Achieving the sort of fresh-faced, effortless complexion worthy of a celebrity comes down to one key thing: your skincare routine. Sure, diet and makeup can help, but nailing the skincare products and techniques that work for you will set you on the path to a smoother, clearer and brighter complexion. Here, three skin experts: Marie Reynolds, wellness and skin health expert; Kate Kerr, clinical facialist, and Andrea Pfeffer, founder of London skin clinic PfefferSal reveal the things we should all start doing for our skin and the things we should stop. Behold the 10 skin commandments:
Five things to start doing
Feed your skin
Did you know we all have our own skin flora? “Bacteria, yeast and viruses make up our skin microbiome,” says Pfeffer. “You want to foster and encourage your healthy microbiome to flourish and be at its most diverse. By doing this, those microorganisms will protect your skin from infection, pollutants and pathogens which contribute to ageing, acne and eczema.”
Pfeffer recommends using pH-balanced skincare, as anything too harsh, such as alcohol or soap, can destroy the bacteria. “Incorporate probiotics into your routine inside and out!” she adds.
Ramp up your hydration
It’s old news that drinking water is good for us, but did you know you can supercharge the hydration benefits of your H2O? “Drinking water is important, however, you may find you still feel dehydrated externally,” says Reynolds. Sound familiar? “Add ionic mineral drops to your water, as this will hydrate you at the cellular level. It is important for cell turnover and communication; sometimes drinking water alone doesn’t cut it.”
Take care of your products
Don’t just focus on looking after your complexion – your products need care too. “Active ingredients can be unstable and have an expiration date for a reason; out-of-date products aren’t going to perform at their optimum and could even cause skin irritation,” says Pfeffer. “Check how the product should be stored, too – lots of ingredients can be denatured by sunlight so it’s best to keep them in a cool, dark cabinet. What if there’s a textural change or a funny smell? Play it safe and don’t apply.”
Use retinol at night
“Retinol is an anti-ageing superstar,” says Kerr. “It is a cell communicator that can attach to most skin cells, telling them to behave like younger, healthier versions of themselves.”
Retinol is best used at night when the skin is “more active and in repair mode”, adds Kerr. Because retinol is a seriously active ingredient, start slow with a low percentage a few nights a week and work your way up in strength and frequency.
Incorporate PHA into your routine
Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are the new “it” exfoliating acid on the beauty block and because they are gentle, everyone can benefit from them (even if you have sensitive, dry or rosacea-prone skin). “PHAs are humectants, which means they have the ability to attract moisture which hydrates the skin. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits,” says Kerr. “Plus, if used regularly they can strengthen barrier function, making the skin stronger and more resilient, giving you more of that sought-after glow.”
Five things to stop doing
Stop applying products in the wrong order
You need to think about product penetration when applying your skincare. “The biggest mistake I see people make is using a balm or oil cleanser, then applying a water-based serum. Water floats on top of oil – that serum isn’t going anywhere near your skin,” says Kerr. Apply your products from thinnest in consistency to thickest and “always apply sunscreen last”, adds Kerr.
Skin experts have differing views on this one, but Reynolds doesn’t believe we should be excessively exfoliating. “The skin’s microbiome and lipid barrier can be disrupted by aggressive exfoliating, leading to inflammation,” she says. Aim to exfoliate twice a week. If you feel your skin can handle more, that’s OK, but proceed with some caution.
Stop using moisturiser
Curveball! “It has been ingrained in us from a young age to cleanse, tone and moisturise. But our skin is capable of maintaining its own hydration levels – only a true dry skin type needs moisturiser,” says Kerr. “When we use moisturiser, our skin’s surface sends a signal down to its water reservoirs that there is plenty of moisture and to halt production. This makes the skin sluggish and lacking in moisture, so we reach for more moisturiser.
“Breaking the cycle wakes up the skin’s natural moisturising processes, not only hydrating the skin but helping to balance oil production, preventing congestion. You’ll notice a brightening of the complexion and slower rate of skin ageing.” Give it a go and you should start to see a difference in two to three weeks.
Stop ignoring instructions
“The biggest mistake is overusing something if it works,” says Reynolds. If that retinol is making your skin glow, then the temptation is to go to town. “Remember, the ingredients in products that give the wow factor can also create an imbalance if over used. Stick to the instructions.”
Stop cleansing with oils
Balm and oil cleansers may feel luxurious, but Kerr says “oils congest the skin, upset our own moisturising processes and prevent product penetration”. Not ready to give up your balm or oil cleanser? Be sure to double cleanse to remove any oil residue that could prevent your pricey serums from penetrating.
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