12 ways to face up to a better skincare routine
Renowned beauty therapist Jennifer Rock aka The Skin Nerd, talks to Katie Byrne and shares some of her top skincare tips. From DIY remedies of coconut oil and brown sugar to exfoliating properly to get your skin in tip-top shape just in time for the summer
Every so often, a photograph of a dewy-skinned Irish personality appears on the Instagram page of Jennifer Rock - aka The Skin Nerd.
Jennifer, 32, is an award-winning beauty therapist and digital influencer, and her followers - many of them well-known - like to acknowledge the often radical results they achieved when they started following her skincare advice.
"I've always found the media angle interesting," says Jennifer, who has a 28k-strong following on Instagram. "We're quite digitally and marketing led these days. However, it was an organic, natural progression. I didn't set out to become The Skin Nerd per se."
Jennifer's interest in skincare started early. She developed a mild case of acne when she was 13 and her mother took her to the local beauty therapist in Rush, Co. Dublin.
Her acne cleared up soon afterwards, but her interest in skincare remained. "I became the most irritating client known to man," she laughs. "I kept asking questions - 'Why did you do that?' and 'What would happen if you did it this way?' I was just really intrigued."
Beauty therapy was the obvious choice when Jennifer left school and, upon graduating, she started working with the beauty therapist who treated her teenage acne. Before long, she segued into training and brand ambassadorship.
"I progressed from there and I got a brilliant job with Image Skincare and they gave me the opportunity to liaise with the media quite a lot."
Image Skincare is a 'cosmeceutical' company - that is cosmetic products purporting to have pharmaceutical benefits - and Jennifer's work with the brand led her to discovering other lines that were less about the pretty packaging and more about hard-working ingredients.
"My passion always came back to the scientific results-driven side," she explains. "I felt empowered and I loved helping people get results."
Last month, Jennifer launched theskinnerd.ie website. She works alongside a coterie of dermatologists, nutritionists and other professionals - both local and international - to promote a "360 degree approach to skin health".
The website is in addition to her popular social media platforms and it allows her the space to provide more comprehensive advice to her followers.
"I was getting so many questions on social media that I wanted to direct people to an unbiased, non brand-led website offering information of the highest calibre."
"I don't believe that, as a therapist, I have all the answers. What I do believe is that I align myself with the people who do."
Here are just some of the skincare tips that The Skincare Nerd shared with us.
YOUR SKIN IS AN ORGAN
"Most people don't appreciate that the skin is an organ, and they don't understand that the damage is caused within, as opposed to on top. A lot of the products that we use as crutches don't have the ability to metabolise into the skin and create long-term changes. Likewise, people tend not to be aware that what we put into our body has the greatest impact on our skin."
LESS SUGAR LEADS TO BETTER SKIN
"I can tell people who eat a lot of sugar just by looking at their skin. There tends to be quite a lot of inflammation and the skin around the eyes deteriorates rapidly. I recommend the Caveman diet - lots of protein, some carbs, good fats and vegetables. And rather than just depending on topical creams, we need to be eating nuts, seeds and good oils to protect the skin from within."
AIR POLLUTION CAUSES PREMATURE AGEING
"I was at a conference in Paris recently and every single dermatologist or plastic surgeon who got on stage to impart their knowledge explained how pollution really affects the rate at which we age. It affects our skin barrier and our skin texture too."
THINK OF SPF AS LIGHT PROTECTION
"We generally only promote sun protection during the summer months, but UVA rays penetrate the skin in winter too. In Ireland when we have four seasons in one hour, people aren't aware of this.
"I always describe SPF as light protection rather than sun protection. I also recommend the SPFs by brands like Image, SkinCeuticals and NeoStrata. They are results-driven, clinically proven and they have added nutrients in there too."
ACNE NEEDS A MULTI-MODALITY APPROACH
"I have a 13-year-old son [Matthew] and he suffers with his skin - the irony! He has acne on his forehead and I definitely notice that his acne gets worse after he's been eating sugar and I think parents have to realise that what they put into their child's body comes out in their skin.
"Stress is also a huge component as there is a neuropeptide in the skin that is affected by the stress hormone cortisol. So I make sure to educate him on how to manage his stress. Finally, DIM is a phytonutrient I suggest for breakouts, particularly Accumax, as I worked on the trial scheme for it in London and witnessed life-changing results."
PROTECTING THE SKIN'S ACID MANTLE IS CRUCIAL
"I describe the acid mantle as the ecosystem of the skin. It's found on the corneum, which is the top layer of skin - the layer that you can physically touch - and it keeps the water in, and keeps the goodness in and the badness out.
People love the squeaky-clean feel of their skin after exfoliation, but if you become too dependent on exfoliation with grits or acid, you're leaving the skin exposed to the elements. You're allowing more light to hit - which is a huge issue for pigmentation - and you're allowing more pollution to get in too.
You're also stripping the oil, which can lead to pustules and spots as the skin tries to rebalance itself. When you touch a baby's skin, it has texture, plumpness and a little moisture. That's what skin with a healthy acid mantle feels like."
FACIAL EXERCISE AND MASSAGE DELIVERS RESULTS
"Facial exercise and massage isn't only about toning the skin. It's about providing oxygen and nutrition too. There is a treatment called CACI, which I endorse quite a lot. It's like Slendertone for the face. There is also a facial exercise programme on YouTube called 'Peta's Daily Face Exercise' and when I do it I definitely see a difference. Danielle Collins is another tutor of facial yoga."
EVERYONE SHOULD ADD VITAMIN A TO THEIR SKINCARE ROUTINE…
Vitamin A, in my opinion, is the holy grail of skincare. It helps the skin exfoliate itself and it improves general clarity. Dermatologists say it has to be in strengths of 0.6pc and above, in a retinol format, to metabolise or penetrate into the lower layers of skin. People who use retinol as part of their skincare regime have an enviable glow.
...BUT IT NEEDS TO BE USED WITH CARE
People tend to over-exfoliate and depend on retinol too much. If your skin is healthy from within, it will exfoliate itself. Remember that it's about getting the correct dosage and frequency. I use it four or five times a week, but that's because I have a thick corneum having had acne years ago. Other people have irritated skin so they should use a lower dose, twice a week.
KOREAN BEAUTY IS THE FUTURE OF SKINCARE
"Korean women explore every avenue, they are meticulous and their attention to detail is undeniable. What I love the most is that they have up to 18 steps in any given regime whereas we tend to want quick fixes. We won't allocate the time because we have a fast-paced life, but these women allocate 20/30 minutes a day and their skin is fairly impeccable."
RADIOFREQUENCY SKIN-TIGHTENING REALLY WORKS
"I rate radio-frequency skin tightening highly. I've personally used Viora and I've seen great results, on myself and other people. I'm also very excited about LED light therapy, which boosts Vitamin D and serotonin. There are lots of different versions. For example, the red light is for anti-ageing and the blue light is anti-bacterial. A friend of the family had severe psoriasis so I recommended the Derma Lux machine to her and the results were undeniable. There's also no downtime or irritation."
DON'T OVERLOOK DIY BEAUTY TREATMENTS
"My personal favourite DIY beauty remedy is coconut oil and brown sugar. I mix it together and use it as a scrub for dry lips. For a really hydrating mask, try oatmeal, honey and a little bit of yoghurt. I really believe in honey - it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Finally, I use cucumber slices to soothe tired eyes."
** Jennifer Rock is one of the health and wellness experts speaking at WellFest, which takes place on May 6 and 7 in Dublin's Herbert Park; fitlive.ie or check out theskinnerd.ie for more advice and tips.
Health & Living