International facialist and wellbeing expert Abigail James is many an A-lister’s skin saviour, but what does her skincare routine look like? Read on to find out which Space NK favourites she swears by…
The Wind Down
I usually start slowing down around 6-7pm. After a late Sunday lunch with a glass of wine, I make sure the kids are all sorted for school, and then I might run an early bath, which is such a luxury. My goal is to remove traces of any of the week’s stresses and strains but it’s also about relaxing and a more therapeutic angle. Now that I’m the other side of 40 my skin definitely needs more support. Sunday night is a rare time when I can focus on me, so there is that definite ‘switch off’ feel, the calm before the storm if you like, and making sure my skin looks and feels good for the week ahead. I love a candle when I’m relaxing, anything citrusy or neroli-based. That said I’m still a sucker for a spa-type scent with lavender or rosemary. I like a bit of silence, I appreciate it, I’ve got kids and I work, so there’s constant noise. Having said I like to switch off, I check my emails pretty constantly throughout the evening. My working week has to be planned because each week is different – I might be in the spa, in different locations or working for different brands on different products and I still have to figure out what to feed the kids; I can quite often be found doing my Sainsbury’s shop while I’m in the bath!
I’ll do a big chunk of my skincare while I’m in the bath. I always use a cleansing oil or a balm because they are just amazing for massaging with. They feel nourishing and nurturing on my skin and that whole experience of using a product is really important to me. I love the Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm, the texture is incredible. If I want something a little less fussy I like the Caudalie Make-up Removing Cleansing Oil. I’ve gone back to using my Clarisonic so I’ll use that in conjunction with my cleanser, and then it’ll be a mask. Sunday night is all about masks, that’s a biggie. I’ll often use my Foreo to just help the product go that little bit deeper. At the moment it’s either an enzyme mask or a hydrating, nourishing one — my skin doesn’t tend to need deep cleansing unless it’s that time of the month. This is all happening when I’m lying in the bath but once I’m out I apply a serum, maybe two.
I usually do some dry body brushing – I’m a therapist, we’re trained to do it — although in reality I probably don’t do it for as long as I’m supposed to. I usually chuck a big handful of Epsom salts in the bath too, as I buy them in bulk. I’m not a foam-y, bubble bath type, I’m more of an essence or an aromatherapy oil kind of person. I keep it simple and I like relaxing scents like lavender — I soak the towels in the spa in lavender oil, so it’s an important scent for me. I occasionally do a body scrub. I’m not always great at moisturising after the bath but that’s often because I’ll use something in there that leaves my skin feeling quite nourished anyway.
Sunday night is a hair mask night, I look for something hydrating. Often I’ll put the mask on first and then shampoo and condition. I had it chopped off recently and it’s actually harder to maintain and style now, so needless to say I’m growing it again. I can’t even leave it to dry naturally so have to blow dry it. I’m using Bumble and bumble Thickening DrySpun Finish right now.
I like to be in bed by 9.30pm on a Sunday, but sometimes you can find me in bed at 8.30pm. If it gets to 10.30pm then I know I’ll be awake at 1am, so I have to go with my natural body clock and go to bed when I’m tired. I have a quick flick on Instagram but then it’s lights out. I always, always go to bed with a big cup of camomile tea and I’ve always got some sort of lavender product on my bedside table to sprinkle on pillows. This Works Sleep + Pillow Spray is a nice one. I have a fabric eye mask there too because I’m seasoned insomniac. I started using one 10 years ago to help with that and it’s just continued. Hand cream also features; everybody assumes that because of what I do I must have super-soft hands, but it’s actually the opposite. I’m constantly washing them, whether it’s removing a cleanser or a mask, or in between clients, and as a result they get very dry and cracked. So cream is kind of essential. I’ve got to have cashmere bed socks too because if my feet are cold I can’t sleep. I keep supplements by the side of my bed; I take chlorella, turmeric capsules and I have a sleep support one too. Sometimes my bedside table is a bit too crowded with beauty products! I can usually get to sleep okay but then I go through phases of waking up at like 2am or 3am, I think I just have an active mind.
My alarm is usually set for anywhere between 6am and 6.30am. I used to be the kind of person who got up and ready to go with my alarm, but as I’ve got older I’m finding the mornings more tricky. My job is exciting and I love my work so I always look forward to the week ahead. I often wake with my Miniature Dachshund on my face, which I’m sure isn’t great for the skin, and then the first thing I do is have a cup of Earl Grey tea, which my 12-year old son brings me in bed. Then I scrape my hair off my face and cleanse. I’ll use a wash with lots of cold water and then it’s straight into my whole skincare routine.