Thursday Notes

One step that can wake skin up again

Have you been feeling a little dragged-down? The inevitable settling-down that comes after a period of intensity — combined with the arrival of cold weather and earlier darkness — can pose a challenge even to the most motivated. Especially, I imagine, if you're working from home, where the couch can beckon you with the siren song of its cozy blanket.

There's a Bach flower remedy for this very feeling of mental drag: it’s called Hornbeam, and you can find it in the excellent Energy elixir from Les Fleurs de Bach. I think we could all use a little Hornbeam these days (which seems much more appealing when called by its elegant and sparkly French name, Charme). 

I’ve also re-adopted a practice that I love: the “just one thing” to-do list. Whether I use it at the office or around the house, it forces me to prioritize and focus, and finishing that one thing is so motivating that I then start bouncing up and down, thinking, “Ooh, what's next?”

And it occurred to me that, during moments like this — stale, draggy times, when we could benefit from a little something extra in our beauty and wellness routines — the process of doing that little something extra can feel like a bridge too far. "What, a facial treatment mask? Ugh, forget it. I can barely bring myself to wash my face before crawling under my covers at night.”  

But hear me out, because I genuinely think that a mask (of the pamper-yourself variety) could be the perfect “just one thing” for your skin right now.

Here's main reason: most of us have probably not seen a facialist lately. We are also probably thinking that, after having a global pandemic top of mind for about 8 months, our stressed-out complexions are not living their best lives. And we may be right.

But I find that, in just 10-15 minutes, a great mask helps kick my complexion back into gear. It's like the sparkly Charme of facial products: a gentle push that gets skin going again. And, like that “just one thing,” a mask is a great motivator, reminding me that the process of skin care can be genuinely pleasurable.

There are three masks I find myself returning to over and over, for very different reasons:

The Marie Veronique Probiotic+Exfoliation Mask is what I go for when I mainly need some solid, good-for-you exfoliation. It was a mainstay in our treatment room at Ayla HQ (which is still there, by the way; just taking a pandemic break) because it takes only 3-5 minutes to do its thing, leaving skin noticeably smoother and perfectly prepared for your next skincare steps. 

When I feel like doing a little mixing ritual and want a gentle, all-around skin waker-upper, I reach for the powder Facial Mask from MyHavtorn: it soothes stressed-out skin while simultaneously brightening it. It never fails to leave my complexion looking fresh and rested, which is frequently just what I’m after.

But the one I’ve been using the most these days — for its addictively rich, creamy texture that suits absolutely any skin type, especially in cold and dry weather — is The London Mask from TWELVE. There’s no mixing required, as it’s already been meticulously blended for three days by our exacting friend, Pedro: he combines clay with replenishing oils in a perfectly smooth formula that you simply can’t get anywhere else, because no one else would have the patience and conviction required to make it this way.

While The London Mask is on your skin, it feels like something wonderful is happening, and it is; the indulgent blend is coddling and calming while also actively pulling out impurities. But the best part, to me, is taking it off, because this mask makes my skin feel like velvet afterwards. Inexplicably, totally, delightfully like velvet. It’s the perfect treat before my head hits the (silk, always — because once you go there, you can’t go back) pillow.


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