Our skincare needs have changed dra­mat­i­cally – but the prod­ucts we use haven’t kept up, celebrity fa­cial­ist Linda Mered­ith tells Selina Den­man

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Top tips by celebrity fa­cial­ist Linda Mered­ith; and run­way mu­sic by the likes of Chanel, Burberry and Chloé makes its way to Ap­ple Mu­sic

When Den­nis Hop­per sends you a note say­ing “you saved me”, you know you’re on to some­thing. But Linda Mered­ith is used to re­ceiv­ing such mis­sives. The fa­cial­ist has a client list that fea­tures the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Camp­bell, Madonna, Jude Law, the late Alexan­der McQueen, Zoë Kravitz and Colin Firth – and their thank-you notes are proudly dis­played on her web­site. “You are a joy and a riot,” writes Kate Beck­in­sale. “Thank you for my skin,” pro­claims Emma Thomp­son.

“We have built up a rep­u­ta­tion within the TV and film in­dus­try, so that film di­rec­tors and make-up artists send clients to us, as they know our treat­ments are ef­fec­tive and not in­va­sive, and there­fore would never halt any film pro­duc­tion, which could cost mil­lions to the pro­duc­tion com­pany,” ex­plains Mered­ith, who has worked in the beauty in­dus­try for the last 40 years.

Her flag­ship salon is lo­cated in Lon­don’s Knights­bridge, but her treat­ments and prod­ucts are avail­able around the world – in the Man­darin Ori­en­tal ho­tels in Lon­don, Bos­ton and Barcelona, in the Akaryn Sa­mui and Aleenta Phukey spas in Thai­land, and since last month, at Emi­rates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Next on the list are the Palazzo Ver­sace and Ad­dress Down­town Dubai.

So, given that she has come face-to-face with some of the most beau­ti­ful peo­ple on the planet, does Mered­ith at­tribute good skin to life­style or ge­net­ics? “Ap­prox­i­mately 60 per cent comes from ge­net­ics and the rest is life­style,” she says.

The threats faced by our skin as a re­sult of our life­styles have changed rad­i­cally in re­cent decades – while the beauty prod­ucts that we use to com­bat those threats haven’t, Mered­ith main­tains. “Since the 1950s, we have all lived in a world full of tox­ins and syn­thetic chem­i­cals, in the form of med­i­ca­tion, hor­mones and preser­va­tives in our food. This has dra­mat­i­cally changed the nat­u­ral bal­ance in­side our bod­ies and, of course, our skin.”

Mered­ith is of the opin­ion that no big beauty com­pany “has adapted a new phi­los­o­phy for skincare in the 21st cen­tury”. She sug­gests that es­tab­lished brands can­not rad­i­cally over­haul their prod­uct lines and philoso­phies be­cause these were put in place “long be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of chem­i­cals. That phi­los­o­phy and the hun­dreds of prod­ucts that have been de­vel­oped over many decades can­not just be changed with­out huge fi­nan­cial cost.”

With the med­i­cal in­dus­try now en­croach­ing on the beauty in­dus­try in in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive ways, and un­re­al­is­tic ideals of beauty be­ing pro­lif­er­ated daily by the mar­ket­ing in­dus­try, it has never been a more chal­leng­ing time for those in Mered­ith’s field. “Ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing show us per­fec­tion in their ads, which most of the time gives false hopes to women, as pic­tures and TV ads have been re­touched. Celebri­ties are still peo­ple, and have the same skin prob­lems as we all have at some point.”

Other mis­con­cep­tions about skincare that Mered­ith reg­u­larly en­coun­ters are that the more ex­pen­sive a prod­uct is, the more ef­fec­tive it will be. “Not true. Prod­ucts that are ridicu­lously ex­pen­sive re­turn huge prof­its, which are needed to pay for celebrity en­dorse­ments, even when the celebrity rarely uses that prod­uct – I know from the celebri­ties that use mine, but en­dorse oth­ers.”

Other myths are that a skin prod­uct can pre­vent age­ing (“No. It can, how­ever, slow it down,” Mered­ith says), and that drink­ing wa­ter will hy­drate the skin. “When we drink wa­ter, it works first and fore­most in­side the body. It flushes out tox­ins, reg­u­lates body tem­per­a­ture and keeps our or­gans func­tion­ing be­fore fi­nally reach­ing the sur­face. This is why us­ing the right prod­ucts on the out­side is as, if not more, im­por­tant,” Mered­ith main­tains.

Since the skin is fac­ing a new bar­rage of threats, does that mean that the old cleanse, tone and mois­turise model is dead? “No, not at all,” says Mered­ith. “The only change is with ton­ers, which were orig­i­nally made with high lev­els of al­co­hol sim­ply to help re­move heavy cleansers that had a base of lano­lin, or sheep fat. Most cleansers to­day are wa­ter-sol­u­ble, which means they are eas­ily re­moved with wa­ter.”

Mered­ith’s own skincare range is de­signed to ad­dress skin prob­lems, rather than skin types. Her sig­na­ture prod­uct is LM1, a thick, but­tery cream for those who pre­fer a more matte fin­ish. De­signed to re­build the skin’s mois­ture lev­els, LM1 con­tains bio-oil to even skin tone and Der­maxyl, from the pep­tide fam­ily, which is im­por­tant for anti-age­ing.

With so many dif­fer­ent kinds of prod­ucts on the mar­ket – serums, emul­si­fiers, masks, creams, oils, lo­tions – it can be dif­fi­cult know­ing what you ac­tu­ally need. What’s Mered­ith’s ad­vice? “Yes, there are far too many prod­ucts on the mar­ket to­day, but that is be­cause most of the cos­metic gi­ants don’t dis­con­tinue many prod­ucts; they just keep adding more. We do need a vari­a­tion of prod­ucts, or I should say in­gre­di­ents, that deal with dif­fer­ent prob­lems. We need humec­tants, which draw mois­ture from the en­vi­ron­ment to help hy­dra­tion; emol­lients to im­prove and re­place lost nu­tri­ents; and then oc­clu­sives to seal in the first two and pre­vent de­hy­dra­tion.”

And her big­gest skincare no-no? “The big­gest no-no for me is too much skin peel­ing. Chem­i­cal peels, which are more ag­gres­sive than nat­u­ral peels, and laser re-sur­fac­ing can be­come ad­dic­tive, as the skin feels much tighter. The prob­lem is that with overuse, the skin will be­come thin­ner. Part of the age­ing process is the skin get­ting thin­ner, so why would you want to speed that up?”

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