Whatever happened to Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise???

Whatever happened to Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise???

Are you confused about what products to use to keep your skin healthy and looking its best?

Skincare is now bigger business than ever before, and research has led to a mass of new serums and other products that we are told we absolutely ‘must have’.

Back in the day we were told to decide whether we had dry, oily or combination skin and then encouraged to cleanse, tone and moisturise using products designed for our ‘skin type’. But the increasing influence of skin science has shone a light on the need to maintain the skin’s natural barrier function for skin health. This dermatological research has led to the development of results driven skincare products that focus on skin maintenance at a cellular level. These cosmetic products that have medically proven therapeutic benefits – so called ‘Cosmeceuticals’ – are generally not available to buy over the counter as they often contain percentages of active ingredients that require professional advice about usage, to both get optimum results and avoid adverse effects.

Everyday Essentials for healthy skin

Below is a list of essential ingredients for your basic skincare regime. There could be other products if you have a particular concern, if for example you are worried about redness or undereye dark circles, but this list includes everything we all need to keep our skin healthy and looking good.

So, do we really need them ALL?

Seems to be a lot? Remember ingredients can be combined, so if time is a concern look for products with multiple ingredients – cleansers with hydroxy acids for example.

Do they actually work?

Look for quality cosmeceutical products with pure ingredients that are formulated to actually penetrate the skin’s natural defensive barrier – research estimates that up to 75% of over the counter products do not contain actives in a form that can enter the skin. Active ingredients need to be either encapsulated in oils so that the skin absorbs them or have their molecular structure altered so that they are physically small enough to pass through. Additionally, they should be chirally correct and so in a chemical form that will allows them to bond with receptors on the skin cells.

  1. Suitable cleanser – free of foaming agents, parabens, emulsions and designed for your basic skin type. Cleansers should remove dirt and debris from the skin’s surface without disturbing or stripping away the natural oil and moisture film that acts as a barrier to protect against it against irritants and pathogens
  2. AHA/BHA exfoliants – many good quality modern cleansers now include mild hydroxy acids. These have gentle exfoliating and humectant effects that support the skin’s natural barrier function whilst encouraging natural cellular renewal. Where this isn’t the case, regular exfoliation using a mild enzyme peel will help keep dead skin build up at bay without the harsh effects of many physical scrubs.
  3. Antioxidants – our bodies naturally produce anti-oxidants, but modern life means that they are frequently overwhelmed by free radicals from UV exposure, pollution, stress and lifestyle choices. Free radical damage is a leading cause of poor skin health and non-age-related changes to the skin’s appearance, which means topical antioxidant products are a vital ingredient in any skincare regime. Topical Vitamin C is a go to antioxidant choice because it provides multiple benefits – it is essential for the production of Collagen and significantly increases the effectiveness of solar protection products, as well as fighting free radical damage.
    Vitamin E is also a superb antioxidant. It protects against damage by strengthening skin cell membranes. Recent research also suggests that it is has the power to prevent the production of skin cancer cells.
  4. Hyaluronic Acid – this is the skin’s natural moisture retention ingredient. Its molecular structure allows it to work like a sponge, retaining water in the deeper skin tissue to provide it with volume.
    Water is essential for healthy skin. It not only provides youthful volume, but is necessary for all effective cellular function, and so the first sign of dehydration as the natural exfoliation process slows is dull lifeless skin.
    Unfortunately, hyaluronic acid has a naturally large molecular structure, and many products containing this superstar ingredient will not work as it will not be able to actually penetrate the skin. When looking for a suitable product, check that the formulation states it is low weight, otherwise it will simply sit on the surface doing nothing, or worse potentially drawing moisture out of your skin!
  5. Retinol – this is a form of vitamin A, which is required for efficient skin cell functioning and renewal. Despite its association with the rejuvenation of older skin, it is actually suitable for almost all skin types. It has a regulating effect on sebum production and so can have a remarkable effect on acne prone skin. However, it can be irritating if introduced too quickly, especially if your skin’s natural protective barrier isn’t operating at full strength. So, it is important to choose wisely to ensure that you select a form that will complement your own skin.
  6. Broad-spectrum solar protection – absolute minimum SPF30! Sun exposure is the leading cause of early skin ageing.
    Most of us know that we should protect our skin to prevent it burning when out in strong sunlight. However, fewer realise about the damaging effects of UVA radiation, which is not limited to periods of intense ‘summer’ sun, and provides a daily threat to our skin’s health regardless of the temperature. UVA rays penetrate more deeply than the UVB rays associated with sunburn, and cause structural damage to the underlying dermal tissue that is the source of support to the skin’s surface.
    This can result in premature lines and wrinkles as well as giving the skin a coarse leathery texture. More worryingly, research suggests that UV exposure can alter a gene that suppresses tumour development.
    In short, it is essential for all exposed skin to be protected by the daily application of a broad-spectrum solar protection product i.e. one that has filters for both UVA and UVB with a minimum SPF 30

Looking for a bargain??

Whilst it might be tempting to opt for a ‘bargain’, please remember that you generally ‘get what you pay for’, and good quality products are generally not cheap. What might look like good value will only be worth it if it actually works! Medically researched products can sometimes seem more expensive than others, but nearly always outperform anything available to buy over the counter. Generally, only minimal application is needed and so on balance they really are an investment.

Remember you will be seeing the results every time you look in the mirror and so quality is worth paying for!

Still confused?

Please contact us, skin science is what we do and love!

We will be happy to help or advise on how to get healthy skin that you’ll simply love to be seen in!

Posted by Anne Stewart

Keep ‘Skin Fit’ during Lockdown! (part 1)

Staying indoors, protecting the NHS, and saving lives, doesn’t have to mean put up with lacklustre, unhealthy skin.

Follow these simple rules to beat the lockdown blues, and have healthy, glowing skin.

Keep your skin clean …. but, don’t strip away its protective barrier

Soap or bar cleansers tend to be too harsh

It’s important to thoroughly cleanse your skin before going to sleep. Soap or bar cleansers tend to be too harsh; they are generally more alkaline (remember the pH scale from school – alkaline things like chalk, have a high pH, whilst acids have a low pH?), whilst the surface of our skin has a natural acidic film. This film, called the ‘acid mantle’, is essential to protect our skin against bacterial infection and irritation, and its effect is reduced when cleansers with a higher pH are used. So, use a good quality, lower pH cleanser, that is suitable for your skin’s needs 

Gentle lotions and emulsions, light washes or gels (suitable for your skin type) are better

  • gentle lotions and emulsions for those with drier, rough or flaky patches, or who suffer with sensitivity.  
  • light washes or gels for those with oily zones or who are prone to breakouts.

Be sure to pre-cleanse, to remove make-up or sweat and grime if you have been outside to exercise. You can use an oil to emulsion product for this, most are even suitable for those with oilier skins. But while we’re staying indoors, why not give your skin a rest and go make-up free? 

 Unless your skin is particularly blemish prone, try simply rinsing in the morning instead of using a cleanser. If your skin is clean when you go to bed, it’s not essential to use a cleanser in the morning, simply use tepid water to freshen your skin and gently pat dry.  

For those of you with acne-prone skin (that’s about 48% of adults…) make sure that your pillow case is changed every day to reduce cross infection and keep blemishes at bay.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Our bodies need water to stay healthy, and being inside for prolonged periods of time, especially where the central heating is on constantly, we can lose moisture from the outer layers of our skin into the surrounding air. This causes our skin to become dehydrated and a patchwork of very fine lines to develop on the surface…. just think about that apple in the fruit bowl that you kept meaning to eat…!

The solution?

If you need to keep the central heating on, think about investing in some humidifiers to place over the radiators, they stop the air from drying out. You can add your favourite essential oils too, some, like Chamomile, Rose or Ylang Ylang are considered to be mood enhancing, great if the lockdown is making you feel a bit blue, and well they just smell nice!

Try to drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water (or herbal teas) a day

Try to drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water a day. Try herbal teas if you can’t face plain water, but limit coffee and black tea, both of which are high in caffeine and so have diuretic properties.

Invest in a good quality hyaluronic acid serum, which despite the name is actually a humectant that occurs naturally in our bodies. It’s the same substance that is used in many dermal fillers to give skin its youthful volume. It works by attracting and retaining moisture in the lower layers of our skin. The catch? In its natural form it has a large molecular structure, and so a lot of products that say they contain it simply won’t work, because it can’t penetrate into the skin. So, it’s important that you choose wisely, look for a low molecular weight product.

Moisturise…..keep that hard-won moisture in your skin!

Dry skin, and dehydrated skin are two completely different things, although they can be closely connected. Dry skin, also called Asteatosis, refers to skin that is lacking in oils, and is often associated with conditions like Eczema. In fact, it isn’t as common as people think, more often skin that is deemed to be dry is actually dehydrated and lacking water not lipids.  

But regardless of whether your skin is actually dry, or dehydrated, you need those oils, to keep the moisture in and your skin supple. Even skins prone to breakouts need moisturisation, because water is essential for the processes that keep blemishes at bay. So, you should make sure that you moisturise both morning and night, after cleansing and hydrating.

Choosing a moisturiser

Choose a moisturiser that will support your particular skin needs, 

  • creams or heavier lotions for those with drier, rough or flaky patches,
  • water-based lighter lotions and gel type products for those with oily zones or who are prone to breakouts. If you’re unsure, look for products that are ‘non-comedogenic’, which means they won’t block your pores.
  • avoiding those with essential oils if you suffer with sensitivity
We naturally lose more moisture during the night, so you may find that you need to use a richer moisturiser at bedtime, than the one you use during the day. Those of you that do have dry skin may also need to reapply your moisturiser throughout the day.

Don’t forget the Sun Protection……even on those miserable cloudy days!

You can be forgiven for asking, why not say ‘don’t forget your SPF’, after all it’s sun protection, right? Well not exactly. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products do indeed protect our skin from damage by the sun, but generally only protect against UVB radiation. This is the short wave ultraviolet rays, largely responsible for the sun burn that we all try to protect against whilst being out in hot sunny weather. But research has shown that we really need to protect against UVA rays too. These are longer wave rays that are able to penetrate our skin more deeply, reaching the dermis – the lower layer of our skin, where new cells are produced – where they can disrupt cell processes, damaging the cells ability to produce the structural proteins, Collagen and Elastin, which leads to the development of lines and wrinkles. Even more worrying, is the evidence that they are able to switch off our cells ability to prevent tumours, and so promote cancerous change. 

Unlike shorter UVB rays, UVA rays are able to penetrate cloud cover, light rain, glass and even light clothing! Similarly, UVA is also not limited by latitude, or time of the day, and so can potentially penetrate our skin 365 days of the year during daylight hours. It is therefore absolutely essential that the last step in your morning skincare regime is to apply a broad-spectrum solar protection product that screens for both UVA and UVB

UVA penetrates cloud, glass and light clothing, all year round

 As with your other products, buy one suited to your skin, but ensure that it has a minimum SPF 30 if you will be out in strong sunlight. Many cosmetics now contain SPF, and it is fine to use these in addition to your main product. 

You should apply solar protection to all areas of skin routinely exposed to the sun – face, neck, décolletage and backs of your hands! Make sure that you buy separate products for your face and body, as the skin on your face is thinner and more delicate than other areas of the body. If you are out in strong sunlight the recommendation is to reapply your sun protection every 90 minutes. Finally, if you nip to the loo whilst out, remember to reapply after washing your hands!

Keeping it simple….

The four basic steps above are the essentials needed to keep your skin healthy. Don’t be a slave to prescriptive skin care regimes, give your skin what it needs. 

So, is that all I hear you ask.  What about serums and other specialised products, are they not needed? 

The answer is, that it really depends on what concerns you have about your skin, and what your goals are. If you are looking to resolve established issues, like Acne or Rosacea; signs of premature ageing like lines and wrinkles; pigmentation issues or scarring, then you will certainly need the support of serums, and other products containing more active ingredients. We’ll look at more advanced products in part 2 of this ‘Skin Fit’ blog.


One final reminder about the importance of choosing your products carefully…… 

whilst price isn’t always an indicator of quality, remember the old adage –

if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Posted by Anne Stewart

Sleep for your skin’s sake (part 4)

Continuing our quest for a great night’s sleep, to help you and your skin look and feel their best.

Again, aim for around eight hours per night.

The previous post contained several suggestions to improve your sleep.

Here are a few more ideas which might help:

  • When is “bedtime”. Perhaps you should set a time to aim for?

  • Once in bed, take few simple and mindful breaths while holding your face in your hands.

  • The bedroom should be fresh and curtains drawn to keep out the light.

  • Avoid blue light from digital devices for at least an hour before bed and don’t take devices into the bedroom. If your phone has a “night mode”, set it to come on after dark. We need darkness to produce enough melatonin to help promote a deep sleep.

We’ll continue these posts on #sleep for your #skin and to #feelgood soon.

Please let us know if there are some we missed!

Posted by Anne Stewart

Sleep for your skin’s sake (part 3)

So if sleep deprivation leads to poor collagen formation and dull, lined skin, what can be done?

Treatments should be the last resort!

It is crucial to get a good night’s sleep – aim for around eight hours per night.

We’re all busy, I know. It is easier to say “get more sleep” than it is to do.

Here are a few ideas which might help:

  • Think about your sleeping patterns? Can they be improved?

  • Is your bedroom at suitable temperature? We sleep better when we’re cooler

  • Avoid spicy food in the evening

  • Also excessive activity before bedtime. Try to organise so you slow down as the evening goes on.

    • … but a gentle walk wouldn’t do any harm. If time allows, perhaps followed by a bath with a drop or two of essential oil. Traditionally, Lavender is recommended, but choose something you like, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile or Sandalwood all work equally well…after all you don’t want to be kept awake by an irritating smell.

More on #sleep for your #skin and to #feelgood tomorrow.

Do you have any tips for better sleep?

Posted by Anne Stewart

Sleep for your skin’s sake (part 2)

 Regular sleep is essential for good health and clear skin.  (not to mention clear thinking) Regular sleep is essential for good health and clear skin. (not to mention clear thinking)

How does sleep affect your skin?

These hours are the most effective time for your liver to cleanse the blood.
— without enough quality sleep you start tomorrow with yesterday’s toxins in your system. A bad start.

It is also time when your cortisol level decreases and the skin receives a much-needed boost of oxygen.

Cellular regeneration also peaks during this time, which is why you wake-up with a glowing complexion when you sleep well.


The next post will contain some suggestions.

Posted by Anne Stewart

Sleep for your skin’s sake (part 1)

Not just dark circles

Skin elasticity

Sleep deprivation can often lead to a reduction in collagen production and, as a result, loose crepey skin

And the other bad stuff

We also know now that there is connection between poor sleep and weight gain. Those who don’t sleep enough have increased hunger and a lower metabolic rate.

In later posts we’ll consider some simple steps to improve things.

Posted by Anne Stewart