Powder perfect: discover a new way to cleanse your skin …
We’re seeing a trend for powder-washing – using a powder to not just clean your skin, but especially to bring out its brightness. The powder format – mix with water to create a cleansing or mask texture – means they contain lower levels of preservatives, so they are both more concentrated, long-lasting on your bathroom shelf and also travel-friendly (just decant into a small pot when going away).
This isn’t a new thing – powder cleansers have been around for years, but we’re currently seeing a new passion for them, driven partly by the idea of “water-less” beauty. Alex Carro’s Exfoliating Powder is still one of the best, a multitasking little black bottle of powder that’s designed to be mixed with Carro’s face oil, balm or facial cleanser (see www.alexcarro.com).
What’s so special about these powders? The key is enzymes. Enzymes are a natural alternative to physical exfoliators, or scrubs (the word scrub gives me an instant flashback to an ‘80s staple facial scrub made gritty with bits of apricot stone, sorry “ground apricot kernels” that we surely used with far too much vigour in the days of blackheads and teen spots – more like paint-stripper than something you want on your delicate skin). In skincare, it’s fruit enzymes that usually star, from pineapple to papaya (as spotted in The Body Shop’s new Vitamin C Overnight Mask, €35). And these are not abrasive or scratchy on your skin. With papaya-derived enzymes, for example, they quickly lose properties on contact with water, hence the powder format.
Irish-owned Skinician founders Shelley Martin and Hilary McMurray explain that enzymes “create a chemical reaction on the skin to dissolve dry, hardened skin cells and encouage the growth of new, healthy cells to take their place.” This process is often compared to Pacman as they gobble up all the bad bits. It’s a quick and easy way to dislodge sweat and oils from the pores, and generally decongesting. And compared to acids, they’re a more gentle way of exfoliating – and thus brightening – the skin, particularly if you have sensitive skin or experience acne or rosacea. People can get a bit over-enthusiastic when it comes to acids, and over-use can lead to damaging the skin barrier, so this way is safer.
1 I’m trying out a preview of the new Exfoliating Enzyme Mask from Sisley, landing this autumn. Sisley skincare is always a joy to use, and this is no different. The mask uses natural fruit enzyme Papain (from papaya) to break down the bonds between the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. It’s powerful concentrated stuff – leave it on for one minute only – and you’ll notice brighter skin almost immediately. No wonder Sisley is the bestselling face mask brand in France. An investment, but you only need a small amount each time, so the pot will last for ages. €100, at Brown Thomas Dundrum from September 1. NB It also preps skin beautifully for their Supremya At Night Supreme Skin Care Lotion (€210), one of the best I’ve tried, and one that also boosts brightness.
2 Auteur Enzyme Cleanser is a hero product in the high-tech, glamorously presented range recently taken on by skin expert Olga Kochlewska, who explains: “It features very active and highly concentrated ingredients (over 100) and works very well on all skin types. I actually can’t wait to cleanse with it every morning and evening! The recyclable bottles and lack of plastic packaging add to the beauty of the brand.” The heavy glass bottles are seriously glamorous, and I find the bamboo-based powder very gentle and lovely to use. A teaspoon-sized amount emulsified with a few drops of water creates a smooth creamy light paste that’s soft yet strong. It leaves skin clean but not tight. www.skinbyolga.ie
3 Try a treatment to get the idea: the Mango Radiance Peel at Thérapie Clinic, Dundrum Town Centre, uses gentle fruit enzymes for a skin-brightening masterclass. Follow up with Skinician’s Pro-Radiance Enzyme Cleanser which features pinepapple, passion fruit and prickly pear fruit extracts to exfoliate. €36.20, stocked in salons nationwide and www.skinician.com.