Andrea Kissane has a winter skincare regime to get you fresh, dewy skin by Easter, whatever your age.
The boudoirs of the 1980s were a bit of a bleak affair. Aside from the eight-gallon drum of industrial-strength hairspray and the bullet of frosted pink lipstick, the contents of the bathroom cabinet were limited by both budget and knowledge. And when it came to skincare, cold cream cleansers and Imperial Leather soap were the veritable stalwarts of the sophisticated beauty routine. And while some products of yore still deserve their place in our beauty line-up, we are now more skin-aware than ever.
It’s essential to pay attention to your skin at this time of year because the colder weather and central heating systems will leave it dehydrated. But using soothing facial oils, gentle exfoliants and weekly hydrating masks will have you prepped and ready to reveal a fresh face by spring. But aside from the annual prune effect, there are other challenges that our skin has to deal with as we age. It has different needs depending on the wonderful decade that we are embracing, and so here are a few top tips to help you get your glow on, regardless of how many candles are on that cake.
This is the decade where we try to make good decisions, but temptation is rife. Go on that adventure, wear that dress that’ll give you a chill in your kidneys, but please heed my skincare advice (and do try to get an early night every now and then because the skin renews, repairs and regenerates as we sleep). This time is all about protection, so shield your skin from the harmful rays of the sun by wearing a broad spectrum SPF, and it will thank you later.
Choose one that protects against both UVA (responsible for ageing) and UVB (responsible for burning) rays. And you do need to wear an SPF in winter because those UVA rays can penetrate clouds and glass. I like the matte, lightweight formula of Benefit’s Dream Screen, €36, which is also oil- and fragrance-free. And if hormones and stress are resulting in blemish-prone skin, then a good clay or mud mask can help. For skin in need of a little more assistance, I like La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar 3-Step Anti-Blemish System, €34.99, which is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of blemishes while targeting excess shine and uneven texture.
This is the decade when you’ll need to really invest in your skincare regime; make friends with a good eye cream, as fine lines begin to appear around the eyes and mouth. The rate at which our skin produces collagen begins to decrease in our early twenties, but it’s only in our thirties that many of us actually see the difference. Think of collagen as the structural scaffolding of the skin; it’s what gives that “trampoline effect” or that “plumped up” quality to the skin.
Add supplements like fish oil (or flax oil) to your diet, as these can have a positive effect on your skin’s collagen level. I’m currently trialling Imedeen’s Derma One, €39.99 for a 30-day supply; these capsules are rich in proteins and polysaccharides similar to those found naturally in the skin’s supportive structure. Cell turnover also starts to slow down, but using a good glycolic can help counteract this. Part of the alpha hydroxyl acid family (AHAs), glycolic acid is an excellent exfoliator. It removes the outer layer of dead skin cells and brings fresh, new skin to the surface. A cult favourite is Pixi Glow Tonic, €15 for 100ml, a 5% glycolic acid toner.
Your skin is in need of some superheroes to take on challenges like pigmentation and further loss of collagen. But there are some great ingredients and products on the market to help. The first of those protective skin superheroes are antioxidants. Nuala Woulfe of the Serenity Day Spa (nualawoulfe.ie) describes antioxidants as the skin’s knights in shining armour. She says that “properly formulated topical antioxidants have been shown to provide internal protection from skin damage-free radicals. Additionally, some have a corrective action, such as collagen synthesis and reduced hyperpigmentation, resulting in a comprehensive anti-ageing effect.”
SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, €150, while pricey, is a great pick for those looking to add antioxidants to their regime. Retinols (or prescription-strength retinoids) are also an excellent addition to your arsenal. With strong anti-ageing properties, this vitamin works by resurfacing skin and tackling fine lines. If you are new to using retinol, begin by using it every second night under a soothing moisturiser (and daily SPF is essential). Indeed Labs Retinol Reface, €27.99 for 30ml, available from Boots, is a good option for retinol beginners.
50s and beyond
As mature skin is drier, opt for emollients and balms that treat your skin with the respect it deserves. Sebum production decreases yearly, so use creamy cleansers followed by rich and hydrating moisturisers to soothe and protect. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm, €58 for 150ml, will nourish the driest of skins, but do allow it a few minutes to sink in. And oils are especially great for dry skin (although, all skin types can actually use oils). You only need a drop or two; warm between your palms before pressing gently onto skin.
L’Occitane Shea Face Comforting Oil, €36, is a particularly nourishing option, enriched with shea (5%) and marula oils. Combining these oils and balms with a prescription retinoid and a higher percentage glycolic will give you a glow while keeping the skin comfortable and hydrated. It may be too late to do anything about that photo album that shows you at your permed hair and neon-clad best, but it’s never too late to kickstart a new skincare regime. This is the perfect time to invest in some products that are really tailored to your needs, setting you up for fresh and dewy skin by spring.