Skincare Routine & Regimes – what goes first?

What order should I apply my skincare products?

This question seems to boggle the minds of many and I can see why. With the plethora of products available, it’s easy to get in a muddle and apply incorrectly; therefore not making the most out of the product. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve picked up a product, then had to take a moment to sit down and calculate when and where I should include it in my regime.

Most people stick to the basic cleanse, tone and moisturise routine as a minimum and that’s great, but what if you want to introduce a few new things. Would you know where to begin?

From the clients I work with, I find that it’s immediately after cleansing, things start to get murky, so here is the order to follow in the main. If you already have something else that works for you, then don’t stop – keep going with it.

Morning Routine

  • Cleanse – with a light facial cleanser – a milk or gel that works for your skin type.
  • Acid tone with an AHA toner – I use and always advice to use an exfoliating toner to balance skin,  unclog pores, sweep of skin debris and prep for more intensive product use.

{Spritz – I like to keep skin moist as I go on to apply further product. Not everyone likes this; wants to do it; has time to do it or can afford an additional product in their regime. Whatever your reason – its not compulsory so don’t get hung up over it.}

  • Targeted Treatment Product – e.g. for acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation

This needs to go on to bare skin (not necessarily bone dry, moist is ok) to have the desired effect on the areas affected. If you’re blessed to not need this step as your skin is happy, move on to the next step.

  • Eye Cream – this needs a chance to penetrate the thin skin around the eyes, if you put any other cream or lotion on first and it would be too heavy and also form a barrier which would stop your  eye cream from having any beneficial effect.
  • Serums including light facial oils – usually the thinnest consistency and water based, goes on next to treat the face. They  are designed to be work horses that provide all over treatment to your skin be it for dryness, hydration, brightening or oil balancing, so you want them to get as close to your bare skin as possible to make them more effective.

If using an oil at this point, a couple of drops are really all you need.

  • Moisturiser

You’re all over coat, sealing and protecting everything underneath. In the morning, you would follow with an SPF on top. I’m a big fan of separate SPF, but if your moisturiser already has it, as a lot do nowadays and you find that adequate, then go get dressed and get one with your day.

Night Routine

  • Double cleanse – especially if you’ve been wearing sunscreen and make up, you need to take all of that off with a cleansing oil or balm and flannel, before using your lovely face cleanser to give your skin a proper clean. Micellar water (or wipes!) doesn’t count, I’m afraid.
  • Acid tone (some people prefer to do this every other night), spritz (optional), targeted treatment, eye cream, serum – all as above.
  • Treatment

This is when most people have the extra five/ten minutes to spend on their skin so use that extra time for a facial treatment oil and massage.  An oil packed with regenerative healing properties would be good and also an anti ageing oil to prevent hyperpigmentation, fine lines, dryness – so something with Vitamin A aka Retinol to help . After serum, lightly layer your products and work them into your skin with a firm massage. Remind yourself how beautiful you are and go to bed.

Do you need to apply moisturiser after this? – you shouldn’t, this should be enough before bed, especially as oil forms a barrier and would stop any other water based moisturiser from affecting the skin in any real way.

Don’t like oil?  If your night moisturiser contains a lot of oils in the formulation, then you can use that as your treatment if you prefer.

Some people (ME) skip out the moisturiser and go straight for face oil. I prefer the feel of a light fast sinking treatment oil to a moisturiser, so it’s just a matter of personal preference. Plus after having a few skin issues over Christmas, I cut out moisturiser completely and went straight for oil. The difference in my skin is clear, showing it’s important to listen to your skin and follow what it’s telling you.

Be aware of products that contain silicone as they will form a barrier on the skin, inhibiting further products from having any tangible effect. Silicone based products are not bad in themselves, but should be applied later in your skincare routine.

When it comes to the order of skincare, the rule of thumb is the product with the lightest feeling and thinnest consistency goes on first and everything else is then layered on top according to feel and weight.

I am my sister’s keeper – Ovarian Cancer

This week Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d made the brave, but sensible decision to have her ovaries removed after tests revealed she had a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer. She’d already gone through the process of a double masectomy two years ago. Her mother, aunt and grandmother all died from cancer so I can only imagine the level of anxiety she may sometimes feel about her health. I salute her for doing everything in her power and taking preventative steps to rid herself of the chance of developing cancer.

The bitter sweet fact is even though she has taken all the measures she can, there is still sadly a very real possibility of her developing the disease. Just like any of us. This is why it is important to constantly raise aware about female cancers and fundraise to allow important research work to be done.

Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynaecological cancer and fifth most common female cancer in the UK – Cancer Research UK

The beauty of research

Amazing things happen when beauty is used as a platform to promote health and for the second year in a row Laura Mercier is donating 100% of all the profit from the sales of Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette, £37 and Peach Hope Lip Glacé, £19.50 to the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund. So far, the fund has donated £48,000 to the Ovarian Cancer Trust to support the UK’s first and only dedicated research centre into this disease.

So come on ladies, t’is the season to blush and pucker so support this important work with your beauty and your cash!

Would you be able to spot the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Take a look at the video below to see what the most common signs are.

Time out with….Muslimah Beauty

Easily one of my favourite beauty bloggers! I love all that her blog – Muslimah Beauty – stands for, beauty for women who the beauty industry sometimes overlook because they wear a scarf or a hijab. Somalian by heritage, a Londoner and with a blog birthed in Egypt, Hafsa Issa-Salwe waves the flag for diversity in beauty. She’s award winning, also an event speaker and a definite trail blazer putting Muslimah beauty on the map.


Beauty – all day, everyday.

I love her effortless beauty and charm. Even with the best that beauty has to offer, Shea Butter still tops her faves, but Tom Ford fragrances make her swoon. Like most teenagers she struggled with the perfect eye flick and her ultimate beauty icon is rather close to home.  You can’t not fall in love with Hafsa and her blog. So without, further fan girling, get yourself a cuppa and read on!

  • What’s your earliest memory of looking after your skin?

Most of my early memories are centred around a lesson, and skincare is no different. Whether it was my mother slathering me with Vaseline and olive oil before heading off to school or my grandmother always having a tub of Astral by her side, I guess the earliest memory was learning about the importance of caring for your skin. Not to mention my mother encouraging me to purchase better quality make-up (instead of the £1 eye shadow I’d buy from the market with my pocket money!) once I became interested in all that is beauty.

  • What’s your all time favourite product?

A tough question! Not quite a product, but I’d say shea butter simply because it’s a great multitasker. You can melt it and mix it into your hair conditioner for when your hair is feeling rather dry and parched or you can carry it around in a small container to use as a lip balm.

  • How did you get into blogging?
Hafsa Sunday Times

Big smiles for Sunday Times Style Magazine

I’ve always loved writing – whether it’s poetry or writing an article – but something else I’ve loved in equal measures is beauty. At a time where I was considering how I can get into working within the beauty industry a mentor of mine suggested I start a beauty blog, and I was visiting family in Cairo when things were a little shaky and unsafe during the revolution so there was no better time for me to have started blogging.

  • What’s the best skincare advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many professionals from facialists to dermatologists since I began writing, and whenever I do meet someone with experience I’m quick to ask them to impart some of their wisdom and advice.

“One of the gems I’ve discovered is to double cleanse every night and it’s been an absolute miracle for my skin”

  • How do you handle a break out?

My skin is very prone to breaking out, and over the years I’ve come to learn how to keep the spots at bay but there are those moments where I unfortunately have no control over my skin. To handle a breakout I just make sure I’m eating well i.e. plenty of avocados, salmon, nuts, kale and spinach and in terms of skincare the Clarins Lotus Treatment Oil helps as well as Mario Badescu products like their Buffering Lotion and Drying Lotion. I quite like exfoliating pads too, Clearasil and Nip + Fab are great for those.

  • What’s your favourite smell?

I’d say frankincense because it brings back childhood memories of my mother burning its resin over coal to scent the house, but I’m completely drawn to the smell of jasmine – it’s intense, powerful and very womanly. My favourite jasmine fragrances are Tom Ford’s Jasmin Rouge, Aerin Ikat Jasmine, Bvlgari Jasmine Noir and a solid fragrance from Lush called Lust.

  • What are your biggest skincare/hair/beauty mishap?

There have been far too many beauty mishaps to count, but one of the biggest has to be winged eyeliner à la Amy Winehouse when I was 15/16.

  • What do you never leave home without?

Hand cream. I cannot ever leave the house without hand cream, otherwise it won’t be a good day.

  • What’s your perfect night in?

I’m a full-time student so my perfect night in would be to put the laptop and books to one side, whip up a face mask and catch up on my TV shows.

  • Who’s beauty style do you admire?

There are so many women that I draw inspiration from, but it ultimately boils down to my mother. She was trained in beauty therapy, but she has a very relaxed attitude to it all. She rarely ever wears make-up except for a slick of lipstick and eyeliner on special occasions.  She’s very into her Somali beauty rituals like turmeric face masks on the weekend and always applying henna on her fingers.

Thank you Hafsa for letting me delve into your life and thoughts!


Images collated from Hafsa’s Instagram.

Deeper than Skin: Beauty & Go MacroAntioxidant Drinks

BEAUTY&GO Bodego¦ün sombra_ukEveryone knows that as much as I’m into lotions and potions, I’m even more into always beauty and skincare from the inside out. There is no point slathering on a £100 cream, if your days are spent eating high fat and drinking high fizz. That’s just a ‘killing me softly’ lifestyle.

So naturally, I’m always interested in food and drink that promises to nourish my skin from the inside. Beauty & Go is a newly launched bioactive beauty drink with MacroAntioxidants that promises to feed the skin from the inside.  Less than 100 calories, they focus on using superfoods that have longer lasting properties and are easily digestible.

What’s even better is that all the drinks are free from conventional sugar (naturally sweetened with Stevia) and gluten free. They have  added collagen and hyaluronic acid to boost elasticity and firm the skin. Cleverly, they also realise that beauty is not one size fits all and there a four options:

Anti-Ageing – with pomegranate and hibiscus to protect and rejuvenate.

Radiance – red grape and green tea to boost skin health and improve your glow.

Vitality – an energising drink with Gingko Biloba and Guarana for energy. This sounds great as a pre-exercise drink.

Detox –  cucumber, artichoke and spirulina clarify and purify the skin. This is what you reach for on the morning after the night your can’t remember!

Having tried every single one, I have no clear favourite, but I’m am drawn to Radiance and Vitality, simply because I don’t get enough sleep and I don’t like looking tired. Flavour-wise, they are good – fresh, zesty, natural, no bitter after taste. One of drink daily for a month, should result in an improvement in skin condition. And what better way to find out if this claim stands up than by doing as I’m told? For the next month, I’ll be having one a day. Radiance is my tipple of choice, so I’ll have the full glow report this time next month.

Stay tuned!

*Currently the drinks are available from Selfridges at £2.99, but there are plans to be more widely available are afoot.

Brightening Skincare

With spring and summer round the corner, it’s time to start preparing skin for the barest and sheerest of make up looks. I don’t know about you, but as the weather gets warmer, my make up gets lighter and I want to show of more of my natural skin.

So in line with exfoliation and keep my skin free from lack lustre dead skin cells, I’m always working on brightening and keeping a healthy glow. Vitamin C is one of the easiest ways to do this, but it can also be highly unstable in skincare and difficult to harness its properties as is decomposes very quickly when exposed to air. Our bodies also don’t produce any Vitamin C on their own.

In addition, Vitamin C is an important anti oxidant and a pre-requisite for collagen building which is part of the scaffolding that holds up the skin. Without collagen skin loses its elasticity and firmness and lines and wrinkles is more apparent.  So it’s easy to see how Vitamin C contributes to preventing premature ageing of the skin and helps to maintain a more vibrant and healthy complexion.

cosmedix-pure-c-mixing-crystalsThis year I’ve been using Cosmedix Pure C Mixing Crystals and to date they are the most effective brightening agent I’ve come across. It is 100% L-Ascorbic Acid (the technical name for Vitamin C) and that’s it! No bulking agents or additives. In addition, the crystals are so simple to use because they come in a powder form and you just add a few sprinkles to your serum, lotion or cream; mix and apply to skin. You couldn’t ask for more straightforward skincare.

This is a great product for anyone of any skin tone suffering from hyperpigmentation and dark patches on the skin due to breakout scarring, age and sun damage. It’s also just as great for use as preventative skincare to keep your skin in the best condition possible. Well worth having in the cabinet.

In my usual vein, good skincare is not only topical – it’s also about what you eat and the lifestyle you lead. It’s also important to eat Vitamin C rich food to boost your skin internally. Some of the best include broccoli, kale, kiwi, sweet peppers and papaya to name a few.

Weleda Fashion Week Survival Collection Giveaway

It’s London Fashion Week and there’s a Weleda ‘fashion week survival collection’ up for grabs.

Weleda is the official sponsor of The Model Zone which is the British Fashion Council chill out area for models to take a step back from the catwalk and recharge their batteries away from the glare of the media and press.

As well as relaxing facials and massages, models are also armed with a special collection of pampering Weleda treats to help them survive the hustle and bustle of fashion week. The fashionistas favourite Skin Food is included, along with Citrus Refreshing Body Oil, Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk, Rose Smoothing Facial Masque amongst other treasures.

ModelZoneGiftBag - Feb 2015

It’s a great way to sample the extensive Weleda range and I’ve managed to snag one of these treat bags for a lucky UK reader to win. Just leave a comment below why you need this special ‘fashion week survival collection’ in your life. Giveaway closes on Tuesday 24th February at 9pm and I’ll announce the winner soon after.

Good luck!

Skincare by numbers – in your 40’s

bwahahaha - loved this forty something firecracker

bwahahaha – loved this forty something firecracker

Life begins at forty and it is now you may start to notice the outward evidence of the life you’ve lived so far. Whether your skincare has scored excellent, good or ‘could do better’  your skin will let you know how it wants to be looked after going forward.  Whatever you do now, will also set the scene for your skin in the coming years.

The first things that clients always point out to me is more fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes. Followed by laughter lines, which I find very beautiful. Laughter means joy, so sometimes these lines have to celebrated as they reflect a life lived in happiness. Anyway, I digress.

Hormonal changes can decrease levels of oestrogen in the body. This hormone is partly responsible for keeping skin smooth and plump so you may notice a lose of tone and a change in the texture of your skin. It is common to notice facial hair too.

This is also the time that sun damage and dark spots start showing up. They’ve been developing in the deep recesses of your skin over years, but as the texture changes and becomes thinner they become more noticeable.

What can you do?

After establishing a good low/no sugar diet full of greens and variety, good essential fatty acids and lots of water for hydration, you can look at products and habits that help to keep your skin in good condition.

It is never too late to start with a  skincare regime. The basic building blocks are cleanse, tone and moisturise. But at this point you also need to add exfoliation, masks, serums, old and facial massage to give your skin the best topical support.


This is the point at which you’re looking for performance skin care that delivers results. Naturally expect that some products will now be premium and you will have to pay more.  Products should contain hyaluronic acid, collagen and peptides to keep skin hydrated and full of bounce. Collagen is one half of the scaffolding that holds your skin up. Without it, skin collapses and looses firmness. Peptides help to increase collagen production and even out skin tone.

Try: Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream – using a marine extract Padina Pavonica (yes I know, where do they get these names from?!) it increases hydration and moisture levels to boost the production of collagen.

Algenist Advanced Anti Ageing Repairing Oil - this is a moisture and radiance booster that restores elasticity and firmness using strengthening micro algea oil.


If you’re finding that your skin is feeling just that little bit rough and the texture is changing, it’s because as we get older, metabolic changes means the skins ability to shed dead skin cells slows down, causing a build up that feels rough and dry. It’s time to introduce Alpha/Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s and BHA’s) into your skin care. These are easy  exfoliants that will smooth out the skin by getting rid of dead skin cells.

Try: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 – (with or without phenol depending where in the world you are) – the original of all the exfoliating lotions out there with lactic acid, usnic acid and ascorbic acid amongst other ingredients. It’s available in threes strengths taking into account different skin types. You’ll notice a difference in your skin within days.


It’s also time to start tackling fine lines and wrinkles using retinol which isn’t half as scary as it sound. When used properly it is a power product that can retexturise and refine the surface of the skin. Put simply Retionol is a clever form of Vitamin A that can attach itself to our skin cells that are badly performing and train them to be healthy again.

Try: REN Bio Rentinoide Anti Ageing Concentrate. A blend of three different types of retinol that’s great for all skin types including sensitive. Also has Omega 6 and 7 to nourish and moisturise in the skin.

Skinceuticals Retinol 1% – it’s an advanced home treatment to even skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Speak to a professional for the best advice on how to use this as skin has to be prepped beforehand.

You have to wear a high factor sunscreen as a must if you’re using a retinol product as it increase photosentivitiy of the skin. SPF also prevents further damage to the skin and age spots, so really everyone’s a winner!


At some point hyperpigmentation from sun damage starts showing through as an uneven skin tone, leaving you patchy and blotchy. You should introduce a serum or moisturising oil that works to balance and brighten the appearance of your skin. They have a thinner consistency than creams, so are able to work slightly further down in the skin for better results.

Try: Trilogy Rosehip Oil – a simple oil with essential fatty acids Omega 3, 6, 9 that not only moisturises but helps to fade spots, scars and dark marks.

Omorovicza Radiance Renewal Serum – Great your skin always looks a little tired because the White Lupin and watercress revitalise and make you skin glow. Just makes you alive again.

Don’t forget: neck and hands

After your face, they are the next most exposed areas and affected in just the same way. Both can be susceptible to dryness and hyperpigmentation so always moisturise from the neck up and use a good hand cream. Read this here for more advice.

Professional Treatments

Be it monthly, quarterly or bi-annually seeing a professional skincare specialist in a clinic to analyse and assess your skin is important to help guide the choices you make a home with your skincare. They can also perform treatments that will turbo charge your skin and address multiple issues quickly.

See link for further product information.

Deeper than Skin – Tongue Tales

A friend of mine passed this on to me and I think it’s so interesting. Our bodies have funny ways of telling us what’s going on deep inside and this is just one way of loosely pinpointing complaints you may be suffering from.

Remember, if anything bothers you, see your GP.

Now for the fun part:

  • Grab a mirror

  • Pretend you’re five

  • Stick your tongue out

  • Take a look

tongue-diagnosis Dijasworld

What’s your tongue telling you?

What’s the deal with white & black heads?

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 08.10.31

Top picks for blemish elimination

There always seems to be general confusion around whiteheads and blackheads. What are they? Why do I have them? How to get rid? Why don’t they ever go away?

I would say these are amongst the most common blemishes you will get on your face (back, shoulders, chest too!) and the oiler your skin, the more likely you are to suffer from them. They also are no respecter of age, from puberty to menopause, it’s possible to get them. But all is not lost as there several remedies to keep them at bay.

Firstly, whiteheads – they are formed when dead skin cells and oil are trapped in a pore just under the skin’s surface. They can normally be found setting up shop right down the T-Zone covering the forehead, nose and chin.

Blackheads on the other hand are formed when dead skin cells and sebum harden and form a plug in the pore in the upper layers of skin. When exposed to air, they turn black, hence the name. They can be annoyingly persistent and again found mainly on the T -Zone, but also on tops of cheeks.

I suppose one thing to be grateful for is that they are usually free from bacteria so with a good skincare routine, it’s easy to keep them check.

So how do you do that?

– Keep your skin clean, it’s the most basic thing you can do to avoid them. A good routine of cleanse, tone and moisturise is key. Followed by all the other add on’s – masks, exfoliators, peels and professional treatments.

– Use products that are non comedogenic – that is they are designed to not sit in your pores and cause blockages. Even some natural ingredients like Shea Butter can clog pores so be aware.  It’s important to take the time to cleanse properly if using.

– Exfoliate – this gets rid of dead skin cells which are a major culprit. Whether you use a flannel daily, traditional kernels, Alpha/Beta Hydroxy Acids it’s a very important part in making your skin less susceptible to blemishes.

– Focus on key ingredients – Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide

Look for products with salicylic acid, normally shown as the ingredient Willow Bark – this ingredient is your friend and saviour of your skin. It helps skin dead cells shed more easily, breaks down congestion within the pore and prevents further clogging by temporarily restricting pore size. Personally I love salicylic acid and sometimes even swipe it over clients that have dry skin to improve their texture. It’s up there with acid royalty!

Benzoyl Peroxide is another good ingredient to use as it breaks down congestion in pores and tackles bacterial infestation. Rather stronger than salicylic acid  though and if you use it willy nilly it’s akin to using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. I usually reserve recommending this unless there’s quite severe white/black heads in look, quantity and whether there is likelihood of P.acnes bacteria being present.

Check out my top product picks below.

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Ask Dija: Banishing Breakouts


Are breakouts the bane of your life?

Believe it or not, a Facialist can and does have breakouts and I hate it because my face is my business. You’d think with an arsenal of products, I’d be able to stave off a particular bad breakout that started just before Christmas. The worst breakout in my memory. It was literally one painful under-the-skin pimple after another. Even my husband noticed and that’s never a good thing.

Clearly it was time to practice what I preach, so now that I’m on the other side of it and I hope to God I haven’t spoken too soon, here’s a run down of what to do in the unfortunate event of a breakout.

Think & Trace

Think back to when the breakout started and what was going on in your life. For me, we had building work, one too many takeaways, pre-Christmas stress followed by the obligatory Christmas indulgence and one too many Heston Blumenthal mince pies. By working backwards, you can pinpoint where things went wrong and that makes the job of fixing your skin that bit easier.

Keep it Simple

At this point, strip back your routine. I went for a  simple cleanse and moisturise twice a day regime. No toners or floral waters either. I religiously used my Aurelia Miracle Cleanser because of its probiotics to help balance the bacteria on my skin. Breakouts are caused by bacteria and sebum mixing on the skin so anything that provides some balance is a good thing. For moisturiser, I stuck to a simple oil that I rustled up myself using avocado oil as a base with chamomile and lavender essential oils to soothe.

Diet & Supplements

I really believe on healing from the inside so I increased my supplements especially my Omega 3, 6, 9, zinc and starflower as they boost cell performance. I snacked on salmon and avocado for their healthy fatty acids content and feasted on berries for their anti oxidant properties. I also cut out sugar and refined products and replaced my beloved builders brew with green tea and water, again for anti oxidant protection.

I also made fresh green juices using the principles of the alkaline diet to neutralise toxins and acidity in the body. Spinach, broccoli, cucumber, kale and carrots made delicious and refreshing drinks.

Treat & Heal

Instead of jack of all trades serums and treatments, I pared back to tried and tested masks and serums that have never let me down - Avene Antirougeurs, I absolutely love and thankfully never have plenty of occasions to use. It’s soothing and calmed down the heat sensations I was experiencing after one session. Indeed Labs Hydraluron for all over moisture. This product is a little gem. Source 5 Cosmeceuticals Calm Serum treats irritated and sensitive skin with Desert Glycoproteins and Purity Serum tackles breakout areas with Epilobium Fleisheri, an Alpine herb that reduces oil production – I find I turn to these treatment serums time and time again. Together they work so well for me.

Now, all that remains is to deal with the post breakout scarring!

Illustration by Brianna Harden