Belfast Telegraph

What's the real secret of glowing, gorgeous skin? 10 tips for a much better complexion


Looking good: a good regime is essential for maintaining healthy skin
Looking good: a good regime is essential for maintaining healthy skin
Looking good: a good regime is essential for maintaining healthy skin
Georgia Toffolo
Victoria Beckham
Keira Knightley

While genetics may play a large part, good skin-care habits are important. Dermatologist Dr Niki Ralph offers her top 10 tips for achieving and maintaining optimal skin health.

1. Cleansing is key to great skin

Wash your face daily, ensuring that you remove your make-up every night before bed. Washing your hands first is important to ensure you are not transferring excess oil and germs to acne-prone skin. Use a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin, or a non-comedogenic (non-pore blocking) cleanser for acne-prone skin to cleanse the entire face and pat it dry. Rubbing the face too vigorously may lead to damage of more fragile areas.

2. Some like it hot - but try lukewarm

Ensure the water is lukewarm, as sudden changes in temperature can lead to permanent dilation of the tiny capillaries on the surface of the skin. Cool or lukewarm water for showering is also recommended for those with sensitive skin types, to help minimise irritation on the face and body. Look for soap-free shampoos and shower emollient to avoid the skin over-drying.

3. Moisturise your face and body daily

Apply a moisturiser to the entire face twice a day and a body moisturiser at least once - this can be increased to two to three times per day, depending on how dry your skin is. I recommend a bland emollient for those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. An oil-free/non-comedogenic moisturiser is most suitable for those with acne-prone skin. Products which contain an SPF for use in the morning are best and your regular moisturiser at night, after removal of make-up. Maintaining the microbiome, the skin's protective barrier function made from natural oils, water as well as good and bad bacteria, is important not only for effective management of all allergies, but also for preventing their development. Central to this is ensuring the skin's microbiome is properly maintained by using a replenishing moisturiser daily.

4. Do a product patch test

Choose products which suit your skin and stick with them once you know they do not result in irritation. If you are going to choose a new product, patch-test it on the "crook of the arm" - as this site is very sensitive and most similar to facial skin.

If a product is applied there daily for one week and does not cause irritation, one can assume it is safe to apply to the facial skin. Alternatively, you could also try a small patch on the face for a number of days, rather than applying to the entire face. This is particularly relevant for those with allergy-prone skin patch-testing products which are designed to be left on the skin, such as moisturisers or serums. We have seen an increase in the number of naturally derived skincare products coming to market, but when it comes to protecting against allergies and maintaining the skin's barrier function, we would advise people to be mindful of the ingredients that could be causing allergy symptoms to worsen.

5. Exfoliate to limit congestion

If you suffer from excessively oily skin, with blocked pores, I would recommend using a gentle exfoliating toner twice weekly. Over-use of exfoliants can lead to irritation and drying of the skin.

If you only have one week to improve the overall appearance of the skin, ideally only exfoliate once that week to avoid possible irritation. Be especially careful when using exfoliating products around sensitive areas such as the eyes.

6. Use irritant-free make-up

If you suffer from skin sensitivities, opt for make-up formulated for sensitive skin types, rather than very heavily fragranced make-up. Be sure to remove each night with an emollient-based make-up remover and never a make-up wipe, which often contain a myriad of chemicals and alcohol, leading to dryness and irritation.

7. Good skin starts from within

A healthy diet, rich in antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, is vitally important to reduce inflammation, while lean protein is also essential for skin repair. For those with acne-prone skin, a healthy, balanced diet is also important. Most recent research shows that people who consume a diet high in sugar and excess carbohydrates may have increased insulin production, which can affect the formation of acne spots.

8. Essential hydration is vital

Hydration is also vital to give the skin a healthy appearance, so drink enough water and avoid too many caffeinated products per week. The skin actually has an innate ability to maintain its own water content, once emollients are used to prevent transepidermal water loss, so a good skincare routine is essential to keeping skin hydrated.

9. Kick the habit - quit smoking

Smokers have vastly increased numbers of bacteria on their skin compared with non-smokers, therefore, in eczema-prone individuals they are at increased risk of skin infections, due to the presence of more bacteria.

10. How to treat "bacne"

The back is a common location to develop acne, as there are sebaceous glands present on the back.

People may develop "bacne" which can be divided into 'folliculitis', which are small red spots or pus bumps pustules on the back, or 'nodulocystic' acne, which can also affect the back.

These are essentially lesions that are often deeper and larger and may result in scarring. "Bacne" most often occurs due to excessive sweating, particularly in keen gym goers. I recommend daily washing with a gentle cleanser.

Do not scrub too vigorously, as it may irritate the area and cause further inflammation. If you attend the gym regularly, you should wear cotton clothing in contact with the skin rather than other synthetic materials, which tend to hold the excess sweat on the skin and may lead to further blockage of the hair follicles.

Dr Niki Ralph is an ambassador for the launch of La Roche-Posay's Skin Health Month 2019, taking place in pharmacies province-wide from March 31

Stars who don't let their skin problems hold them back

Georgia Toffolo

Georgia Toffolo

After being crowned Queen of the Jungle on I’m a Celebrity in 2017, TV personality Georgia Toffolo opened up about her battle with acne.

The star admitted that sometimes her breakouts were so bad she feared leaving the house. She appeared bare-faced on ITV’s This Morning, revealing her acne scars, and finally sought help for her skin.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

In the lead-up to her shows at London Fashion Week in February this year, Victoria Beckham took to Instagram, asking her followers for advice for her problem skin.

The mum-of-four uploaded a picture of her breakout which she put down to stress and lack of sleep. She swears by hydrating moisturisers to tackle breakouts.

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

In an interview last year, Keira Knightley revealed that she dealt with “really bad skin” until she was about 24 years old.

After countless attempts to treat her problematic skin, the actress decided to just stop and give it a break.

Now aged 34, Keira tries to go make-up free as much as possible to really let her skin breathe.

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