Her secret to ageing youthfully
For the past 30 years I’ve advocated a daily inside-out beauty routine that works on two levels, internal and external. What we put in is as important as what we put on, and so my approach to skincare is two-way. The secret to glowing skin is to feed it with the right nutrients as well as to apply them topically. For the inside, I focus on eating beneficial fats, such as olive oil, flaxseed and rapeseed oils, all packed with skin-strengthening essential fatty acids as well as the age-defying antioxidant vitamin E. Probiotics are also important for a clear complexion; I take a daily probiotic supplement containing at least eight different strains of beneficial bacteria, and start my day with a serving of plain live yoghurt or kefir. These ingredients are used more in skincare too, with probiotics popping up in all kinds of creams and serums. One of the most important ingredients to look for is lactoferrin, which helps boost our beneficial bacteria and supports healthy microbes on the skin both internally (from live yoghurt and kefir) and externally added to face masks and creams.
My choice of cleanser is the most important starting point for clearer, smoother skin. I never use anything that foams on my face, as foams or gels (even ‘gentle’ soaps) can disrupt the skin’s delicate pH balance, making it more alkaline. Our skin is naturally slightly acidic and if we make its surface alkaline we lose the right balance for our beneficial bacteria (that keep skin spots and blemishes at bay) to thrive. If our skin becomes too alkaline, epidermal cells detach more easily, leaving our complexion drier and more at risk of sun damage and wrinkles. The best way to help prevent this is with an oil-based or creamy cleanser, gently wiped away with a warm, damp cotton cloth or flannel. This has the added advantage of gently exfoliating the skin by lifting away the dead cells that make our skin look dull and drab, while preserving the fresher skin cells beneath.
First line of defence
Protecting the skin is key to preventing premature skin ageing. I always use a mineral-based sunscreen, as the synthetic chemical kind can trigger sensitivities, especially during times of hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause. The face, neck and backs of the hands are the most important areas to protect in terms of preventing skin slackening and crepiness. Interestingly, makeup also provides a useful protective layer for the skin, both from the sun’s damaging rays and urban city pollution. During the summer months, and when I’m working in town, I always use a light foundation topped with an extra layer of fine face powder, more for a protective shield than cosmetic artifice. Other useful skincare additions here are a pair of wide-rimmed sunglasses (the more Jackie O the better) and a foldable sunhat – and I always keep a lightweight scarf in my bag to cover my neck and upper chest for when the sun decides to shine.
Now in my 50s, I’ve come to rely more on two extra additions to my daily skincare – a daily face serum to bolster my moisturiser and help ‘lift’ my more mature skin, and an overnight facial oil. The benefits of the oil are two-fold, not only to replenish moisture and feed the skin externally with a potent, natural form of vitamin E, but also the act of massage last thing at night helps boost blood supplies to the skin, which in turn delivers skin-brightening nutrients to the skin’s surface. I bolster this with a daily vitamin E supplement of around 400iU, especially during the summer months as this has been shown to help reduce sun-induced skin damage. Last but not least, I make a weekly face mask using ‘live’ ingredients to restore a genuinely radiant glow.
A weekly face mask made with a base of plain, live yoghurt can help boost our skin’s beneficial bacteria and leave us with a healthy glow. My favourite combo is half a ripe avocado mixed with 2 tbsp plain live yoghurt or kefir with 1 tsp unprocessed (raw) runny honey. Smooth onto clean skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing away. Alternatively, a spoonful of honey makes a good cleanser in itself and won’t disrupt the skin’s microbiome, while adding a teaspoon of live kefir to your regular creamy cleanser will give it a probiotic boost. The Good Gut Guide: Delicious Recipes & a Simple 6-Week Plan for Inner Health & Outer Beauty by Liz Earle (Orion Spring), $55.95.
Now in my 50s, I’ve also come to rely on a daily face
serum and an overnight facial oil