There’s a science to caring for your skin, and it’s surprisingly simple
Trying to get your head around the various types of skincare available can feel overwhelming. But taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be complicated, says dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook. In fact, the easier your routine, she says, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Step one involves cleansing. It’s not just about washing your skin, it’s also about getting rid of dead skin cells. That’s important, Cook says, because as we age, skin cell turnover slows down. In our mid-20s, it happens every 30 days. By the time we reach our 40s, it slows to every 60 days. Skin cells then accumulate, making skin look duller and more prone to congestion.
After cleansing, pamper your skin with a vitamin-enriched serum. The most important vitamin to include is niacinamide (B3), Cook says, because it works on all key skin concerns. “So it’s going to benefit everybody.”
Consider including the antioxidant vitamin C, and anti-ageing vitamin A products, which include retinoids such as retinol. If you are going to use vitamin A products, Cook advises doing so at night. Start by only using them a few times a week, as skin can become red and flaky with overuse. You can then build up to nightly.
Other goodies to look for in your serum include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which renew skin cells, and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), which exfoliate and clean pores without causing irritation.
Next comes moisturising. Cook says it’s important “because hydrated skin will always perform better than non-hydrated skin – the skin cells’ natural exfoliating enzymes need a moist environment to function.”
She recommends choosing a moisturiser that contains shea butter, cocoglycerides and other triglycerides, glycerin, ceramides or hyaluronic acid. Such products will “solidify into the skin” and hold moisture in. There’s just one step to go, but it’s a biggie. If you think using moisturiser that contains SPF means you’ve covered your sunscreen needs, think again.
Cook says people tend to apply only a pea-sized amount of moisturiser, but it’s essential to slather on more sunscreen than that. “I always say put it on twice, because everybody under-applies.”
Pay attention to what you eat, too. Cook advises cutting back on sugar, as consuming it activates glycation, another process that “eats up collagen”. Aim for a low-carb diet with plenty of protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
Regardless of your diet, Cook recommends oral supplements. She says everyone should take 500-1000mg of niacinamide (vitamin B3) every day as it’s “one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants”. She also recommends stocking up on the antioxidants lycopene and turmeric, along with vitamins C and D.
Enjoy a tipple? Stick to white spirits as red wine creates flushing, which increases skin inflammation. Yes, it also contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, but she says you’d need to be “perpetually drunk” to benefit from it. Sticking to these basic principles and following a skincare routine is worth it, Cook enthuses. “The better you look after your skin now, the more it will
pay off in your 50s, 60s and beyond.”