The secret to clear, healthy, glowing skin doesn’t lie in overpriced products, even pricier cosmetic procedures or ‘magic’ pills. It’s all a question of treating your skin with respect. Gentle products, a common-sense skincare routine, and a few simple tweaks to your daily lifestyle and hygiene habits could make all the difference.
These are the only skincare rules you really need to know about…
You only have to look in the mirror after a few late nights to see the effect that lack of sleep can have on that rosy glow. And there is no shortage of evidence to back up the theory.
One study found that chronic poor sleep quality is associated with “increased signs of intrinsic ageing, diminished skin barrier function and [not surprisingly] lower satisfaction with appearance”.
Another study of 30 women (including former supermodel Jodie Kidd) captured the shocking effects of sleep deprivation on video.
“Lack of sleep is a form of stress. This promotes premature ageing and breakouts, so do yourself a favour and be sure to get at least seven hours of good quality sleep a night,” cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting tells HuffPost UK.
We all love a hot and steamy bath or shower but if your skin is bright red when you step out, it’s time to turn it down a notch.
“Overly hot water leaches skin of its natural moisturising factor, leaving it tight and dry, especially if combined with harsh cleansing products. Keep showers and baths tepid and brief and don’t shower more than you need to,” says Dr Bunting.
When you’re choosing a body wash, the temptation can be to go for the one bursting with a cocktail of tropical fragrances or offering a ‘zingy wake-up call’ to give you a morning boost. But some shower gels contain harsh chemicals that can strip the skin of essential nutrients.
If you want to emerge from the shower with soft, sexy skin (who doesn’t?) ‘mild’, ‘moisturising’ and ‘protective’ properties should be top of your tick-list. Look out for nourishing products that replenish the skin and protect it from damage. That way, by the time you come to put on your body lotion, you’ve already made a head start.
It might seem like the ‘optional’ step in your skincare routine — and one you simply don’t have time for. But if you’ve got a layer of dead skin sitting on top of the healthy new skin underneath, you’re never going to get that glow you’ve been coveting.
Exfoliating mitts and scrubs gently buff away all the debris and dead skin, to help you ward off rough patches and keep your skin looking radiant. They also give your moisturiser the chance to penetrate the skin deep down. If time is an issue, choose an exfoliating body wash that cleanses and buffs in one.
Whether you’re lathering up with body wash in the shower, cleansing your face or applying moisturiser, massage your products into your skin with gentle circular motions. This stimulates the production of collagen and elastin (proteins produced by the cells to give skin its firmness and elasticity). Massaging the thighs and bottom can also help to stimulate circulation, which helps to reduce the appearance of pesky cellulite.
Long hours at work, hectic social lives, juggling multiple roles, the pressures of 24/7 technology – there’s no doubt about it: modern life is stressful. And that stress has a direct effect on the appearance of our skin.
One study found that the skin barrier function (the outer layer that protects the skin from damage) was significantly disrupted in female participants who were put under psychological interview stress as well as those who were deprived of one night’s sleep.
Visit HuffPost UK’s ‘third metric’ to find out how to change the pace of your life and make time for relaxation.
Exercise may not only keep skin younger, but could also reverse skin ageing, even in people who take up exercise later in life, according to a study at McMaster University, Ontario.
About half of the participants completed at least three hours of moderate or vigorous physical activity every week, while the others were mostly sedentary, exercising for less than an hour a week.
The researchers found that, after age 40, those who had been active had visibly younger looking skin, similar to that of someone in their 20s or 30s, even if the participant was over the age of 65.
If you take the trouble to wash your skin in the shower every morning, why would you undo all that good work by transferring dirt and bacteria straight back into your pores with a dirty towel? The same goes for dirty pillowcases, bed-sheets, pyjamas and towels, which transfer bacteria onto our skin while we sleep. Experts recommend washing bath towels after every three uses and hand towels as often as every use.
There is no magic ‘superfood’ when it comes to preventing breakouts and boosting the appearance of the skin. But the body, skin included, is under a constant state of construction and renewal — and it uses vitamins and nutrients from food to repair and rebuild. We all know the drill: eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein and avoid refined sugar, overly processed food and saturated fats.
When you sit at a desk or table, do you lean on your elbow and rest your chin on the palm of your hand? Most of us do it without thinking, but this simple action can spread bacteria, viruses and allergens and act as a trigger for breakouts.
According to board-certified dermatologist and Heal Your Skin author Dr. Ava Shamban, this can be particularly troublesome for acne-prone skin, where touching can spread p. acnes bacteria (the culprit behind red inflammatory acne papules, pustules and cysts). The solution? Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly – and stop touching your face!
And it’s not just your fingertips that transfer germs and bacteria to your face – your phone is a major culprit, too. In fact, ‘Which?’ magazine carried out tests on a sample of 30 mobile phones and discovered that, on average, a handset had 18 times more harmful germs on it than the flush handle in a men’s lavatory. Give your mobile, landline and office phone handset a quick once over with an antibacterial wipe at the end of each day to help minimise the damage.
If you only ever follow two words of skincare advice, make it this: wear sunscreen. The pearl of wisdom coined in an essay by columnist Mary Scmich in 1997 then turned into the famous spoken word song by Baz Luhrmann two years later, is as important now as it was then.
“UV exposure is the major cause of premature ageing, triggering wrinkles, sagging, broken capillaries and brown spots. Building a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen into your routine is the first step to building a meaningful anti-ageing skincare regime,” says Dr Bunting.