Ask Dija: How often should I exfoliate, steam and mask?

There is not a one size fits all answer as everyone has a different skin type with differing concerns. So I followed the question with my own question, as you do.

How would you describe your skin type and what age group do you fall into?

Answer: Combination skin, early 20’s.

Combination skin tends to have an oily T zone – forehead, nose and chin – and dry/normal areas on the cheeks. The pores tend to be larger on the T zone which produce more oil and shine on the surface of the skin. Early 20’s would fall into the young skin bracket, so we’d expect supple, plump and firm skin.

In addition to your CTM routine I would recommend the following.


A steam will warm up your face to open pores and dislodge dry skin and you can do this on a daily basis whilst cleansing with a flannel. Simply run hot water over the flannel (as hot as your hand can stand without scalding, we don’t want any burns!), wring and lay on your face. (make sure its not too hot, again I worry about scalding!) This is a an extremely gentle steaming method, but highly effective. Leave super-duper steams to your facialist who by the way you should be seeing on a monthly basis. If you aren’t, start now because all skin types benefits from a deep clean!


You need to exfoliation to remove dead skin cells that have been dislodged through your gentle steam and are just hanging on. Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant is perfect for combination skin and all time favourite. Its rice based enzyme scrub so its gentle enough to use everyday. Gritty exfoliators are a big no-no as they’ll only vex your skin.


When it comes to masks,  I don’t subscribe to a one size fits all mantra. I truly believe with combination skin you have to tackle the different areas in isolation and there’s nothing strange or extravagant about using two different types of masks.

On the T zone a clay based mask is best. This will soak up oil straight up out of the pores to purify and help mattify the skin. Depending on how oily your T zone is every 2 – 3 days should suffice. One of the best for general day-to-day maintenance is Garnier Pure 3 in 1 Wash-Scrub-Mask which contains kaolin – the oil absorber.

On dry cheeks or other generally dry areas, you want something that’s going to moisturise and hydrate your skin deep within. 1 or 2 times a week should be fine. I would recommend something along the lines of Weleda Wild Rose Intensive Facial Masque. It will brighten any dull skin and balance moisture levels.

See products here.

Having said this, it really very important to pay close attention to your skin and listen to it. Feed your skin what it needs and set your own standard for your personal skin care.

Ask Dija: What are the must have nail products?

I believe having good nails is a very simple job and not as time-consuming as we sometimes think it is, so long as you have all the right products and tools to use. Every home care kit should include:

Nail File – Leighton Denny  Crystal nail files (£12.50) are the best. It doesn’t shatter or peel the nail as you file and you can file forwards and backwards unlike traditional emery boards. It was a lifetime guarantee, so long as you don’t drop it! 

Nail Treatment – Dr. Lewinns Renunail Nail Strengthener (£17.50). It contains calcium to boost weak nails and camphor which is a soother to sensitive nails. It’s an award-winning formula that delivers a lot of TLC!

Cuticle Exfoliator – watching your favourite TV programme – stick this on and rub into the cuticle area. 15 minutes in they will be soft enough to push back. The best one I’ve found is OPI’s Avoplex Cuticle Exfoliating Treatment (£12.80) which contains a melange of AHA’s and the specially patented avocado (very moisturising) lipid complex. It’s a gentle slougher that works amazingly on dead skin cells.

Cuticle sticks and cuticle scissors – these pesky slivers of translucent skin that travel up the nail bed need keeping in control. You have to be extremely careful with cuticle scissors. Only nip what you can see on the surface of the nail or you can draw blood. If in doubt don’t cut. See a nail care professional. I cannot stress this enough.

Hand Exfoliator – keep this at the kitchen of bathroom sink. Every couple of days, scrub your hands. After your face and neck, your hands show age next. L’Occitane One Minute Hand Scrub (£13) contains organic brown sugar for working away dead and dull skin and shea, grape seed and sweet almond oil to moisturise.

Moisturiser – There are so many out there to choose from, and the one you use I think is down to personal preference. Personally for me I love the brand Olivina’s Olive Hand Cream (£15). The list of beneficial ingredients is outstanding – shea, olive oil, grape seed oil, vitamin E, chamomile extract and aloe vera. For a more high-tech scientific punch Sisley Global Anti Age Hand Cream tackles the loss of elastin and brown age spots. Contains UVA and UVB filters (spf 10). It is £70 though so think twice and use sparingly.

Cuticle Oil – Keep a bottle at your bedside. Try and remember to put some on before bed.  CND Solar Oil (£12) is excellent and contains ultra moisturising Jojoba oil and vitamin E which will penetrate and protect the nail and surrounding skin. If not OPI Cuticle Oil on the Go (£9.60) is a lovely gel version in a squeezy tube with a brush that you can keep in your hand bag for when you have a spare minute on the train or bus. Nails Inc do a snazzy pen version which too is very handy (£12).

If you wear nail lacquer – I highly rate the following base and top coat.

Base coat – OPI RidgeFiller (£11) – this fills out all ‘nail wrinkles’ giving the smoothest ever surface to paint from.

Top coat  – Orly Glosser  (£6) – delivers super shiny nails and dries in an instant.

Remover – Sally Hansen Acetone free  (£2.45) – takes polish off and is gentle on nails and wallet.

So there you have it. With a little investment and some quality products you can anyone can achieve beautiful hands and nails at home.