I recently spoke with Kristina Tsiriotakis from L’Occitane about the best skincare tips and scents for spring.

What are the best tips to care for your skin?

One of the most important things we can do to take care of our skin is change our skincare routine seasonally. Just like we trade in our warm coats, snow boots and thick woolen sweaters for lighter fare, spring is the time to trade in our richer winter skincare for something lighter.

It’s best to switch from oil-based cleansers and heavier moisturizers to lighter, fresher water-based textures. Look for water based gels and lotions enriched with hyaluronic acid – which naturally help your skin to retain more water. Using lotions enriched with anti-oxidants like Vitamins A, C or E help combat the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.

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If you’re not already, now is the time to start using an SPF in your beauty routine. Remember the sun is one of most powerful accelerators of the aging process. There are many lightweight SPF’s at your beauty counter, but if you don’t like the idea of layering, you can also switch to a moisturizer or makeup with SPF (preferably 30+), or use a BB or CC cream with SPF and pigments to help even out your skin tone, all in one step.

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If you haven’t been using eye care during the winter, spring is the ideal time to start. As the days become longer and the sun’s rays grow brighter, we tend to squint more. Our eyes are the first place to show signs of stress and aging, so it’s crucial to protect this area with a hydrating and anti-aging eye treatment. If you suffer from darkness or puffiness, look for eye creams that help to target these concerns as well. My personal favorite is the Divine Eye Balm from L’OCCITANE, which is also enriched with mineral based filters to diffuse to appearance of imperfections around the eye contour, helping to minimize the need for under eye concealer.

Why is it important to care for your skin?

Our skin is our largest organ, and has many important functions outside of helping us look fabulous. These functions include absorbing vital nutrients, eliminating toxins and waste, protecting vital organs, regulating our temperature and delivering our sensory experiences.

In this day and age, factors like extra sun exposure, additives, preservatives in beauty products and processed foods can be drying and damaging.

As a result, our skin needs more nutrients and hydration on a daily basis to keep it strong and healthy. Unfortunately, even for those of us who eat a well-balanced diet, not all of the nutrients or water we consume reach the skin. Selecting skincare products that hydrate and are enriched with vital nutrients is one of the best ways to make sure your skin looks and feels its very best. Think about your skincare routine as your skin food. Just like eating a balanced diet is important for our bodies health, following a balanced skincare routine is important for your skins health.

Make sure your skin care is enriched with plant oils, vitamins and minerals to feed your skin on a daily basis. One of my personal favourite ingredients Shea Butter, which is enriched with anti-oxidants like Vitamin A and E, and omega 6’s to keep skin balanced and protected.

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What are the biggest mistakes that people make caring for their skin? (both guys and women)

Most people follow a simple routine of cleansing and moisturizing – this is a big miss as the additional steps in a skincare routine are crucial to ensuring skin looks and feels its best. Think about an exercise routine – if you only focused on cardio and skipped muscle training or yoga, you wouldn’t receive all the benefits of working out. It’s the same with skincare – different pieces offer different benefits.

For example, many people skip the toning step, which is a shame, as toners rebalance the skin after cleansing, prepping it to best receive subsequent treatments. Toners can reduce the amount of lotion and serum your skin needs and are a vital step in the skincare routine.

Serums are essential for treating skin concerns such as dryness, aging or unevenness in skin tone. Two quick pumps of serum under your face cream can vastly improve the results of your other skincare products as well.

Face oils are like a sauna for your skin, as they help detox and plump, leaving the skin looking revived and radiant. I love L’OCCITANE’s Divine Youth Oil as it is enriched with anti-aging Immortelle essential oil, derived from an everlasting flower traditionally used to treat skin distress, and over 7 plants oils renowned for their nourishing and balancing properties. Two drops of oil and your skin looks perfected and rested. It can even be mixed into your daily face moisturizer or foundation.

Exfoliating twice a week with a gentle scrub is also important, as it removes the dead skin cells that cause the buildup that prevents your skincare products from penetrating and doing their job. Skipping this step can also leave your skin looking and feeling dull, dry or uneven due to blackheads and clogged pores.

For men, skipping this step can also lead to razor burn and ingrown hairs. Look for scrubs that have gentle grains as larger grains like apricot shells can cause the skin to tear. When possible, combine the benefits of mechanical exfoliation (through shells and seeds) with chemical exfoliations (through alpha or beta-hydroxy acids that break up the bonds between dead skin cells). My favourite exfoliant is the Reine Blanche Illumination Scrub, as it combines the benefits of plant-based grains and salicylic acids for double exfoliating action. It’s also enriched with Meadowsweet and White Mulberry Extracts from Provence, which help to illuminate the skin and even out skin tone.

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Masks once or twice a week can boost the skin and make it look like you just came from the aesthetician. Try a hydration mask to add plumpness, radiance and suppleness or a rinse-off mask enriched with minerals or clay to detox and balance oil or impurities. Five to ten minutes once or twice a week can be transformative.

These extra steps only take a few extra minutes and can make all the difference in how your skin looks and feels.

How to pick the right products for your skin?

Skincare products should be selected first based on your skin type, and then on any skin conditions.

Skin types include dry and oily, combination and normal, and are determined by the amount of sebum (oil) our skin naturally produces.

Dry skin is lacking in vital oils and needs to be treated with products whose primary function is to replace these oils. Dry skin is typically characterized by tightness, redness, flaking and no visible pores.

Oily skin, on the other end of the spectrum, produces an excess of sebum and needs products that remove excess oil and replace it with water. Oily skin is typically characterized by shine, dilated pores or blackheads and blemishes.

Normal skin is perfectly balanced in terms of oil and water, and should be treated with products focused on maintaining this balance. Normal skin is typically characterized by an even texture and tone and no visible pores.

Combination skin is made up of any combination of dry, oily or normal areas on the same skin and needs to be treated with products that are not too rich and not too light to help create balance within the skin. It is typically characterized by pores and shine in the t-zone, and dryness in the cheek area.

Once skin type has been established, it’s time to address skin concerns, including aging, sensitivity and dehydration. For example, if you have dry skin and also are suffering from many visible signs of aging such as fine lines and dullness, you will need a nourishing anti-aging moisturizer.

If you have normal skin but tend to have more sensitive skin that is reactive or red, you will need a lightweight moisturizer enriched with soothing ingredients.

As a rule of thumb think type, then condition. If you’re not using the right textures for your skin type and condition, it might be time for a switch up.

How to store skincare and how long does it last for?

The most important variable to consider for storing skincare is temperature. Heat degrades products more quickly, causing skincare to work less effectively or have a shorter shelf life. All skincare and beauty products should be stored in a dry, cool and dark place. Keep them out of steamy bathrooms and direct sunlight (if your vanity is by a windowsill, this is a no-no). Many of us keep our products in the shower, but if water gets into the product through the cap, it may degrade the active ingredients and cause them to break down.

Keeping more natural products without preservatives in a dark place is especially important, as heat and light cause bacteria to proliferate. You can also store your beauty products in the fridge as the coolness acts as a natural preservative. This is ideal for fine fragrance, nail polish and any preservative-free formulas.

Typically products should not be kept longer than 6 months as air and bacteria from your fingers get into the product causing it to degrade. To prolong the life of your product, make sure you place the cap on straight away after use, and try to dip into products with a cotton bud or spatula to prevent bacteria build up.

What are the top scents for spring (for guys and women)?

Generally speaking, when it comes springtime, we trade in our woody, aromatic warmer scents for fragrances that are fresher, more delicate and sparkling. Since heat intensifies scent, during the cold months we can wear scents that are more intense. Once the warmer weather sets in, opting for softer and fresher scents wears best.

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For a transitional scent for spring, I recommend L’OCCITANE’s new eau de parfum, Terre de Lumiere. The brand’s first aromatic gourmand, it plays on the tension between the warmth of a gourmand and the freshness of an aromatic scent. With a heart of lavender honey, inspired by the Golden Hour in Provence, it is perfect scent for the new season.

Any other tips?

As a general rule, you should always know what ingredients are in your skincare products and why they should do what they say they do. If your beauty advisor can’t explain this to you, or if your beauty products make promises that can’t be substantiated, I would advise against these products as they may be a fad or the product of clever marketing.

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