The colder it gets, the angrier my skin seems to become. Over the past couple of weeks my nose and chin have become increasingly oily and yet the rest of my face is like the Sahara.
The effects of winter are nowhere more noticeable than on the face. But while the body can take a good scrubbing, the face is much more delicate and needs to be treated accordingly. To make matters worse, "darker skins secrete more sebum [oil] which makes cleansing even more important," says Liz Earle, founder of the Naturally Active skincare range. Your beauty routine should move with the seasons and any noticeable changes in the skin usually mean it's time to look again at the products you are using.
Failing to cleanse and exfoliate properly leads to a build up of dead skin. Oil becomes trapped under it and before you can say bad poetry, you've got the complexion of an adolescent.
"Most black women we see use too many products on their skin," says Caroline Clarke, of Eve Lom. "They're constantly stripping it back with soaps, foaming cleansers, etc, and then re-moisturising. This makes the oil glands produce twice as much oil. Instead of scrubbing or using an astringent, you need to balance the skin out."
The new generation of cleansers, complete with muslin cloths, do just that. You apply the cream to the skin, soak the cloth in hot water, then press it against your face, repeating three times or until you've used all the cleanser.
If you can get over the feeling that you're being fleeced for a flannel, these new cleansers really do work. With both Eve Lom and Liz Earle my skin calmed down immediately - it was like giving myself a mini facial each time. Admittedly, they are not as quick to use as traditional cleansers, but you do feel like you're giving your skin a treat. The downside is that you need to machine wash the cloth every couple of days. Call me lazy, but some nights I can barely find the energy to wash my face, never mind get it together to wash the thing I'm going to clean my face with. For the less diligent, the SK-II face cloths are perfect. As luxurious as the other two, these come in a pack of 30 , you just use one and then throw it away. Shamefully wasteful.