5 secrets to glowing winter skin
1. Fall in love with retinol (a form of the humble vitamin A)
An anti-ageing ingredient found in vitamin A (one of the body’s key nutrients), scientific advances mean that modern formulations can harness this chemical powerhouse, bringing you products that deliver wow-factor results. ‘Retinol is able to reduce oil production in acne-prone skin, but it can also, over time, balance and restore hydration to drier complexions,’ says facialist and skincare expert Debbie Thomas. Skincare pioneer Dr Des Fernandes , who has dedicated over 30 years researching how to cure skin problems at a cellular level, agrees: ‘Not only does vitamin A prevent damage and ageing in the first place, it can reverse the effects of sun exposure, acne scarring and sagging skin.’
2. Give back the love
‘You need something gentle and nourishing over a retinol product,’ says Thomas. ‘Use a cream or balm to soothe and protect – nothing with any further active ingredients.’ Super-moisturisers shea and coconut butter are useful (the latter also has antibacterial properties), as are products containing hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin and is essential for regulating cell growth and renewal. It binds and holds water, making it excellent for hydrating and plumping up skin cells. Ceramides are moisture-loving lipids (naturally occurring waxy molecules) that are very nourishing and particularly good when used on more mature skins. ‘Think of hyaluronic acid as a sponge holding the water and ceramides as a balm locking it in,’ says Thomas.
3. Up the ante with antioxidants
Antioxidants vitamins C and E, whether included in diet or applied topically (ideally both so you are nourishing skin inside and out), speed up your skin’s natural repair mechanisms. ‘Antioxidants are essential because your skin is vulnerable to damage from pollution, smoke, sunlight and stress,’ says Thomas. ‘You can make your own formulation by adding a little vitamin C powder to a vitamin E cream and applying a couple of times a week. Consult the manufacturers of the brand you’re using as to the exact ratio.’ Dr Fernandes explains: ‘If a product doesn’t contain vitamin A and an array of antioxidants, it’s not a true skincare range.’
4. Buff your way to beauty
Exfoliating is the best way to banish dry flaky skin. ‘Exfoliate two or three times a week, using a coarser salt or sugar-in-oil formula if your skin isn’t too sensitised. Try an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) product for conditions, such as keratosis pilaris (the bumpy skin on the back of your arms), which need a slightly lighter touch, but definitely benefit from exfoliation,’ says Thomas. ‘AHAs are essentially exfoliators, helping to brighten the skin by bringing fresh skin cells to the surface. They also have moisturising properties.’ Glycolic acid is one such useful AHA, as is mandelic acid. Don’t forget to moisturise afterwards to lock in all your hard work.
5. With moisturisers, packaging counts
Look after your product so it looks after you. ‘Where possible, choose a pump dispenser or laminated aluminum foil tube,’ says Dr Fernandes. ‘The problem with pots and tubs is that active ingredients are quickly degraded by exposure to light and air, and they can become a breeding ground for germs.’ Appropriately, serums are always sold with dispensers – and yes, you have to use a serum as well as a moisturiser. ‘Even if your skin is oily, it needs extra help in the winter months,’ says Thomas. ‘Choose a hydrating serum containing vitamin B5, which has regenerating properties, and use it before you slather on your main moisturiser.’