Treat your skin to a home spa experience with Abigail James
Top aesthetician Abigail James reveals how to give your skin an in-spa experience at home
’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, there were facemasks and eye masks and candles by Claus (Porto). The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, so all that was left was your skin to prepare…
Take a little time out before the big day (whether that’s Christmas or any other significant celebration) to pamper and prep your complexion. It may sound indulgent, especially at a time when there always seems to be more pressing things to attend to, but giving yourself the gift of self-care will help see you and your skin through the festive period and beyond. We’ve enlisted the help of top aesthetician and all-round skin whisperer Abigail James to help navigate the night before and elevate your pre-Christmas skincare routine.
The urge to pick those pimples that inevitably make their appearance right before a big event can be almost irresistible, but James recommends a strictly hands-off approach. ‘Breakouts can be connected to stress,’ she explains. ‘Before a big event we’re often more anxious. This can lead to our body releasing more stress hormones, which can have an impact on the sebum production within our skin.’ James’ advice? Don't squeeze! (The only exception being if it has a white head on it). ‘Apply something antibacterial to the spot such as tea tree or look for skincare products that contain salicylic acid which you can apply with a cotton bud once every hour. I always apply an ice compress too in order to ease inflammation. Simply wrap an icecube in tissue, dampen just slightly then press onto the area for 5-20 seconds and repeat if necessary.’ Extractions or rigorous facials are also a no-no as it can take a few days for your skin to settle down after them.
Stick with what you know
Now is not the time to be throwing in any skincare curve balls. Unless you’re already an avid actives user, steer clear of anything that has the potential to irritate, such as retinol or stronger acids such as glycolic acid (gentler AHAs such as lactic acid, on the other hand, are great for eliciting a covetable glow). ‘This is not the time to be testing new products,’ agrees James. ‘If you already know your skin glows after using an acid-based toner or peel the night before then this is my first port of call for looking radiant by the morning, but if your skin is prone to dryness then it might be better to opt for a more hydrating mask. I’d avoid using an overnight eye mask just in case you wake up puffy in the morning, but I do love an eye mask or eye patches on the day of the event as they’re great for hydrating and plumping out any fine lines so that concealers go on smoothly.’
Treat your skin to some TLC with nourishing, cosseting formulas that drench it in moisture. This time of year plays havoc with our skin as central heating and cold weather zap the surface. Add in a few late nights panic buying last-minute gifts and one too many mulled wines and it’s no wonder our skin often feels dry and dull. Combat that with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid as well as barrier-boosting omega acids and ceramides. Now is also the perfect time for pampering sheet masks, hydrating mists, soothing probiotic blends and calming overnight face masks to leave your skin feeling plump and juicy.
Home spa rituals
Creating a soothing, indulgent atmosphere when applying your lotions and potions is a great way to lower cortisol levels and ensure you get a good night’s sleep. ‘I’m a huge fan of breathing techniques,’ says James who recommends ritualising your beauty regime for maximum skin gains. ‘Start by focusing on your breath for one to three minutes, inhaling for a slow count of five before exhaling for a slow count of eight.’ The longer exhalation is key, James explains, as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in order to counteract our fight or flight response.
‘Facial massage is another brilliant way to boost your complexion while easing your mind,’ adds James. ‘Even adding in a few neck stretches with your eyes closed is great for easing tension.’
Abigail James’ ultimate pre-Christmas skincare routine
‘Start with a double cleanse using a balm as your first step,’ advises James. ‘Once you have taken a little time to really massage it into the skin, rinse and follow with a face wash. Next, I would use an acid exfoliating tonic, followed by an enzyme mask before applying a hydrating mask ensuring that you incorporate the décolleté too. For skincare, layer a hyaluronic acid serum over a brightening vitamin C serum before applying a nourishing eye cream and plumping moisturiser. For an evening prep I would do a face massage for five to ten minutes followed by a gentle wash, a brightening mask, a hyaluronic serum and some sort of probiotic skin boost.’