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Hannah Betts’s Better…not younger: Exfoliating is back – swiftheadline

Midlife women have a chequered history with exfoliation. When I was eight, back in 1924 — OK, 1979 — a twentysomething cousin armed me with a Buf-Puf, paint stripper-style toner and dense, old-lady moisturising gunk, and instructed me to scrub.

I did so religiously for the next few years. Frankly, it’s a surprise I have any face left.

Buf-Pufs were basically plate scourers sold for the complexion and still seem to be available on Amazon, where reviewers rave. Presumably these hardy types are also fans of those pumice-like apricot scrubs that tore your face off in the name of loveliness.

I see these products as a metaphor for the 1980s itself: a gritty decade in which a woman was required to slough off her softer features, even as a tween.

Hannah Betts shares advice for freshening up your face in midlife by exfoliating (file image)

One can see how exfoliation becomes addictive — there’s no quicker way to freshen one’s face, particularly in midlife. Some brands are actually based on the process: check out Paula’s Choice and Kate Somerville Skincare.

Healthy skin naturally sheds dead cells to make way for new ones. As we age, this process slows down, creating a dull and dismal build up. Exfoliation jogs this process along, whether via old-school physical methods (flannels, scrubs, bristles, grains), or new-broom chemical ones (such as glycolic and salicylic acids).

Most dermatologists favour chemical approaches as they tend to be less abrasive, unsticking dead cells from the skin’s surface rather than shunting them away.

But there’s still a place for a bit of a scrub, provided one doesn’t go crazy.

I always have 1990s favourite Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin-brightening Face Polisher (£28.50, origins.co.uk) in my arsenal, the lazy woman’s face enlivener. Simply slather on, lie back, and its papaya enzyme will gobble up dead cells Pac-Man style. Then swoosh its granules about as you remove. Film stars and models of a certain age deploy it when hungover or unslept.

If my skin’s more red and spotty than dead on its feet, I reach for supermarket stalwart Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Scrub (£12.95, nipandfab.com). Used on top of a buffering cleansing oil, its retexturing glycolic acid and zit-busting salicylic acid leave my skin bright and clear. Also works wonders on old-crone hands.

Some like a daily grain-fest. Dermalogica’s hugely popular Daily Microfoliant (£55, dermalogica.co.uk) is ideal — a salicylic acid and rice enzyme polisher admired by the glowing actress Cate Blanchett. I’ve recently been toying with Bliss Jelly Glow Gentle Exfoliator Peel (£9.99, boots.com), a mild formula, boasting plant-based fibres that act like micro-lint rollers to whisk away autumnal flakiness.

Hannah Betts (pictured) said every skin will have its exfoliation sweet spot, while revealing she alternates between physical and chemical approaches

Hannah Betts (pictured) said every skin will have its exfoliation sweet spot, while revealing she alternates between physical and chemical approaches

The chemical exfoliator brigade argue that their approach improves texture without roughing up the complexion. But overdoing it could still be damaging, so go easy.

Lixirskin’s new Ionic Shot Powder to Mousse Clarifying Mask (£27, lixirskin.co.uk) is a new addition to this field. Chemist Colette Haydon created this negatively-charged powder that mixes into any cream cleanser to form a paste, after spending years as a formulator for top beauty brands. The paste reacts with the positively-charged epidermis to attract sebum in pores, softening and dissolving it to eliminate congestion. Colette, who uses the satisfying term ‘deincrustration’, recommends using this grime magnet for five minutes, thrice weekly. Greasy-skinned fans will be ecstatic.

Pixi Glow Tonic (£18, pixibeauty.co.uk) is the cult buy in this category. A five per cent glycolic acid strong enough to be effective, but not irritating, it is prized by Kim Kardashian, model Jourdan Dunn, and skincare guru Caroline Hirons.

However, my skin seems to prefer Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic (£27, renskin care.com), in which lactic acid breaks up dead cells, rendering skin bright but in no way tight.

Budget buyers note that Superdrug’s Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic 5% (£6.95, superdrug.com) is also a winner, while I’ve been enjoying Aldi’s Lacura Healthy Glow Glycolic Toner (£3.49, aldi.co.uk).

Every skin will have its exfoliation sweet spot: I alternate between physical and chemical approaches, feeding my face in their wake. And do use SPF, or you’re exposing your tender new cells to instant damage.

RACE YOU TO IT!  

Kevyn Aucoin’s The Sensual Skin Enhancer, a multi-tasking concealer, foundation and contour, is back in new packaging. I daub it under my eyes as a colour corrector, adding a few strokes more as a base. It’s lightweight and looks natural.

Cultbeauty.co.uk 

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MY ICON OF THE WEEK

NAOMI CAMPBELL

Naomi Campbell (pictured) starts her morning routine with La Roche-Posay¿s mattifying Serozinc Face Toner Mist

Naomi Campbell (pictured) starts her morning routine with La Roche-Posay’s mattifying Serozinc Face Toner Mist

Back on catwalks for Versace, Alexander McQueen and Lanvin, the 51-year-old supermodel has also been seen about town rocking thigh-high splits and plunging necklines. Her morning routine is said to start with La Roche-Posay’s mattifying Serozinc Face Toner Mist (now £8, boots.com). To maximise absorption, she uses a microneedling tool before applying serums mixed with vitamin E oil and hyaluronic acid, then Pat McGrath Labs cosmetics.

COSMETIC CRAVING  

Seasonal Affective Disorder is the bane of my life at this time of year.

So a kind soul de Mamiel-ed me up, with Annee de Mamiel’s award-winning Altitude Oil — a potent pick-me-up and the inhalation remedy carried about by Vogue’s beauty gurus. I have fallen hard for the oil’s spin-off product, de Mamiel Altitude Bath Soak (pictured, £48 for 400g, demamiel.com).

The prospect of surrendering myself to its sublime blend of lavender, eucalyptus, fragonia, peppermint, pine, lemon myrtle and patchouli is what’s been getting me through these dull, damp days.

demamiel.com 

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MY BEST BERRY NAILS

A non-chip glitter formula from the toxin-free nail specialists.

nailberrylondon.co.uk

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A succulent, beetroot berry with serious staying power.

opiuk.com

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This rich purple berry dries super-speedily to a high- gloss finish.

kikocosmetics.com

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Covetable limited-edition in a seriously seductive aubergine.

dior.com

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A classic black-toned burgundy à la Chanel’s Rouge Noir. Ideal for a seasonal spooky talon.

boots.com

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