7 good-skin truths from a skin scientist

Now that the ravages of winter weather are fading and summer’s heat hasn’t fully kicked in, it’s the perfect time to kick your skin into shape. During Skin Gym Week, we’re sharing the tips and tools improve your skin health- from face-friendly meal plans to the most effective professional treatments, to the best and buzziest products, it’s everything you need to get the best skin of your life – from the inside-out.

Dr. Michele Squire is a PhD-qualified scientist and founder of personal skincare coaching business, Qr8. She’s also the skincare guru you didn’t know you needed. We asked her what her golden rules are for getting good skin and how to keep it in good nick…

1. Sunscreen is non-negotiable

My clients all want to prevent and improve signs of ageing with skincare, but they rarely understand the major role that daily, cumulative sun damage plays in ageing of the skin (photoaging). Most people understand the need to wear sunscreen for outdoor activities but don’t recognise that repeated exposures to sunlight during everyday activities, whilst not enough to cause sunburn, results in cumulative damage to DNA. This damage results in both skin cancers and 70-90% of the signs of photoaging (deep wrinkles, rough, dull skin, redness, broken capillaries and hyperpigmentation).

It’s your most effective weapon against ageing, but it’s not a free pass to stay in the sun for hours. Sunscreen just extends the time you can stay in the sun without burning, compared to unprotected skin. So wearing a hat, protective clothing, sunglasses and seeking shade are all equally important.

2. Don’t buy into trends

Stop buying skincare just because social media says it’s the new miracle ingredient or product. The current global skincare market has surpassed that of cosmetics, growing by 1.5% per year to be worth $USD 180 billion by 2024. So buying into trendy, hype-driven skincare is like running on a treadmill that is constantly speeding up. Social media is great for keeping up with skincare trends, and the body of science to support ingredients that genuinely have a positive effect on skin is building rapidly, BUT there is still a lot of misinformation and pseudoscience out there. Do your research with quality sources before you invest, and seek professional advice if you have acne, rosacea, or a skin disorder.

3. Put down the magnifying mirror

Unless you have impaired vision, a magnifying mirror is not your friend, and they are often the catalyst for turning minor imperfections into infected lesions that need months of treatment to reduce scarring. PSA: Your pores are not *actually* that big IRL.

4. Injectables won’t give you good skin

Wrinkle relaxers are fabulous to treat dynamic wrinkles from repetitive movement, and fillers work to restore lost volume and improve wrinkle folds from sagging. Neither of these will improve skin quality, especially damage resulting from chronic UV exposure – static wrinkles, pigmentation, broken vessels, blotchiness, redness, rough texture. So if you are really concerned with ageing, aesthetic treatments work hand-in-hand with consistent, focussed skincare.

5. You can be too clean

Stop over-cleansing and over-exfoliating and thinking that cleansing skin more than twice a day and scrubbing with cleansing devices and physical exfoliants will make you glow. Overdoing it actually breaks down your skin’s own self-regulating barrier and leads to dehydrated, irritated skin with breakouts. It also puts you into a constant cycle of looking for products to combat your ‘dry’ or ‘sensitive’ skin.

6. You don’t have to spend BIG to get good skin

The three skincare products that make the biggest difference to skin are cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreen, and there are plenty of well-formulated, cosmetically elegant products available at economical price points. Cleansing removes oily substances like excess sebum, sweat, makeup, sunscreen, along with the dirt, microbes and exfoliated skin cells that get stuck in this oil and clog pores. Expensive cleansers are luxurious but unnecessary – ingredients like vitamins or acids added into your cleanser are not in contact with your skin for long enough to be effective. Just choose a cleanser that is gentle enough not to leave your skin ‘squeaky clean’ (which equates to drying).

7. Go back to basics

A great basic routine (for most skin) involves a gentle cleanser, effectively-formulated vitamin A and C, moisturiser, gentle chemical exfoliant and sunscreen. But of all the products you use on your skin, it’s your moisturiser that plays the biggest part in making your skin look and feel soft and hydrated. Moisturiser slows trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), keeping skin hydrated – and properly hydrated skin performs its barrier function optimally. Expensive creams might feel nice, but most of the beneficial effects of moisturisers are a result of basic moisturising ingredients (like glycerine, hyaluronic acid, silicones, lipids) rather than added ‘active’ ingredients. Just choose a texture that you enjoy using and plays well with your other products.