'Everyone should use a topical retinol' — Dr Rosemary Coleman on the essential skincare routine

In 2018, the global skincare market was worth over €121 billion. Dr Rosemary Coleman, consultant dermatologist at Blackrock Clinic tells how many steps we really need in our routines.

The routine we all should have

Wash your skin properly at the end of the day to remove dirt, pollution and make-up. Use a cleanser and a muslin cloth, as this gets into the nooks and crannies and gives you a thorough cleanse without being too harsh. Your choice of cleanser will depend on your skin type and preference. I swear by glycolic acid cleansers, as this tiny fruit acid molecule penetrates deep into the pores while exfoliating and enhancing radiance. For oily or acne-prone skin, choose a product designed for this problem. Sensitive skin often tolerates creamy or milk cleansers best, but don’t be tempted to wipe them off with a cotton pad, as this leaves a film of cleanser on your skin – wash with water and a muslin cloth. While it’s nicer to wash your face with warm water, always give a final cold rinse – this is an excellent toner!

The ingredients we should all use 


The top active ingredients in skincare products are retinols, glycolic acid, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides and resveratrol. I like to have a variety of these and rotate them from day to day, as you can’t realistically apply them all every day. Everyone should use a topical retinol, preferably increasing in strength from over-the-counter products to prescription-grade retinol, if it is tolerated. Benefits include preventing skin cancer, pigmentation, acne, fine lines and ageing. Unfortunately, about 30 per cent of people just can’t tolerate this ingredient. Don’t overuse retinol or the skin gets “stripped”, fine and crepey looking. Once or twice a week is plenty.

What we should spend big on 

It’s really about quality, not cost. What we shouldn’t skimp on is SPF. I often see people using SPF 50 on their face, but ignoring their neck and chest. Be generous with your SPF every morning, treating from the hairline to the cleavage, and you’ll get into the habit of always doing so. Would you ever wash your top teeth and not the bottom? Save money and time with a combination moisturiser with SPF 50 (it will often have collagen-stimulating peptides). Invest in an excellent antioxidant serum such as SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, €135, or Phloretin CF, €170.

Not necessary in a routine

Many people don’t need an eye cream, especially younger women with firm skin – they can lightly apply their facial moisturiser to this area. For eye bags or very crinkly skin, lighter eye creams or serum, applied in the morning, will prevent the area from becoming puffy. I think a daily exfoliant should be avoided at all costs and once weekly exfoliation will suffice for most skin types.

This article originally appeared in the Volume 1 (January/February) 2020 issue of IMAGE Magazine.


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