Victoria-Anne Tessa | Green For All Seasons
The story of a connected and dedicated skin ritual by MV Skintherapy founder Sharon McGlinchey.
1. Skincare is only holistic if it is made from ingredients that have a natural affinity with both the skin and the body.
Commercial skincare is often quite the opposite as it can be aggressive and toxic. Your skincare should be respectful of your largest organ – it needs to work in tune with its rhythms, and supports its natural processes; it is always non-stripping, non-abrasive and restorative, ensuring optimal skin health. It is worth thinking about whether your skincare rituals are holistic: ie. designed to positively impact your mind, body and spirit – the ‘whole’ of you – by providing aromatherapeutic and touch-driven rituals. When we feel wonderful, we look better – and that is crucial belief at MV Skintherapy.
2. The best weapon I have in my arsenal is the simplest: the gentleness of the holistic regime.
‘Nature doesn’t do quick fixes – neither do we.’ You have one skin for life, and it seems mad to me that you would continually over-treat and strip it, in order to maintain that ongoing short-term gain. What ultimately happens though – is that you may see a short-term boost in skin’s glow or plumpness when you use acids (AHAs essentially irritate the skin to cause inflammation – and we see that inflammation as plumpness), but ongoing use of these products, and ongoing irritation, will always lead to heightened sensitivity. Your skin can only take so much.
A truly holistic approach to skincare should ultimately strengthen the skin. I have lost count of the number of women who have come to me with reactive, sore, damaged and over-worked skin – skin is traumatised by ongoing peels, laser, exfoliation, acids, and becomes delicate and highly sensitised.
Even washing your face with water every day (when most of us live in areas with hard chlorinated water) can strip and irritate the skin. Fact: Recent statistics show that just over 50% of women believe they have some degree of skin sensitivity which is an alarming statistic!
3. A good skin ritual should be simple.
It should include a warm compress, smell heavenly and allow us to connect with our inner body processes. This is so you can focus on ‘feeling’ what you are doing rather than ‘thinking’ about all the steps you have to follow in your ‘procedural’ skincare routine. The warm compress cleanse helps soften the glue-like substance which holds surface dead skin cells in place. In effect, this is gentle daily exfoliation without stripping.
Compress cleansing also encourages a subtle ‘flushing’ action as the capillaries expand and contract gently with the application of heat from a cloth then the gradual and natural cooling when the cloth is removed. Over time, this action ‘exercises’ the capillaries, and can help reduce capillaries that are overly dilated – which reduces redness in the skin too.
From a holistic standpoint, that feeling of warmth from the compress is also expansive – and allows the body to open up and relax more quickly. Aroma is important because essential oils often create a powerful sensory experience which then allows us to connect more deeply with our ‘feeling’ body. When we ‘feel’ we are naturally more connected and still.
1. Firstly, half fill a sink/basin with warm to hot water to create your steamy compress.
2. Massage 2 pumps of Gentle Cream Cleanser over the skin for no more than 15 seconds.
3. Place a warm steamy cloth over the face for a long slow count of 5 – allowing the steam to do all the hard work.
4. Wipe away cleanser and repeat warm-hot compressing 3-4 times. *A second cleanse is only necessary for those who wear ‘full coverage’ make-up.
6. Smooth half a pump or Rose S&P Moisturiser over the face and neck. * AM only
4. The importance of connectivity
To connect with yourself by way of a skincare ritual is to me an essential act of self-care. It’s so simple, yet so effective – precious minutes to switch off, breathe, touch, smell, experience – and come back into your body, mindfully.
Connectivity is about how you use your hands and also about slowing down. If you rush through your skincare ritual it is no longer a ritual – you must SLOW DOWN.
5. Protect your skin
My top skin “preservation” tip is to always protect your skin while showering with a pure oil like MV’s Pure Jojoba. Water can be harsh and drying as those with sensitivity know all too well so if you don’t want to look blotchy and feel tight and dry after your shower, 2 drops of an oil like Jojoba will do the trick. This also saves your precious moisturiser as you’ll use far less because your skin won’t feel tight and dry.
My top tip to minimise congestion and avoid over burdening your skin. Give your night cream the flick and only use oils at night. Moisturisers are a bit like overcoats – they’re occlusive – but at night, when your skin is naturally repairing and cleansing itself, you want your skin to be able to ‘breathe’, and turnover without hindrance. Your skin will really thank you for it.
And my top tip for your skin and for life in general – ‘Less is More’ The skin is smart, it’s been protecting us for thousands of years – long before the skincare and the cosmetics boom – so all it really needs is a little helping hand. In fact, twice a year for at least 3 weeks I use only Pure Jojoba to moisturiser morning and night – I refer to this as my skin holiday.
A list of Dos
1. Make the bathroom a device-free zone. In this way there will be no distractions.
2. Aim to de-clutter your bathroom, then create a clear and calm space complete with your favourite plant or flowers to maintain that healthy connection with nature.
3. Really look closely at your face and your posture before you start your daily ritual. Take a long slow deep breath before you start and aim to drop your shoulders just a little.
4. Use your relaxed flat palms as your blending and application tool – no more rubbing with your fingers.
5. With relaxed palms, HOLD your face momentarily then, GLIDE over the skin with oils and creams rather than ‘rubbing’ the products in. Relaxed palms gliding over the skin is so much more nurturing.
The difference a skin ritual makes
You feel calmer, you look calmer, you then apply ‘self care’ to other aspects of your life and it becomes addictive. You find all kinds of interesting ways to be more present and in the moment with the simplest of things. I now make folding my clothes a ritual after reading Marie Kondo’s ‘The life changing magic of tidying up’!
A conscious lifestyle
I think to some degree women often feel quite guilty about having ‘free’ time or ‘doing nothing’ so it’s about changing the language we use around each other and our own ‘self talk’.
I was forced to address ‘self care’ when I became very ill. It’s a shame it took something so powerful to finally stop me from telling myself I was being lazy if I sat down for longer than five minutes. In fact, my MV 3-minute skin ritual twice a day was, for almost a decade, one of the few things I did where I was really ‘in the moment’ and I truly slowed down for. That and my weekly yoga class, so that was my starting point, and I have continued to build from that point ever since.
It’s like anything, if you keep practising something you’ll get better at it, and we all need to apply the same commitment to our self-care habits as we do to other parts of our working and family lives.