How to make your beauty regime work harder.
We know the allure of shopping for new skincare is strong. But before you award yourself beauty points for investing in the latest hi-tech face cream, ask yourself this: are you certain you’re using it correctly so it fulfils its potential? And does it really match your skin concerns, or were you swayed by the packaging? There’s nothing more frustrating than investing in your skin without getting the right result. So we asked the beauty experts for tips on getting the most out of your beauty regime by going back to basics.
1 Cleanse cleverly to shrink pores
With age, pores look more pronounced as your skin’s collagen fibres – which keep pore walls tight and firm – slacken. Humidity and UV rays can increase the problem. “When your skin is defending itself from the sun, it won’t shed dead cells as often,” explains Dr Tom Mammone, executive director of Clinique research and development. “This leads to a build-up of oil and other debris in your pores, making them look bigger.” Switch to a cleanser containing salicylic acid, a mild exfoliant derived from willow bark. “Salicylic acid covers all your bases: it clears up dead skin cells inside pores, slows oil production and tightens the look of pores”, says Dr Mammone. Try Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam (Dh140) and let it sit on damp skin for a couple of minutes so it absorbs before rinsing.
2 Do use toner
Believe it or not, 10-15 per cent of make-up remains on the skin after cleansing. This means anything you apply afterwards – including your pricey anti-ageing cream – can’t penetrate your skin properly. “An alcohol-free toner is an essential second step in your routine because it removes all traces of residual make-up and cleanser,” says Fiona Brackenbury at Decléor, who recommends the brand’s gentle Aroma Cleanse Tonifying Lotion (Dh115). Sweep it over your face with a cotton wool pad – then pat your skin with a tissue. “When you tone you leave a fine veil of ingredients and water on the skin,” explains Brackenbury. “If you don’t mop up the excess liquid, any moisture left on the skin will be pulled out by the atmosphere, causing dehydration.”
3 Eradicate puffy eyes
While asleep your adrenaline levels lower, but upon waking up, they rise and produce anti-inflammatory hormones, causing puffy eyes. What to do? “Pop a cotton pad in the freezer for a couple of minutes,” says Nichola Joss, celebrity facialist. “Gently massage your eye cream around the socket and then apply the cotton pad from the freezer to the eye area for a few minutes. It immediately reduces puffiness and redness, while also pushing the eye cream deeper into the skin to nourish, brighten and repair.”
4 Switch to pollution-fighting creams
The link between pollution and wrinkles isn’t accidental. New research by cosmetics giant Procter & Gamble has revealed that polluted urban air will age you 10 per cent faster than exposure to cleaner country air (worrying when you consider the effect exhaust fumes of over a million vehicles in Dubai alone has on air quality). The culprits are 224 known chemicals in polluted air that damage proteins in the skin causing it to dry out faster and produce less firming collagen. “Pollution particles smaller than a grain of sand carry a variety of these toxins and can get below the skin,” says Procter & Gamble senior scientist Dr Frauke Neuser. “So it’s vital for today’s skincare to have ingredients such as niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and fight off pollution.” Try Olay Total Effects Day Moisturiser SPF15 (Dh64).
5 Don’t just dab on your moisturiser
“Warm it between your hands to activate the ingredients,” says Fiona. “Massage the moisturiser over your face with little circles, then use firm upward motions from the centre of the face towards the hairline where your lymph nodes are located.” This not only aids absorption but helps lift the underlying facial muscles and shift fluid retention.
6 Turbocharge your sun protection
SPF alone won’t protect against sun damage – even an SPF50 will only block 98 per cent of UV rays. You need antioxidants to defend against rays that slip past sunscreen and the ageing free radicals they unleash on your skin. Until recently, sunscreens with antioxidants could only protect the skin surface, when most of the damage occurs in the lower layers. But after five years of research, chemists at Murad have created a system that releases antioxidants such as vitamin C deeper into the skin. “Here they lie in wait until activated by UV rays. The antioxidants then neutralise any free radicals before any damage is done,” says Jeff Murad from Murad product development, who recommends the brand’s Essential-C Sun Balm SPF35 (Dh125).
7 And if you do get burnt…
“Avoid overloading your flushed skin with too many anti-ageing products until it’s returned to normal,” says Fiona. “Your skin may be sensitive at this stage and react adversely to one of the hi-tech ingredients.” It may seem a novel approach but instead use a cream designed for rosacea – La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Cream (Dh120) is good. The redness is the result of your body cooling itself off by sending more blood to the surface of the skin – a similar physiological reaction as occurs in rosacea-prone skin. Then, when your skin starts peeling, switch to a moisturiser rich in lipids (fats) known as ceramides. One like Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum (Dh434) will help to replenish the natural lipids your skin loses in the process.
8 Brighten age spots in your sleep
Living in a sunshine state means that your risk of pigmentation is high. Sun damage doesn’t just manifest itself as wrinkles on the surface of your skin – it can actually damage your DNA, meaning cells act abnormally and produce more melanin (dark pigment). This is why you might start to see brown clover-shaped clusters on your cheeks, forehead and bridge of the nose. How to tackle them? With religious application of sunscreen by day and a mild peel at night. “Young skin naturally sheds dead cells at night but this process slows down the older we get,” says Elisabeth Bouhadana, global scientific communications director at L’Oréal. “More effective than a face scrub, a peel applied before bed helps to lift away cells stained brown from age spots.” Wake up to more luminous skin with L’Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Peeling Lotion Night (Dh120) – it’s proven to be as effective as intense pulsed light at improving pigmentation, but gentle enough to use every night.
9 Tackle the PM oil slick
A humid climate may not be the only thing to blame for your oily T-Zone. While you sleep, skin works twice as hard to renew itself than during the day. “All this hard work causes oilier skin to produce three times more sebum, which shows up the next morning as a greasy forehead, nose and chin,” says Janette Ryan, training manager at Vichy skincare. The bad news doesn’t stop there unfortunately. “Even though oil production peaks at midnight, it takes around 12 hours for the sebum to be excreted to the skin’s surface,” explains Ryan. “So by lunchtime your skin will look greasy again if you don’t do anything to curb it during the night.” Vichy Normaderm Night Detox (Dh120) is incredibly effective as it contains perlite, a sponge-like ingredient that absorbs five times its weight in sebum.
10 Do more with your cleansing brush
The professional cleansing brush, with its pulsating head, has become the hero of our evening routines thanks to its deep-cleansing and circulation-boosting powers. “I like to apply a slick of face oil over my face before using the soft bristle head of my Clarisonic Mia Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush (Dh700) to massage deeper into my skin,” says facialist Nichola Joss.
11 Use a night cream with plant stem cells
After the age of 30, your skin loses 1 per cent of its collagen a year, which contributes to hollower cheeks and sagging. Plant stem cells may be the answer for restoring skin’s plumpness. Just as human stem cells help skin to renew itself, they encourage a new root, leaf or flower to grow. So it stands to reason that plant stem cells could work in synergy with the skin to improve its firmness and moisture. Our best buy? Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Effect (Dh250) with tiger-grass stem cells, which help skin retain its hyaluronic acid levels to stay hydrated and elastic.
12 Train yourself to sleep on your back
“I can always tell which side my patients sleep on,” says Nurse Jamie, a cosmetic nurse with a huge celebrity following at her Beauty Park Spa in Santa Monica. “Your head is the weight of a bowling ball, which causes ‘sleep wrinkles’ to be etched into your skin on that side — especially nose to mouth lines — and your facial muscles to sag.”
13 Don’t stop your skincare at your jawline
Last but by no means least, remember the anti-ageing benefits of sleep don’t stop at your face. While resting, your skin temperature is higher, so the active ingredients in your anti-cellulite body lotion absorb more easily. “Just before bed, give yourself a lymphatic body massage,” says Nichola. “I like to warm a little lotion in my hands, then lift each leg and squeeze the skin between my thumb and middle finger, starting at the ankle and working up to the hip. Then repeat from wrist to shoulder and massage in a circular clockwise motion around the tummy area.”
Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam, Dh140
Decléor Aroma Cleanse Tonifying Lotion, Dh115
Warm moisturiser in your hands to activate the ingredients
Murad Essential-C Sun Balm SPF35, Dh125
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum, Dh434
La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Cream, Dh120
Olay Total Effects Day Moisturiser SPF15, Dh64
Sleeping on your side causes ‘sleep wrinkles’ and saggy skin
Vichy Normaderm Night Detox, Dh120 Clarisonic Mia Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush, Dh700
L’Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Peeling Lotion Night, Dh120
Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Effect, Dh250