The most common question I get asked daily is:
‘ I’m confused! What should I be using on my skin to ensure I age well?’
I completely get why people are so confused! Knowing what I know it frustrates me that there are so many mixed messages out there and I completely get that it’s hard to know who or what to believe.
Let me make it super simple for you in 4 quick steps.
Step 1 – Removing Makeup and Dirt
Remove your makeup at the end of the day only. Many people are over cleansing their skin!
Over cleansing = over stripping, which causes a break down in the skins barrier and protective mechanisms. This breakdown results in sensitivity, ruddy complexions, skin that becomes confused, for instance too oily or too dry. This can result in outbreaks and premature ageing.
You should choose a cleanser that’s helpful to the skin. A cleanser that’s formulated to removes makeup and grime safely, without causing harm. Avoid ingredients that contain mineral oil, fragrance, alcohol and emulsifiers. This can be difficult but my top pick is Dermaviduals cleansing milk. So gentle and supports the health of the skin
Your skin should still be clean when you wake in the morning. No need to repeat cleanse, just rinse with plain water to freshen up.
Step 2 – Protect
This should be your first and one and only step for the day ahead, regardless of the weather.
I recommend the use of a broad spectrum UVA UVB protector with an SPF rating 20 to 50.
This should be applied to clean dry skin. No further moisturiser is required over the top, but you should let the protectant soak in for 20 minutes, before applying makeup.
I can’t stress enough, if you only do one thing; make it this one easy simple affordable step.
Protecting the skin correctly will DRAMATICALLY slow down the harmful effects of ageing on the skin. Think about it logically, if you slow down the next 10 years, you won’t need to invest time and money trying to fix the damage that’s taken place. Prevention is always better than cure.
Sadly there are many poor chemically laden formulations on the market. So far over the years the best protector I have found is Heliocare gel 50.
Don’t be fooled by the word gel. The texture is similar to a light cream. It melts Into the skin, leaving no pore clogging sticky white residue. It’s also Ideal as a base under makeup.
Step 3 – Active Ingredients.
This is where the real game changers come into play.
Applying the correct neat active ingredients to the skin at night is the key to making a real visible difference to the skin.
For the purpose of the blog I’ll focus on just two main key active ingredients.
Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
For optimum results the main message is to use the most stable preparations with the highest strength of ingredients possible.
Vitamin A is often referred to by different names. Different names = different strengths. A good all rounder in terms of strength and tolerability, without the need for a written prescription is Retinol. It’s often seen in various percentages and you need to be aiming for a percentage of 0.5% or above.
Put in very simple terms, Retinol works by rapidly increasing cell turnover, which in turn keeps the complexion bright, smooth and supple. When first used you may experience the skin becoming more dry and sensitive as the retinol gets to work. If you persevere you’ll pass through this initial response phase and soon start to see positive effects.
Vitamin C Is a must have antioxidant for the skin. It comes in many different forms, again pertaining to strength and stability.
The most stable form is l-ascorbic acid. A percentage of 10% or above is adequate to make a nice difference to the skin.
Vitamin C will help to mop up free radicals in the skin, such as any harmful UV rays that may have snuck through your skin protector. It also helps with collagen production, prevents collagen breakdown and helps to brighten and tighten the skin.
Vitamin A and C working together make the perfect combination.
Please be aware that purchasing products from department stores tend to be ineffective due to their poor percentage of active ingredient content.
This applies to products, whether they are bought in supermarkets, high street stores or high-end designer stores. Don’t be fooled by the designer name and fancy packaging.
I’ve been working with skin products daily now for seven years and experienced eighteen years of over the counter buying when I had my own skin problems. I can assure you 100% that there’s a definite difference between medical and over the counter skin products in terms of effectiveness.
Step 4 – Removal of Product Build Up
The majority of us wear makeup and self-tan products. Inevitably this can build up over time on the surface of the skin, making it look dull and rough to the touch.
This excess build up also stops skincare products being able to penetrate the skin and do their job effectively.
Our natural cell turnover slows down with age, again another reason why Vitamin A gives it a helping hand.
I’m not a fan of over the counter exfoliators for the face. Many exfoliating beads are in formulations that aren’t helpful for the skin (fragrances, mineral oils etc.) and essentially the beads just move the build up of skin around, not lifting the debris off the skin correctly.
A much more effective way to remove build up is to light peel the skin. This really helps to brighten and smooth the skin. It can be achieved under supervision from a specialist with medical grade skin care products at home, or performed as an in clinic treatment.
Gentle acid based cleansers used 2 -3 times per week can really help with skin build up too. A great one I found is called The Perfect Cleanser.
I must also add that toning after cleansing is a complete waste of time and money!
Why? Most toners contain copious amounts of skin stripping ingredients. These ingredients may make you feel squeaky clean, but they’re not what the skin wants or needs.
If you are using a gentle cleanser with water, then instead of toning it’s really important to make sure you wash the entire residue off with clean running water. No Toner required!
I hope that clears some confusion up for you. Remember this advice is based on standard age maintenance advice not more intricate skin problems.
Please remember skincare and treatments are a small part of the puzzle. The rest comes from within. Nourish your body with the foods it needs to create a strong healthy body and mind. Do things that light you up and relax a little. Your skin will glow.