skins) and I’m not saying you need it in your life, but I’m not going to lie to you either. It is really very good. I love the cream-gel texture because it sinks in without any draggy massaging – I simply tap it around my eyes with my ring finger (I tap anything that’s left along my upper lipline). The product’s name refers to the brand’s claim that it treats lines, dark circles and puffiness and I feel the cream lives up to the promise. I can see an immediate improvement in my eye area, and a visible result when I use it conscientiously over the course of a fortnight or so (crepeyness is quite clearly reduced). Eye creams are not really my thing – I struggle to get excited about them, in all honesty. But this one works so well that it would take a lot to make me switch.


Garnier Hydralock Moisturising Hand Cream

Dear Garnier. By discontinuing this completely brilliant hand cream you have made me very, very upset. I am now on my last tube and already dreading my last bedtime dose.

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