There's something immensely satisfying about spring cleaning your home; pulling out cupboards, banging dust from cushions, or scrubbing surfaces until they gleam - everything emerges sparkling clean. As the weather warms, it's the perfect time to do the same with your face; banish grey, wan winter skin with a spring overhaul, using the multitude of new detoxifying and rejuvenating products and treatments.
"Skin is dry and dull during winter months, and an increase in rich food and alcohol consumption can leave it in a stressed and lifeless condition," explains Brigitte Weber, director of beauty at The Strand. "Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and toxins are easily visible to the naked eye. It is necessary to detox, not only your body, but also your skin."
The best way to start is with a change to your skincare routine: cleanse every morning and night, changing from a cream to a foam or gel cleanser to get a better result. Try exfoliating dry skin cells two to three times per week with an enzyme-based exfoliator for sensitive skin types (try Perricone MD's new Intensive Pore Treatment), or grain exfoliator for normal skin types (Bobbi Brown's Buffing Grains for Face).
Weber favours Algotherm's Radiance Exfoliating Gel and Murad's AHA/BHA cleanser. She strongly recommends also using a mask two to three times per week, especially Murad's Purifying Mask - for removing blackheads - along with Thémaé's The Detox Face Mask, which can be used on congested and dry areas. Other effective masks on the market include Valmont's Purifying Pack with clay, silt and burdock extract to regulate sebum secretion; Fresh's Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask for normal to oily skin; and the Detox Face Mask from New York cult brand Malin+Goetz, which is suitable for sensitive skin. Lastly, remember to moisturise morning and night, and apply sunblock during the day.
To kick-start your spring beauty detox regimen, visit a facialist or aesthetician (skin specialist). Yumi Kwan, treatment manager at the Mandarin Spa, advises having a detox/rejuvenation facial once a week, incorporating steam, exfoliation, lymphatic massage and a mask. For a deep-cleansing facial, she recommends the Eve Lom or the Super Hydradermie Facial. The first incorporates a paraffin wax facial mask to open the pores, while the second uses micro-currents to purify the skin in both the epidermis and deeper dermal layer.
Kwan says it's imperative to rejuvenate the face after cold weather. "In winter, a common complaint is dryness, and therefore more nourishing, moisturising and replenishing facials tend to be performed during this period. In the warmer months, the trend is more towards detoxification and deep cleansing."
So, exactly what benefits can you expect to see from your detox? According to Kwan, an effective treatment will clear both surface and deeper layers, as waste is taken away naturally by lymphatic massage. "This creates an opportunity for cells to rejuvenate naturally by hydration and nutrition," she says.
Adding deep exfoliation to a facial will reap even greater benefits, Weber says. She also recommends lymphatic drainage to detoxify deep within your system. "We recommend a plan of weekly facials over a period of six weeks. After the skin has adjusted to the new season, follow with facials according to your skin concerns. For example: sun damage, loss of firmness, dark under-eye circles."
Most people still don't realise how important it is to tailor your skincare products to the season; using the same products year-round simply won't deliver results, says Harriet Lee, vice-president of Joyce Beauty. "Warmer weather in spring brings increased humidity, and our skin tends to become oilier," she says. "We need to cleanse, tone and exfoliate more often to keep the face clear, soft and smooth."
Lee recommends Rodial's gentle Glamtox Cleansing Balm, which cleanses and nourishes skin with almond, jojoba and wheat-germ oils, while a blend of vitamins helps to brighten the complexion and reduce the appearance of age spots and pigmentation. Also on her list of must-haves is Omorovicza's Queen of Hungary Mist, a toner that stimulates the production of collagen, while providing antioxidant defence against free radicals, and reinforcing skin-barrier function. Other products to look out for include Bliss' refreshing Daily Detoxifying Facial Toner and Laneige's Purify-Tox Boosting Essence, which is designed to support the skin's own purification system.
To exfoliate, Lee recommends the Glam Glow Tingling & Exfoliating Mud Mask. Designed as a 10-minute professional "facial-in-a-jar", it provides gentle resurfacing exfoliation, and activates natural collagen synthesis, leaving the skin smoother, brighter and softer.
"Heavy winter moisturisers may clog the pores and lead to increased oil production and acne breakouts. We have to switch to a lighter moisturiser to allow skin more breathing room," she adds. "Overall, we recommend a beauty ritual of the combined benefits of topical products, supplements, spa facials and the latest at-home beauty devices."
The question is, how much can really be achieved by products and treatments alone? According to experts, a fair amount, as long as they are combined with a healthy lifestyle.
Controlling your diet is the fastest way to change your skin's appearance, Kwan says. "Smooth, soft, clear skin depends on fresh fruit, lots of water and vegetables. We recommend our guests reduce their processed food intake, choose complex carbohydrates and healthy proteins," she says. "Exercise also improves the circulation and metabolism, and through perspiration the skin is detoxified and the number of blocked pores reduced."
Lee echoes Kwan's advice, noting that "healthy and glowing skin is certainly the result of a holistic approach - a natural and healthy diet, good digestion, regular exercise, a bedtime ritual and, very importantly, proper skincare. The result of using beauty products alone can be instant and visible, but superficial and short term. Our skin is a very smart organ, it can regulate, protect and renew itself, given proper attention and care".