Ruth Griffin: The 2017 skin commandments
Resolve to overhaul your skincare regimen this new year and adopt these good habits that will have you glowing in no time.
1 I shall double cleanse
Cosmetic doctor Darren McKeown believes that the biggest mistake women make in their skincare regimes is a lack of proper daily cleansing. A great way to combat this, and avoid deadened skin, is to double cleanse with water. It may seem an odd technique but it works. A cleansing oil is massaged initially into either dry or slightly damp skin. The oil penetrates pores to dissolve trapped impurities and remove them on contact (particularly effective in removing oil-based concealers, foundations, eye shadows and SPF) .The second step is to then use a foam-based cleanser and warm water, to cleanse everything off the face (a muslin cloth or face cloth works brilliantly here). This all combines to deeply clean but not strip the skin. Give it a bash at home yourself and see if it works for you. Try the Erno Lazlo Bespoke Cleansing Collection from €33 available at Harvey Nichols.
2 I shall not be a skincare snob
Since starting with Weekend as beauty writer nearly a year ago, I have road-tested hundreds of beauty, hair and make-up products. Two of my favourite skincare gems from the last year were pretty different in price points - Astral Face and Body Cream, €5.99 (beloved of the ever-gorgeous 70-year-old Joanna Lumley), pharmacies nationwide, and La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Lift Cream, €292, Brown Thomas. These discoveries have taught me not to be a slave to skincare snobbery - lots of plain, no-nonsense face creams can be as beneficial to our skin health as the eye-wateringly expensive ones. Sometimes when you take away the fancy bells and whistles and ornate packaging, some very luxe skin creams just don't mix with our skin or specific skincare issues. Be open-minded, don't get stuck in a skincare rut and let yourself be bamboozled by jazzy-looking jars and celeb endorsements - try every label and see what works.
3 I shall take a skin supplement
We know it's important to take care of the outer layer of our skin with moisturising creams and lotions, however, for effective long-term skin health we also need to nourish the beauty building blocks in the deeper layer of our skin (the 360 degree beauty approach - see No5). Supplements nourish the deepest layers of our skin with targeted skin nutrients (collagen being the most important, as after 25 we lose collagen at a rate of 1pc a year). Yana, Beauty Beneath and Revidox are just some of the skin supplements I have road tested. I definitely see a difference in my skin, but the benefits of taking a skin supplement are hard to exactly measure and quantify. However, now it is possible to specifically measure the improvement in your skin after taking a skin supplement with Imedeen's Skin Scan. Get your collagen levels measured at selected outlets before you start your course of Imedeen and then again three months after taking it. Imedeen from €39.99 for a month's supply, available from health food stores and pharmacies nationwide. For free skin-scanning events check imedeen.ie for more information.
*Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
4 I shall exfoliate - but no micro beads
Plastic micro beads will be phased out this year from all beauty exfoliating products due to their toxic effect on our waters and oceans and they will not be missed, especially when there are so many amazing natural sugar and salt scrubs available. When you exfoliate (try for once a week) use the product everywhere (on body, face, hands, lips, feet) and moisturise your skin while it's still a tiny bit damp - this will lock in up to 10 times more moisture for satin-smooth skin. Try Lycon Sugar Scrub, €19.95, lycon.ie and Brazilia shops. For really chapped winter lips try PIXI Nourishing Lip Polish Exfoliator, €18, Marks & Spencer.
5 I shall wear SPF all year-round on my face, neck and hands
It's vital to ensure that you are wearing a broad spectrum SPF that protects against IR, UVB and - in particular here in Ireland - UVA (the ageing rays). The latter penetrate clouds and even windows and are present all year-round, so even though you may think there is no need to wear SPF on a grey, cloudy winter's day, you'll still get the wrinkles but no tan. Finding SPF that won't go ghostly white under make-up and in photographs is harder than you may think. I have been using Nuxuriance Ultra SPF 20, €48.50 for a few weeks and it is lovely - definitely no Casper-the-Ghost skin. Available from pharmacies nationwide from the start of February.
6 I shall take the 360 approach to my skin health
As much as I'd love to find it, there is just no such thing as a miracle, magic cream. The best approach to our skin and hair health is both from the inside out, and the outside in. We all know we need to drink plenty of water to make our skin glow, as our skin is our largest organ but the last to receive nutrients and hydration. Don't be afraid of healthy fats from salmon, tuna, walnuts and almonds (they are very kind to our skin and faces, especially those of us over 40). In 2017, try and up your intake of all the healthy stuff that we already know we should be taking. A good, quick way of doing this is to try making a skin smoothie - I don't follow any recipes, I just put anything green and healthy-looking that I have in the fridge, mix it with a lot of honey and ice and water in my smoothie maker and feel virtuous and healthy for the rest of the day.
7 I shall make an appointment with a dermatologist
Irish women can suffer from some serious skin issues with the most common being rosacea, acne, scarring, ageing skin, sagging, red spider veins, growths, moles and excess facial hair. Rest easy ladies - these can all be addressed very easily and quickly and non-invasively, with treatments such as laser, Fraxel, IPL, Ultherapy, peels, and mesotherapy. I've had all of these treatments done over the last year, and will gladly act as your little guinea pig as new treatments arise. I will be giving my honest verdict on all of these treatments in the coming months and, remember, now (ie in the winter time) is actually the best time to get a lot of treatments done as a lot of treatments are very sensitive to UV rays and strong sunlight.
8 I shall give my neck some skincare
TLC Legitimate beauty concerns have arisen over the last few years - in particular with our necks and rapidly sagging jawlines - due to our recent obsession with our technology. The digital revolution has created skincare issues such as "tech neck" (sagging jawlines referred to as our Y Zone from the constant downward gaze to our phones) as well as "phacne" (phone acne from constantly pressing our phones to our face) and "phone face" (eye bags and sagging of the jowls from constantly being on our devices). In Ireland, we are the biggest users of mobile internet in the globe and we check our phones hundreds of times a day, so it is definitely something we need to think about addressing. A good start is to include your neck in your skincare routine. It is perfectly fine to use your normal moisturiser but if you feel you need extra help with sagging, there are specific neck creams available. Some good options are Formula Neck & Décolleté Cream, €18, Marks & Spencer and the gorgeous Shiseido Lift Dynamic Serum, €105 from pharmacies and department stores nationwide.
9 I shall try to be mindful and enjoy my skincare routine
This year let's take inspiration from the infamous Korean beauty buffs - these skincare gurus view their skincare routine as their designated downtime and try to enjoy and relax during their skin regime. I'm aware this is nigh on impossible to do in the mornings when it can be truly frantic, but maybe we can take a leaf out of their book and try and be mindful in our nightly beauty regimes. Try to see it as part of a wind-down ritual and a treat for your skin after a long day.
10 I shall examine ingredients on the back of products
We are all becoming very aware of the ingredients in our food and we check the back of food packages for what exactly we are ingesting, and actually it's not so different with skincare. We absorb all the chemicals in our skincare products through our skin and they enter our bloodstreams in minutes, so we should try and get to know the ingredients to stay away from. EU beauty products are by and large really safe as we have very strict rules. However, with the huge surge in internet beauty shopping and products coming from all corners of the world, where there may be different and potentially not as strict beauty ingredient laws, it is worth checking out what exactly is going into your bloodstream. If you're concerned about buying a product, check out this very handy website and beauty app - beautypedia. Their skincare review ratings are based on published medical and scientific research, not solely their opinions and they list out full beauty product ingredients.
(And something extra for the hardcore skin beauty buffs)
11 I shall try multi-masking
Amp up your skincare and double the intensity of masks by just mixing them. Our skin is a combination of oily areas and dry areas, and multi-masking is the use of different skincare masks on different parts of our faces - a technique used for decades by professional facialists. Below is a general guideline on what masks to use on what parts of your face.
Detox (use on nose and chin area). Use Dermalogica Rescue Charcoal Mask, €48, dermalogica.ie, Harvey Nichols or selected salons.
Clarifying/exfoliating (use on forehead area) Decleor Deep Cleansing Clarifying Mask, €36, selected salons and decleor.com or The Body Shop 3-in-1 Wash Scrub Mask, €18.50.
Hydrating/Moisturising/Nourishing (use on cheeks, lateral planes, neck and décolletage) Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask with Precious Oils, €80, Brown Thomas.
12 I shall mind my scalp
This is such an underlooked part of our skincare routine. Our scalp is an extension of the skin on our faces and needs minding - there is zero point in buying expensive hair care goodies, if we're not minding the "anchor" of our hair. If we have a solid "anchor" (ie a healthy scalp), we have much more of a chance of getting a full, healthy mane of hair. Drinking Udos Oil is great for irritated, dry scalps, as is getting scalp massages, washing and rinsing our hair properly and using good brushes. A simple homemade oil mask is great for a healthy scalp. Mix one cup of unrefined coconut oil mixed with one tablespoon each of almond, macadamia and jojoba oil. Apply to damp hair and leave for 10 minutes or as long as you can, then shampoo and condition as normal. A great, gentle shampoo for sensitive scalps is Klorane Soothing Shampoo with Peony, €11.50, pharmacies nationwide, for irritated scalp.
13 I shall use oils in my skincare
Lots of women are so scared of trying oils on their skin and hair in fear of appearing greasy or lank. In the last few years there has been a huge surge in oil products for skin, hair, lips, nails and scalps. These new lightweight, "dry" oil formulas are amazing for adding serious hydration to every part of your body, just be sure to opt for natural oils and steer away from mineral oil. Give it a bash for a month and see if they work for you. Try Modern Botany Oil, €35 from pharmacies nationwide and modernbotany.com or The Body Shop - Oils of Life, €48.
14 I will use a primer
This is the quickest way to cheat your way to better skin - a really good primer will make your skin look like you've followed all the above skin commandments. The lazy girl's skin saver. STOP & WOW Stop Skin Perfector, €40, Harvey Nichols.
CELEB INSPIRATION — ROZ PURCELL
The gorgeous model and cookbook author is a walking endorsement for the healthy lifestyle she writes about, with the most divine and dewy-looking skin. The savvy 26-year-old has recently launched her own brand of natural skin scrubs — try her Ripe by Roz Coffee Scrub with Coconut Pouch, €18.50, available at ripebyzroz.ie