Dr Ophelia Veraitch, Consultant Dermatologist at The Cranley Clinic on Harley Street, shares ten top tips on how to get noticeably better looking skin in just 30 days.
Our skin is our biggest organ and the largest barrier that we have against infection and harmful pollutants. But it is also easy to damage the skin and cause common skin problems such as acne or premature ageing. However, the things that damage the skin are often the result of things that can easily be changed; whether it’s unwashed makeup brushes, an allergic reaction or a face wash with salicylic acid even though you have dry skin. By making a few small changes to the way we look after our skin, we can make noticeable changes ready for summer.
1. Ditch the makeup
Typically when people stop wearing makeup, especially if the makeup they were wearing was occlusive or comedogenic, they notice after a week that their skin looks a lot better. A skin cycle is typically around 28 days and so if you can avoid wearing makeup for at least 28 days, your body will be in a much better position to be able to regulate your skin’s temperature, its oil control, its hydration, and its natural exfoliation process.
It’s important to note that certain products within makeup may cause problems for some individuals. Those with a sensitive or dry skin type, an underlying inflammatory skin condition such as rosacea or a history of contact allergy should try to avoid irritants and potential allergens. Foaming agents, astringent products (such as toners that remove oils), scrubs and acids (such as alpha hydroxy acids used in acne and anti-ageing) tend to be irritating. Instead, hypoallergenic formulations and perfume-free products that specifically target sensitive skin are a good choice.
For those with normal and combination skin, look for products that are oil-free, alcohol-free and with a water base. Oil-based and ointment-based makeup is much more likely to clog pores.
2. Wash your makeup brushes
Your makeup brushes harbour a plethora of bacteria which, when introduced to the skin on the face, can quickly result in blemishes and breakouts – especially when used repeatedly everyday. Wash your brushes thoroughly once a week in fairy liquid, rinse them well and leave them to dry fully before using them.
3. Up your sun protection
There is no such thing as a safe tan. When cells are exposed to UV light collagen degenerates which in turn causes loss of volume, fine lines and winkles.
Apply a broad spectrum SPF regularly throughout the day and reapply it if you do sport or get your skin wet.
4. Use a good moisturiser
We lose a significant amount of water through the skin – known as trans epidermal water loss – and so a regular moisturiser is vital to maintain the ‘skin barrier’. Choose a moisturiser that suits your skin types. For oily, acne-prone skin choose a moisturiser that won’t clog your pores and for those prone to eczema and rosacea choose a thicker moisturiser.
Natural hydration ultimately has to come from within the body and cannot in fact be reversed by applying moisturiser on the skin’s surface. What most people really need is a good exfoliator, a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and nuts and plenty of water.
5. Include Vitamin C in your skincare regimen
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights against free radicals such as pollution. The pollutants cause inflammation, which is the root of numerous skin issues, including breakouts, a breakdown of collagen, and excess melanin production that leads to dark spots.
6. Don’t forget your hands
When doing household jobs that involve getting your hands wet, such as washing up and cleaning, make sure you wear rubber gloves. Some people (like those with eczema or contact allergies) should wear cotton gloves underneath the rubber gloves. These will protect your hands from the harsh chemicals in the household cleaning products that strip skin of its natural moisture and result in excessively dry hands. Then apply a thick layer of moisturiser to them before bed.
7. Lose the face wipes
I would always advise against using face wipes as essentially, they just move dirt and oil around on the face. The skin around your eyes is also extremely delicate, the rubbing motion alone will drag the skin and could cause premature ageing.
Moist environments are the perfect breeding conditions for bacteria, so face wipes need a high amount of preservatives to keep them free of nasty bugs. These preservatives – along with the perfumes within them – can be extremely irritating to the skin and the preservatives/ perfumes can also cause allergies.
Instead, cleanse your skin thoroughly in the evening with an oil-free cleanser to remove dirt, pollution and oil.
8. Clean your mobile phone
Our smartphones are a really big source of skin contamination and skin problems, namely acne. High concentrations of microscopic bacteria from your phone’s screen mixed with oil and makeup from the skin, along with heat from the phone, breeds more bacteria.
This can clog pores and often result in inflammation and acne. To combat these problems use a headset when on the phone for a lengthy period of time and regularly wipe your smartphone with an alcohol wipe to remove as much bacteria as possible before using it.
9. Stop touching your face
People often touch their face by habit and this, like our mobile phones, introduces bacteria to our skin. This can in turn exacerbate acne.
10. Treat your skin to some TLC
In addition to your at-home skincare regimen, a personalised treatment plan can have a distinct impact on the skin. I’m particularly fond of treatments like Thermage FLX, a non-invasive radio frequency treatment that boosts collagen production from within for firmer, tighter skin instantly. Chemical peels can also be used to treat wrinkles, skin discolouration and scars. Choose a medical practitioner and skin specialist.
About the expert
Dr Ophelia Veraitch is a highly experienced Consultant Dermatologist, consulting on all aspects of Dermatology including all causes for hair loss /alopecia, eczema, acne, rosacea, psoriasis, melasma, vitiligo and skin cancer management at The Cranley Clinic on Harley Street (www.cranleyclinic.com)