A dermatologist's guide to what you actually need in your skincare routine

In the Volume 1 (January/February) 2020 issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now, dermatologists weigh in on the ingredients and essentials you actually need in your skincare routine. Here, consultant dermatologist Dr Nicola Ralph, Institute of Dermatologists, Blackrock Clinic/Mater Private, breaks down what to spend on, the routine we all need, what ingredients to use and what you can ditch. 


Often people choose very complex and time-consuming skincare routines. One is much less likely to stick to it regularly if there are far too many products to be applied on a daily basis. There are however a few products I think we should all spend big on.



The one product everyone should use on a daily basis is a good quality physical sunscreen containing zinc, as part of their morning routine. This is relatively simple living in Ireland as it only needs once-daily application during winter months, however, if one is outdoors during the summer months it is ideally applied every 2-3hours to give sufficient protection. This not only protects against skin cancer but is the best product for the prevention of premature ageing of the skin which results in broken veins and patchy discolouration/brown marks on the skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Protection Face Mist, €14.99


Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. Vitamin C aids in your skin’s natural regenerative process and aids skin healing, helping the body to repair damaged skin cells. It helps to offset the daily damage our skin receives due to UV exposure and pollution. It also triggers the production of collagen and elastin, giving the skin a more plump/firm appearance. It contains a property that inhibits the production of melanin which causes pigmentation of the skin. Daily use of vitamin C combined with physical zinc containing sunscreen prevents against the formation of patchy discolouration of the skin.

Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C Ampoules, €30 for 10, available at the end of January



Use of sheet masks can be relaxing, but also time-consuming. Most do contain hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring substance in the skin which reduces with age. It is a hydrating agent, therefore, the skin appears plumper when younger and as this declines with age more fine lines and wrinkles become apparent. I would recommend daily use of products containing hyaluronic acid rather than using a once-weekly sheet mask. Eye creams are specifically designed for the area where the skin is thinnest and most sensitive. There is nothing more of a giveaway of age than the lines and wrinkles, dark circles and bags around the eyes, therefore an active eye cream is an important part of a daily skincare regimen. My favourite is one from the Biologique Recherche range which is Creme Contour Yeux et Levres Biofixine, €107, which is a 2-in-1 eye cream that erases fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and lips.

Biologique Recherche Creme Contour Yeux et Levres Biofixine, €107

It contains watercress extract to help smooth and lift the contours around the eye and lip. I am not a fan of physical exfoliants which contain microbeads (small particles of plastic). Not only are they often too harsh on sensitive skin such as those with eczema or rosacea and may result in flares of these skin condition but they are also bad for the environment. I prefer an exfoliating toner which is used as part of a daily skincare routine rather than once weekly. Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, from €60, is used twice daily as part of my skincare routine and this product hydrates the skin and balances the skin pH.  It comes in many varieties to suit a person’s skincare needs.

Photography by Vichy.


Read five skincare experts on the only skincare routine you really need in the Volume 1 (January/February) 2020 issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now. 

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