Improve Your Skin Health for Beautiful Skin
I’m constantly amazed at the amount of money that we spend on our hair and nails (which can be faked or replaced as we age) yet our skin, which cannot be hidden away and needs to last a lifetime, often gets less attention. Your skin is the largest and most rapidly dividing organ you have but yet, many of us don’t really know how to keep it healthy (other than wearing sun protection and avoiding sunburn). Much of the focus of these campaigns has been about avoiding skin cancer but good health is about more than just avoiding disease.
My clients see me because they want their skin to look brighter, fresher and more youthful – this is achieved by improving skin health. There are many things that I do to achieve this but whatever I do, the task starts with minimising the damage we do to our skin:
The radiation from the sun (and other light sources such as computer screens) along with smoking have the biggest negative impact on skin health and appearance. Of course, there are those who have been lucky when the genetic cards were dealt and seem to weather whatever they do to their skin. And then there are those with darker skins who have their own built in sun protection (but this group should still protect themselves further with sun protection cream).
Are you using the right products?
Most of my clients have been programmed by lifelong marketing that all good beauty regimens include moisturising and some kind of night cream (face oils seem to be getting more popular for reasons I don’t understand). The reality is that few of us really need daily moisturising and for some, these occlusive products actually make things worse – they inhibit exfoliation and contribute to blocked pores, congestion and outbreaks.
During the night, when we are tucked into warm beds in centrally heated and double glazed rooms, is commonly when we will be most oily and so slathering on rich creams or oils before bed will make congestion and outbreaks worse.
Dry and Sensitive Skin
Almost all of us have skin that is too oily despite what we may think. When I ask clients about their “dry skin”, this usually relates to a short period of time after washing – this should be expected as washing strips the oil from the surface. Instinct and habit makes us reach for the moisturiser but leave the skin for a few minutes and the dryness will pass as the skin lubricates itself with its own oil.
Those with “sensitive skin” more commonly have intolerant skin – skin with poor function after years of exposure to multiple different products and ingredients, often skipping from one to another in rapid succession. A few weeks at the skin gym with a carefully selected programme improves strength and function within weeks.
Moisturise from the inside out
Running skin just a little drier than we are used to has several benefits: less congestion and breakouts, better exfoliation and encouragement for the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis) to upregulate the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and related molecules that hydrate our skin from the inside out.
There are 4 classes of GAGs and you may know the main one in class 4 – hyaluronic acid…. Think of this as the elixir of youth. Now being put into many skin care products, the best place for this molecule is not on the surface of your skin battling to get in through a protective epidermis but in the deeper layers pulling up water with it.
So how to stimulate those deeper layers to produce not just more (and better quality) GAGs but collagen and elastin too? Vitamin A compounds (e.g. retinol) have fantastic anti-ageing properties and are present in some form in almost all anti-ageing creams. The only catch is that these ingredients can make skin dry, red, itchy and flaky – strange for an ingredient that is supposed to make skin healthier and younger. These side effects are related to how much you use. Introduce yourself to them slowly and you will build up tolerance without the need for unwanted reactions. If you do struggle, don’t worry, they aren’t dangerous or damaging… simply stop for a couple of days to let things settle and start again but with a little less, less often. Think of going to the gym – if you’ve never been and train too hard from the start, you’ll feel terrible and wonder what’s the point of doing something that hurts so much!
What can you do to improve your skin?
So, if you’re serious about improving skin health, look at your current regimen – do you know what each product is doing for you and why you are using it? Products for products’ sake will probably be a hindrance rather than a help. Understand what the issues are and match products as solutions to problems on your list.
You can book a complimentary 30 min skin scanning consultation online here or call 0207 0432233. www.askinology.com.
Dr Askari Townshend BMedSci, BMBS, MRCS is a national trainer, aesthetic doctor and Medical Director of ASKINOLOGY.